Author Archives: Richard Irwin

Immigrant Advocates Support Hirono Bill Blocking “Public Charge” Regulations

September 17, 2019

Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-384-1279

Immigrant Advocates Support Hirono Bill Blocking “Public Charge” Regulations

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced the Protect American Values Act, legislation that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement the Trump administration’s “public charge” regulations.

The legislation was cosponsored by 26 Senate Democrats: Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

Published by the administration on August 14, 2019, the public charge regulations would vastly expand the number of people who may be deemed ineligible for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) or admission to the U.S. based on their household income, use of certain essential government programs, and other criteria. Independent estimates show the regulations threaten nearly 26 million people, half of whom were born in the U.S. Experts expect the policy will result in large-scale increases in poverty, hunger, and unmet housing needs. The National Immigration Law Center and allies have sued the Trump administration to block implementation of the regulations, which will otherwise take effect on October 15, 2019.

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement on the legislation’s introduction:

“We applaud Senator Hirono for taking leadership in protecting millions of immigrant families from Trump’s brutal public charge attack. Trump is building an invisible wall to send families of color one message: If you’re not white and you’re not wealthy, you’re not welcome here. And he’ll separate families and destroy communities to send that message.

“Members of Congress in both chambers and from both parties have spoken out against the public charge rule, which fundamentally changes our legal immigration system and is an end-run around Congress. Senators who are serious about protecting families and communities from this threat, the time to act is now: Cosponsor the Protect American Values Act today. Our country’s health and future is at stake.”



How ICE Blurs the Line between Enforcement of Civil Immigration Violations and Enforcement of Criminal Laws (The Torch)

How ICE Blurs the Line between Enforcement of Civil Immigration Violations and Enforcement of Criminal Laws

AUGUST 27, 2019

When Congress heads back to Washington, DC, after its long August recess, it will resume the ongoing debate over how many taxpayer dollars the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should be allocated to do its work. Much of that debate has focused specifically on how to hold U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one of DHS’s major component agencies, accountable for how much it’s spending — and increasingly overspending — to inhumanely target non–U.S. citizens for detention and deportation.

ICE, in performing its various functions, has consistently blurred the line between the resources it allocates for investigating criminal activities and those it allocates to civil immigration enforcement. And ICE’s increasing reliance on databases and systems outsourced to private companies has only increased its ability and tendency to blur this line.

According to ICE, the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) component investigates criminal activity, including cross-border and transnational activity, while its Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) unit handles interior enforcement of civil immigration laws. ICE claims that those roles are clearly distinct from one another, but the reality on the ground is different.

As the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, and National Immigration Law Center recently pointed out, “HSI’s mission has increasingly focused on carrying out the Trump administration’s harsh and often unlawful enforcement-only approach to migration.” HSI has been involved in aggressive workplace raids, arrests of people suspected of being affiliated with gangs based on racial profiling, and “sham investigations that purport to involve child welfare but [that actually] are intended to create fear among children’s loved ones and sponsors.” In other words, HSI is engaging in mission-creep that has allowed it to engage in civil immigration enforcement and to carry out sweeping collateral arrests, using its authority to conduct criminal investigations as a pretext for deportations and family separations.

The blurring of lines between HSI’s criminal investigative work and ERO’s civil immigration enforcement is supported by an expanding immigration surveillance machinery designed to gather, manage, and use information to deport people from the U.S. We’ve previously reported on how ICE is vacuuming up vast quantities of data to use in immigration enforcement, relying on commercial aggregators.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Here are examples of how some of those databases and systems and the HSI-ERO connection operate.

Investigative Case Management (ICM)

The private company Palantir plays an outsized role in enabling the blurring of the line between criminal and civil enforcement. Investigative Case Management (ICM), an information technology system and law enforcement management tool developed by Palantir, is used primarily by HSI for criminal and civil prosecutions and investigations. But ERO can and does use ICM to manage and query the system for information related to civil cases.

Recently released documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation show how HSI and ERO carried out joint operations to arrest parents and family members of unaccompanied children. As pointed out by the advocacy group  Mijente, ICM played a critical role in these joint HSI-ERO operations.

An ICE privacy impact assessment describes how ICM allows ICE personnel to “create an electronic case file that organizes and links all records and documents associated with a particular investigation so they are easily accessible from a single location. It also enables personnel to link records to multiple investigations in order to draw connections between cases ….”

FALCON Search & Analysis (FALCON-SA)

ICM system data are housed in the HSI Data Warehouse. It receives a direct feed once every 24 hours that contains a refresh of ICM data, including new records and edits to previously existing records.

The HSI Data Warehouse supports reporting and the export of data once every 24 hours to yet another information technology developed by Palantir: ICE’s FALCON Search & Analysis System (FALCON-SA) is owned by HSI and is one component of a larger FALCON system. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FALCON-SA is a “consolidated information management system that enables ICE law enforcement and homeland security personnel to search, analyze, and visualize volumes of existing information in support of ICE’s mission to enforce and investigate violations of U.S. criminal, civil, and administrative laws.”

FALCON-SA routinely ingests and allows users to query information from all the FALCON components, ICM, the Immigration and Enforcement Operational Records System (ENFORCE) — which includes ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) arrest and investigation records — and other ICE systems. On an ad hoc basis, FALCON-SA includes commercially available or public-source data, criminal history information (including data from the National Crime Information Center as well as state and local law enforcement), information from foreign governments, and more.

Records and information in FALCON-SA may be disclosed outside DHS to law enforcement agencies at all levels of government, including fusion centers, as well as to international agencies.


An HSI database called LeadTrac also provides investigative information to ERO. According to an ICE privacy impact assessment, it is owned by HSI’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit (CTCEU). A private technology company called T-rex has contracts to manage and modernize LeadTrac.

LeadTrac’s function is “to vet and manage leads pertaining to visitors in the United States who are suspected of overstaying their period of admission or otherwise violating the terms of their admission, as well as organizations suspected of immigration violations …. LeadTrac contains the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of suspected status violators and other individuals who may be material to a lead (e.g., family members and associates of a subject, employers, designated school officials (DSOs)). Some of these individuals may be lawful permanent residents (LPRs) or U.S. citizens.”

Leads are forwarded to ERO for enforcement actions. LeadTrac provides HSI and ERO with information to further investigate and locate suspected status violators.

In announcing plans for aggressive round-ups of immigrant families, the acting director of ICE recently said that “[e]very city and every state in this country is a border city and a border state.” We can expect that the HSI-ERO collaboration will continue its draconian enforcement policies throughout the country and that ICE surveillance and monitoring systems will continue to grow. It remains critically important to understand and challenge how this occurs and to remind members of Congress that we should be cutting funding to both HSI and ERO and holding both subagencies accountable for how they are using their resources.

Joan Friedland is a NILC consultant and the primary author of our report “Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: Basic Information for Advocates about Databases and Information-Sharing Among Federal, State, and Local Agencies.” She formerly was a managing attorney at NILC.


NILC Denounces New Trump Rule to Hold Children and Families in Detention Indefinitely

August 21, 2019

Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

NILC Denounces New Trump Rule to Hold Children and Families in Detention Indefinitely

LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration today announced a regulation intended to circumvent longstanding protections for children detained by immigration officials. The new rule, which is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, is designed to eviscerate the settlement agreement in Flores v. Reno, which has for decades required minimum safety and custody standards for children in immigrant detention and required they be released within 20 days. In doing so,the government seeks to ignore basic standards of care and indefinitely detain children and families seeking safety and a better life in the United States.

Avideh Moussavian, legislative director for the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is yet another example of this administration’s callous disregard for the health and wellbeing of children. This unspeakably cruel rollback will result in more children in cages and more families locked up, despite enormously successful, humane, and cost-effective alternatives the government willfully refuses to implement. It will grant greater authority to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an agency that, under Trump’s watch, has allowed at least seven children to die in its custody in the past year alone.

“This new rule would allow DHS to hold people indefinitely, without oversight or other basic standards of care and protections required by the Flores agreement. We must fight this latest policy in Trump’s ongoing agenda of cruelty and his administration’s efforts to skirt the law and our democratic processes.”



3 Things You Should Know about Trump’s Immigration Wealth Test (The Torch)

Three Things You Should Know about Trump’s Racially-Motivated Immigration Wealth Test

AUGUST 20, 2019

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published its final set of regulations on “public charge,” which amount to a racially-motivated wealth test on immigrant families and individuals pursuing a healthy, stable future in the U.S. DHS finalized this rule against widespread public opposition, having received 266,000 public comments on it, the overwhelming majority opposed to its implementation. If the new rule goes into effect, it would devastatingly impact millions and dramatically reshape our immigration system, adding new bricks to the “invisible wall” the Trump administration is building around the U.S. to exclude would-be immigrants who aren’t white or wealthy.

The intention behind the new public charge rule is to spread fear and chaos in immigrant communities — to make people afraid to benefit from programs they are legally entitled to access, programs intended to make them healthier and stronger. Already, rumors and confusion about the new 837-page rule are having a chilling effect on immigrants and their families, causing them to avoid using crucial basic-needs and health care programs.

The new rule, along with the Trump administration’s attempt to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census, its Muslim ban, recent worksite raids in Mississippi and elsewhere, and its practice of confining refugee children in cages, is a brick in the administration’s invisible wall and part of the toolkit of fear that the Trump administration is using to send a clear message to immigrants and people of color: “You’re not welcome here.”

But we can fight back against this campaign of fear and attacks on immigrant communities. We need to fight fear with facts.


“Public charge” or the “public charge test” is a longstanding policy used by immigration officials to decide whether a person may immigrate to the U.S. or be granted lawful permanent resident status. While policy experts are still analyzing the specifics of the final rule, the American people already recognize its cruel intentions. By altering the standards of the public charge test, the Trump administration is rigging the rules to make it much more difficult for people who aren’t white or wealthy to immigrate. Under the new rule, anyone whose income is less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level could be deemed by immigration officials likely to become a public charge, so families of four whose income is less than $64,000 a year need not apply.

The rule does not go into effect until October 15, 2019, however, and several lawsuits have already been filed seeking to halt its implementation, including one by NILC and partners. We are fighting back in the courts, in Congress, and in our communities to stop the rule, so stay tuned for new developments. In the meantime, here are three things you should know about public charge:

One: Trump’s public charge regulation is a race-based wealth test that creates prejudicial standards for people of color. Who among us has the power to predict someone’s future potential and accomplishments based on a simple snapshot of their life? The public charge test looks at factors such as age, health, income, and family status to gaze into a crystal ball to make a prediction about whether or not a person is likely to become a public charge in the future, but the test reads like the extreme and counterproductive immigration “reform” legislation that President Trump has been unable to get Congress to pass.

Under Trump’s new test, people who are elderly, have disabilities or problems with their health, come from countries where English isn’t spoken, or have relatively low incomes will be the most heavily impacted. The new rule’s “totality of circumstances” test is essentially legalizing a discriminatory narrative of who deserves to be American. If applied to U.S.-born citizens, at least half of today’s citizens would fail the test. And these prejudicial standards aren’t just aimed at immigrants; they’ve long existed in this country for all communities of color. The new rule is a codification of the classic double standard that if you aren’t born white or rich, you’ll always have to work twice as hard to be recognized — no matter where you come from.

Two: We’ve seen abuses like this before — both in our country’s history and from this presidential administration. The first mention of the term “public charge” in the U.S. was in relation to colonial “poor laws.” While these “poor laws” originally applied to everyone living in the colonies, New York and Massachusetts altered these laws in the mid nineteenth century to make it harder for Catholic Irish immigrants — who were fleeing the Great Famine in Ireland — to immigrate to those states. Similarly, a “public charge” rationale was used to prevent European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and the Holocaust from seeking refuge on our shores. And now Trump is using a public charge rationale to rig our immigration system in favor of the white and wealthy.

Three: Confusion and fear are causing people to unnecessarily avoid using crucial programs that could help them. There is widespread confusion about who is directly affected by the new rule, and many people to whom the rule does not apply have already begun to avoid benefiting from crucial programs for which they’re eligible. The rule doesn’t go into effect until October 15, 2019, and any benefits used before that date will not be counted against people who use them. Most immigrants are ineligible for most federal benefit programs, like Medicaid and food stamps, until they’ve had permanent resident status and lived in the U.S. for at least five years — so most applicants for permanent residence haven’t received public benefits, because they’re not eligible to receive them. In addition, the receipt of benefits by an applicant’s children or family members is not counted against the applicant, unless the family members are also applying for permanent residence.

The rule will be applied only to applications submitted after October 15, 2019, so people who currently have permanent residence applications pending are also not subject to it. But, unfortunately, that isn’t the message immigrants are hearing, as millions of immigrants, their U.S. citizen children, and family members have become frightened that their families might be torn apart. So many are avoiding health, housing, and nutrition programs, even though the rule doesn’t apply to them. Community education to dispel false information will be crucial to counter this chilling effect.

MAKE NO MISTAKE, THIS NEW RULE IS AN ATTEMPT to push a divisive narrative that people of color, people with relatively low incomes, people with disabilities, LGBTQ communities, and immigrants are somehow less deserving of American opportunity. But this narrative is wrong. The best way to build a strong country is to ensure that the families who live here have the food, medical care, shelter, and other basics they need to thrive.

And this fight isn’t over. Public servants, advocates, and regular people all over the country will continue to stand up, speak out, and fight back to protect immigrant families and our country’s future. When America is at its best, we are a welcoming country.

To stay updated about the latest developments regarding the public charge rule and to get involved in the fight against the public charge attack on immigrant families, visit

Jackie Vimo is NILC’s economic justice policy analyst.


Trump “Public Charge” Regulation Unlawful, Lawsuit Claims

August 16, 2019

– National Immigration Law Center: Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]
– Western Center on Law & Poverty: Courtney McKinney, 214-395-2755, [email protected]
– Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles: Alison Vu, [email protected]

Trump “Public Charge” Regulation Unlawful, Lawsuit Claims

Nonprofits aim to block policy targeting millions of families of color

SAN FRANCISCO — Nonprofits serving immigrant communities and advocates for racial equity, health, children, farmworkers, and working families today filed suit to block implementation of the Trump administration’s “public charge” regulation, which threatens millions of immigrant families — disproportionally families of color. La Clínica de la Raza et al. v. Trump et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asks the court to declare the regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unlawful and unconstitutional. DHS finalized the regulation on August 14, 2019.

“The public charge regulation is an attack on the culturally diverse families we serve, threatening their health and their very lives,” said Jane Garcia, chief executive officer of La Clínica de La Raza. “We will stand with our patients and their families and fight this.”

In addition to La Clínica de la Raza, the suit was brought by African Communities Together, the California Primary Care Association, the Central American Resource Center, the Council on American Islamic Relations – California, Farmworker Justice, the Korean Resource Center, the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, and Maternal and Child Health Access. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, the National Health Law Program, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

The complaint argues that the regulation was motivated by racial bias against nonwhite immigrants and asks the court to strike it down as a violation of Equal Protection under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As indicators of a motivating racial animus, the complaint cites the administration’s acknowledgement that the policy will have a disparate impact on families of color, President Donald Trump’s own racist statements, and his administration’s other racially-biased policies.

“Donald Trump pushed to execute innocent Black men wrongly accused of murder. He called the white supremacists in Charlottesville ‘very fine people.’ He slurred Black immigrants from Haiti and Nigeria. And he froze or cancelled protected status for immigrants from majority-Black countries. Donald Trump’s words and his actions have consistently targeted Black families,” said Amaha Kassa, founder and executive director of African Communities Together. “When Ken Cuccinelli, the man who signed this regulation, goes on the radio and says ‘not everyone has the right to be an American,’ Black families know exactly who he’s talking about.”

“This rule change is a direct attack on communities of color and their families, and furthers this administration’s desire to make this country work primarily for the wealthy and white. Our immigration system cannot be based on the racial animosities of this administration, or whether or not people are wealthy,” said Antionette Dozier, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“This expansion of the rule is part and parcel of the administration’s crusade to instill fear in immigrant communities of color,” said Laboni Hoq, litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA). “By including criteria such as English language proficiency as a negative factor for obtaining permanent residency, the administration is telling immigrants that they are not welcome here. This is unacceptable. Xenophobia has no place in our country, let alone our laws.”

Plaintiffs also assert that the regulation violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious. The complaint also argues that the regulation is invalid because the official who approved its publication, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, was appointed in violation of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

More than 260,000 public comments were submitted on the draft regulation last fall, the vast majority in opposition. The regulation targets programs that serve whole families — Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Section 8 housing assistance — meaning its impact will extend well beyond immigrants directly affected. As a result, experts warn, the regulation will result in increases in hunger, unmet health and housing needs, and poverty. Because affected immigrants are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, the rule is also expected to widen racial disparities. Independent analysts estimate that the regulation threatens millions of people. A significant portion of those threatened by the regulation were born in the U.S., and nearly a third of those are children.

“This rule is a scare tactic designed to create fear and confusion in immigrant communities. The devastating effects will reach even further than the text of the rule itself, as immigrants and their families forgo vital food, housing, and health care services,” said Jane Perkins, legal director at the National Health Law Program.

La Clínica de la Raza and other plaintiffs are health care providers and other nonprofit organizations that seek to protect access to health care, nutrition, housing, and other government benefits for immigrants of color, regardless of their immigration status or financial means. The complaint asserts that the public charge regulation threatens their missions and the communities they serve.

“If the changes made to public charge are implemented, this will cause irrevocable damage to our communities. Deterring anyone from seeking public services that help them survive and support their families is inhumane,” said Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association. “We have an obligation to our patients and our communities to protect the rights of everyone, regardless of immigration status, which is why we are suing to stop the implementation of this rule.”

“The Trump administration has deliberately designed this policy to target families of color, which is part of its overall blueprint to change the face of what we look like as a nation and who is considered worthy of being an American. It threatens immigrants of color with exclusion and Americans of color with deprivation or family separation. And it aims to deny working-class immigrants of color the ability to thrive in the land of opportunity,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We will not stand for it. We’re fighting back against this racist policy, and we’re going to win the fight to protect immigrant families.”

Today’s filing is available at

The recording of today’s conference call regarding this filing is available at



Los abogados prometen bloquear el ataque de Trump a millones de familias y a la democracia americana

12 de agosto de 2019

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

Los abogados prometen bloquear el ataque de Trump a millones de familias y a la democracia americana

Los abogados instan al Congreso a rechazar la reglamentación de “carga pública”

WASHINGTON, DC — Los abogados de las familias inmigrantes y la oportunidad económica denunciaron un nuevo reglamento del gobierno de Trump que tiene como finalidad privar a millones de familias del acceso a la atención médica y a otros programas o correr el riesgo del rechazo a conseguir el estado de residencia permanente legal en los Estados Unidos. Este reglamento de “carga pública” recibió un número récord de comentarios, la extensa mayoría de ellos opuesta al movimiento de Trump. Ahora que la norma ha terminado, los abogados se están movilizando en las cortes y en el Congreso para bloquear su puesta en práctica.

“Esta política niega un futuro permanente y seguro en este país a todas las personas que no sean blancas y ricas,” dijo Marielena Hincapié, directora ejecutiva del Centro Nacional de Leyes Migratorias (National Immigration Law Center). “No lo toleraremos. El Centro Nacional de Leyes Migratorias se está preparando para presentar una demanda para luchar en contra de este reglamento y proteger a las familias inmigrantes”.

El reglamento de “carga pública” fue propuesta el otoño pasado por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por su sigla en inglés). Las estimaciones independientes indicaron que amenazaría a unos 26 millones de personas en todo el país, directa o indirectamente. Además de enfocarse en inmigrantes de color, con discapacidades, y en quiénes tienen ingresos por debajo de $62,000, esa propuesta habría puesto las solicitudes para la admisión a los EE.UU. o solicitudes para una “tarjeta verde” en riesgo si un inmigrante utiliza ciertas prestaciones sociales.

“Esta administración ha sido constante en su uso de tácticas dañosas y odiosas para asustar a las comunidades inmigrantes y crear miedo y ansiedad a muchas familias inmigrantes y sus hijos,” dijo Olivia Golden, directora ejecutiva del Centro de Derecho y Política Social (Center for Law and Social Policy). “La rápida publicación de esta norma a pesar de más de un cuarto de millón de comentarios registrados durante el período de comentarios de 60 días indica que el gobierno ha elegido deliberadamente hacer caso omiso de las perspectivas, experiencias, e investigación proporcionadas por una amplia sección representativa de americanos.  Entre los observadores que han comentado hay miembros del Congreso, alcaldes, abogados para las mujeres y las comunidades de color, líderes espirituales, la comunidad médica, educadores, inmigrantes y muchos otros americanos. Estos observadores eran personas de todos los ámbitos de nuestro país que enviaron el mensaje de que este reglamento amenaza la fuerza económica de nuestro país, y el futuro de nuestros hijos. ¡La decisión de hacer caso omiso es vergonzosa y demuestra una falta de consideración por la ley!”

La propuesta atrajo más de 266,000 comentarios públicos, de forma aplastante en la oposición. Además, se opusieron a la propuesta grupos de abogados y proveedores de atención médica, abogados de alimentación, abogados de vivienda, directores ejecutivos de corporaciones, y abogados para la oportunidad económica, niños, y familias trabajadoras.

“Como pediatra, este reglamento de carga pública es un asalto a mi papel profesional — me siento inseguro sobre cómo orientar a familias cuando sé que esa inscripción en los servicios básicos que los mantendrán sanos podría comprometer la unidad familiar. Esta norma final sirve para intimidar y asustar aún más a las familias que buscan servicios necesarios para mantenerse sanos y productivos. Junto con otras inminentes propuestas, estas acciones dañinas tendrán consecuencias perjudiciales para la salud y bienestar del inmigrante,” dijo Julie Linton, MD, FAAP, presidenta de la American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health.

El reglamento del DHS es uno de varios ataques recientes y planeados contra las familias inmigrantes de color. El Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos (DOJ, por su sigla en inglés) del gobierno de Trump ha redactado un reglamento complementario que ampliaría las deportaciones basadas en el uso de las familias inmigrantes de programas públicos. Los abogados cuentan con que el reglamento del DOJ tenga un mayor “efecto escalofriante”, debido a las consecuencias de la separación de la familia por la deportación. El Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano también propuso reglamentos que negaban la ayuda de vivienda a las familias de estado mixto que incluyen una persona indocumentada — un paso que según se informa podría llevar a que 55,000 niños nacidos en los EE.UU. se queden sin hogar. El Departamento de Comercio también intentó agregar una pregunta sobre la nacionalidad al censo 2020, incitando un pleito al final ganado que discutía que la política privaría del derecho al voto a votantes de color. Al igual que estas políticas, se espera que el reglamento de carga pública concluida hoy tenga un impacto desproporcionado en niños y familias de color.

“Esta inhumana norma con raíces racistas es una vergonzosa estratagema por parte del gobierno de Trump para manipular el sistema de inmigración para los ricos,” dijo Cynthia Buiza, directora ejecutiva del Centro de Política Inmigrante de California (California Immigrant Policy Center). “Nuestro mensaje a la fuerte y diversa comunidad inmigrante de nuestro estado es sencillo: California le dará su respaldo. Una red valiente de abogados y grupos de la comunidad está luchando por ustedes. No permitiremos que este dañino reglamento deshaga el poderoso trabajo que hemos hecho en California para proteger a todos los que consideran a nuestro estado su casa”.

“Para dejarlo claro, el reglamento de carga pública final de Trump sigue siendo racista, clasista y es parte de la agenda supremacista blanca de su gobierno para blanquear la composición de este país,” dijo Jonathan Jayes-Green, cofundador y director, de UndocuBlack Network. “Es inmoral, cruel y obliga a la gente a elegir entre sus necesidades básicas y la gente que ama. En todo el país, debido al miedo, la gente se está retirando de las prestaciones sociales para las cuales califica. Rechazamos estas tácticas basadas en el miedo y contraatacaremos como siempre hemos hecho”.

El Congreso también tiene el poder de bloquear la puesta en práctica del reglamento, y la Cámara de Representantes ya está tomando medidas para proteger a las familias. La Ley de Ningún Fondo Federal para Carga Pública, patrocinada por la representante Judy Chu (D-California), tiene más de 40 copatrocinadores y es respaldada por abogados clave. Como sugiere su nombre, la propuesta de ley bloquearía el financiamiento de la puesta en práctica del reglamento. La senadora Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) tiene pensado presentar legislación complementaria después del descanso del Congreso.

Una grabación de los comentarios de abogados durante una llamada de prensa hoy (en inglés) está disponible en



Advocates Vow to Block Trump Attack on Millions of Families and American Democracy

August 12, 2019

– National Immigration Law Center: Hayley Burgess, 202-805-0375, [email protected]
– Center on Law and Social Policy: Tom Salyers, 202-906-8010, [email protected]

Advocates Vow to Block Trump Attack on Millions of Families and American Democracy

Congress must reject “public charge” regulation, advocates urge

WASHINGTON — Advocates for immigrant families and economic opportunity spoke out against a new Trump administration regulation that aims to prevent millions of families from accessing health care and other programs or risk denial of lawful permanent status in the United States. This “public charge” regulation received a record number of comments, the vast majority opposed to Trump’s move. Now that the rule has been finalized, advocates are mobilizing in courts and in Congress to block its implementation.

“This policy denies a permanent, secure future in this country to anyone who isn’t white and wealthy,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We will not stand for it. The National Immigration Law Center is preparing to sue to fight back against this regulation and protect immigrant families.”

The “public charge” regulation was proposed last fall by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Independent estimates indicated it would threaten about 26 million people nationwide, directly or indirectly. In addition to targeting immigrants of color, with disabilities, and who have incomes below $62,000, that proposal would have put applications for admission to the U.S. or applications for a “green card” at risk if an immigrant uses certain public benefits.

“This administration has been consistent in its use of harmful and hateful tactics to scare immigrant communities and create fear and anxiety for many immigrant families and their children,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy. “The rapid publication of this rule despite more than a quarter of a million comments filed during the 60-day comment period indicates that the Administration has deliberately chosen to ignore the perspectives, experiences, and research provided by a broad cross-section of Americans.  These commenters included Members of Congress, Mayors, advocates for women and communities of color, faith leaders, the medical community, educators, immigrants and so many other Americans. These were people from all walks of life in our country who sent a message that this regulation threatens the economic strength of our country, and the future of our children. The decision to ignore them is shameful and lawless!”

The proposal drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. In addition, it was opposed by leading health care advocacy and provider groups, nutrition advocates, housing advocates, corporate CEOs, and advocates for economic opportunity, children, and working families.

“As a pediatrician, this public charge regulation is an assault on my professional role—I am unsure how to guide families when I know that enrollment in bread and butter services that keep them healthy could jeopardize the family unity. This final rule serves to further intimidate and frighten families who seek needed services to keep them healthy and productive. Taken together with other looming harmful proposals, these actions will have detrimental consequences on immigrant health and well-being,” said Julie Linton, MD, FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health.

The DHS regulation is one of several recent and planned attacks on immigrant families of color. Trump’s United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has drafted a companion regulation that would expand deportations based on immigrant families’ use of public programs. Advocates expect that the DOJ regulation will have an even greater “chilling effect,” because of the family separation consequences of deportation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also proposed regulations denying housing assistance to mixed-status families that include an undocumented person—a move that could reportedly make 55,000 U.S.-born children homeless. The Commerce Department also attempted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, prompting ultimately successful litigation arguing that the policy would disenfranchise voters of color. Like these policies, the public charge regulation finalized today is expected to have a disproportionate impact on children and families of color.

“This inhumane rule with racist roots is a shameful ploy by the Trump Administration to rig the immigration system for the wealthy,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center. “Our message to our state’s strong, diverse immigrant community is simple: California has your back. A courageous network of advocates and community groups is fighting for you. We will not allow this harmful regulation to undo the powerful work we have done in California to protect all who call our state home.”

“To be clear, Trump’s final public charge regulation is still racist, classist and part of his administration’s white supremacist agenda to whiten the composition of this country,” said Jonathan Jayes-Green, Co-Founder and Director, UndocuBlack Network. “It is immoral, cruel and forces people to choose between their basic needs and the people they love. Across the country, out of fear, people are pulling out of public benefits that they qualify for. We reject these fear-based tactics and we will fight back as we always have.”

Congress also has the power to block the regulation’s implementation, and the House of Representatives is already taking action to protect families. The No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act, sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-California), has more than 40 cosponsors and is endorsed by key advocates. As its name suggests, the bill would block funding of the regulation’s implementation. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) intends to introduce companion legislation after the congressional recess.

A recording of advocates’ comments during a press call today is available at



NILC Announces Intent to File Legal Challenge to Trump Public Charge Regulation

August 12, 2019

Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

NILC Announces Intent to File Legal Challenge to Trump Public Charge Regulation

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today posted the text, as a “public inspection document,” of a new regulation that would vastly expand the number of immigrants who may be deemed ineligible for lawful permanent residence based on their use of certain government services, household income, and other criteria. The rule, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), expands on a century-old practice of penalizing immigrant families who sometimes struggle to make ends meet. It is a cornerstone of the administration’s attempts to redefine our legal immigration system in order to disenfranchise communities of color and favor the wealthy.

A draft of the “public charge” changes was first leaked to news outlets shortly after President Trump took office in 2017. An updated proposed rule was then published in the Federal Register in October 2018, prompting more than a quarter million public comments — overwhelmingly in opposition.

The National Immigration Law Center announced today that it will file a lawsuit challenging the new rule, which is slated to go into effect on October 15.

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

“This news is a cruel new step toward weaponizing programs that are intended to help people by making them, instead, a means of separating families and sending immigrants and communities of color one message: You are not welcome here. This latest racially-motivated policy is a painful reminder that behind Donald Trump’s bluster, bureaucrats like Stephen Miller will stop at nothing to attack immigrants and destroy our legal immigration system. It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come.

“At the National Immigration Law Center, we have been fighting alongside our partners and communities for months to stop the Trump administration from carrying out this cruel and unlawful transformation of our immigration system. The time has come to take our fight to the courts, and we will do so shortly.

“Americans from all walks of life, including pediatricians, health care providers, educators, attorneys, and state and local elected leaders, have spoken out loud and clear: We must reject Trump’s attempts to skirt the law in order to radically reform our legal immigration system and undermine our democracy by blocking potential future voters from becoming permanent residents and citizens.

“As a leading national organization fighting to advance and defend the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants, we will fight with every tool we have available to ensure that everyone in our communities has the freedom to thrive and the necessary resources to do so. We look forward to seeing Trump in court — again — and to seeing justice prevail as we defend immigrant families and our democracy.”



How ICE Uses Driver’s License Photos and DMV Databases (The Torch)

How ICE Uses Driver’s License Photos and DMV Databases

AUGUST 6, 2019

Local, state, and federal law enforcement, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have long relied on driver’s license databases to obtain information (such as addresses) about drivers and car owners. For many years, the FBI and ICE have asked states to use their face-recognition systems to search photos in their department of motor vehicles (DMV) databases.

In NILC’s 2016 report summarizing documents we received as a result of a 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and in our 2017 report Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web, we describe how ICE asks DMVs to use their face-recognition systems to find people to target for deportation. These reports also describe the different ways ICE obtains DMV information. Last month, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law School released documents confirming that ICE has asked DMVs in Utah, Vermont, and Washington to run face-recognition searches against their driver’s license photo databases.

How does face recognition work?

Face recognition compares one photo against many photos in a database. Searches are run against all the images in the DMV database, not simply against the photos of individuals suspected of wrongdoing or of violating immigration laws. These searches put certain groups at increased risk of being wrongfully identified, as face-recognition technology produces false results more often for images of people of color, particularly women of color. And photos of people who are identified as possible matches then become part of the vast biometric databases operated by the FBI and DHS.

Photo by Andrii Podilnyk on Unsplash

These face-recognition searches are unregulated and affect U.S. citizens as well as immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has criticized the FBI’s failure to evaluate the accuracy of states’ face-recognition systems — the same unevaluated state systems used by ICE. And ICE has refused to disclose how it uses the searches.

DMVs share driver’s license photos with ICE in other ways too. For example, Nlets, a private, nonprofit information-sharing system, runs a photo-sharing service that many states choose to participate in and to which ICE also has access. When they use Nlets, ICE or other agencies request the photo of an identified individual rather than asking the state to run a photo against all the photos of people in its database. And states may share DMV photos with ICE using their own networks.

The use of face-recognition searches in states that issue driver’s licenses to their residents regardless of their immigration status has received more attention recently, given the Trump administration’s ruthless attempts to deport as many people as possible. But everyone living in this country — including U.S. citizens — whose information is in one or more DMV databases should be deeply concerned about protecting the privacy of the information that the DMVs have gathered about them.

How to limit ICE’s access to DMV information

Currently, fourteen states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted laws making driver’s licenses available to eligible state residents regardless of their immigration status. These states know that public safety improves when all drivers, regardless of their immigration status, are trained, tested, licensed, and insured. They have good reason to ensure that information provided by driver’s license applicants to their DMVs is not made available to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes, because if it is, some drivers will choose not to get a license, which will undermine the states’ efforts to reach their public safety goals.

Many of the state laws authorizing issuance of licenses to residents regardless of their immigration status include provisions limiting affirmative disclosure of DMV information. For example, the recently enacted New York law includes multiple provisions to protect drivers’ information.

States can take these affirmative steps to protect the privacy of DMV information, including photographs:

Be transparent about the mechanisms by which DHS and its component agencies obtain information from the state’s driver’s license databases.

Just say no. States can use administrative measures to limit DHS access to DMV information and can refuse to share driver’s license photos or to use their face-recognition technology at ICE’s request.

Take affirmative steps to ensure that individuals are not identified or isolated because of their immigration status through application procedures or license issuance, by ensuring that standard licenses are available to citizens as well as immigrants regardless of their immigration status and by having application procedures that don’t discriminate between applicants based on the type of license they are seeking and that don’t reveal the license recipient’s particular immigration status.

Enact legislation that prohibits the use of face-recognition technology and protects the confidentiality of documents and information provided in applying for a license.

States that offer access to driver’s licenses for all eligible residents can help ensure the success of these policies by safeguarding the information in their DMV databases to the greatest extent possible. Failing to do so undermines their public safety policies by deterring eligible residents from applying for a license. Unlicensed drivers face serious consequences if they are stopped by police, including, potentially, being arrested or handed over to ICE for immigration enforcement. In the end, drivers will need to weigh the risk that DMV information, including photos, will be shared against the consequences of being stopped for not having a license. States can promote public safety by adopting robust policies that protect all drivers’ privacy.

Joan Friedland is a NILC consultant and the primary author of our report “Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: Basic Information for Advocates about Databases and Information-Sharing Among Federal, State, and Local Agencies.” She formerly was a managing attorney at NILC.


Spate of Mass Shootings Demands Response from All Elected Officials

August 4, 2019

Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375

Spate of Mass Shootings Demands Response from All Elected Officials

LOS ANGELES — Dozens of people were killed and even more injured by mass shooters in Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; and Gilroy, California, over the past several days, with at least one shooting targeting Latinx and immigrant community members. Among the dead were community members and nationals of both the United States and Mexico who were engaging in everyday activities. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“This morning, we woke to another mass shooting — another wake-up call for the nation. Nearly 30 people lost their lives in two massacres over one weekend. The entire nation should mourn.

“After each of these horrific events, politicians offer their thoughts and prayers and have tried to distract us from having fundamentally necessary, substantive conversations about how white supremacy and toxic masculinity, combined with an utter absence of common sense gun-safety laws, have made it impossible for anyone to feel fully safe in any public setting in America. The perpetrators of these mass killings are being shaped by the hateful and divisive narrative and accompanying policies at the federal, state, and local levels that marginalize and demonize immigrant, Black, brown, LGBTQ, and other communities.

“The spate of shootings should spur a national discussion about the cultural and policy changes we must make in order to end this epidemic of mass violence and domestic white terrorism that our country continues to grapple with. Only then will we begin to reclaim a sense of security when shopping, attending festivals, or enjoying a night out.”