Author Archives: Richard Irwin

We Hope for an American Future (The Torch)

We hope for an American future

By Tim Sell, guest blogger
FEBRUARY 12, 2018

When an Ethiopian boy effectively arrived on our rural central Maryland doorstep as a one-year-old, my wife and I chose to do the right thing.

Prior to our first meeting, our Ethiopian boy was brought to America for emergency surgery by a missionary sponsored by our church. He received excellent care from the kind folks at the University of Maryland and Ronald McDonald House, both of which provided their services free of charge. His ventricular septal defect was corrected, and he has not had a single problem with his heart since.

“So began our journey of learning the bumpy road of immigration in America.”
Photo courtesy of Tim Sell

It was after he recovered from the surgery that we learned of the boy’s mother’s desire that he stay in America. She wanted a better life for him. Our church solicited volunteers for a sponsor family. My wife eagerly volunteered, and I somewhat hesitantly agreed. We were both naive.

So began our journey of learning the bumpy road of immigration in America.

My wife and I were able legally to adopt the five-year-old Ethiopian boy in Maryland. It seemed odd to us that it was legally possible to adopt him, despite it being legally impossible for him to obtain U.S. citizenship — but adoption was at least a step in the right direction.

The legal adoption status served us well in terms of his education, as it allowed our son to attend grade school in Maryland. We could forget about the “immigration problem” for a few years. “Surely the politicians will be able to come up with a reasonable solution by the time he grows up,” we thought.

As our son became a teenager, we realized that simple things that other teenagers take for granted, such as getting his driver’s license or a part-time job, were going to be impossible for him.

Here’s a phrase we’ve heard from an immigration attorney more than once: “He can’t be here.”

But we can pay for the paperwork, we’re willing to navigate through any bureaucracy you throw at us, he’s our legally adopted son, he doesn’t even remember any other country besides America, and doesn’t want any more than what any other American boy wants….

“He can’t be here. He can’t be here.

In 2014, we learned about DACA from an immigration attorney. DACA seemed to be what we had been waiting for for 16 years. The politicians seemed to be “figuring it out”! Thanks to DACA, later that year, at 17, our son received a Social Security number and an employment authorization card.

It saddened me, though, to learn that he was ashamed/afraid to reveal his immigration status to his friends in high school. He said it was common for him to hear kids talking harshly about “illegals” and about how they needed to be sent “home.” I tried to calmly explain to him that revealing his situation to them might provide them with a more educated and moral view of the situation. But I understood his rationale in keeping quiet. I still remember being 17 — I just wanted to “fit in.” Our son was no different.

At 17, our son wanted to become an American soldier. Due to his immigration status, he was turned away. It turned out that not even DACA could help him with that dream.

At 18, thanks to the privileges provided by DACA, our son was able to get part-time jobs working construction and at restaurants. Like any American teenager with a part-time job, he paid his taxes, with Dad’s help filling out the forms.

At 19 — fear. Will DACA end tomorrow? Will ICE agents be knocking our door down? Our own American government wouldn’t forcibly send a law-abiding citizen to a strange country … would it?

At 20, our son wants to study health fitness and physical education at college. He dreams of becoming a fitness instructor or phys. ed. teacher. DACA makes that dream possible. We can even hope for something better. We hope for an American future where one day he may even be a “legal United States citizen.”


Tim Sell is an American dad from central Maryland.

The decision by the Trump administration to abruptly end DACA without having any permanent solution in place for the young people who have benefited or would benefit from the program is hurting families, such as the Sell family, all over the United States. A recent poll shows that a majority of American voters feels that families are at the core of the United States as a nation and are more likely to support an immigration deal if it is based in keeping families together. 

Learn more about what you can do to help immigrant youth and their families, visit www.nilc.org or call Congress at 478-488-8059 and ask them to vote on the bipartisan Dream Act now!

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New Rules Would Separate Immigrant Families and Keep Them from Accessing Critical Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

Department of Homeland Security Plans New Rules That Would Separate Immigrant Families and Keep Them from Accessing Critical Services

WASHINGTON — Reuters today reported that the Trump administration is considering proposed rules that would further target immigrants seeking critical care and social services, making it even harder for them to attain permanent legal status.

This cruel shift in policy would not only form a barrier for families seeking to reunite with their loved ones, but would also keep them from seeking critical services, such as education, nutrition, and medical assistance. Under current law, lawfully present immigrants are already barred from accessing almost all federal benefits for the first five years they are in the country, and undocumented immigrants face this bar no matter how many years they reside in the US.

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

“The changes the Trump administration is considering would radically reshape our legal immigration system and redefine who is ‘worthy’ of being an American, along with what we look like as a country. If enacted, the draft proposed rule would fundamentally alter our nation’s values toward our immigration system. No longer would we be the country that serves as a beacon for the world’s dreamers and strivers. Instead, America’s doors would be open only to the highest bidder.

“This rule could have the effect of forcing low-income immigrant families — including U.S. citizen children — to make impossible choices between having the resources they need to thrive and reuniting with loved ones. It’s clear that this is nothing more than a backdoor effort to severely limit family immigration, which is part of the White House legislative framework. Those who have entered the U.S. through close family ties are disproportionately people of color, and U.S. citizen children will be among the most harmed by this proposal.

“If we want our communities to thrive, all families must be able to receive the critical care and services they need. All of us — regardless of where we were born or how much money we have — should reject these extremist proposals that are morally reprehensible and fly in the face of our nation’s values and priorities.

“Our nation’s history — and, indeed, most of our own personal histories — are full of stories of immigrants who came here with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a dream of a better future in the United States. These immigrants were able to have the tools they needed to succeed. Today’s low-income immigrant families are tomorrow’s teachers, nurses, and even a future president.”

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Immigrant Youth and Allies Call on House Democrats to Lead Because “Our Lives and the Morals of This Country Are at Stake”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 8, 2018

CONTACT
National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

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

Indivisible Project
Contact: press@indivisible.org

United We Dream
Bruna Bouhid, bruna@unitedwedream.org, 202-850-0812
Sheridan Aguirre, sheridan@unitedwedream.org, 202-793-226

Immigrant Youth and Allies Call on House Democrats to Lead Because “Our Lives and the Morals of This Country Are at Stake”

WASHINGTON — After months of hearing from millions of Americans in support of a permanent solution for Dreamers, Congress today is considering a two-year budget deal that does not address the crisis created when President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September.

Lawmakers have repeatedly vowed to find a permanent solution to end the uncertainty and instability created by the Trump administration’s termination of DACA but have failed to exert the sustained political will to deliver. This squandered opportunity is not only another failure to deliver on their word, it’s a choice to be complicit in the detention and deportation of Dreamers. Any member of Congress who votes for a budget deal without securing protections for immigrant youth — Republicans and Democrats alike — will be voting to advance Trump’s white supremacist agenda. We will not forget.

For more than a year, President Trump and his administration have waged an attack on immigrants, refugees and communities of color. Immigrant youth and immigrant families, despite the excruciating uncertainty of these trying times, are leading a courageous fight to assert our communities’ humanity, dignity, and power, and our rightful claim to be acknowledged for our contributions and feel secure at home. We need leaders in Congress to act with courage, too.

Speeches, photo ops, and gestures won’t cut it. We urgently need a narrowly-tailored solution that addresses the crisis Trump created, without putting families at risk or reducing people’s lives to a bargaining chip. We need the bipartisan Dream Act now.

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USA Act Represents Commonsense Approach Toward Immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2018

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

USA Act Represents Commonsense Approach Toward Immigration

WASHINGTON — Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) have announced they will introduce narrowly framed legislation intended to allow immigrant youth to apply for lawful status while addressing various border security measures. The main tenants of the legislation, which is modeled after the USA Act introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-TX), enjoys broad bipartisan support, especially in swing districts.

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

“In the midst of the Trump-created crisis on DACA that has resulted in so much uncertainty for our nation’s immigrant youth and the country, this is a welcome bipartisan bill that is aimed at resolving the problem at hand rather than fanning the anti-immigrant flames.

“Immigrant youth put their trust in the government when they applied for DACA. This trust is being tested. President Trump revoked their economic and societal lifeline when he callously ended DACA, and time is running out for Congress to provide a solution to prevent these young people from losing their permission to live and work here. Our nation needs a narrowly-tailored fix to the crisis at hand, and the USA Act provides this fix. Now is not a time for political grandstanding; it’s a time to recognize that most of the country wants to see Congress solve this problem now.

“This bill is not without its problems. Our nation’s border communities already suffer from over-militarization, and any legislation that adds more boots on the ground without understanding the real needs of those communities is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars. Still, at a time when pursuing an extremist agenda is too often mistaken for legislating, it is refreshing to see a piece of carefully crafted bipartisan legislation.”

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NILC Responds to White House Immigration Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2018

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

NILC Responds to White House Immigration Proposal

WASHINGTON — The White House today released a framework for a legislative deal that includes a pathway to U.S. citizenship for Dreamers, along with a dramatic increase in border enforcement and radical changes to parts of the U.S. immigration system.

Diana Pliego, policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“This White House proposal demonstrates once again that the Trump administration is not serious about finding a solution for immigrant youth. President Trump created this crisis last September when he rescinded the DACA program and told Congress to fix it. Instead of working to find a solution, he is sabotaging the process by turning a bipartisan compromise on its head and morphing it into a white nationalist wish list.

“This is just another ploy to hold protections for immigrant youth hostage to enact his white supremacist agenda. The solution for immigrant youth should be focused narrowly on resolving the crisis Trump created. It should not be a vehicle to harm immigrant families and communities.”

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Cinco cosas que debe saber sobre el último anuncio de USCIS

USCIS y las solicitudes de renovación de DACA
LO QUE TIENE QUE SABER

Por Ignacia Rodriguez (NILC) y Sanaa Abrar y Greisa Martinez (United We Dream)

Última actualización 29 DE ENERO DE 2018 | English version

El Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de EE.UU. (USCIS, por su sigla en inglés) ha anunciado que volverá a aceptar solicitudes de renovación de DACA (Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia) a partir del 13 de enero de 2018. Este cambio de política es en respuesta a la medida cautelar de una corte de distrito de EE.UU. en San Francisco dictada el 9 de enero que requiere al gobierno federal que vuelva a aceptar solicitudes de renovación de DACA. Este cambio de posición se debe a varias demandas que disputaron la decisión de la administración Trump del 5 de septiembre de 2017 de dar por terminado el programa DACA, que es inmensamente popular.

Esta es otra victoria en el camino a obtener una solución permanente para los jóvenes inmigrantes, la Ley Dream, en lo posible para el 8 de febrero. Proporcionaremos actualizaciones a medida que recibamos más información, pero he aquí cinco cosas que creemos que debe saber:

1. USCIS está aceptando ahora ciertas solicitudes de renovación de DACA. Si su DACA venció a partir del 5 de septiembre de 2016, puede enviar a USCIS una solicitud de renovación de DACA. Para esto tiene que llenar la última versión del formulario I-821D, Consideración de acción diferida para los llegados en la infancia; el formulario I-765, Solicitud de autorización de empleo; y el formulario I-765WS, Hoja de trabajo. Si su DACA venció antes del 5 de septiembre de 2016, tiene que volver a solicitarla como si fuera la primera vez, en vez de renovarla. Ya sea que presente su solicitud de DACA inicial o una solicitud de renovación, tiene que incluir la fecha en que venció o va a vencer su DACA en la parte 1 del formulario I-821D.

2. USCIS no aceptará solicitudes de DACA de personas que no la han solicitado anteriormente. USCIS no aceptará solicitudes de DACA de personas que nunca la tuvieron. Si usted es elegible para DACA pero no la solicitó en el pasado, este anuncio no se aplica a su caso.

3. No se aceptarán solicitudes de permiso de reingreso (permiso adelantado de viaje) de los beneficiarios de DACA. USCIS no aceptará ni aprobará solicitudes de permiso de reingreso de los beneficiarios de DACA.

4. No sabemos por cuánto tiempo USCIS seguirá aceptando solicitudes de renovación de DACA. La administración Trump declaró que piensa disputar “vigorosamente” la decisión de la corte de distrito. Esto quiere decir que el periodo en que podrá presentar solicitudes de renovación de DACA es incierto. Si cumple con los requisitos mencionados más arriba, debe evaluar si le conviene presentar su solicitud inmediatamente.

5. ¡Nuestra lucha para conseguir que se apruebe la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero continúa! Este es un testamento al trabajo que los jóvenes indocumentados han liderado para combatir la decisión de Trump de dar por terminado con el programa DACA, anunciada el 5 de septiembre de 2017. No obstante, no podemos seguir nuestras vidas en un limbo cotidiano, o mensual. Nuestra meta es clara: conseguir la aprobación de la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero. No todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad están protegidos por DACA, de manera que seguimos corriendo el riesgo de detención y deportación hasta obtener una solución legislativa permanente. Envíe un mensaje de texto con el contenido “DreamActNow” al 877877 para aprender cómo se puede sumar a la presión sobre el Congreso para que se coloque en el lado correcto de la historia, ¡y promulgue la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero!

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It’s About People, Not Politics: Today’s vote won’t solve the problem unless it’s paired with action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

It’s About People, Not Politics

Today’s vote won’t solve the problem unless it’s paired with action

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators today voted to approve a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for another three weeks. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure shortly. This legislation includes a measure to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, and a commitment from Senate leadership to bring immigration measures to a vote in the near future.

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

“On Friday night, senators on both sides of the aisle took a stand against Trump’s divisive, xenophobic agenda and made a bold call for the Senate to do its job.

“This display of resolve was short-lived. Today, although the government is reopening, senators have done nothing to address the Trump-created crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth at imminent threat of deportation.

“Those who voted in favor of a continuing resolution based on the promise of a future immigration vote put their faith in the hands of those who have proven themselves unreliable in the past. The Trump agenda, which Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell have doggedly enacted, is built on misdirection and xenophobia, not forthrightness and compromise.

“Our communities need more than bold gestures and empty promises. We need action right now. It’s not enough to say pro-Dreamer things and issue strong statements. We need a legislative solution that addresses our real needs, without using this crisis as an opportunity to ram through a white nationalist wish list.

“Republicans are being disingenuous when they ask for more time to discuss this. The Dream Act has been discussed for nearly two decades. We know. We were there when it was first introduced by Senator Durbin in 2001. We — along with our communities — put faith in Senate proceedings, only to see those sound policy proposals die in the legislative graveyard of the House of Representatives. A solution for immigrant youth should have been reached 16 years ago. Our elected officials should be done talking.

“The fight is more urgent now than ever before. We remain as committed as ever to continue to fight alongside our communities — both in the halls of Congress and in the courts — to defend immigrant youth and their families.”

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Supreme Court to Take Muslim Ban Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

Supreme Court to Take Muslim Ban Case

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear oral argument on Hawaii v. Trump, a legal challenge to one of the latest iterations of President Trump’s Muslim ban. This executive order, first issued in September 2017, indefinitely bans people from six Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States. The Supreme Court recently stayed earlier preliminary injunctions partially blocking the ban, allowing it to go into full effect. The New York Times has recently covered the devastation and ongoing family separation caused by the ban.

In response to this announcement, Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The Muslim ban is not merely a looming threat, but a heartless and unlawful order that has already torn families apart and thrown lives into chaos. Since the ban was announced one year ago, it has succeeded in slamming the door on Muslims and refugees seeking reunification with their loved ones.

“As the lower courts have proved time and again, this Muslim ban is not only hateful and incredibly damaging, but also unlawful. This administration’s ruthless attacks on immigrant and refugee communities are unconstitutional and stand in stark contrast to our nation’s values of inclusivity and religious freedom.

“This is a pivotal time in our nation’s history, when we are called upon as a nation to decide whether we truly live by our ideals, or merely carve them into our monuments. We continue to stand proudly with our plaintiffs, refugees, and the American Muslim community and will fight in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, and alongside our communities until there is no Muslim ban ever.”

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House Kicks the Can Down the Road, Fails the Country

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2018

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

House Republicans Kick the Can Down the Road, Fail the Country

WASHINGTON — Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today approved a short-term resolution to keep the government funded and running for four more weeks. Existing funding expires Friday. The House-approved bill does not include language to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for Dreamers or an adequate reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), despite overwhelming support for such measures from all sectors of civic life and several bipartisan legislative proposals presented this week. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.

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

“House Republicans again have failed to address our nation’s most pressing issues. Yet another partisan vote on a short-term funding agreement demonstrates how Republican leadership’s dysfunction is preventing the country from arriving at real solutions. Their basic failure to legislate is undercutting even their own stated priorities and leading the country down the path to a government shutdown.

“This bill does not provide adequate solutions. And it insidiously pits vulnerable populations against each other. Decent lawmakers and our communities must make it clear that we are united and committed to doing better. It’s time to stop with the political games. We urge the Senate to reject this failure and put forward real solutions. We cannot continue to prolong the precarious situation facing Dreamers.”

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NILC Responds to Introduction of Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2018

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

DACA Crisis Requires a Narrow and Permanent Bipartisan Fix Now

NILC responds to introduction of Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act

WASHINGTON — Reps. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) today introduced new bipartisan legislation to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for Dreamers. The bill would provide relief for immigrant youth who arrived in the U.S. as minors and allocate additional resources toward the border and other enforcement.

The bill introduction comes as Congress faces a Friday deadline to approve funding to keep the federal government running.

More than 16,000 recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, have lost protections since the Trump administration terminated the program in September.

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

“For months, lawmakers and the American public have engaged in a conversation about resolving the urgent crisis created when President Trump terminated DACA. More than 80 percent of America agrees that Dreamers should have the opportunity to become U.S. citizens, and that we can’t keep immigrant youth and their families in their current precarious state any longer.

“Representatives Hurd and Aguilar have found a narrow, bipartisan solution that helps solve the problem we’re facing, a problem created by President Trump’s termination of the DACA program. The USA Act is a serious effort to address the concerns on both sides of the political aisle, a rare feat in the current political climate.

“However, this bill is not without flaws. While it does not include funding for an ineffective border wall, it does fail to recognize that what’s best for the border region is accountability, investment, and infrastructure, not more military tactics and drones. Border communities are dynamic and vibrant. They need commerce, not militarization at taxpayer expense.”

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