ACLU: Trump’s Second Travel Ban “Shares The Same Fatal Flaws” as the First

President Donald Trump signed a revised version of his travel ban on Monday, more than a month after the original executive order caused chaos at the nation’s airports and was ultimately blocked by federal courts.

According to a fact sheet sent to Congress and published by several organizations, the new order again bans travel from a number of Muslim majority countries — Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen — for ninety days from the date of its signing. The order does not ban travel from Iraq, as the original order had, and exempts green card holders from the named countries, a provision that was not explicitly included in the original bill.

Unchanged from the last order is a halt, for 120 days, to the refugee resettlement program. The timeline for both the travel and refugee provisions begins today, and therefore represents an effective extension of the order.

The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU], which is among the groups that filed successful legal challenges to the original order, said the revised ban would also face lawsuits.

“The Trump administration has conceded that its original Muslim ban was indefensible. Unfortunately, it has replaced it with a scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws,” the group said, in a statement attributed to Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban.”

The second version of the order also elides some of the most noxious and confusion-inducing elements of the original, which was put in place with virtually no warning, and resulted in the deportation of an unknown number of people who had already been cleared for entry. The new order will not take effect for ten days, and those currently holding valid visas will be able to travel as planned. Also specifically exempted are legal permanent residents or green card holders. The new version of the order includes a new provision, titled “transparency,” which purports to be a mechanism to keep the public informed about how the ban is functioning. The administration plans to publish a list of “foreign nationals” suspected or involved of terrorism repeated offenses, as well as acts of “gender-based violence against women” to include “honor killings.”

The revisions are an attempt by the administration to avoid problems in the courts. In issuing a temporary restraining order in January, a federal judge in Seattle had focused in part on the haste with which the order had been put into effect. The Trump administration had initially vowed to fight the order, and Trump himself lashed out on Twitter at the judges who halted the ban.

But some of the changes seem to undermine their earlier arguments. The new version of the ban won’t take effect for ten days, for example, while the administration has earlier claimed that any ban needed to take effect abruptly, to prevent those with bad intent form sneaking on under the deadline.

The original order prompted massive demonstrations when it was put into place, with tens of thousands of protesters descending on airports throughout the country. For weeks, volunteer immigration lawyers camped out at JFK and other airports, offering free advice to travelers stranded or detained by DHS personnel.


“Land” and Frisk? Privacy Concerns Abound as NYPD Looks Into Possibility of Drones Patrolling New York Skies

Get excited New Yorkers! Our city is inching one step closer to resembling one of those nightmarish societies depicted in your favorite 20th century dystopian novel with the impending introduction of police surveillance drones into our air space.

No, they’re not just for the war in Afghanistan. Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, are already being used in certain places around the U.S. including areas along the U.S/Mexico border. And, the NYPD apparently wants in on the action.

The American Civil Liberties Union discovered an email sent by the NYPD in December 2010 to the Federal Aviation Administration, in which the department inquires about the possibility of bringing drones to New York City.

Realizing the serious threat that drones present to the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of New Yorkers and Americans across the country, the ACLU filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests with five federal agencies Tuesday demanding more information about domestic drones. And, representatives from the organization attended a congressional hearing in Houston yesterday to testify about the potential pitfalls of such technology.


“The NYPD is in the basic stages of investigating the possibility of using drones here in New York, but the fact is we know very little,” Udi Ofer, advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, tells the Voice. “That is particularly concerning since, unfortunately, the NYPD has a long and infamous history of engaging in unchecked surveillance of lawful activity.”

Aerial surveillance by manned-aircrafts has long been a part of police enforcement in the U.S. and New York City, but the high costs of such aerial operations has limited the pervasiveness of the practice. But, unmanned drone surveillance technology is becoming increasingly more sophisticated and cheaper to produce. Consequently, industry corporations are chomping at the bit to expand their market and police departments across the U.S. are eager customers.

Considering that the NYPD has trouble honoring the rights of New Yorkers on land, it’s pretty scary to imagine what new ways they’ll find to harass people from the air. Ofer cited the recent case –where the NYPD coerced a Muslim man to spy on members of his religious community even though they weren’t previously suspected of engaging in illegal activity — as an example abusive surveillance tactics that the NYPD already employs.

See Also:

Here’s Audio of an NYPD Officer Roughing Up Harlem Teen Before Calling Him a “Mutt.” His Crime: Looking “Suspicious.”

Is There Any Reason The NYPD Officer Who Beat The Crap Out Of Ehud Halevy Shouldn’t Be Charged With A Crime?

A December 2011 ACLU report on domestic drones describes how rapidly drone technology is advancing. Many drones possess high-powered zoom-lenses and night vision. The report also indicates that drones are on the verge of acquiring see-through capabilities that will allow them to look through walls and other objects. Advances in artificial intelligence technology, will soon enable drones to carry out spy missions, operate without command, and track and evade specific targets.

Drones used in New York City will likely be small fixed-winged aircrafts as opposed to the large fixed-wing aircrafts used in Afghanistan, and to patrol the U.S./Mexico border. The Houston police department is currently testing these 4 feet long, 10 feet wide small fixed-winged drones.

“Drone surveillance is an incredibly powerful technology that does not have any meaningful regulations,” Ofer says. “This is a prime example of where the law hasn’t caught up to technology. The current privacy regulations in place to protect New Yorkers against government abuses of power were put in place when this type of technology was not available. And, what we need here is a privacy act for the 21 century that protects New Yorkers and Americans across the country from unchecked surveillance.”

Controversy over invasive aerial surveillance arose in New York in 2004 when a police helicopter captured four-minute footage of a couple having sex on their roof-top balcony. NYPD officials responded to concerns about the footage by saying “this is what police in helicopters are supposed to do, check out people to make sure no one is … doing anything illegal,” according to the report.

“Without meaningful regulation, they’re going to be used in a pervasive way, and the police will engage in fishing expeditions and it will lead to police abuses,” Ofer says.

The New York National Guard is already using drones near the Adirondacks, where some vehicles that pass through the area are being used to test surveillance capabilities. Ofer says that the prospect of drones in the city appears increasingly more likely, and the public must understand how privacy rights will suffer with the proliferation of this technology without comprehensive regulations in place.

“We need to learn more. We also need the public to start asking questions of Commissioner Kelly [and] Mayor Bloomberg for just basic information,” Ofer says. “It shouldn’t be controversial for the NYPD to let the people of New York know what it’s doing with the drone technology. And, once New Yorkers have a full understanding of what the NYPD is doing, and what the NYPD plans to do, then we need to have a serious conversation.”


Want to Really F**k The Po-Lice? There’s An App For That (Compliments Of The ACLU)

The New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has developed a smartphone app that allows users to easily record what happens during a police stop without the officer knowing he or she is getting recorded.

The app is called “Police Tape” and was developed with the idea of letting the general public “police the police.”

Our only question is this: where the hell was this app a few months ago?!

We got pulled over in Brooklyn back in March by a portly NYPD officer for — as far as we can tell — absolutely no reason. When we asked the cop why he stopped us, he didn’t answer — just took our information, went back to his cruiser, and left us wondering for about five minutes.

When the officer returned with our information — and a ticket — we again asked “why did you stop me.” Avoiding eye contact, the officer handed us a ticket and said “you weren’t wearing your seat-belt” before stomping off.

That was about the same time we looked across our chest to make sure we weren’t crazy. Sure as shit, our seat-belt was on. Obviously, we were furious — but we’re not dumb enough to think we’re gonna win an argument with a cop. We’re currently fighting the ticket in court in what has become a “he said, cop said” situation that is not likely to end favorably for us.

If we had the ACLU’s app, our case probably would be slightly easier to prove.

According to the group, the app was (generously) developed by app developer OpenWatch and “records video and audio discreetly, disappearing from the screen once the recording begins to prevent any attempt by police to squelch the recording. In addition to keeping a copy on the phone itself, the user can choose to send it to the ACLU-NJ for backup storage and analysis of possible civil liberties violations.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out, either — there are only three buttons: a “know your rights” button that tells users what their rights are in various situations where they might encounter a cop. The other two buttons are to discreetly record audio and video.

“This app provides an essential tool for police accountability,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Deborah Jacobs says. “Too often incidents of serious misconduct go unreported because citizens don’t feel that they will be believed. Here, the technology empowers citizens to place a check on police power directly.”

The app currently is available for Android operating software, but an Apple version is awaiting approval and should be available later on this summer.

For more info — and to download your own “Police Tape” app — visit the ACLU’s website here.


The Ku Klux Klan’s New Ally: The ACLU

Despite being a group of racist, knuckle-dragging hillbillies, members of the Ku Klux Klan are entitled to the same rights as anyone else — so says the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Klan members in a lawsuit over an Adopt-a-Highway program in Georgia.

Just to get the laughter out of the way before we go any further, the Klansman behind the lawsuit, Harley Hanson, considers himself the “exalted cyclops of the Georgia Realm of the International Keystone Knights of the KKK.”

The alliance is odd for a number of reasons. For starters — and as we
mentioned — the KKK is a group of racist, knuckle-dragging hillbillies
that’s hate-filled political agenda goes beyond the realm of despicable.
The ACLU, on the other hand, is one of the leading voices against
racism in America.

In any event, the civil rights group views the case as a First Amendment
issue, and is trying to downplay the fact that it’s aiding a bunch of
racists who want to adopt a highway.

About two weeks ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation rejected
the Klan’s application to adopt a highway in Union County because,
well…the Klan is made up of racist, knuckle-dragging hillbillies with
titles for its members like “exalted cyclops.”

“Exalted Cyclops” Hanson, however,doesn’t live in Union County, which is
part of the reason the DOT gave for denying the Klan’s application.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Instead, [Hanson] lives in Morganton in Fannin County, which he described
as “a mile or two from the Union County border.” But he said the KKK’s
headquarters is in Blairsville. He said it also has a physical
headquarters there but would not provide specifics.

“That’s one of the secrets we do have,” he said, adding that the fact
that he lives in Fannin has no bearing on the Adopt-a Highway
application. “It doesn’t matter where we live, it’s irrelevant to the

Irrelevant or not, Union County officials aren’t exactly thrilled
with the idea of government-issued road signs applauding the Ku Klux
Klan for cleaning up a highway in their county.

“We don’t know why they picked Union County,” Union County
Commissioner Lamar Paris, a native of the county and the top elected
official for a dozen years, tells the ACJ. “They could have easily chosen the last mile
of Fannin County as opposed to the first mile in Union County.”

Aside from confirming to the ACJ that it’s involved in the lawsuit,
the ACLU isn’t saying much about its decision to help a gang with the
mission of promoting hate and violence — the group is yet to return our
call requesting comment.

We’ll let you know if we hear back. Check back for updates.


DNA Databanks: Not Just For Felons Anymore

Big brother just got a little bigger…

Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced yesterday their agreement on a bill that would allow authorities to obtain the DNA of anyone convicted of a felony or a penal law misdemeanor and put it in a DNA databank that law enforcement officials could access when investigating other crimes.

The “All Crimes DNA Bill” is the first of its kind in the entire country. Previously — in New York and everywhere else in America — only the DNA of convicted felons was collected and entered into the databank.

In addition to giving law enforcement officials the authority to collect the DNA of those convicted of misdemeanors, the bill expands a defendant’s access to DNA testing both before and after conviction “in appropriate circumstances.”

Cuomo, who says he’s made the bill a “centerpiece of his 2012 legislative agenda,” says the following:

“It is a proven fact: DNA helps solve crimes, prosecute the guilty, and
protects the innocent. This bill will greatly improve law enforcement’s
ability to keep New York communities safe and  bring justice to victims
of violent crimes, as well as those who have been wrongly convicted. For
too long, a limiting factor to our ability to solve crimes through DNA
was the fact the law did not encompass all crimes. This new law will
right those wrongs.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is
lovin’ the gov’s bill, saying “post-conviction DNA collection for all
crimes will undoubtedly produce more leads in criminal investigations.
It will not only help convict the guilty and bring closure to thousands
of victims in unsolved cases, it will exonerate the innocent. I want to
thank our state lawmakers for expediting the agreement on the All-Crimes
DNA Bill, which is a critical step in making sure that our laws
recognize and use the best technology available to protect our

Cuomo’s office gives the following explanation of the changes:

· “All Crimes DNA” Expansion: This legislation will make New York
the first state in the country to expand its DNA Databank so
dramatically, a reform that promises to solve thousands of crimes and
prevent thousands of others. Since its launch in 1996, New York State’s
DNA Databank has been a powerful tool both for preventing and solving
crimes- including more than 2,900 convictions- and for proving
innocence, including 27 individuals exonerated and countless suspects
cleared early-on in investigations.

Previously, state law only permitted DNA to be collected from
48 percent of offenders convicted of a Penal Law crime. Among the
exclusions were numerous crimes that statistics have shown to be
precursors to violent offenses. As a result, New York State missed
important opportunities to prevent needless suffering of crime victims
and failed to use a powerful tool that could be used to exonerate the

· Expanded Access for Certain Criminal Defendants to DNA Testing:
This legislation will allow defendants in certain criminal cases to
obtain DNA testing prior to trial to demonstrate their innocence.
Further, under appropriate circumstances defendants convicted after a
guilty plea will be allowed access to such testing. Together, these
reforms will help to ensure that innocent defendants are not convicted
or, if convicted after a plea, are able to demonstrate their actual

· Expanded Access to Discovery for Certain Criminal Defendants
After Trial: In limited circumstances, defendants will be able to seek
discovery of property and other materials to demonstrate their actual
innocence after their conviction. Such discovery will provide the court
with the evidence necessary to reach a proper decision on a defendant’s
motion for such relief.

Opponents of Cuomo’s plan, including
the American Civil Liberties Union, say the mass collection of DNA could
lead to potential error and fraud at state crime labs.

“The politics of forensic DNA are way ahead good science and public
policy,” Robert Perry, legislative director of the ACLU’s New York
branch, says in a statement. “This deal is long on collection of DNA samples
and short on justice, fairness and the integrity of state crime labs.”

That said, if you want to keep your DNA out of the government’s hands, there’s a simple way to go about it: don’t break the law.