California Legislators Zero-in on Civil Rights Concerns in New Era of National Security

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For Immediate Release
April 29, 2004

Contact: Jonathan Adams, ARC, Tel: (646) 502-8843

Sacramento, CA—The Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes will hold a hearing to assess the state of civil rights in California. Legislators say that immigrant communities and communities of color are concerned that national security policies are fostering a climate of increased fear and hate. The hearing will be held at the State Capitol, Room 126 from 1:00–3:00 pm on Thursday, April 29 in conjunction with the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, and Latino Legislative Caucus.

“We must broaden public dialogue on how to prevent incidences of hate, discrimination and profiling,” says Assembly Member Judy Chu, Chair of both the Select Committee on Hate Crimes and the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “Our civil liberties are as important as our national security. We must work on these two things hand-in-hand. That is why we are holding this exploratory hearing.”

Organizations including the Asian Law Caucus and SIREN (Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network) will be testifying about persistent patterns of discrimination and harassment against their constituents. “This is not just an issue about law enforcement profiling,” asserts Joyti Chand of the South Asian Network. “Housing discrimination against immigrants is part of the same statewide trend of increased intimidation.” The hearing will also feature personal testimony from Californians who have been victims of racial profiling, discrimination and hate crimes.

“As a state, we must send out a clear message that all forms of racial profiling are wrong and unacceptable,” says Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh, Chair of Latino Legislative Caucus. “We are all deeply concerned that proposed federal legislation, such as the CLEAR Act, would further erode civil rights protections.”

“The State should value the security of every Californian,” says Tammy Johnson of the Applied Research Center in Oakland. “While California is eligible for nearly $180 million in Homeland Security grants, virtually none of that money can be used to protect families against discrimination that we see happening on a daily basis.”

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