Category Archives: August 2012

Report: Racial Profiling in Alabama

August 28, 2012

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

New Report Uncovers Depth of Humanitarian Crisis Caused by Alabama’s Draconian Anti-Immigrant Law

Analysis of Thousands of Calls to Legal Hotline Shows Widespread Racial Profiling in the Wake of HB 56

LOS ANGELES — Calls to a legal hotline in the months after Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law went into effect demonstrate the disastrous consequences that a law like HB 56 has on all segments of society, according to a new report released by the National Immigration Law Center today. The report provides an overview of the more than 6,000 calls that were made to the hotline, which was hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center and staffed by a coalition of civil rights organizations immediately after a federal district court allowed the majority of HB 56 to take effect. The report focuses on three specific types of abuse: racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement, discrimination at workplaces and other public places, and HB 56’s effect on Alabama schoolchildren.

“While much has been made of the economic impact of a racist law like HB 56, precious little has been said about the human cost of laws that discriminate against specific ethnic groups,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center and co-author of the report. “Hotline callers have reported that they have been singled out at the doctor’s office, in the workplace, and at the local Wal-Mart, simply because of the way they look or sound. This type of behavior – and laws that implicitly condone it – is beneath our most fundamental values for fairness and equality, and should be rejected by all Americans.”

The report profiles the story of one hotline caller who had called the police to report that someone had vandalized his small business. Instead of investigating the crime, however, the responding police officer began to ask questions about whether the wife of businessman – a lawful resident – had authorization to live in the United States.

The legal hotline, which is housed at the Southern Poverty Law Center and staffed by volunteers from the Center as well as volunteers from the National Immigration Law Center, ACLU, MALDEF, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, has received more than 6,000 calls to date. These organizations are part of a larger coalition that challenged HB 56 in July 2011. The challenge has led federal courts to block most of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, though the dangerous provision forcing police officers to demand “papers” of those they suspect may be in the country without authorization remains in effect.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only national legal advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants. NILC uses a variety of tools, including policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to advance this mission. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental civil rights, thwarted policies that would have devastated the lives of low-income immigrants and their family members, and advanced major policies that reinforce our nation’s values of equality and justice for all.

To download a copy of the report, visit

To speak with an author of the report or one of the callers profiled in the report, please contact Adela de la Torre at 213-674-2832 or [email protected].



Court Blocks Most Provisions of GA HB 87 & AL HB 56

August 20, 2012

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

Federal Court Blocks Most Provisions of Georgia and Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Laws

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court today blocked most of the challenged provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws. Significantly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that section 28 of Alabama’s law, which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K-12 students, violates the Equal Protection Clause and could interfere with children’s constitutional right to education. The court also blocked the registration and contracts provisions found in Alabama’s law, HB 56. In the Georgia ruling, the court determined that a section criminalizing transporting or harboring of immigrants was not permissible.

In both the Georgia and Alabama cases, the court issued a narrow ruling allowing the “show me your papers” provisions of HB 56 and HB 87 to remain in or go into effect, but leaving open the possibility of future challenges on civil rights or due process grounds.

“Today’s decisions send a strong message that state attempts to criminalize immigrants and their loved ones will not be tolerated,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Alabamian children can now start the new school year without fear that their citizenship will be questioned, and Georgians can continue to give neighbors and friends a ride without first asking for their “papers.” Although we are disappointed that the racial profiling provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s law have not been blocked, we will continue to fight them both within and outside the courtroom.”

“We are pleased that this ruling has sent a strong message to Alabama and other states that they cannot enact hate-filled laws to try to drive an entire class of people from their borders,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the SPLC. “We are thrilled that students returning to schools this week will return to safer and more welcoming environments. We will continue to challenge the provisions left in place because, as we have already seen in Alabama, these laws cannot be enforced without racial profiling.”

Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The court today rejected many parts of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws, including attempts to criminalize everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants and Alabama’s callous attempt to deprive some children of their constitutional right to education. The court explicitly left the door open to further challenges against the “show me your papers” provision, which we will continue to fight in order to protect people’s constitutional rights.”

The coalition includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Georgia, the Mexican American Legal and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the ACLU of Alabama, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.



NILC Partnering in “Own the Dream / Únete al Sueño”

August 7, 2012

As Deferred Action Becomes DREAMers’ Reality, National Immigration Law Center Joins New Campaign to Help Thousands of Immigrants Who Arrived as Children

WASHINGTON – The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is today partnering with the United We Dream (UWD) Network to launch “Own the Dream/Únete al Sueño,” a national campaign aimed at helping hundreds of thousands of aspiring young Americans brought to this country as children to request “deferred action,” or temporary relief from deportation. The deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program was announced by President Obama on June 15, 2012, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting deferred action requests on August 15.

Specifically, the Own the Dream campaign will ensure that there is a national and local infrastructure to support DREAMers who are eligible for this opportunity so they can stay in the United States to complete their education and contribute to the economy. NILC will help the campaign by ensuring that accurate information and trusted legal assistance is provided to DREAMers and their families.

At a press conference this morning, NILC DC Director Don Lyster spoke about the Own the Dream campaign’s effort to ensure legal services to as many DREAMers as possible.

“We are proud to join the United We Dream Network and other DREAM activists in launching this critical campaign. NILC, along with our Own the Dream partners at American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-NIP), and other organizations, are developing a comprehensive strategy, including a centralized website and a toll-free national hotline, to ensure affordable, high-quality legal services for as many DREAMers as possible.”

Beginning August 25, the campaign will host a series of application center events for DREAMers who want to submit a request for deferred action under the new guidelines, with campaign partners providing each applicant on-site legal advice from attorneys and the launch of a website to facilitate the application process.

Other campaign partners include AILA, CLINIC, National Council of La Raza, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, America’s Voice Education Fund, NLG-NIP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, American Immigration Council, Immigration Advocates Network, PICO Network, Mi Familia Vota,, Farmworker Justice, Service Employees International Union, and AFL-CIO.



Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

August 3, 2012


Guidance on Deferred Action Requests Provides Clarity for Those Seeking Relief

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced guidance to better inform American immigrant youth who could qualify for deferred action, a form of immigration relief that would allow these individuals to lawfully work in the country they call home. Below is a statement from Don Lyster, the National Immigration Law Center’s DC director:

“The Obama administration has provided much- needed additional information about the deferred action application process. It is evident that a lot of careful thought and consideration went into these guidelines, which should better inform those who plan to request deferred action on and after August 15.

“DREAMers, the primary group impacted by this policy change, should remember that although these guidelines provide clarity on the request process, the request process is still not open. Do NOT allow yourself to become a victim of notario fraud: no one can request deferred action until August 15. Any claims made otherwise are false.

“We look forward to continuing to work with DREAMers, attorneys, advocates, and the administration to ensure that this important policy is implemented fairly, vigorously and uniformly across the country.”

Some of the most valuable information found in the guidelines informs advocates and DREAMers about:

Fees. Those who request deferred action should expect to pay $465, which includes a $380 fee for the employment authorization application and an $85 fee for fingerprints. Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances.

Confidentiality of personal information. USCIS has maintained that it will share information about applicants with immigration enforcement authorities only when issues of fraud, national security, or conviction are present. Otherwise, confidentiality of the requestor will be maintained.

Currently in school. To meet the “currently in school” criterion for deferred action, you must be enrolled in school on the date you submit your request.

Clarification on Criminality. Those who have committed ‘status offenses,’ or been penalized for offenses that are tied to their immigration status (e.g., crimes created by anti-immigrant laws like SB 1070) will not be disqualified from deferred action.

Travel. If you travel outside of the United States after August 15, 2012, you aren’t eligible for consideration.  However, if USCIS approves your request for deferred action, you will be permitted to travel outside of the United States if you apply for and receive advance parole from USCIS.  Advance parole allows an individual to leave the United States for humanitarian, business, and education reasons.

The National Immigration Law Center will continually update its website with the latest information about deferred action. Please visit for the latest information about this policy.

The National Immigration Law Center has played a leading role in the DREAM movement since the first introduction of the DREAM Act in 2001. In 2008, NILC became the anchor organization for the United Dream Network, which is the largest immigrant youth–led organization working to obtain a path to citizenship and improve access to higher education for undocumented immigrant youth in the nation.

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