LCCR Announces Support of Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004

Media 06.16,04

Today, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, announced its strong support for the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, legislation introduced today that will address many of the civil rights and liberties abuses that have occurred in the post-9/11 law enforcement environment.

“LCCR strongly supports the CLRA,” stated LCCR executive director Wade Henderson, “because we believe that the Constitutional guarantees of civil rights and liberties and due process of law should be measured with a single yardstick, even in times of crisis, and that the failure to live up to this principle has often had dire consequences for the most vulnerable members of our society – immigrants and citizens alike.”

Henderson pointed out that a careful balance between civil rights and liberties and national security must be struck. “We all know, of course, that since the 9/11 tragedy, our nation has been rightly consumed with preventing another terrorist incident. The fear of terrorism is real and should not be glibly dismissed. However, adopting strategies that unfairly demonize non-citizens and, at the same time, are ineffective in preventing terrorism or advancing national security are simply a recipe for disaster.”

“The consequences of this manufactured hysteria has fed into the scapegoating of many Arab Americans, Muslims, South Asians, and some immigrant groups that has resulted in a spike of hate crime activity and abuses of their civil rights,” Henderson continued. But Henderson also pointed out that many of the harshest post-9/11 policies have drastic implications for other groups, citizens and non-citizens alike: “The national security rationale has been stretched so far that it is now even used as a pretext for discriminatory immigration detention policies that are applied against Haitians who try to seek asylum here.

“The crossover consequences for citizens when we compromise civil rights and liberties should also be noted. For example, before 9/11, our nation was making a considerable amount of progress on efforts to combat racial and ethnic profiling. In the aftermath of 9/11, however, racial profiling has once again been falsely viewed by some as a legitimate law enforcement tool.

“If violations of civil rights and liberties are considered permissible in the name of fighting terrorism, it sets a dangerous precedent that may soon haunt us when it comes to other types of law enforcement efforts such as the war on drugs or violent crime,” Henderson concluded.