Category Archives: July 2018

Groups Respond to Court Ruling Allowing Refugee Ban Lawsuit to Proceed

July 30, 2018

Adela de la Torre, NILC, 202-384-1275, [email protected]
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, 646-459-3081, [email protected]
Bill Swersey, HIAS, 212-613-1349, [email protected]
Deb Frockt, Jewish Family Service of Seattle, 206-861-3148, [email protected]
Mindy Berkowitz, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, 408-357-7455, [email protected]

Groups Respond to Court Ruling Allowing Refugee Ban Lawsuit to Proceed

SEATTLE — This past Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart issued a decision allowing plaintiffs to seek certain discovery in Jewish Family Service v. Trump, which challenges the Trump administration’s refugee ban issued on October 24, 2017. This decision will allow the plaintiffs to find out whether the suspensions in the refugee resettlement process are continuing in another form.

While Judge Robart had largely blocked the government’s ban on processing refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries back in December 2017, refugee admissions from those countries have ground to a near halt. The individual plaintiffs, including an Iraqi man hiding in Egypt who had worked as a translator for the U.S. military and a Somali refugee trying to be reunited with his wife and young son, have not gotten any closer to finding relief despite years of waiting. Meanwhile, the United States has accepted the lowest number of refugees in any year since the establishment of the Refugee Act in 1980.

Jewish Family Service v. Trump was brought on behalf of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, and nine individual plaintiffs by attorneys at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); Perkins Coie LLP; HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees; and individual attorneys Lauren Aguiar, Mollie M. Kornreich, and Abigail Shaheen Davis.

In response to the ruling, the counsel and plaintiffs issued the following statements:

Rabbi Will Berkovitz, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Family Service of Seattle: “The United States is on track to resettle the smallest number of refugees since Congress unanimously passed the Refugee Act of 1980. We are hopeful that with this ruling, a very lucky few will have the chance to be reunited with their families in the U.S. Jewish tradition says, To save one life is to save the world. This ruling offers a glimmer of possibility that lives will be saved and human beings of all faiths, from any country of origin, will once again be able look to America as a welcoming beacon.”

Mindy Berkowitz, Executive Director, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley: “The refugee families in our care are so desperate to be reunited with their loved ones. They hope beyond hope that by permitting our case to proceed to discovery that their brothers, wives and parents can join them in a life of freedom in the U.S.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS: “HIAS welcomes the court’s ruling. Family unity is a human right guaranteed by international and U.S. law. Yet whether we are talking about asylum-seekers at the border or refugees resettled to the U.S., the Trump administration has actually dedicated taxpayer resources to tearing or keeping families apart. We at HIAS are grateful that the court has once again stepped in to prevent the administration from getting away with its cruel and lawless anti-family policies.”

Mariko Hirose, Litigation Director, IRAP: “By allowing our case to proceed to discovery, the court recognized the plight of thousands of refugees who have been devastatingly impacted by this refugee ban. This ruling further proves the need for heightened transparency from an administration that has proactively stalled the refugee resettlement program and continues to vilify refugees, particularly Muslim refugees, who are seeking safe haven in the United States.”

Melissa Keaney, Staff Attorney, NILC: “This ruling should serve as a reminder that the fight for fairness and equality for refugees is alive and well. We are committed to getting the transparency and accountability that our clients — and those like them — deserve.”

The order can be viewed here.


Trump Administration Must Reunite Families

July 27, 2018

Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]

Trump Administration Must Reunite Families

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has missed a court-ordered deadline to reunite all parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. government earlier failed to meet a July 10 deadline to reunify children under the age of five with their parents. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents who came to this country seeking safety.

Diana Pliego, policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration again has failed to remedy a crisis it created when it began its ‘zero tolerance’ policy of criminalizing people seeking refuge in our country. After subjecting families to unthinkable pain and trauma, the administration should be doing everything possible to ensure that every child it took is back with their parent. Instead, it has cynically deemed hundreds of parents ‘ineligible’ for reunification, and hundreds were deported back to danger without their kids. Many of these parents have been misled or pressured into signing away their rights.

“The Trump administration has mishandled this crisis at every step. We must demand that it reunite every family it separated. Parents who were deported without their kids must be allowed to return and given a fair opportunity to make their case. The administration has a moral responsibility to right this horrid atrocity it created.”


NILC Demands Information from the Government about Treatment of Jailed Children

July 26, 2018

Hayley Burgess, [email protected], (202) 805-0375
Lindsay Toczylowski, [email protected], (213) 634-7181

National Immigration Law Center Demands Information from the Government about Treatment of Jailed Children

LOS ANGELES — The National Immigration Law Center today filed a Freedom of Immigration Act (FOIA) request on behalf of Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) to demand that the government shed light on whether its treatment of jailed immigrant children and their parents accords with U.S. law. This move comes after ImmDef was repeatedly cut off from its clients, notwithstanding their due process rights. In several cases, Imm Def has learned that its clients were sent to be reunited in family jails, potentially subjecting these children to prolonged and unnecessary incarceration.

The FOIA request seeks information about the government’s policies, practices, and contracts governing “Stage II” of the government’s family reunification efforts. This includes policies governing how reunited families’ immigration cases are treated, and whether and how these families are allowed to pursue alternatives to incarceration.

“The Trump administration has done nothing but obfuscate and mislead the American public throughout this whole manufactured crisis, and we — along with these children — deserve the truth,” said Josh Rosenthal, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “All of us, regardless of where we were born or how old we are, have the right to be treated fairly under the law. ImmDef’s experience with this administration makes it clear that these children’s rights are not being protected — and we need to know why.”

The groups have asked for the government to provide information in an expedited way, citing the growing urgency of the situation these children face.

“We are representing parents and children impacted by these policies, but instead of a government that protects families, our clients have encountered a government that puts its draconian agenda over their well-being,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “The government’s practices of moving our clients without notice and stopping all communication between client and attorney would be an abhorrent miscarriage of justice in any instance. The fact that the government is showing such callous disregard for its own laws and policies regarding the treatment of children and families seeking reunification is even more appalling.”

This FOIA request was filed shortly after the deadline a U.S. district court in San Diego had set for the federal government to reunite families it had forcibly separated. Current estimates indicate that only 34 percent of families have been reunited, and several hundred parents have been deported without their children.


NILC Responds to Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

July 9, 2018

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

NILC Responds to Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

LOS ANGELES — President Donald Trump today announced the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The announcement comes just over a week after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would soon retire.

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

“The Supreme Court is essential to maintaining the strength and integrity of our democracy. Its role in upholding the rights and values that we, as a nation, cherish most cannot be overstated.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s record makes it clear that he cannot be entrusted to uphold the awesome responsibility to be independent, open-minded, and to fairly weigh critical legal questions that have broad and significant impact on the lives of all who call the United States home. Kavanaugh’s legal writings and recent dissents speak for themselves: he thinks immigrant communities should be Constitution-free zones, and that reproductive justice should be curtailed.

“Especially at a time when the president and his administration have so freely traversed the boundaries of legality, the Senate has a responsibility to protect all its constituents. This includes the most marginalized, such as women, people of color, LGTBQI, workers, and the immigrant families, that live in their communities. If they do so, the majority of Senators should find that Judge Kavanaugh is unfit to serve in the highest court in the land.   

“The next Supreme Court justice must demonstrate a commitment to defend the rights of all people in the United States, as provided by the Constitution, and to serve as an independent check on the presidency regardless of who occupies the White House. Judge Kavanaugh cannot demonstrate such a commitment. The Senate has a responsibility to reject his nomination.”