Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

California Religious Freedom Act Becomes Law

California Religious Freedom Act Becomes Law
Federal government is now prohibited from mining California databases to build Muslim Registry

Sacramento, CA -- Asian Americans Advancing Justice-CA (Advancing Justice-CA), celebrates the signing of SB 31, Senator Ricardo Lara’s California Religious Freedom Act, into law. Cosponsored by Advancing Justice-CA, ACLU, and CAIR, California Chapter, SB 31 prevents the federal government from using databases in California to build a registry based on religion or ethnicity.

History has demonstrated that registries based on religious affiliation and national origin are not effective law enforcement or anti-terrorism tools. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, the federal government instituted the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS) targeting countries with majority Muslim populations in Africa and the Middle East. The program resulted in 80,000 people being registered who were fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned by immigration officers. By 2011, almost 10 years after the program was created, NSEERS had not resulted in a single terrorism conviction.

The California Religious Freedom Act will prohibit state and local agencies from creating such a registry, and from making their databases available for such a registry. In addition, state and local police agencies would be barred from collecting information about religious belief (with narrow exceptions for criminal investigations and religious accommodations), and from enforcing any federal registration requirements.

“During the Trump presidential campaign, calls were made to establish a Muslim Registry.  We fight back against shameful policies with SB 31 by ensuring that California resists any calls to create a registry based off of religion, ethnicity, and national origin,” stated Advancing Justice-CA Policy Manager Andrew Medina. “SB 31 protects American values, civil liberties and the rights of California’s Muslim communities.”

“The California Religious Freedom Act ensures California will not take part in repeating the darker days of our history,” said Advancing Justice-LA Policy Director Betty Hung.  “Registries are black marks on our nation’s history. California will not be participating in a practice used to target and abuse people due to their religion or ethnic background.”

“SB 31 protects our communities from discriminatory programs. With the signing of this important legislation into law, California is standing up against the hateful rhetoric and policies coming from the Trump administration that target the Muslim American community. ” said Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus National Security and Civil Rights Attorney, Elica Vafaie.

Andrew Medina,
Sunday, October 15, 2017


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