Category Archives: August 2016

New York Dreamer Challenges Nationwide Immigration Injunction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Daniel Altschuler, Make the Road New York, daniel.altschuler@maketheroadny.org, 917-494-5922
Will Bloom, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Yale Law School, willem.bloom@clinics.yale.edu, 610-570-0806

COMPLAINT (PDF)

New York Dreamer Challenges Nationwide Immigration Injunction

Suit alleges order by Texas judge not binding in NY, president’s program should proceed

NEW YORK — A first-of-its-kind lawsuit today opened up a new front in the defense of the Obama administration’s 2014 immigration relief initiatives, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (expanded DACA).

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York by Martín Batalla Vidal, a DACA recipient, challenges the reach of the unlawfully broad injunction in United States v. Texas, the case brought by Texas and 25 other states challenging DAPA and expanded DACA. If successful, the new lawsuit would fix a wrongdoing suffered by thousands of DACA recipients who are not party to the Texas case and could reinstate both initiatives in some parts of the country, providing relief for millions of families.

“When I first filed for DACA, I was excited to get a three-year work permit and move forward with my life,” said Batalla Vidal, a member of Make the Road New York who is studying to be a medical assistant and also works to help support his family. “That was taken away by one judge in Texas, and it’s not fair for me and for thousands of others affected. I’m filing this lawsuit for myself and the thousands of others like me who have been wronged by this judge’s decision.”

Batalla Vidal, 25, is a longtime resident of New York who came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was seven years old. He is represented by Make the Road New York (MRNY), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School.

In February 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved Batalla Vidal for a three-year work permit under newly issued rules for DACA. That same month, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the federal district court in Southern Texas, issued an injunction that blocked DAPA and the expansion of DACA nationwide based on claims of incurred costs by Texas. The federal government relied on that injunction to wrongfully revoke three-year work permits that had been issued to thousands of DACA recipients across the country, including to Batalla Vidal.

“Martín and many others like him are being hurt by a lawsuit in which Texas is the only state that any court has said could stand to lose as a result of the DAPA program,” said Melissa Keaney, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “But, the burden of this injunction is painfully real for Martín and the many others impacted. Filing for a renewal of DACA every two years is costly and time-intensive, and it can prevent people from fulfilling academic and professional goals or taking on other major life steps that require advance planning.”

Through this lawsuit, Batalla Vidal seeks reinstatement of his three-year work permit because its revocation on the basis of the overbroad injunction was unlawful. Furthermore, by challenging the scope of the Texas injunction, the lawsuit could lead to the reinstatement of DAPA and expanded DACA for millions of families in states that are not part of the Texas lawsuit.

“The government itself has said the judge in Texas lacked jurisdiction to apply his injunction here in New York,” said Will Bloom, a law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “Judge Hanen has confused Brownsville, Texas, with Brownsville, Brooklyn.”

Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants such as Batalla Vidal who came to the U.S. as children to live and work in the country temporarily if they meet certain eligibility requirements.

In November 2014, the Obama administration sought to build on the success of that initiative by expanding eligibility requirements to more immigrant youth and by creating the DAPA program, which would similarly allow some undocumented parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to live and work in the country temporarily. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security announced that new and renewing DACA applicants would be approved for three- rather than two-year periods. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began issuing three-year work permits that same month.

In December 2014, Texas and 25 other states sued to stop the implementation of DAPA and expansion of DACA. In February 2015, Judge Hanen issued a nationwide injunction blocking both programs. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June of this year deadlocked 4-4 on the case, issuing no decision.

Batalla Vidal’s own home state of New York has attested to the benefits of DACA and DAPA, including before the Supreme Court.

“New York and its leaders have embraced immigrant communities and President Obama’s immigration relief,” said Javier H. Valdes, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “There’s no reason the injunction from Texas should block progress in New York and similar states. It’s time to right the wrong done to these families by Judge Hanen and take long-overdue steps to keep families together.”

Approximately 60 percent of individuals eligible for DAPA and expanded DACA live outside of states involved in the Texas case.

The complaint filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Batalla-Vidal-v-Baren-et-al-complaint-2016-08-25.pdf.

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Court Orders Release of Graphic Photos of Arizona Border Patrol Detention Facilities and Damning Expert Witness Testimony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7524, wfeliz@immcouncil.org
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6007, skilar@acluaz.org
Travis Silva, LCCR, 415-543-9444×207, tsilva@lccr.com
Hayley Home, Morrison & Foerster LLP, 415-268-6021, HHome@mofo.com

Court Orders Release of Graphic Photos of Arizona Border Patrol Detention Facilities and Damning Expert Witness Testimony

Order follows attempts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to keep evidence of unconstitutional detention conditions from the public

LOS ANGELES — Today, groups made public damning evidence, including expert testimony and video stills illustrating the deplorable and unconstitutional conditions detained individuals are subjected to in Border Patrol custody in the agency’s Tucson Sector.

The court rejected the Border Patrol’s effort to conceal evidence of inhumane and abusive detention practices from the public. Accepting the position of the plaintiffs and the Arizona Republic, which intervened to argue for the release of the materials, the court recognized that access to court proceedings and to basic information about governmental practices are fundamental First Amendment rights.

The video stills and expert testimony released today reveal that the Border Patrol holds individuals—among them traumatized asylum-seekers and mothers with infants and small children—for days at a time in cold, overcrowded, and dirty cells that are designed to detain people for only a few hours. Graphic photographs show detainees packed head-to-foot in filthy, overcrowded rooms. One image captures a mother changing an infant’s diaper on a trash-strewn concrete floor.

Also among the unsealed documents is testimony from an expert for the plaintiffs who wrote that, in his 35 years of experience working in correctional facilities, he had “never been in one that treats those confined in a manner that the CBP treats detainees.”

Among other conclusions about the poor treatment of individuals detained in Border Patrol facilities, he said that “[t]he absence of medical screening upon arrival is unthinkable,” and that he had never before witnessed an attempt to “cram” so many people into so little space, without beds and bedding. He concluded, “The CBP [is] housing people in conditions that are unnecessarily harsh, dangerous and contrary to accepted industry practices and standards.”

“Every step the government has taken in response to this lawsuit has been designed to delay this suit and hide the conditions present at these facilities,” said Louise Stoupe of Morrison & Foerster. “The government should be using the resources they are wasting in court to provide basic human necessities to those in its custody.”

“Migrants detained in the Tucson sector have long suffered horrific conditions,” said Dan Pochoda, senior counsel for the ACLU of Arizona. “It is unconscionable that the federal government continues to detain people, including infants, in this manner. The Border Patrol continues to operate in violation of U.S. and international law as well as its own standards without being held accountable for these egregious abuses.”

“These photos show the harm people suffer in these facilities, from having to sleep on the floor for days to needing to huddle together just to stay warm,” said Travis Silva, attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “These conditions should not exist in a facility operated by the United States government.”

“The images unsealed by the court leave no room to debate the fact that thousands of immigrants are subjected to inhumane and unconstitutional conditions by the Border Patrol,” said Nora Preciado, staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “We urgently need meaningful and lasting reforms that put an end to these abuses, hold the agency accountable, and ensure that people are treated with dignity.”

“Mothers should not be forced to change their babies’ diapers on cold concrete floors or warm them with flimsy aluminum sheets. Border Patrol’s treatment of men, women and children in its custody is simply inexcusable,” said Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney for the American Immigration Council. “We are seeking immediate relief from the deplorable detention conditions in CBP holding facilities for the thousands of individuals who are or will be held there while this case progresses.”

In December, attorneys representing the plaintiff class of detained immigrants sought a preliminary injunction to stop the Border Patrol’s unconstitutional detention practices while the case is being litigated. The injunction is based on compelling evidence of inhumane conditions in Tucson facilities—much of which was disclosed after the court sanctioned the Border Patrol for destroying video recordings from these facilities and failing to turn over other relevant documentation.

Jane Doe, et al. v. Johnson, et al. was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Attorneys on the case include Harold J. McElhinny, Colette Reiner Mayer, Louise C. Stoupe, Kevin M. Coles, Pieter S. de Ganon, and Elizabeth Balassone of Morrison & Foerster LLP; Nora Preciado, Linton Joaquin, and Karen C. Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center; Mary Kenney and Melissa Crow of the American Immigration Council; Travis Silva of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area; and Katie Brody, Brenda Muñoz Furnish, and Dan Pochoda of ACLU of Arizona.

The images and expert testimony are available at www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/hieleras/.

More information about this case is available at www.nilc.org/jdoe1vjohnson/.

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Dreamers Defend Themselves in Judge Hanen’s Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, media@aclutx.org, 713-325-7010

Dreamers Defend Themselves in Judge Hanen’s Court

“Fearless Four” respond to judge’s demand for their personal data with amicus brief

LOS ANGELES — Four young immigrants whose private information was ordered disclosed by a federal judge in U.S. v. Texas filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case today, arguing that the judge’s order violates their constitutional right to privacy, runs contrary to precedent, and is unjustified.

The group, known as the Fearless Four, includes Juan Escalante of Florida, Angelica Villalobos of Oklahoma, and two others who filed anonymously. They are just a few in a group of about 50,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who would be impacted by an outlandish order by U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in the case challenging the Obama administration’s immigration executive actions.

“I applied to DACA in 2012 with the understanding that my private information would be kept confidential, and in good faith provided every detail about my life the federal government requested,” said Escalante, whose DACA renewal was approved in December 2014. “Judge Hanen’s order seeks to undermine my constitutional right to privacy and could potentially expose personal information to individuals who may wish to retaliate against my family and me. Private means private.”

In addition to constitutional rights violations, the brief points to relevant case law that requires the courts to exercise discretion and restraint when it comes to forced disclosure of an individual’s highly sensitive information, even in cases of alleged misconduct. Furthermore, the brief argues that even if Hanen’s order was not precluded by precedent, it is not justified since it punishes individuals who are not party to the case, not those who committed the perceived misconduct, and would therefore not deter future misconduct.

“There’s no question Judge Hanen exceeded his authority with this order,” said Justin Cox, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “But most importantly, he has not given sufficient weight to the privacy concerns of tens of thousands of individuals who have no connection to this case. Courts are allowed to sanction attorneys for misconduct, but this order is not aimed at the attorneys Judge Hanen said misbehaved—it’s aimed at DACA recipients.”

Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to live and work in the country temporarily if they meet certain eligibility requirements. In November 2014, the Obama administration announced that new and renewing applicants could get DACA for three rather than two years, and that the Department of Homeland Security would modify eligibility requirements to expand the applicant pool. At the same time, the administration announced another initiative, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would similarly allow some undocumented parents of American children to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

Texas and 25 other states sued the federal government to block the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA shortly after they were announced. That case, now known as U.S. v. Texas, was first heard in Hanen’s court in Brownsville, Texas, and eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In February 2015, before DAPA and the expansion of DACA went into effect, Hanen issued a nationwide injunction that blocked both initiatives. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had begun issuing three-year work permits to people whose DACA applications were approved as of November 24, 2014, in accordance with the policies laid out in the Dept. of Homeland Security memo accompanying the announcement.

In May 2016, Hanen issued an order in which he claimed the U.S. Department of Justice lawyers representing the federal government had misled him and the suing states by not disclosing that the government was issuing three-year work permits. As punishment, he demanded that the federal government turn over the names, locations, and other private identifying information of about 50,000 individuals who live in the 26 states involved in the lawsuit and who had received three-year work permits between November 2014 and March 2015. He also ordered all Justice Department lawyers who appear in court in any of the 26 states to attend a yearly ethics course for five years.

“It is shameful and sad that Judge Hanen would even try to abuse his power to violate my constitutional rights and the rights of 50,000 other DACAmented youth, with no real justification,” said Villalobos, a mother of four whose DACA renewal was approved in November 2014. “Our privacy should not be sacrificed for one judge’s political crusade against those in power.”

The Justice Department asked Hanen to stay his order while the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating in U.S. v Texas. The National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Texas also filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Fearless Four. A writ of mandamus allows impacted individuals to initiate a new action in the court of appeals to seek redress for a lower court order.

“Common sense and the Constitution lead to one conclusion: nothing that has happened in this case could possibly justify the massive invasion of DACA recipients’ privacy that the order would cause,” said Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

On June 7, Hanen granted the Justice Department’s motion to stay his order, and he set a hearing to reconsider the sanctions for Aug. 22. Last week, he rescheduled that hearing for Aug. 31.

The amicus brief filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Villalobos-Amicus-Brief-2016-08-12.pdf.

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