ACLU Launches Spanish Language "Access to Justice" Campaign Featuring Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso

April 1, 2004 12:00 am

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ACLU Launches Spanish Language “Access to Justice” Campaign Featuring Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso


NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the launch of a Spanish-language civil liberties education campaign targeting Latino immigrants in California.

Starting today, the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU, in collaboration with KDTV Channel 14-Univision, will begin broadcasting a Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, who explains the crucial role of the courts in protecting the civil rights and liberties of immigrants.

“Latinos are not only playing a decisive role in state and national elections, they have become important participants in all areas of civic involvement,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “We are excited to reach out to this community as part of our effort to ensure equal access to justice for immigrants.”

The campaign is part of the Immigrants’ Rights Project’s Access to Justice program, an educational effort directed at the Latino community to restore the rights to due process and judicial access that have been severely eroded by immigration laws enacted in 1996 and by the post-9/11 policies of the Bush Administration.

In addition to running the television spots, the ACLU will be broadcasting a statewide radio PSA in Spanish, also narrated by Justice Reynoso.

The ACLU is also disseminating materials in Spanish and English outlining the role of the courts in protecting immigrants’ rights. In addition, a Spanish-language site on the ACLU website is available now with the Access to Justice materials and other information on civil liberties and immigrants’ rights. (Go to homepage and click on Vea Nuestro Nuevo Anuncio).

Guaranteeing access to the courts for immigrants is a top priority for the ACLU, Romero said. In April 2001, the Immigrants’ Rights Project won a major Supreme Court victory that entitles immigrants to challenge illegal deportation orders in court. That ruling, INS v. St. Cyr, rejected the government’s argument that immigrants could be deported without judicial review.

“The federal courts are often the last line of defense against policies and practices that violate the rights of immigrants,” Romero noted. “Especially in the post-9/11 era, the courts have proven to be indispensable in blocking some of the excesses in governmental enforcement of immigration laws.”

In the Spanish-language PSA, Justice Reynoso explains some of the rights that courts have affirmed for immigrants. For example, over a video clip of Latino elementary students, Justice Reynoso explains that undocumented children are entitled to a free public education under a 1982 Supreme Court decision. But Justice Reynoso also warns, “Today I’m deeply concerned that these rights, including the right to have our day in court, are being threatened.”

“Justice Reynoso is the ideal spokesperson to communicate our civil liberties message to a new generation of Latinos,” said Mariana Bustamante, Coordinator of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Access to Justice program. “Like ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, he is the son of struggling immigrants, and he embodies the experience of many Latinos living in the United States.”

Former Justice Reynoso was a member of the California Supreme Court from 1982 to 1987. He now is the Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Professor of Law at the University of California at Davis, where he holds the Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality.

The 30-second television PSA will be aired initially in the Bay Area on KDTV’s Channel 14 and will subsequently air in Univision stations around California.

“We are committed to working with organizations that advocate on behalf of immigrants and to providing vital information to the Latino community on how to exercise their rights,” said Perla Rodriguez, Community and Pubic Affairs Manager at Univision’s KDTV and Tele Futura television stations. The station reaches 184,000 TV viewers weekly in all Bay Area cities. The Univision Network is the most watched Spanish-language broadcast television network in the U.S. reaching 98 percent of Latino households in the country.

This is the first time that the national ACLU has collaborated with a Spanish-language media outlet to produce a Public Service Announcement, the ACLU’s Bustamente noted. “We are grateful for the resources of KDTV, as it will greatly enhance our outreach. The community must be involved in the fight to protect immigrants’ access to the courts.”

The 30-second television PSA can be viewed online at:

The 30-second radio PSA can be heard at: /node/24332

English translations of Justice Reynoso’s message are online at: /node/22229

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