Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
This week, Alabama officials made plans to close one of the state’s most notorious prisons, a Planned Parenthood clinic got the greenlight to become Kentucky’s second abortion provider, and the California senate voted down a bill to address the state’s housing shortage. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued to curb immigration, with the Supreme Court’s voting to allow a policy heightening restrictions for poor immigrants, and the announcement of new restrictions for Nigeria and several other countries.
The Trump administration put new immigrant restrictions on Nigeria and five other countries. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy restricting immigrant visas for citizens of Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. These countries join Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen in being subject to heightened immigration restrictions. NPR
Iowa has processed its 300-plus backlog of felon voter restoration applications in time for Monday’s presidential caucuses. Iowa is currently the only state with a permanent felon voting ban, which affects more than 60,000 people. In 2016, more than 2,500 people had their voter registrations restored after they were incorrectly listed. Gov. Kim Reynolds’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to end the felon voter ban failed to advance in the state legislature last year. Des Moines Register
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisville, Kentucky got permission to become the state’s second abortion provider. The decision comes after Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear succeeded Kentucky’s Republican former governor, Matt Bevin, in December. Currently, five other states have only one abortion provider. Courrier Journal
Incarcerated people at a Massachusetts maximum security prison are alleging beatings by corrections officers. The Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center was put on lockdown after three corrections officers were injured in a violent incident on Jan. 10. Since then, dozens of prisoners have reported beatings, verbal abuse and the taking of their belongings, according to Prisoners’ Legal Services. WBUR News
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has sued the Kansas Highway Patrol for targeting out-of-state drivers. The federal lawsuit alleges that the highway patrol targeted travelers headed to or from Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. The lawsuit also accuses state troopers of using a practice called “the Kansas Two Step,” in which troopers take two steps toward their vehicle at the end of a traffic stop and then turn around to ask the driver more questions. According to the ACLU, this technique attempts to extend a traffic stop into a consensual encounter after the initial traffic violation has been resolved. The Kansas City Star
A bill aimed at California’s housing crisis failed to pass the state senate. The proposal would have required local governments to build more housing near transit and jobs, and made way for the construction of more duplexes and fourplexes. Critics of the bill said it took too much control over housing development away from city and county governments, and did not do enough to guarantee the construction of affordable housing. KQED
South Dakota’s House of Representatives advanced a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for doctors to provide transgender children with hormone treatment. If the bill is passed by the state senate and signed into law, doctors could face fines and jail time for providing anyone under 16 with hormone treatment or gender confirmation surgery. Similar laws have recently been introduced in Colorado, Florida and South Carolina, according to the ACLU. Mother Jones
The Colorado Senate will consider a bill to suppress eviction records. The bill, which cleared the Colorado House on Wednesday, would keep eviction records from public view unless an eviction is ordered. Even in cases that end with eviction, the judge could continue to keep details of the case private if the landlord and tenant agree to doing so. Denverite
Alabama plans to largely shut down one the state’s most notorious prisons. More than 600 prisoners will be moved from the William C. Holman Correctional Facility to other facilities, while death row prisoners and about 150 “low-risk” prisoners are expected to remain. Holman, along with facilities across the state, is understaffed and overcrowded. A Justice Department report released last year described Alabama’s prisons as “cruel” and “objectively unsafe.” NPR
The Supreme Court voted to allow a policy making it easier for the government to deny green cards to immigrants on the basis of their income. Under this policy, immigrants will be less likely to receive green cards or visas if immigration officials determine them likely to be a “public charge” (i.e., dependent on public assistance). The new rules were set to take effect in October, but were blocked by multiple federal judges. Politico