Category Archives: April 2011

EEOC Sues to Vindicate Guest Workers’ Rights

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

EEOC Sues to Vindicate Guest Workers’ Rights

WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Signal International, a major Mississippi marine fabrication company, for its discrimination, segregation, and subjugation of hundreds of Indian guest workers after Hurricane Katrina.  The action is a major victory for Indian guest workers, who have fought for their labor rights since 2007.  Below is a statement from Emily Tulli, employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center:

“By filing its lawsuit against Signal International, the EEOC has rightly declared that employers cannot successfully use immigration law to hide abusive behavior. This is an important victory for all immigrant workers, who often suffer immoral and illegal behavior at the hands of employers. Exploiting the broken immigration system, these egregious employers use violence and retaliation to keep workers from asserting their rights.

“The lawsuit is a direct result of the heroic organizing efforts performed by Indian guestworkers who were held by Signal International, many of whom are members of the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity. By speaking out everywhere — from the so-called “man camps” where the workers were held, to the halls of Congress — these workers have shed light on the abusive behavior they and countless other guest workers endure at the hands of these bad-apple employers.

“The lawsuit also is yet another indication that Congress must act now to finally ensure that workers’ labor rights are not trumped by immigration law. Through passage of the POWER Act this session, Congress has the opportunity to send a message to exploitative employers and workers alike. The act would help ensure that the subjugation experienced by the Indian guest workers — and thousands of workers across our nation — will end, and we urge representatives to ensure that our basic workplace rights do not suffer at the hands of our broken immigration system.”

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One Year Later, SB 1070 Serves as a Warning

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

One Year Later, SB 1070 Serves as a Warning

LOS ANGELES, Calif. —  One year ago today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, a racial profiling law targeting immigrant communities, into law.  Although significant portions of the law have been blocked by the courts, lawmakers in several states across the country are attempting to enact similar legislation during the 2011 legislative year.  Utah’s governor already has signed such a bill into law, and a similar measure is on Georgia Governor Deal’s desk for his approval.  Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“One year after Governor Brewer signed the misguided racial profiling law, Arizona has seen millions in lost tourism revenue, engaged multiple lawsuits, and suffered a tremendous blow to their reputation.  Arizona’s efforts to defend this unconstitutional law have so far been fruitless:  the courts have protected fundamental constitutional values by blocking key portions of the law before it was able to trample the rights of countless Arizonans of color.

“Many of us, from California to Kentucky, watched in horror as our own legislators introduced Arizona copycat legislation.  Thankfully, in many states, communities have joined together to declare a collective ‘¡Basta!’ to such racial profiling legislation.  Unfortunately, Utah has chosen to join Arizona on its divisive path, and a few states, including Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, threaten to follow suit.

“Utah, Alabama, Florida, and others should closely examine Arizona’s current financial and social situation.  The choice is theirs:  They can embrace immigrant integration and community cohesion, or they can choose the politics of divisiveness and find themselves as targets of economic boycotts and subject to costly litigation in the near future.”

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Georgia Should Veto Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

Georgia Risks Walking Down Divisive Path

LOS ANGELES, Calif. —  Today, the Georgia legislature passed HB 87, a piece of legislation that draws from Arizona’s ill-conceived racial profiling law, SB 1070.  If signed by Governor Deal, the bill would lead to increased racial profiling and negatively affect Georgia’s economy.  Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

Despite its long history as the epicenter of the civil rights movement, Georgia is threatening to effectively strip countless Georgians of their fundamental rights.  If signed by Governor Deal, Georgia will become the third ‘papers please’ state—following in the footsteps of Arizona and Utah.  People of color will be subjected to state-sanctioned racial profiling, interrogation, and unlawful detention if this bill is enacted.

“Georgia’s governor has a choice: he can sign this deeply misguided law and polarize his state or he can reject such attempts to score political points at the expense of Georgia’s economy and community.  If HB 87 becomes law, Georgia will be thrown back to the days in which recently freed African Americans were subjected to a ‘papers please’ society when African Americans suffered under the Slave Papers.

“The dangers posed by HB 87 are not just moral. They are practical as well. Law enforcement officers across the country have declared that harsh legislation that attacks immigrants and erodes trust between immigrant communities and those charged with serving them, threatening public safety for everyone.

“Arizona’s business leaders have testified about the disastrous economic consequences that SB 1070 has had on their industries.  And prominent civil rights groups have promised to boycott Georgia’s new racial profiling law.  Furthermore, the bill would mandate E-Verify, sending Georgia down the same perilous economic path as Arizona, a state that has mandated the use of this flawed employment verification system and ranks near the bottom of almost every economic indicator. This isn’t the type of legislation Georgians can afford.

“The choice is clear, Governor Deal.  We must learn from Georgia’s rich civil rights history.  And we must not return to its painful past.  It’s time to show the country that the race-based and unconstitutional policies of hate, engineered in Arizona, have no place in Georgia.”

View an up-to-date map of copycat bills in the 2011 state legislative sessions.

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Senators to Obama: Action Needed on DREAMers

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]

Senators to Obama: Action Needed on DREAMers

WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, 22 senators signed a letter to President Obama urging him to use prosecutorial discretion to prevent undocumented youth who have been raised in the United States from being summarily deported.  Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Senators across the country bravely took a stand to prevent youth who have known no other country from being deported to lands they do not know.  Because of our broken immigration system, these young people live in daily fear of being separated from their friends, family, and country, with no way to change their immigration status.

“This diverse group of senators rightly recognize that President Obama can and should use his executive authority to ensure that these young people — who are American at heart but lack the papers to prove it — are not caught in the immigration enforcement dragnet that has ensnared record members of our communities.  If these young talented students are deported, the entire country loses out.

“During his State of the Union Address, the president unequivocally stated that he was against deporting these highly educated, talented youth.  Unfortunately, because of partisan politics, and a majority vote in both the House and the Senate, the DREAM Act did not pass.  We greatly appreciate the president’s support of the DREAM Act, but because of the bill’s failure to move we join the senators in asking the president to use the power that he has to protect the fate of these young leaders who represent the future of our country.”

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Court Upholds Decision Blocking Racial Profiling Law

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]
Elizabeth Beresford, ACLU national, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666; [email protected]
Alessandra Solar Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 or 418-5499; [email protected]
Laura Rodriguez, MALDEF, (213) 236-3750; [email protected]
B. Loewe, NDLON, (773) 791-4668; [email protected]
Rachanee Srisavasdi, APALC, (949) 892-0305; [email protected]

Other States Considering S.B. 1070 “Copycats” Should Heed The Court’s Ruling, Says Civil Rights Coalition

PHOENIX, Ariz. —  In a major victory for civil rights and civil liberties, a federal appellate court today affirmed the Arizona district court decision to block the most troubling provisions of the state’s racial profiling law,S.B. 1070. After Arizona’s law was passed last April, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state alleging that S.B. 1070 violated the Supremacy Clause on the grounds that it was preempted by federal law. Along with its complaint, the DOJ filed a motion to block implementation of S.B. 1070 until a final decision was made about the law’s constitutionality. In filing the lawsuit, the federal government sent a clear message that it would not tolerate state laws that invite racial stereotyping and profiling and interfere with federal immigration priorities and policies.

The lawsuit brought by the DOJ followed a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center and other civil rights groups challenging the constitutionality of the law. S.B. 1070 requires police to demand “papers” from people they stop who they suspect are “unlawfully present” in the U.S. According to the coalition, the law would subject massive numbers of people – both citizens and non-citizens – to racial profiling, improper investigations and detention. The coalition’s lawsuit charged the extreme law invited the racial profiling of people of color, violated the First Amendment and interfered with federal law.

The civil rights coalition today urged other states considering S.B. 1070 “copycat” laws to heed today’s court ruling and refrain from doing so.

The following quotes can be attributed to members of the coalition, as listed below.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center:

“Today’s decision sends a strong message to Arizona and any other state that is trying to overstep its boundaries by denying the most treasured constitutional rights through anti-immigrant laws. Other states that want to walk down Arizona’s misguided and costly footsteps should take note: state immigration legislation is unconstitutional, as the Court of Appeals now has resoundingly confirmed.”

Omar Jadwat, Staff Attorney, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:

“Today’s decision rightly rejects SB 1070’s assault on the core American values of fairness and equality. Legislators in other states should pay close attention to today’s ringing condemnation of Arizona’s racial profiling law and refrain from going down the same unconstitutional path.”

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF:

“The Ninth Circuit decision stands as a strong warning to any state that is still considering enacting its own unconstitutional regulation of immigration by replicating or expanding upon Arizona’s ill-fated S.B. 1070. Such legislation will only invite costly litigation that will inevitably result in the unconstitutional laws being struck down.”

Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director, ACLU of Arizona:

“As a legal and policy matter, S.B.1070 is a failed experiment that violates our Constitution, invites racial profiling and creates even more distrust between our communities and police. State lawmakers need to abandon efforts to isolate Latino communities in Arizona and focus on collaborations and partnerships needed to re-build Arizona’s economy and reputation.”

Chris Newman, Legal Counsel, National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

“The decision should serve as a warning sign to other states that are considering whether or not to replicate Arizona’s S.B. 1070.”

Yungsuhn Park, Staff Attorney, Asian Pacific American Legal Center:

“This decision affirms that states cannot pass their own immigration schemes targeting immigrants. Arizona’s SB 1070 and other similar state laws are unconstitutional and wrongfully result in the isolation and intimidation of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinos and other communities of color.”

The civil rights coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arizona, MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) – a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP is acting as co-counsel in the case: Bradley S. Phillips, Paul J. Watford, Joseph J. Ybarra, Susan T. Boyd, Yuval Miller, Elisabeth J. Neubauer, and Benjamin Maro Altshuler Berzon LLP: Stephen P. Berzon and Jonathan Weissglass Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega: Daniel R. Ortega, Jr.

Organizations and attorneys on the case, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting et al., include:

ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project: Omar Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag, Cecillia Wang, and Tanaz Moghadam
MALDEF: Thomas A. Saenz, Nina Perales, Victor Viramontes, and Nicholás Espiritu
NILC: Karen Tumlin, Linton Joaquin, Nora A. Preciado, Melissa S. Keaney, and Vivek Mittal
ACLU of Arizona: Dan Pochoda, and Annie Lai
APALC: Yungsuhn Park, Connie Choi, and Carmina Ocampo
NDLON: Chris Newman, Lisa Kung
NAACP: Laura Blackburne
Munger Tolles & Olson LLP: Bradley S. Phillips, Paul J. Watford, Joseph J. Ybarra, Susan T. Boyd, Yuval Miller, Elisabeth J. Neubauer, and Benjamin Maro
Altshuler Berzon LLP: Stephen P. Berzon and Jonathan Weissglass
Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega: Daniel R. Ortega, Jr.

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