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California Harmeet Dhillon Could Lead DOJ Civil Rights Division

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Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco-based trial attorney and leading California Republican, is reportedly under consideration to run the civil rights branch of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, Dhillon was interviewed for the job last week in Washington, D.C.

The Times suggests the post Dhillon is being considered for “will be heavily scrutinized given the Trump administration’s positions on issues such as voting rights.” The publication also drew attention to a series of hate crimes that have taken place over the past few months.

Jews, in particular, have been the targets of hate crimes.

Dhillon was born in the city of Chandigarh in Punjab, India and emigrated to England with her parents before they settled in the Bronx, New York. Dhillon later made her way to California. She is a Sikh.

Last summer, she opened the second night of the Republican National Convention by singing a Sikh prayer, known as Ardaas, in Punjabi during the invocation and then translating it into English.

Dhillon has been a vocal Trump supporter.

Dhillon served for two years on the board of the Bay Area chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which she joined shortly after 9/11 when other members of her faith experienced harassment following the terrorist attacks carried out by radical Islamic terrorists. Sikhs, like Muslims, wear turbans.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, when members of the California Republican Party’s central committee in San Francisco learned of Dhillon’s past with the ACLU, they attempted to keep her off of the committee. The ACLU, which casts itself as non-partisan, has been accused of leaning to the left.

Some publications have suggested that Dhillon also donated then-candidate for San Francisco District Attorney Democrat Kamala Harris, who recently won retired Senator Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat.

The Times notes that during her time at Dartmouth College, Dhillon was editor of the school’s weekly conservative paper the Dartmouth Review.

In October 1988, the paper made headlines when it published a satirical column with a picture depicting the college’s Jewish president as Adolf Hitler and comparing his campus policies to the Holocaust.

The Times notes that “Dhillon, then editor-in-chief, denied in an interview with the New York Times that the column was anti-Semitic, saying critics were ‘trying to twist the issue to their own ends.'” She added that she was “very disturbed about the response” to the column which she said meant to compare “liberal fascism” with other forms of fascism. The Times notes that she added the column, instead, showed “callous disregard” for the Holocaust.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division was founded 60 years ago, and its function is to enforce federal laws that prevent discrimination.

In 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle profiled Dhillon and her political views. “Bottom line: It’s a political party,” Dhillon said of the GOP. “It’s not a philosophy, it’s not a way of life, it’s not a religion. It’s about winning. I’d like to see our party win.”

She echoed that sentiment last year after the Republican National Convention. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, she said: “I think this is an inclusive party. I’ve never felt anything but included since Day One.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.


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