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Revisiting Civil Rights as Human Rights

Margaret Huang

Executive Director
The Rights Working Group

Margaret Huang, a long-time advocate for human rights in the United States, is the Executive Director of the Rights Working Group (RWG). The RWG coalition was formed in the aftermath of 9/11 to restore civil liberties and human rights protections that have been eroded by national security policies. As a national coalition of more than 290 civil liberties, immigrant rights and human rights organizations, RWG seeks to ensure that the rights of everyone in the United States are respected regardless of citizenship or immigration status, race, national origin, religion or ethnicity.  In 2009, RWG launched a campaign, Racial Profiling: Face the Truth, working with member organizations and allies around the country to enact legislation and win policy reforms that would ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement agencies.

Ms. Huang has spoken at a number of national conferences, and she has given testimony before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  She has published articles and op-eds on human rights and RWG advocacy campaigns, and she authored a chapter, “Going global – Appeals to International and Regional Human Rights Bodies,” in Human Rights At Home, published by Praeger Publishers in December 2007.  

Ms. Huang sits on the Steering Committee of the Human Rights at Home Campaign, which seeks to promote a domestic human rights agenda in the U.S.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the US Human Rights Network, a coalition of more than two hundred and fifty organizational members dedicated to promoting U.S. government accountability to human rights standards.  

Ms. Huang’s previous work experience includes serving as Director of the U.S. Program at Global Rights, as Program Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, as Program Manager at The Asia Foundation, and as Committee Staff for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Huang received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, and a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.

Julie Fernandes

Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
United States Department of Justice

Julie A. Fernandes is Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice.  In that capacity, Ms. Fernandes is responsible for oversight of the Division’s work in the areas of voting rights, federal compliance with Title VI and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and international human rights.   

For more than six years, Ms. Fernandes was the Senior Policy Analyst and Senior Counsel at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition.  In that capacity, Ms. Fernandes led the civil rights community’s successful effort to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2006.  Ms. Fernandes also served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton at the White House Domestic Policy Council where her work focused on the development of policy in the areas of immigration, race relations, and civil rights.

Prior to her position with LCCR, Ms. Fernandes served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Bill Lann Lee, working primarily on legal and policy issues related to voting rights, international human rights, and police misconduct, including racial profiling, and was a trial lawyer in the Housing and Voting Sections of the Civil Rights Division. 

Ms. Fernandes received both her J.D. and A.B. degrees from the University of Chicago. After law school, she was the Karpatkin Fellow in the National Legal Department of the American Civil Liberties Union, and clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Fernando Garcia

Executive Director
Border Network for Human Rights

Fernando Garcia is Founding Director of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR). The BNHR supports immigrant border communities in the promotion of their human rights and the demand of humane of immigration reform that is consistent with human rights.  

As Director, Fernando is been responsible for facilitating the creation of more than 40 Human Rights Community-Based Committees and the training of 250 Human Rights Promoters in Southern New Mexico, West Texas, Houston,  Austin, Dallas, Texas Valley, San Jose CA and New Jersey.   

In 2001, he became the National Coordinator of the National Movement for Legalization and Human Rights - an alliance of community based immigrant groups and organizations in the U.S.

Under Fernando’s coordination, the Border Network for Human Rights has also worked closely with local elected officials and community organizations to develop city council resolutions in El Paso, Texas to oppose the militarization of the border, a call for comprehensive immigration reform, and against the presence of racist groups in the border region such as the minutemen. A major initiative of BNHR in 2006 was the convening of the US/Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force that brought together academics, elected officials, community organization to engage in border policy issues. Under Fernando’s coordination, the Task Force expanded and evolved into what is now known as the Border Stakeholders. This latter entity is a border wide, diverse en group that has the primarily function of engaging Administration officials (DHS, CBP) to foster changes in internal policies and practices of immigration law enforces agencies working at the US-Mexico Border.   

In 2009, under Fernando’s initiative, BNHR launched the creation of the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, a Texas wide, multi-sector alliance that currently works on immigrant integration and engagement, and pushes back the anti-immigrant agenda in the state. 

He is also a member of the Independent Task Force of Immigration and America’s Future convened by the Migration Policy Institute.