Author Archives: Emily Morris

NILC Taps Kate Kahan as Executive Vice President of Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Taps Kate Kahan as Executive Vice President of Programs

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF) this week welcomed Kate Kahan, a nationally recognized advocate for racial and economic justice, as executive vice president of programs.

Kahan has spent three decades building power and fighting for justice at the local, state, and federal levels, including 10 years in the immigrant rights movement. She got involved in activism as a single mom on welfare and led a welfare rights organization as well as a feminist activist organization before working on the Senate Finance Committee on low-income issues, childcare, child welfare, unemployment insurance, and tribal affairs.

Kica Matos, president of NILC and IJF, said: “Kate Kahan is a powerhouse advocate whose deep professional and lived experience will help NILC further our mission to defend and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. Her successful track record of coalition building and political organizing will help build the power of the immigrant rights movement and strengthen NILC’s capacity to promote justice, equality, and dignity for immigrants.

Before joining NILC and IJF, Kahan served as the chief of strategy and partnerships at People’s Action. She also led Community Change’s federal advocacy work for 13 years, where she worked on building political power through grassroots organizing; promoting immigrant rights, economic justice, and racial and gender equity; and strengthening capacity in the social justice movement. Kahan also held senior positions at the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Vera Institute of Justice working on labor standards and criminal legal reform.

Kate Kahan, executive vice president of programs at NILC and IJF, said: “I am honored to join NILC, an organization that shares my commitment to fighting poverty, advancing racial equity, and building community power to achieve a world in which all of us, regardless of immigration status, have the freedom to thrive.

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NILC Statement on Border Deal Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement on Border Deal Vote

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement in response to the Senate vote to consider a deal that would decimate the U.S. asylum system in exchange for short-term foreign aid:

It has long been clear that Republicans in Congress were never serious about resolving the issues in our immigration system and are only interested in weaponizing fear to score political points. It is unsurprising that this deal is poised for failure, and it never should have been introduced in the first place.

“Immigrants are essential members of our communities who move the country forward. Throwing immigrants under the bus in exchange for short-term, unrelated foreign aid is an enormous political and moral miscalculation. Democrats must approach immigration from a position of courage and recognize immigrants as a strength to our nation. We urge Congress to reject this framework and recommit to building a functional immigration system that centers the dignity and humanity of immigrants.

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NILC Statement on the Supplemental Funding Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149

NILC Statement on the Supplemental Funding Deal

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the released text of the supplemental funding deal that would decimate the U.S. asylum system, among other dangerous provisions, in exchange for foreign aid:

“This bill is not worth the incredible price it would exact – more families separated, more children detained, and more people sent back to face persecution, torture, and even death. Instead of enacting draconian policies that create more chaos, we urge the White House and Senate Democrats to change course, reject this framework, and recommit to building an orderly, humane, and functioning immigration system.

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NILC Statement on DHS Policy to Renew Protections for Workers Asserting Their Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement on DHS Policy to Renew Protections for Workers Asserting Their Rights

WASHINGTON — Jessie Hahn, senior labor and employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of a process for workers who assert their rights against abusive employers to renew temporary immigration protections:

All of us, no matter our immigration status, deserve a safe working environment, with a living wage, and the ability to speak up about workplace abuse without fear of retaliation. This renewal guidance will ensure more workers can play a role in holding abusive employers accountable and empower workers to collectively push back against exploitative employers.

This policy benefits U.S.-born and immigrant workers alike, because when more workers can make their voices heard in favor of a safe and dignified working environment, conditions improve for everyone. We urge the Biden administration to continue promoting just and inclusive workplace protections so all of us, including immigrants, can do our jobs safely and with dignity.

View NILC’s report marking the one-year anniversary of the deferred action policy here 

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Federal Court Orders Indiana to Allow Access to Driver’s Licenses for Residents with Humanitarian Protections Regardless of Country of Origin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2024

CONTACT
Emily Morris, National Immigration Law Center, 213-457-7458, [email protected]
Ariella Sult, ACLU of Indiana, 317-759-6425, [email protected]

Federal Court Orders Indiana to Allow Access to Driver’s Licenses for Residents with Humanitarian Protections Regardless of Country of Origin

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A federal district court in Indiana today entered a preliminary injunction ordering the state to remove restrictions on accessing Indiana driver’s licenses or identification cards for residents who live in the state under federal humanitarian protections, while the case moves forward. 

The decision comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) filed a lawsuit in August 2023 on behalf of five Indiana residents from Haiti who live and work under federal humanitarian protections and who want to get an Indiana driver’s license or identification card. The law in question, H.E.A. 1050, is an Indiana law that created a pathway for individuals on humanitarian parole to obtain Indiana driver’s licenses or identification cards, but only if they are from Ukraine.    

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs argue that H.E.A. 1050 represents national origin discrimination and is unconstitutional. 

“A driver’s license is necessary for me to get to work and be a fully independent member of my community, particularly in rural Indiana where I live,” said Jeffson St-Hilaire, a plaintiff who resides in Hancock County. “I am relieved by today’s decision, which will help me be self-reliant and give back to my community. I plan to continue advocating for justice alongside the other plaintiffs, because getting a driver’s license should be dependent on following the rules of the road, not on the country where you were born. Today’s decision is a step forward in the direction of justice, equality, and the fundamental rights of our community. It sends a powerful message that everyone, regardless of their immigration status or country of origin, deserves equal treatment.” 

In addition to claiming national origin discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the lawsuit asserts that the new law, known as H.E.A. 1050, is a state-created immigration classification, and thus preempted by federal law.  

 “This injunction upholds the principles underlying the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by rejecting Indiana’s blatant attempt to discriminate against persons based on where they are from,” said Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana senior attorney. “We will continue to pursue this case to ensure that Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians have an equal opportunity to support their families, and communities.” 

“Today’s decision reaffirms what we and many Hoosiers already know to be true: All of us, no matter where we were born, should be able to safely get to where we need to go in our communities,” said Nicholas Espíritu, an attorney with NILC. “A driver’s license is crucial for people to go to work, pick their kids up from school, visit the doctor’s office, and get to other essential places. Blocking people from getting a driver’s license because of where they were born, in addition to being unconstitutional and unjust, hurts community safety. We will continue to fight for the ability of all Hoosiers to access a driver’s license or state ID.” 

The full text of the decision is available here: https://www.aclu-in.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/dkt_45_-_order_granting_motion_for_pi.pdf     

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NILC Welcomes Murad Awawdeh to its Board of Directors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Welcomes Murad Awawdeh to its Board of Directors 

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) today announced the addition of Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), to the NILC board of directors.

I am proud to welcome Murad Awawdeh, a nationally renowned champion of immigrants’ rights, to NILC’s board of directors,” said Kica Matos, NILC president. “Murad’s two decades of experience fighting for low-income communities of color, combined with his tireless advocacy to strengthen the ecosystem of welcoming newcomers in New York, will further propel NILC’s mission to advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. As a member of NILC’s board, Murad will play a crucial role in realizing our collective vision of an America in which everyone, regardless of their immigration status, has the freedom to thrive.”  

I am honored to join the board of the National Immigration Law Center, an organization whose commitment to advancing the rights of immigrant communities resonates deeply with my own lifelong dedication to fighting for justice,” said Murad Awawdeh.I look forward to contributing my experience to advance NILC’s impactful work to advocate for low-income immigrants and their family members. Together, we will work toward a truly equitable, just future for all our communities.”  

The son of Palestinian immigrants, Awawdeh has dedicated over two decades of his life fighting for low-income communities of color. As the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Awawdeh leads the nation’s oldest and largest immigrant rights organization. Through his work he has successfully expanded rights and protections for New Yorkers and delivered over $10 billion in community reinvestment. Over the past year, he has worked to welcome tens of thousands of recent arrivals and advocate for their needs, as well as strengthening the ecosystem of community organizations serving immigrant communities. Awawdeh has successfully led electoral, legislative, and policy campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, and mobilized hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at demonstrations against anti-immigrant policies. As the Executive Director of NYIC Action, the NYIC’s sister 501(c)4 political advocacy and action organization, he has successfully ran grassroots electoral campaigns to elect progressive candidates.  

Awawdeh has been featured in the New York Times, Vice, Washington Post, New York Daily News, and other various print, television and digital outlets. He serves as a Trustee of the New York University Family Health Centers Board, as a member of the Justice 2020 Committee, board member of the Advocacy Institute, National Partnership for New Americans, Fair Immigration Reform Movement and as Commissioner of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. 

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NILC Statement on Negotiations to Trade Anti-Immigrant Restrictions for Foreign Aid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2023

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement on Negotiations to Trade Anti-Immigrant Restrictions for Foreign Aid

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to reports that the Biden administration is entertaining Republican demands for more extreme anti-immigrant policiessuch as proposals to expand fast-tracked deportations nationwide, undermine asylum law, and curtail temporary immigrant protectionsin a foreign aid bill: 

The willingness of the White House to sacrifice vulnerable people is simply unacceptable. We call on congressional champions to stand up and do the right thing. Senate Democrats must reject these extreme anti-immigrant proposals, and instead work toward sensible solutions that live up to our legal and moral commitments to welcome those seeking safety.”

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NILC Statement on District Court Ruling Against DACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2023

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279

NILC Statement on District Court Ruling Against DACA

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to a ruling from U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas finding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) unlawful:

“While expected, today’s court ruling is devastating. It impacts hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth and their loved ones, who have already endured years of uncertainty stemming from politicized attacks on DACA. Congress has failed to pass a permanent legislative solution, and it is urgent that they act now. We cannot allow court rulings to continue to upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth whose home is here. We demand that Congress pass a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and immigrant youth.”

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New Data Underscores Urgency of Lifting DACA Recipients’ Exclusion from Health Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2023

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279

New Data Underscores Urgency of Lifting DACA Recipients’ Exclusion from Health Programs

As Biden administration weighs policy changes, data shows inequities persist 

WASHINGTON — A report published today by the National Immigration Law Center shows that recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who are currently excluded from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are disproportionately uninsured and face significant health disparities. The report comes as the Biden administration prepares to reverse the exclusion that has kept DACA recipients from accessing public health coverage.

Under DACA, immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and meet other requirements can access temporary protection from deportation along with work authorization. DACA recipients are considered lawfully present. However, in 2012, DACA recipients were excluded from public insurance programs otherwise available to other lawfully present immigrants.

Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, said“Our health is interconnected, and a community’s health depends on all residents having access to care. DACA recipients contribute daily to the success of this country but have been unjustly denied accessible and affordable insurance options. The data in this report underlines the clear need to lift these barriers as soon as possible. We welcome the Biden administration’s steps toward addressing this injustice. It is imperative that administration act deliberately to finalize its proposed rule so DACA recipients can access the health care they need as soon as possible.

This report analyzes findings from a 2022 survey of over 800 DACA recipients, administered by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress. Topline findings include:

  • 27 percent indicated they are not covered by any kind of health insurance or other health care plan.  
  • 71 percent reported they or a family member had been unable to pay medical bills or expenses. 
  • 57 percent of uninsured respondents believe they face barriers to affordable health care coverage due to their immigration status. 
  • 51 percent of uninsured respondents are not aware of any affordable care or coverage options available to them. 

This is the second annual report by NILC tracking DACA recipients’ access to health care. This year’s report, released during Mental Health Awareness Month, includes new data on DACA recipients’ access to mental health care. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents who indicated they have experienced mental or behavioral health issues say that they are not receiving counseling, therapy, or psychiatric services from a mental health professional. Within this group, 56 percent report that costs are too expensive, 47 percent report lack of time to access care, and 34 percent report inability to find a mental health care provider who meets their cultural or language needs.

The report highlights the urgency of removing the barriers that prevent many DACA recipients from being able to access affordable care, and notes that the Biden administration’s rule is a first step. The report includes additional policy and legislative recommendations, including that Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and immigrant youth.

To view the full survey results, visit this link.

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NILC Urges President Biden to Veto Challenge to Public Charge Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2023

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279

NILC Urges President Biden to Veto Challenge to Public Charge Rule

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement in response to the Senate vote to repeal the Biden administration’s public charge rule:

“For years, the National Immigration Law Center and a broad coalition of allies fought back against Trump’s cruel public charge wealth test that threatened the health, nutrition, and housing of millions of families who call the U.S. home. When he took office, President Biden and his administration worked to undo this damage and create a new rule to reinstate and clarify longstanding policy and address socioeconomic and racial inequities.  

“To see a Senate majority vote to send us back to the cruelty of the Trump era is unacceptable. This is the latest attempt in a tired right-wing political playbook meant to keep the American public divided and distracted while Republicans scapegoat immigrants and undermine the values to which this nation aspires.  

“We urge the House to vote to reject this harmful measure, and should it land on President Biden’s desk, we expect him to veto it. The wellbeing of entire communities is on the line.

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