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Human Rights

The ACLU Human Rights Program works to ensure that the U.S. government complies with universal human rights principles in addition to the U.S. Constitution. The Program uses human rights strategies to complement existing ACLU advocacy.

N.C. Senate Passes Sweeping Anti-Immigrant Bill

Posted on in Human Rights

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Senate today passed a sweeping anti-immigrant bill, SB145, that would direct state police to enforce federal immigration law, seek to punish local governments who enact their own policies related to immigration, and defund any UNC institution that limits its role in the enforcement of federal immigration law. 

“Targeting and singling out undocumented North Carolinians who work, go to school, and contribute to our communities won’t make North Carolina safer, but it will spread fear and confusion while trampling on the rights of immigrants and nonimmigrants alike,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “Local governments and the UNC system will needlessly suffer and could be exposed to costly litigation under this misguided proposal. We urge North Carolina House members to reject this bill.”

Among its provisions, Senate Bill 145 would

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NEW YORK — Following the attacks in Paris, some U.S. governors, including North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, and federal lawmakers have moved to restrict the planned resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.

Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants' Rights Project, said:

"Some politicians have attempted to fabricate a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. Making policy based on this fear mongering is wrong for two reasons. It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded."

CHAPEL HILL - The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is commemorating five decades of work defending civil liberties with a 10-panel exhibit at the Chapel Hill Public Library this fall. ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty documents ACLU-NC’s work on the key issues of free speech, racial justice, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, privacy rights, criminal justice reform, and religious liberty.

“The ACLU of North Carolina has been on the front lines of issues that continue to be critically important across our state and right here in our community,” said Chapel Hill Public Library Director Susan Brown. “The ACLU-NC was founded to challenge the infamous ‘Speaker Ban,’ and Chapel Hill was the epicenter of that historic fight for free speech. We are proud to be the Triangle’s host location for the exhibit.”

On Sunday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m., the public is invited to an opening reception at the Library, located at 100 Library Drive in Chapel Hill. Members of the ACLU-NC will be present and area residents can engage with both them and the exhibit, while enjoying light refreshments and hearing about the past, present, and future of the ACLU-NC. RSVP online here.

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RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

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By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina

According to Locke Bell, the district attorney of Gaston County, North Carolina, the ethnicity of a domestic-violence survivor can disqualify that person from equal protection under the law. The Charlotte Observer reports that Bell refused to certify a domestic violence survivor’s visa application because he thinks the relevant law protecting crime victims “was never intended to protect Latinos from Latinos.”

The controversy surrounds Evelin, a domestic violence survivor who courageously called police to press charges against her abusive boyfriend. She says he punched her, kicked her, and pulled her hair. Last week, he returned to her home after being deported, accused her of seeing another man, and repeatedly kicked her. Evelin reported the crime to the police and, as is her right, applied for a U visa.

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