Category Archives: February 2020

National Immigration Law Center Announces Key Leadership Hires

February 26, 2020

Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149

National Immigration Law Center Announces Key Leadership Hires

Nation’s leading immigrants’ rights organization welcomes new chief operating officer, director of communications

LOS ANGELES — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) announced today the addition of two senior staff to its leadership team: Adnan Bokhari will serve as NILC’s chief operating officer, and Victoria Ballesteros has joined the team as NILC’s director of communications.

Adnan Bokhari, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Bokhari will serve on NILC’s Executive Leadership Team and play a key role implementing NILC’s strategic priorities, including advancing racial equity through organizational systems and policies. He will lead the finance, human resources, information technology, administration, and development teams. Bokhari will join NILC on March 2, 2020, and will be based in Washington, DC.

“We are excited to have Adnan take the helm of our operations at this critical time in NILC’s history, as the organization experiences unprecedented growth and executes multiple transformational initiatives to advance our vision for immigration in this country,” stated Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC. “Adnan will play a key role in moving our work forward while creating an organizational infrastructure to support our continued success,” continued Hincapié.

“I am thrilled to be joining the leading immigrant rights organization at this important time for the movement and our nation. I migrated to the United States at the age of 15 and experienced first-hand the arduous path that millions of low-income immigrants traverse in pursuit of a better future. Being a part of NILC’s amazingly talented team offers a distinguished opportunity to advance its mission by utilizing my personal and professional background,” stated Bokhari.

Bokhari is a certified public accountant and brings 20 years of finance and operations experience in the nonprofit sector to NILC. He most recently served as CFO and COO for a national anti-poverty organization based in Washington, DC. Bokhari has gained expertise in leading change and garnered a reputation for building resilient organizations.  He is also the first Pakistani-American to be elected as chairman of the board of directors of Golden Key International Honour Society, the world’s largest collegiate honor society. He also serves on the board of Virginia Community Colleges System (VCCS) appointed by the governor of Virginia, and is chair of the Personnel Committee of the VCCS board.

Victoria Ballesteros, Director of Communications
Ballesteros joined NILC’s Senior Leadership Team in January and will develop strategic communication initiatives for the organization. She is based in Los Angeles, and leads staff in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

“We are elated to welcome Victoria Ballesteros to the NILC team, where she will help grow the visibility and reach of NILC’s work on behalf of immigrants,” stated Hincapié. “So much of what we do requires effective communication strategy, and Victoria brings an incredible blend of strategic and tactical experience to NILC that will support our continued growth and success.”

“My parents are immigrants from Mexico, and I am intimately familiar with the injustices faced by those coming to this country in search of a better life. I cannot think of a more meaningful way to honor their sacrifices than to join NILC in its efforts to protect and advance the rights and opportunities of immigrants, particularly at this time in our nation’s history when immigrants are under relentless attacks by the Trump administration,” stated Ballesteros.

Ballesteros has more than 15 years of experience leading communication efforts in the nonprofit and public sectors. She has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Children’s Defense Fund, Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, California’s Senate Majority Leader, and The SCAN Foundation. Ms. Ballesteros has a master’s degree in communication management from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the California State University, Fullerton, with a minor in Chicano studies. She is fluent in Spanish.


Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the leading advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. NILC’s mission is grounded in the belief that everyone living in the U.S. — regardless of race, gender/gender identity, immigration status, or economic status — should have equal access to justice, resources, and educational and economic opportunities that enable them to achieve their full human potential. NILC is committed to advancing its mission — which intersects race, immigration status, and class — through a racial, economic, and gender justice and equity orientation.


Fight Fear With Facts, NILC Urges As Trump Public Charge Policy Takes Effect

February 24, 2020

Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Fight Fear With Facts, NILC Urges As Trump Public Charge Policy Takes Effect

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State today began implementing the Trump administration’s new “public charge” regulations, a cornerstone of the administration’s attempts to redefine the U.S. immigration system to disenfranchise communities of color and favor the wealthy. The new policy dramatically alters the criteria used in adjudicating applications for lawful permanent residence to make it much more difficult for low- and moderate-income families to overcome the new test.

The new public charge test reviews numerous factors in determining whether an applicant is likely to use an expanded list of public benefits at any time in the future. Few people who are subject to the public charge test qualify for the programs covered by the regulations, but the regulations’ criteria — including new thresholds for income, age, health conditions, and English language proficiency to be weighed in the test — will dramatically reduce the diversity of immigrants to the U.S. As illustrated in a new NILC report released today, fear and confusion over the regulations have already harmed the health and well-being of immigrant families — overwhelmingly families of color — all over the country.

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

“Today, as the implementation of the Trump administration’s pernicious public charge policy weighs heavily on the minds of many immigrants and their families, all of us who value the diversity of our nation and share a vision for a more just and equitable country must strengthen our resolve to keep fighting to uphold our values.

“Over the past three years, the Trump administration has used threats, false starts, exaggeration, and misinformation about public charge to deliberately spread fear and confusion among immigrant communities navigating an already dysfunctional system. These tactics are designed to maximize this cruel new policy’s harmful impact. As a result, we’ve heard far too many reports of families avoiding crucial economic support programs vital to their children and loved ones’ well-being, even before the policy went into effect.

“Faced with these kinds of attacks, we must arm ourselves and our communities with reliable information. Fear is Trump’s weapon of choice, and facts are families’ best defense.

“All of us can also use our voice to fight back against these regulations. Let your elected officials at the local, state, and federal level know that you oppose these hateful efforts to radically restrict our legal immigration system to only the wealthy and stigmatize use of government assistance programs and the immigrant communities who may need an extra hand in order to get on their feet. This policy may be in the rule books today, but future administrations can and should remove it immediately.

“This fight is about the country we want. We must reject Trump’s attempts to redefine who we are and who belongs here. We must keep striving for a country that welcomes newcomers and where each of us — no matter the size of our pocketbook, what we look like, or where we were born — has the ability to fulfill our potential grounded in the same spirit of opportunity that has fostered generations of success stories throughout American history.

“We urge voters who share this vision of a diverse country where everyone has the freedom to thrive to make your voices heard this November in this most consequential election.”


Individuals and service providers seeking more information about the new “public charge” rule should visit

Federal Court Finds Conditions in Customs and Border Protection Detention Facilities Unconstitutional

February 19, 2020

– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
– Maria Frausto, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7526, [email protected]
– Marcela Taracena, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6004, [email protected]
– Kristin Loe, Morrison & Foerster, 415-268-6410, [email protected]
– Matthew Kovac, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 415-510-9601, [email protected]

Federal Court Finds Conditions in Customs and Border Protection Detention Facilities Unconstitutional

Court orders Tucson Sector CBP to meet migrants’ basic human needs following 48 hours from book-in time

TUCSON, AZ — A federal court today ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to overhaul the way the agency detains people in its custody in its Tucson Sector. The court found that the conditions in CBP holding cells, especially those that preclude sleep over several nights, are presumptively punitive and violate the U.S. Constitution.

The court’s order enjoins CBP from holding detainees longer than 48 hours “unless and until CBP can provide conditions of confinement that meet detainees’ basic human needs for sleeping in a bed with a blanket, a shower, food that meets acceptable dietary standards, potable water, and medical assessment performed by a medical professional.”

The lawsuit, Doe v. Wolf, was filed by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The following comments are from:

Individual formerly detained by CBP in the Tucson Sector, identified as Witness B during trial in this litigation: “I feel very happy to know that things are going to change in these detention centers and that people will not have to spend much time under the conditions I was detained in. It is really a joy to know that the necessary medical care will be available, that there will be other food available, and that those who have to be detained for longer periods of time will be held in a place where conditions are adequate. I am very happy to know that I helped make things better for all of the people who follow. So many people will benefit from being treated better during the time they have to be detained there.”

Alvaro M. Huerta, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center: “Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for communities everywhere fighting courageously to uphold human dignity and the rights enshrined in our Constitution. The court recognizes the grave injustices suffered by our brave plaintiffs and tens of thousands of others similarly detained by the Border Patrol in deplorable, dangerous conditions in the Tucson Sector. We are enthused that our justice system has intervened in a meaningful way to institute much-needed change and hold CBP accountable.”

Mary Kenney, directing attorney of litigation with the American Immigration Council: “Through this lawsuit, we have been able to shed light on the realities of the inhumane treatment of migrants in CBP detention facilities. In its decision, the court recognized that conditions in CBP’s Tucson Sector are ‘substantially worse’ than those afforded criminal detainees in jail facilities. Today’s monumental victory ensures that CBP cannot hold migrants in the Tucson Sector over 48 hours without providing conditions that meet basic human needs and serves as an example of the standards that should apply in all CBP facilities.”

Colette Reiner Mayer, trial counsel from Morrison & Foerster LLP: “This is an excellent outcome and we look forward to its implementation. With the court’s order we have secured a permanent solution and hopefully the sickening conditions in these facilities will improve. After years of collecting evidence and preparing and trying this case, the border detention facilities will no longer be allowed to violate the Constitution. Civil detainees in Border Patrol stations have suffered for too long, and this decision will pave the way for systemic change across the country.”

Alessandra Navidad, executive director for the ACLU of Arizona: “Today’s order affirms what our clients and migrants subjected to CBP detention have been saying for years — conditions in these facilities are degrading and violate the U.S. Constitution. Witness testimony and videos shown at trial revealed overcrowding so severe that some migrants were forced to sleep next to toilets. The court found that these conditions violate standards of basic decency and puts migrants at risk of serious harm. We will continue to ensure that this agency is held accountable for civil rights abuses against migrants in their custody.”

Bree Bernwanger, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area: “In today’s decision, a federal court has powerfully validated what our brave clients have been stepping forward to tell us for years: that conditions in the Tucson Sector punish them and deprive them of their dignity. We are thrilled that Border Patrol is, for the first time, being held accountable to the Constitution and can no longer prioritize detention over safety and human dignity.”

Read the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law and judgment.

Attorneys involved in the case and individuals formerly detained by CBP in the Tucson Sector held a telephonic press briefing following the court order, where they spoke about the court’s ruling and the implications of this decision. A recording of the briefing is available at


No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Urges Support of NO BAN Act As It Moves into Committee Markup

February 12, 2020

Hayley Burgess, NILC, [email protected], 202-805-0375
Sabrina Chin, Asian Law Caucus, [email protected], 415-351-9737

No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition Urges Support of NO BAN Act As It Moves into Committee Markup

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House Judiciary Committee will begin the markup process on the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act, also known as the NO BAN Act. The legislation would immediately repeal prior versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, including one that specifically targets refugees, and an asylum ban that targets asylum-seekers arriving at the border, change immigration law to prohibit discrimination based on religion, and limit the power of this administration or any future administration to enact similar bans.

“In the three years since Trump issued numerous iterations of a Muslim ban, families have suffered years of separation and countless people have had their studies and career opportunities suddenly derailed or been denied life-saving care,” said Avideh Moussavian, legislative director at the National Immigration Law Center. “This administration has abused its authority to try to rewrite our immigration laws to openly discriminate against Muslims, including refugees and Africans, as well as asylum-seekers and others. The NO BAN Act is a critical step towards ensuring that we repeal these shameful bans, prevent this kind of blatant religious discrimination, and limit bans like this in the future. It’s crucial that Congress mark up and eventually pass the strongest and most inclusive version of the NO BAN Act.”

“This new Muslim ban expansion dramatically increases the number of Muslim majority countries as well as the number of African ones subject to a ban. The Trump administration continues to separate families, cause travel concerns, and create tension in communities. Congress must step in to pass the NO BAN Act immediately to put a stop to this, before it goes any further,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area.

“The Muslim ban in all its iterations is racist and targets people based on faith, race, and nationality. It’s part of a broader white nationalist agenda being implemented by the Trump administration,” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change. “The NO BAN Act is an important step and message to this administration that Americans will not stand for this type of discrimination and banning of people looking for better opportunities or to be reunited with their families. We call on Congress to pass an inclusive and strong version of the NO BAN Act.”

“We’ve seen first-hand how devasting each iteration of the Muslim ban is to the communities we serve. This reckless family separation policy completely disregards the real harm and trauma to American families, immigrants of color, and refugees. We must repeal the Muslim ban and ensure that no president can enact xenophobic policies like this ever again,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.


Las Vegas Resident Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Local Law Enforcement for Violating His Constitutional Rights Through Collaboration Efforts with ICE

February 6, 2020

Juan Gastelum, NILC, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Howard Mintz, Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP, [email protected], 650-614-7314

Las Vegas Resident Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Local Law Enforcement for Violating His Constitutional Rights Through Collaboration Efforts with ICE

LAS VEGAS, NV — David Adame-Reyes, a longtime Las Vegas resident, who was subject to an unlawful arrest and wrongful detention after being ordered released by a judge, sued Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) today for their practice of jailing community members for the sole purpose of transferring them into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody when the law requires that they instead be released. Adame-Reyes is represented by the National Immigration Law Center, the law firm Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP, and the law firm Holland & Hart LLP.

The lawsuit challenges the decision of Sheriff Lombardo and the LVMPD to grant detention requests called “ICE holds” or “ICE detainers,” despite federal and Nevada law prohibiting that detention. Sheriff Lombardo reinstituted this practice after his predecessor abandoned it (PDF) when courts found the practice unconstitutional. Even as these court decisions mounted, Sheriff Lombardo refused to abandon the practice until recently. Though Sheriff Lombardo announced a pause in the practice, he also explained that he is seeking alternative ways to use local resources to do the work of federal immigration law enforcement and that he would reinstitute the policy if possible.

“Today’s lawsuit is about accountability,” explained Sarah Kim Pak, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “Sheriff Lombardo has long known of the illegality of jailing community members without meeting the requirements our Constitution demands. He’s made it clear that he will revert to old ways at the drop of a hat. It is past time that Sheriff Lombardo learn that his job is to uphold the law, not break it.”

Nevada law bars local law enforcement officers from making arrests to enforce civil immigration laws. The jailing of Adame-Reyes after he had been ordered released by a judge was an unlawful arrest, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and deprived him of his liberty without due process, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The harm of having local law enforcement pursue immigration enforcement has been well documented nationwide. “Entangling local police with federal immigration enforcement results in a climate of fear and less safety for all of us because community members in fear of retribution are less willing to speak out about crimes committed against them or their loved ones.” explained Amanda Maya, litigation associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, adding, “We hope this case will push Clark County and other municipalities to move in a direction that fosters inclusivity and safety for all community members, regardless of their citizenship status.”

Stephen Peek, partner at Holland & Hart, LLP, observed, “This effort to hold Sheriff Lombardo and LVMPD accountable also recognizes the lasting harm that can result from these policies. We are committed to lend our legal services to challenge these policies and seek justice for Mr. Adame-Reyes.”

Adame-Reyes expressed a similar sentiment in explaining why he brought the case. “A court said I could be free, and yet I have been detained for almost six months. I am saddened to be away from my family and to have missed sharing the holiday season with them. It is my hope that Clark County and other local law enforcement agencies will cease working with immigration to detain individuals who, like me, should have been allowed to go home to their families.”

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The complaint filed today is available at