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. Our goal is to:
- Communicate reliable information about federal programs and policies, including avenues for redress and complaints;
- 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
- Deepen channels of communication between communities and federal officials in order to facilitate solution of problems.
CRCL holds regular roundtable meetings among community leaders and federal, state, and local government officials. These roundtables bring together American Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Somali, Sikh, Latino, Jewish, and Asian/Asian Pacific Islander communities with government representatives. We hold regular roundtables and a host of other engagement events in these cities (as well as others):
Young Leaders and Campus Engagement
As part of a broader campus engagement strategy, CRCL hosts a series of roundtables on security and liberty with young leaders from the American Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, and Middle Eastern communities. These roundtables have been held in Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, DC.
Consultation with Communities
In addition to regular roundtables, CRCL hosts a variety of events and activities with affected communities to hear their concerns and ideas for solutions. These events range from public town halls on current incidents or issues to focused meetings and listening sessions with targeted stakeholders to include religious leaders, recent immigrants, law enforcement, local government, disability groups, etc. As a result of these consultations, we have received valuable input on DHS policy and also developed products to facilitate communication with diverse communities; including a guide on appropriate terminology to use when describing the terrorist threat.
Incident Communication Coordination Team
CRCL's Incident Communication Coordination Team (ICCT) is the only tool of its kind available for rapid two-way communication between the federal government and impacted communities in the aftermath of a homeland security incident or emergency. The ICCT national call provides timely information to communities and allows them to provide feedback to senior government officials on:
- reports allegations of hate crimes that must be investigated;
- reactions or concerns to policies or enforcement actions taken by the government; and
- feedback on how the government might be more effective in investigating terrorist acts.
CRCL is a key member of two intergovernmental groups between the U.S. and key European partners: the US-UK Joint Contact Group and the US-Germany Security Contact Group. CRCL officials have also presented on the Department’s engagement efforts at international conferences in Austria, Bosnia, Canada, Denmark, Kazakhstan, and Poland. CRCL has also participated in State Department-sponsored public diplomacy trips to Egypt, England, Germany, and Kyrgyzstan. As well, CRCL leads an annual community engagement/CVE exchange program, which pairs community stakeholders and local law enforcement in U.S. cities with their counterparts in Germany and Belgium.
Cultural Competency/Engagement Training
CRCL leads efforts to improve the cultural competency and awareness of Department personnel and has developed training resources on Sikh, Arab, and Muslim cultures, including the use of religious garments and articles. CRCL also facilitates 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.
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 Overview This online and CD-ROM-based training provides DHS law enforcement personnel with essential information related to asylum seekers.
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.
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.
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.
Connect with CRCL
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
Toll Free: 1-866-644-8360
Toll Free TTY: 1-866-644-8361