Author Archives: Victoria Johnson

“The Fosters” Season Premiere Shows How You Can Support Immigrant Families

“The Fosters” Season Premiere Shows How You Can Support Immigrant Families

By Alvaro M. Huerta, NILC staff attorney
January 9, 2018

Tonight’s season premiere episode, “Sanctuary,” of “The Fosters” on the Freeform channel touches on some important topics related to how our country’s immigration system continues to rip families apart.

In last season’s finale, Callie and AJ helped their friend Ximena seek sanctuary in a church when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came looking for Ximena because she had spoken out at a rally and disclosed that she’s undocumented. Ximena was previously granted protection from deportation through a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which President Obama’s administration initiated in 2012.

DACA allowed young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to get temporary protection from deportation and eligibility to work in the U.S. To maintain these benefits, DACA recipients had to apply to renew it every two years. Ximena didn’t renew her DACA because she was afraid of getting her family in trouble with ICE, so her protection under DACA had ended and, although she did eventually apply to renew it, the renewal still had not been approved at the time ICE came to arrest her.

What’s happened to Ximena in “The Fosters” happens to thousands of immigrant youth every day. In fact, Ximena’s story mirrors that of a young woman named Daniela “Dany” Vargas, whose DACA status had also lapsed and who was detained by ICE and placed in deportation proceedings just minutes after participating in a rally to protest immigration raids.

The Trump administration terminated the DACA program this past September. A fraction of the nearly 800,000 young people with DACA were allowed to apply to renew it during a short, one-month window. While some were able to renew their DACA in that time, at least 1,900 people had their applications wrongly rejected due to problems with the mail. Others had applications rejected because of small clerical-type errors, or because they couldn’t pull together enough funds in such a short amount of time to pay the nearly $500 renewal application fee. To date, over 15,000 people have lost their DACA status and, with it, their temporary protection from deportation and their ability to provide from themselves and their families.

Back on “The Fosters,” Ximena finds sanctuary in a local church. Many religious institutions have bravely decided to stand up against the harsh deportation system. They are supporting their communities’ immigrant members by providing sanctuary and connecting immigrant families at risk of deportation with local immigration attorneys and immigrants’ rights organizations. Under most circumstances, ICE may not enter private spaces, including a church or someone’s home, without a valid search warrant signed by a judge.

But not all undocumented immigrants are able to find sanctuary. That’s why it’s important to know what your rights are and what to do if ICE comes looking for you or your family. Ximena had a plan. She knew to check in right away with family members and to reach out to her family’s immigration attorney, whose telephone number she had memorized. You can also locate a family member who’s been detained by searching online, and you can connect with a local nonprofit immigrants’ rights organization to get support. If you witness an immigration raid or see someone being detained by ICE, you can record ICE’s or the police’s actions, but do so from a safe distance and without getting in the way of the officers.

Fortunately, there is a solution for people such as Ximena and her family. Congress has an opportunity to pass the Dream Act, a bill that would grant legal status to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and for whom this country is the only home they’ve ever known. Congress is currently negotiating with the White House on what will be included in the Dream Act, and the goal is to see the bill become law soon. But we need to let Congress know that we demand the Dream Act so that families like Ximena’s won’t be torn apart!

It’s important to raise the visibility of immigrants caught up by the deportation system. Using social media like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube is one way to get the word out about the Dream Act and people like Ximena who are as American as anyone else. We cannot stand by while thousands of children are separated from their parents. People rallied outside of the church where Ximena took refuge and shamed ICE into leaving. We need to make immigrants’ stories even more visible!

Callie and AJ stepped in to help Ximena when she was in need, and the Fosters were there when Callie needed them most. It’s important to have a support network when you and your family are caught up in the broken immigration system. The Fosters stepped up for Ximena. Let’s all step up for our immigrant friends and family by making sure that Congress passes the Dream Act now!


Congress Has Two Weeks to Pass the Dream Act

December 7, 2017

Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Congress Has Two Weeks to Pass the Dream Act

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders reported they had a good meeting today at the White House, and the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate also approved a short-term spending bill early this evening.

In response to these developments, Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Leaders in both parties should recognize two things: Our country needs to address the situation facing Dreamers urgently, and the solution is both simple and politically popular across party lines. It’s now time for our country’s leadership to do its job.

“The time to fight for the Dream Act is now. The government has two more weeks to come up with a solution for immigrant youth, and we will use every remaining moment to fight for our friends, families, and coworkers.

“While some lawmakers continue disingenuously to say that we have months to resolve this crisis, thousands of young people have already lost their ability to live and work without fear of being deported. One of those people, Maria Rivas, from New York, submitted a renewal application that was rejected because someone misread her check as being filed in 2012, rather than 2017. Maria and thousands of people like her can’t wait.

“Congress has an opportunity to do something good for our nation. They should take it. We need a Dream Act now.”



Plaintiffs and Counsel Respond to Supreme Court Canceling Oral Arguments in Muslim Ban Case

September 25, 2017

Adela de la Torre, NILC: 213-400-7822,
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP: 646-459-3081,
Gabe Cahn, HIAS: 202-412-1678,

Plaintiffs and Counsel Respond to Supreme Court Canceling Oral Arguments in Muslim Ban Case

WASHINGTON Today, the Supreme Court removed Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project from the oral argument calendar. The parties are now required to submit briefs by October 5 to determine the impact of last night’s proclamation amending the previous executive order.

In response to these developments, plaintiffs and counsel in Trump v. IRAP issued the following statements:

Mariko Hirose, litigation director of the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center:
“We vowed to fight the Muslim ban in all of its iterations. The president’s most recent proclamation is merely a continuation of the Muslim ban executive order, and we plan to continue to challenge the government’s discriminatory and unconstitutional policy in any way we can.”

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees and a plaintiff:
“This ban was wrong on January 27, it was wrong on March 6, and it’s wrong now. HIAS and our supporters in the American Jewish community will always oppose the unfair targeting of vulnerable communities because we know from our own history what it’s like to be singled out in the name of national security.”

Beth Baron, president of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA):
“We will continue to stand with our fellow plaintiffs in opposition to Muslim ban 3.0. This most recent iteration of the ban continues to harm our student and faculty members by disrupting travel, research, and the free exchange of ideas. It is grounded in unconstitutional discrimination against Muslim Americans and violates our core beliefs.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), co-counsel in the case:
“Our goal from the start has been clear: We will work — inside and outside the courtroom — to make sure there is no Muslim ban ever. We will collaborate with our Muslim community leaders and all the affected communities to make sure our country rejects this hateful and divisive policy.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project:
“This action by the Supreme Court is not surprising given the government’s decision to issue a new version of the ban at the eleventh hour. Both sides will address the implications of that new ban order for the existing case in written submissions to the court. The ban has been repeatedly held unconstitutional and illegal by the courts, and those decisions remain in place today.”



Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: New NILC Report Looks at Cooperation Between Local Law Enforcement and Federal Agencies

Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: New NILC Report Looks at Cooperation Between Local Law Enforcement and Federal Agencies

By NILC staff
Sept. 22, 2017

Immigrants are caught in a complex and opaque web of databases, related systems, and information-sharing mechanisms that make it easier for immigration enforcement to disrupt their lives and prevent them from fully participating in economic and social life in the United States.

These databases, systems, and mechanisms often depend on the entanglement of state and local law enforcement or licensing agencies with federal immigration and law enforcement agencies.

Advocates, including NILC, have raised many concerns about how these databases and information-sharing mechanisms work. President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) implementation memos will expand immigration enforcement dramatically without due process protections, increase state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, and undermine federal Privacy Act guarantees.

We took a closer look at these entanglements between immigration and law enforcement and outlined what we found in our new report, Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: Basic Information for Advocates about Databases and Information-Sharing Among Federal, State, and Local Agencies. This report describes how some of these databases and information-sharing networks work but also outlines actions local advocates can take to minimize these entanglements.

Below are some highlights of the report:

  • The FBI’s Next Generation Identification database and DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System are interoperable, meaning fingerprints of an arrested person may be checked against both databases.
  • State and local law enforcement have access to federal databases that contain civil immigration information, while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has access to local law enforcement databases that allow it to identify immigrants who have been arrested. Jails also often give ICE agents access to jails, along with lists of people being held.
  • Informal contact also exists among all these agencies. An example of this might be a local police officer contacting ICE regarding a stopped driver if they suspect the driver is undocumented.
  • Local, state, and federal gang databases also interact. These databases identify certain people as gang members, often without much reason, and may include photos and other information. ICE even started its own gang database in 2010. Because gang members have long been considered a priority for immigration enforcement, being identified as a gang member or someone who “associates” with gang members can have dramatic consequences for immigrants.
  • Mobile biometrics technologies, such as mobile fingerprinting and iris scans, may be used by ICE agents on people “encountered” during investigations, in violation of legal standards established by the Fourth Amendment, such as probable cause. This can result in so-called “collateral” arrests of people who were not originally targeted. This biometric information is also kept in databases, even for people who were not arrested.
  • ICE has used department of motor vehicles (DMV) records to locate individuals for immigration enforcement purposes and has used DMVs’ technological capacities, such as facial recognition software, to identify and locate targets. ICE has also asked DMVs to “run” license plates at particular addresses in order to determine the identities of residents there.

Though these potentially unconstitutional information-sharing mechanisms are disturbing, there are many ways advocates can fight back, including pressuring local governments to stop these types of cooperation among agencies, alerting media to individual stories of discrimination, filing lawsuits, and more. There are also ways to file complaints directly with the agencies when they improperly use biometrics devices, and local governments should also be asked to ensure that Privacy Act standards apply to noncitizens.

More details on these databases and information-sharing systems—along with more ideas on how to fight back—can be found in the report.


They Risked Everything for a Shot at the American Dream. Now, We Must Stand Up and Defend Them.

They Risked Everything for a Shot at the American Dream; Now We Must Stand Up and Defend Them

By Kamal Essaheb, NILC director of policy and advocacy
September 7, 2017

This week President Trump shut the door on nearly a million young people, and didn’t even have the courage to face their questions. This callous and immoral decision that requires all of us who choose to be on the right side of history to speak out and let our elected leaders know that this is not the type of country we want to be.

Trump chose to put hundreds of thousands young immigrants across the country in peril by announcing an imminent end to the undeniably successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

For five years, DACA has allowed these youth, often referred to as “dreamers,” to come forward and pursue the same educational, professional and life opportunities available to anyone who grew up in the U.S. It is up to all of us to ensure that these protections remain in place. We must continue to raise our voices and tell our representatives in Congress to swiftly pass the Dream Act of 2017.

This is a defining moment for our country. Trump again gave in to his anti-immigrant advisors and base, putting politics above people—hate over reason. He chose to pull the rug out from under nearly a million people who are working, studying and contributing to their communities. In doing so, he is putting their families, their livelihood and their sense of security and belonging in this country at stake.

Trump’s decision to end DACA is the latest in an abhorrent pattern of immoral and, in many cases, unlawful attacks on immigrants, communities of color, and other disenfranchised Americans. Following his comments on Charlottesville and the pardoning of Joe Arpaio, Trump has again made it clear that white supremacists have their greatest ally in the White House. We cannot let this disgusting vision for America’s future to prevail.

Faced with yet another unconscionable act by Trump, we are ready to fight with the brave young people and allies who fought for and won DACA. But we are much stronger when people from all walks of life get involved. Whether you’re a teacher, nurse, coach, or a local leader, now is the time to stand side by side with dreamers and up for what’s right.

DACA recipients did everything we asked them to do. They voluntarily came forward, provided information, paid a fee and went through background checks. They relied on a promise by the federal government to allow them to live and work here, and keep their information safe. We must all keep the government from reneging on that promise. And we must not allow Trump to use the lives of these young people to advance his own agenda.


Dreamers’ Stories Show What Would Be Lost if DACA Were to End

Dreamers’ Stories Show What Would Be Lost if DACA
Were to End

By NILC staff
August 25, 2017

Getting a driver’s license, finding a job, going to college—these are milestones in life that most of us take for granted, but for more than 800,000 young people, these things are only possible because of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

We asked DACA recipients, along with their friends and family members, to tell us what DACA means for them. The responses poured in, and the message was plain: DACA changes lives.

Fatima, for instance, was able to launch a successful career in interior design in New York City after getting DACA, and Yanet got her nursing assistant license and started working in an acute rehabilitation facility in Arizona.

Maria, of Phoenix, bought a home and started her own business, and Shahrzad loves paying taxes because she’s proud to contribute to her country.

DACA recipients are part of the everyday fabric of our communities. They’re hair stylists, software developers, dental hygienists, and more. To pull the rug from under their feet would not only be absurdly cruel, it would undermine the whole economy. Reports estimate that ending DACA could reduce the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $433.4 billion over the next 10 years, but that doesn’t even begin to touch the personal losses people could suffer if families are torn apart.

With rumors again circulating that the Trump administration may soon end DACA, it is more important than ever to share these stories and remind everyone how critical this program is for individuals and our communities. We urge everyone to share these stories, and their own, with the hashtag #DefendDACA. There’s no time to waste. DACA is under real threat, and we must show that we won’t let it go without a hell of a fight.

You can find the DACA stories we’ve collected so far here. We continue to add more daily, so check back often.


NILC Response to Reports of Possible End to DACA

August 24, 2017

Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822

NILC Response to Reports of Possible End to DACA

WASHINGTON — News media reported today that the Trump administration is seriously considering ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA allows immigrant youth who meet certain requirements to live and work in the U.S. temporarily. Since the program started in 2012, it has had a transformative impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth and their communities, and tremendous benefits for our country as a whole.

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

“If Trump decides to end the successful DACA program, it would signal that he has decided to follow the advice of the more extremist voices in the White House and appeal to the white supremacists in his base rather than to courageously lead in this moment. For more than five years, DACA has improved the lives not just of the young people who benefit from it, but of millions more who live and work with immigrant youth each and every day.

“During more than seven months of being operative during the Trump administration, the DACA program has worked just as well as it did under the Obama administration. Trump’s possible decision to bend to the will of a few state attorneys general who gave him a legal ultimatum would be shortsighted politically, economically, and societally.

“After so much damage, Trump has an opportunity to do the right thing by keeping this program in place. He shouldn’t squander it.

“DACA has been a lifeline for nearly 800,000 young people who have been able to flourish because the federal government gave them a chance to live, study, work, and grow in the country they call home, without the fear of being deported. We will use every tool available inside and outside the courtroom to protect the rights of DACA recipients and all of our immigrant family and community members.”

# # #


On Its Fifth Anniversary, Let’s Celebrate and #DefendDACA!

On Its Fifth Anniversary, Let’s Celebrate and #DefendDACA!

By Michelle Saucedo, NILC summer intern
August 15, 2017

Happy fifth DACA anniversary!

I cautiously celebrate this milestone as I recognize DACA’s success, while grappling with the concern about its possible rescission and what that could mean to so many people in this country. Since DACA’s implementation in 2012, over 800, 000 people have benefited from it, getting a chance to work with authorization, along with a reprieve from the threat of deportation.

Although its benefits are granted only for a renewable period of two years, many people took a chance on the program, putting their faith in the same government that had failed to deliver on immigration reform and continued to separate families. DACA was not the ultimate goal or desired solution, but it was a welcome reprieve for so many undocumented people who yearned to move ahead and provide for themselves, their families, and the country they call home.

While I was a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)–accredited representative at Asian Americans Advancing Justice–L.A., I had the privilege of assisting DACA applicants and their families and got to learn about the life-changing opportunities that having deferred action brought them. I witnessed families sacrifice their savings so their child could apply. I felt the determination of applicants who continued their GED classes while working full time. I saw their hope that all these investments would be worthwhile. Now, working as a summer law clerk at NILC, I continue to see the resilience of this population and their allies.

The mental, emotional, and financial investments in DACA proved worthwhile for Naomi (not her actual name). As a high school senior, she was set to graduate several months before she and her parents decided to move forward with her DACA application. She had been accepted to several schools and had received a scholarship to attend a small liberal arts college. However, to make good on its offer, the college needed her to provide a valid Social Security number. After she got DACA, Naomi could show her valid work permit and Social Security number to every school she considered attending, and she now is on track to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. DACA has helped so many like Naomi and thousands of others who’ve been able to obtain higher-paying jobs to support their families, return to school, own a business, practice the career they studied and worked so hard for, and accomplish many other goals.

But since Donald Trump became president, affected people’s and advocates’ DACA-related concerns have shifted dramatically. We’ve gone from working to safeguard DACA’s smooth implementation to fighting back efforts to discredit and dismantle the program. Although the president, when he first took office, stepped back from his campaign promise to repeal DACA—instead indicating that he has sympathy for “Dreamers”—the volatility of his administration and threats to the program made by ten conservative state attorneys general demonstrate clearly that we’ve got to continue to vigorously protect DACA. An end to DACA would not only be a devastating loss to those who currently enjoy its benefits, but also to the U.S. economy. The Center for American Progress (CAP) estimates that ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade and would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy. On the flip side, continuing DACA could increase the estimated yearly contribution of DACA recipients to state and local taxes, to $2.45 billion.

But the main reason to protect DACA is that it would be inhumane to deprive hundreds of thousands of people from the freedom, opportunities, and goals they have had access to because of DACA’s benefits. At a time when nearly 8 in 10 voters, including almost three-quarters of Trump voters, support allowing “Dreamers” to stay in the country, it is important to emphasize that DACA is a policy that has safeguarded immigrant youth and that we still need a permanent solution.

Whether because of political pressure or because their conscience is calling them to do the right thing, several members of Congress have announced bipartisan legislation to protect DACA-eligible people and others who arrived to the U.S. as minors. These new versions of the Dream Act and similar legislation proposing a path for some to regularize their status may seem promising, but while we wait for Congress and the president to come up with a clean, broad legislative solution, it is important we #DefendDACA and its beneficiaries.

DACA taught me so much about the resilience and strength of the community I serve. I’m inspired by the heartfelt words of my former DACA client who said, “We’ve made it this far, and we’ll keep going. We just have to keep fighting.” We definitely must keep fighting—fighting without distractions and without fear. We must defend DACA until we have a real opportunity for permanent change. We must continue to support and stand in solidarity with our immigrant communities and be ready for the challenges to come.

DACA was a win by and for the immigrant community. Let’s remember those lessons of strength as we forge ahead.


Even Though There Are Legal Threats to DACA, There Is Reason to Be Hopeful

Even Though There Are Legal Threats to DACA, There Is Reason to Be Hopeful

By NILC staff
August 4, 2017

Several legal threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have its beneficiaries and prospective applicants understandably worried, but it’s important to remember that there haven’t been any major changes to the program and that, because there’s broad bipartisan support for keeping it, there’s also reason to be hopeful.

The bad news first: There are some legal threats against DACA. One is a threat by ten state attorneys general and one governor, sent in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to amend the U.S. v. Texas lawsuit that challenged the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and expanded DACA (DACA+) programs to also legally challenge the original DACA program. (The Obama administration created DACA in 2012 and announced DAPA and DACA+ in 2014.) The letter says that this threat will be carried out if the federal government doesn’t agree by Sept. 5, 2017, to do away with the 2012 DACA program. Below are some potential scenarios related to this threat.

The federal government decides by September 5, 2017, to rescind the June 15, 2012, DACA memorandum

If the federal government decides to end the DACA program, it would likely be on the terms laid out in the letter to Sessions from the state attorneys general. In that case, after the program is ended, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would issue no new grants or renewals of DACA, and existing grants of DACA and accompanying work permits would expire on their current expiration dates.

The federal government does not rescind the June 15, 2012, DACA memorandum

In their letter to Sessions, the ten state attorneys general said that if the federal government does not agree by Sept. 5, 2017, to rescind the June 15, 2012, memorandum that initiated the DACA program, they will seek to amend their complaint in U.S. v. Texas to add a legal challenge to DACA. It’s possible that they may also seek to have the DACA program preliminarily enjoined (halted) while their case makes its way through the courts.

Texas federal judge Andrew Hanen previously granted Texas’s requested preliminary injunction against the DAPA and DACA+ programs, so he may be willing to do so again with respect to the 2012 DACA program.

We don’t know how long it would take for the court to hear and rule on such a request. It also isn’t certain that Judge Hanen would issue an injunction against DACA as he did with DAPA and DACA+

The U.S. v. Texas court rules on MALDEF’s request that the case be dismissed

On July 28, 2017, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) asked Judge Hanen to dismiss the U.S. v. Texas case. MALDEF argues that, because former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued, on June 15 of this year, a memo that largely rescinds the 2014 memos that created the DAPA and DACA+ programs, there are no issues left to litigate in U.S. v. Texas. If the court were to dismiss the case, that would of course affect any attempt by the ten state attorneys general to carry out their threat against DACA.

Briefing on MALDEF’s request continues. There’s no way to know when the court will rule on MALDEF’s motion or whether the court will deny the motion and allow Texas and its partner states to add to U.S. v. Texas a legal challenge to the original DACA program.

*  *  *

Developments in another case—Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC) v. Brewer—may pose another legal threat to DACA.

This case was filed just after the DACA program was announced, when the then governor of Arizona issued an order whose effect was to make DACA recipients ineligible for driver’s licenses. In January 2015, a federal district court in Arizona permanently blocked Arizona’s policy, and that decision was later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Thus, DACA recipients can get drivers licenses in Arizona.

Arizona has now appealed the case to the Supreme Court and is arguing that DACA is unconstitutional. On June 26, 2017, the Court issued an order calling for the views of the U.S. solicitor general as to whether the Court should hear the case. The Court didn’t set a deadline for the solicitor general’s brief, but on average it takes around four months for the solicitor general to file such a brief. Here are some possible scenarios.

The solicitor general recommends that the Supreme Court not take the case

Although DACA was created by the Obama administration, the current solicitor general may choose to continue with the federal government’s previous opinions and tell the Court there’s no need to disturb the Ninth District’s ruling.

However, the solicitor general could recommend, a few months from now, that the Court not take the case because the government has ended the DACA program voluntarily or because the solicitor general knows that the program will soon be terminated.

The solicitor general recommends that the Supreme Court take the case

The solicitor general may recommend that the Supreme Court take the case to resolve once and for all the legal issues about DACA’s constitutionality. Last year the Court was unable to reach a majority decision on whether the DAPA and DACA+ programs were constitutional, and it’s impossible to know now how it might rule if asked to decide about the original DACA program. Last year when it was considering the DAPA and DACA+ case, the Court had only eight justices, but since then Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the Court. So it’s much more likely that there would be a majority decision in ADAC, if the court decides to hear it.

Even if the Court does decide to hear ADAC, it may reach a decision without ruling on DACA’s constitutionality, since it could base its decision on other legal principles.

You can read more about these different legal scenarios here.

While these legal threats to DACA raise concerns, there is also plenty of reason to be hopeful. For one thing, several bipartisan bills have recently been introduced to provide a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients. In truth, they aren’t likely to pass and, if they did, they would probably come with unwanted changes to immigration enforcement policy. However, they do show that there’s broad bipartisan support for DACA recipients, which means that any decision to end DACA would be very politically unpopular.

Stay tuned for updates on DACA and DACA-related legislation. We’ll also be celebrating DACA’s five-year anniversary on Aug. 15 and will continue to highlight all the positive effects DACA has in people’s lives and communities.


From Japanese-American Internment Camps to the Muslim Ban: The Terrible Consequences of Discriminatory Executive Orders

From Japanese-American Internment Camps to the Muslim Ban: The Terrible Consequences of Discriminatory Executive Orders

By John Yuasa, guest blogger
July 27, 2017

“An Executive Order put my family in a Concentration Camp.” That was the sign I carried as I joined thousands of other people at Los Angeles International Airport to protest the executive order of Jan. 27, 2017, that initiated the Trump administration’s Muslim ban.

Let me explain. In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal and incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. People had just a few days to prepare and were permitted to bring only what they could carry. Many families suffered crushing economic losses as they hurriedly sold their farms, homes, and businesses.

At that time, my California-born U.S. citizen parents were expecting their first child—me. My parents, who lived in Oakland, were sent to the Tanforan Assembly Center, a converted racetrack that had about 180 barracks, located just south of San Francisco. Twenty-six of the buildings were converted horse stalls, with cardboard installed in the upper portion of the walls between the stalls. There was no privacy between the families that were living in each stall. The barracks were filthy and fetid—filled with horse flies, fleas, and dried manure and urine smells. Tanforan was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, with armed military police on guard.

Once I was born and able to travel, we were taken by train to the Topaz “Relocation Center,” more accurately described as a prison camp. Topaz held more than 8,000 people in approximately one square mile of land. It was located about 100 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, in an arid desert that varied from over 100 degrees in the summer to below zero in the winter. Strong winds blew sand everywhere, including into the living quarters and everyone’s food. The crudely constructed barracks provided little protection against the extreme weather. The camp was patrolled by 85 to 150 soldiers and was also surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Manned watchtowers with searchlights were placed every quarter mile around the perimeter of the camp.

I had never been back to that site of my infant incarceration, but the recent grand opening of the Topaz Museum, in Delta, Utah, offered me a reason to return. The ceremonies that took place reminded all of us what it is to be free and how hatred, prejudice, and discrimination can enable a government to incarcerate people who have committed no crimes, without any opportunity for legal due process.

In 1942, the government’s position was that national security required this policy on internment. However, in 1982, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians issued its report, which documented a far different reason. In its specific findings and recommendations, it states that the broad historical causes were “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

Now, for no other reasons than prejudice, national security hysteria, and a failure of political leadership, the president has decided that people attempting to escape persecution by coming to the United States present a national security risk—solely for being Muslim. We cannot allow this unconstitutional order to stand. Please join me in being an active participant in our democratic process to ensure that our laws and regulations against discrimination are enforced and, where necessary, strengthened.

John Yuasa is a former Peace Corps volunteer, deputy director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in the Department of Labor, and nonprofit executive.