Trump presses for contentious census citizenship question despite legal uncertainty – Reuters

The Department of Justice told Maryland-based U.S. District Judge George Hazel it has not made a final determination on whether to add the question even as President Donald Trump told reporters he was considering issuing an executive order to do it.

Hazel, who had asked for a final decision from the government by Friday afternoon on whether it intended to press forward, issued an order saying the case will now move ahead.

In New York, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its partners asked a federal judge to block the administration from adding a citizenship question to the census.

The group said the administration had successfully received an expedited hearing by arguing the census questionnaire had to be finalised by June 30. Given the abandonment of that deadline, they urged the judge to use his authority to “prohibit defendants from concocting a new basis to add a citizenship question” and to stop the government’s “shenanigans.”

Civil rights groups and some states strongly object to the citizenship question proposal, calling it a Republican ploy to scare immigrants into not participating in the census. That would lead to a population undercount in Democratic-leaning areas with high immigrant populations.

They say that officials lied about their motivations for adding the question and that the move would help Trump’s fellow Republicans gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures when new electoral district boundaries are drawn.

The Supreme Court on June 27 blocked Trump’s first effort to add the question, faulting the administration’s stated reason. The legal fight seemed to be over earlier in the week when the government said it would start printing census forms without the citizenship question. But the battle reignited on Wednesday when Trump reversed course via tweet.

“We’re working on a lot of things including an executive order,” Trump told reporters on Friday outside the White House as he left for his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The U.S. Constitution specifically assigns the job of overseeing the census to Congress, limiting the authority of the president over it, which could complicate an effort to add the question via presidential missive.


Source: Trump presses for contentious census citizenship question despite legal uncertainty – Reuters

ACLU files lawsuit against Florida sheriff’s office for nearly deporting U.S. citizen – ThinkProgress

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Monday that it had filed a lawsuit in conjunction with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) against a Florida sheriff’s office for unlawfully detaining and nearly deporting a U.S citizen.

Peter Sean Brown was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Florida for the last 10 years. According to the complaint, Brown reported to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in April for violating his probation for a low-level marijuana offense and was subsequently detained longer than was required at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE believed Brown was a Jamaican undocumented immigrant of the same name, and was intent on deporting him. Despite his repeated pleas that he was a U.S. citizen with a birth certificate and a Florida driver’s license, Monroe County jail officers told him he was being sent to a country he had only been to once on a cruise.

“I am and have always been a citizen of the United States,” Brown said in a video released by the ACLU. “I did not even realize what ICE was at the time and reading through it I realized it had something to do with immigration, and at that point, I made a comment of, ‘There must’ve been a mistake.’”

Source: ACLU files lawsuit against Florida sheriff’s office for nearly deporting U.S. citizen – ThinkProgress

Trump administration publishes rule restricting asylum seekers : NBC News

WASHINGTON — Fulfilling President Donald Trump’s midterm promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants crossing the Southwest border, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security published a rule on Thursday that will make it harder for immigrants to claim asylum if they are caught crossing the border between designated ports of entry.

Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call that the president has the legal authority to do so because of sections of immigration law that allow the president discretion over who is admitted into the United States — the same language the administration used to support its travel ban in court.

The officials said the plan is to force more immigrants who wish to claim asylum to do so at designated ports of entry. Recently, many asylum-seekers have chosen to cross illegally because they are kept waiting for days in Mexico due to backlogs at ports of entry.

In a joint statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, said, “Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so.”


Source: Trump administration publishes rule restricting asylum seekers : NBC News

Colorado Set to Vote on Slavery in 2018 –

Colorado voters will head to the polls this November to vote if slavery should be abolished once and for all in the Centennial State.

You might be confused why slavery is still up for debate in 2018, but in fact the state’s constitution technically says slavery is legal as a form of punishment.

Article II in Section 26 of Colorado’s constitution states that there “shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

This year, Colorado voters will get to decide on Amendment A if the “except” clause should be removed, thus changing the wording to “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude.”

Bustle reports:

While it may be certainly concerning that Colorado has yet to outdo slavery in its technical sense, it’s not the only state in the country to still practice such an article. More than 15 states in America cite slavery as a legal punishment. It’s the same for the American constitution.

This is because the Thirteenth Amendment from 1865 outdid the majority of slavery except for involuntary servitude as a legal penalty for crime. It’s an issue that American Civil Liberties Union has also highlighted.

ACLU’s Nathan Woodliff-Stanley told CNN that taking out of the slavery article would effectively close “the door on the possibility of future abuses, and it also sends a positive message in a time of great division in our nation.”

Jumoke Emery, who works with Abolish Slavery Colorado, explained that two years ago the same amendment was brought up by local legislators on the ballot in the state. However, unclear wording left voters wondering if the amendment called for getting rid of slavery or keeping it intact.


Source: Colorado Set to Vote on Slavery in 2018 –

Judge orders plane carrying deported mother and child turned around, blocks more removals : NBC News

In a federal courtroom in Washington on Thursday, a judge heard about something the Trump administration had just done that clearly angered him. The government, he learned, had deported an immigrant mother and daughter who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit the judge was hearing over asylum restrictions.

So the judge did something highly unusual: He demanded the administration turn around the plane carrying the plaintiffs to Central America and bring them back to the United States. And he ordered the government to stop removing plaintiffs in the case from the country who are seeking protection from gang and domestic violence.

The U.S. district judge, Emmet Sullivan, of the District of Columbia, was presiding over a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies on Tuesday. He had earlier been assured by the government in open court that no plaintiffs in the suit would be deported before midnight Friday.

The plaintiffs on the plane are identified in the lawsuit as Carmen and her minor daughter J.A.C.F., although Carmen is a pseudonym, an attorney said.

The plane was not able to turn around en route, but a Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News that the mother and daughter did not disembark in El Salvador Thursday evening and were being brought to the United States.

“Carmen and her daughter are right now somewhere in the air between Texas and El Salvador,” ACLU’s lead attorney in the case Jennifer Chang Newell told NBC News just after the hearing.


Source: Judge orders plane carrying deported mother and child turned around, blocks more removals : NBC News

ACLU: Trump refused to turn over Giuliani travel ban memo by court-ordered deadline | TheHill

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Saturday blasted President Trump for ignoring a court order demand to release a memo drafted under former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s guidance that outlined a plan to implement a travel ban without making it seem as if it was directly aimed at Muslims.

 A federal judge in Detroit ordered the Trump administration to turn over the memo by May 19, according to reports. The ACLU said Saturday that Trump did not meet the deadline on Friday.“If, as the administration claims, the Executive Order is not a Muslim Ban, then why is the administration refusing to turn over the Giuliani memo? What is in that document that the government doesn’t want the court to see?” Miriam Aukerman, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement.

Source: ACLU: Trump refused to turn over Giuliani travel ban memo by court-ordered deadline | TheHill

Why I Joined My Fellow Vets at Standing Rock This Weekend | American Civil Liberties Union

When I joined the Marines 40 years ago, I took a vow to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That’s why I drove from the suburbs of Minneapolis to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation this weekend to join other military veterans in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. For the past few months, I have watched from afar as para-militarized police forces from nine states have targeted peaceful protestors at Standing Rock with tear gas, freezing water, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and other life-threatening crowd control weapons. The Standing Rock Sioux understandably don’t want an oil pipeline so close to the source of their drinking water and don’t want it to cross through their sacred ancestral lands. They and their supporters have every right to protest this, and the way they were treated really bothered me. It really looked to me like the government of North Dakota felt like they could do whatever they wanted because these people are Native Americans, and I don’t approve of that. So when I heard that military veterans were planning to go to Standing Rock to join the protesters at their camp this weekend, I went to my local thrift shop to stock up on winter gear, packed up my pick-up truck, and drove west. At the thrift store, the cashier told me I wasn’t the only one who had come in last week in search of winter gear for Standing Rock. A customer had come in just a couple of hours earlier to do the same. And she herself was planning to go to Standing Rock for the weekend. I left early Saturday morning and drove to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, about an hour and a half south of Standing Rock where the Cheyenne Sioux had created a rally point and provided protesters with warm places to sleep and eat hot food. There were about 500 vets there, from all over the country — California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and West Virginia — and from all walks of life. There were men, women, farmers, students, IT professionals, and preachers, some young, some old. There was even a 97-year-old woman who served as a nurse in World War II. The Sioux served us buffalo stew, and the tribal elders briefed us on the weather and what to expect when we got there. There were vets from Florida and Georgia who weren’t used to the cold, and at Standing Rock, the temperature at this time of year can be below zero. They explained where we could find shelter from the cold and that there would be a medic tent and first aid station (also staffed by vets) should anyone be injured by rubber bullets, concussion grenades, or tear gas. And they reiterated the importance of keeping the protest peaceful and suggested that if we were to get agitated, we could partake of a tribal remedy and chew on a piece of bitter root, which the Sioux believe can relieve high blood pressure and other ailments. The elders said that there were some 11,000 protesters at the camp and urged us to leave our cars at Eagle Butte and take one of the many buses to the Standing Rock encampment. As we slept on cots, buses came and went all night. I got up at 5 a.m. and headed out to Standing Rock around 7:30. I arrived just before midday. The Sioux thanked us for coming, assigned us to tents, and directed us to set up not at the main entrance to the camp but at an unguarded area from which the camp was still accessible. There were rumors that agitators had been sent into the camp to disrupt the peaceful protest, and the tribe thought we vets would be a good deterrent. We built a fire, kept lookout along the camp perimeter, and helped the Sioux build additional shelters for protesters. And then something amazing started happening. The police started backing down. In the face of such an impressive veteran presence, law enforcement vehicles began leaving. Then, a little after 4 p.m., an announcement came over the speakers. The Department of the Army halted the project. Celebratory whooping erupted from within the camp. Tribal members paraded through the camp on horseback, beating drums and gathering around a fire at the center of the camp. The tribe began singing — but it wasn’t like a party. It was spiritual. A Native American vet explained that the tribe was thanking the great spirit. People lined up along the main avenue — we called it Flag Avenue — and linked arms. While my fellow vets and I were happy, we were still nervous. There are still a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Army’s decision. There were rumors that the Dakota Pipeline might attempt to drill on Monday anyway and just pay any fines that might be levied against them. Some of us wondered if maybe the Department of the Army and the Dakota Pipeline struck a deal with the incoming Trump administration. Maybe they wanted to trick us into leaving so that they could go ahead building the pipeline.    Initially, I thought I would stay for a few more days, but it soon became clear that we weren’t needed in such massive numbers. I’m

Source: Why I Joined My Fellow Vets at Standing Rock This Weekend | American Civil Liberties Union