Category Archives: July 2013

Univision Cites NILC Director’s Leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2013

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

Marielena Hincapié Receives Univision Award for Commitment to Latino Community

Corazón Leadership Award One of Two Awards Presented Yearly, One to an Individual, the Other to an Organization

MIAMI — National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié has received Univision’s “Corazón Award” for 2013 in honor of her commitment to the Latino community. The media company, which honors one organization and one individual each year, cited Hincapié’s leadership at the National Immigration Law Center as a key reason she received this award.

“With Marielena at the helm, the National Immigration Law Center has become the country’s preeminent policy and legal organization that examines immigration issues through the lens of low-income immigrants,” said Muzaffar Chishti, the chair of the board of the National Immigration Law Center. “Whether appearing on MSNBC or speaking at a community forum, Marielena is a trusted expert who can explain complex legal issues in English and Spanish. This makes her an invaluable asset to today’s immigrants’ rights movement.”

Hincapié assumed leadership of the National Immigration Law Center in 2008 after serving as the organization’s director of programs. Under her tenure, the National Immigration Law Center has grown to become a powerhouse for civil rights litigation, leading challenges against SB 1070, Arizona’s notorious racial profiling law, and suing to restore access to driver’s licenses for DREAMers.

The organization also serves a key advocacy role in the current immigration reform debate, translating legislative text and advocating for a broad, inclusive, and direct road to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million immigrants living and laboring without proper documentation.

“Univision is the most trusted news source for the Latino community, and I am both humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Hincapié. “As an immigrant from Colombia, my commitment to ensuring basic rights for all Americans, no matter where they were born or how much they earn, isn’t just professional; it’s personal as well.”

After the awards ceremony, Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos interviewed Hincapié in a segment that aired on the network’s “Al Punto” program yesterday. The interview can be seen here.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC uses a variety of tools, including policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to advance its mission. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, thwarted policies that would have devastated the lives of low-income immigrants and their family members, and advanced major policies that reinforce our nation’s values of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

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U.S. v. South Carolina: Preliminary Injunction Affirmed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, NILC, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org
Isabel Alegria, ACLU, 646-438-4146, media@aclu.org
Apreill Hartsfield, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), 334-782-6624,apreill.hartsfield@splcenter.org

Fourth Circuit Upholds Decision to Block Key Portions of South Carolina Anti-Immigrant Law

RICHMOND, VA — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s decision to block key components of SB 20, South Carolina’s Arizona-style anti-immigrant law. As a result, provisions of the law that would have criminalized daily interactions with immigrants present without status, as well as provisions pertaining to use of identification and registration immigration documents, will remain blocked.

The court also determined that the plaintiffs in the civil rights coalition’s lawsuit had the right to sue the state over its law.

“Today’s decision isn’t just a victory for civil rights, it’s also a victory for our plaintiffs, who took a brave stand against racial profiling in their state,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, who argued the case. “Today’s decision also underscores the need for the U.S. House of Representatives to follow in the Senate’s footsteps and finally create a moral, accountable, and effective immigration system. Until then, we will continue to fight to ensure that immigrants and others are not discriminated against simply because of the way they look or speak.”

The coalition filed a lawsuit against the law in October 2011. The U.S. Department of Justice, which later filed a lawsuit against the law, also argued that the law should be blocked because it will cause irreparable harm and interfere with federal immigration law.

“Today’s decision closes a dark chapter in South Carolina,” said Sam Brooke, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The courts have consistently ruled that hate-filled state laws that try to drive an entire class of people from the state’s borders will not be tolerated. Today’s ruling that South Carolina may not criminalize neighborly acts of kindness like giving a person a ride further ensures that all people will be treated fairly under the law. Today is a good day for all South Carolinians.”

“This unanimous ruling strongly affirms the right of all people to remain free from harassment and prosecution by state officials on immigration-related grounds, and confirms that South Carolina’s attempt to criminalize the lives of immigrants and those who interact with them every day is simply unconstitutional,” said Andre Segura, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project. “ This divisive law is clearly contrary to American values, particularly in light of our nation’s call for fair and humane immigration reform.  South Carolina should work to unite, not divide, its residents.”

The coalition in the South Carolina case includes the National Immigration Law Center, ACLU, the Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU of South Carolina, the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the law firms of Rosen, Rosen & Hagood and the Lloyd Law Firm.

More information about the case is available at www.nilc.org/sb20.html. The decision issued today can be downloaded from www.nilc.org/document.html?id=944.

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KIDS Act: Watered-down DREAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2013

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

“KIDS Act” Hearing Defies House’s Record Against DREAMers

WASHINGTON — The House Subcommittee on Immigration holds a hearing today on the status of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children without documents, despite the House leadership’s longstanding opposition to DREAM Act legislation.

Furthermore, House leaders are drafting their so-called KIDS Act, which is expected to be a watered-down version of the DREAM Act. DREAMers who have been leading the movement for immigration reform, the National Immigration Law Center, and other immigration reform allies oppose this effort. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and of the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, issued the following statement at the start of today’s hearing:

“The National Immigration Law Center has been leading national legislative efforts on behalf of the DREAM Act since 2001 because we know firsthand the many contributions DREAMers have made to our county and the incredible potential they have if only they are allowed to fulfill their dreams.

“While we welcome a valid discussion about commonsense immigration reform, we are disheartened by House members’ DREAM-related efforts, which seem designed to fragment immigrant families, DREAMers, and immigration advocate communities.

“The purpose of today’s hearing is clear: Certain House members want to create a perception that House leaders are interested in DREAMers’ contributions to our country. Unfortunately, the House’s actions over the past few months speak louder than their words.

“Two years ago, the chief sponsors of the KIDS Act — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, both of Virginia — voted against the DREAM Act that was approved by a bipartisan majority in the House. Then a few weeks ago, members of this subcommittee voted to resume the deportation of DREAMers who are eligible for temporary relief from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) administrative program.

“Only now, after the Senate has passed an immigration bill and the House faces pressure to act, have the leaders offered up a hearing on DREAMers, while vowing to reject a road to citizenship for their families, friends, and other immigrants across the U.S. who would be eligible under the Senate’s plan.

“We will continue to work hard for our families, and we look forward to having a good discussion with House leaders about a road to citizenship and justice for all, not just some.”

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Concerns over E-Verify

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2013

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

E-Verify: Still Too Costly for Workers

WASHINGTON —U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today released a new study about the workability of its voluntary E-Verify program, an Internet-based system that checks whether new employees are eligible to be employed in the U.S. The study, which was conducted by the Westat Corporation, shows that the program has improved since the last time it was studied, but that there continue to be significant reasons to be concerned about its reliability and effect on U.S. workers.

For example, the report shows that employers who fail to follow the program’s rules are a significant cause of workers receiving final notices from E-Verify that they are not authorized to work. The employers either do not inform workers of initial warnings that they may not be authorized to work, or of notices that they need to contact the Social Security Administration to clear up possible mistakes or discrepancies. Moreover, a lack of proper monitoring of employers’ compliance with the program’s rules leaves no incentive for them to follow the rules. When employers using E-Verify fail to follow the program’s rules, citizens and employment-authorized workers suffer.

“The shortcomings of the program, which relies on information stored in government databases, are significant. No one should lose a job because of a computer error,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

“As the immigration reform debate moves forward with proposals to require all employers in the U.S. to use E-Verify, we will continue to press for a system that has due process protections so that workers can correct their records without losing wages, or worse, their jobs,” Hincapié added.

In testimony before Congress, NILC has shown how E-Verify would cause jobs losses for U.S. citizens and work-authorized immigrants if its use is made mandatory without the program also incorporating new, significant due process and worker protections. Although USCIS should be commended for improving the program’s accuracy, without commonsense immigration reform and strong due process and worker protections in place, mandatory E-Verify will remain problematic.

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Reducing Harm from Georgia’s Anti-Immigrant HB 87

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, 213- 400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org
Isabel Alegria, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, 415-343-0785 or 646-438-4146,media@aclu.org
Apreill Hartsfield, Southern Poverty Law Center, 334-782-6624, apreill.hartsfield@splcenter.org

Coalition Pursues Open Records Requests with Law Enforcement Agencies in 28 Georgia Jurisdictions

Next Steps to Reduce Harm from What Remains of State’s Anti-Immigrant HB 87

ATLANTA — Following the federal district court’s order today in Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, et al. v. Deal, et al., a coalition of civil rights groups announced the next steps in its effort to dismantle the state’s anti-immigrant law, HB 87. Significant parts of the law have been blocked by the courts, but one provision remains that allows police officers to ask the federal government to verify the immigration status of individuals who are lawfully detained on state-law grounds. It does not allow for stops, arrests, or even extending detention for immigration verification. Today’s order holds that challenges to that provision’s implementation must be brought in other suits, rather than through the original case that the coalition filed before HB 87’s effective date in 2011.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that if a law like this results in police detaining people to investigate their immigration status,” said Linton Joaquin of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), “it would raise serious constitutional problems. We will continue to monitor to ensure that police implement this law in a constitutional manner.”

“This particular lawsuit has been dismissed, but our commitment to justice in Georgia is as strong as ever,” said Omar Jadwat, supervising attorney, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “In this case, we permanently struck down HB 87’s central provision that would have made it a crime just to give an immigrant friend a ride to church or to work, and we put narrow limits on the remaining verification provision. Now we’re going to make sure what’s left of this mean-spirited law does not harm the people of Georgia,” Jadwat said. “By filing 28 open records requests in jurisdictions throughout the state, we mean to send a message to law enforcement agencies that we will closely monitor their implementation of the remains of HB 87, and we stand ready to bring additional targeted lawsuits as necessary. Racial profiling and discrimination based on a person’s looks or the language that they speak will not go unnoticed or unopposed in Georgia,” Jadwat said.

Georgia’s anti-immigrant law, HB 87, was inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070. In June 2011, a federal judge blocked much of the law; however, last March a federal appeals court let the immigration status–verification provision go into effect, while making clear that strict limits applied to its implementation.

“Today’s decision ends a chapter in the fight against Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws,” said Naomi Tsu, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Through this case, the brave community members who challenged HB 87 succeeded in ensuring that Georgians will not be criminalized for neighborly acts of kindness. Going forward, we will be watching law enforcement and will take action if we see immigration enforcement that violates civil rights.”

The records requests announced today target municipal and county law enforcement agencies in areas around Atlanta and Macon as well as Savannah, along Georgia’s eastern coast.

“There have been indications of rampant racial profiling in metro-Atlanta counties which participate in federal enforcement programs in particular as we documented in our reports onCobb and Gwinnett,” said Azadeh Shahshahani of the ACLU of Georgia. “We were concerned that the implementation of HB 87 would turn the entire state into racial profiling territory, which is what prompted us to file the public records requests.”

The civil rights coalition that filed the original lawsuit includes NILC, the ACLU, the ACLU of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, Federal & Hassan, LLP, Kuck Immigration Partners, LLC, and G. Brian Spears.

For more information about Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, et al. v. Deal, et al. visitwww.nilc.org/hb87.html.

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NILC Against Border Militarization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2013

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

NILC Stands With Border Communities Against Border Militarization

WASHINGTON, D.C. —This week, human rights groups from across the nation have come together to show Congress the harm that would come from the proposed militarization of the U.S.’s southern border. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) urges Congress to listen to the concerns of the millions of people who live, work, and attend school along the border, and who would likely face infringements of their civil rights if this proposal were to become law. Here is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, NILC’s executive director

“The proposed $46 billion border ‘surge’ is overkill. This colossal waste of money will damage border communities and their economies while lining the pockets of defense contractors. It is not good policy but rather bad, shameful politics. The proposal was offered to placate those who oppose a commonsense immigration reform that includes a path to legal status and citizenship for those currently without documents.

“Families living along the southwestern border already must endure helicopters overhead, drones, and interference from tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents on a daily basis, and they have strongly objected to proposals to throw an additional $46 billion toward further militarization of their homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

“We need smart and fiscally responsible immigration policy that keeps families together and makes our borders safe from drug cartels and human traffickers without violating the human rights and civil liberties of all people.

“Congress should enact policy that makes common sense, not a policy that turns our southern border into a war zone.”

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NILC Applauds Confirmation of Perez as Labor Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2013

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

NILC Applauds Senate Confirmation of Thomas E. Perez as Labor Secretary

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Thomas E. Perez, a strong defender of working families and the civil and voting rights of all Americans, is President Obama’s next secretary of labor following a 54-46 confirmation vote by the Senate. Perez, who previously served as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and as labor secretary for the state of Maryland, assumes the Cabinet position with strong credentials as a guardian of workers. Following the Senate vote, National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié issued the following statement“Tom Perez is the right person for the job at the right time. As our nation’s economy and society are expanded and enhanced by our growing diversity, Perez — the first-ever Dominican American to assume a Cabinet-level position — brings his rich cultural and professional background to an important post that affects workers and employers every day.

“Earlier in his career, as Maryland’s labor secretary, Perez proved to be a problem-solver by working with business and labor leaders to ensure workers were paid fair wages. Then, as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, he helped form the Fair Lending Unit, which took on predatory lenders who had taken advantage of lower-income and minority mortgage applicants.

“During Perez’s tenure at the Department of Justice, we worked closely with him to fight back against draconian racial profiling laws in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere. His commitment to upholding the civil  rights of all people — regardless of where they were born — is unwavering. We know this commitment will follow him to the Department of Labor.

“Immigration reform must be just and fair, and Perez’s outstanding record suggests that is how he will perform as labor secretary.

“Congratulations, Secretary Perez.”

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Napolitano to Lead University of California System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2013

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

Napolitano Heads to the Golden State, Will Lead University of California System

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced that she has been nominated to succeed Mark Yudoff as the first woman president of the University of California system. The nomination, which must be confirmed by the University of California regents, would take the secretary to California this August. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center:

“Secretary Napolitano undoubtedly will bring a wealth of experience to one of the world’s most prestigious public systems of higher education. She will take the helm of a university system that, through its in-state tuition and tuition assistance polices, has led the way in making it possible for Californians, regardless of where they were born or how much money they have, to fulfill their educational dreams.

“Secretary Napolitano’s departure also provides the Obama administration with a welcome opportunity to move away from the administration’s current practice of deporting members of immigrant families at a record-breaking pace. Under this administration, too many children fear not seeing their parents when they come home from school and far too many have been placed in foster care because their parents have been deported. We hope the new head of the Department of Homeland Security restores some much needed discretion and accountability to a deportation machine that has already wreaked havoc on immigrant families and communities across the country.

“The U.C. system has always rightly recognized that California is at its best when all residents of the Golden State have the tools and opportunities they need to reach their full human potential. We are confident that Secretary Napolitano will follow in President Yudoff’s footsteps and lend a strong voice of support for an immigration system that allows all California’s residents to get on a road to citizenship.”

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