Author Archives: Richard Irwin

Irresponsible Vote on Senate “Repeal and Disgrace” Health Care Bill Opposed by Immigrant Advocates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Irresponsible Vote on Senate “Repeal and Disgrace” Health Care Bill Opposed by Immigrant Advocates

WASHINGTON — After two prior failures, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—this time without even knowing what form of the deeply unpopular bill the Senate will be considering.

Today’s anticipated vote on a “motion to proceed” will determine whether the Senate can consider GOP plans to repeal the ACA, which the Congressional Budget Office has determined will take health coverage away from between 22 to 32 million people, depending on which plan the Senate takes up. In addition to repealing the ACA, the bills put forth so far would make deep cuts to Medicaid, dramatically increase out-of-pocket costs and raise premiums, undermine employer-sponsored insurance, and eliminate critical patient protection reforms.

The different GOP proposals all include proposals that would particularly harm immigrant families. The Senate GOP bill—the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)—goes further than a radical proposal passed earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill backed by McConnell cuts off all access to health insurance for some lawfully present immigrants, by barring them from accessing the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces and eliminating their access to the financial assistance that 84 percent of participants on the marketplace rely on. However, by denying tax credits to many lawfully present immigrants, the House bill would effectively achieve a similar unacceptable outcome.

In anticipation of today’s vote, the National Immigration Law Center released the following statement by its health policy attorney, Matthew Lopas:

“Congressional Republicans promised repeal and replace, but this is repeal and disgrace. Decisions about the health of millions of families, immigrant and citizen alike, should not be made on the fly on the floor of the Senate. I rarely agree with President Trump, but he was right when he called the House bill ‘mean.’ The Senate Republican bill is downright cruel, and that’s why responsible Republicans like Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, Lisa Murkowski, and Dean Heller have all publicly opposed it. They must keep their word and reject this unpopular, anti–health care scheme.”

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Bipartisan Dream Act Highlights Broad Support for Existing Immigrant Youth Protections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Bipartisan Dream Act Highlights Broad Support for Existing Immigrant Youth Protections

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today introduced a new Dream Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide a pathway to legal status for some undocumented immigrant youth. The bill would provide a path to legal status for immigrant youth who arrived in the U.S. as children and who either attend college or perform military service.

The introduction comes amidst news media reports that Trump administration officials are pushing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, despite the president’s previous comments that he would “work something out” for immigrant youth and that they can “rest easy.” DACA, which has been in place since 2012, authorizes some young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“It is encouraging to see members of Congress from both parties willing to work together to bring forward the Dream Act, which has always enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. The legislation would provide a necessary, longer-term solution for immigrant youth who have fought for the ability to work, go to school, and live without fear of deportation.

“However, politicians who would try to hold the lives of immigrant youth hostage to get more immigration enforcement should be ashamed.

“Nor should any bill introduction serve to diminish the critical importance of DACA, which has fundamentally enhanced the lives of nearly 800,000 people, including my own.

“Thanks to DACA, our country has seen what people can accomplish when given an opportunity to contribute more fully to their communities. DACA works, and it should be kept in place regardless of any potential legislation. President Trump needs to end the uncertainty his administration has imposed on immigrant youth and unequivocally support DACA.”

A table comparing provisions of the 2010 and 2017 Dream Acts and DACA is available at www.nilc.org/dream-acts-and-daca-compared/.

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SCOTUS Decision to Limit What Qualifies as a “Bona Fide” Relationship for Refugees Affected by Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2017

CONTACT
Marcos Rodríguez Maciel, 559-920-0534, mmaciel@skdknick.com

NILC Disappointed by Today’s Supreme Court Decision to Limit What Qualifies as a “Bona Fide” Relationship for Refugees Affected by Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that partially stays the Hawaii federal district court’s order clarifying that refugees with a relationship with resettlement agencies in the United States remain protected by the preliminary injunction of President Trump’s Muslim-ban executive order. In response to today’s decision, Justin Cox, a National Immigration Law Center staff attorney, issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration has been clear about its intention to slam the door on Muslims and refugees however it can. The opening provided last month by the Supreme Court was abused by the administration, and we will continue to fight alongside our immigrant and refugee communities and in courtrooms to prevent our plaintiffs’ clients from being shut out of the country they already consider their home.

“Whether aimed at nationals of Muslim-majority countries or refugees, the intent behind the ban is clear: to keep people out based on how they pray. This action isn’t just unconstitutional, it betrays our nation’s deepest values for inclusivity and religious freedom.

“Family unity won today, but clarity and security for refugees remains at risk. We will continue the fight in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to ensure that refugees can find the shelter they were offered by settlement agencies in the United States. We hope the court of appeals will take up this case as soon as possible.”

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Advocates Urge Democrats to Reject Reckless Spending Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Frelinghuysen Rubber-Stamps Trump Deportation Machine;
Advocates Urge Democrats to Reject Reckless Spending Bill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11), marked up and approved an appropriations bill yesterday that funds key elements of President Trump’s proposed immigration budget. The bill provides full funding of $1.6 billion for Trump’s “border wall,” as well as $185 million to hire additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol officers, staffing up the president’s “deportation force.” It also provides $4.4 billion for detention and removal programs, including funding to expand by more than 4,600 the capacity of detention camps that house children and families.

The bill Frelinghuysen shepherded through the committee fully funds the Trump budget’s “deportation force” with spending to hire an additional 1,500 ICE and Border Patrol officers. It also fully funds Trump’s border wall request and his budget to militarize local law enforcement agencies as immigration enforcement auxiliaries in 26 additional communities. In total, the Frelinghuysen-led bill would provide 99.5 percent of Homeland Security funding requested by the Trump budget.

This provides a substantial down payment on the president’s proposal to increase immigration enforcement funding by $23.5 billion. Trump’s budget also proposes hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts over ten years to health care and nutrition programs, anti-poverty initiatives, and other programs that provide housing, clean water, energy conservation, the arts, and other priorities.

Responding to the planned committee debate, the National Immigration Law Center released the following statement from Policy Analyst Jackie Vimo:

“President Trump is out of control, and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is rubber-stamping his radical immigration enforcement budget. Trump wants billions of your tax dollars to rip families apart, and he’ll fund that deportation machine with deep cuts to education, environmental protection, and health care.

“The $1.6 billion this bill wastes on Trump’s wall could cover more than a million uninsured children. The $185 million it spends to build Trump’s deportation force would triple the highly effective Energy Star program, helping consumers save money, protecting children and families from power plant pollution, and improving the reliability of America’s power grid. The $4.4 billion it spends to jail kids and families could provide nutritious meals to nearly 5 million children under the National School Lunch Program.

“The federal government already spends more money detecting, detaining, and deporting immigrants than on all other federal law enforcement efforts combined. But instead of investing in kids and families, Rep. Frelinghuysen is helping Trump supersize an already bloated immigration enforcement budget.

“America faces real, serious problems. But rather than solve them, President Trump wants to create new ones with a deportation machine designed to tear families apart. And with Rep. Frelinghuysen rubber-stamping Trump’s plan, the ball is now in the court of the Appropriations Committee’s Democrats. We urge them to reject Trump’s radical, anti-immigrant agenda and build a budget that funds families, not fear.”

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NILC Responds to Reports of Potential New “Dream Act”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

NILC Responds to Reports of Potential New “Dream Act”

WASHINGTON — Late Monday night, news media reported that U.S. senators may introduce a new, bipartisan bill this week to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrant youth. The news follows worrisome comments from high-level Trump administration officials concerning the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which authorizes some immigrant youth to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Five years ago, the DACA program unlocked the door for immigrant youth who had previously been unfairly shut out from many of the opportunities enjoyed by their peers. Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients are now going to school, working, and contributing more fully to our communities. DACA is hugely successful, and President Trump must keep it, regardless of any legislative prospect for a longer-term solution.

“Since Trump took office, his administration’s doublespeak on DACA has forced immigrant youth to grapple with uncertainty and fear. The renewed introduction of the Dream Act, which has always enjoyed broad, bipartisan support, underscores the urgency of continuing to protect immigrant youth and to keep in place policies that allow them to thrive. Anything short of that would not only be morally wrong, it would be disastrous for communities and the economy.

“As the president has said, the future of DACA is his decision to make. In making his decision, he can’t succumb to bullying by anti-immigrant hardliners trying to force his hand, and he must not forget that the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and their families hang in the balance. It’s past time for the president to stand definitively by the DACA program.”

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NILC Condemns House Approval of Anti-Immigrant Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

NILC Condemns House Approval of Anti-Immigrant Bills

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives today passed two anti-immigrant bills, H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminal Act, and H.R. 3004, or “Kate’s Law,” which together promote Trump’s agenda of mass incarceration and deportation of immigrants and threaten basic  constitutional rights. These bills seek to ramp up immigration enforcement, make our communities less safe, and further criminalize immigrants.

H.R. 3003 would punish communities that have policies that promote public safety by taking federal law enforcement funding away from them simply for having policies designed to make people feel safer reporting crimes. By trying to coerce local law enforcement into doing the work of federal immigration officials, this bill raises serious constitutional concerns for immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.

H.R. 3004, or Kate’s Law, would expand the government’s ability to prosecute people seeking to enter the U.S. to reunite with their families or because they are fleeing unsafe conditions. It would further criminalize immigrants by increasing the potential penalties they face and by stripping them of due process protections.

Avideh Moussavian, senior policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“These bills are reprehensible. They are tools to enforce mass deportation under this administration and part of a nativist, xenophobic agenda that seeks to vilify immigrants, rather than celebrating them for their great contributions.

“H.R. 3003 bullies local law enforcement into being complicit in the federal government’s unlawful activities and creates barriers between them and the communities they serve. H.R. 3004 exploits a horrendous tragedy to serve the interests of anti-immigrant hardliners and line the pockets of private prison companies motivated by the profits they make from incarcerating communities of color. Neither of these bills does anything to make our communities safer.

“Members of the U.S. Senate have an opportunity to stop these shameful attacks on immigrant communities, which would hurt all of us. Senators from every political party should reject these bills, and those who voted for them should know we are watching.”

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Comment on Reported Guidance for Trump Muslim Ban Implementation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Comment on Reported Guidance for Trump Muslim Ban Implementation

WASHINGTON — The federal government has reportedly issued extremely restrictive guidance on how it plans to implement a portion of President Trump’s Muslim ban.

The ban had been blocked by court orders, but on Monday the Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing the government to move forward with a narrowed portion of the ban starting today.

As modified by the Supreme Court, the federal court orders governing the ban provide that the government may not apply either the 90-day ban on nationals of six countries or the 120-day ban on refugees to any individual who can credibly claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

Reports indicate, however, that the guidance arbitrarily refuses to treat certain categories of familial relationships (grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, fiancés, fiancées, and more) as “bona fide” relationships.

“It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims. The reported guidance does not comport with the Supreme Court’s order, is arbitrary, and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Maryland, and National Immigration Law Center are challenging the ban on behalf of HIAS, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Middle East Studies Association, and individuals affected by the ban.

“This reported guidance would slam the door shut on so many who have waited for months or years to be reunited with their families. Those engaged to be married, for example, have been cruelly left out. This reported guidance should leave no doubt that the Trump administration will exploit any opportunity to advance its xenophobic agenda,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center.

More information is available at www.nilc.org/irap-v-trump/.

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Senate Health Bill Vote Delay Confirms It Is Unworkable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Senate Health Bill Vote Delay Confirms It Is Unworkable

WASHINGTON — Republicans in the U.S. Senate today postponed a vote on their proposed health bill until after the July 4 recess, indicating that at least some senators recognize that the bill introduced last week is not acceptable.

The bill, which is the latest hyperpartisan effort to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, was drafted in secret to avoid scrutiny. It has been broadly interpreted as a tax break for the rich at the expense of millions of people’s health.

The Senate bill tracks closely with its counterpart in the U.S House of Representatives and would result in 22 million people losing access to health insurance within ten years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That includes 15 million people kicked off insurance rolls by 2018.

Matthew Lopas, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“This Republican health proposal is fundamentally unworkable. No amount of deal-making or strong-arming will fix that. Rather than continue compromising for a ‘meaner’ bill that throws more of our most vulnerable community members under the bus, the Senate should focus on finding ways to improve on the advances made by the Affordable Care Act to expand affordable health care for all.

“Our communities are stronger when everyone has quality, affordable health care, including immigrants and their families. Congress needs to give up efforts to cripple our health care system and instead focus on ensuring that no one is one health care emergency away from bankruptcy.”

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Limited Supreme Court Order Keeps Muslim Ban Blocked for Many

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Limited Supreme Court Order Keeps Muslim Ban Blocked for Many

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Supreme Court granted, in part, the Trump administration’s request to allow some provisions of its Muslim ban to go into effect immediately. The Court will allow the ban to be applied only to individuals with no connection to any person or entity in the U.S.

Lifting of any part the nationwide injunction on the ban contradicts multiple major court rulings from across the country, which have consistently blocked it, finding it both unconstitutional and in violation of antidiscrimination provisions in federal law. Both the Ninth and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal recently ordered that the great majority of the ban remain blocked.

This is the first time that new portions of the ban will be in effect since the 30-hour period after Trump signed his first Muslim-ban executive order on January 28.

Today the Supreme Court also granted the administration’s request that the Court review the two major legal challenges to the president’s Muslim ban, Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Trump v. Hawaii. The court has consolidated the two cases for oral argument to be heard in the first session of its October 2017 term.

The National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the Muslim ban in the case, Trump v. IRAP, on behalf of IRAP, HIAS, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and several individuals directly impacted by the ban.

Allowing the Muslim ban to proceed raises immediate constitutional concerns. Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow some of the Muslim ban to go into effect undermines the values we hold so dear as a nation. We remember the chaos that gripped our country when the ban first went into effect, separating loved ones — and we remember how we mobilized and came together to fight back. Our fight continues now at the High Court, and our fight continues in the streets, in the airports, and at our nation’s capitol.  Given the number of lives at stake, we urge the Court to hear the case quickly.

“Despite this setback, we are still counting on the Supreme Court to affirm what the American people have continued to make so clear: There is no place in this country for any policy that attempts to discriminate and divide us based on how we pray, what we look like, or where we come from.

“Americans across the country believe the Muslim ban is reprehensible at its core, discriminatory in its intent, and at total odds with who we are as a nation. Since the High Court is the ultimate arbiter of justice in the U.S., we believe it ultimately will agree with us.”

Mark Hetfield, HIAS president and CEO, gave the following statement:

“The Supreme Court order today is mixed news for human rights, for refugees, and for those noncitizens whom President Trump is trying to ban from the United States based solely on their place of birth. HIAS welcomes the ruling as an affirmation that the president does not have unfettered, unchecked authority to bar refugees from the U.S. without evidence to justify such action, and that people with ties to the U.S. can continue to enter. We are very disappointed, however, that others will continue to be arbitrarily excluded and that the executive order has been resurrected to once again cause irreparable damage to refugees, immigrants, and America’s reputation as a welcoming country.”

Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, gave the following statement:

“We hope that the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the ruling of judges across the country and declare the travel ban unconstitutional and discriminatory in nature. When the first order went into effect, tens of thousands of Americans showed the world that this is not who we are and not what we want. We will never give up defending the rights of those who are affected by this discriminatory executive order.”

Beth Baron, president of the Middle East Studies Association, gave the following statement:

“MESA stands alongside fellow plaintiffs in our fight against Muslim Ban 2.0. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling upholds the fundamental principle that protects all of us from government condemnation of our religious beliefs. We will keep fighting for the rights of Muslim Americans and immigrants across the country, and for the Constitution that protects us all.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, gave the following statement:

“President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the fundamental constitutional principle that government cannot favor or disfavor any one religion. Courts have repeatedly blocked this indefensible and discriminatory ban. The Supreme Court now has a chance to permanently strike it down.”

Today’s order is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Trump-v-IRAP-cert-and-partial-stay-2017-06-26.pdf.

More information about this case is available at www.nilc.org/irap-v-trump/.

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Statement on Senate GOP Health Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

NILC Statement on Senate GOP Health Proposal

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Republicans today unveiled their version of a bill to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill tracks closely with a deeply unpopular proposal that narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in May, maintaining similar provisions that would result in millions of people who gained coverage through the ACA losing access to affordable health insurance.

Both the House and Senate bills include provisions that restrict some immigrants’ access to health programs, but the Senate bill would go even further. The proposal released today would cut off all access to health insurance for some immigrants, by barring them from the health insurance marketplaces and eliminating their access to the financial assistance that 84 percent of participants on the marketplace rely on.

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Despite widespread disapproval for similar Republican proposals, the Senate GOP have doubled down on a shameful plan that would gift the wealthy with tax breaks at the expense of millions of families’ health care. Through this bill, like its House counterpart, the GOP aims to cut off millions of people’s access to affordable care, with many of our most vulnerable populations taking the brunt of this devastating blow. But the authors of this bill have gone even further, taking yet another opportunity to vilify and make life more difficult for immigrants. This includes community members who are in the process of obtaining forms of humanitarian relief that will allow them to work and live here permanently and visa-holders who are survivors of violent crimes.

“Our country needs a health care system that can care for all people in our communities—no matter where they were born or how much money they have. Senators should put the health of all communities above partisan politics and reject this cruel bill.”

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