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Federal Prison Communications Management Units

Legislative Fact Sheet

October 2011

The Issue

  • What are CMUs? In 2006 and 2008, in secret and without the opportunity for public review the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) created Communications Management Units (CMUs). CMUs are prison units designed to isolate and segregate certain prisoners from the rest of the federal population. Unlike other BOP prisoners, CMU prisoners are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends and their telephone communications are severely limited.
  • CMUs disproportionately target American Muslims. Currently there are two CMUs nationwide that house between 60 and 70 prisoners in total. However, two-thirds of those prisoners are Muslim, even though Muslims represent only 6 percent of federal prison population.
    • At the Marion-Illinois CMU, 72 percent of the population is Muslim, 1,200 percent higher than the national average of Muslim prisoners in federal prison facilities.
    • At the Terre Haute-Indiana CMU, its prison population is approximately two-thirds Muslim, an overrepresentation of 1,000 percent.
  • CMUs lack transparency and violate due process. CMU prisoners do not received any meaningful explanation of the reasons why they were transferred to CMUs or what evidence was used to make that decision. They also do not receive a hearing to challenge their CMU designation. Likewise, there is no meaningful review process through which they might earn their way out of the CMU.

What is being asked of the U.S. Senate?

On October 7, twelve House members wrote to BOP with questions and concerns about the policies and practices at CMUs, and the circumstances under which they were established. We ask that you reemphasis the House's concern and support a Senate letter of inquiry to BOP demanding that it clarify:

  • Why are CMU inmates not informed of the evidence used to determine their designation in CMUs?
  • Why is there no review process through which CMU inmates might earn their way out of CMUs?
  • If CMU inmate communications are being closely monitored, why are they not allowed contact visits?
  • Why did BOP determine that it is not necessary for inmates to have communications-related infractions before being placed in CMUs, given the focus on the monitoring of inmate communication?
  • What accounts for the large percentage of Muslims in CMUs?

Reasons to Support Reform of the Communication Management Unit Program

  • In 2010, two years after the fact, BOP finally disclosed CMU polices for public comment as required by law. While BOP is expected to release its final rules governing CMU facilities by October 2011, Congress should act now to ensure that these questions are properly addressed in BOP's final rulemaking.
  • As stated above, CMUs lack transparency, violate due process, and disproportionately target American Muslims housed in the federal prison system. In addition, the Center for Constitutional Rights reports that BOP has an unchecked pattern of retaliatory and discriminatory designation of Muslim prisoners and politically active prisoners to CMUs.
  • Although many CMU prisoners have been classified as low security by the BOP and have clean disciplinary histories, their communication with family, friends, and the outside world is severely restricted without clarification or justification. CMUs' visitation policies are even more restrictive than that of ADX Florence, the BOP's "supermax" prison. This policy runs counter to BOP acknowledging the critical importance of communications and visitation to the rehabilitation and re-entry of prisoners.

Note: This document contains text produced by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Help Reform Immigration Laws

Legislative Fact Sheet

(January 1, 2013)

The Issue

Immigration reform is long overdue and needs to be implemented in a way that is fair, upholds the constitutional values of due process and equality, and ensures human rights.

In the absence of comprehensive federal immigration reform, many states have adopted punitive enforcement of immigration laws that relies on racial and religious profiling.

Current federal immigration laws and practices have also led to racial profiling, indefinite detention, and mistaken deportation of immigrants and American citizens alike.

These laws may endanger public safety by redirecting the limited resources of our nation's immigration law enforcement agencies (LEAs) into programs that: 1) target immigrants without a criminal records, and, 2) inadequately train state and local LEAs required to enforce these laws.

Not only are these laws ineffective, they can lead to deep distrust between immigrant and resident communities and a lack of reporting to law enforcement agencies.

These programs are unaffordable in a time of financial crisis – Congress is expected to appropriate over $5 billion to DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2013, including $2.8 billion for immigration detention and removal operations.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Support comprehensive immigration reform policies that establish a commonsense approach for LEAs, respect civil and human rights, and promote greater public safety. Enact reforms that:

  • Immediately stop the implementation the ICE led Secure Communities program and Criminal Alien Program unless and until meaningful civil right and civil liberties safeguards are put in place to ensure that racial profiling and other human rights violations are not occurring.
  • To prevent such violations, collect data on the perceived race or ethnicity of the people arrested, the charges that are lodged and the ultimate disposition of cases.
  • Completely phase out existing 287(g) agreements and initiate no new agreements, do away with section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Rescind the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel's 2002 "inherent authority" memo and issue a new memo clarifying that state and local LEAs may not enforce immigration laws.

Establish clear accountability and oversight systems that are transparent and responsive to civilian complaints, maintaining a zero tolerance policy that holds accountable all federal immigration LEAs who commit civil and human rights violations.

Direct immigration LEA resources on deporting "high priority" convicted drug traffickers, gang members and violent criminals, not "low priority" law-abiding immigrants seeking citizenship.

Develop comprehensive workplace immigration enforcement laws that can be implemented in a manner that improves rather than undermines the wages and working condition of U.S. and immigration workers while respecting the due process rights of workers.

Reasons to support reform of the Secure Communities program

  • Background: The Secure Communities program is a "voluntary" state-federal deportation program that enhances information-sharing between ICE, the FBI and state and local LEAs in 24 states. It is expected to be deployed nationwide in 2013. While the program is intended to identify, prioritize, and remove only the most serious criminal offenders, in practice it has led to deportation based on immigration violations, racial profiling, and state disengagement from the program.
  • Wholesale targeting of immigrant communities: According to ICE, 27 percent of those detained nationwide under the program were "non-criminals," and in the state of Illinois 78 percent of those detained were people who had committed only "misdemeanors or had no criminal record."
  • Misuse of resources: State and local LEAs are required to focus on undocumented immigrants, diminishing overall law enforcement efforts to prevent other serious types of crimes. Frequently, those who report crime or are victims of crime are deported because of their immigration status.
  • Not really a voluntary program: ICE has announced that it will "proceed with Secure Communities without the agreement of state and local jurisdictions" after having rescinded its prior agreements with participating states and jurisdictions. Massachusetts, Illinois and New York have already attempted to withdraw from the program.

Reasons to phase out section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

  • Background: Section 287(g) authorizes ICE to enter into agreements with state and local LEAs, deputizing officers to act as immigration officers in addition to their regular activities. However, according the DHS Office of Inspector General's March 2010 report on the performance of 287(g) agreements, state and local LEAs do not receive adequate training, have engaged in racial profiling and potentially committed civil rights abuses, and like with Secure Communities, have targeted immigrants who have no prior arrests.
  • No accountability: According the March 2010 report, "With no specific target levels for arrest, detention, and removal priority levels, and with performance measures that do not account for all investigative work and criminal prosecutions, ICE cannot be assured that the 287(g) program is meeting its intended purpose, or that resources are being appropriately targeted toward aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety and the community."
  • Inadequate training: According the March 2010 report, "287(g) training does not fully prepare [LEA] officers for immigration enforcement duties," and that training "curriculum provides limited coverage of three topics: civil rights law; the terms and limitations of [immigration enforcement agreements]; and public outreach and complaint procedures."
  • Unauthorized detention: According the March 2010 report, ICE "has detained aliens identified through the 287(g) program at three facilities that were not authorized by ICE, and therefore not subject to inspection." Many of these facilities are overcrowded and lack sufficient resources.
  • Wrongful detention: According to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Immigration & Human Rights Policy Clinic, "Wrongful immigration determination is yet another legal concern that arises from the implementation of 287(g) ... Because immigration law is complicated ... state and local officers often lack the necessary expertise notwithstanding the 287(g) training that they undergo. Consequently, American citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as undocumented immigrants who have legal claims to lawful status become vulnerable to wrongful detention and even wrongful deportation."

Remove Language Targeting American Muslims from the DHS Reauthorization Act of 2011

Legislative Fact Sheet

(October 2011)

The Issue

  • The Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S.1546 and H.R.3116), pending in U.S. Senate and House, unconstitutionally supports counterterrorism measures that pursue beliefs, not criminal actions. Specifically, the act singles out American Muslims for additional scrutiny over the threat of violent extremism in the United States.
  • Sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representative Peter King, both drafts of the bill seek to create a new coordinator position within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to direct efforts on "counter[ing] homegrown violent Islamist extremism" with particular focus on the "ideology of Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups" in the United States. However, it will be ordinary American Muslims, not Al Qaeda extremists, who end up being investigated under such a position.
  • The American Muslim community utterly rejects violent extremism. Creating a coordinator position that narrowly shifts the DHS counterterrorism strategy away from following actual leads and preventing illegal and violent acts, to monitoring the thoughts and beliefs of American citizens is akin to religious McCarthyism.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Congress should oppose any legislation that unconstitutionally singles out American citizens for unwarranted scrutiny on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Specifically, members of Congress should:

  • Ensure that if the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 comes to a vote, the bill is amended to remove all problematic language that targets ideology.
  • Continue to support measures that pursue criminal action, not beliefs.

Reasons to Support

  • In a recent letter to Senator Lieberman, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reaffirmed that, "DHS has made it a priority to counter all forms of domestic violent extremism, regardless of ideology," and that DHS has already established, "the Counterterrorism Advisory Board [led by a Counterterrorism Coordinator] to better coordinate the Department's ... efforts to prevent and protect against foreign and homegrown terrorist attacks."
  • DHS has already established a coordinator to direct efforts on confronting violent extremism. Creating an additional position conflicts with current counterterrorism programs and goals.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional and violates the basic constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Religious and racial profiling is not effective law enforcement. Anti-government, violent extremists like Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified by a coordinator focused on religious ideology.

Help Close the Department of Justice's Loophole on Religious Profiling

Legislative Fact Sheet

(October 2011)

The Issue

  • Since September 11, 2001, thousands of innocent Americans have been wrongfully targeted by federal law enforcement officials because of their race, religion and national origin. They have been searched, investigated, and detained without cause in the name of national security.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made a partial attempt to put a stop to racial profiling by issuing a policy guidance that banned federal law enforcement officials from engaging in such activities. However, the guidance remains ineffective because it includes open-ended loopholes that allow federal law enforcement agencies to profile at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security.
  • The guidance also remains incomplete and ineffective because it:
    • Is only a guidance and not official policy.
    • Does not prohibit profiling based on religion or national origin.
    • U.S. Immigration Customs and Border Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continue to use ethnicity as a "relevant factor" in decisions to make immigration stops.
    • Has no enforcement mechanism, and is not applicable to state and local law enforcement agencies working in cooperation with federal agencies or receiving federal funds.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Members should send or support a letter to the DOJ that requests the department to revise its 2003 policy guidance on racial profiling to:

  • Include measures that prevent profiling based on religion and national origin by requiring:
    • Federal law enforcement agencies to maintain policies and procedures that eliminate profiling and any pre-existing practices of profiling.
    • States and local governments working in cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies or seeking federal grants to certify that they maintain policies and practices to eliminate profiling. They must also establish procedures and programs for addressing complaints of profiling.
  • Eliminate loopholes that permit profiling at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security.
  • Ensure that the guidance is enforceable.

Reasons to Support

  • There is bi-partisan support for banning racial, religious and ethnic profiling. Many law enforcement and government agencies also do not support it.
    • In 2009, President Obama pledged to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide incentives to state and local law enforcement agencies to prohibit the practice.
    • In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address, "[Racial profiling is] wrong, and we will end it in America."
    • Former Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke stated that the department is "opposed to the concept of racial profiling," and its profiling techniques are based on suspect behavior rather than targeting ethnicities or faiths.
    • In a 2006 report, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommended that all law enforcement agencies put an end to racial profiling.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional. Profiling violates the basic Constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Profiling hinders anti-terrorism efforts. Profiling is not effective law enforcement. Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified.
  • Profiling diverts precious law enforcement resources away from investigations of individuals who have been linked to terrorist activity by specific and credible evidence.

Support the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011

Legislative Fact Sheet

October 2011

The Issue

  • On October 6 and December 9, the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA) was respectively introduced into the U.S. Senate and House. The act would prohibit and promote measures to eliminate profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.
  • Since September 11, 2001, CAIR has received hundreds of reports from innocent Americans that have been wrongfully targeted by federal and state law enforcement agencies because of their race, religion and national origin. They have been searched, investigated, and detained without cause in the name of national security.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice made a partial attempt to put a stop to racial profiling by issuing a policy guidance that banned federal law enforcement from engaging in such activities. However, the guidance remains ineffective because it does not prohibit profiling based on religion or national origin and includes open-ended loopholes that allow federal law enforcement to profile at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security. Also, as a guidance it lacks any enforcement mechanisms.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011. If signed into law, ERPA would require:

  • Federal law enforcement agencies to maintain policies and procedures eliminating racial profiling and any pre-existing practices of racial profiling.
  • State and local government applying for federal law enforcement assistance grants to certify that they maintain similar policies and practices to eliminate racial profiling. They must also establish procedures and programs for addressing complaints of racial profiling.
  • The Attorney General to collect data on hit rates for stops and searches by law enforcement agents. He or she must also create grants to develop and implement best practice devices and systems to eliminate racial profiling.

Reasons to Support

  • There is bi-partisan support for banning racial, religious and ethnic profiling. Many law enforcement and government agencies also do not support profiling.
    • In 2012, the National Council of Law Enforcement Organizations (NCLEO) signed a letter in support of ERPA. NCLEO members include the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, the National Asian Peace Officers Association, the National Latino Peace Officers Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Women in Federal Law Enforcement.
    • In 2009, President Obama pledged to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide incentives to state and local law enforcement agencies to prohibit the practice.
    • In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address, "[Racial profiling is] wrong, and we will end it in America."
    • In a 2006 report, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommended that all law enforcement agencies put an end to racial profiling.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional. Profiling violates the basic Constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Profiling hinders anti-terrorism efforts and is not effective law enforcement. Anti-government extremist such as Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified by profiling.
  • Profiling diverts precious law enforcement resources away from investigations of individuals who have been linked to terrorist activity by specific and credible evidence.

Support Due Process: Repeal Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA

Legislative Fact Sheet

(February 2012)

The Issue

  • The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) was signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011. The law authorizes the U.S. military to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations and indefinitely detain Americans and others suspected of terrorism without charge or trial.
  • Section 1021 of the NDAA vaguely endorses the claimed presidential authority to indefinitely detain Americans as enemy combatants under "existing law," i.e. the Authorization to Use Military Force Act.
  • Section 1021 of the NDAA explicitly allows for the indefinite detention of Americans captured abroad, as well as foreigners.
  • Section 1022 of the NDAA authorizes the indefinite military detention of Americans. While this section does not require the military to detain U.S. citizens, the authority or option to do so remains.*
  • The power to indefinitely detain individuals under the NDAA remains "until the end of hostilities" -- an indefinite and undetermined length of time. 
  • The NDAA is unconstitutional as it disregards the Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process for "all persons" and the Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speedy trial.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

  • Support and cosponsor legislation that repeals Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA and reaffirms the due process rights of all persons, including American citizens at home and abroad, documented and undocumented residents, and persons in U.S. custody.
  • Amend legislation that has already been introduced to reaffirm the due process rights of all persons. There is no freedom, justice or equality in maintaining the rights of the majority over the rights of the few.

Reasons to support

  • There is strong bipartisan support for legislation that addresses the NDAA's detention provisions. Several acts have already been introduced by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.
  • The U.S. Constitution already provides all the necessary tools to safeguard the nation from enemies both foreign and domestic. Those who would attempt to do our nation harm should be arrested without hesitation, charged, tried, and, if convicted, punished to the full extent of the law. Those who are falsely accused of supporting such hostilities rely on the Constitution to protect them.
  • Congress is supposed to check the president's power, not expand it. Many leaders in congress and the civil rights community believe that granting such detention powers is an overreach of executive authority.
  • The NDAA leaves too much to presidential interpretation. President Obama's signing statement already suggests that he believes his administration has the authority to indefinitely detain Americans -- only that he chooses to not use it. Furthermore, no guarantee exists that future administrations will not interpret the law to do so.
  • It is unconstitutional for the military to arrest and indefinitely detain all persons inside the U.S. To deny any person the right to due process in the name of national security makes our nation less free, but not more secure.
  • Only 1 in 4 likely voters actually approved of the NDAA according to an IBOPE Zogby Interactive survey conducted in January 2012.

CAIR analysis of section 1022 of the national defense authorization act of 2012

National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 Public Law No: 112-81

TITLE X--GENERAL PROVISIONS Subtitle D--Counterterrorism Sec. 1022. Military custody for foreign al-Qaeda terrorists. Subparagraph (b)(1)

Section 1022 of the NDAA authorizes the indefinite military detention of Americans. While under this section the requirement to detain a person in military custody does not apply to U.S. citizens, CAIR legal counsel believes that the authority or option to do so remains.

What We Do

CAIR's government affairs department represents the interests of the American Muslim community before the U.S. Congress, the White House, and federal agencies. The department is responsible for actively monitoring legislation and government activities that affects Muslims and responding on behalf of the American Muslim community. To ensure that the Muslim community is being represented, we provide a Muslim perspective to policy makers and answer questions from government officials about issues related to Islam and Muslims. The department also promotes legislative action alerts, distributes legislative fact sheets, submits testimony to Congress and sponsors a number of activities designed to bring Muslim concerns to the government.

The department builds networks and coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding to support domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion and oppose policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.

The department also works to increase Muslim participation in the political arena, and works with CAIR chapters regularly sponsor voter registration and get out the vote drives, candidate forums, and campaign volunteer opportunities across the country.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

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