ACLU’s Michael Chase Addresses UMA Civic Education Forum
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
The United Muslims of America (UMA) held its civic education forum on August 27, 2017 at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, CA. Michael Chase, Board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Northern California was invited to speak at the forum.
Chase has been mostly involved in issues pertaining to government surveillance, immigrant rights, racial justice, and free speech. A question-and-answer session followed his address.
His presentation focused on the Muslim Ban, government surveillance, and New York Police Department’s profiling of Muslims besides other related issues. He informed that the ACLU has been active in the US Supreme Court more than any other organization and has been litigating to strike down laws which it felt were un-constitutional. Public interest in its civil rights initiatives has sharply risen lately and the ACLU membership has quadrupled since the election.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced earlier this year that it was suddenly awash in donations with nearly $80 million alone pouring in by way of online contributions since the election.
That included a record $24 million surge in two days after the ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Michael Chase said that the ACLU was aware that the Muslim community is being targeted and the organization has challenged the ban in courts. The ACLU has argued that the ban is a discriminatory affront to the Constitution and the fundamental principle that our country does not discriminate on the basis of religion.
Chase said that the "surveillance of Muslims is of great concern for the ACLU". He particularly spoke about the surveillance by the New York City Police Department. In June 2013, the ACLU, the NYCLU, and the CLEAR project at CUNY Law School filed a lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department's discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of New York Muslims. In March 2017, a final settlement, approved by the court, established a number of reforms designed to protect New York Muslims and others from discriminatory and unjustified surveillance.
Under bitter criticism of civil advocacy groups, the NYPD announced on April 15, 2014 that it was disbanding the special unit that conducted widespread warrantless surveillance of law-abiding Muslims.
Chase also spoke about immigration rights which is his area of specialization. He said that presently this issue is mainly related to the Latinos.
Earlier, Andaleeb Ahmed, Member of UMA Board of Directors, introduced Michael Chase to the audience. She also spoke about what the ACLU is doing to protect the civil rights of the community.
Ali Malik, President of United Muslims of America, welcomed the audience and informed that the UMA civic education forum arranges quarterly events to educate the community about its rights and responsibilities as American citizens. These sessions are particularly important for new immigrants.