Category Archives: February 2013

NILC Testimony About E-Verify

February 27, 2013

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

House Judiciary Committee: Is E-Verify Ready for Prime Time?

Making Program Mandatory Could Hurt Small Businesses, Workers

WASHINGTON — National Immigration Law Center policy attorney Emily Tulli testified today before the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security about E-Verify, the federal government’s Web-based electronic employment eligibility verification program. The committee, which has had several hearings about E-Verify in previous sessions, discussed the benefits and drawbacks to this program.

“No matter where you fall on the E-Verify debate, the truth is that implementing the program without providing unauthorized workers with a road to citizenship will spell economic disaster for many of our most important industries,” said Don Lyster, NILC DC director.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a member of the subcommittee, noted that small businesses may not have easy Web access to implement E-Verify, and that getting such access would add to their costs for administering the system.

Added Tulli, “Too often, the discussion about implementing E-Verify focuses simply on the cost to employers. E-Verify is costly for all American workers as well. Each U.S. worker who is falsely flagged as unauthorized to work will have to wade through miles of red tape to correct his records, a process that could drag on for months and put him at risk for termination.”

Tulli outlined the National Immigration Law Center’s policy recommendations for implementing E-Verify, saying that if Congress requires employers to use it, the mandate should be implemented only after a broad immigration reform that includes a road to U.S. citizenship for all unauthorized workers becomes law. Some of NILC’s policy recommendations include: strong labor and due process protections for workers, especially if they are falsely flagged as unauthorized to work; penalties for employers who abuse the program; privacy protections for those using E-Verify; and a phased-in implementation of E-Verify.

More about the National Immigration Law Center’s policy recommendations with respect to E-Verify is available at

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White House Bill a Spark; Senate Must Create the Flame

February 19, 2013

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

White House Bill a Spark; Senate Must Create the Flame

Draft Language on Immigration Policies Leaked

WASHINGTON — The Miami Herald yesterday posted a few sections of the White House’s draft legislative language to revamp the country’s immigration policies. The titles released focus on legalization, immigration issues at the workplace, and detention and deportation policies. The National Immigration Law Center will release a brief analysis of the drafts later today. Below is a short statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“President Obama is doing exactly what he promised he would do. He has written legislation and will present it to Congress if they fail to introduce a bipartisan solution in a timely fashion. We are glad to see that the president is leading, and that he understands that we must act fast to reform our immigration policies.

“The president’s draft language leaked last weekend mirrors the White House principles published after his speech in Las Vegas. It creates a road to citizenship that is not contingent on unattainable border security while providing ways to further strengthen the border. It also contains a mandatory employment verification system, as well as important whistleblower protections for workers who are retaliated for exercising their civil and labor rights.

“However, as is often the case with draft legislation, crucial elements of the plan are still missing. We hope the Senate will take this language for what it is: a start. Other elected representatives – on both sides of the aisle – now have the opportunity to finish the job.”

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State of the Union Address 2013

February 12, 2013

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

Immigration Reform: The First Rung on the Ladder of Opportunity

National Immigration Law Center Responds to Obama State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON — In his fourth State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama outlined his plans to strengthen the middle class and create ladders of opportunity for all children in the nation.The president also touched on immigration, stating that he would sign legislation to overhaul immigration laws right away. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration law Center:

“Tonight, the president provided a bold new vision to restore our country’s economic security and put us on a path toward shared prosperity. He reminded us that we are at our best when we are moving forward together.

“This is especially true of our nation’s immigrants, who contribute to our communities on a daily basis, often without recognition or access to the social insurance programs the rest of us may rely upon. This is why it’s important now, more than ever before to overhaul our nation’s immigration policies and put the 11 million aspiring citizens on a real road to citizenship.

“If done correctly, a commonsense change in immigration policies will create a natural economic stimulus for all Americans. Both President Obama and his colleagues in the Senate agree that there should be a road to citizenship; we urge Congress to take their proposal one step further and create a path that is devoid of onerous roadblocks. Aspiring citizens have waited for the opportunity to apply for citizenship and have for far too long been separated from their families. Our economy, and our communities, can’t afford to wait any longer.”



Lawsuit Filed Against Alabama Blacklist

February 7, 2013

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), (213) 674-2832; [email protected]
Apreill Hartsfield, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), (334) 782-6624; [email protected]
Vesna Jaksic, ACLU national, (212) 284-7347 or 549-2666; [email protected]

Civil Rights Coalition Files Lawsuit to Stop Alabama from Blacklisting Immigrants

Case Is Latest Example of State Attempting to Target and Drive Out Immigrants

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A coalition of civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit today to stop a portion of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law requiring state officials to post an online list of immigrants who may be undocumented, without providing them with any way to contest their inclusion in the database.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division on behalf of four Latino immigrants in Montgomery County who were arrested for allegedly fishing without a license, a misdemeanor offense.

“While the rest of the country focuses on how best to make Americans at heart become Americans on paper, Alabama continues to tread down a discriminatory, anti-immigrant path,” said Nora Preciado, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “This lawsuit proves once again that Alabama’s policies aren’t just unconstitutional, but also out of touch with the political mainstream.”

The latest attack on immigrants in Alabama is part of HB 658, a package of revisions to the state’s notorious anti-immigrant law, HB 56. HB 658 effectively doubled-down on the draconian nature of the original law enacted in 2011. Section 5 of HB 658 requires the state to compile and post on a public website the names and other information clearly identifying certain immigrants unable to prove their legal status when they are detained on any state charge, no matter how minor, and appear in state court. The plaintiffs in this case would fall within this requirement and be unconstitutionally added to this “blacklist.”

Justin Cox, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, pointed out that the blacklist — which has also been called a “scarlet letter” — was controversial when it was pushed through by one Alabama legislator.

“Senator Scott Beason should never have been allowed to hijack the state legislature with his anti-immigrant agenda,” he said. “This law violates privacy laws and basic constitutional rights, as well as conflicts with fundamental American values of fairness and equality. Instead of moving forward with a mean-spirited law that is doomed to fail, Alabama should join the rest of the country and focus on common-sense reforms that benefit citizens and immigrants alike.”

This law requires the posting of private information that the federal government has declared confidential and not subject to public disclosure. Once a person is on the list, the law provides no means to remove their name or change their information if the listing is inaccurate or the person obtains permission to live in the United States — even if the person becomes a citizen.

“This part of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law represents an unfortunate effort to bully and intimidate immigrants into leaving Alabama,” said Kristi Graunke, staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “It is designed to permanently brand, humiliate and otherwise make life difficult for immigrants regardless of status. It conflicts with federal privacy requirements and burdens the already cash-strapped state court system. Sadly, laws like this show that Alabama has yet to turn away from the devastation its anti-immigrant laws have caused.”

The Alabama Administrative Office of Courts is charged with compiling the list. All individuals falling into a new and vague category of immigration status created by the law are added to the list, even if their cases are later dismissed. The law also provides no notice to people that their names and information will be posted online.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already blocked key provisions of Alabama’s original anti-immigrant law — the most extreme in the nation — after finding that it conflicted with federal immigration law. The revision mandating the “black list” also violates federal law, and encourages discrimination by targeting immigrants.

A copy of the complaint is available at

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Immigration Reform Meetings

February 5, 2013

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

Two-Step on Immigration Reform in Washington

WASHINGTON — Today, President Barack Obama hosted advocates and labor leaders, including National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié, for a discussion about changing our immigration policies. At the same time, the House of Representatives held the year’s first congressional hearing on immigration. Below is a statement from Hincapié on both activities:

“Our conversation today with President Obama was both candid and productive. The president, like the rest of us, recognizes that now is the time to create an immigration process that opens a broad and direct road to citizenship. This road should not be conditioned upon increased border militarization, nor should it come with onerous roadblocks or delays. We will continue to work with legislators, as well as with the White House, to create an immigration system that meets our 21st century societal and economic needs.

“Today’s activities show that in Washington there are some elected officials who learned from the 2012 elections and there are some who clearly have not. The voters have spoken: we want a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million women and men who are Americans at heart. When legislators call this solution, which is favored by a majority of American voters, ‘extreme,’ it simply shows that they are out of touch with our national needs and values.”

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Driver’s Licenses for Michigan DREAMers

February 1, 2013

Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), (213) 674-2832; [email protected]
Vesna Jaksic, ACLU national, (212) 284-7347 or 549-2666; [email protected]
Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan, (616) 301-0930; [email protected]

Michigan Reverses Policy, Issues Driver’s Licenses to DREAMers

Victory for immigrant youth should resonate in other states

DETROIT — A coalition of civil rights organizations welcomed the Michigan secretary of state’s decision today to drop an unlawful policy that prevented young immigrants brought to the country as children — commonly known as DREAMers — from receiving driver’s licenses and identification cards in the state.

The coalition, which includes the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a federal lawsuit in December asking a court to rule that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are legally authorized to be in the United States and, therefore, are eligible for licenses. Today’s decision comes just two weeks after the federal government issued guidance confirming that DREAMers are authorized to live and work in the country.

Tanya Broder, senior attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, said: “Michigan today reached a decision that is legally and morally sound. Their decision provides DREAMers with deferred action the opportunity to contribute more fully to their communities and to their families. Arizona and Nebraska, which continue to deny driver’s licenses to DREAMers, should take note: they are among a dwindling number of states that stand on the wrong side of history and the law.”

Miriam Aukerman, staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, said: “Today’s announcement is a tremendous victory for the thousands of young people who may not have been born here, however have only known this country to be home. They have the same dreams as other young Americans — contribute to their communities and make a difference in the world. Last June, the federal government gave them a chance to fulfill these dreams. Today, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is helping to make their dreams a reality. We look forward to dismissing our lawsuit and turning the page to a more welcoming and inclusive Michigan.”

Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “We’re thrilled that DREAMers in Michigan will now be able to get driver’s licenses, so they can continue going to classes, keep their jobs and help their families. The small fraction of states that are still considering banning DREAMers from the roads should do the same. Our national leaders have acknowledged the need to enact a common-sense, humane immigration plan, and what better way for states to move in that direction than by passing policies that welcome, rather than marginalize, our hard-working immigrant youth.”

NILC, the ACLU, and other partners have also filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s unlawful policy prohibiting youth from getting driver’s licenses. While the vast majority of states are issuing licenses to DREAMers, Arizona and Nebraska have barred DACA recipients from obtaining licenses. In addition to Michigan, Iowa recently agreed that DACA recipients are eligible for licenses, and Illinois made licenses available to all residents regardless of immigration status. The attorney general of North Carolina has also clarified that DACA recipients are eligible for driver’s licenses, but DMV officials in that state have yet to confirm that they will be making licenses available.

To read more about the Michigan and Arizona cases, go