Author Archives: Richard Irwin

Today’s Violence in New Zealand a Horrific Example of the Consequences of Islamophobia and White Supremacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2019

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

Today’s Violence in New Zealand a Horrific Example of the Consequences of Islamophobia and White Supremacy

LOS ANGELES — At least 49 Muslim worshippers were killed this morning in an act of mass violence perpetrated by a white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack has been condemned by domestic and global leaders.

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

“Our hearts ache for the friends and families of the victims, and for the global Muslim community. The Muslim community in New Zealand was attacked in what should be a safe place for all: the sanctuary of a religious space. This act of mass violence, rooted in Islamophobia and xenophobia, has been rightly condemned by many global leaders. Sadly, some of our own domestic leaders have fanned the flames of Islamophobia and white supremacy for far too long and in ways that are replicated across the globe.

“The fear and hatred espoused by domestic and foreign policymakers has direct and devastating consequences. We have already seen far too many examples of violent white supremacists who have felt empowered to carry out heinous attacks because of hateful and xenophobic rhetoric from those in power. These attacks have occurred in other places of worship, like the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and at peaceful gatherings like the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, as we mourn this tragic loss, we must remember that we all — especially leaders in positions of power — have a moral obligation to stand with our neighbors and reject Islamophobia and white supremacy in any form.

“In times of such heartbreaking tragedy, we must come together with even more strength and determination. We must denounce white nationalism and supremacy in all its forms. No one should fear for their safety when attending their house of worship or simply because of the way they look or how they pray. We at NILC stand in solidarity with our Muslim allies, and we will continue to fight tirelessly for dignity for all.”

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Senate Rebukes Trump’s Attempts to Subvert Congress to Fund Border Wall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2019

CONTACT
[email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-805-0375

Senate Rebukes Trump’s Attempts to Subvert Congress to Fund Border Wall

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate today passed a resolution to reverse President Trump’s February national emergency declaration. Trump declared an emergency at the southern border last month, while simultaneously admitting it was unnecessary, to divert billions of taxpayer dollars for a southern border wall. Congress has repeatedly refused Trump’s budget requests for the unpopular, wasteful, and hate-driven project.

The president has said that he will use his first veto to override the resolution, which passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 26.

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

“The Senate vote today is yet another clear rebuke of Trump’s demands for a border wall, once again signaling to the president that he cannot steal billions of taxpayer dollars to fund his xenophobic political stunt. Trump put in jeopardy the well-being of hundreds of thousands of workers and the American public when he instigated the longest government shutdown in the country’s history for the sake of his wall. When he still didn’t get a blank check for his racist monument, he declared a made-up national emergency so he could steal taxpayer dollars, ignoring the authority of Congress as a coequal branch of our government. This is a reckless way to run the country, threatens the stability of our democracy, and puts countless lives and communities, and our environment, at risk.

“Trump has made it clear that he will stop at nothing to advance his cruel vision of a border wall, refusing to listen to voters, Congress, or the communities that will suffer as a result. He has a responsibility to heed the will of the American people and not use his veto authority to pave the way for this unconstitutional power grab.”

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Dream and Promise Act: An Important Step Forward for Our Communities (The Torch)

DREAM AND PROMISE ACT
An Important Step Forward for Our Communities

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Diana Pliego
MARCH 14, 2019

Earlier this week, a bill — the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 — was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide long-overdue, permanent relief to people who have become even more vulnerable since President Trump and his administration stripped them of protections from deportation.

By providing permanent protections and a pathway to U.S. citizenship for Dreamers and people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or temporary protected status (TPS) or deferred enforced departure (DED), this bill combines prior efforts to protect these populations. It recognizes that, in many ways, the people who comprise these communities are similarly impacted and, in some cases, are even part of the same households. It also importantly combines efforts to advocate alongside all these communities and build stronger alliances. While the Trump administration seeks to dismantle our immigration system with death by a thousand cuts to our communities, it’s important that we fight back, together.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) joined forces with Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), who’d previously championed their own bills to protect people with TPS and DED, to introduce a strong bill that would provide the long-overdue protections these communities have needed, but that now are more urgently needed than ever. We know Trump is intent on stripping our communities of protections so that they are left vulnerable to detention and deportation — and that is exactly why the Dream and Promise Act is timely.

While there are aspects of the bill we are committed to making stronger, we believe the introduction of this bill is a major step forward in securing protections we need, and we hope you will join us in urging your members of Congress to support this bill. Here’s why:

The Dream and Promise Act provides a clear, attainable pathway to U.S. citizenship. For Dreamers, people with DACA, TPS, or DED, and others eligible for such statuses who may not have applied, the United States is their home — and, in many cases, has been for decades. We are integral members of our communities and have a future here. By providing permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for these communities, this legislation recognizes that we are Americans in all but “paper” and deserve to live our lives with security and stability in the place we call home.

The bill does not trade granting protections to some communities for funding harm to others. This is a critical point. This bill does not trade protections for immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED for further militarization of our border communities or expanded immigration policing of our communities or detention of immigrants — a tradeoff that would only inflict more pain on our communities and result in more deportations. It also does not make any changes to existing channels of immigration in exchange for protections.

The Dream and Promise Act shows that our communities will fight together, not against each other. By providing protections for immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED, we are making it clear that our communities cannot be pitted against each other in Trump’s policy games. We are not pawns in some game. And together, we will raise our voices and win the protections we deserve.

We hope you will join us in this fight for permanent protections for our communities. We can’t do this without you, and we hope we can count on you to celebrate and keep up the fight until all our communities get the protections they deserve.


Diana Pliego is a NILC policy associate and a DACA recipient.


A section-by-section summary of the bill is available at www.nilc.org/dream-and-promise-act-section-by-section/.

A short summary of the bill is available at www.nilc.org/summary-of-dream-and-promise-act-of-2019/.

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Congress Must Prioritize Passing the Dream and Promise Act, Protect as Many People as Possible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2019

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

Congress Must Prioritize Passing the Dream and Promise Act, Protect as Many People as Possible

WASHINGTON — House Democrats led by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), and Yvette Clarke (NY-09) today announced the introduction of the Dream and Promise Act. The bill would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for certain immigrants whose futures in the U.S., the country they call home, have been thrown into uncertainty by the Trump administration’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and not to extend temporary protected status (TPS) and deferred enforcement departure (DED) for individuals from certain countries. This is the first standalone bill to address, simultaneously, the fate of immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED.

Diana Pliego, a policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center and a DACA recipient, issued the following statement:

“The Dream and Promise Act is a critical and welcome step toward allowing long-standing community members like me the stability and opportunity to more fully thrive in the country we know as home. The National Immigration Law Center has worked in support of such legislation for decades. Today we stand with many of our partners to support the Dream and Promise Act.

“This legislation would put eligible immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED — people long in need of permanent protections and made more vulnerable by the Trump administration’s cruel decision to throw their lives into limbo — on an urgently needed pathway to U.S. citizenship. After several failed cycles of Congress tethering “Dreamer” protections to the White House’s demands for harmful, hate-filled policies, the Dream and Promise Act rejects Trump’s extortionist tactics and takes a far better approach: ending the untenable status quo with an eye toward inclusivity and what will benefit all of us in the long term.

“We are grateful to Reps. Roybal-Allard, Velázquez, and Clarke for their leadership, and we urge Congress to prioritize passing the Dream and Promise Act, while also ensuring it remains a strong bill that will help as many people as possible.”

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Medicare for All Act Is a Roadmap to a Better Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2019

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

Medicare for All Act Is a Roadmap to a Better Future

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and more than 100 cosponsors today introduced the Medicare for All Act, a bill to ensure that every person in the country — regardless of where they were born or their immigration status — can have access to quality health care. The bill is the first to detail a plan to create a truly all-inclusive health care system, a proposition that has gained majority public support and has become a key part of the Democratic Party’s electoral platform.

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

“The Medicare for All Act presents a bold vision for our country in which all people are treated with dignity and barriers to healthy, thriving communities are removed. As the most inclusive federal health care expansion proposal to date, the bill provides a roadmap to a better future — one that we at the National Immigration Law Center are proud to support.

“We all get sick — we all should have access to quality, affordable health care. Improving health outcomes for the country as a whole depends on ensuring that we can all get the care we need. At a time when the Trump administration’s cruel and exclusionary policies are inflicting harm on millions of people to the benefit of a privileged few, Rep. Jayapal’s health care proposal aims to lift us all.

“The Medicare for All Act would tear down Trump’s bureaucratic walls. We commend Rep. Jayapal and her colleagues for demonstrating the courage it takes to move our country forward and urge every lawmaker to act quickly to support this inclusive vision.”

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House “Medicare for All” Bill Tears Down Walls (The Torch)

House “Medicare for All” Bill Tears Down Walls

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Sonya Schwartz, NILC Senior Policy Attorney
FEBRUARY 27, 2019

As the Medicare for All proposal is introduced and begins its passage through the U.S. House of Representatives, people outraged by the Trump administration’s obsession with building a wall should pay close attention. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and more than 100 cosponsors want to do more than stop a border wall; they want to build an America where everyone can thrive. Their legislation envisions a country where all would have access to health care — and that includes U.S. citizens and noncitizen immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

 

The introduction of the House Medicare for All bill is a moment in our country’s history worth celebrating for several reasons:

It’s the most inclusive federal health care expansion proposal on the table. The bill is inclusive of all immigrants, documented and undocumented, along with citizens, and unequivocally states that the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) shall “ensure that every person in the United States has access to health care.” Other “health care for all” proposals would limit coverage to certain documented immigrants or delegate the decision about who would be included to the secretary of HHS.

It’s the best way to reject President Trump’s equation of worth with wealth and whiteness. Just as important, the approach taken by Rep. Jayapal is the best way to reject Trump’s equation of worth with wealth and whiteness. She and her colleagues would use the law to ensure that Trump, or some future Trump, will never again abuse the power of the presidency to build a bureaucratic wall — based on immigration status, national origin, language, race, or faith — between a person and the health care they need. “All” would mean all.

Ensuring access to health care for all benefits everyone. Car accidents don’t happen only to U.S. citizens. And childhood asthma doesn’t affect only kids with green cards. We all face these and other health challenges, and improving health outcomes for the nation as a whole depends on ensuring that we all can get the care we need.

There are dramatic health consequences to being uninsured, and access to health care coverage improves health and saves lives. Communities with high rates of uninsurance face health system impacts, residents are more likely to have unmet health care needs, vital services are less likely to be available, and more hospitals are likely to close.

Access to health care coverage also has positive economic benefits, reducing both health and non–health-related debt, enabling people to spend more in local economies, and increasing workplace productivity and economic output.

State efforts to provide health care to everyone regardless of immigration status only go so far. California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia use their own state funds to provide health care coverage to children regardless of immigration status. California and New York have active efforts to cover all adults regardless of immigration status as well. However, at the end of the day, state efforts to fill gaps left by federal policies will go only so far.

This is a vital, basic issue involving all of us that’s crying out for a federal solution.

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Lawsuit Alleges ICE Agents Violated Workers’ Constitutional Rights Against Racial Profiling and Illegal Seizure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2019

CONTACT
NILC: Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375
SPLC: Helena Cavendish de Moura, [email protected], 470-747-1688

Lawsuit Alleges ICE Agents Violated Workers’ Constitutional Rights Against Racial Profiling and Illegal Seizure

Seven workers file lawsuit in response to ICE raid at East Tennessee meat processing plant

KNOXVILLE — The National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the law firm of Sherrard, Roe, Voigt & Harbison filed a lawsuit today on behalf of seven workers detained during an April 2018 immigration raid at an East Tennessee meat processing plant. The raid was the first large workplace immigration raid in nearly a decade, in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained approximately 100 Latino workers, violating their rights against illegal seizures and to equal protection under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“I have lived in Tennessee for 12 years. This is my home. My family is here. My friends are here. I have land here. This is where my dreams have taken root,” said Isabel Zelaya, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “On the morning of the raid, I was working at my normal station in the processing area when armed officers entered the plant. As the officers lined us up, I offered to show them my documentation to work in this country, but they handcuffed me anyway, detained me, and took me to the armory. After several hours, I was finally released. I am part of this lawsuit because I want justice for myself and my coworkers who were denied our constitutional rights, as well as our humanity.”

“What happened in East Tennessee was law enforcement overreach, plain and simple,” said Meredith Stewart, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC.  “We as a nation have a shared set of ideals, rooted in the Bill of Rights: we have a right to be free from racial profiling and unlawful arrests. If we are not willing to uphold those ideals for everyone in this country, then we are all at risk of losing our rights. We look forward to our clients having their day in court.”

ICE agents detained every worker who looked Latino in the plant without regard to citizenship or documentation, a clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Many workers weren’t even asked about documentation until hours into the raid. By then, many had already been traumatized, handcuffed, and denied communication with attorneys or family members — or access to sanitary facilities or critical medication — and taken to a holding facility.

“In this country, you’re told that if you work hard, you can achieve your goals. But sometimes they don’t let you,” said Martha Pulido, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “I showed up to work that morning just like I had every day for more than a year, ready to do my job and provide for my family. Instead, I had a gun pointed in my face and saw my coworkers get punched in the face and shoved to the ground by federal agents. I am here today to stand up for my coworkers at the plant and for all workers in this country who are at risk of having their constitutional rights violated.”

Federal agents disregarded workers’ Fourth Amendment rights, used excessive force, and racially profiled Latino individuals when they descended on the Southeastern Provision meat packing plant. The U.S. Constitution protects against government overreach and abusive conduct.

“We are proud to stand with our plaintiffs today to file the first lawsuit challenging a worksite immigration raid since Donald Trump became president. With the support of their community, these brave workers have decided to step forward and pursue justice. Together, their commitment to their work, to their families, and to the community in which they are deeply rooted reflects the best of this country they call home,” said Melissa Keaney, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.

The East Tennessee ICE raid devastated the local community, but the community is coming together to demand justice. These workers were active participants of vibrant communities around the Southeastern Provision plant, and the impacts of the raid were far-reaching. Nearly 600 kids didn’t show up for school the next day, and workers and their families are continuing to deal with the impacts of psychological trauma, physical ailments, and economic insecurity nearly a year later.

“The complaint filed today addresses the brutality the workers themselves faced at the hands of agents, but the human costs of this unconscionable abuse of power extend much further. When a raid of this scale happens in our communities, it’s like a bomb goes off,” said Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). “It is deeply disruptive to local communities, leaving children stranded without their parents, terrifying entire communities, and devastating local economies. We hope that this complaint will bring some measure of justice for the workers whose rights were violated in a raid that was designed to instill fear in immigrant communities, no matter what the cost would be to the plaintiffs, their coworkers, or this community.”

Today’s filing is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Zelaya-v-Miles-compaint-2019-02-21.pdf

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Trump Refuses to Listen to Taxpayers, Congress and Declares State of Emergency on Manufactured Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2019

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-805-0375

Trump Refuses to Listen to Taxpayers, Congress and Declares State of Emergency on Manufactured Crisis

WASHINGTON — Shortly after signing a federal spending package that includes billions of dollars for additional border militarization and ramped-up immigration enforcement, and following the longest partial government shutdown in history, President Trump today declared a state of emergency in a desperate attempt to subvert Congress and secure funding for his border wall project.

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

“By declaring a national emergency, President Trump is once again taking unilateral action with a complete disregard for the real issues facing this country. Trump’s decision to do an end-around on Congress and steal taxpayer dollars is an egregious abuse of power and yet another display of hostility toward our Constitution and our democracy, further compromising the dignity of his office.

“It’s abundantly clear that for Trump this is all about the politics of fear. He shows contemptuous disregard for the institutional toll his actions take and refuses to listen to taxpayers, elected leaders in Congress, or voters whose land and livelihoods are at stake about the destructive harms of militarization and mass surveillance of our borders.

“Senator McConnell and Republican leaders are complicit. They cannot sit idly by as Trump slams his fists during negotiations and makes gratuitous speeches to amplify his message of hate and fearmongering. We deserve better, and we are counting on Congress to reject Trump’s declaration and demand solutions that work for all of us.”

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The Latest Homeland Security Funding “Deal” Hurts Us All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2018

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-805-0375

The Latest Homeland Security Funding “Deal” Hurts Us All

WASHINGTON — With the threat of another partial government shutdown looming, a bicameral congressional conference committee released a proposal late last night to fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the remainder of this fiscal year. The proposal includes numerous harmful provisions: $1.375 billion for more border militarization and surveillance, a 12 percent increase in the number of people in immigration jails, and no restrictions to rein in a long track record of abuse and overspending by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Lawmakers are expected to vote before the end of this week in order to avert another shutdown.

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

“President Trump has now repeatedly presented members of Congress and the country with a false choice between paychecks for nearly a million federal workers and the public’s access to basic services or a blank check for his administration to inflict harm on our immigrant and border communities. It’s clear that there are no real winners in this scenario and that Democrats need to stand up to this extortionist style of governing.

“In immigration law, details matter. Unfortunately, negotiators seem to have overlooked the details that would devastate immigrant communities by increasing the number of jail beds for immigrants and essentially handing ICE and CBP — two agencies known for their disregard for compassion or the Constitution — free rein to further terrorize immigrant communities.

“Our nation’s economy and millions of families were devastated when President Trump threw our country into the longest government shutdown in history, and too many families are still suffering the consequences. For immigrant families, this funding proposal will only compound their suffering  by rewarding ICE and CBP with more resources to terrorize, cage, deport, and deny due process to more people who are longstanding members of our communities or have come here seeking safety and a better future. Elected leaders in Congress, especially those who call themselves champions of immigrant communities and good governance, must hold these agencies accountable.

“Voters across the country rejected the politics of hate and fear last November. They sent a clear message demanding accountability, transparency, and good governance. Nowhere is this change more sorely needed  than within the Department of Homeland Security. We will continue working to hold these agencies accountable and toward a more humane and just immigration system.”

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Barr Will Continue Sessions’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda in Justice Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2019

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

Barr Will Continue Sessions’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda in Justice Department

WASHINGTON — Following a series of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved the nomination of William Barr to be U.S. attorney general. The full Senate vote to confirm him is expected today, despite warnings and outcry from several prominent civil rights and social justice groups.

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

“Jeff Sessions’s tenure as U.S. attorney general is a stain on this country’s moral record. During his time in office, our government callously terminated the path to U.S. citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people who have lived here for most of their lives, stole children from their parents at the border and detained them indefinitely, made it nearly impossible for people fearing for their lives to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum, and preached hatred and fear over justice and dignity.

“William Barr, his likely successor, has made it clear that he not only condones Sessions’s shameful legacy of demonizing and cruelly targeting low-income immigrants and people of color in this country, but he will work to further it.

“Barr’s testimony offered in plain view what is clear from his prior public statements and his record at the Justice Department: His views of justice are deeply rooted in racism, a reckless disregard for facts and honesty, and a willingness to squander the rights of those not afforded the financial or social privileges to stand up to an unfair justice system. He has expressed support for Trump’s border wall and Muslim ban, for punishing localities and states that reject a mass deportation agenda, and for weaponizing the 2020 census to target immigrants as well as cast doubt on the constitutional right of birthright citizenship.

“We need a sharp course correction, not a promise of more of the same. Those serving in our country’s highest offices — and especially those tasked with overseeing our justice system — must demonstrate a commitment to preserving the civil rights, justice, and dignity of all who call this country home.”

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