We're urging SCOTUS to hold U.S. corporatoins liable for international violations
On Wednesday, we joined 15 international human rights organizations and submitted a brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of holding U.S. corporations complicit in serious human rights violations liable in U.S. courts. The case, Doe, et al. v. Nestlé USA, Inc./Cargill, Inc., concerns Nestlé USA’s and Cargill’s alleged role in child slavery and forced labor in the Ivory Coast for decades. The case risks rendering the United States a safe haven for corporate human rights abusers by allowing American companies immunity from liability in U.S. courts when the injury is committed abroad.
“Our brief makes clear: international law recognizes that companies can, and should, be held accountable for human rights violations like child slavery and forced labor,” said Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher, who serves as counsel for the human rights organizations. “Just like other countries that hold their own companies accountable for serious harms, the Supreme Court should find that these former enslaved children can sue U.S. companies in U.S. courts.”
For more information, visit our case page.
New documents show ICE's plan to roll out millions in civil fines against immigrants and human rights leaders
On Thursday, immigrant rights groups released documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit showing high-ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to roll out massive civil fines against undocumented immigrants. The documents also show ICE using the fines to retaliate against sanctuary movement leaders who had been outspoken about immigrant rights. Nine people taking sanctuary in churches across the U.S., unable to leave their houses of worship for fear of deportation, were targeted. Each leader received a fine of up to $500,000 from ICE.
Soon after Donald Trump took office, high-ranking ICE officials – including at least one who is closely connected to the extremist architect of Trump’s immigration policies, Stephen Miller – formed a working group dedicated to using civil fines against immigrants in sanctuary. The group identified a previously unused section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) under which ICE may issue fines of hundreds of dollars per day. In June 2018, ICE created a secret policy memo setting out rules for implementing the civil fines statute and, in 2019, targeted sanctuary leaders with egregious civil fines. By July 2019, the leaders had received fines as high as $500,000 each; all told, the fines surpassed $3 million.
“When I first entered the U.S. seeking refuge, immigration put me and my son in an ice-cold cell without any blankets, in unsanitary conditions, in the middle of the night. Next, ICE took us to a family detention center, and we survived that and eventually made our way to a church asking for help,” said Guatemalan Hilda Ramirez, who has taken sanctuary with her son in Austin, Texas since February 2016. “Now we learn ICE was surveilling us to punish me with fines for speaking against the injustices. Finally, it’s coming to light.”
Learn more on our website.
Incarcerated lGBTI people deserve safety and security
Last week we joined Lambda Legal in filing in Gladney v. United States, a Ninth Circuit case concerning the rights of trans people to be protected from sexual assault in federal custody.
Our amicus brief challenges a dangerous district court decision that found prison officials enjoy immunity under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) when they fail to protect trans people in their care.
Because FTCA is an important tool to hold the federal government accountable in a world where accountability and access to damages for the actions of federal officials are increasingly disfavored, the brief argues that prison officials have a duty to protect all prisoners from sexual assault under the U.S. Constitution and the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and asserts that trans survivors of sexual assault are entitled to a remedy.
We were joined by a powerful group of signatories including the ACLU, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Just Detention International, Freedom Overground, and Black & Pink.
Learn more about this case and read our brief on our website.
Exciting updates to the FOIA Basics for Activists Guide!
We have new updates from our Open Records Project: FOIA for the Movement! The Center for Constitutional Rights has long used requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other state laws as important advocacy tools in our work with communities and movements. FOIA has been essential in defending activists facing government surveillance and repression, uncovering gross human rights violations, and arming movements with the information they need to fight powerful interests.
Last week we launched an updated version of FOIA Basics for Activists! The guide is now available in a dynamic, user-friendly online platform (as well as PDF), and includes many helpful examples from FOIA requests, litigation, and advocacy materials that we and amazing partners like Immigrant Defense Project and Color of Change have done over the past several years. We’ve also added annotated requests and administrative responses from recent FOIA work, as well as useful templates to help track your requests and review any documents the government produces. We are continuing to offer FOIA trainings (now via Zoom) to provide guidance on drafting FOIA requests and using them for advocacy and organizing. We hope these will be helpful resources for activists and organizations looking to incorporate FOIA requests into advocacy strategies.