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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Due Process

In a front-page story published in today’s USA Today, the results of our investigation of the comingling of local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in the southeast were made public.  During a “seatbelt” checkpoint conducted last May by the Jackson County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office, ICE implemented one of its many initiatives to ensure that the number of criminal deportations  achieved the prior year’s level.  In simpler terms: a quota.

Why were ICE officers concerned with enforcing local seatbelt laws, you may be wondering? They weren’t.  They were there to interrogate drivers about their immigration status.   Many U.S. citizens and lawful residents were detained for up to 45 minutes on their way to work to prove their immigration status, and fifteen aspiring citizens were taken into ICE custody that morning.

The ACLU of North Carolina launched an investigation into this checkpoint, which included a Freedom of Information Act request to ICE.  The findings were disturbing.  Along with implementing a policy of participating in checkpoints throughout the southeast, ICE also proposed rummaging through North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles records for immigrants who applied for a driver’s license but could not meet the immigration requirements imposed by a 2006 state law.  Another ICE initiative was to deem individuals with no operator’s license as criminal aliens.

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The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit against Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson on Dec. 20, charging that under his direction, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) has systematically and unlawfully targeted Latino residents for investigation, traffic stops, arrests, seizures, and other enforcement actions since at least 2007. The lawsuit asks a federal court to order Sheriff Johnson to refrain from discriminatory policing and for the ACSO to adopt and implement policies that would constitutionally protect and serve all county residents.

The ACLU and other groups have been receiving complaints about Johnson, his deputies, and their treatment of Latinos for years. But some of the alleged examples of Sheriff Johnson’s own prejudice and policing style outlined in the federal lawsuit – which resulted from a two-year investigation and interviews with more than 100 witnesses – are truly shocking.

Among them:

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RALEIGH – U.S. attorneys have still not taken all promised steps to provide relief to potentially hundreds of federal inmates in North Carolina whose convictions or sentences have since been found improper, the American Civil Liberties Union and its North Carolina and Massachusetts affiliates wrote in an Oct. 12 letter to federal officials. The letter comes more than a month after the U.S. Department of Justice vowed to take “concrete steps” to provide appropriate relief.

In August the ACLU asked the Justice Department to take immediate action to identify and assist all federal inmates in North Carolina who remain incarcerated for violating federal gun possession laws even though a 2011 decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Simmons has since found that it was not federal crime for them to have a gun.

In an Oct. 12 letter to H. Marshall Jarrett, Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the ACLU writes that the Justice Department continues to oppose post-conviction relief for the vast majority of improperly sentenced inmates and that U.S. attorneys in the Western District of North Carolina are “still prolonging the incarceration of innocent people” by failing to respond in a timely manner to motions for relief.

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From Sept. 3 through 6, the eyes of the world will be on Charlotte, North Carolina, as thousands of journalists, political activists and demonstrators descend on the city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Going to the DNC? Make sure you know your rights by referencing this one-page guide put together by the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation.