civil-rights

U.S. border officers ordered to vet Iranian American travelers, memo shows
Jayapal seeks Customs and Border Patrol meeting over agency's 'leaked' directive

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called the practice of targeting U.S. citizens and residents at the border "absolutely unacceptable." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Thursday that her office was working to confirm what appears to be a Customs and Border Protection directive to field officers asking for additional scrutiny of Iranians, Palestinians and Lebanese at the U.S. border. 

“This document, if verified as coming from the Seattle CBP Field Office, matches exactly the process described by CBP leadership in a briefing last week, our own sources inside CBP, and the credible and powerful accounts from travelers who faced extreme profiling at the U.S.-Canada border,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement that linked to a local paper in Washington state that published the directive. 

Cory Booker bows out, Ben Carson backs off fair housing and issues of race recede in America
Latest Democratic debate was notable for what was not mentioned

With Cory Booker leaving the Democratic presidential race, following the exits of Kamala Harris and Julián Castro, issues of justice and inequality could get short shrift on the campaign trail, Curtis writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It doesn’t take a candidate of color on a debate stage to raise issues of justice and inequality. But that has been the way it has worked out, mostly.

For example, it was exhilarating for many when then-candidate Julián Castro said in a Democratic debate, “Police violence is also gun violence,” while naming Atatiana Jefferson, killed in her Fort Worth, Texas, home by a police officer who shot through the window without identifying himself. Castro’s words were an acknowledgment of the lived experiences of many in America. He has since dropped out of the race, as has California Sen. Kamala Harris, who chided her party for taking the support of black women for granted.

Can - and should - an algorithm be ethical when it comes to financial technology?
Fintech Beat, Ep. 35

Can an algorithm be ethical? (iStock, Getty Images)

Algorithms have evolved into to powerful engines of financial technology. But they don’t always live up to the hype, as algorithmic models fail to take account of basic societal concerns like fairness, privacy and bias. Fintech Beat sits down with Michael Kearns to find out what can be done to make algorithms “ethical.”

Customs and Border Protection denies targeting Iranian Americans at border
But Rep. Jayapal, others skeptical after hearing stories about hours-long detentions

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., cast doubt over CBP statements related to Iranian-Americans who said they were held at the U.S.-Canada border. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Customs and Border Protection has denied targeting American citizens and permanent residents of Iranian descent for additional scrutiny at U.S. ports of entry, but a Washington lawmaker who heard multiple accounts of such detentions happening in her district expressed skepticism of the claims.

“It appears that that was a result of some sort of directive,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said at a press conference Monday at her Seattle office. “The discrimination that we seem to be once against veering towards has a deep-rooted history.”

Census estimates: Redistricting ahead for California, New York and Texas
Projections suggest AZ, CO, FL, MT, NC, OR and TX could gain seats

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, speaks at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Census Bureau gave a peek at a coming battle within states nationwide over the shape of the country’s congressional district map, with its latest population estimates hinting at fights within Texas, New York, California, Alabama and other states.

Those estimates give demographers and mapmakers the last hint of how the 2020 census will divvy up 435 congressional seats nationwide before the agency releases the official results later this year. The results will determine winners and losers for both the distribution of the districts as well as $1.5 trillion in federal funds each year.

Don’t go yet, John Lewis. We need you.
Atlantans take pride in their congressman. How many other Americans can say that?

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., stands near the statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Capitol Rotunda before a memorial service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — When Rep. John Lewis  announced Sunday night that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, you could almost hear the country cry. Democrats and Republicans, Hollywood actors and people who had simply met the congressman in an airport, all went to Twitter to ask the 17-term Georgia Democrat to fight one more time.

“You are loved. You are respected. You are magnificent,” Ava DuVernay wrote. “Praying for you, my friend,” former president Barack Obama tweeted. “The Late Show” host Steven Colbert called Lewis “a leader, a teacher, an example for us all,” while Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lewis’ longtime friend who counts Lewis as a hero as he mounts his own fight against Parkinson’s disease, wrote, “They don’t make them stronger or braver.”

National Democratic groups litigate 2020 in the courts
Party committees are trying to expand the electorate by challenging state voting laws

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos says some GOP state legislators were trying to “keep African Americans away from the ballot box.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than in previous election cycles, national Democratic groups are making litigation over election and voting laws a key part of their 2020 strategy. 

A handful of Democratic groups are currently litigating about a dozen cases over what they see as unfair election laws and maps across the country. 

Homeland Security announces easing of facial recognition rule
Lawmakers, civil rights groups and tech companies have raised privacy concerns

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified that facial recognition scans at airports remain voluntary for U.S. citizens. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Homeland Security officials continue to step back from their published plan to require use of facial recognition technology on American citizens at U.S. airports when they arrive from or depart to international destinations.

The Trump administration’s proposed mandatory use of the technology was included in the so-called unified agenda, published in late November, which sets out the regulatory changes agencies intend to pursue in coming months. The proposal sought to expand mandatory facial recognition at U.S. airports “to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure.”

Booker’s CROWN Act would ban discrimination against black hairstyles
Federal initiative is part of state-by-state push by group that includes Dove products

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is among those calling for more federal protections against discrimination of hairstyles commonly worn by African Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nappy. Kinky. Too curly. These are adjectives sometimes used to describe natural black hair. While they can be insulting, some lawmakers say these perceptions also lead to discrimination against African Americans.

Several recent high-profile incidents involving discrimination and racial insensitivity have convinced lawmakers that more federal protections need to be put in place to prevent prejudice against hairstyles associated with black culture.

‘America, we’ve got a problem’: Isakson’s farewell warning

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., shakes hands with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., after what is likely his last speech on the Senate floor. (Screenshot via Senate Recording Studio)