Category Archives: April 2013

Onerous Exclusions in Draft Immigration Reform Bill

April 30, 2013

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]
Gebe Martinez, 703-731-9505, [email protected]

Immigration: Onerous Exclusions Threaten Success of Proposed Reforms

Is Senate trying to create road to citizenship or speedway to deportation?

WASHINGTON — As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins work to amend the Senate immigration reform bill, leaders of national immigrants’ rights advocacy groups urged lawmakers to remove significant hurdles in the draft bill that would keep countless immigrants from achieving legal status and citizenship.

During a conference call with the news media, leaders of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Immigrant Justice Network (IJN), Mi Familia Vota (MFV), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) agreed the bipartisan Senate bill is a monumental first step in reforming immigration and creating a road to citizenship, but it is loaded with work and income requirements, fees, eligibility restrictions, and other roadblocks that undermine the goal of legalizing immigrants now living and working in the shadows.

“We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to carefully consider whether they are trying to create a road to citizenship that is direct, broad, and inclusive, or whether the many roadblocks will threaten the success of immigration reform,” said NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié, who moderated the call.

Among the unrealistic provisions that would block a person’s application:

  • Applicants must prove they have resources at 125 percent of the federal poverty level, a requirement that is too high for those who work multiple jobs at very low wages and struggle to make ends meet.
  • Applicants must prove regular employment, a difficult requirement for those who work temporary jobs, such as day laborers or domestic workers who take care of children and older adults.
  • Fees and fines that would have to be paid at various points in the legalization and citizenship program would consume months of pay for just one person.
  • The financial burden is compounded by the proposal to not allow successful applicants to receive health care under the Affordable Care Act.
  • The cutoff date of Dec. 31, 2011, for eligibility is arbitrary and would automatically leave out hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
  • Because of inadequate due process or judicial discretion rights in the current law and proposed bill, immigrants are still not entitled to have a fair day in court. Some provisions would increase the likelihood that an immigrant will end up in immigration court rather than on a road to legalization and citizenship.

“This bill requires major work to make sure the ultimate law is fair, practical and realistic,” said CHIRLA Executive Director Angelica Salas. “We want the path to citizenship to be real; we don’t want it to be a mirage.”

The Senate’s “Gang of 8” proposal “punishes people for being poor, the working poor,” said Kevin Appleby, director of the Immigrant Defense Project for the Conference of Bishops. “Many Americans would have a hard time meeting some of these costs.”

“Immigrants who have legal violations on their record are held to a stricter legal standard in immigration court and yet have limited legal rights,” said Alisa Wellek, deputy director of the Immigrant Defense Project and partner with the Immigrant Justice Network. “Immigration judges should have the right to consider the age of the violation, restitution or other corrective measures already performed, military service by legal permanent residents, etc. Immigration judges should be allowed to judge.”

Also on the call was Alexander Ndaula, 32, a native of South Africa who grew up in Uganda and came to the U.S. 17 years ago. He now has a conviction for a nonviolent offense that is keeping him from gaining legal status and citizenship. “I have a wife and child born in the U.S. But I am in limbo. I have lived here more than half of my life, but I do not yet see a solution to help me fix my status,” Ndaula said.

Francisco Heredia, MFV’s National Field Director, said their offices in states with high Latino populations continue to hear concerns from community members about mistreatment of immigrant workers by employers, family separations under current immigration law and excessive law enforcement. MFV is sponsoring rallies on Wednesday throughout the U.S. to remind lawmakers that immigration reform needs to be fair.

Latino community members “are optimistic, but they know that we need to lift our voices up to makes sure we make this bill a strong bill for our community,” Heredia said.

Listen to the news conference at


Cert Denied in Alabama Case

April 29, 2013

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, 213-400-7822, [email protected]
Apreill Hartsfield, Southern Poverty Law Center, 334-782-6624, [email protected]
Isabel Alegria, ACLU national, 415-343-0785, [email protected]

Supreme Court Rejects Alabama’s Request to Review the State’s Anti-immigrant Law

Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court Ruling Blocking Law’s Criminalizing Acts of Kindness Remains in Place

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the state of Alabama’s request to review a provision of the state’s anti-immigrant law that was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit last year.

In February, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the provision of the law that criminalizes neighborly acts of kindness, or Section 13, the “harboring and transporting” provision. This provision criminalized individuals who engaged in routine daily activities with undocumented immigrants.

The circuit court has blocked most of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law as unconstitutional, including provisions that would have chilled Latino student access to Alabama elementary schools.

Last summer, the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s SB 1070, which served as a model for the Alabama law. The Court ruled that much of the Arizona law was unconstitutional because it interfered with federal authority over immigration.

“The Supreme Court has rightly struck another nail in the coffin of laws that attempt to sanction racial profiling,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. “Alabama’s legislators, both at the state and at the federal levels should take note: they, like the rest of the country, should move forward, not backward, to bring our immigration laws in line with our societal and economic needs.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case was expected,” said Sam Brooke, staff attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The high court invalidated most of Arizona’s immigration law last year, stating unequivocally that immigration is a federal issue and states may not create their own enforcement schemes. That is why the lower courts already blocked Alabama’s law.” Mr. Brooke further noted, “We need meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform from Washington, D.C. Hopefully the lessons learned from H.B. 56 will motivate Congress to act quickly to address this pressing issue.”

“The Supreme Court made the right decision not to hear this case,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “All the lower federal courts — and the court of public opinion — have said no to divisive state laws like this one, and Americans have moved on  to support immigration reform that creates a new common sense immigration system.

The Eleventh Circuit has also blocked the following provisions of the law:

  • Section 11, which criminalized day laborers’ first amendment right to solicit work; and
  • Section 28, which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K-12 students.

The civil rights organizations involved in HICA v. Bentley, the class-action challenge to Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, include the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, and LatinoJustice-PRLDEF.

More information about HICA v. Bentley is available at

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Immigration Reform in Congress

April 25, 2013

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

While Senate Lays Groundwork for Bipartisan Immigration Reform, House Members Attempt Retread of Partisan Politics

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee formally opened discussion about the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 this morning. As expected, amendments to the legislation, which was introduced last week by a bipartisan group of eight senators, won’t be considered until May 9. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today marked the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a thorough amendment session on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill. As Senator Schumer noted, this bill isn’t perfect. We hope the markup session scheduled for most of May will improve the bill by making a road to citizenship achievable for all aspiring citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

“As Senator Klobuchar noted, although the bill is complicated, senators need to read only 40 pages of it per day to ensure that they are fully prepared for the next stage in its legislative process. Furthermore, she reminded her colleagues that although this bill is new, the issues are the same ones they dealt with six years ago, because Congress has failed to act. We agree.

“Unfortunately, the show of bipartisanship did not extend to other side of the Capitol. Shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Goodlatte and a few colleagues attempted to peddle a retread of failed, partisan politics as their version of a “solution” to fix our broken immigration system. It appears that some members of the House of Representatives failed to understand the message delivered by millions of Latino and Asian American voters in 2012: We are tired of playing politics on immigration, an issue that affects our families, communities and economy. We urge Rep. Goodlatte and others to join his colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to enact commonsense immigration reform that creates a direct and inclusive road to citizenship.”

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NILC Responds to Senate Immigration Reform Bill

April 17, 2013

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

National Immigration Law Center Responds to Introduction of Immigration Reform Bill

WASHINGTON — The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” U.S. senators today introduced a bill (the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act) that, if enacted, would represent the largest-scale change to the nation’s immigration laws in more than 25 years. The plan includes a road to citizenship for immigrants who have been in the country without authorization since before Dec. 31, 2011, and proposes to reduce visa backlogs for those who have been waiting for years to be reunited with their loved ones. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today, senators delivered on their months-long promise to finally come up with a plan to bring our country’s immigration laws in line with our societal needs and economic well-being. This historic proposal would create a road to citizenship for many of the millions of aspiring citizens who have lived and worked in this country for decades. The bill would also lift the specter of deportation from millions more families who face the constant fear that their undocumented loved one is one traffic ticket away from deportation. If enacted, this law would bring our legal reality in line with what we all already know: that the 11 million people living and working in this country without papers are a fundamental part of the fabric of our nation’s society.

“As with all bipartisan legislation, this bill contains many compromises, some of which may have been made in hopes of strengthening the chances that this legislation would ultimately become law. Unfortunately, many of these compromises threaten the health and stability of immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members by excluding them from our most important health care and social insurance programs or by requiring U.S. employers to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system that is much more likely to hurt authorized immigrant workers than native-born workers. We should not sacrifice sound public policy at the altar of political expedience.

“This bill introduction is merely the first act of what will undoubtedly be a long political play. We will work with policymakers, advocates, and community members each and every step of the way to hold these legislators — and the rest of Washington — to their promises to finally bring our immigration laws in line with our values for fairness, equality, and justice. Current and aspiring citizens deserve nothing less, and our country can and must do better than the status quo.”

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