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Spring 2020 Newsletter

Photo by Jena Cumbo
Donna Lieberman by Jena Cumbo.

COVID-19 and the Rights of New Yorkers

The NYCLU entered 2020 prepared for an uphill battle. We knew that we’d have to defend our wins from the previous year while pursuing ambitious progress in Albany. All while Trump has been on the offense.

After being acquitted in a sham impeachment trial, the President has been emboldened. He doubled down on his longstanding attack on our fundamental rights and began to take aim at states like New York for the progress we’ve made, especially with the steps we’ve taken to protect immigrants.

Then came COVID-19. Saying that it exacerbated the challenges we faced would be an understatement. Our lives, our economy and the ongoing fight for civil liberties have been disrupted by the far-reaching pandemic, and people of color, immigrant communities, and low-income New Yorkers have been hit particularly hard.

The timeline of our already urgent work moved up and we demanded that state officials take swift, bold action to protect those who are most at risk:

We are pushing for the immediate release of a huge swath of immigrant detainees who weresubject to ICE’s secret “no release” policy in New York. We had already sued the governmentover their illegal rule and the virus is putting detainees directly in harm’s way.

We are urging Governor Cuomo to release as many people as possible from prisons and jailsacross the state while asking the courts to limit the influx of people.

And considering the election year, we are working to keep officials from using the pandemicas a pretext to further threaten and undermine our democratic institutions.

We’ve done all this while resisting efforts to backtrack on our 2019 pretrial justice reform wins and fighting multiple lawsuits against the Trump administration on behalf of immigrants in New York.

This year has already thrown enough challenges at us to keep us busy for a lifetime. Yes, sometimes even I feel like Sysiphus pushing that enormous boulder we call democracy up the hill. But despite it all, I assure you that the NYCLU and ACLU will never stop fighting for our rights and dignity, and for those who are at greatest risk.

I’m incredibly proud of the NYCLU and ACLU team for rising to the occasion and I’m grateful to partner with you in times like these.

Stay safe and healthy. Seek joy and justice. Let’s continue to make New York a safe haven for all.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union