ACLUM's Legal Director, John Reinstein, weighs in today in the Globe on concerns that Gov. Patrick's grassroots website violated voter privacy. During registration for devalpatrick.com, visitors were shown the street addresses for everyone with the same name or phone number to help the site make sure it had identified the right person.
That part of the registration has since been changed to only show street names.
Coverage of the ICE raid on immigrants at a New Bedford factory earlier this month has rightly focused on the suffering it caused.
We thought it was important to step back, however, and look at the big picture. The New Bedford raid was just part of a much larger effort called operation Endgame. The Boston Globe published our op-ed about it today: Inhumane raid was just one of many.
The report that new Senate president Therese Murray won't use a parliamentary move to stop the anti-marriage amendment doesn't change the fact that it has to be stopped. As part of the MassEquality coalition, the ACLU of Massachusetts will continue making the case that it's wrong to put anyone's rights to a popular vote.
This Washington Post story quotes national ACLU sources on yesterday's ruling against the 1998 "Child Online Protection Act." The law would have imposed penalties of up to $50,000 a day and up to six months in prison for anyone who posted material online that is "harmful to minors."
The Houston Chronicle picks up the story about the ICE raid in New Bedford, with an official claiming that detainees in Texas have the same rights as those still held in Massachusetts. We don't think so.
BOSTON – Calling the rushed mass transfer of people detained in last week’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at a New Bedford factory an abuse of power, the ACLU of Massachusetts (ACLUM) has joined a lawsuit filed in federal court for a writ of habeas corpus and for injunctive and declaratory relief.
The lawsuit alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violated the rights of workers when it conducted a massive raid last week. Since the immigration raid, hundreds of individuals have been shipped out to detention centers as far away as Texas and Florida, leaving behind devastated and distraught families. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that despite assurances from ICE to the contrary, attorneys and the Department of Social Services have been denied meaningful access to the workers and have been unable to provide the support they were willing and able to provide.
Last week, lawyers from several groups raced against the clock to file an emergency petition for the detainees to remain in Massachusetts, only to find that ICE put most of them on planes and flew them out of the state. “It’s unfortunate that federal immigration officials were so quick to ship people out of state that any attempts at keeping the detainees from being transferred out of Massachusetts was impossible,” said ACLUM’s Equal Justice Works Fellow, Anjali Waikar.
The raid took place early in the morning on Tuesday, March 6, 2007, at the Michael Bianco, Inc., plant in New Bedford, where workers were busy stitching armored vests and backpacks for U.S. soldiers. The owner and managers of the factory were charged criminally for conspiring to hire illegal immigrants, but they were quickly released from custody that same day and have since been allowed to travel to Puerto Rico for a business meeting.
Many of the workers had small children who were in daycare or school when the raids took place and found themselves without parents that evening. Advocates know of at least 70 detained parents of minor children and estimate that at least 210 children have been impacted by the raid.
“These people work hard to care for their families, and their job is to provide armor for our troops,” said ACLUM attorney Laura Rótolo. “While the company’s managers were released and sleeping in their own beds on the same day they were arrested, the workers were separated from their families and transferred halfway across the country.” Rótolo was at the detention facility until 4 am the night after the raid as part of a legal team attempting to help detainees.
“The ACLU of Massachusetts denounces these tactics, which not only ignore people’s rights but are carried out so quickly that there is not even time to assert those rights,” said Executive Director Carol Rose. “This is an abuse of power, and children are now suffering because of the government’s misguided rush to eject people.”
Ethan Jacobs at Bay Windows wrote this comprehensive and disturbing story about what a campaign to defeat the anti-marriage amendment might look like if it goes to the ballot. The article quotes ACLUM's new Communications Manager, Chris Ott, who worked on a similar campaign in Wisconsin.
BOSTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Disability Law Center today again joined forces to applaud Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s decision to approve the use in Massachusetts elections of a ballot marking voting machine that is both accessible and secure.
“Voting equipment that is both accessible and secure is essential to ensuring the integrity of the entire elections system in the Commonwealth,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The Secretary’s decision to fund an automatic ballot marking system best ensures that Massachusetts voters with disabilities – and thus all voters – are guaranteed equal access to a secure ballot.”
Stanley J. Eichner, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center, also welcomed the Secretary’s decision. “The automatic ballot marking device has consistently received the highest overall ratings from the disability community,” he said. “Providing secure voting machines for voters with disabilities is part and parcel of protecting their rights to equal access to the ballot and to having their votes reliably counted.”
In January, the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Disability Law Center urged the Secretary to fund the ballot marking machines and to avoid purchasing direct electronic recording (DRE) systems. Although both types of voting technology had been certified for use in Massachusetts, only one technology is to receive state funding under the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.
From an accessibility perspective, the automatic ballot marking device permits disabled voters to use Braille, jelly buttons, a puff-sip interface and audio technology to mark a paper ballot, which can be counted by optical scan or by hand. In contrast, the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines both mark and count votes, and are considered by many voting security experts to be prone to error and vulnerable to tampering.
“DREs are susceptible to both intentional system-wide tampering and accidental ‘bugs,’ since a single programmer at a DRE manufacturer could conceivably change the code in many or all of the DRE products without detection,” said Rose. “DREs also carry the danger of statistical tampering—changing the software to miscount an undetectable, but significant, number of votes in favor of, or against, one party or candidate or issue.”
“The decision by the Secretary shows that it is both possible and essential to build common ground between the disability rights community and the growing number of citizens who are concerned that many of the proposed new technologies are subject to tampering and error,” said Eichner. “We must debunk the myth that we have to choose between accessible voting and verifiable voting. Democracy requires that we have both.”
BOSTON – The ACLU of Massachusetts today called for Massachusetts to join the growing number of states considering rejection of the flawed “Real ID” national identity card program.
Under the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 as part of a military appropriations bill, state drivers licenses will not be acceptable for federal ID purposes, such as getting on an airplane or entering a federal courthouse, unless the state complies with federal requirements. A bill pending before the Massachusetts legislature would block implementation of the federal statute in the Commonwealth.
“Real ID’s creation of a centralized database of personal information on virtually every American is a potential treasure-trove for identity thieves and a serious threat to civil liberties,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “We call upon the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Patrick to stand firm against this unfunded federal mandate.
“This plan threatens to create a society in which ‘Your papers, please’ becomes a method of control that we typically associate with the former East German Stasi or South Africa under apartheid,” added Rose. “Real ID is a real nightmare.”
Draft regulations for the federal legislation were released yesterday by the Dept. of Homeland Security, offering an extension until the end of 2009 for states to comply with the creation of the national ID card—but failing to address serious privacy and civil liberties concerns and still imposing billions in costs on states.
“The draft regulations do not allay our concern because the plan still makes personal data extraordinarily vulnerable to misuse and identity theft, yet does little to create real security,” said Rose.
The Real ID legislation requires states to completely rework their systems for issuing drivers licenses at significant cost, and mandates that anyone seeking a drivers license produce documents such as birth certificates to apply for, or renew, their ID card, and to have those documents verified by state vital records offices.
“This is a budget-buster for Massachusetts that, if implemented, will cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Rose. “Worse yet, it will create a tremendous headache for anyone who wants a drivers license because it effectively creates an internal federal pass system controlled and regulated by civil servants at the local RMV offices.”
Moreover, Real ID will do little to prevent identity theft or terrorism, as proponents claim. “Victims of identity theft may be doubly victimized by REAL ID requirements because they will be unable to readily obtain replacement drivers licenses if the required paperwork is stolen or lost,” said Rose.
Across the country, state legislatures are mobilizing to stop Real ID. In Massachusetts, Senator Richard Moore has introduced a bill to block Real ID from being implemented. Last January, Maine became the first state to reject participation in the Real ID Act. Proposals against Real ID have also passed one chamber in eight state legislatures, and similar bills refusing to implement REAL ID have been introduced in at least a dozen others.
“Congress should pursue proposals like the Akaka-Sununu bill or the Allen bill to restore privacy protections,” said Rose. “And every person in Massachusetts should call upon their state legislator to support Senator Moore’s bill to stop REAL ID from being implemented in Massachusetts.”