Author Archives: Juan Gastelum

Lawsuit Claims Indiana Law Discriminates Based on National Origin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2023

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
Ariella Sult, ACLU of Indiana, 317-759-6425, [email protected]

Lawsuit Claims Indiana Law Discriminates Based on National Origin

ACLU of Indiana and National Immigration Law Center File Lawsuit against H.E.A. 1050

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of five Haitian immigrants who want to obtain an Indiana driver’s license or identification card.

The federal government may temporarily admit a noncitizen to the United States “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit,” under “humanitarian parole.” In recent years the federal government has authorized the entry of noncitizens from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua due to humanitarian crises in those countries.

H.E.A. 1050 is a new Indiana law, passed during the 2023 legislative session, that creates a pathway for individuals on humanitarian parole to obtain Indiana driver’s licenses or identification cards, but only if they are from Ukraine.

People on humanitarian parole from other countries could also benefit from being allowed to drive or obtain state-issued identification. The plaintiffs in the case, for example, are authorized to work in the United States, all hold steady jobs, and have to rely on others for rides to work. According to the complaint, the ability to drive is of fundamental importance in American society, particularly in cities and towns in Indiana where services are frequently dispersed and where public transportation is not always accessible.

The lawsuit claims that by allowing individuals from Ukraine to obtain an I.D. but not permitting the same opportunity to Haitian refugees, H.E.A. 1050 represents national-origin discrimination.

The lawsuit claims that the new law is an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, that it is preempted by federal law as a result of the Supremacy Clause, and that it violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq.

“Our clients are being denied access to state issue IDs solely because they are Haitians and not Ukrainians,” said Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana senior attorney. “Non-Ukrainians on humanitarian parole are left struggling to get to work, to keep medical appointments, to take children to school, and more, all because they cannot drive.”

“The federal government regulates immigration- not the states,” said Chiraayu Gosrani, an attorney with NILC. “The State of Indiana cannot create immigration classifications that conflict with federal law, and here they have done just that in an effort to unconstitutionally discriminate against people with humanitarian protections who are overwhelmingly immigrants of color.”

The complaint can be viewed at: https://www.aclu-in.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/dkt_1_-_complaint_no_exhs.pdf

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NILC Launches “Freedom to Thrive” Portrait Pop Ups Across the Country

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2023

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

The National Immigration Law Center Launches “Freedom to Thrive” Portrait Pop Ups Across the Country

WASHINGTON — Today, The National Immigration Law Center launches their “Freedom to Thrive” portrait sessions starting in California, with Tennessee and Texas sessions planned later this year.

The Freedom to Thrive initiative is a narrative and cultural campaign to shift the hearts and minds of the American public and create lasting change that enables all of us to thrive. At the event, community members in Long Beach will share their stories and pose for their portraits as we explore what it means to thrive through storytelling. These portrait sessions will capture the vibrancy and resilience of immigrant communities and examples of what it means to have the Freedom to Thrive in the United States. These sessions aim to show the American public that we all deserve a society where we can pursue our dreams, engage in meaningful work, and live with joy, dignity, and love.

Victoria Ballesteros, Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Narrative at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The freedom to thrive belongs to us all. The portrait pop up in Long Beach, California, will be a celebration of the diversity and dignity of immigrant communities. Each of us has a story in our pursuit of joy, love, and the American dream. Yet, the reality of our present version of the American dream has prioritized individualism and the accumulation of wealth. Through this project we hope to infuse in the public consciousness a vision of freedom that is rooted in abundance and centers our interconnectedness and our human dignity, no matter how much money we have, what we look like, or where we were born.”

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NILC Statement on Court Order Blocking Biden Admin’s Asylum Restrictions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2023

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

NILC Statement on Court Order Blocking Biden Admin’s Asylum Restrictions

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s order that is set to block President Biden’s asylum restrictions:

“The federal court’s decision validates what’s been evident for months – that the Biden administration’s attacks on the U.S. asylum system are unlawful and immoral. Seeking safety on U.S. soil is a legal and human right, and the Biden administration should never have imposed these cruel restrictions in the first place.

“The Biden administration must abandon its inhumane and illegal efforts to obstruct asylum access and instead reaffirm the President’s repeated promises to welcome people seeking safety with dignity.”

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NILC Statement on the Supreme Court Decision in Affirmative Action Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2023

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

NILC Statement on the Supreme Court Decision in Affirmative Action Case

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action programs in the cases Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admission v. University of North Carolina:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision on affirmative action undermines nearly 50 years of progress in the fight against systemic barriers to education for students of color. While we are appalled with this outcome, NILC is resolute in our commitment to continue working alongside our communities for a more just and equitable society in which all of us can access a quality education. We are all better off when every person in our communities can access the tools and supports we need to thrive.”

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NILC Urges Senate to Confirm Julie Su as Department of Labor Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2023

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

NILC Urges Senate to Confirm Julie Su as Department of Labor Secretary

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, incoming president of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee moving forward with the nomination of Julie Su for Secretary of Labor:

“Deputy Secretary Julie Su has long been a champion and ally for the rights of all workers, regardless of immigration status. Her track record of advancing the rights of low-wage workers and enforcing labor laws makes workplaces safer and better for everyone.

“The daughter of immigrants, she embodies the promise of this nation and her decades of experience make her uniquely qualified to lead the Department of Labor. Now that the HELP Committee has advanced her nomination, we urge the full Senate to vote to confirm her as secretary without delay.”

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National Immigrant Rights Leader Kica Matos to Serve as President of NILC and IJF 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2023

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

National Immigrant Rights Leader Kica Matos to Serve as President of NILC and IJF

WASHINGTON — The Boards of Directors for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF) today announced the appointment of Kica Matos as the organizations’ president. Matos, who joined NILC and IJF as executive vice president of programs and strategy in January 2023, brings over two decades of experience as an organizer and leader in the immigrant rights and social justice movements and as a litigator in state and federal court. She will step into the role in May.

Angela Banks, chair of the NILC board of directors, said: “Kica is a visionary leader who has fought for the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones throughout her career. With her background in grassroots organizing and extensive experience at the most senior levels of large, impactful social justice organizations, she is the right person to advance NILC’s mission.”

Allen Erenbaum, chair of the IJF board of directors, said: “Given the current political environment and potential for building political power for immigrant communities, Kica’s leadership, knowledge, and skills make her the best person to continue advancing the goals of the IJF. We are excited for her to lead the IJF to even greater impact.”

Kica Matos, incoming president of NILC and IJF, said: “I am honored to be appointed president of NILC and IJF and to lead the organizations at a pivotal time not only in the immigrant rights movement, but in the history of our nation. Immigrants are vital to our country yet are too often the targets of politically motivated attacks and systemic injustices. For the last two decades, I have dedicated my career to fighting for justice for low-income immigrants at the local and national level. With the amazing staff at NILC and IJF, I will continue to fight for the rights of immigrant communities and help build a nation where all of us, regardless of how much money we have, what we look like, or where we were born, have the freedom to thrive.”

To advance NILC’s mission, Matos will play a pivotal role in leveraging the strategies outlined in NILC’s Strategic Framework for Transformational Change, which includes building power to achieve progressive legal and policy reforms, strengthening and expanding the movement for immigrant justice, and advancing narrative and culture change.

Before joining NILC and IJF, Matos was vice president of initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice and held the role of director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change. Additionally, she served as deputy mayor in the city of New Haven, where she oversaw community programs and launched new initiatives including prisoner re-entry and youth and immigrant integration.

Matos began her career as a community organizer and human rights advocate, including as research director of the Capital Punishment Project at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She went on to become an Assistant Federal Defender in Philadelphia, where she represented death row inmates in state and federal courts. In 2002, Matos became the first woman to serve as executive director of JUNTA, New Haven’s oldest Latino advocacy organization.

Matos has a bachelor’s degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, a master’s from the New School, and a juris doctorate from Cornell Law School. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Albertus Magnus College in 2017 and the University of New Haven in 2019. Matos was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of fame in 2021. She was born in Puerto Rico and lives in Connecticut.

Matos takes the helm of the organization from Sara K. Gould, interim executive director of NILC and IJF. Gould served as board chair of NILC and IJF before becoming interim executive director, stepping in to lead the organizations following the departure of long-time executive director, Marielena Hincapié, and will remain with the organization during the transition to permanent leadership.

Angela Banks, chair of the NILC board of directors, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Sara for her steadfast leadership as interim executive director of NILC over the past six months, and for her commitment to the mission of the organization, to the staff, and to advancing the rights of low-income immigrants in our nation.”

Allen Erenbaum, chair of the IJF board of directors, said: “Sara’s leadership helped the IJF prepare for our permanent president while ensuring the success of the important work ahead building political power for immigrant communities. The IJF is indebted to Sara for her leadership and unwavering commitment.”

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NILC Statement on Expansion of Health Care Access for DACA Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2023

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

NILC Statement on Expansion of Health Care Access for DACA Recipients

WASHINGTON — Kica Matos, executive vice president of programs and strategy at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s announcement that it will be issuing a proposed rule to lift Affordable Care Act restrictions and expand Medicaid eligibility – in states that have opted to cover lawfully present children and pregnant people without a waiting period – for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):

“As the pandemic made clear, the health of our communities depends on all of us having access to quality care. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid are a lifeline to so many people, but DACA recipients have been unjustly excluded for over a decade. We commend the Biden administration for moving to rectify this years-long injustice so that more DACA recipients can access the care they need.

“NILC and our partners have called on administrations to resolve this harmful injustice since DACA first went into effect. We celebrate this victory alongside all those whose tireless advocacy made it possible.

“This move comes as many DACA recipients experience harmful mental and physical health effects from living through continuous, politically motivated attacks on the program. Even as we celebrate this victory, we will continue to advocate for Congress to pass a pathway to citizenship that provides DACA recipients and immigrant youth the peace and stability we all need to thrive.”

For more information on DACA recipients and access to health care, view our most recent data report: Tracking DACA Recipients’ Access to Health Care

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NILC Solidifies Executive Leadership Team with New Executive Vice President of Programs and Strategy and Executive Vice President of Operations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2023

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

NILC Solidifies Executive Leadership Team with New Executive Vice President of Programs and Strategy and Executive Vice President of Operations

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and Immigrant Justice Fund (IJF) today announced that Kica Matos has joined as executive vice president of programs and strategy, and Tasha Harris as executive vice president of operations. Matos and Harris join NILC and IJF’s executive leadership team, which plays a crucial role in advancing NILC’s mission.

Before joining NILC and IJF, Matos served as vice president of initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice. She previously held the role of director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change. Additionally, she served as deputy mayor in the city of New Haven, where she oversaw the city’s community programs and launched new initiatives including prisoner re-entry, youth and immigrant integration.

Kica Matos, executive vice president of programs and strategy, said: “I am proud to join an organization that for decades has fought for the rights of immigrants, who make up the fabric of communities across America, yet continue to confront injustices that shock the conscience. There are so many critical issues that NILC is working on that I am excited to support, whether in the courts, standing next to our allies in the labor and civil rights movements, or joining community leaders in grassroots battles at the local, state, and federal levels. Together we will protect workers’ rights, fight beside immigrant youth, and champion new laws so that we all have the freedom to thrive.”

Prior to her arrival at NILC and IJF, Harris was vice president of operations at NeighborWorks America, where she guided enterprise-level project management, executive engagement, and cross-departmental projects for seven years.

Tasha Harris, executive vice president of operations, said: “I am excited to join NILC at a pivotal time in its journey and use my expertise in operations, human resources, and finance to help drive meaningful change for immigrants and their loved ones. I look forward to working with this team to advance justice and equity and achieve impact for our communities.”

Sara K. Gould, interim executive director of NILC and IJF, said: “With the additions of Kica Matos and Tasha Harris, our organizations have gained two deeply experienced advocates who will drive forward NILC’s mission to advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members. Together with others on the executive leadership team, they will serve important roles in helping NILC and the IJF achieve the transformational change that is needed to meet this moment in history.”

Harris holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University.

Matos has a bachelor’s degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, a master’s from the New School, and a juris doctorate from Cornell Law School. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Albertus Magnus College in 2017 and the University of New Haven in 2019. Matos was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of fame in 2021.

Matos and Harris join NILC and IJF’s executive leadership team that includes Victoria R. Ballesteros, executive vice president of strategic communications and narrative, and Peter Wilderotter, interim executive vice president of development, with Sara K. Gould serving as interim executive director.

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NILC Statement on the Murder of Tyre Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2023

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

NILC Statement on the Murder of Tyre Nichols

WASHINGTON — Sara K. Gould, interim executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement in response to the murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers:

“Tyre Nichols’ gruesome murder at the hands of Memphis police is another painful reminder of the urgent need to dismantle the structures upholding white supremacist violence. We mourn the loss of Tyre’s life – one full of love, joy, and purpose. We join the calls for justice for his family and community, as we continue to stand in solidarity with Black leaders demanding accountability, an end to police violence, and reinvestment in communities.”

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NILC Statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance Regarding Workers Asserting their Rights in the Workplace

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2023

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

NILC Statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance Regarding Workers Asserting their Rights in the Workplace

WASHINGTON — Raha Wala, vice president of strategic partnerships and advocacy, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that clarifies the process by which workers asserting their rights against abusive employers can access temporary immigration protections, including work authorization and protection from deportation:

“The Department of Homeland Security’s guidance protecting immigrant workers is key to furthering President Biden’s historic commitment to support worker empowerment. This momentous victory is the result of years of activism from workers and advocates and will be critical to supporting collective organizing and making worksites across the country safer and more equitable for everyone.

“All working people, regardless of immigration status, deserve to work in a safe environment, with a living wage, and the ability to speak up about labor violations without fear of retaliation. Providing temporary protections to immigrant workers that allow them to organize and safely fight back against injustices in the workplace will bolster all workers’ rights. We will continue working collaboratively with the Biden administration to create more just and inclusive protections for all working people, including immigrants, so that everyone can do their jobs safely and with dignity.”

While DHS has previously made these protections available to some workers, this newly released policy guidance clarifies and streamlines the process by which workers involved in labor disputes can seek temporary immigration protections from DHS. NILC’s statement on the corresponding Department of Labor guidance released in July is available here.

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