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This is a remarkable day. When Donald Trump was elected president, we promised that if he tried to implement his unconstitutional and un-American policies that we would take him to court. We did that today. And we won.

Yesterday President Trump signed an executive order that suspended resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspended all other refugee resettlement for 120 days, and banned the entry of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. All seven countries are predominately Muslim countries. We have no doubt that the motivation behind the executive order was discriminatory. This was a Muslim ban wrapped in a paper-thin national security rationale.

The executive order went into effect immediately and so did its destructive intent. At John F. Kennedy International Airport last night, Hameed Khalid Darweesh arrived and was immediately detained. Darweesh worked as interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and, according to Brandon Friedman, a platoon leader in Iraq, saved countless U.S. service members’ lives. We don’t know how many other refugees and foreign nationals with green cards or visas might have been detained when they tried to make their way into the United States today, but we intend to find out. We are asking anyone with any information to get in touch with the ACLU.

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union condemns Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's statement today that the Obama administration will continue its raids targeting families who have come to the U.S. after fleeing violence in Central America.

 Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said:

"These raids are a scare tactic to deter other families fleeing violence in Central America from coming to the United States. Secretary Johnson has himself admitted the raids are designed to deport as many as possible, as quickly as possible. The administration is doubling down on a system that is rigged against these families. Many of these mothers and children had no lawyers because they could not afford them. Without counsel, traumatized refugees don't understand what is happening in court and cannot get their legitimate asylum claims heard."

CARY – Criminal justice experts from North Carolina and around the nation will gather in Cary on October 1 for a daylong symposium dedicated to exploring and identifying strategies to reduce or eliminate mass incarceration and its devastating impact on American communities.

While composing only 5 percent of the global population, the United States currently houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 6.89 million people in the United States are in jails, prisons, and under other forms of adult correctional control, and this population is characterized by extreme racial disparities. Symposium participants will identify the role that legal organizations and members of the public can play in supporting criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing or eliminating mass incarceration and its harmful consequences.

What: Understanding and Dismantling Mass Incarceration: What Solutions Exist for North Carolina? Speakers at this Symposium will discuss the history of mass incarceration, factors exacerbating the phenomenon, the economics of the mass incarceration, and strategies for achieving real criminal justice reform in North Carolina.

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RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

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