Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.

Can Bieber’s Arrest Shed Light On Our Dysfunctional Immigration Enforcement System?

Justin Bieber’s Miami-Dade County jail mug shot has been showing up all over my Facebook newsfeed this week. Bieber was charged with DUI, driving with an expired license and resisting arrest without violence – just another reason for more media obsession with his recent streak of trouble with the law. But when I saw Bieber’s face on the ACLU homepage I did a double take. Why would the ACLU be even the slightest bit interested in this teenage popstar’s latest spectacle?

Well, as you may know, Bieber is Canadian and does not have U.S. citizenship. Diana Scholl, Communications Strategist for the ACLU writes: “If convicted, another immigrant in his situation would very likely languish in immigration detention before being deported. That person—like 84 percent of people in immigration detention-- would also likely not have an immigration attorney, let alone a high-priced one.” 

And the numbers match up. According to a 2013 report by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, in the 2013 fiscal year, 151,835 immigrants without criminal convictions, like those convicted of drunk driving, marijuana possession, or other minor traffic violations, were deported. Bieber’s mug shot can be more than just a big celebrity joke. Let’s take it as a reminder that there are millions of immigrants who do not have Bieber’s resources. We need to support comprehensive immigration reform to repair our broken immigration system.

Marriage Equality in Utah 

The ACLU sued the state of Utah on Tuesday to force the state to recognize the marriages of more than 1,000 same-sex couples who were legally married before a federal court struck down Utah’s bans on gay marriage.  

John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, stated earlier this week: “These couples were legally married under Utah law and their unions must be treated the same as any other Utah marriage. Even our attorney general said that the marriages were entitled to full recognition by the state at the time they were performed.  Regardless of what ultimately happens in the federal challenge to Utah’s marriage ban, the marriages that already occurred are valid and must be recognized now.”

Read more about the lawsuit here.

Mayor, Advocates Gather in Portland to Oppose Proposed GA Rule Change

Today is the last day for people to submit testimony to the Department of Health and Human Services on a proposed rule change that would deny General Assistance to some asylum seekers and other new Mainers who don't yet qualify to work in this state. Advocates held a press conference and delivered over 2600 signtures to DHHS from Mainers opposed to the rule change, which the ACLU and others argue is unfair and unconstitutional. Read more reasons Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, business owner Jim Wellehan, and others opposed the rule change here.