Civil Rights

Why citizenship is important

It is not hard to see that citizenship is the cornerstone of the American dream. We are a nation of immigrants and immigration remains one of the great strengths of this country.  To recognize the importance of citizenship to who we are as a people, September 17th marked Citizenship Day.  As Congress continues discussing comprehensive immigration reform, we are again reminded that the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship is essential to ensuring that all immigrants are able to fully contribute to our economy, workforce and communities.

What happens when immigrants are able to become citizens rather than just seeing their immigration status legalized?

The answer is simple: We will have a stronger and more integrated America.


Failing our youth

With the recent return of the Trayvon Martin case to the news in the form of a new advertisement dramatizing the tragic killing, it seems like a good time to look back and reflect upon what this episode tells us about our country and its relationship to its youth.


An important goal of the 1963 March on Washington remains unfulfilled

Among the great achievements of the 1963 March on Washington was the passage, less than a year later, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations, public education, and all federally funded programs and projects.  Yet, as President Obama marks the 50th anniversary of the march with a speech on the national mall, he has the chance to take another big step toward fulfilling the march’s goals.


Sen. Durbin ushers in new era of McCarthyism

Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent letters to hundreds of groups--charities, think tanks, trade associations, restaurants, car dealerships, and many more--requesting that they disclose their ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their position on “stand your ground” laws for a Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee hearing on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. After similar abuses of power at the Internal Revenue Service were met with broad public condemnation earlier this year, it’s baffling that Durbin would choose to take this course of action. These strongly-worded requests, on official Senate letterhead, were a step beyond any of the IRS’s inappropriate actions, and miles outside Durbin’s responsibilities as a senator.


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.