Rights Groups Meet International Monitor

Most of the people around the table meet frequently in D.C., around conference tables, running around the capitol and haranguing congressional staffers or pitching reporters. But we had an unusual audience. Our guest had a direct line to the United Nations and he was eager to discuss our concerns.

Civil rights activists gathered yesterday at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office to meet with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diène. Mr. Diène is traveling throughout the U.S. to meet with civil, social, and economic rights groups to compile a report for the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The meeting was co-sponsored by Global Rights, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and included Angela Arbulu, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Damon Hewitt and Leslie Proll, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Margaret Huang from the Rights Working Group, Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, Wade Henderson (LCCR), John Britten, Lawyers Committee and Aubrey McCutcheon, Global Partners and representatives of the Anti-Defamation League among others. Dr. Bobby Austin, of the University of the District of Columbia moderated the discussion. Mr. Diène was accompanied by an interpreter who translated our remarks into French, but he addressed us in English.

We had a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the criminal justice system, the mortgage crisis and the school to prison pipeline as well as intra-ethnic tensions in the U.S. Wade Henderson cited the racially disparate impact of the mortgage crisis as a contemporary example of persistent racial discrimination. He made the point that African-American and Latino homeowners are disproportionately represented among those losing their homes to foreclosure regardless of economic status. Angela Arbulu talked about intra-ethnic tensions, and Margaret Huang discussed the experiences of people of color and the tendency to view race in the U.S. as exclusively a Black/White divide. Several speakers talked about structural racism and the school to prison pipeline. Leslie Proll from LDF urged Mr. Diène to question Justice Department officials about the Civil Rights Division's failure to enforce existing civil rights laws.

We had the distinction of being the first civil society group to meet with Mr. Diène. Last November, Mr. Diène provided expert testimony on the rise of hate crimes and discrimination in Europe before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. The commission is chaired by Congressman Alcee Hastings and co-chaired by Senator Ben Cardin, and has nine members from the House, nine members from the Senate and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

Mr. Diène will also meet with officials from federal agencies and groups who are working on housing and homelessness while in Washington, D.C.. The Special Rapporteur's report may also help us as we work for legislative and administrative reforms to combat racial discrimination and xenophobia.

Add a comment (3)
Read the Terms of Use


As a liberal democrat, I am offended that the ACLU seeks to quash the civil rights of citizens, deny they have any or even any legitimate right to be protected under wage standards, workplace protections, disability rights, etc... by slandering those citizens when they seek to petition their government to seek redress.

Foreign nationals do not have civil rights in the US, nor does the constitution and bill of rights provide them such.

I have a friend whose husband was discriminated against by his employer. Denied his rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She sought help from the local ACLU, who refused to take the case. Interestingly enough, they preferred to defend frivolous cases that dealt with school dress codes (one male student who had a long pony tail, and a female student with pink hair and 12 or so facial piercings) rather than one that dealt with a disabled citizen who needed a reasonable accomodation to keep his job, and the health care insurance he desperately needed to keep the specialist who treated him.

As a result of not being wealthy enough to purchase protection under the law, he spent 6 years without needed medical care, even after getting on medicare, he was denied a specialist at the public hospital. Cancer went undiagnosed and he died.

The ACLU doesn't care about human or civil rights, they care about subverting them for profit. They are a corrupt, greedy, for profit organization that should be subject to taxation and regulation.


i am sorry to hear that jenny.

disbility diesnt get publicity as doesnt ponytails and pinl hair


The ACLU isn't fighting racial discrimination or xenophobia, the ACLU is helping the corporate elite and the wealthiest to destroy workers rights, wage and workplace protections, to drag down and destroy all the achievements of workers in the 20th century, until we are little more than a country of slaves.

They slander citizens petitioning their government to seek redress against corporations and businesses violating the law, and discriminating against citizens who need to work to support themselves and their children, to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table. The claims of racism and xenophobia are shams the ACLU hides behind in the hopes of demonizing and demeaning the plight of citizens who are being victimized, losing jobs, watching their children, family and friends lose what jobs remain in the US. It's the same game the Nazi's played, paint the victim as being guilty of something, silence them by slandering them.

If the right to work is a civil right, then why is it that the ACLU is inferring that citizens of the US do not have a right to work, and the right to demand their elected officials protect their right to work the jobs in their own country?

If there is no right to work, then the excuse that illegal aliens somehow have a right to work to support themselves.. the hypocrisy is astounding.

Anyone interested in helping people south of the border to have a better quality of life would be demanding the wealthy governments south of the border raise wages and provide more opportunities for their own people. Mexico is the 14th wealthiest country in the world, has a large and thriving middle class (based on jobs taken from American citizens), and many millionaires and billionaires. There is a tax base upon which to raise public funding for programs south of the border.. yet the ACLU demands that poor and struggling middle class American citizens be deprived of the jobs that remain in the US, and that the state and local tax burdens of illegal aliens be weighted on their backs.

The only ones who profit are the wealthiest, the status quo of wealthy countries south of the border is rationalized and protected, and it's being imposed here in the US.

The ACLU is acting regressively, and is destroying and cheapening civil rights.

Chaz, the ACLU preferred to represent affluent teenagers in defense of their right to be fashion victims, because they are working to court the wealthiest. They ignore real, critical civil rights issues, because they along with the right wing, like George W. Bush do not respect the rights of the most powerless.

Look at the glaring examples of this. The ACLU cry crocodile tears about the raids at meat packing plants in the midwest and south.. yet they have ignored the untold thousands of working poor American citizens, black, brown and white who were fired from those plants, because the owners preferred to hire illegals.

Those jobs used to pay American citizens wages of 18 to 20 dollars per hour, they lifted them out of poverty, and those wages didn't cause the price of those meat products to be exhorbitant. Thousands and thousands of poor citizens, a majority of them black were fired from those plants in the south, black and white from the midwest, and black, brown and white in the west. All so the owners could squeeze ever more profit. Swift is owned by a Mexican company now.. why didn't the ACLU take on that discrimination?

In New Bedford, MA, the ACLU took fits over the raid on the Michael Bianco factory, after the raid that rounded up and deported hundreds of illegal aliens. They excused the factory owners as needing workers (leather stitchers) they couldn't find locally. They count on the ignorance of those not familiar with New Bedford.. but the facts are that New Bedford is filled with leather stitchers. Before the outsourcing of their jobs in the '80s and '90s, New Bedford was filled with factories that made shoes, sneakers, purses, coats, jackets, anything and everything made of leather. Those citizen workers lined up in the thousands when the factory opened, but not one was hired.. because they were citizens and entitled to a wage standard under the Davis Bacon laws. Not one ACLU lawyer stepped up to protect them.

The factory owners instead hired illegal aliens, not one of them even slightly skilled in leather stitching, by the way.. and they encouraged them to have friends illegally enter the US to take more of the factory jobs.

Again, the ACLU couldn't care less about the rights of those citizens being violated, any more than they did when the government suspended Davis Bacon in Louisiana after hurricane Katrina, so Halliburton and other contractors could hire illegal aliens rather than the mostly poor and black citizens who desperately needed those jobs to help rebuild their lives.

Sign Up for Breaking News