Author Archives: Richard Irwin

Sessions Is Unfit to Be Attorney General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149

Sessions Is Unfit to Be Attorney General

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee today will begin hearings to determine whether Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s selection for U.S. attorney general, is fit to head the Department of Justice. Sessions is expected to face tough questions about his history of racially discriminatory statements and of championing efforts to undermine the very principles an attorney general is expected to defend. His record of voting against policies to protect and uphold those principles in the Senate will likely also come under scrutiny.

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

“The Justice Department has the responsibility to vigorously and vigilantly protect the rights and liberties of all Americans. At a time when racial tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, and white supremacists feel emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, we cannot entrust that to someone who has made a career of systematically marginalizing and disenfranchising African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and women.

“Senator Sessions has a long history of denigrating the very rights he would have to defend as attorney general. The Senate Judiciary Committee must be resolute in holding him accountable. Sessions is simply the wrong choice.”

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DHS Secretary’s Letter Says DACA Application Information Should Be Safeguarded

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149

NILC Responds to Johnson Letter on DACA Information

WASHINGTON — Responding to concerns about what a future administration could do with the identifying information of individuals who applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Jeh Johnson said in letter to members of Congress that the department has always made clear that information submitted by DACA applicants would be safeguarded, and would not later be used for immigration enforcement purposes.

Johnson explained in the letter that it is a longstanding practice, predating DACA, to use information submitted by individuals applying for deferred action for the primary purpose of adjudicating their requests, and not for other immigration-related purposes, adding that this precedent “must continue to be honored.”

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

“Deferred action is an incredibly valuable tool of our immigration system that provides relief to many people in our most vulnerable populations and allows them an opportunity to contribute more fully to their communities.

“For decades, people who have applied for temporary relief through this tool have provided their information in good faith and relied on our federal government to use it only for its intended purpose. They include DACA recipients as well as many others, such as survivors of domestic violence.

“At a time when many in our communities are grappling with great uncertainty, it is crucially important that our leaders reaffirm and uphold practices that are a longstanding part of how our immigration system works. We are grateful to our Democratic leaders in Congress who sought clarity on this issue.”

Johnson’s letter is available at https://chu.house.gov/sites/chu.house.gov/files/documents/DHS.Signed%20Response%20to%20Chu%2012.30.16.pdf.

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NILC Applauds Termination of NSEERS, George W. Bush–era Registration System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

NILC Responds to Obama Administration Announcement on NSEERS

LOS ANGELES — Responding to a groundswell of advocacy by civil rights groups, the Obama administration is ending the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a George W. Bush–era program that forced people in the U.S. from 24 Muslim-majority countries and North Korea to register with and be tracked by the federal government. The program inflicted harm on tens of thousands of families in communities across the country. An estimated 83,000 people were registered under NSEERS, and about 13,000 were placed in deportation proceedings. Yet, the program failed to lead to a single conviction on terrorism charges.

President Obama deactivated NSEERS in 2011 but did not do away with it completely until now. Advocates urged Obama to rescind the regulations for the program out of concern that it would be reactivated by the incoming administration to fulfill President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to create a Muslim registry.

Avideh Moussavian, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), issued the following statement:

“NSEERS, like any profiling program, is a shameful stain on our country’s civil and human rights record. We are all well-served by its dismantling.

“Looking ahead, we cannot ignore the lessons of this unjust and failed program, which caused great harm to so many in our communities. We must reject all attempts to institutionalize discrimination, including those born out of fear and ignorance.”

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Bill to Protect People with DACA Underscores DACA’s Importance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2016

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org

Bill to Protect People with DACA Underscores DACA’s Importance

WASHINGTON — Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have introduced legislation aimed at allowing people who are eligible or have applied for temporary relief from deportation and for work authorization through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to continue to live in the United States without fear of deportation.

This bipartisan legislation would not provide these young immigrants with a path to citizenship or permanent lawful status. Rather, it would create a mechanism to make it possible for certain young people to live free from fear that they would be targeted for deportation under the Trump administration.

Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“This bipartisan legislation provides a welcome reminder that allowing young Americans-in-waiting to contribute more fully to our communities is not a partisan issue. And for good reason: DACA works. Under this program, young immigrants have started new businesses, completed their educational goals, and become even more interconnected to the communities they have grown up in—and all of us, immigrant and native born alike, have benefitted.

“That’s precisely why the Trump administration should not rescind DACA. Our economy and society have improved thanks to the contributions young immigrants have made.”

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NILC Responds to Appointment of Gen. John Kelly to Head Homeland Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 7, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

NILC Responds to Appointment of Gen. John Kelly to Head Homeland Security

LOS ANGELES — News outlets have reported that President-elect Donald Trump will appoint retired Marine General John Kelly as secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). The head of DHS oversees several agencies charged with adjudicating many immigration processes, as well as border and immigration enforcement, among others. Kelly’s appointment has not been formally announced and is pending Senate confirmation.

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

“Gen. John Kelly, if confirmed, will be in a critical position to determine how President-elect Trump’s priorities on immigration are converted into policy and practice. We urge Kelly to keep America’s values of inclusion and respect for human dignity at the forefront of his direction of our nation’s immigration programs. And we hope that he will stand up to others who have Trump’s ear who would rather have it another way.

“However, Kelly’s experience with immigration issues is thin. And with the potential appointments of others who have shown a blatant disregard for our values in their pursuit of inhumane immigration policies, it remains to be seen what approach he will take. One individual reportedly being considered to serve as Kelly’s deputy, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was a key author of a series of racially motivated, largely unconstitutional state laws—such as Arizona’s SB 1070—that aimed to make life miserable for immigrants and have mostly been struck down by federal courts.

“We hope Kelly will reject extremist voices that would try to inject that same line of failed thinking into our national politics, and instead side with those who seek sensible and humane solutions. Similarly, we hope he will reject those who would treat our borders like a war zone, and instead recognize that the border region is home to millions of people and businesses that need our national leaders to value its commercial and cultural importance. This is done by building bridges, not walls.”

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Xavier Becerra, Longtime Champion of Californians’ Rights, to Serve as State’s First Latino Attorney General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

Xavier Becerra, Longtime Champion of Californians’ Rights, to Serve as State’s First Latino Attorney General

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra to serve as California’s next attorney general. Brown nominated Becerra, who currently represents California’s 34th congressional district, to fill the position left vacant by Kamala Harris, who recently was elected to the U.S. Senate. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the state legislature. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Rep. Becerra has long been a champion of the rights of all Californians. As he worked in Congress to improve access to affordable health care and better economic safety nets, he fought to ensure that immigrants’ needs were not ignored. More importantly, Becerra stood up for California’s right to enact policies that are best for our state. When California applied for a state innovation waiver to allow all state residents to purchase health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace at full cost, he voiced his support.

“More than ever, we need state and local leaders to fight against a federal government agenda that is anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-Black. Californians know that our diversity is our strength, and we have enacted policies to reflect those values. We look forward to working with Becerra to defend the rights of all our residents, regardless of where we were born, how much money we have, or how we identify.”

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NILC Responds to Selection of Rep. Price to Head HHS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

NILC Responds to Selection of Rep. Price to Head HHS

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has announced that Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other federal programs that provide access to affordable health care to millions of Americans, has been selected to head the Dept. of Health and Human Services in the incoming administration. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The selection of Rep. Tom Price to head HHS is yet another worrisome instance of President-elect Trump reaching into the fringes of American politics to select for high office individuals who will determine the direction our country will take in the coming years. For years Price has been at the forefront of a hyperpartisan fight to undo significant improvements in access to affordable health care that have resulted from the Affordable Care Act. Rather than build on progress made by this landmark law to ensure health care for all, Price’s proposed alternative would undermine protections for those with preexisting conditions, would favor older, wealthier Americans at the expense of those most in need, and would roll back reproductive rights for women.

“What’s more, Price’s record shows longstanding support for undoing nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ communities and for cutting programs that provide essential care to women and children. A vision so far out of the mainstream is not what the American people want or need.”

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Federal Court Order: Border Patrol Hieleras Can No Longer Be a Constitution-Free Zone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-812-2499, wfeliz@immcouncil.org
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6007, skilar@acluaz.org
Megan Sallomi, LCCR, 415-543-9697 x209, msallomi@lccr.com
Hayley Home, Morrison & Foerster LLP, 415-268-6021, HHome@mofo.com

Federal Court Order: Border Patrol Hieleras Can No Longer Be a Constitution-Free Zone

Federal district court delivers forceful opinion ordering Border Patrol to improve conditions in Arizona holding facilities

LOS ANGELES — A federal district court today found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras. This is the latest turn in a legal challenge filed in June 2015 by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, Morrison & Foerster, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

“Today is a victory for our plaintiffs, and a victory for the Constitution,” said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “No one, regardless of where they were born, should be subjected to the deplorable conditions our plaintiffs and other class members endured in the hieleras and we will ensure this order is implemented swiftly.”

“This decision represents critical progress in rectifying CBP’s reprehensible treatment of individuals arriving in the United States,” according to Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council.  “Based on the damning evidence presented by the Plaintiffs, the Court properly rejected the agency’s excuses that it had done everything within its means to protect the health and safety of those in its custody.”

Attorneys sued over the deplorable conditions in the hieleras, which were initially designed as temporary holding facilities for immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents within the Tucson Sector, which encompasses much of the Sonoran Desert. Photographic evidence of the conditions was released earlier this year after the Court rejected the federal government’s attempt to conceal them.

“In secret prisons, where basic human needs were withheld and detainees were treated worse than convicted criminals, today’s order has real meaning for the thousands of lives affected,” said Colette Reiner Mayer of Morrison & Foerster and counsel in the case. “This is a good first step towards remedying the harsh unconstitutional conditions in the Border Patrol detention facilities in the Tucson Sector.”

In December 2015, attorneys representing the plaintiff class of detained immigrants sought a preliminary injunction to stop the Border Patrol’s unconstitutional detention practices while the case is litigated. The injunction granted today is based on compelling evidence of inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in the Tucson facilities—much of which was disclosed after the Court found the Border Patrol had destroyed video recordings from these facilities and failed to turn over other relevant documentation.

“The court properly applied the constitutional ban on punishing civil detainees and condemned the inhumane conditions of detention in Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector facilities,” said ACLU of Arizona Senior Counsel Dan Pochoda. “This order will greatly improve the harmful and illegal conditions that thousands of Border Patrol detainees have had to endure and that the government has kept hidden from the public for years.”

People who have been held in Tucson Sector facilities described to the court bone-chillingly cold holding cells, limited access to food and water, nonexistent access to personal hygiene products, and other appalling conditions. Former Washington state corrections secretary and an expert for the plaintiffs, Eldon Vail, said in a declaration to the court: “The conditions of confinement I witnessed through my inspections and through studying the records in this case are unthinkable in any other jurisdiction I have seen or heard about.  The CBP are housing people in conditions that are unnecessarily harsh, dangerous and contrary to accepted industry practices and standards.”

Former detainees told the court in declarations that the conditions in the holding facilities as far inferior to those they found in the local jails.  According to one declarant, “The Nogales sheriff jail was very different. They turned off all but one light…and there were only 15 men with me in a 20-person cell that had mattresses and beds…the sheriffs treated us better than Border Patrol.”

The order comes on the heels of a two-day evidentiary hearing earlier this week, where the court heard testimony from experts and others on detention conditions in the Tucson Sector. Written testimony from plaintiffs and declarants was also considered.

The order issued today is at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Doe-v-Johnson-prelim-inj-order-2016-11-18.pdf.

For more information about Doe et al. v Johnson et al., visit www.nilc.org/issues/litigation/jdoe1vjohnson/.

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NILC Responds to Trump Rhetoric and Bannon Appointment Announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2016

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org

NILC Responds to Trump Rhetoric and Bannon Appointment Announcement

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump announced during a “60 Minutes” interview aired last night that he would seek to immediately deport millions of immigrants living in the United States, describing these immigrants as “criminals.” Later, the Trump transition team announced that Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, would serve as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Breitbart News has a history of publishing material that is xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic.

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

“Immigrants, women, and communities of color have wondered if Donald Trump would dial back the ugly campaign rhetoric and move toward serving the entire nation. Instead, yesterday he took concrete steps toward turning ugly rhetoric into policy. By making unconstitutional promises of mass deportation and placing Bannon within the inner circle of the White House, Trump sent a powerful message of exclusion to those of us fighting for justice and equality for all.

“Today, we send a message back: We are here to stay. Trump’s mass deportation plans fly in the face of the Constitution that in January he will swear to uphold. And when he attempts to implement these plans, we will use every legal tool at our disposal to stop him and to defend immigrant communities.”

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Trump Victory Signals Troubling Times in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149

Trump Victory Signals Troubling Times in America

National Immigration Law Center responds to electoral results

WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States. Trump, a Republican whose campaign was unprecedentedly divisive—and whose platform was unapologetically anti-immigrant and anti-refugee—beat the Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Throughout his campaign for president, Trump posited a less inclusive vision for our country and promised to ramp up efforts to find, detain, and deport immigrants through a new “Deportation Force.” He vowed to build a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border and to ban newcomers based on their religious beliefs. He also said he would undo the most significant victory immigrants achieved under the Obama administration, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. If he rescinds DACA, the ability of thousands of immigrant youth to pursue a chance at attaining their full potential will be at risk.

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

“We live in troubling times. The election of a candidate who staked his presidential bid on racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric has left our country more polarized than ever. President-elect Trump touted draconian changes to our immigration system, which should gravely concern everyone who cares about our values of fairness and equality.

“Trump made a series of outlandish promises throughout his campaign to appeal to America’s demons. He did so while insulting Mexicans, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, people with disabilities, women, and anyone who dared to call him out for his distinct lack of substance and his improprieties. Efforts to exclude or disenfranchise the majority of Americans should have no place in our country. And we cannot allow them to continue into Trump’s presidency.

“Many of Trump’s immigration proposals don’t square with our Constitution. Our communities have successfully beaten back similar ill-conceived proposals in states like Arizona and Alabama, and we will continue fight—in the courtroom, if necessary—to ensure that the rights of immigrant and refugee communities are protected across the country. Now those victories are at risk, depending on whom Trump appoints to fill Supreme Court vacancies. But we are ready to mount an all-out defense of the many victories immigrant communities have fought so hard for.

“While immigrant communities fight back at the federal level, we will continue working closely alongside our allies and with state and local policymakers in states—from California to New York, Colorado to Florida—to advance progressive policies that improve the lives of immigrants and refugees and create greater opportunities so that they can contribute even more to their communities.

“Trump’s election must serve as a wake-up call for everyone who shares our vision for a more inclusive America that treats everyone with dignity and fairness. Despite this election, our country’s demographics are changing inexorably, and Latinx voters came out in large numbers to stand up to Trump’s hate. All the communities who have been attacked by Trump must come together now for our country, and we must all reach out to Trump supporters who are have been motivated by fear and economic insecurity. Now, more than ever, we must stand against hate and move towards much-needed healing.”

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