You are here

ACLU opposed background checks on evacuees

From 9/24:

The leader of the [South Carolina] chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says racism was at the heart of assumptions that led to South Carolina to do criminal background checks of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

From the same state:

"We want to uphold everyone's constitutional rights," State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said. "But if someone is coming into a home with a family, they would probably want to know if that person is on the sex offender registry or is a violent criminal."


...In Massachusetts authorities found a man wanted on a rape charge among the 200 Katrina evacuees who landed at a military base on Cape Cod and took him into custody. Katie Ford, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts public safety office, said two others left the state while authorities were reviewing whether they needed to register as sex offenders...

And, from the enemy itself:

Expressing "dismay and disappointment" at the state's actions, the ACLU of Rhode Island today called on state officials to stop conducting criminal background checks on all of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to Rhode Island this week. The ACLU called the checks "intrusive, humiliating and discriminatory." Below is a statement issued by RI ACLU executive director Steven Brown:
"The ACLU has learned from news reports that, following the lead of some other states across the country, the State Police have begun conducting criminal background checks on all Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated here. Since the evacuees' arrival, news stories have emphasized how government officials have welcomed them with open arms. In many ways they have. But it is quite troubling to learn that those arms are also placing our guests' fingers on an ink blotter.
"We are sure that the vast majority of the 106 people who have come here are grateful for all the assistance that has been provided them since they landed in Rhode Island, and they are unlikely to object to a background check. Nonetheless, it remains an intrusive, humiliating and discriminatory response that has the effect of treating the evacuees like common criminals. [etc. etc. etc.]

The ACLU also opposed this in Pennsylvania.