National Security and Civil Rights

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Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus is committed to standing up for our cherished constitutional freedoms and liberties in the post-9/11 environment. We protect the civil rights of individuals and communities unjustly impacted by overbroad national security policies, especially Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities. We strive to confront the day-to-day breaches of civil rights to impact the larger social and institutional dynamics that prevent the realization of equal rights through a combination of direct legal services, impact litigation, and public education and advocacy.

Cases and Campaigns

ACLU of Northern California, Asian Law Caucus, and SF Bay Guardian v. FBI (Case No. 3:10-cv-03759-RS, N.D. Cal.
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, the ACLU of Northern California and the Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request in 2010, followed with a lawsuit to enforce the FOIA in 2011, which produced over 50,000 pages of documents concerning surveillance and discrimination by federal law enforcement of AAMEMSA communities.

Gill v. U.S. Department of Justice (3:14-cv-03120, N.D. Cal.)
Along with the ACLU and law firm counsel, the Asian Law Caucus represents five individuals who were the subject of Suspicious Activity Reports that were then placed in federal databases.  Without a proper predicate of criminal activity these individuals were placed in a federal database suggesting linkage to terrorist activity.  Plaintiffs are seeking to require that before such reports are kept that they have a proper link to wrongful activity. The complaint, filed July 10, 2014 can be found here. Read our opinion pieces here.

Defending the First Amendment and Civic Engagement by AMEMSA Communities
Since 9/11, AMEMSA communities have been subjected to coordinated attacks by government agencies and private actors meant to discourage exercise of constitutional freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus works to resist this chilling effect by supporting the First Amendment rights of young AMEMSA community members on university campuses and the community more broadly. This work includes direct engagement with university administrators and federal government agencies to ensure respect for the First Amendment, and to ensure that AMEMSA communities are not unfairly targeted or deprived of their First Amendment freedoms.

Recent examples of this work include:

(a) Filing an amicus brief in the Irvine 11 case

(b) Advocacy in San Francisco to meet hate speech with empowered community speech and other projects in response to bus advertisements attacking Arab and Muslim communities

(c) Engagement with the University of California to promote more speech-friendly policies

(d) Letters to over 200 university administrators advising them about First Amendment issues

Protecting the Freedom to Travel
Since mid-2013, Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has been working with civil rights and community organizations around the country to document and respond to a pattern of passport confiscations affecting the Yemeni-American community and depriving it of an essential characteristic of citizenship – the freedom to travel. Please visit for more information or for assistance with this issue. Read more about the campaign here.

Advancing Justice Affiliates: