Category Archives: December 2013

Mayorkas Confirmed as DHS Deputy Secretary

December 20, 2013

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

Mayorkas Is the Right Person at the Right Time

NILC Applauds Senate Confirmation of Mayorkas as DHS Deputy Secretary

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) applauds the Senate’s confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). His approval by the Senate, along with the confirmation earlier this week of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, brings stability and strong management to a department that has lacked permanent leadership at its highest levels.

Mayorkas already has a solid record of accomplishment at DHS, having served the last four years as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which service was praised in a letterNILC delivered to senators on behalf of 29 organizations. Mayorkas is a former U.S. attorney in California. He was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the U.S. when he was one year old. The following is a statement from NILC DC Director Don Lyster:

“Alejandro Mayorkas is the right person for the job at exactly the right time. Absent final congressional action this year on commonsense immigration reform, DHS must fill the legislative void by administering laws and regulations in a manner that ensures fairness and justice for aspiring citizens. That is a critical priority for NILC and other immigration advocates who are concerned about the countless families being separated each year because of extreme deportation practices.

“Mayorkas brings a solid managerial record to the second-highest post at DHS: Given only 60 days to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Mayorkas pulled in all key stakeholders to ensure the program’s success. As a result, more than half a million young immigrants can live without the fear deportation and have the work authorization they need to contribute fully to their communities.

“During a time when critics of government are on the lookout for inefficiency and incompetence, Mayorkas made DACA a model of government efficiency and seamless execution. He showed his keen understanding of complicated immigration law and significantly engaged with academics, attorneys, advocates, and immigrant community members as the program was being established, publicly answering stakeholder questions and addressing key concerns.

“We’re also pleased to learn that USCIS will not be leaderless for long: Leon Rodriguez, who currently serves as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been nominated to become the next director of this important component of DHS. We look forward to continuing to work with Mayorkas in his new position, and we urge the Senate to approve Rodriguez’s nomination without delay.”

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ICE Deportation Numbers

December 19, 2013

Gebe Martinez, 703-731-9505, [email protected]

Drop in Deportations Not Enough

NILC Urges Obama Administration to Stop Senseless Deportations

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has announced that it deported 368,644 immigrants in fiscal year 2013. ICE removals this year bring the total deportations during the five years of the Obama administration to almost 2 million, surpassing the number of deportations during the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has long demanded that the Obama administration rein in its detention and deportation machine and stop targeting workers who pose no threat to national security or community safety. These deportations needlessly separate millions of families each year.

The following is a statement from Don Lyster, director of NILC’s Washington, DC, office:

“Today’s news only underscores that the administration has much more work to do. The 368,644 removals by ICE includes a huge number of actions against parents and family members of U.S. citizens, and does not include cases handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The Obama administration has the legal and moral authority to mitigate the damage our broken immigration system causes. It must use its existing authority to stop deporting aspiring citizens every day and leaving a separated and heartbroken family in each deportation’s wake.

“Notably, the moderate drop in deportations has not been matched by a drop in spending on detentions and deportations of future citizens. This year, the federal government is spending $18 billion on efforts to find, detain, and deport immigrants, resources that could be better spent on educating our children or restoring access to safety-net programs.

“Until Congress acts on commonsense immigration reform, the administration must work harder to end the cycle of fear caused by its deportation policies.”

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Jeh Johnson Confirmed as DHS Secretary

December 17, 2013

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

Johnson Confirmation Restores Stability to Dept. of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Jeh Johnson was confirmed Monday to succeed Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency that has been without a leader since Secretary Napolitano departed in August. Johnson, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, previously served in the public interest sector as general counsel of the Department of Defense and as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force. Johnson was the first African American partner of Paul, Weiss and also is the first African American secretary of Homeland Security. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Despite being one of the largest and most complex departments in the federal government, DHS has languished for months without a permanent leader. We’re pleased that the Senate has filled this void by confirming Jeh Johnson to this important post. Johnson’s role — both in overseeing immigration policy in effect today and in implementing immigration reform in the future — will be of paramount importance over the next three years.

“We are heartened to see that Secretary Johnson, like other colleagues of his within the Obama administration, is an ardent supporter of immigration reform. He rightly recognizes that his team must have the resources they need to ensure that any future changes to immigration policies are successful. However, he cannot do it alone. We call upon the Senate to quickly confirm deputy secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas to help fill the leadership vacuum at DHS. Mayorkas’s in-depth immigration expertise will make him an indespensible component of Secretary Johnson’s team.

“Finally, the National Immigration Law Center looks forward to working with Secretary Johnson to ensure he makes full use of the tools DHS has at its disposal to prevent the deportation of immigrants simply for having been previously ordered deported or for reentering the U.S. desperately seeking to be reunited with their families, many of whom are U.S. citizen children. During the time that it took for the Senate to confirm Secretary Johnson, another 66,000 aspiring citizens were torn from their loved ones and deported to countries they may not even remember. This is unacceptable.

Current policies and guidelines could prevent unnecessary deportations of the same people who would benefit from the immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate earlier this year. The National Immigration Law Center urges Secretary Johnson to stop deporting aspiring citizens who, due to political gridlock, are blocked from the road to citizenship.”

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Mayorkas’s Confirmation Urged

December 10, 2013

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

Immigration Groups Urge Swift Approval of Mayorkas at Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — National and local immigration and civil rights advocacy groups are urging the Senate to swiftly confirm Alejandro Mayorkas, who currently serves as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to become the next deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Alejandro Mayorkas is a proven leader whose depth of knowledge about the nation’s immigration system has already served DHS well,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Along with Jeh Johnson, the DHS secretary nominee, Mayorkas will provide the stability and managerial skills necessary to provide some security to a department that for too long has lacked permanent leadership at its highest levels.”

In a letter signed by 29 groups, Mayorkas is praised for his “extraordinary leadership” in carrying out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a 2012 humanitarian initiative that grants permission to certain young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to temporarily live and work here.

Given only 60 days to operationalize the program that began August 15, 2012, Mayorkas made DACA a proven success. As of August 31, 2013, almost 589,000 individuals have applied for DACA and more than 455,000 have been approved.

“DACA is a model of government efficiency. Its seamless execution has involved numerous critical factors, including a keen understanding of complex immigration laws, interagency coordination with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of Education, and significant engagement with stakeholders,” the letter states.

The immigration advocacy groups laud Mayorkas for having been “fully transparent about the program’s implementation, regularly meeting with academics, attorneys, advocates, and community members to share information about the program and to respond to questions and concerns.”

In his current position as director of USCIS, Mayorkas oversees the largest immigration system in the world and has advanced technology improvements to improve its service and the public’s access to the agency.

In addition to the National Immigration Law Center, the signatories on the letter to the Senate include American Immigration Council, National Council of La Raza, National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Washington and Los Angeles offices), United We Dream, Bridge Project, Center for Community Change, and American Federation of Teachers.

The letter can be downloaded from

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Fast for Families

December 3, 2013

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

Congress Must Find Its Moral Compass on Immigration Reform

NILC Praises Immigration Leaders on 22nd Day of Fast for Families

WASHINGTON — Today marks the twenty-second day of the national Fast for Families led by four immigrants’ rights leaders — SEIU’s Eliseo Medina, NAKASEC’s Dae Joong (“DJ”) Yoon, Mi Famila Vota’s Cristian Avila (a DREAMer), and Sojourners’ Lisa Sharon Harper — to show that their sacrifice of food pales in comparison to the suffering of families who have been separated or who fear being torn apart under the inhumane immigration system.

As members of the House of Representatives return to Washington, DC, this week, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) urges them to look outside their windows to the tent on the National Mall where immigrants’ rights advocates have been fasting and consider the consequences of congressional inaction on immigration reform.

NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié is fasting for 24 hours today as part of the National Days to Act, Fast and Pray — her second fasting period. In a show of solidarity, NILC staff fasted on November 20and visited with the fasters at their tent on the National Mall. Hincapié issued the following statement:

“Throughout our battle for commonsense immigration reform, we have sought legislation that reflects our nation’s values. The House’s failure to act quickly on critical immigration legislation leaves us wondering whether our national leaders have a moral compass.

“Generations of Americans, regardless of our country of origin, have shared and nurtured fundamental beliefs in what is right, good, and just. Almost instinctively, we know good from bad, just from unjust. We need leaders who have the integrity and courage to be compassionate and treat all Americans equally and with fairness and respect.

“These long-held values are difficult to find in a Congress that refuses to do what is both morally right and in the country’s economic interest. Instead, certain policymakers have chosen to follow the bad politics of a small minority who oppose fair treatment of immigrants and a better future for us all.

“Meanwhile, as Congress fails to do its job, 1,100 people are deported daily under the Obama administration’s deportation machine. This injustice must stop.

“Congress should act quickly to pass an immigration measure that reflects our nation’s values.

“Eliseo, DJ, Cristian, and Lisa have bravely reminded us of our national values, as they have given up so much for the 11 million aspiring citizens without documents. We pray for them and for those who take over the leadership of the fast as we continue to fight for justice.”

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