Category Archives: June 2015

National Immigration Law Center Applauds Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage

June 26, 2015

Elizabeth Beresford, [email protected], 917-648-0189
Andrea Alford, [email protected], 703-477-1075
Nery Espinosa (Spanish language), [email protected], 214-263-1294

National Immigration Law Center Applauds Supreme Court Decision on Same Sex Marriage

WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry to all Americans.

Today’s ruling follows oral arguments at the Supreme Court in April regarding whether states have the right to outlaw gay marriage and, even if they do, whether they must honor marriages performed in states that allow same-sex marriage. The cases, consolidated under the title Obergefell v. Hodges, were from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, and included more than 20 plaintiffs.

In response to today’s decision, Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, made the following statement:

“Today, the Supreme Court issued a historic decision that will be remembered for generations to come affirming what Americans have come to understand: the freedom to marry is a precious, fundamental right that belongs to all of us.

It’s a proud day for our country, as this decision marks a victory for freedom, equality, inclusion, and love. As our country continues the long journey towards true and full equality for same-sex couples and other traditionally marginalized individuals and communities, this ruling is a strong reminder of the type of inclusion and equality we are capable of.”

# # #

NILC Applauds King v. Burwell Decision

June 25, 2015

Elizabeth Beresford, [email protected], 917-648-0189
Andrea Alford, [email protected], 703-477-1075
Nery Espinosa (Spanish language), [email protected], 214-263-1294

King v. Burwell Decision Signals Opportunity for Truly Inclusive Care

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, allowing the structure of the Affordable Care Act subsidy system to remain in place in all states. In doing so, the Court protected access to affordable health care for millions of low- and middle-income families across the country.

In response to today’s decision Marielena Hincapié, executive director of National Immigration Law Center, made the following statement:

“Today’s decision, both legally accurate and morally sound, means that millions of families will no longer be at risk of losing the ability to see a doctor when they are sick. Because of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, more than 10 million people live with the security of access to affordable health care, and stripping them of such care is both politically — and legally — indefensible.

“The Affordable Care Act represents a crucial first step toward fixing a too-long broken health care system, and we urge elected officials to leave their political attacks behind and instead build on the law’s promise. It’s time to look beyond simply implementing this important, but incomplete, law.

“All of us should be able to get the health care we need when we need it, and this includes immigrant families. Excluding any community is simply unwise, from both a policy and an economic perspective. We must look past the status quo and instead work toward a day in which all people, regardless of where they were born or how much money they may have, can buy the quality, affordable care they need. Only then will we create a truly healthy and prosperous America.”

# # #


Political Stalemates Harm U.S. Citizen Children

June 23, 2015

Gebe Martinez, [email protected], 703.731.9505
Katy Green, [email protected], 202.331.2389

U.S. Citizen Children of Immigrants Are Disregarded and Are the Most Harmed by Political Stalemates in Congress and the Courts

Fears of deportation seen in classrooms and research, children’s advocates say

WASHINGTON — Millions of U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents are paying the heaviest price for the court-ordered delays of the immigration relief programs announced last November by President Obama, children’s advocates and scholars said today.

The court case, driven by conservative, anti-immigrant politicians in 26 states, has threatened the academic and social development of these young citizens, the advocates said during a telephonic press conference. Anxieties and lower cognitive skills caused by the threat of deportation, family separation, economic insecurity, and other issues could be resolved if the temporary relief programs were allowed to proceed, according to recent studies (see this fact sheet from America’s Voice Education Fund for more information).

“While much attention has been paid to the politics surrounding the prolonged legal battle challenging the president’s executive actions, much less attention has been given to how the lawsuit is impacting the lives of millions of U.S. citizen children,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

Approximately 5.5 million U.S. citizen children live with a parent who would be eligible for protection from deportation and work authorization under the president’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The administration also proposed expanding the successful 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Both programs have been blocked by the courts pending the outcome of the lawsuit; a hearing is scheduled for July 10 before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

“The research shows that lifting the fear of deportation and enabling parents to better provide for their children is just common sense policy. It’s simple: when parents are able to focus on being parents, children do better. And when children do better, we as a country do better,” said Bruce Lesley, First Focus president.

“For too long, our immigration policies have overlooked the needs of children, and they have paid a heavy price for it. The lawsuit blocking the president’s executive actions is not only misguided and irresponsible, but it’s also playing politics with the lives of millions of children and families who are now left waiting in limbo,” Lesley said.

Joanna Dreby, of the University of Albany, State University of New York, who has studied the impact of current immigration policies on families, described to reporters the economic instability and the stigma caused by children’s worries that a parent will suddenly be arrested and deported.

“Deported fathers in the families I met could not send money to provide from their children even after a deportation as they struggled to find work in their home countries. This leaves children in extremely precarious situations — in single parent households facing severe and sudden poverty,” Dreby said. “Children in the first, second, and third grade also told me that immigrants were illegals and not allowed to be here. They hid their immigrant background from their friends, not wanting anyone to know that their parents were born elsewhere.”

Teachers’ frustration with external factors that impact students’ ability to learn “turns to anger, rage, when we start talking about immigration,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

“Teachers throughout the country understand, and have seen what happens to children who are so fearful because they are worried that a parent will not be home when they arrive home.” The harm to children can be repaired immediately by allowing the executive actions to go forward in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, Weingarten added.

“The lawsuit will be a landmark case because of what it will say about how our nation treats citizen children,” said Roberto Suro of the Annnenberg school for Communications and Journalism and the director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Center.

“The meaning of this case has to be understood as going beyond the technicalities. It has to be understood as involving the fates of U.S. citizen children. The stakes are very high because these children have been placed in a perverse position because of policy failure,” Suro said.

# # #

An audio recording of the telephonic press conference is available at 062315.mp3.


Root Causes of Hate Crimes Must Be Addressed

June 18, 2015

Elizabeth Beresford, [email protected], 917-648-0189
Adela de la Torre, [email protected], 213-400-7822

National Immigration Law Center Says Root Causes of Hate Crimes Must Be Addressed

LOS ANGELES — Late last night, a shooter killed nine people attending a prayer group at Charleston’s historic Emmanuel AME Church, which was founded just after the Civil War and grew out of a church that 200 years ago was forced underground when one of its ministers was executed for helping plan a slave uprising. The suspect, who has since been captured, has been identified in photos wearing symbols demonstrating allegiance to the white supremacy movement.

Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Our country lost nine lives last night in a place of worship that should be considered a safe haven for everyone. By all accounts, this massacre was fueled by hate and should be treated as the hate crime it was. We need to go beyond simply looking at this horrific shooting as another sad episode in our nation’s history. Healing can take place only when we understand the root causes that drive people to commit such acts of hatred and terrorism, and we must do this through a transformative justice lens.

“It’s necessary to examine the systemic racial discrimination and socioeconomic inequality that incites hate crimes like these, as well as police brutality, to occur with such depressing regularity. Until we address these structural barriers and recognize the role of race in our society, senseless acts of violence will continue.

“We can no longer sit on the sidelines and allow such hatred and violence. Our vision of a country in which we achieve racial and economic justice requires us to act.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Charleston and with all those affected by this tragic massacre. We continue to call for justice for all those lost in this senseless tragedy.”

# # #


Health4All in Budget Agreement

June 16, 2015

Elizabeth Beresford, [email protected], 917-648-0189
Adela de la Torre, [email protected], 213-400-7822

California Budget Agreement Paves the Way Toward #HEALTH4ALL

National Immigration Law Center urges State Assembly to
make history and pass the bill

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators advocating for inclusive access to health care for immigrants have announced a budget agreement that includes $40 million in funding for a bill that, if passed, would allow otherwise-eligible children to enroll in the state’s Medicaid program, regardless of their immigration status. The proposal also includes groundbreaking language that would pave the way for adults to access Medicaid when funding becomes available.

Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which has long advocated for immigrant-inclusive health care policies.

“All of California’s children, regardless of where they were born, should have access to the care they need to grow up healthy and strong. The agreement announced today is an important first step toward making this value a reality. We urge the State Assembly to pass this bill without delay and will continue to work toward the day when our state’s bold vision of truly inclusive health care for all Californians becomes a reality.

“Today’s historic budget agreement shines a light on the need for more inclusive health care policies for all and is an investment in immigrants as valued members of our Golden State. Once this bill becomes law, it will serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”

# # #


Government Sued Over Detention Conditions

June 10, 2015

Adela de la Torre, NILC, 213-400-7822213-400-7822, [email protected]
Wendy Feliz, AIC, 202-507-7524202-507-7524, [email protected]
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6007602-773-6007, [email protected]
Candice Francis, LCCR, 415-543-9697415-543-9697×216, [email protected]
Jocelyn De Carvalho, Morrison & Foerster LLP, 212-336-4051212-336-4051, [email protected]

Immigrants Held for Days in Freezing, Unsanitary Cells File Class-Action Lawsuit

Plaintiffs seek an end to unconstitutional Border Patrol detention practices

TUCSON — Tucson Sector Border Patrol holds men, women, and children in freezing, overcrowded, and filthy cells for extended periods of time in violation of the U.S. Constitution, a group of legal organizations allege in a class-action lawsuit filed Monday. The class-action suit, which was filed on behalf of two people detained in the Tucson Border Patrol Station as well as a Tucson man detained multiple times in that facility, describes Border Patrol limiting or denying access to beds, soap, showers, adequate meals and water, medical care, and lawyers, in violation of constitutional standards and Border Patrol’s own policies.

The National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, the ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP filed the suit after interviewing the plaintiffs as well as more than 75 former detainees. Both current and former detainees consistently recount being subjected to days of mistreatment, abuse, and neglect.

“Our plaintiffs were detained for civil matters, but there is nothing civil about being deprived of water, provided inadequate or expired food, and being subjected to sleep deprivation,” said Nora Preciado, staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “We filed this lawsuit because the federal government has systemically failed to adhere to its own meager standards and constitutional requirements and thousands of people have suffered as a result.”

Former and current detainees described being packed into crowded cells with only concrete benches or the floor for a “bed.” They were stripped of warm clothing and provided with only flimsy aluminum sheets that do not protect against the frigid temperatures. In most cases, the lights are left on 24 hours a day, making sleep difficult, if not impossible. Immigrants have no soap or water to wash after using the restroom and before meals, and do not have access to showers.

“Thousands of people are subjected to these inhumane and intolerable conditions every year,” said Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney with the American Immigration Council. “Our investigation revealed that these filthy, overcrowded and punitive conditions are the norm in all eight Border Patrol stations within the Tucson Sector.”

The government’s own standards state that people should be detained in holding cells like those in the Tucson Border Patrol facility for no more than 12 hours, but all of the plaintiffs were held for much longer. In fact, Border Patrol’s own records show that, during a six month period in 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained over 58,000 people for 24 hours or longer in holding cells within the Tucson Sector; more than 24,000 of these individuals were held for 48 hours or longer.

“Border Patrol seems to think these brutal conditions, and the human suffering that results, will deter immigration, but the fact is that many of these people are fleeing persecution and violence, reuniting with family, or are themselves U.S. citizens,” said James Duff Lyall, an attorney with ACLU of Arizona. “These policies and practices serve no legitimate purpose, violate the U.S. Constitution, and offend basic American values.”

Children traveling with their mothers are subjected to similar abuse. Several declarants described their children crying through the night from hunger and cold. One declarant reported that she did not receive clean diapers for her two-year-old for the duration of her 28 hours in detention. The woman’s declaration reports that she was finally forced to remove her two-year-old daughter’s soiled diaper—with nowhere to dispose of it and no replacement available.

“All detainees should receive basic medical care in these facilities,” said Travis Silva, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “CBP routinely confiscates medication from detainees, even those carrying a valid prescription. This behavior endangers lives and inflicts unnecessary suffering.”

CBP fails to screen detainees for health conditions and does not provide adequate medical attention even in extreme cases. One woman who survived sexual assault during her journey reported heavy vaginal bleeding and failed to receive any medical attention at the facility. Agents confiscated another woman’s pain medication; she was eight months pregnant and her ankle was broken. Agents told her not to cry because she “was just going to be deported,” she said.

“It is important to break through the secrecy that surrounds these holding facilities,” said Colette Reiner Mayer, Palo Alto partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP. “No American would accept how the government treats people whose only crime is wanting a better life.”

Jane Doe, et al. v. Johnson, et al. was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Attorneys on the case include Preciado, Linton Joaquin, and Karen C. Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center; Kenney, Emily Creighton, and Melissa Crow of the American Immigration Council; Mayer, Harold J. McElhinny, Louise C. Stoupe, Kevin M. Coles, Pieter S. de Ganon, and Elizabeth Balassone of Morrison & Foerster LLP; Silva of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area; and Lyall, Victoria Lopez, and Dan Pochoda of ACLU of Arizona.

More information about the lawsuit is available at

# # #