Category Archives: December 2015

Immigrant-inclusive Policies Move Ahead

December 22, 2015

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

In Cities and States, Civil Immigration Debates in Uncivil Political Climate

WASHINGTON — Civic engagement by immigrants and their allies has been effective in moving inclusive state and local policies and in defeating virtually all of the significant anti-immigrant proposals filed in state legislatures during the past two years, according to a new report by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

The report released today, “Immigrant-inclusive State and Local Policies Move Ahead in 2014-15,” demonstrates that the groundwork built by immigrants’ rights groups has helped preserve, implement and gain new ground for inclusive state and local immigration policies.

States continued to expand access to driver’s licenses, higher education, health care, and professional licenses for eligible immigrants regardless of their immigration status. Cities and counties adopted policies aimed at disentangling local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement and offered access to legal counsel, health care, and municipal identification documents to their residents. States as diverse as Florida, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Hawaii, and California—and localities in Iowa, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and New York—have adopted policies that improve the daily lives of all residents, including immigrants.

“During the past three years, effective organizing and advocacy have built support for policies that make communities healthier, encourage youth to pursue their educational and professional dreams, and allow all drivers to be trained, tested, and insured,” explained Tanya Broder, NILC senior attorney and a co-author of the report. “This trend shows that despite the heated anti-immigrant rhetoric in the national debate, legislators and leaders closest to their communities understand that inclusive policies yield broad economic and social benefits.”

Increasing numbers of states are creating policies to improve highway safety by allowing all residents to apply for driver’s licenses. Hawaii and Delaware are the latest states to expand access to licenses. About 40 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population now resides in a state that provides access to driver’s licenses for all otherwise-eligible residents—an increase from 4 percent at the start of 2013.

Similarly, states are making higher education more affordable for students who meet certain criteria, regardless of their immigration status, by allowing them to pay in-state tuition rates or to qualify for financial assistance. Policymakers from across the political spectrum have recognized the social and economic benefits of this investment in immigrant youth. Oregon and Utah improved access to financial aid or scholarships, and threats to longstanding tuition equity laws in Texas and Kansas were thwarted, due to strong support and organizing by students, educators, and business leaders.

Despite the hostile rhetoric in the presidential campaigns, attempts by some politicians to challenge the president’s immigration policies, and some serious ongoing threats, states and localities have recognized the benefits of inclusive policies and are well positioned to influence the national immigration debate.

The report is available at

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Tax Deal Leaves Immigrants Out in the Cold

December 16, 2015

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

Holiday Season Tax Deal Leaves Immigrants Out in the Cold

Legislation Would Create Two-Tier Tax Code, Enact Barriers to Paying Taxes

WASHINGTON — Senate negotiators have agreed on a plan for tax cuts for corporations and much needed changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The agreement, which was released last night, also contains provisions that would hurt low-wage taxpaying immigrant families.

The agreement would essentially create a two-tier tax system, denying newly legalized domestic violence survivors, DACA recipients, and others the rights enjoyed by other tax filers with identical economic circumstances. The agreement would bar millions of tax-paying immigrants receiving Social Security numbers from access to vital tax credits. Worse, the agreement would enact additional barriers on those who wish to file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, making tax compliance for working immigrant families even more difficult.

Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“In their zeal to come up with a deal on taxes, tax negotiators have approved a harsh and shortsighted policy proposal that will only serve to hurt immigrant families and deplete our tax coffers. Working families across America can – and should – be able to count on the tax credits they need to keep the lights on and food on the table so we are glad that the EITC and CTC have been extended permanently.

“But it is shameful that anti-immigrant legislators continue to feel a constant need to add an anti-immigrant imprimatur to their legislation. Immigrant families should not have to pay a steep price in exchange for sound tax policy. Yet, this shortsighted and nonsensical policy punishes the very immigrant workers who have been filing their taxes and sets up new barriers for immigrants wanting to comply with the tax laws. Working families, regardless of where they were born, deserve legislation that allows them to plan their economic future. But this economic certainty should not come on the backs of immigrant workers and their children.”

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Groups Take Legal Action to Prevent Texas Ban on Syrian Refugees

December 4, 2015

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Cente, [email protected], 213-400-7822
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU, [email protected], 212.284.7347
Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, [email protected], 713.325.7010
Lucy Carrigan, International Rescue Committee, 917.859.3086
Emma Weinstein-Levey, Southern Poverty Law Center, [email protected], 334.956.8458

Groups Take Legal Action to Prevent Texas Ban on Syrian Refugees

LOS ANGELES — The National Immigration Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Southern Poverty Law Center have filed a legal response on behalf of the International Rescue Committee in order to prevent the state of Texas from illegally barring Syrian refugees from entering the state.

The following may be attributed to Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee:

“We are confident that the IRC has always acted in accordance with the law when it comes to our work to assist refugees who have been given sanctuary in Texas. We have had a strong and collaborative relationship with the State for the past 40 years, which has benefitted refugees and local communities. We have made clear our commitment to continued dialogue with the state authorities, and we hope for a swift resolution of this case.”

The following may be attributed to Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“It is reprehensible that the state of Texas would take legal action in order to stop providing refugees with vital services. We are proud to defend the IRC’s efforts to provide those fleeing violence and seeking opportunity on our shores with the tools they need to flourish in their new homes.”

The following may be attributed to Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, lead counsel for the International Rescue Committee:

“Under the U.S. Constitution, no state can unilaterally bar a group of refugees that has been thoroughly vetted and admitted by the federal government. By irrationally blocking Syrian families, based solely on their nationality, Texas is violating federal law, the U.S. Constitution, and our fundamental American values of welcoming and providing refuge for families fleeing violence and war.”

The following may be attributed to Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas:

“Attempts to close Texas’s doors to Syrian refugees run counter to our laws, our values and our conscience. Refugee resettlement is a federal matter over which state governments have no veto authority, and the refugees who need our help are families, widows and children fleeing unspeakable terror wrought by our own enemies. Texans are better than this.”

The following may be attributed to Kristi Graunke, senior staff attorney at Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project:

“Syrian refugees, including many children, are fleeing unconscionable violence and should be welcomed by all states, Texas included. Texas’s attempt to block the IRC’s humanitarian efforts to ensure the safe resettlement of refugees lacks compassion and common sense.”

The legal response is available at

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U.S. v. Texas: Texas Response Due Dec. 29

December 1, 2015

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

Supreme Court’s Timeline in Texas v. U.S. Is Welcome News for Immigrant Families

WASHINGTON — The state of Texas will have eight additional days, until December 29, to respond to the U.S. Justice Department’s request that the Supreme Court review Texas v. United States, the case that has put some of President Obama’s immigration actions on hold. This is far short of Texas’s original request for an additional 30 days to respond to the Justice Department’s request, which was filed on November 20. Critically, this time frame presents the opportunity for the Supreme Court to accept and decide the case this term (by June 2016). Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“This is a welcome development that brings the five million U.S. citizen children whose parents are DAPA-eligible closer to having their fate decided by the Supreme Court this term. Our communities have waited far too long already for much-needed relief, and Texas’s request for a full month of extra time to prepare its response would only have exacerbated the pain we already feel. The Supreme Court’s decision means there is a greater probability that the Court will hear this case in a timely manner.”

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Coalition Files Amicus in U.S. v. Texas

December 1, 2015

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, 213-400-7822, [email protected]
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-812-2499, [email protected]
Beatriz Lopez, Service Employees International Union, 202-412-7396, [email protected]
Amaya Smith, AFL-CIO, 202-637-5142, [email protected]
Ricardo A. Ramírez, Advancement Project, 202-728-9557, [email protected]

Coalition of Immigration, Civil Rights, Labor, and Social Service Groups Urges Supreme Court to Protect President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Legal brief filed by 224 groups asks high court to hear landmark immigration case, Texas v. U.S.

WASHINGTON — A coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the Supreme Court to review Texas v. U.S., the case, that has temporarily blocked some of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The filing comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction put in place by a Texas federal district court that blocked implementation of protections for millions of immigrants across the country.

The filing from the National Immigration Law Center, American Immigration Council, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, comes only ten days after the formal request, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to review the case. Amicus briefs in support of a “cert” petition are usually due 30 days after the petition is filed. The amici coalition acted swiftly, since the Justice Department has requested a briefing schedule that would allow the Supreme Court ample time to hear the case during the current term and issue a decision by June 2016.

“The breadth and depth of support for the president’s executive actions is clear,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “It’s now up to the Supreme Court to take the case up this term and put the legal questions to rest so that the over 5 million U.S. citizen children whose parents are eligible for DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents] can finally have stability and be free from the fear that they will one day be separated from their parents.

“With more than 200 organizations joining this amicus, including labor groups that represent millions of immigrant workers, there’s no question that the president’s immigration initiatives are necessary and backed by the majority of the American public,” said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International. “The Supreme Court has a responsibility to take this case, just as we have a duty to mobilize our communities to continue to defend the immigration action and push lasting immigration reform to the forefront of the agenda with our vote.”

The brief provides personal stories and testimonials about potential beneficiaries of expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA and explains how these deferred action initiatives would positively impact millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, family members, employers, employees and other community members. The groups explain that the sweeping injunction upheld in the lower court directly harms people who have either been in the U.S. since they were children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

“The individuals profiled in the brief illustrate the havoc this case has wreaked on the lives of millions of immigrants who remain in legal limbo,” added Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case and give hardworking immigrant families the chance to live and work without fear of deportation.”

The immigration programs, which were announced by the president in November 2014, would expand eligibility for the existing DACA program and expand protections for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through a program known as DAPA. Together, the programs would allow millions of undocumented people to remain in the United States without fear of deportation and apply for work permits for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal.

“The DAPA and expanded DACA policies will help ensure that families are not needlessly separated and that immigrant workers can speak up for basic safety and fairness on the job without facing retaliation,” said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. “We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case right away.”

The full legal brief is available at

For more background on the legal challenges to executive action on immigration, see

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