ACLU-NJ Statements on NYPD Surveillance, Tuition and Drone Bills

June 17, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

NEWARK – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is monitoring several pieces of legislation that are before the New Jersey Legislature today. The following statements are from Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, about those bills.

Reporting Requirements for Counter-Terrorism Investigations (Senate Bill No. 2311):
"For years, the NYPD conducted secret intelligence gathering activities in New Jersey targeted at Muslim community members who engaged in no wrongdoing. The New Jersey public was kept in the dark during these investigations, which targeted New Jersey residents based on their religious beliefs. Senate Bill No. 2311 will ensure that the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies will be unable to conduct their operations in our state without informing New Jersey law enforcement officials of their activities. While such a step is welcomed, it will not in-and-of-itself address the problem of NYPD operations in our state.  At the very least, any bill that passes the state legislature should also include a requirement that the public be kept informed, in a manner that protects the integrity of legitimate law enforcement investigations, of any NYPD and other intelligence gathering operations in our state, particularly those operations that implicate First Amendment rights."

Tuition Equality Act (Assembly Bill No. 4225):
"The ACLU-NJ strongly supports the Tuition Equality Act. The time has come for New Jersey to end its unequal treatment of undocumented immigrants seeking to enroll in New Jersey’s colleges and universities.  More than three decades ago, the United States Supreme Court, in Plyler v. Doe, held that undocumented students must be given equal access to a public school education.  Yet in New Jersey today, undocumented students who graduate from our high schools and wish to attend our state colleges or universities are forced to pay much higher rates – in some cases more than twice as much – than their classmates for no other reason than their status as undocumented immigrants. This form of unequal access and unequal treatment must end. The New Jersey Legislature should ensure equal access to all students who call our state home, regardless of their immigration status, and pass A-4225."

Drone Regulation (Senate Bill No. 2702):
"The ACLU-NJ supports the establishment of standards to regulate law enforcement's use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.  Drone technology is growing by leaps and bounds, yet there are no meaningful rules in place to regulate drone activities. Senate Bill No. 2702 will ensure that law enforcement agencies in New Jersey use drones only for legitimate law enforcement purposes.  We support the bill's passage.  We also believe that the public must be kept continuously informed of drone activities in our state, and that any drone legislation should also include a public reporting requirement on the use of drones in our state. The ACLU-NJ has filed public records requests with 15 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey for information regarding the purchase and use of drones, but it should not take an official records request and potential litigation for the public to be informed about the use of drones in our state."

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