On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition, we urge you to oppose an amendment that will be offered by Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Zell Miller (D-GA) to H.R. 5005, the “Homeland Security Act of 2002” and to vote against any motion that would restrict debate on this amendment. The LCCR opposes the Gramm-Miller substitute because it:
- Eliminates internal civil rights oversight provisions. The massive new Department of Homeland Security must ensure agency compliance with civil rights laws such as protections from employment discrimination, as well as receive complaints involving potential violations such as racial or ethnic profiling. Both the House-passed version of H.R. 5005 and Chairman Lieberman’s substitute recognized the need for internal oversight, and included limited provisions to that effect. The Gramm-Miller substitute, however, provides no civil rights oversight whatsoever and would leave victims of discrimination with little, if any, recourse.
- Strips federal employees of their union rights and civil service protections. The Gramm-Miller substitute contains so-called “management flexibility” provisions that would give the administration wide latitude to undermine the collective bargaining rights and civil service protections of the nearly 170,000 federal employees in the new department. Federal employees could be fired without cause, whistleblowers would have litte protection against retaliation, and unions would be powerless against abusive or self-protective political employees under the new “flexibility” ? a flexibility which does nothing to advance the cause of homeland security.
- Undermines the due process rights of noncitizens. The Gramm-Miller amendment strikes language in the Lieberman substitute to provide children with guardians and legal counsel if they reach our shores alone. Abandoning vulnerable children, who have no resources and no place else to turn, will mean that their rights and their well-being will be ignored in the new massive immigration bureaucracy ? yet it will do nothing to protect our homeland against terrorism.
Again, we urge you to vote against the Gramm-Miller amendment unless it includes civil rights and worker protections. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Zirkin (202/263-2880) or Rob Randhava (202/466-6058). Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Dorothy I. Height