Author Archives: Richard Irwin

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. Neither should Congress (The Torch)

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate.
Neither should Congress

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy NILC Staff
APRIL 1, 2020

Today, NILC published a policy brief summarizing the impact key provisions of recently enacted COVID-19 relief legislation — federal legislation — will have on low-income immigrant communities. Our policy brief focuses on access to health care, economic supports, and employment protections.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion economic relief bill, builds on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide economic relief and health care options amidst the growing global COVID-19 public health crisis. Nevertheless, these bills fall short of meeting the most basic health care and economic needs of millions of Americans, including immigrant workers and families who are on the frontlines caring for our communities by providing crucial services while others are able to shelter at home.

 

For example, the CARES Act builds on a provision of FFCRA that allows states to use their Medicaid programs to provide free testing to uninsured people. However, the FFCRA does not alter Medicaid eligibility for immigrants; therefore, many immigrants remain excluded under this option.

Likewise, the CARES Act provides for the issuance of an advanced Recovery Rebate to help taxpayers recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis. The maximum rebate amount is $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for taxpayers filing taxes jointly. Unfortunately, the bill excludes many immigrant- and mixed–immigration status families from receiving this financial assistance.

The current global public health crisis is a reminder of how interconnected we all are — and how our collective health and well-being are thoroughly interdependent. COVID-19 does not discriminate and neither should our public health response and economic relief efforts.

As Congress considers additional measures to bolster our economy and communities across the country, it must deliver relief that eliminates barriers to testing, diagnosis, and treatment and that supports other basic needs of low-income immigrants and their families.

Read the full policy brief.

NILC Statement Regarding $2 Trillion COVID-19 Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2020

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

National Immigration Law Center (NILC) Statement Regarding $2 Trillion COVID-19 Package

WASHINGTON — Late Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion deal to provide economic relief amidst the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

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

“Senate Democrats fought for key improvements from a prior version of the COVID-19 relief package introduced by Senate Republicans, who are operating with a ‘business as usual’ attitude in prioritizing corporations over people and continuing to demonize and exclude immigrants.

“Nevertheless, this bill still falls woefully short of meeting the most basic health care and economic needs of millions of Americans. Immigrant workers and families who are paying taxes have been cut out from receiving a single dollar. While it provides for crucial unemployment insurance benefits and funding for medical care, the bill shamefully excludes millions of immigrants and their families from coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment or economic assistance, even as many are on the front lines working to confront the pandemic. It is both reckless from a public health perspective and disgraceful that our congressional leaders are refusing to extend the same relief to immigrant communities, many of whose members will play an essential role in our recovery as a nation.

“With Senate Republicans now planning to leave for a month-long recess, we call on House Democrats to demand that the final legislation include crucial relief for immigrants. Since no other relief package appears imminent, the stakes are high for millions of low-wage workers and immigrants, who also need economic support and access to health care. Any deal that leaves them out jeopardizes us all.”

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NILC Reacts to Coronavirus Phase 3 Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2020

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

NILC Reacts to Coronavirus Phase 3 Legislation

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, March 19, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced emergency stimulus legislation to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

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

“The coronavirus phase 3 legislation introduced in the Senate is not a product of bipartisan negotiations. This is another gift to corporations that leaves out millions of tax-paying immigrants, many of whom have family members who are U.S. citizens. Our nation is facing a pandemic that does not discriminate and threatens to wipe out people’s livelihoods and devastate our economy. It is unconscionable that the Republican-controlled Senate continues to play politics with the health and well-being of Americans. We are all at risk when millions are left behind.

“As we grapple with the far-reaching implications of this public health crisis, immigrants are on the front lines delivering groceries, harvesting produce for our meals, working in the health care sector, and caring for our loved ones. Economic stimulus that excludes immigrants who are working and paying taxes leaves us all vulnerable. We look to our leaders in Congress to address this inequality and ensure that any relief package provides help for all members of our community, including the most vulnerable among us.

“Among the most important lessons of this pandemic is that we are all interdependent. This is not a time for partisanship but a time for courageous leaders to unite across party lines for our collective well-being and to ensure that we are all safe, healthy, and have the economic means not only to survive but to thrive.”

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NILC Responds to Enactment of the Families First Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2020

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

NILC Responds to Enactment of the Families First Act

LOS ANGELES — As communities across the United States take unprecedented measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, President Trump signed a relief package into law today, the Families First Act, that aims to address some of the challenges facing the country in the midst of a global pandemic.

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

“In these difficult and uncertain times, our leaders must ensure that everyone — including low-income immigrants — has access to the resources necessary to mitigate the harmful impacts of this global pandemic. We live in interdependent communities, and it is becoming irrefutable that our personal well-being and futures are intertwined with those of our neighbors, coworkers, and students — many of whom are immigrants on the front lines of the response to this crisis, including as workers in the health care, home care, and food sectors, small business owners, delivery professionals, airport staff, grocery store employees, and others. Ours is the wealthiest nation on the planet; every one of us should have access to health care, nutrition, and economic support as we weather this hardship together.

“The Families First Act is an important first step toward helping millions of families in dire need of relief and will provide much needed paid leave that will be a critical short-term economic lifeline to immigrant workers earning low wages. While we work to address our communities’ immediate needs, much more remains to be done as we ask ourselves: As people risk losing their jobs, homes, businesses, and community spaces, and even as parts of our government close their doors, what new opportunities are we going to create to set ourselves up for a healthier, more inclusive future together?

“This moment requires true leadership and decisive action informed by the best advice of health and science experts and a concern for our collective well-being.  President Trump and his allies in Congress have consistently failed to meet this crisis head on, putting all our lives at risk. At a time when what we need most is clarity, consistency and calm, Trump has offered his usual mix of lies, distraction, and backtracking. He and his enablers have put political expediency over the health and well-being of our people. They have ignored the pleas of public health experts and doctors, and the experience of and lessons learned by countries that were hit by this global crisis before we were. And they have scapegoated immigrants and pointed fingers at other countries instead of taking responsibility.

“Simply put, Trump’s catastrophic failure to lead in this time of crisis will cost many their lives and livelihoods.

“This is a moment for all of us to do our part to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, contribute to building healthier and safer communities, and hold our elected officials accountable. We have clear choices before us that must be made if we are to emerge from this crisis with a healthier, safer, more inclusive society in which we can all thrive.”

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No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Responds to House Decision to Delay Vote on NO BAN Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2020

CONTACT
NILC: Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375
AAAJ – Asian Law Caucus: Sabrina Chin, [email protected], 415-351-9737

No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Responds to House Decision to Delay Vote on NO BAN Act

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives removed from its calendar a scheduled vote on the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act. The legislation would immediately repeal prior versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, including the most recent expanded ban that most heavily impacts Africans, one that specifically targets refugees, and one that targets asylum-seekers arriving at the border. It would also change immigration law to prohibit discrimination based on religion and limit the power of this administration or any future president to enact similar bans.

The decision to delay the vote comes as Congress is shifting its attention to a plan to respond to the COVID-19 virus. In response, the coalition’s anchor organizations released the following statements:

Marielena Hincapie, executive director at the National Immigration Law Center, says:
“After three years of Trump’s Muslim ban, we know that any delay furthers the harm done to Muslim-American families and communities who have already suffered significantly. We remain steadfast in our commitment to seeing the bill through in its complete, unaltered form. We urge members of Congress who have championed the bill and House leadership to continue to publicly commit to this as well. The Trump administration has demonstrated a reckless and cruel abuse of power by issuing bans that target Muslims, Africans, refugees, and asylum-seekers for the sole purpose of shutting out communities of color, fulfilling Trump’s signature and racist campaign promises. When our representatives return from recess, it is crucial that they make this a priority and immediately schedule a vote to pass the NO BAN Act. The time to act is now.”

Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco-Bay Area chapter of the Council on  American-Islamic Relations, states:
“Though disappointing, the delay in voting on the NO BAN Act  will not undermine our work with our partners in Congress, the presidential campaigns, and grassroots communities to overcome Donald Trump’s bigoted immigration agenda. This has gone on far too long, separating families, slowing access to medical care, undercutting academic and professional opportunities, all while propagating xenophobia. We call on Congress to move quickly to reschedule this vote and pass the NO BAN Act. Our communities, their constituents, expect no less.”

Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change, states:
“For years we’ve organized, shared our stories, and made sure our calls to repeal the ban were heard. From the moment the first Muslim ban was issued, to last month’s expansion, our Muslim and immigrant communities have continued to lead us all towards the passing of legislation that can repeal this racist ban once and for all. Despite today’s decision to delay the NO BAN Act vote, we will continue to build with House leadership to ensure it passes without any weakening amendments in the coming weeks, and we will continue to rally around those in our Muslim, immigrant, and African communities who face the burden of this horrific ban daily.”

Aarti Kohli, executive director representing Asian Americans Advancing Justice, states:
While we applaud the efforts of House members supporting the NO BAN Act, let us not forget that with each passing day, families continue to be separated unjustly from their loved ones, those needing urgent medical care continue to suffer, and those fleeing persecution continue to be denied refuge. Our communities have waited long enough. Any delay in the House vote further deepens the suffering of our Muslim and immigrant communities. Conflating a public health concern with a xenophobic immigration policy only mirrors the very racism and Islamophobia the Muslim ban was premised on. It is critical that House members pass the NO BAN Act to stop the assault on our Muslim and immigrant neighbors as soon as possible. Separated families depend on it.”

About No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition (NMBE)
The #NoMuslimBanEver campaign, endorsed by over 200 organizations, represents a diverse community of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations and allies in progressive, faith, immigrant, asylum, refugee, and civil rights sectors who came together in response to the Trump administration’s persistent efforts to ban individuals from Muslim-majority countries as part of its larger xenophobic, white nationalist agenda of exclusion. Please visit www.NoMuslimBanEver.com for more information.

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NILC Statement on House of Representatives’ Delay of Vote on NO BAN Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2020

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

NILC Statement on House of Representatives’ Delay of Vote on NO BAN Act

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives removed from its calendar a scheduled vote on the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act.

The legislation would immediately repeal prior versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, including the most recent expanded ban that most heavily impacts Africans, one that specifically targets refugees, and one that targets asylum-seekers arriving at the border. It would also change immigration law to prohibit discrimination based on religion and limit the power of this administration or any future president to enact similar bans.

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

“For over three years, this administration has demonstrated a reckless and cruel abuse of power by issuing bans that have targeted Muslims, Africans, refugees, and asylum-seekers for the sole purpose of shutting out communities of color and fulfilling Trump’s signature and racist campaign promise to shut out Muslims.

“This decision to delay repealing the ban in all of its iterations will further that harm, which is why it is crucial that House leadership continue to publicly commit to bringing the NO BAN Act to a vote immediately after the congressional recess. Although we are disheartened by the decision to delay the vote, we remain steadfast in our commitment to working with members of Congress to ensure that the NO BAN Act is passed in its current form, without any changes.

“The time to act is now.”

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Trump’s Public Charge Rule Created Harm Even Before It Was Implemented (The Torch)

Trump’s Public Charge Rule Created Harm Even Before It Was Implemented

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Holly Straut-Eppsteiner
MARCH 2, 2020

In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new set of regulations that would make drastic changes to determinations regarding which immigrants are eligible to be admitted as lawful permanent residents in the United States. The final rule, which has taken effect for applications submitted within the U.S. on or after February 24, 2020, substantially changes the criteria by which “public charge” determinations are made and, as a result, who has access to permanent lawful status in the country.

Previously, an individual’s likelihood of being designated a public charge — that is, deemed likely to become primarily dependent on government support in the future — was based on reliance on public cash assistance for monthly income or long-term institutionalization at government expense. Widely regarded as a wealth test, the new rule expands public charge determinations to include several new criteria, including new income thresholds, age, health, education, and use of noncash benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamp” benefits), nonemergency Medicaid (with some exceptions), and housing assistance. Litigation challenging the rule is ongoing.

An estimated 26 million people could be chilled from accessing nutrition, health care, or housing programs because of fear and misinformation related to this rule. In fact, there is evidence that the DHS rule has already chilled immigrant families’ participation in benefits programs for which they are eligible. Shortly after the rule was proposed — more than a year before it was implemented — a survey found that more than 20 percent of adults in low-income immigrant families had avoided participating in benefit programs.

 

In a new report, the National Immigration Law Center draws on accounts from service providers across the country to document how immigrant communities reacted to media reports, rumors, and other information circulating about “public charge” even before the Trump administration began implementing its new rule. The report describes how individuals who are not subject to a public charge test — including people who are already lawful permanent residents, members of exempted humanitarian groups, and even U.S. citizens — have already been impacted by the rule.

Providers interviewed for this study shared examples such as a working mother in Wisconsin who canceled food stamp benefits for her U.S. citizen children and planned to take on a third job, lawful permanent residents choosing not to enroll in health coverage programs in North Carolina, and a cancer patient in California who considered stopping treatment because she believed getting treatment could jeopardize her immigration status. Service providers reported that their clients were concerned not only about accessing programs that the new rule lists as being considered in public charge determinations — such as SNAP and Medicaid — but also programs that are not listed — such as Affordable Care Act Marketplace health coverage, county health programs, school lunches, and WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. These accounts demonstrate how fear and misinformation about public charge harm the health and well-being of immigrant communities.

The DHS rule is also making it harder for service providers such as benefits enrollers, health care providers, and outreach workers to do their jobs. For example, providers have taken on extra responsibility to research the rule, understand its implications, and explain it to their clients — even when they have no formal training in immigration law and policy. Providers must also overcome misinformation from media, social networks, and immigration attorneys. In some cases, they are doing so successfully, going above and beyond to make sure that their clients receive the programs and care they need.

But in other cases, even when service providers shared accurate information with their clients about whether they would be impacted, fear still made people decide to avoid programs and services that could significantly improve their lives. As an advocate for human trafficking survivors in Kentucky noted, “People feel like we can’t be confident that it won’t change again or become more restrictive, or that we still won’t get in trouble … [T]here’s just a realistic fear that there’s this constant changing, so how can I be sure?”

These findings identify a disconnect between the DHS public charge rule as written and the way it is being interpreted in immigrant communities. They illustrate that the rule negatively impacts not only people who are actually subject to its public charge test but also others, including people with lawful permanent residence, U.S. citizen children, and survivors of crime and human trafficking. As the rule has moved into the final stage of its implementation, it’s clear that the health and well-being of immigrants and their families are at stake.

The report is titled “Documenting through Service Provider Accounts Harm Caused by the Department of Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule.” For more information and resources related to public charge, visit https://ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org/.


Holly Straut-Eppsteiner is NILC’s Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and research program manager.

Federal Court Finds Conditions in Customs and Border Protection Detention Facilities Unconstitutional

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2020

CONTACT
– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
– Maria Frausto, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7526, [email protected]
– Marcela Taracena, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6004, [email protected]
– Kristin Loe, Morrison & Foerster, 415-268-6410, [email protected]
– Matthew Kovac, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 415-510-9601, [email protected]

Federal Court Finds Conditions in Customs and Border Protection Detention Facilities Unconstitutional

Court orders Tucson Sector CBP to meet migrants’ basic human needs following 48 hours from book-in time

TUCSON, AZ — A federal court today ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to overhaul the way the agency detains people in its custody in its Tucson Sector. The court found that the conditions in CBP holding cells, especially those that preclude sleep over several nights, are presumptively punitive and violate the U.S. Constitution.

The court’s order enjoins CBP from holding detainees longer than 48 hours “unless and until CBP can provide conditions of confinement that meet detainees’ basic human needs for sleeping in a bed with a blanket, a shower, food that meets acceptable dietary standards, potable water, and medical assessment performed by a medical professional.”

The lawsuit, Doe v. Wolf, was filed by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The following comments are from:

Individual formerly detained by CBP in the Tucson Sector, identified as Witness B during trial in this litigation: “I feel very happy to know that things are going to change in these detention centers and that people will not have to spend much time under the conditions I was detained in. It is really a joy to know that the necessary medical care will be available, that there will be other food available, and that those who have to be detained for longer periods of time will be held in a place where conditions are adequate. I am very happy to know that I helped make things better for all of the people who follow. So many people will benefit from being treated better during the time they have to be detained there.”

Alvaro M. Huerta, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center: “Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for communities everywhere fighting courageously to uphold human dignity and the rights enshrined in our Constitution. The court recognizes the grave injustices suffered by our brave plaintiffs and tens of thousands of others similarly detained by the Border Patrol in deplorable, dangerous conditions in the Tucson Sector. We are enthused that our justice system has intervened in a meaningful way to institute much-needed change and hold CBP accountable.”

Mary Kenney, directing attorney of litigation with the American Immigration Council: “Through this lawsuit, we have been able to shed light on the realities of the inhumane treatment of migrants in CBP detention facilities. In its decision, the court recognized that conditions in CBP’s Tucson Sector are ‘substantially worse’ than those afforded criminal detainees in jail facilities. Today’s monumental victory ensures that CBP cannot hold migrants in the Tucson Sector over 48 hours without providing conditions that meet basic human needs and serves as an example of the standards that should apply in all CBP facilities.”

Colette Reiner Mayer, trial counsel from Morrison & Foerster LLP: “This is an excellent outcome and we look forward to its implementation. With the court’s order we have secured a permanent solution and hopefully the sickening conditions in these facilities will improve. After years of collecting evidence and preparing and trying this case, the border detention facilities will no longer be allowed to violate the Constitution. Civil detainees in Border Patrol stations have suffered for too long, and this decision will pave the way for systemic change across the country.”

Alessandra Navidad, executive director for the ACLU of Arizona: “Today’s order affirms what our clients and migrants subjected to CBP detention have been saying for years — conditions in these facilities are degrading and violate the U.S. Constitution. Witness testimony and videos shown at trial revealed overcrowding so severe that some migrants were forced to sleep next to toilets. The court found that these conditions violate standards of basic decency and puts migrants at risk of serious harm. We will continue to ensure that this agency is held accountable for civil rights abuses against migrants in their custody.”

Bree Bernwanger, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area: “In today’s decision, a federal court has powerfully validated what our brave clients have been stepping forward to tell us for years: that conditions in the Tucson Sector punish them and deprive them of their dignity. We are thrilled that Border Patrol is, for the first time, being held accountable to the Constitution and can no longer prioritize detention over safety and human dignity.”

Read the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law and judgment.

Attorneys involved in the case and individuals formerly detained by CBP in the Tucson Sector held a telephonic press briefing following the court order, where they spoke about the court’s ruling and the implications of this decision. A recording of the briefing is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Doe-press-conference-2020-02-19.mp3.

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No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Urges Support of NO BAN Act As It Moves into Committee Markup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2020

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, [email protected], 202-805-0375
Sabrina Chin, Asian Law Caucus, [email protected], 415-351-9737

No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Urges Support of NO BAN Act As It Moves into Committee Markup

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House Judiciary Committee will begin the markup process on the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, also known as the NO BAN Act. The legislation would immediately repeal prior versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, including one that specifically targets refugees, and an asylum ban that targets asylum-seekers arriving at the border, change immigration law to prohibit discrimination based on religion, and limit the power of this administration or any future administration to enact similar bans.

“In the three years since Trump issued numerous iterations of a Muslim ban, families have suffered years of separation and countless people have had their studies and career opportunities suddenly derailed or been denied life-saving care,” said Avideh Moussavian, legislative director at the National Immigration Law Center. “This administration has abused its authority to try to rewrite our immigration laws to openly discriminate against Muslims, including refugees and Africans, as well as asylum-seekers and others. The NO BAN Act is a critical step towards ensuring that we repeal these shameful bans, prevent this kind of blatant religious discrimination, and limit bans like this in the future. It’s crucial that Congress mark up and eventually pass the strongest and most inclusive version of the NO BAN Act.”

“This new Muslim ban expansion dramatically increases the number of Muslim majority countries as well as the number of African ones subject to a ban. The Trump administration continues to separate families, cause travel concerns, and create tension in communities. Congress must step in to pass the NO BAN Act immediately to put a stop to this, before it goes any further,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area.

“The Muslim ban in all its iterations is racist and targets people based on faith, race, and nationality. It’s part of a broader white nationalist agenda being implemented by the Trump administration,” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change. “The NO BAN Act is an important step and message to this administration that Americans will not stand for this type of discrimination and banning of people looking for better opportunities or to be reunited with their families. We call on Congress to pass an inclusive and strong version of the NO BAN Act.”

“We’ve seen first-hand how devasting each iteration of the Muslim ban is to the communities we serve. This reckless family separation policy completely disregards the real harm and trauma to American families, immigrants of color, and refugees. We must repeal the Muslim ban and ensure that no president can enact xenophobic policies like this ever again,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

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Las Vegas Resident Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Local Law Enforcement for Violating His Constitutional Rights Through Collaboration Efforts with ICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2020

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, NILC, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Howard Mintz, Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP, [email protected], 650-614-7314

Las Vegas Resident Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Local Law Enforcement for Violating His Constitutional Rights Through Collaboration Efforts with ICE

LAS VEGAS, NV — David Adame-Reyes, a longtime Las Vegas resident, who was subject to an unlawful arrest and wrongful detention after being ordered released by a judge, sued Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) today for their practice of jailing community members for the sole purpose of transferring them into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody when the law requires that they instead be released. Adame-Reyes is represented by the National Immigration Law Center, the law firm Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP, and the law firm Holland & Hart LLP.

The lawsuit challenges the decision of Sheriff Lombardo and the LVMPD to grant detention requests called “ICE holds” or “ICE detainers,” despite federal and Nevada law prohibiting that detention. Sheriff Lombardo reinstituted this practice after his predecessor abandoned it (PDF) when courts found the practice unconstitutional. Even as these court decisions mounted, Sheriff Lombardo refused to abandon the practice until recently. Though Sheriff Lombardo announced a pause in the practice, he also explained that he is seeking alternative ways to use local resources to do the work of federal immigration law enforcement and that he would reinstitute the policy if possible.

“Today’s lawsuit is about accountability,” explained Sarah Kim Pak, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “Sheriff Lombardo has long known of the illegality of jailing community members without meeting the requirements our Constitution demands. He’s made it clear that he will revert to old ways at the drop of a hat. It is past time that Sheriff Lombardo learn that his job is to uphold the law, not break it.”

Nevada law bars local law enforcement officers from making arrests to enforce civil immigration laws. The jailing of Adame-Reyes after he had been ordered released by a judge was an unlawful arrest, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and deprived him of his liberty without due process, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The harm of having local law enforcement pursue immigration enforcement has been well documented nationwide. “Entangling local police with federal immigration enforcement results in a climate of fear and less safety for all of us because community members in fear of retribution are less willing to speak out about crimes committed against them or their loved ones.” explained Amanda Maya, litigation associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, adding, “We hope this case will push Clark County and other municipalities to move in a direction that fosters inclusivity and safety for all community members, regardless of their citizenship status.”

Stephen Peek, partner at Holland & Hart, LLP, observed, “This effort to hold Sheriff Lombardo and LVMPD accountable also recognizes the lasting harm that can result from these policies. We are committed to lend our legal services to challenge these policies and seek justice for Mr. Adame-Reyes.”

Adame-Reyes expressed a similar sentiment in explaining why he brought the case. “A court said I could be free, and yet I have been detained for almost six months. I am saddened to be away from my family and to have missed sharing the holiday season with them. It is my hope that Clark County and other local law enforcement agencies will cease working with immigration to detain individuals who, like me, should have been allowed to go home to their families.”

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The complaint filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Adame-Reyes-v-Lombardo-complaint-2020-02-06.pdf.

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