Category Archives: July 2015

Groups Decry Expected Enforcement Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2015

CONTACT
Elizabeth Beresford, elizabeth@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 917-648-0189

More Than 50 California Groups Urge Sens. Feinstein, Boxer to Stop Efforts to Undermine California Law; Expected Legislation Would Bully Local Authorities

“We are deeply concerned that leaders in the state with the largest immigrant population in the country are willing to consider or lead legislative efforts to mandate local and state police entanglement with federal immigration enforcement.”

[ View letter here: www.nilc.org/document.html?id=1269 ] [*]

WASHINGTON — Over 50 California civil rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, and faith-based organizations urged their senators to stop efforts that would undermine California law. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) delivered the letter to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer this afternoon.

It comes in response to reports that Senators Feinstein and Boxer are planning to introduce federal legislation that would undermine California law by requiring all jurisdictions’ local law enforcement to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or face defunding of essential government programs needed to keep communities safe.

The letter, which was signed by a diverse community of California constituents who represent civil rights, immigrants’ rights, victims’ services, labor, faith, and human rights organizations, can be accessed at www.nilc.org/document.html?id=1269.[*]

The groups expressed concerns “that leaders in the state with the largest immigrant population in the country are willing to consider or lead legislative efforts to mandate local and state police entanglement with federal immigration enforcement. This type of entanglement through Secure Communities and other programs resulted in more deportations in California than any other state and a record number of deportations in our history. Legislative efforts, along with efforts to strip federal grants from local law enforcement agencies that prioritize building and restoring community trust over detention and deportation, are exactly the kinds of enforcement-only policies that have and will continue to rip apart millions of immigrant families who make up the fabric of our communities across California and the entire nation.”

“We are deeply concerned that Senators Feinstein and Boxer are considering legislation that would undermine California law,” said Eric Cohen, executive director, Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “As the most immigrant-rich state in the nation, California has been a leader in establishing law enforcement policy and practice that prioritize community trust and safety. Local law enforcement officials nationwide have repeatedly and consistently decried any obligation to enforce federal immigration law because doing so undermines community trust in the police, which is a critical component to effective policing.”

“Senators Feinstein and Boxer should know better than to champion policies that bully localities into a forced arrangement with ICE,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director, National Immigration Law Center. “Instead of reactionary policies that continue the failed enforcement-only approach of recent decades, what we need instead is broad, humane, and just immigration reform that presents a long-term solution consistent with our values. California has the most to win or lose from our immigration policies. And we expect our elected officials to promote common-sense solutions that result in immigrant integration, not punitive policies that further marginalize new Californians.”

Over 320 localities in diverse geographic regions such as Kansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and many other states have limited their involvement in immigration enforcement because of concerns about liability for failure to uphold Fourth Amendment protections and concerns that such involvement undermines community trust in the police, a critical component to effective policing.

Law enforcement groups, as well as groups representing cities, mayors, and crime victims have all spoken out in opposition to policies that undermine community trust, saying when victims and witnesses are afraid to come forward and work with the police, the police simply cannot do their job.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has also recently condemned any federal legislation that would require sheriffs and police to cooperate with ICE.

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[*] The letter’s list of signatories was updated on July 28, 2015.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, law enforcement, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is the primary legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC focuses on key issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, including access to health care, economic support programs, and education; workers’ rights; and immigration reform and enforcement policies. To advance its mission, NILC uses multiple, integrated strategies: litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. And through trainings, publications, and providing legal counsel and advice, NILC also educates a wide range of audiences about legal and policy matters that affect immigrants.

 

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Groups Urge “No” Vote on HR 3009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2015

CONTACT
Gebe Martinez, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com, 703-731-9505

House to Vote on Politically Driven Bill Undermining Community-Safety Policies, Women, and Other Victims of Crime

NILC, AILA, CAP send vote-norecommendation to House

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would strip federal grants from local police agencies that prioritize building and restoring community trust over detention and deportation will undermine public safety, according to a vote-“no” recommendation to lawmakers from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Center for American Progress (CAP).

“H.R. 3009 is reactionary legislation that will not even advance its stated goal of protecting American communities. Instead, the bill scapegoats immigrants and seeks to punish cities and counties that it labels as ‘sanctuary cities,’” the groups stated in their vote recommendation on the bill, which was hurriedly introduced after the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. These cities “do not harbor dangerous or violent criminals but instead promote public safety by using well-established community-oriented policing strategies that build trust between law enforcement and the community,” the groups told members of Congress.

“It is unconscionable that Congress would threaten to cut critical funds for police programs that build community trust and assist crime victims, including survivors of domestic violence,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC. “Punishing local and state law enforcement agencies by taking away grants for essential crime-solving tools like rape kits and bullet-proof vests absolutely undermines public safety and protections for victims of crime,” Hincapié added.

“These ill-conceived policies will not achieve their purported intent, but will result in immigrants being scapegoated. Instead of voting on dangerous bills that undercut community safety, Congress should focus on real solutions that would come from passing comprehensive immigration reform,” the NILC executive director said.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Chief Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and police chief for Montgomery County, MD, said, “Surely, the committee recognizes that withholding federal funds to coerce performance of federal duties by local police is not why these programs were established.” The point was underscored today by Dayton, OH, Police Chief Richard Biehl, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “We should not punish localities that are trying to promote trust in their communities,” Biehl told the congressional panel.

H.R. 3009 would withhold grants to “sanctuary cities” from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (“SCAAP”), the Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) program, and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (“Byrne JAG”).

In a blog published today in The Hill, Grace Huang, public policy program coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, described cases in which immigrant women’s trust in police — or lack of trust because of fear of deportation simply for reporting a crime — affected crime-solving.

“In Seattle, where I live, more than two dozen sexual assaults were committed against Asian women waiting for the bus. Their willingness to come forward led to the arrest of the attacker,” Huang wrote. “If victims and witnesses of crime do not feel safe to step forward, the police cannot do their jobs and we are all less safe.”

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New Immigration Enforcement Bills Unwise

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2015

CONTACT
Gebe Martinez, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com, 703-731-9505

Congress Going Down Dangerous Road with Immigration Enforcement Bills

Law enforcement leader warns about adverse impact on public safety

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would mandate that local police become entangled in immigration enforcement at the risk of losing federal funding would make cities less safe and wrongly punish police departments and the residents they serve, National Immigration Law Center (NILC) Executive Director Marielena Hincapié said Tuesday.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a bill that would block federal grants for community policing and aid to crime victims in cities that do not turn over immigrants to federal authorities. Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed similar proposals during a hearing Tuesday.

“These proposals are dangerous on many levels,” Hincapié said. “We agree with local law enforcement officials that this type of legislation would undermine state and local law enforcement’s efforts to build and restore community trust. Policies that turn local police into immigration enforcers will chill relationships with their immigrant communities, making them less likely to report crimes or come forward as witnesses, out of fear of immigration-related consequences. Ultimately, the safety of the entire community is at risk.”

During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Chief Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and police chief for Montgomery County, MD, said, “Surely, the committee recognizes that withholding federal funds to coerce performance of federal duties by local police is not why these programs were established.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told the Senate panel she would introduce legislation that would penalize localities that do not comply with Dept. of Homeland Security requests in certain circumstances. California passed the Trust Act in 2013, a landmark law that took significant steps to disentangle local police and immigration enforcement.

The flurry of legislative activity around immigration enforcement follows the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle, of San Francisco, which involved an undocumented immigrant. Some politicians immediately exploited the issue to advance an anti-immigrant agenda.

Hincapié urged Congress “not to act irrationally in response to a tragic incident, but to be mindful of the unfairness of criminalizing an entire community because of the actions of one individual.”

“It is also dangerous to pass legislation that would undermine community safety,” she said.

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A recording of a telephonic news conference held yesterday (Mon., July 20) about this issue is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/eyr9nwwoalvzmca/COMMUNITIES%20072015.mp3?dl=0.

 

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Community-Safety Policies Highlighted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2015

CONTACT
Gebe Martinez, NILC, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com, 703-731-9505
Katy Green, 650-464-1545

Ahead of Senate Judiciary Hearing, Law Enforcement Leader, Legal Experts, and Victims’ Services Advocates Discuss the Importance of Community-Safety Policies

Leaders speak out against efforts to demagogue and stereotype broader immigrant community

WASHINGTON — With Congress poised to consider heavy-handed, reactionary immigration proposals following the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, law enforcement, immigrants’ rights and victims’ services advocates urged Congress on Monday not to impose immigration enforcement mandates on local law enforcers.

“We strongly oppose any legislation that would undermine state and local law enforcement’s efforts to build and restore community trust,” said Avideh Moussavian, policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on proposals that would broadly criminalize and punish the larger immigrant community as the result of Steinle’s death, which involved an undocumented immigrant. Immediately after the death, some politicians exploited the issue to advance an anti-immigrant agenda, prompting some members of Congress to question community safety policies that promote trust between law enforcement and immigrants while protecting all residents.

Thomas Manger, President of the Major Cities Chiefs and Chief of Police of Montgomery County, Maryland, explained on the press call the high priority that local law enforcement agencies and cities give to maintaining community trust.

“While immigration enforcement is not our role, it is our duty to cooperate in a manner that is consistent with our duty to protect the public,” Manger said, adding that local agencies “should not be harmed or punished for this one case, which I think was more of an anomaly.”

Angela Chan, Policy Director and Senior Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, emphasized that these local policies are key to protecting fundamental, constitutional rights. “Ending unconstitutional immigration hold requests is key to building confidence between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. When local law enforcement act as deportation agents, this puts victims and witnesses of crime at risk, and damages community safety for all.”

As Grace Huang, Public Policy Coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, added, “Efforts to undermine community safety policies would have detrimental consequences for domestic violence victims: “Domestic violence victims must be able to access the police when they need help. When immigrants are afraid to come forward to seek help, the entire community is less safe.”

The press conference coincided with the announcement of a letter to members of Congresssigned by almost 90 local and national organizations, stating strong opposition to legislation that, “scapegoats all immigrants based on the acts of one.”

A recording of today’s call is available athttps://www.dropbox.com/s/eyr9nwwoalvzmca/COMMUNITIES%20072015.mp3?dl=0.

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Some Three-Year DACA Work Permits Recalled

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2015

CONTACTS
Elizabeth Beresford | NILC | elizabeth@fitzgibbonmedia.com | 917.648.0189
Mario Carrillo | UWD | mario@unitedwedream.org | 915.449.6463

USCIS Ramps Up Effort to Collect Three-Year DACA and Work Permits Issued in Error Post-Injunction

Administration to begin home visits on Thursday, July 16

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin visiting the homes of some beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) who were issued work permits with the wrong expiration date and have yet to return them.

In November 2014, the Obama administration began issuing DACA work permits that were valid for three years — an extension of one year over previous program rules. On February 16, 2015, a federal judge placed a temporary injunction on the change, effectively ordering USCIS to go back to issuing work permits valid for the original two-years from that date forward. However USCIS continued issuing extended work permits for a short period of time as their systems were updated. It is only these mistakenly issued three-year work permits that the agency is asking be returned in exchange for a valid, two-year work permit.

The DACA program benefits nearly 700,000 individuals, and this issue only impacts about 2,500 people. Further, most individuals who were issued work permits with the wrong expiration date have already returned their mistakenly issued work permits, and just over 1,000 remain.

USCIS has threatened to invalidate DACA status entirely for individuals who do not return their mistakenly issued work permits by July 30, 2015. The agency will visit only the homes of those who have not responded to agency letters and calls so far.

Home visits are expected to begin as early as Thursday, July 16, in Chicago, Los Angeles, and possibly Dallas and Houston, only to some homes of the just over 1,000 individuals for whom this applies. Advocates fear confusion and panic because of the visits and have begun an aggressive public education effort to help deal with the situation.

Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, issued the following statement,

“It’s alarming that a mistake by USCIS could cost hundreds of immigrant youth their DACA and their work permits. The administration’s mistake could cost immigrant youth jobs, opportunities for school, and driver’s licenses.

“These are people who paid the fees, applied on time, were approved for DACA, and now, because of an error, are at risk of losing their protection from deportation.

“But our message to those who received their three-year work authorizations is, Return them as soon as possible to avoid losing your DACA and falling out of immigration status.”

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

“The actions taken to retrieve the three-year work authorization documents by USCIS are in direct response to Judge Hanen’s order in the case challenging DAPA and expanded DACA. While we do not agree with the extreme measures USCIS is taking to ensure the return of these documents, we encourage the small number of DACA recipients who received the three-year work permits after February 16, 2015, to answer any letters, calls, or visit by USCIS officials so as not to lose their DACA and work authorization.

“While immigrant communities might be confused and fearful of this, USCIS’s goal is only to retrieve the three-year work permit and replace it with a two-year permit in order fully to comply with Judge Hanen’s order.”

For more information, you can listen to today’s Spanish language media call with Cristina Jimenez, Marielena Hincapié and Oscar Chacon here.

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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful nonpartisan network made up of 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states. UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. We seek to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and believe that by empowering immigrant youth, we can advance the cause of the entire community—justice for all immigrants.

You can find more about UWD online atwww.unitedwedream.org.

 

NILC is the primary legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC focuses on key issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, including access to health care, economic support programs, and education; workers’ rights; and immigration reform and enforcement policies. To advance its mission, NILC uses multiple, integrated strategies: litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. And through trainings, publications, and providing legal counsel and advice, NILC also educates a wide range of audiences about legal and policy matters that affect immigrants.

You can find out more about NILC online at www.nilc.org.

 

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Survey of DACAmented Details Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2015

CONTACT
Tanya Arditi, 202.741.6258, tarditi@americanprogress.org

New Survey of DACA Recipients Finds that Average Hourly Wages Increased by 45 Percent, Among Other Benefits

A nationwide survey conducted by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Center for American Progress illustrates the impact of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on employment, wages, education, and more.

WASHINGTON — A new nationwide survey of DACA recipients released today is one of the first to systematically quantify the wage effect of receiving deferred action, with data showing that DACA has increased average hourly wages for recipients by 45 percent. The survey, conducted by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress, illustrates the economic and educational benefit of the program three years after its implementation.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • A full 96 percent of respondents are currently employed or in school, showing that DACA has significantly helped recipients participate in the labor force.
  • 69 percent of recipients are getting better, higher-paying jobs than they had before they received DACA, with 57 percent of them reporting moving to a job “that better fits [their] education and training” and 54 percent moving to a job with better working conditions.
  • They are buying cars at high rates, with the survey finding that 21 percent of recipients bought their first cars and 89 percent of respondents obtained a driver’s license or state ID for the first time after receiving DACA.
  • 92 percent of respondents who are currently in school say that because of DACA, they pursued educational opportunities previously unavailable to them.

Given that higher wages translate into more tax revenue and more economic growth, the survey findings suggest that DACA benefits all Americans.

Access the analysis of the survey here.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Tanya S. Arditi at tarditi@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6258.

Graphic: DACA is significantly improving the lives of immigrants

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Tom K. Wong is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He is also the director of the International Migration Studies Program minor. His research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant “illegality.” As these issues have far-reaching implications, his work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity.

NILC is the primary legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC focuses on key issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, including access to health care, economic support programs, and education; workers’ rights; and immigration reform and enforcement policies. To advance its mission, NILC uses multiple, integrated strategies: litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. And through trainings, publications, and providing legal counsel and advice, NILC also educates a wide range of audiences about legal and policy matters that affect immigrants.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

 

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Confederate Flag Removal Applauded

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2015

CONTACTS
Alec Saslow, alec@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 720-319-4948
Elizabeth Beresford, elizabeth@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 917-648-0189

National Immigration Law Center Applauds South Carolina’s Decision to Remove Confederate Flag

COLUMBIA — Following votes in both bodies of the South Carolina Legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds, Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, made the following statement:

“For communities that have been marginalized and ostracized, the symbol of the Confederate battle flag carries powerful and painful memories and serves as a reminder of how much work our country still has to do to achieve racial equality.

“The removal of the flag is long overdue. This is a victory for grassroots organizers and advocates for justice, and a new opportunity for healing in South Carolina and across the country. It’s time for the Confederate flag to come down anywhere it’s still flying, once and for all.”

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NILC Staff Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2015

CONTACT
Elizabeth Beresford, elizabeth@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 917-648-0189
Andrea Alford, andrea@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 703-477-1075
Nery Espinosa (Spanish language), nery@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 214-263-1294

National Immigration Law Center Announces Exciting Staff Changes

Kamal Essaheb promoted to Director of Policy & Advocacy,
Don Lyster elevated to Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center has announced two new leadership positions designed to better streamline policy and advocacy work while integrating organizational priorities. Kamal Essaheb, formerly NILC’s immigration policy attorney, will now oversee federal, state, and local policy and advocacy work. Don Lyster, formerly NILC’s DC office director, will now serve as chief of staff for the entire organization. In this role, Lyster will coordinate specific campaigns and initiatives for the National Immigration Law Center while also overseeing fiscal and administrative issues.

“All our offices will now benefit from Don’s excellent management skills, allowing our inner workings to function more smoothly while also advancing our most important strategic initiatives,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Kamal has proven to be an excellent advocate both on and off Capitol Hill. His ability to see beyond details served us well throughout the immigration reform debate and our advocacy leading up to President Obama’s executive initiatives on immigration. We will need his keen insight and leadership as Congress continues to take on an anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-family agenda while states and localities advance pro-immigrant measures in the absence of federal action.”

Lyster joined the National Immigration Law Center as the director of the DC office in 2011. Prior to working for NILC, Lyster was a government relations consultant. He had also worked for a decade as a congressional aide, serving in various capacities for Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Rep. Hilda Solis, for whom he was chief of staff. Lyster holds a juris doctor from The Catholic University of America and a bachelor of arts from Loyola University in Maryland. He is the son and grandson of Irish immigrants.

Essaheb joined the National Immigration Law Center in 2012 as an immigration policy attorney, focusing on administrative relief efforts and fighting back against excessive immigration enforcement policies. A former DREAMer, he was one of the DACA recipients named a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014. Prior to working at NILC, Essaheb was a practicing immigration attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a nonprofit immigration legal services provider in New York City. He holds a juris doctor from Fordham Law School, where he was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. Essaheb is an immigrant from Morocco.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC advances its mission through policy analysis and litigation, along with education and advocacy. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, thwarted harmful policies, and advanced major initiatives that reinforce our nation’s values of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

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DHS Should Release LGBTQ Detainees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2015

CONTACT
Elizabeth Beresford, nilc@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 917-648-0189

National Immigration Law Center Calls on DHS to Release At-Risk LGBTQ Immigrants

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security on Monday issued guidance on the detention of transgender immigrants. This came after growing calls by advocates for DHS to end the use of detention for LGBTQ immigrants, given their vulnerability to sexual assault inside detention facilities.

National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié released the following statement in response:

“The National Immigration Law Center welcomes the guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security but strongly urges the agency to do more to protect LGBTQ immigrants in detention.

“Simply put, transgender people cannot be safely detained under any circumstance. By continuing to detain this vulnerable community, we are knowingly exposing them to a high risk of assault and rape.

“We will continue to support immigrant and LGBTQ communities nationwide in pressing DHS to ensure this community is safe and protected by ending their detention immediately.”

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