Civil Rights

The uncomfortable silence surrounding Ray Widstrand

Unless you live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, you are most likely unaware of the August 4 assault against Ray Widstrand, a 26-year-old aspiring filmmaker and public access television producer. Widstrand was walking through his neighborhood at night when he was set upon by between 30 and 40 youths that were engaged in a street brawl. The county attorney's office stated that the mob were believed to be members of the East Side Boys gang and the Ham Crazy gang, two street organizations with long histories of violence and mayhem.


FCC chairman puts end to 10 years of sky-high prison phone rates

After 10 years of delayed justice, on Aug. 9 Acting Chairman Mignon Clyburn ended the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) abysmal record on interstate prison phone rates. The new rates and rules passed by the FCC will dramatically reduce the cost of interstate calls from prison and jails, keeping nearly 3 million children connected with their incarcerated parents.


Let devout Sikh Americans serve in the U.S. military

Last week I attended a White House event honoring the life of Bhagat Singh Thind, a turbaned Sikh who migrated to the United States from India on July 4, 1913.  Although the White House was right to celebrate his courageous fight against injustice, it has not addressed a lingering injustice that continues to hamper the Sikh American community.



The high cost of E-Verify

Proponents of E-Verify tout the computer system’s accuracy rate, saying that the system, which relies on information in government databases, is an effective way to tell whether someone is authorized to work in the country.

Any system that fires workers due to government error is not good enough. I should know: I got fired because of errors with this system. The system was wrong, and I was left unemployed for three months while I struggled to find a new job.


Stop using legalization of the undocumented as a bargaining chip

In the debate over the Senate immigration bill, there is one key question that has gone unasked: why is it that undocumented immigrants applying for legalization must pay the price if the federal government fails to meet its border-security and immigration-enforcement goals? This has become the consistent theme when it comes to “triggers”—those enforcement measures which must go into effect before other provisions of the larger bill can be implemented. And if a trigger is not met, there is one and only one component of immigration reform that suffers: legalization of undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.


Protecting our privacy in the digital age

The recent disclosures of government overreaches, including the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative non-profits for special scrutiny, have upset many Americans and have been condemned by politicians from both parties.  However, let’s not forget another recent revelation about the IRS – one that offers a wake-up call about the power of all government agencies in the age of the Internet.
A month ago, internal documents were released showing that the IRS claimed the power to read email and other private documents stored on the Internet without a warrant.  The IRS argued that anyone who used the Internet had no reasonable expectation of privacy against governmental intrusion.


My gender does not make me a liberal

I am a registered Republican. I am a conservative. I have been involved in politics for nearly 10 years, working on campaigns, on the Hill, and now, as a political consultant.
And I have two X chromosomes.


Barney Frank is right, immigration reform must move forward

Every day we fail to reform our broken immigration system, 1,100 families are torn apart because Americans are not afforded the right to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration.

Unfortunately, an amendment to the Senate immigration bill that would have granted this right to binational same-sex couples received significant backlash from Republican members of Congress and was stripped from the legislation.

Despite this setback, former Congressman Barney Frank is right that immigration reform must move forward -- and for more reasons than he stated.


Raising Arizona: House bill opens door for SB 1070 in your state

Given a rare moment in history to enact commonsense immigration reform that moves our nation forward, some in Congress are instead proposing legislation that would sanction those who wish to turn back the clock on civil rights.

The impulse to stall commonsense immigration reform has appeared in the Senate, where anti-immigrant extremists have attempted to add even more roadblocks to pending legislation that would create a conditional road to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. The presumption is that the more difficult the road, the less likely these aspiring citizens can reach the finish line.


Don’t make the cost of coming forward too high for aspiring Americans

Over the past year, half a million immigrant youth have received temporary legal status as a result of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy also known as DACA announced by President Obama last June. DACA has made a world of difference for these young people who can now walk the streets without fear and get on with their educations and lives. Yet, so far only 40 percent of the 1.2 million youth who are estimated to be eligible have applied.
It is worth asking why so many people who are eligible for something so valuable haven’t come forward yet and what lessons the DACA experience offers for current Senate deliberations on immigration reform.