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Homeland Security

Community Engagement

Public engagement with diverse American communities whose civil rights may be affected by Department activities is a priority for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). Our Community Engagement Section responds to community concerns and provides information on Department programs, activities, and issues. The goals of our program are: to communicate reliable information about federal programs and policies, including avenues for redress and complaints; to obtain feedback about community concerns and on-the-ground impacts of Department activities, in order to incorporate into the policymaking process community ideas and issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties; and to deepen channels of communication between communities and federal officials in order to facilitate solution of problems.

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Community Roundtables

CRCL leads or plays a significant role in regular roundtable meetings among community leaders and federal, state, and local government officials. Some of these roundtables bring together American Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Sikh communities with government representatives; others are broader and include many immigrant communities and others with frequent concerns relating to homeland security and civil rights/liberties. The cities in which we hold regular roundtables are listed below. Our work also includes dozens of other community events, in these and other locations.

  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Boston, Mass.
  • Chicago, Ill.
  • Columbus, Ohio (and other metropolitan areas of Ohio)
  • Denver, Colo.
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Houston, Texas
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
  • New York City
  • Phoenix
  • Portland/Lewiston, Maine
  • Seattle, Wash.
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Washington, D.C.

Map of Roundtable locations

Roundtable with Young Leaders: We host occasional roundtables with young leaders from American Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Somali communities. These meetings allow Department officials to communicate with and hear the perspectives of young people. 

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Consultation with Communities

The Department reaches a broad range of people on a number of issues. We learn from affected communities about their concerns and their ideas for solutions. CRCL has, for example, coordinated meetings with religious leaders to hear their concerns about modesty prescriptions and airport screening; with communities of recent immigrants to discuss language access issues; and with disability groups to discuss accessibility issues at ports of entry.

On certain occasions, we formalize such consultations and develop a formal product. For example, in January 2008, CRCL outlined recommendations made by a broad range of American Muslim leaders, regarding appropriate terminology to be used when describing the terrorist threat (PDF, 9 pages - 115 KB).

We also solicit recommendations on many other topics, including the Limited English Proficiency Guidance for Department-supported activities.

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Incident Communication Coordination Team

CRCL's Incident Communication Coordination Team (ICCT) facilitates rapid federal government official engagement with American Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Somali community leaders in the aftermath of a terrorist act or homeland security incident.

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International Engagement

CRCL is a key member of two intergovernmental groups between the U.S. and key European partners: the US-UK Joint Contact Group (JCG) and the US-Germany Security Contact Group. CRCL officials have also presented on the Department’s engagement efforts at international conferences in Copenhagen, Denmark; Vienna and Salzburg, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Almaty, Kazakhstan, and through a State Department-sponsored public diplomacy trip to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Cairo, Egypt. Recent expansions of this effort include the Transatlantic Initiative (TAI) with US-UK Pakistani Communities, a project formed under the auspices of the JCG. The initiative aims to build a long-term network of Pakistani Americans and Pakistani Britons, and to foster integration and civic engagement.

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Cultural Competency/Engagement Training

CRCL leads efforts to improve the cultural competency and awareness of Department personnel. The Office has developed training resources on Sikh, Arab, and Muslim cultures, including the use of religious garments and articles. CRCL also leads a training program for federal, state, and local law enforcement, which works to improve communication, build trust, and encourage collaboration between officers and the communities they serve and protect. Training topics include effective policing without the use of ethnic or racial profiling, and best practices in community outreach.

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Religious and Cultural Needs

Posters on Common Muslim American Head Coverings, Common Sikh American Head Coverings, and the Sikh Kirpan These training posters provide guidance to Department personnel on ways in which to screen, if needed, Muslim or Sikh individuals wearing various types of religious head coverings and Sikh individuals carrying a Kirpan (ceremonial religious dagger).

Asylum Seekers

Asylum Seekers Overview This online and CD-ROM-based training provides Department of Homeland Security law enforcement personnel with essential information related to asylum seekers.

On Common Ground

On Common Ground This training DVD on Sikhism was created for law enforcement personnel by the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service in collaboration with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF).

Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers

Guidance Regarding the Use of Race for Law Enforcement Officers This training on the Department of Justice (DOJ) racial profiling guidance was produced by the U.S. Secret Service and reiterates the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to race neutrality in law enforcement activities.

First Three to Five Seconds

The First Three to Five Seconds This training, produced by the DOJ's Community Relations Service, introduces law enforcement officers to basic principles of the Arab American and Muslim American cultures.

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CRCL Newsletter

To add yourself or your organization to CRCL's newsletter distribution list, just e-mail, and ask to be added to the list.

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CRCL Facebook Page

Get updates on CRCL’s roundtables and other community engagement activities through the CRCL Facebook Page at

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By mail or phone:
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Building 410, Mail Stop #0190
Washington, D.C. 20528

Phone: 202-401-1474
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
TTY: 202-401-0470
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361
Fax: 202-401-4708

By e-mail:

Last Published Date: August 27, 2014
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