Author Archives: Emily Morris

NILC Statement on Biden’s Executive Action on the Border

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Adrian Escárate, 202-609-9976
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement on Biden’s Executive Action on the Border

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s anti-immigrant executive action on the border:

“President Biden’s craven embrace of failed Republican policies is a mistake that will only lead to more harm and dysfunction at the U.S.-Mexico border. There is a better way. Rather than playing politics with people’s lives, the President should pursue practical solutions that increase our capacity to welcome immigrants humanely. These solutions include timely and fair processing of asylum applications, expanding legal pathways, and supporting cities that are welcoming our new neighbors.”

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National Immigration Law Center Announces Campaign to Protect K-12 Public Education Access for All Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2024

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

National Immigration Law Center Announces Campaign to Protect K-12 Public Education Access for All Children

WASHINGTON — A coalition of 35 organizations, led by the National Immigration Law Center, launched Education for All – a new campaign to protect access to K-12 public education for all kids, regardless of their immigration status. 

The campaign, which includes leading education, immigrant rights, and civil rights organizations, aims to ensure all children have continued access to a free K-12 public education, as mandated by law. The campaign will monitor and defend the right to an education, a bedrock of our country’s democracy, against extreme politicians and organizations that seek to weaken our public schools by scapegoating immigrant communities.

“In launching this campaign, we are sending a clear message that we will meet any attack on the right of all children, no matter their immigration status, to access K-12 public schools with fierce resistance,” said Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center. “Efforts to prevent kids from being able to attend school are part of a broader assault on public education and ultimately our democracy. School helps instill the norms, values, and skills that children need to thrive and fully participate in our communities. It is in our collective best interest to protect access to schools for all, and to categorically reject extremists’ attempts to weaken public education.”

Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 landmark Supreme Court decision, held that states cannot deny access to public K-12 schools based on immigration status. Now, the Education for All campaign is building a broad, deep, and powerful movement in support of every child’s right to receive a free, public education.

“The law is clear. Denying children who reside in the United States a K‐12 public education based on their immigration status, or the perceived status of their parent and or legal guardian, is illegal,” said Evelyn DeJesus, executive vice president, AFT. “School districts who violate the applicable legal guidelines are placed on notice, we will fight back! We’re proud to join the Education for All Campaign. AFT members who work in schools—from teachers, school support staff and nurses, to bus drivers—play a critical role in helping to protect the Plyler rights of all students. Schools must be safe havens and welcoming places of learning, free from discrimination, racism, bullying and the threat of deportation. Our members are often the first responders to potential threats in schools and are the frontline protectors of our students.”

“CABE educators believe that our nation of immigrants find strength in unity when we embrace the tapestry of our diversity, cultivate our immigrant heritage, and celebrate our multilingualism as one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,” said Dr. Edgar Lampkin, chief executive officer of California Association for Bilingual Education.

“Public education is the cornerstone of opportunity in America – the key that unlocks possibilities for every child in our country,” said Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, deputy director of Californians Together and co-chair of the National Newcomer Network. “Yet we are again witnessing a growing anti-immigrant movement against free, public education for all. Through legislative action and budgetary investments, California continues to shine as a beacon of inclusivity and access where all learners, regardless of background or circumstance are afforded meaningful learning opportunities. We must come together to safeguard the fundamental right to a free public education for all children across this country, ensuring that the future of our country is safeguarded through a well-educated population, regardless of immigration status.”

“Providing a public K-12 education to every child regardless of their immigration status is based on our core American value to protect all children and support their ability to achieve their full potential,” said Wendy Cervantes, director of immigration and immigrant families at the Center for Law and Social Policy. “The tremendous contributions of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are just one example of the social and economic benefits of educating immigrant children. We are committed to ensuring that this constitutional right is protected for the well-being of immigrant children and for society as a whole.”

“Providing free public education to all children living in America ensures that no state is allowed to inadvertently create an underclass of children by depriving them of an education,” said Linda Corchado, senior director of immigration at CHILDREN AT RISK. “Free public education ensures that not one child is placed at a permanent and insurmountable competitive disadvantage, because if there could ever be a silver bullet to eradicate poverty, it is the unencumbered right to an education.”

“There’s no doubt that public education is under attack in this country,” said Bruce Lesley, First Focus on Children. “We believe that every child has the right to a public K-12 education, regardless of their economic background, immigrant status, disability, or other situation. First Focus on Children is pleased to join the Education for All campaign.”

“Every child, regardless of their immigration status, deserves the key to knowledge through education,” said Tessa Petit, executive director of Florida Immigrant Coalition. “In Florida, countless children who were born in other countries and had to navigate our complex immigration system throughout their lives have transcended barriers to become pillars of our society, enriching our communities and driving progress. Their journeys remind us that potential knows no borders, and investing in their education is an investment in the future greatness of our nation. The short-sightedness of denying immigrant children access to public education not only stifles their potential but also undermines the very foundation of progress and inclusivity. In denying them education, we deny ourselves the opportunity to benefit from their talents, innovation, and contributions to our shared future. All kids dream of bright exciting futures. The cynicism and political ambitions of a few should not get in the way of all children fulfilling their God-given potential.”

“We must stand firmly behind the fundamental principle of Education for All, recognizing that equal access to K-12 public education not only empowers children to reach their fullest potential but also fortifies the fabric of our society, enriching our communities and strengthening our economy and nation,” said Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us. “At a moment when the future of our multiracial democracy is at stake, FWD.us is proud to help launch this crucial effort to safeguard every child’s right to a quality public education, irrespective of immigration status.”

“Children are not just individuals; they represent the promise of tomorrow,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director, Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Plyler v. Doe recognizes that regardless of origin, every child deserves a chance to learn, thrive, and contribute to society. Protecting their access to education is not just a legal mandate but a moral imperative, shaping a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

“In 1982 the US Supreme Court wisely ruled that school-age children have the right to free public education regardless of their immigration status,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We now need to ensure that this right remains protected for all children. We are happy to join the Education for All campaign and eager to work at all levels of government so that all children will have access to public education.”

“When I arrived in the U.S at age 7, I had the opportunity to receive a public education, regardless of my immigration status,” said Astou Thiane, director of policy & advocacy at ImmSchools. “It was that opportunity that allowed me to graduate High School, go to college, and to become an educator who served the community where I grew up. My story is proof of what can happen when we invest in all of our children’s education. It shows that all of America benefits when all of its children have access to an education.”

“As educators, we believe that all students, irrespective of their ZIP code, language they speak or color of their skin, have the right to a great public education that helps them achieve their dreams and grow into their brilliance,” said Noel Candelaria, secretary-treasurer of NEA. “We have a professional and moral responsibility to stand up against those politicians who are bent on denying educational opportunities to students because of their place of birth and criminalize their families for seeking a better life. By joining together, we can demand an immigration system that is humane, functional, and just, and that honors the work and sacrifice of those who move here for the promise of freedoms that all of us cherish.”

“Quality public education is the foundation of a healthy democracy,” said Alejandra Vázquez Baur, fellow and co-founder/director of the National Newcomer Network, The Century Foundation; and Dr. Conor Williams, senior fellow, The Century Foundation. “Welcoming school environments give children the opportunity to realize their full potential, contribute to our economy, and improve American society and our communities. This election year, we must protect all students’ right to education, regardless of citizenship status. Threats to children’s access to school fly in the face of established legal precedent under Plyler v. Doe, not to mention our sense of moral decency. Kids belong in school. At the Century Foundation, we are committed to educational equity and protecting the rights of immigrant youth in schools, and we are proud to join the Education for All campaign to do just that.”

“All students, regardless of immigration status, deserve access to equal educational opportunities,” said Maribel Ramos, director of federal government relations at the National Women’s Law Center. “In 1982 the Supreme Court ruling Plyer v. Doe established the constitutional right to a free, public K-12 education for undocumented immigrant children in the United States, but anti-immigrant sentiment continues to threaten that right. At the National Women’s Law Center, we fight for the rights of women and girls to have equal access to educational opportunities. As a member of the Education for All Campaign we stand in solidarity in fighting back against these harmful attacks targeting immigrant communities and children, many of them women and girls.”

“Education is the cornerstone of upholding the humanity of future generations as part of societal progress,” said Evelyn Aissa, deputy director, Partnership for the Future of Learning. “Every child, regardless of immigration status, deserves the right to a quality public education. It’s not just a policy; it’s a moral imperative.”

“Every child, no matter the color of their skin, their family’s income, or their immigration status, deserves the freedom to learn in public schools that celebrate them for who they are,” said Judith Clerjeune, advocacy director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. “In recent years, the Tennessee legislature has unsuccessfully introduced legislation targeting Plyler v. Doe, in an attempt to undermine the promise of accessible education for all children in our country. While some try to divide our communities and parents in order to hold onto power, we know our collective future depends on our children’s education. Together we can deliver that future by protecting the freedom for every child to get a quality public education that gives them the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.”

“Every child in Texas deserves access to a high-quality public education, regardless of where they were born or how their families arrived here,” said Carisa Lopez, deputy director for Texas Freedom Network. “Denying kids that fundamental right based on their immigration status is not only immoral, it perpetuates long-standing injustices against communities of color and low-income families. The Education for All campaign reaffirms our belief that investing in all children’s futures through public schools lifts up our entire state. We cannot allow racism or xenophobia to rob any young Texan of their constitutional right to learn. Texas must join the growing number of states protecting every student’s opportunity to thrive in the classroom.”

“The Texas State Teachers Association is proud to be part of the Education for All campaign,” said Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association. “As educators, we are committed to protecting the right to a public Pre-K through 12 education for every child, regardless of immigration status. Education changes lives and strengthens our future. We work hard every day to give every child the opportunity to succeed.”

“Without question, every child has the right to go to school and to learn amongst their peers, regardless of their immigration status. It is cruel to even think that as a country, we would deny any child this opportunity,” said Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, deputy director of federal advocacy of United We Dream. Yet, ongoing attacks against immigrant communities include threats to strip away this fundamental human right for education for all children; something that we will not sit by and simply watch take place. Immigrant youth at United We Dream are proud to join the Education for All campaign to protect the right to public K-12 education for all kids and will fight alongside our partners for pro-immigrant, inclusive education access for our communities.”

“At the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, we firmly believe that every child, regardless of their immigration status, deserves access to public education,” said Jane Liu, director of policy and litigation, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “The Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe affirmed this fundamental right, recognizing that our society thrives when every child has the opportunity to learn and grow. We are proud to join this campaign to protect public education for all, including immigrant children.”

Visit the campaign website at Education4All.us to learn more.

Partner organizations at launch include:

Advocates for Youth
AFL-CIO
AFT
Americans for Immigrant Justice
Arizona Dream Act Coalition
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
BAJI
Buen Vecino
California Association for Bilingual Education
Californians Together
CASA
Center for Law and Social Policy
CHILDREN AT RISK
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
First Focus Campaign for Children
Florida Immigrant Coalition
FWD.us
Haitian Bridge Alliance
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
ImmSchools
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
National Education Association
National Newcomer Network
National Women’s Law Center
New York Immigration Coalition
Partnership for the Future of Learning
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
Texas Freedom Network Education Fund
Texas Freedom Network
Texas State Teachers Association
The Century Foundation, K-12 Education
United We Dream
Women’s Refugee Commission
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

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2023 DACA Survey Shows Economic Progress, Continued Uncertainty as Litigation Drags On

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2024

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

2023 DACA Survey Shows Economic Progress, Continued Uncertainty as Litigation Drags On

WASHINGTON — Since 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has served as a beacon of hope for more than 835,000 undocumented immigrants who call the United States their home. A new survey by the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress captures how DACA has allowed recipients to get better jobs, earn more, and seek greater educational opportunities. The survey also catalogs how recipients are contributing to the U.S. economy.

Some key survey findings include:

  • 94.1 percent of respondents are currently employed.
  • Since receiving DACA, recipients’ average hourly wage has more than doubled from $11.92 to $31.52 per hour, an increase of 164.4 percent.
  • 30.7 percent of respondents purchased their first homes in 2023, a percentage that has trended upward over the past decade of surveying DACA recipients.
  • 67.1 percent of survey respondents reported buying their first car after receiving DACA.
  • 32.9 percent of respondents are parents, with 70.7 percent of parents reporting that they think about “being separated from [their] children because of deportation” at least once per day.
  • Without DACA, 40.9 percent of DACA recipients would be less likely to report a crime they witnessed.

“We’ve been surveying DACA recipients for nearly a decade. This year’s survey stands out because it shows that DACA recipients are more integrated in the American economy than they have ever been,” said Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science and founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego, and a senior fellow at CAP. “DACA recipients are earning more than they ever have, which has enlarged their economic footprint. Recent studies have shown that the economic contributions of immigrants have been crucial to the country’s post-pandemic bounceback and in fighting inflation, and this year’s survey shows that DACA recipients are at the forefront of this.”

“DACA recipients contribute so much to our families, workplaces, and communities,” said Diana Pliego, federal advocacy strategist at the National Immigration Law Center. “I’ve lived in the United States since the age of 3. My life is deeply connected to the United States and the community around me, just like those who were born here and just as other immigrants who have similarly lived here for decades. Our home is here, and we will continue advocating for DACA recipients like me to have the stability of a pathway to citizenship.”

“DACA has never been just about a program; as the results of this survey show, DACA has always been about the immigrant young people, friends, family members, and neighbors who are essential to our lives and the well-being, growth, and betterment of our communities,” said Karen Fierro Ruiz, federal policy and advocacy manager of United We Dream. “Every single one of us would feel the impact if DACA were to end. The continued uncertainty about the future of the program is a constant reminder that we must build toward permanent stability and a pathway to citizenship, while also ensuring DACA is sustained and expanded in the interim to include those who have been cruelly locked out.”

“In the nearly 12 years since its creation, DACA has been a catalyst for positive change in the lives of recipients, like my own, helping us reach educational milestones, contribute more to the economy, and achieve financial stability as well as improve our families’ overall well-being,” said Rosa Barrientos-Ferrer, senior policy analyst at CAP. “These opportunities made possible by DACA have subsequently enriched communities across the United States through the contributions of its recipients. However, without a clear path to citizenship enacted by Congress, DACA recipients will continue to live in a state of limbo, uncertain about our futures and unable to fully contribute and thrive in the country we call home.”

Read the column: “2023 Survey of DACA Recipients Highlights Economic Advancement, Continued Uncertainty Amid Legal Limbo” by Tom K. Wong, Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Diana Pliego, Karen Fierro Ruiz, Silva Mathema, Trinh Q. Truong, and Rosa Barrientos-Ferrer.

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Immigrant Texans and Border Organization Sue to Block Extremist Anti-Immigrant State Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2024

CONTACT
Emily Morris, National Immigration Law Center, [email protected], 213-457-7458
Julie Gallego, MALDEF, [email protected], (714) 932-2025

Immigrant Texans and Border Organization Sue to Block Extremist Anti-Immigrant State Law

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas residents and a local nonprofit organization are challenging the state’s new anti-immigrant law, known as S.B. 4, in federal court as unconstitutional. 

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of border-based nonprofit community organization La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), its members and four individual Texas residents. 

The lawsuit argues that Texas is violating the U.S. Constitution by stepping into the federal role to regulate immigration, and that S.B. 4 also violates the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. 

The new lawsuit is being filed as the Supreme Court prepares to issue a decision as to whether to allow a lower court’s injunction of the law to stay in place. 

“S.B. 4 is the most extreme anti-immigrant state law in the last 50 years, bar none,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Not only does the law seek to establish the state’s own deportation and removal apparatus using untrained police officers and judges, in doing so, S.B. 4 seeks to impose the wholly outdated criminal punishment of banishment; however, as much as its leaders may wish otherwise, Texas remains one state of 50 in a modern United States, so S.B. 4 must fall.”

S.B. 4 includes criminal penalties for entering Texas from a foreign country other than at a lawful port of entry. The law also makes it a crime to be present in the state of Texas after previously being removed or ordered removed from the United States. S.B. 4 also requires Texas courts to order the deportation of immigrants convicted under the law and makes it a crime for a person to refuse to leave the U.S. after a Texas court orders that person’s deportation. 

Attorneys argue that the law will impede the ability of immigrant service organizations such as LUPE to fulfill their missions and will put pressure on the group’s resources.

“As a membership-based organization, our ability to adequately serve our low-income and immigrant members is our number one priority,” said Tania Chavez Camacho, Executive Director of LUPE, an advocacy organization that provides legal services and humanitarian support to individuals in their immigration cases. “S.B. 4 will place unjust stress on our members because of where they were born, even if they are actively going through a legal process to adjust their immigration status and have the legal right to live in the U.S. This law promotes racial profiling and blanket permission for law enforcement to criminalize our community. Just like we’ve done for decades, LUPE will continue to advocate for the rights of all our members and our right for our staff to provide critical services to the more than 8,000 people we serve every year.”

“S.B. 4 is another unconstitutional attack by Texas on the civil rights of Latinos and all immigrants,” said Fátima Lucía Menéndez, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel. “MALDEF is proud to represent LUPE in the challenge against S.B. 4 and will continue to fight against misguided laws fueled by xenophobia.”

The lawsuit is the first to challenge S.B. 4 filed by individuals personally affected by the law.

The four individual plaintiffs, as well as some LUPE members, have available pathways or pending immigration applications with the federal government that could lead to permanent lawful status and citizenship. Even so, under Texas’ new law, these individuals are subject to state criminal charges and a state judge’s order that they return to the country from which they entered.

“Whether or not the Supreme Court decides to lift the stay on the injunction, we will stand with Texans and continue to fight this racist, immoral, and illegal law,” said Kica Matos, President of the National Immigration Law Center. “S.B. 4 is a shameless political ploy. It is yet another attempt by Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Texas legislators to take federal immigration law into their own hands for personal political gain, at the expense of Texas families and communities. S.B. 4 will do nothing to solve this nation’s immigration issues but will instead lead to racial profiling of immigrants and U.S.-born residents alike, while wasting billions of Texas taxpayer dollars. For the sake of all Texans, and in support of basic human decency, Abbott and Paxton should abandon their defense of S.B. 4.”

“I am a Texan and the United States is my home,” said Mary Doe, a native of El Salvador who has lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years and has permission from the federal government to be here, yet could still be prosecuted and removed under S.B. 4. “My kids, my parents, and my whole life are here. I have permission to work, and I work hard, I pay taxes, and I am proud of my job as a government employee. This is what immigrants do, they work hard and contribute to the country and raise their children to do the same. I am standing up to fight this law because what Texas is doing is wrong. If I were removed from my home and sent away to a country I barely know, it would be devastating not just for me, but for everyone in America who my life is connected to.”

S.B. 4 was scheduled to take effect on March 5, 2024. The Biden administration filed suit to challenge S.B. 4 on January 3, 2024. Two legal services organizations, Las Americas and American Gateways, and the County of El Paso, also filed suit to challenge the law, on December 18, 2023. The cases have been consolidated into U.S. v. Texas.

A federal court in Austin held a preliminary injunction hearing in U.S. v. Texas on February 15, and issued an injunction preventing S.B. 4 from going into effect on February 29. The state of Texas appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which administratively stayed the injunction and would allow S.B. 4 to go into effect. That decision is being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.    

Today’s complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.

The newly-filed lawsuit is also the first to raise claims that S.B. 4 violates the Fourth and the Eighth Amendments. These claims, solely brought by MALDEF on behalf of LUPE and its members, assert that every arrest under the illegitimate power of S.B. 4 is an unconstitutional seizure, and that Texas’ imposition of a criminal penalty of banishment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution.

The complaint is available at: https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Complaint_SB4.pdf 

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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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