Legal Program Report (April 2017)

ACLU of Hawaii’s Response to Trump’s agenda

  • Outreach to immigrant communities in Hawaiʻi: after the election, the ACLU of Hawaiʻi prepared a Know-Your-Rights presentation in English and Spanish for immigrants at risk of deportation in Hawaiʻi. The presentation covers what to do when confronted by the police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in the street, at home, or while driving. We have now given this presentation six times on the three different islands, reaching hundreds of immigrants and allies.
  • ACLU of Hawaiʻi joins People Power in asking local governments to not collaborate with ICE: ACLU of Hawaiʻi sent letters to all four counties and the State of Hawaiʻi asking them to consider the risks to local governments and their communities in joining Trump’s deportation force. As part of a coordinated nationwide campaign spanning twelve states, the ACLU is focused on two policies of immediate concern: (1) ICE detainers, which ask local law enforcement to hold people in jail for an additional 48 hours, often without legal authority or probable cause, and (2) participation in the controversial 287(g) program, which allows the Federal government to deputize local police as ICE agents without appropriate training or resources, often resulting in racial profiling and civil rights violations. While both programs are voluntary for state and counties, they are both bad ideas. These programs do not advance local police priorities, harm police-community relations, and carry significant costs, all while exposing local governments to lawsuits and civil rights complaints.
  • ACLU of Hawaiʻi joins coalition to respond to Trump’s executive orders: the ACLU of Hawaiʻi joined twentysix other organization and civil groups in forming the Hawaiʻi Coalition on Civil Rights in response to Trump’s executive orders banning travel and refugees and revamping immigration enforcement. As part of the coalition, the ACLU of Hawaiʻi has participated in a rally and a press conference with government officials. The coalition has also been active in coordinating the local response at the legislature and the media.
  • FOIA request on Executive Order targeting refugees and individuals from majority-Muslim countries: the ACLU of Hawaiʻi together with the Northern California and Utah affiliates sent a FOIA request to Customs and Border Protection asking for, among other things, internal communications about the Executive Order targeting the majority-Muslim countries and information about individuals traveling who were affected by the executive order. With this request, we hope to learn whether CBP complied with the various court orders restraining the enforcement of the original executive order.
  • Know your rights when faced with anti-Muslim discrimination: with the rise of hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims and other religious minorities, the ACLU of Hawaiʻi together with our National office prepared a 20-page know-your-rights guide addressing freedom of religion in public schools, the workplace, public accommodations, prisons, public housing, among other places and situations, under both state and federal law.

ACLU of Hawaiʻi Local Priorities

  • Homeless sweeps case fully settled: In Martin et al. v. City and County of Honolulu (homeless sweeps case), after settling the main case—thus, requiring the City and County of Honolulu to pay $48,500 for property destroyed during the sweeps and to follow detailed procedures for conducting the sweeps and for disposing of property—the City and County agreed to pay $395,000.00 in attorneys’ fees and costs. Before the lawsuit was filed, the city had a chance to settle this matter for about $28,000, but did not take this offer.
  • DOJ Complaint on prison and jail overcrowding: On January 6, 2017, the ACLU submitted a 28-page complaint to the United States Department of Justice over the unconstitutional conditions of confinement in Hawaii’s jails and prisons. The complaint contains detailed information about how the inhumane conditions at seven of nine State-operated correctional facilities violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Complaint calls for a federal investigation, and if necessary, a lawsuit. With this complaint, we hope the State of Hawaiʻi will finally take action to address the root of overcrowding, which is overincarceration, through comprehensive criminal justice reform.

ACLU of Hawaiʻi Serving the Community

  • Voter registration snafu averted: Just three weeks before the November election, it came to the ACLU’s attention that the Hawaiʻi Office of Elections was not going to accept voter registration forms mailed on October 10, 2016, the deadline for registering to vote by mail, because it was a federal holiday and forms mailed that day would be post-marked on October 11, 2016. The failure to accept forms post-marked on October 11, 2016, violated the National Voter Registration Act—which sets the minimum deadlines by which voter registration forms must be accepted. We sent a demand letter and had the State accept mailed-in voter registration forms post-marked on October 11, 2016.
  • Right to leaflet at Maui County Fair vindicated: The Maui County Fair Alliance, a private non-profit corporation which organizes the Maui County Fair, adopted a First Amendment Policy that prevented groups and individuals from leafleting at the entrances to the fair. In a previous ACLU case, a Federal Court held that the entrances to the fair were public fora for First Amendment purposes. Accordingly, the ACLU sent a demand letter to the County of Maui, which responded disavowing the First Amendment Policy. Consequently, advocacy groups were able to leaflet at the entrances to the fair without the Maui Police Department intervening.
  • Right to marry in prison vindicated: In 2012, the ACLU represented various inmates whose applications to marry had been arbitrarily denied by the Department of Public Safety. Because of that case, the Department amended its policy to make obtaining its permission a non-discretionary process. The ACLU learned late last year that the Department of Health had stopped sending marriage license agents to correctional facilities and that inmates were advised that they needed to obtain day passes to obtain marriage licenses. Since this new scheme was unworkable and constituted an undue burden on the inmates’ fundamental right to marry, we sent a demand letter, which resulted in the Department of Health reinstating its policy of sending marriage license agents to correctional facilities.
  • Letter to Campbell Highschool concerning teacher’s discriminatory remarks: in the aftermath of discriminatory remarks made by a teacher from Campbell Highschool, we sent a letter to the Hawai’i State Department of Education and its Civil Rights Compliance Office reminding them of their obligations under state and federal law to safeguard students from discrimination, intimidation, and harassment based on protected characteristics.
  • Public records request concerning purges to voter rolls: as part of a national campaign, we asked county clerks and the Hawaiʻi Office of Elections for information about how they are removing voters from the official voter lists. We are monitoring this issue after our Ohio affiliate successfully challenged an unlawful voter purge process in Ohio, which improperly removed tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because of the voters’ failure to vote in consecutive elections.
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