Category Archives: August 2017

Government Settles in First Lawsuit Filed Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2017

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, media@nilc.org, 202.805.0375
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, hdessaules@refugeerights.org, 646.459.3081
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU, isarda-sorensen@aclu.org, 212.284.7347
Clare Kane, WIRAC, clare.kane@ylsclinics.edu, 360.584.7384

Government Settles in First Lawsuit Filed Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

NEW YORK — The Trump administration today settled with the plaintiffs in the first legal challenge to the president’s executive order of Jan. 27, 2017, which sought to bar travelers from certain majority Muslim countries from entering the United States and to dramatically curtail the admission of refugees. The settlement ensures that all travelers who were barred from the country on the basis of the ban and have not since returned to the United States are informed of their right to reapply for a visa and provided with a list of free legal services organizations that can help them do so.

The settlement came in the case of Darweesh v. Trump, which was filed as a nationwide class-action in federal district court in New York City on the morning of January 28, 2017, only hours after the administration’s first Muslim ban went into effect. The ban had plunged airports across the country into chaos as the Trump administration haphazardly implemented its discriminatory policy, leading to the separation of families and exclusion of refugees fleeing persecution. By the evening of January 28, the court had issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Trump administration from removing anyone from the country on the basis of the Muslim ban. As a result, the administration’s effort to bar Muslims and refugees from the country was halted barely 24 hours after it went into effect.

Having succeeded in halting detentions under the Muslim ban, the lawsuit then sought to address the harm done to those already excluded in the chaotic first days of the Muslim ban. In the settlement announced today, the government agreed to contact all individuals who had been barred from entry as a result of the ban and have not since reapplied for a visa or entered the United States and to inform them of their right to reapply for a visa. The government will also provide a list of pro bono immigration legal aid providers available to assist with the visa application. The written notice will be provided in English, Arabic, and Farsi. The settlement also requires the U.S. Justice Department to coordinate the processing of new applications for any affected individuals identified by the plaintiffs’ attorneys who are seeking to return to the U.S. in the next three months.

The plaintiffs include two Iraqi men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, who had been unjustly detained at JFK Airport due to the Muslim ban. They are represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School, and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.

When he was informed of the settlement, lead plaintiff Hameed Darweesh said, “It means a lot to me to be in America. The United States is a great country because of its people. I’m glad that the lawsuit is over. Me and my family are safe; my kids go to school; we can now live a normal life. I suffered back home, but I have my rights now. I’m a human.”

Representatives from each group gave the following statements:

Becca Heller, Director, International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center
“On January 27, Hameed Darweesh and thousands of others attempted to legally enter the United States. They were detained, handcuffed and, in many cases, deported. This settlement forces the government to individually reach out to everyone illegally kept out of the country and begin to remedy that wrong. But it is only a first step — we continue to fight against the illegal, discriminatory, and un-American provisions of the second Muslim ban.”

Esther Sung, staff attorney, National Immigration Law Center
“This settlement is a victory for the individuals who were unlawfully detained and deported as a result of the president’s Muslim ban, but our fight continues. The Muslim ban doesn’t just violate the Constitution, it flies in the face of dearly held values to live free from fear of persecution based on where we’re from or how we pray. This case may have ended, but we remain more committed to the fight now than ever before.”

Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director, Immigrants’ Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union
“Although the government dragged its feet for far too long, it has finally agreed to do the right thing and provide those excluded under the first Muslim ban with proper notice of their right to come to the United States. While this closes one chapter in our challenge to Trump’s efforts to institute his unconstitutional ban, we continue our legal fight against Muslim ban 2.0 at the Supreme Court in October.”

Yusuf Saei, Student, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC), Yale Law School
“This fight began when thousands of Americans showed up at airports across the country to support refugees and protest religious discrimination. This settlement closes a chapter on the Trump administration’s catastrophic Muslim ban. It delivers a measure of fairness to people who were illegally and discriminatorily barred from entering the country, but the fight against prejudice and hatred is not over.”

A copy of the settlement agreement is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Darweesh-v-Trump-Settlement-Agreement-2017-08-31.pdf.

More information on Darweesh v. Trump is available at www.nilc.org/darweesh-v-trump/.

# # #

Share

Immigrant Youth and Advocates Respond to Trump’s Consideration of Plan to Kill DACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, media@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Adela de la Torre, media@nilc.org, 213-400,7822
Bruna Bouhid, bruna@unitedwedream.org, 202-850-0812

Immigrant Youth and Advocates Respond to Trump’s Consideration of Plan to Kill DACA, Outline Escalation of Fight to Defend Program

WASHINGTON — Following a news report that the Trump administration is “seriously considering” ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, immigrant youth, immigrant and civil rights advocates, and progressive leaders today renewed their call to President Trump to keep the DACA in place and provided the latest updates on ongoing work to defend the program. A recording of today’s call is available here.

Below are quotes from participants in today’s press conference:

Greisa Martinez Rosas, policy and advocacy director, United We Dream
“It is time for all people to organize with fierce and unapologetic determination to counter the vicious hate being pushed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and white supremacists in the White House. Every Republican elected and administration official who has tried to have it both ways is now on notice. You either oppose the drive to kill DACA or you are complicit in our suffering.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center
“There is no good moral, legal, or political reason to get rid of this wildly successful program. More than 100 legal scholars, countless faith leaders and economists, along with business and education leaders, have spoken in defense of the program. In addition, polls show that 7 out of 8 voters support this program. DACA is one of those rare instances where doing the right thing is also the politically popular thing.”

Damaris Gonzalez, Texas DACA recipient
“I hope that everyone with DACA, every Texan of conscience, and all people who care about immigrants, people of color in our state, and the future of this country rise up and say enough is enough. We will continue to expose Ken Paxton for his attacks on our humanity and Trump for pandering to his white supremacist supporters. This is our home, and we’re not going anywhere — we are here to stay!”

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights
“It would be a grave moral and legal error for the Trump administration to end the DACA program. We must not allow the hate and violence we saw in the streets of Charlottesville to become the guiding force for policymaking in this country. Targeting innocent immigrant young people would only deepen the moral crisis President Trump has plunged his administration into.”

Jung Woo Kim, lead organizer of NAKASEC’s 22-day round-the-clock action in front of the White House to defend DACA
“I am very scared right now. If DACA goes away, I won’t be able to work, pay my bills or anything. Where would I be then? How would I survive? We need everyone to come join us at the White House today as we fight together to save DACA and our future!”

Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible
“This administration has been systematically targeting immigrants, refugees, people of color. There is a clear connection between Trump’s attacks on DACA and his comments on Charlottesville, hints at pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, and the Muslim ban. This is all one and the same fight, and it’s part of Trump’s white supremacist agenda. We and the 6,000 Indivisible groups across the country will be standing with our partners who’ve been leading this fight to say that DACAmented youth belong here, and they are here to stay.”

# #  #

Share

NILC Response to Reports of Possible End to DACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
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.”

# # #

Share

The Lives of Immigrant Youth Are Not a “Bargaining Chip”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Patrick O’Shea, 202-384-1276

The Lives of Immigrant Youth Are Not a “Bargaining Chip”

WASHINGTON — News media reported today that the Trump administration is considering continuing protections for undocumented immigrant youth in exchange for a legislative package that would make our country’s immigration system dramatically worse. The proposed trade-offs reportedly include funding to enact mass deportation and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as radically reducing legal immigration.

Ignacia Rodriguez, immigration policy advocate with the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Every single day since Trump was elected, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other immigrant youth have had to think about what could happen to them. Will they lose their jobs? Will they be forced to leave the U.S., like Juan Manuel Montes, even if they have been granted DACA and the program remains in place?

“In the midst of this grueling uncertainty, the White House is reportedly considering using them as bargaining chips for making a deal. It would be shameful, in any case, to use people’s lives and basic need to feel secure in their homes as means for leveraging a political win. But to do this in order to enact a white nationalist blueprint is repulsive.

“President Trump has said he would ‘work something out’ for immigrant youth ‘that’s going to make people happy and proud.’ You don’t achieve that by gambling with the lives of nearly 800,000 people. If you acknowledge that DACA works, then defend it and leave it alone.”

(For more information on the case of Juan Manuel Montes, a DACA recipient whom U.S. Customs and Border Protection illegally expelled from the U.S. earlier this year, visit www.nilc.org/montes-v-uscbp/.)

# # #

Share

Statement on the Passing of Juan Osuna

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Statement on the Passing of Juan Osuna

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center mourns the passing of Juan Osuna, former director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and a former associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, who passed away unexpectedly this week in Falls Church, Virginia.

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

“Juan Osuna will be remembered as a tireless and dedicated advocate for justice for immigrants. He had an unparalleled knowledge of our immigration court system. He was thoughtful, scholarly, and kind in his pursuit of a just and fair court system.

“Juan was an exemplary public servant whose commitment to fairness shone through throughout his tenure. The immigrant advocacy community lost a fierce ally this week. Our thoughts are with his wife, Wendy Young, the president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and his family during this difficult time.”

For more information about Osuna’s career and life, please visit https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2017/08/16/in-memoriam-juan-p-osuna.aspx?sthash.jluem8jE.mjjo.

# # #

Share

President Trump’s Silence on White Supremacism Is Deafening

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2017

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, media@nilc.org

President Trump’s Silence on White Supremacism Is Deafening

LOS ANGELES — White supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent today when neo-Nazis and others engaged in violent assaults against counter-protesters and people of color. These acts resulted in at least one fatality and several injuries. In his remarks on today’s events, President Trump blamed “many sides” for today’s atrocities.

Below is a statement issued by Reshma Shamasunder, deputy director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today, people who stood for fairness, justice, and equality were physically harmed. Our thoughts and prayers are with these courageous leaders and their families.

“President Trump’s failure to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and the role they played in contributing to this violence is shameful and dangerous. Through discriminatory policy, messaging and, at times, deafening silence, President Trump is sending a clear message to communities of color that our freedom, our rights, and our place in this country are less important than those of others.

“This is not acceptable. We stand firmly with the brave leaders fighting for justice and dignity for all of us, regardless of where we were born, the color of our skin, how we pray, or whom we love. The Trump administration and elected officials should do the same.”

# # #

Share

Court Upholds Marriage Equality in Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2017

CONTACT
Elizabeth Beresford, NILC, elizabeth@elizabethbberesford.com, 917-648-0189
Stephen Boykewich, NOWCRJ, stephen@guestworkeralliance.org, 323-673-1307

Court Upholds Marriage Equality in Louisiana

Ruling permanently blocks state law that denies immigrants the right to marry

NEW ORLEANS — A federal district court today issued a powerful rebuke against anti-immigrant discrimination in Louisiana, issuing a permanent injunction against a state law that denies marriage equality to foreign-born Louisianans.

Viet “Victor” Anh Vo filed the lawsuit, Vo v. Gee, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in October 2016 after he and his fiancée were prevented from obtaining a marriage license in multiple Louisiana parishes. They were blocked by an unconstitutional state law that requires any foreign-born person to present a certified birth certificate to obtain a marriage license. U.S.-born applicants can obtain a waiver of that requirement, but foreign-born persons cannot.

The order for summary judgment issued by the court today says, “The unconstitutionality of Act 436 applies to all residents of the State of Louisiana, not just Mr. Vo.”

Vo said, “I am thrilled that I will finally be able to marry my partner of more than 10 years in my Louisiana hometown. And I’m proud that because of our efforts, no one in Louisiana will be denied the right to marry the person they love because of the place they were born.”

Vo, 32, is a U.S. citizen and has been a resident of Louisiana since he was three months old. He was never issued an official birth certificate because he was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam. His fiancée is also a U.S. citizen and lifelong Louisiana resident.

Vo was represented pro bono by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP.

“To be able to marry the person you love is a fundamental right in this country no matter where you come from and where you live. Today, the court has again strongly rebuked any attempt to undermine that right. The freedom to marry is the law of the land,” said NILC staff attorney Alvaro Huerta.

NOCWRJ Staff Attorney Mary Yanik said, “This law came from the politics of hatred and discrimination, and that’s not what Louisiana stands for. The decision today reflects Louisiana’s proudest legacy, as the birthplace of movements for human and civil rights.”

Skadden attorney Marley Ann Brumme said, “We are thrilled with the Court’s decision to permanently extend the protections provided by its earlier ruling. Mr. Vo can finally marry his partner in their home state of Louisiana without the burden of unconstitutional requirements imposed solely because of the place of his birth, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to help Mr. Vo in vindicating his rights and those of other Louisianans similarly situated.”

Today’s ruling comes a half century after Loving v. Virginia, which upheld the rights of people to marry regardless of ethnicity or race.

Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Act 436, also known as HB 836, in July 2015. Before it passed, lawmakers warned that it would unnecessarily burden foreign-born residents such as Vo and that it was “a mistake” to try to use marriage to regulate immigration. Louisiana lawmakers passed it anyway, and the law went into effect in January 2016.

Today’s court order is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Vo-v-Gee-Opinion-and-Permanent-Injunction-2017-08-08.pdf.

# # #

Share

Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Diversity Visa Denials

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2017

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, 202-384-1279, media@nilc.org
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 212-284-7347, isarda-sorensen@aclu.org
Yusuf Barzinji, ADC, 202-244-2990, yalbarzinji@adc.org

Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Diversity Visa Denials

WASHINGTON — Groups filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the U.S. State Department’s refusal to process visa applications for winners of the U.S. Diversity Visa Program lottery who hail from the six countries covered by President Trump’s Muslim ban.

The lawsuit was brought by Jenner & Block LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center. It was filed on behalf of lottery winners from Iran and Yemen, and charges the federal government with running afoul of federal law and regulations by refusing to issue visas to eligible winners.

The lottery program provides an opportunity to a limited number of immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates to come to the United States. The randomly selected winners receive a visa, provided that they satisfy the eligibility requirements and qualify under the government’s general rules for visas. Only 50,000 diversity visas are awarded each year. Over the last 10 years, 16 million people on average have applied each year for the annual lottery.

The program requires consulates to issue visas to lottery winners no later than September 30, or the winners lose their chance to immigrate to the United States. The case filed today asks that the government process lottery winners’ visa applications by that date, as required by federal law and regulations.

Trump’s Muslim ban currently prohibits the entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who do not have bona fide connections to the United States (or who fall within another exception). The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to consider the ban’s constitutionality later in the fall in separate litigation.

The following statements are from:

Esther Sung, National Immigration Law Center. “The federal government made a promise to our plaintiffs and hundreds of others like them, and they put their faith in that promise. Now, thanks to President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban, the State Department is unlawfully backing away from that promise. This isn’t right, fair, or lawful, and we are willing to do what it takes — including going to court — to fight for the rights of our clients.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “A winning lottery spot is a rare and precious thing. If our clients do not receive their visas by September 30, they lose what may be their only chance at becoming Americans. By refusing to issue their visas during the ban, the State Department is violating the law and threatening to run out the clock. While we look forward to demonstrating, in separate litigation, that the ban is unconstitutional and should be struck down, the government’s freeze on diversity visa applicants is unlawful and unjustifiable no matter how that case turns out.”

Samer Khalaf, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “ADC’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeks to prohibit the discriminatory delay of diversity visa issuance to Yemeni nationals. The denial of diversity visas and lengthy processing is targeting Yemenis based on their national origin and religion. Administrative processing should not be used to wait people out and keep them from an opportunity for a visa they qualify for. This vile attempt by the Trump administration to refuse admission to those who have sacrificed everything for a better opportunity is uncalled for, and unacceptable. ADC stands with the Yemenis and all those who are affected. We will do everything in our power to see that justice is served.”

Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Yemeni American Merchant Association of New York. “After connecting with many of the diversity visa lottery winners in the last couple of weeks, their voices and stories remain etched in our minds. We are grateful that today the world will learn of their broken promise to the American dream. We will tirelessly stand with them until they get the judicial relief they deserve.”

Plaintiff Radad Furooz. “I sold everything I had to get the chance to travel to the USA. I have nothing and nowhere to go now. The executive order travel ban has destroyed my dreams.”

Scott Michelman, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of the District of Columbia. “The State Department’s discriminatory visa denial policy goes beyond even the terms of Trump’s unconstitutional entry ban. The courts must uphold the rule of law and preserve visa lottery winners’ only realistic chance at someday becoming Americans — an opportunity that the federal government promised them and now is unjustifiably withholding.”

The case, P.K. v. Tillerson, was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.

The complaint is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/pk-v-tillerson-complaint-2017-08-03.pdf.

# # #

Share

The RAISE Act Is Cruel and Un-American

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

The RAISE Act Is Cruel and Un-American

WASHINGTON — Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) presented legislation to President Trump today that proposes radically reducing legal immigration to the United States, reversing decades of well-established policy that prioritizes family-based legal immigration.

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

“The Republican Party continues to double down on the execution of President Trump’s white nationalist blueprint for America. The RAISE Act is their latest extremist proposal that would cut legal immigration levels by half. This is a radical and alarming departure from America’s longstanding history of welcoming and embracing the diversity and family reunification values that give us our moral and economic advantage in the world.

“The bill would devastate families, eliminating the traditional and long-accepted means by which family members such as grandparents, mothers, fathers, and siblings are able to reunite with their families who have emigrated to the United States. An emphasis on so-called ‘merit-based’ immigration is a manipulative and misleading ploy that inaccurately suggests less legal immigration means more jobs for American workers. Economists from both sides of the political spectrum clearly and consistently reject this. The economic consequences and impact on American families would be devastating.

“The truth is that this is just another one of the Republican Party’s sinister attacks on immigrants. It is yet another move made to dismantle our national identity.”

# # #

Share
111