CREEC and Justice Catalyst Law Launch Housing Discrimination Initiative

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and Justice Catalyst Law are joining forces to combat housing discrimination in a new initiative that focuses on housing providers who discriminate against people participating in medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid and other drug addiction disorders. This type of discrimination causes individuals with addiction disorders to have difficulty obtaining and maintaining housing, and vastly complicates their recovery. As a first step, we’re investigating the extent of the issue. “We were troubled to learn that housing providers in the recovery community might be discriminating against people in medication assisted treatment,” says Brian Shearer, Legal Director of Justice Catalyst Law.  “Evidence shows that MAT works, but housing discrimination might deter people from using it, further exacerbating the opioid crisis at a time when supporting any and all tools for treatment should be of paramount importance.” CREEC’s breadth of experience successfully challenging disability discrimination in multiple settings including housing puts us in an excellent position to help investigate a problem we fear many face at a time when opioid abuse continues to be a prevalent issue in our society. The Director of CREEC’s Accessibility Project, Martie Lafferty states, ”People with opioid addiction who participate in MAT as part of their recovery deserve the same access to housing as anyone else. Housing providers should serve these individuals on an equal basis. It’s the right thing to do and it’s the law. CREEC is excited to partner with Justice Catalyst Law on this critical issue and hope this will be the first of many opportunities we have to work together.” To learn more about our...

Immigration: Updates and Ongoing Battles

All too frequently we hear news of abhorrent actions taken against immigrants seeking refuge in our country: Bans on people because of their religion or country of origin. Unnecessary obstacles in asylum cases. Inhumane treatment of immigrants at our borders. Brutal treatment and neglect of immigrants who are imprisoned in ICE’s jails. Expansion of private prisons to detain immigrants despite the companies’ abysmal records of human rights violations. The barrage is constant and the conditions our fellow human beings are living in are dire. This is why CREEC and others are determined to fight – and win – this battle. While we can’t possibly name all the work being done, here you will find an update on some recent efforts being made, some battles being won, and steps being taken toward future wins. In November, ICE filed a motion to dismiss the Fraihat case brought by CREEC and co-counsel. On February 24, CREEC and co-counsel will argue in court that our case should continue. This nationwide class action lawsuit challenges the federal government’s failure to ensure detained immigrants receive appropriate medical and mental health care, its punitive use of segregation in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and its failure to ensure that detained immigrants with disabilities are provided accommodations and do not face discrimination. Our clients have experienced undeniable neglect and discrimination and the progress being made should result in much needed systemic change of a broken and unlawful system. On January 15, 2020, NPR investigative reporter, Tom Dreisbach, published a piece (“Despite Findings of ‘Negligent’ Care, ICE to Expand Troubled Calif. Detention Center”) summarizing recent events and their...

FAC Program Helps Secure Effective Communication for Mr. Sam

Following a stroke, 94-year old Mr. Sam from Mississippi needed some transition time in a rehabilitation center. Imagine his family’s frustration when application after application was rejected…because the rehab facilities were not willing to provide a sign language interpreter for Mr. Sam who is Deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL). “It was unreal”, said Mr. Sam’s son, Craig Samuels, “we even had a verbal ‘yes’ from one facility only to have that’ yes’ turn into a ‘no’ when they learned that their offer of a whiteboard would not adequately serve my dad’s post-stroke communication needs. It was a nightmare.” And, as the Samuels family learned, their experience isn’t uncommon. Luckily the Samuels family has a network of support that helped them get on the right track and, ultimately, in touch with CREEC. When Mr. Sam went to the Emergency Room after his stroke, he was not initially provided with adequate interpretation. Mr. Sam’s stroke worsened his hearing condition, rendering his hearing aid completely ineffective even for short, simple communications. In addition, the left side of Mr. Sam’s body and his vision were impacted, making simple written whiteboard communication and video ASL interpretation also ineffective. As a result, Mr. Sam could not communicate at all with his health care providers nor they with him without in-person ASL interpretation. A good friend of the Samuels family who is also a Deaf advocate, assured them that Mr. Sam is guaranteed effective communication by law. With his support, they pushed and soon received excellent services for the rest of Mr. Sam’s stay at the hospital. When it was time to take the...

Making It All Real: Externship Experience at CREEC

“Having the chance to extern at CREEC put the sensationalized world of docudrama crime and the legal system in a new light for me,” says Sophia Peterson Swarthmore College ‘23, “It made it all real, made the people real. And it also made me better understand the systemic nature of the problems as well as the many ways different people are fighting hard to address the problems.” For one week this January, CREEC had the honor of hosting two students from Swarthmore who were participating in the college’s Extern Program. This relatively short January externship experience has a job-shadowing focus. “CREEC has participated in this program since 2017,” says Co-executive Director Amy Robertson and Swarthmore alumna ’83, “and one of the best things about it is the multi-faceted exposure students get to various careers.” CREEC was fortunate to host Marième Diop, Swarthmore ’18, during an extended externship in 2017, and even more fortunate when she returned as a paralegal after graduation. Here at CREEC we try to offer as many different opportunities as possible to our externs, providing both breadth and depth to the experience. This year externs Sophia Peterson ‘23 and Shaurya Bhaskar ’22 participated in myriad facets of the civil rights legal and advocacy world including, attending an Emotional Support Animal Stakeholder Meeting relating to pending legislation at which Amy Robertson contributed information about ADA considerations;  a day at Denver’s Federal Courthouse where they spoke with Magistrate Judge Neureiter and saw several court proceedings including charging, sentencing and some civil cases; saw Boulder civil rights and criminal defense attorney Gail Johnson in action questioning witnesses at a...

Welcome Pilar!

We are excited to announce the opening of CREEC’s Los Angeles office and the appointment of Pilar Gonzalez Morales as our new Senior Staff Attorney! Pilar focuses on civil rights issues at the intersection of disability and immigration rights and comes to CREEC with a wealth of experience. Prior to joining CREEC, Pilar worked at Disability Rights California where she represented children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as well as people with disabilities held in immigration detention. Pilar strongly advocates for the use of an intersectional framework within the disability rights movement to ensure that people of color, LGBTQI, immigrants and other often underserved communities benefit from and lead the fight for the civil rights of all people with disabilities. She also worked for four years at Arias and Munoz (currently Dentons Munoz) in Costa Rica where she enjoyed many outdoor activities and was part of the Litigation and Mediation team. Pilar says about her new position, “I’m incredibly pleased to be joining CREEC because of its commitment to enforcing civil rights laws across the nation, including for some of the most underserved communities. CREEC’s work at the intersection of disability and immigration issues is not only innovative, it also ensures that the disability rights community reflects the needs of all people with disabilities across the country.” Pilar has a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from Duke University. Outside of work Pilar spends a great deal of time hanging out with her three nephews, watching futbol, and reading. We are thrilled to have Pilar as part of the team and are...