National Lawyer's Guild

National Lawyers Guild Supports NoNewJails NYC Campaign

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is committed to building a world without incarceration. As prison abolitionists, we know that all jails and prisons are sites of violence that only serve to perpetuate white supremacy, social control and cycles of intergenerational trauma. In our ongoing work to dismantle those systems, we oppose any efforts that invest in or expand jails or prisons of any kind.

In the next month, the New York City Council will vote on a plan to build four new “borough-based” jails, intended to replace Rikers Island. They will vote despite the fact that there is currently no legal mandate that guarantees the Island’s closure. The $10 billion plan calls for the construction of 4,000 new cages over the next seven years. Building jails, even in the name of reducing harm, extends the scope and lifetime of a thoroughly racist system that will continue to brutalize the city’s most marginalized communities. We recognize this plan as a commitment to warehousing thousands of our neighbors for many decades to come–a future we adamantly reject.

The NLG stands in support of the NoNewJails campaign. We share their demands that Rikers Island close immediately without the construction of new jails, and that the billions of dollars budgeted for new jails be re-invested into communities.

Rather than choosing to fuel the prison industrial complex, we can and must shutter Rikers by ending pretrial detention, eliminating arrests for parole violations, decriminalizing minor offenses, and radically transforming sentencing law. We can move towards a world without cages only by diminishing the city’s power to lock people up, not reinforcing it.

We urge all City Council members to vote “No” on the proposal for a borough-based jail system in NYC. It’s time to expand our political horizon beyond a mindset of punishment and dehumanization, beyond the myth of a “humane” jail, and towards transformative systems of community power that can truly keep us safe.

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Image: Facebook / NoNewJails NYC

NLG Supports Rep. Rashida Tlaib

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) fully supports NLG Michigan member, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Rep. Tlaib has long worked tirelessly for tolerance and understanding across racial and ethnic lines. She was active in Take on Hate, ACCESS and the International Institute of Metro Detroit. As a member of the Michigan Legislature, board member and then Program Director of the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center for Social and Economic Rights, and now as an elected member of the US House of Representatives, she has fought for the people of Detroit and surrounding communities – their civil rights, right to thrive and live free from environmental hazards, for community benefits from corporations gaining massive economic tax abatements, and much more.

Ms. Tlaib’s constituents, and all those who know her, know of her warmth, love, and genuine care and concern for all whom she encounters. Thus, the personal and hateful attacks that have been spewed against her by the President must be condemned as foul lies.

As a person of Palestinian heritage, Congresswoman Tlaib is understandably concerned for the well-being of the Palestinian people and outraged by the violation of their rights, including of her family members, by the Israeli government. She is not alone in those concerns. Many others—Muslims, Christians, and an increasing number of Jews—are as well very troubled, many to the extent that they, like Ms. Tlaib and the NLG, support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel until the apartheid is ended. One can strongly condemn the policies of the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic, despite President Trump’s claims.

But of even greater concern is that these lies are rooted in white supremacist ideology. To demand that someone, born and raised in Detroit, be sent back “where she comes from,” is merely another way of saying that a woman of color with power and strongly held opinions cannot be a real American—that she must originate from and hold loyalties that lie elsewhere. To use those lies to goad a foreign government to prevent Congresswoman Tlaib and her fellow Muslim Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, from traveling to Israel and Palestine, can only be described as despicable.

These behaviors arise from a deep antagonism against women of color, indeed all people of color. For the President to openly express views that are so clearly racist is a repudiation of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Similarly, to forbid the travel of any American, let alone an elected member of Congress, due to her opinions, and to attempt to silence her from expressing those opinions, is a blatant assault on the First Amendment. As such, these actions trumpet a declaration of war against the basic principles of democracy that are essential to this nation’s survival. It must be stopped.

We call upon all who support equality, justice and democracy to speak out in opposition to the growing tide of racism, hate and fascism in this country.  We call upon all members of the legal community to expose and condemn the lies being perpetrated against our fellow NLG member and courageous Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Featured image: Rashida Tlaib being arrested on Woodward Ave in Detroit in solidarity with fast food workers and the D15 campaign. Oct. 10, 2018. Photo by Cece McGuire.

NLG Statement on the People’s Movement in Puerto Rico

Contact: communications@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) congratulates the people of Puerto Rico at this unprecedented moment in the nation’s history. The Puerto Rican people, led by its youth, are standing up for themselves with dignity.

In an unstoppable demonstration of people power, they tossed out the political elite administrators of the colony, after not-so-secret text messages unmasked their disrespect for the casualties of Hurricane María and deceased political leaders, revealed their corruption, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, fatophobia, and manipulation of the media.

Showing a profound understanding for the 21st century face of colonialism, after forcing the governor to resign, the Puerto Rican people are still in the streets, demanding the U.S. imposed fiscal control board, “la junta,” to get out of their country.

At this crucial moment, given the NLG’s long history of solidarity with the movement for Puerto Rican independence, we stand with the people of Puerto Rico, who courageously and in unified fashion – “somos más y no tenemos miedo” (“we are many and we are not afraid”) – look forward to a future free of U.S. colonial control.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Photo Credit: Ricardo Alcaraz Díaz

NLG Releases Report Documenting Human Rights Violations of Asylum Seekers at the Southern Border

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has released the report, Stranded: Forced Migration, Illegal Barriers to Asylum, and the Humanitarian Crisis in Tijuana, documenting human rights abuses of migrants observed during a March 2019 NLG International Committee fact-finding delegation. The team traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California with the aim of investigating and illuminating the injustices and human rights violations confronting asylum-seekers and their advocates in Tijuana. Read the full report below or download the PDF here.

NLG members and national office staff joined long-term, on-the-ground NLG volunteers for the week-long delegation. The team met with lawyers and activists working with migrants as well as governmental and nongovernmental human rights organizations, Mexican police, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)­, local and international humanitarian aid organizations, and migrants themselves. The main findings of the report are as follows:

  1. President Trump applies a racist perspective to US immigration policy and has ramped up barriers to migration to create a humanitarian crisis at the border;
  2. The barriers to asylum, including the so-called “metering” system and the “Remain in Mexico” policy, misleadingly named, “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), are illegal and exposes asylum-seekers to life-threatening conditions;
  3. The governments of the United States and Mexico are neglecting their respective obligations under domestic and international law to respect the human rights of asylum-seekers;
  4. Anti-immigrant sentiment in Mexico has resulted in harassment and violence towards migrants in Tijuana by Mexican authorities and residents;
  5. Vulnerable populations, such as unaccompanied children and LGBTQ+ individuals, are especially at risk, and are not being afforded the rights to which they are entitled under international law; and
  6. The U.S. and Mexican governments have criminalized migrants and those who are aiding them or documenting their plight, using illegal surveillance and other tactics.

Since March, the situation has worsened significantly. The asylum-seekers list in Tijuana is currently the longest it’s ever been, with 9,150 people waiting to present themselves for asylum according to Al Otro Lado, a bi-national legal services organization the NLG has been working with. MPP has been expanded along the border to the most dangerous states of Mexico. In the US, ICE raids started July 14, targeting 11 cities with large migrant populations. The NLG is working with organizations like United We Dream to connect migrants to pro bono representation.

At the 2019 #Law4thePeople Convention this October in Durham, NC, the delegation will hold a workshop with representatives from some of the groups it met with to discuss ongoing barriers to the legal right to asylum, efforts of migrants organizing in resistance and survival, and state-sponsored criminalization and surveillance of human rights defenders.

Related: 

Download the PDF file .

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Announcing 2019 #Law4thePeople Keynote: Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

We’re honored and thrilled to announce our #Law4thePeople Keynote Speaker, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Co-Executive Director of the Highlander Center!Register today for the #Law4thePeople Convention at early bird rates or show your support by becoming a sponsor!

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 34 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. Ash-Lee is the first black woman Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center founded in 1932. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, they help create spaces — at Highlander and in communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. Ash-Lee is a long-time activist working against environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has fought for workers rights, racial justice, women and LGBTQUIA+ rights, reproductive justice, international human rights, and led-intergenerational social movements across the South. She serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly and is a nationally recognized leader in the Movement for Black Lives.

Report: The Lasalin Massacre and the Human Rights Crisis in Haiti

Judith Mirkinson, NLG San Francisco Bay Area chapter president and member of the NLG International Committee participated in an April fact-finding trip to Haiti on the Lasalin Massacre. The NLG and the Haiti Action Committee released the following report, The Lasalin Massacre and the Human Rights Crisis in Haiti.

“The Lasalin massacre was designed to punish and destroy a neighborhood long known as a stronghold of the grassroots Lavalas movement and center of opposition. Our investigation determined that the narrative of “gang warfare” obscures the reality that the attack on Lasalin was government-orchestrated and supported, with police collaborating with and weaponizing criminal elements […] The evidence of government and paramilitary collusion is clear.”

Read the full report below and/or download the PDF here.

Download the PDF file .

2019 NLG Leonard Weinglass Fellowship Recipient: Michael Galvan

The National Lawyers Guild Foundation and NLG National Office are thrilled to announced the recipient of the 2019 Leonard I. Weinglass Memorial Fellowship, Michael Galvan of the San Diego NLG Chapter! The Weinglass Fellowship is awarded annually to a NLG member and recent law school graduate. Fellows receive an award to spend 10 weeks working on a project in line with the mission of the NLG and the career of Weinglass.

As the recipient of the 2019 Fellowship, Michael will be establishing an important part of a comprehensive LGBTQ+ Border Rights Project, working on parole and sponsorship for LGBTQ+ migrants. With the support of the NLG International Committee, he will relocate to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to work with the Santa Fe Dreamer’s Project to provide post prison release support for transgender women seeking asylum as well as to their sponsors. The goal will be to build off of the work started by SFDP to expand its training of volunteers, to vet potential parole sponsors, enlarge the pool of trans competent and trauma informed sponsors who can then be matched to the right woman seeking asylum.

This project will be undertaken with best practices in mind while improving coordination with both legal and nonlegal nonprofits and grassroots organizers nationwide, so that others can build in-house networks and streamline the vetting of sponsors for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, all with the aim of shortening the duration of detention for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.

Michael received his JD from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2017 and currently serves as co-chair of the NLG Queer Caucus. After passing the CA Bar exam in November 2017, Michael relocated to Tijuana, B.C., where he currently lives, works, and volunteers with Al Otro Lado connecting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers to legal services and humanitarian aid.

Please join us in congratulating Michael! ​

Image: 2019 Weinglass recipient Michael Galvan visiting the office of Ilhan Omar in Washington DC while attending a Congressional briefing on “Centering LQBTQ+ Migrants.”

 

[WEBINAR] Decriminalizing Sex Work: What, Why, and How to Get Involved

Tuesday, June 25 – 3 PM (ET) / Noon (PT)

Register: bit.ly/DecrimSexWorkWebinar

At last year’s #Law4thePeople Convention, NLG members voted to pass a resolution condemning the anti-sex worker legislation SESTA/FOSTA. During the process, we learned that many NLG members had questions about sex worker rights and impending legislation. Now that New York and Washington, DC have introduced legislation to decriminalize sex work, it’s crucial that NLG members across the country have a basic understanding of the issue and learn how to get involved. This webinar will include a primer on the sex trade, explanation of the current and proposed policies that impact sex workers, and the NLG’s current and potential positions on these policies.

This webinar is brought to you by the Sex Worker Rights Working Group of the NLG Queer Caucus, which is led by NLG members who are current and former sex workers. While it’s targeted towards NLG members, this webinar is appropriate for anyone who wants to learn more about sex worker rights!

Speakers:

NLG Joins Pueblo Sin Fronteras in Demanding the Immediate Release of Human Rights Defenders, Now Political Prisoners, Cristóbal Sánchez and Irineo Mujica

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 2019

Contact: communications@nlg.org

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for the immediate release of human rights defenders Cristóbal Sánchez, founder of the Cultura Migrante collective, and Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras (PSF), following their June 5 arrests by Mexican officials on trumped-up human trafficking charges. These politically motivated arrests continue the US and Mexican government’s campaigns of criminalization and surveillance of migrants and migrants’ rights activists—including the joint covert watch list uncovered in March, and the prosecution of humanitarian aid workers with No More Deaths, who left food and water for migrants in the Sonoran desert. Ahead of their hearings tomorrow before a judge in Tapachula, Chiapas, the NLG joins PSF today in their call for support for Sánchez and Mujica.

In their June 7 press release, Pueblo Sin Fronteras connects these arrests to President Trump’s threats to increase tariffs on Mexican products over immigration policy: “It’s no coincidence that Irineo and Cristóbal were arrested the same day that Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard met in Washington, DC, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the wake of last week’s threats by President Donald Trump to increase tariffs on Mexican products.” In fact, the day after these arrests, Trump announced that the scheduled tariffs would be suspended, having reached a “signed agreement” with Mexican officials in which they “agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border.”

The PSF press release also cites the June 5 detention of about 500 migrants in a raid by Mexican police and immigration officials, “including entire families fleeing hunger and violence,” as evidence of Mexico’s  increased criminalization campaign and acquiescence to increased pressure by the US government. It was the largest single raid since last year: “This series of events makes it clear that the rhetoric of the Mexican government, which tells us that Mexico makes its own immigration policy, is false,” PSF stated.

In March, the NLG International Committee sent a delegation to Tijuana, Mexico to document human rights abuses and violations of international law surrounding the treatment of migrants. The delegation met with PSF, including Mujica, who described at length repeated harassment, intimidation, and even death threats against PSF members both online and in person in Tijuana in addition to arbitrary arrests and violence by Tijuana municipal police targeting them for their work supporting migrants, and hours-long interrogations and detentions by US Customs and Border Protection authorities. In early April, Mujica and a migrant were targets of an arson attack at his home.

The NLG continues to be in solidarity with PSF and echoes their call for respect, dignity, and justice for migrants and human rights defenders, especially as migrants and asylum seekers continue to die in ICE custody, with 24 dead during the Trump administration alone. As they state, “As long as the government of the United States continues supporting corrupt governments, fraudulent elections and coups in Central America, and the criminalization of migrants and human rights defenders in Mexico, and as long as the governments of Mexico and Central America continue to permit the United States to dictate their immigration policy, this fabricated crisis will continue. We will continue fighting for the freedom of our compañeros and for human rights.”

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TAKE ACTION:

Please sign and share this petition by the Alliance for Global Justice and spread the word on social media using #StandWithPueblosSinFronteras and #HumanitarianAidIsNeverACrime

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Below is the June 7 Pueblo Sin Fronteras press release, originally posted to their accounts in English to Facebook and in Spanish to Twitter:

**PRESS RELEASE**
WE DENOUNCE THE DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IRINEO MUJICA AND CRISTÓBAL SÁNCHEZ

Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, and Cristóbal Sánchez, founder of the Migrant Culture collective, have been human rights defenders for over a decade. We urgently condemn these arrests, which are clearly reprisals carried out under pressure from the United States.

June 7th, 2019

To the community of human rights defenders,
To the media,
To the governments of Mexico and the United States,
To the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,

On Wednesday, June 5th, immigrant rights defenders, Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez, were arrested by a Mexican government that promised to defend human rights but that in reality has bent under pressure by the anti-immigrant government of the United States.

Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez are advocates with more than a decade of experience accompanying migrant folks, and now they are political prisoners. Irineo would truly give the shirt off his back to an immigrant brother or sister, and Cristóbal has always stood up for human rights due to his firm convictions—never for another reason. Both are part of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Advocates and Journalists. Irineo and Cristóbal have dedicated their lives to the wellbeing of the migrant community and to social justice, and the Mexican government arrested them to present them as trophies for the U.S. government. Ultimately, those most harmed by this process of criminalization are migrant folks and all of the community of human rights defenders. We demand that they be released immediately and that the charges against them be dropped.

It’s no coincidence that Irineo and Cristóbal were arrested the same day that Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard met in Washington, DC, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the wake of last week’s threats by President Donald Trump to increase tariffs on Mexican products.

Also Wednesday, around 500 migrant folks, including entire families fleeing hunger and violence, were detained in an operation carried out by the [Mexican] National Institute of Migration, National Guard, and Federal Police. This series of events makes it clear that the rhetoric of the Mexican government, which tells us that Mexico makes its own immigration policy, is false. We demand respect for the human rights of displaced people and the urgent recognition of their requests.

As long as the government of the United States continues supporting corrupt governments, fraudulent elections and coups in Central America, and the criminalization of migrants and human rights defenders in Mexico, and as long as the governments of Mexico and Central America continue to permit the United States to dictate their immigration policy, this fabricated crisis will continue. We will continue fighting for the freedom of our compañeros and for human rights.

The campaign of criminalization of migrant and refugee folks who walk through Mexico, and the campaign of criminalization of those who accompany them, look after them, and defend them, are the same campaign. We call on organizations and advocates to stand in solidarity with all human rights defenders and all displaced people who have been criminalized and endangered.

Stop the criminalization!

Pueblo Sin Fronteras

Contacts: +52 1 (222) 120-9152 | +1 (775) 560-4904 | refugeecaravan@gmail.com

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NLG Reiterates Support of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Free Press

Contact: communications@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns the Trump administration’s indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act of WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange, as well as the jailing of whistleblower Chelsea Manning for her refusal to testify before the WikiLeaks grand jury investigation. The NLG reiterates its support of these two whistleblowers, and demand that Assange’s indictment be dropped and Manning be freed from jail.

First used against Socialists who opposed the draft in World War I, the Espionage Act has since been used to target those on the Left who advocate for justice in the United States, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The use of this century-old law is especially alarming in the context of Trump, who, like Hitler and Stalin, has consistently portrayed the media as “the enemy of the people.”

If the government succeeds in imprisoning Julian Assange, who faces 175 years in prison, it will be a blow to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press.  It is a threat to national security journalism and a threat to free journalism generally.

The NLG, which has a proud history of fighting the abuses of the Grand Jury System, also condemns the current incarceration of Chelsea Manning. Two years after being released from prison where she, a trans woman, served seven years for exposing U.S. war crimes during which she was held in a men’s prison and survived months of solitary confinement and two suicide attempts, she was jailed once again for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and Assange. Manning is being represented by NLG NYC Chapter attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, who notes the importance of “taking principled stands against the arbitrary exercise of power.” Recently, on May 31, 2019, Manning and her legal team filed a motion to reconsider sanctions.

In June 2014, the NLG joined nearly 60 organizations in submitting two reports—one in English and one in Spanish—to the UN Universal Periodic Review highlighting procedural rights violations of Assange, Sweden’s longest running case of pre-trial deprivation of liberty. According to the English report, “The methods employed by the prosecutor in Mr. Assange’s case are a clear violation of his fundamental human rights, yet they remain beyond the reach of judicial review.”

Trump’s dual attacks on Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are a threat not only to national security journalism in the U.S.  The assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction by the U.S. on a foreign journalist is an attack on journalists everywhere.  The National Lawyers Guild, with its 81-year history of defending free speech, press and association, advocating for adherence to international law, and steadfast opposition to grand jury abuse, stands with these two courageous whistleblowers.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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