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On the Agenda: Week of July 16-20

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July 16, 2012

Here’s a quick run-down of what we’re working on this week.

Tuesday, July 17

The ACLU is in federal court today seeking to force the government to disclose how often it uses surveillance tools against Americans simply by stating to a judge that it’s relevant to an investigation. The surveillance tools at issue are called pen registers and trap and trace devices, which capture information such as the phone numbers you call and that call you, and the email addresses of the people you send emails to and who email you.

The Department of Justice is required to disclose these statistics to Congress each year. In the past, it has failed to do so. Earlier this year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in an effort to compel the DOJ to inform the public whether it filed these reports and, if so, to disclose the reports to the public (here are our complaint and our FOIA request).

In Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on how the fight against human trafficking might be carried out over the next 10 years, focusing on attacking the problem with the right tools. You can read the joint report from the ACLU and Yale Law School, titled Victims of Complacency, on human trafficking here.

Wednesday, July 18

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a meeting on to discuss its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016. The Commission will hear publicly from five roundtables of invited guests on what the agency’s national enforcement priorities should be for the next three years, in order to have the greatest impact on combating discrimination in the workplace. The participants will also address recommendations for improving enforcement, outreach and prevention, and customer service. The ACLU worked on coalition recommendations for the EEOC.

Thursday, July 19

The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project is in court this week in Phoenix for a trial in which Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is being sued for racial discrimination against Latinos. The lawsuit charges that Arpaio and MCSO have unlawfully instituted a pattern and practice of targeting Latino drivers and passengers in Maricopa County during traffic stops.

Also Thursday, in Washington there will be a few key hearings. First, the House Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify. We’ll be watching for her answers on immigration policy.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to hold a mark-up of S. 3276, the FAA Sunsets Extension Act of 2012. Our legislative counsel, Michelle Richardson, will be live-tweeting the mark-up and we’ll have a wrap-up blog on the site to let you know how the bill will look.

Also, the Oversight, Investigations and Management Subcommittee of House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Within the Homeland: Security Game Changer?” Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are currently prohibited in domestic airspace, but in its 2012 reauthorization, the Federal Aviation Administration was directed by Congress to safely integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace by 2015. Later this year, the agency plans to release a proposed rule that will establish policies, procedures and standards for a wide spectrum of users in the smaller unmanned aircraft community. We’ll be monitoring this hearing closely.

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