Category Archives: March 2012

Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 30, 2012

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre (213) 674-2832

Proposed Immigration Rule: A Good Step Toward Family Unity

WASHINGTON  — On Monday, April 2, the Obama administration will publish its proposed rule(PDF) to amend the immigration system to allow certain “immediate relatives” (spouse, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens to remain in the United States while their immigration applications are processed. The administration will accept public comments on the proposed rules for sixty days, at which point the Department of Homeland Security will review comments and finalize the rule.

“The Obama administration should be commended for taking this commonsense step toward keeping families together,” said Don Lyster, the National Immigration Law Center’s Washington, DC, office director. “Currently, families must spend weeks or months separated from their spouses in order to begin the process of adjusting their immigration status. These separations are extremely difficult for millions of American families and often prevent members of immigrant families from even beginning the status adjustment process.”

“However, the Obama administration stopped short of extending the same commonsense rule to spouses of lawful permanent residents and siblings of U.S. citizens,” said Adey Fisseha, policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “We urge the administration to reconsider its position, since these families are also unfairly separated when they begin the process of adjusting a loved one’s immigration status and the hardships they endure are just as painful as those citizen families undergo.”

Added Lyster, “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that this rule change will keep as many American families together as possible. The Obama administration has shown that it truly supports family values by introducing this rule change. We hope it will extend these values to all families currently suffering due to our broken immigration system.”

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Broadbased Support for U.S. Challenge to SB 1070

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 29, 2012

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre (213) 674-2832

LAW ENFORCEMENT, FAITH, AND CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS SUPPORT LANDMARK FEDERAL CHALLENGE TO ARIZONA ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW

Bishop, Police Chief, Congressman, and Civil Rights Advocates File Friend-of-the-Court Briefs in Support of Department of Justice Challenge to Arizona Racial Profiling Law

LOS ANGELES — Calling it “an affront to basic rights,” law enforcement, civil rights, faith leaders and a Congressman decried Arizona’s SB 1070 and urged the Supreme Court to maintain a lower court’s order blocking the law’s most pernicious elements from going into effect. SB 1070, which the Arizona legislature passed in April 2010, was, at the time, considered the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in the country. The individuals who participated in a telephonic news conference explained why they or their organizations chose to make the Supreme Court aware of their opposition to SB 1070 by filing friend-of-the-court briefs.

“These laws may inhibit the Church’s ability to be the Church — to care for people, to provide them solace,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who spoke on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Many of these laws put that very essential and positive work of not just the Catholic Church, but also other faith communities, at risk. For that reason, we are extremely concerned about this very imprudent and impractical trend in state legislation, and support the case against SB 1070.”

After the U.S. Department of Justice challenged SB 1070 in court and won an injunction, Arizona appealed the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the landmark case on April 25. Although the case before the Supreme Court focuses on Arizona’s law, communities across the country will feel the effects of the Court’s decision: cases in Utah, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama regarding Arizona-inspired legislation have been put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Arizona.

“Police departments have a main priority of reducing crime and making communities safe,” said Jack Harris, former chief of police of Phoenix, Arizona. “The problem with laws like SB 1070, and the reason so many law enforcement officers oppose it, is because it diverts limited resources away from serious crime fighting.”

More than 350 individuals and organizations from myriad sectors of society filed friend-of-the court briefs expressing support for the Department of Justice’s opposition to Arizona’s law, which, if allowed to go into effect, would mandate that law enforcement officials ask for proof of immigration status if they “reasonably suspect” that a person lacks proper authorization to live in the country. Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, pointed to the discriminatory aspect of SB 1070, which could force people who have been American citizens all their lives to be subject to racial profiling.

Said Browne Dianis, “Racial profiling against African Americans, immigrants, and others is wrong and illegal. It undermines the principle that we are all equal under the law. If the Supreme Court validates 1070, it will open the floodgates for other states to take such action.”

Other notable individuals and organizations that express opposition to SB 1070 include former U.S. Department of State officials, who explain that laws such as SB 1070 interfere with the United States’ ability to engage in foreign policy, as well as former commissioners of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the former agency whose functions are now performed by subdivisions of the Department of Homeland Security), who argue that SB 1070 interferes with the federal government’s own immigration policy priorities.

“We can turn back the tide on laws that specifically target immigrants for harassment and also end up harming so many others,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez. “We can set a tone for the future where the tone of someone’s face or the dust on their work boots doesn’t make them a target.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “Our country’s greatness is derived from its diversity. No law should force those of us who look or sound ‘foreign’ to be subject to racial profiling or other discrimination. Unfortunately, Arizonans’ basic rights will be at risk if SB 1070 is allowed to go into effect, and the ramifications of this decision will be felt across the country. We hope that the Supreme Court will protect basic liberty and justice for all, and strike this ill-conceived law from Arizona’s books.”

For more information about U.S. v Arizona, please visit www.nilc.org/sb1070usvaz.html.

More information about the friend-of-the-court briefs can be found atwww.nilc.org/USvAZamici.html.

A recording of the telephonic news conference is available at www.nilc.org/document.html?id=655.

A news release issued by Congressman Gutierrez in conjunction with this press conference is available here.
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Review Sought in Back-Pay Case

(** En español a continuación **)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CONTACT
NILC: Adela de la Torre (213) 674-2832
AFL-CIO: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5018

National Immigration Law Center and AFL-CIO Seek to Restore Rights for Wrongly Fired Immigrant Workers

Groups Ask the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to Review National Labor Relations Board Decision

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to review a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision denying back pay for workers who were fired after complaining about unfair working conditions at Mezonos Maven Bakery in Brooklyn, New York.

This legal effort to restore immigrant workers’ rights occurs exactly ten years after the Supreme Court decided in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB that some wrongfully fired unauthorized workers are not entitled to back pay under National Labor Relations Act.

“Workers should never have to choose between voicing their concerns about workplace conditions and receiving a paycheck. Unfortunately, that choice was foisted upon the courageous workers at Mezonos Bakery. These workers should not be stripped of legal remedies available to all of us if we are subject to abusive behavior in the workplace,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We’re filing this appeal today to fight to protect all workers’ basic right to advocate for a fair and safe workplace.”

This is the latest step in a nine year legal challenge to Mezonos Maven Bakery’s firing of the workers. The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit described horrendous conditions, where workers were forced to work 60 to 75 hours without receiving overtime and were subject to harassment. Workers were fired by this company after they complained about these conditions.

In the original charge filed with the NLRB, NILC and the AFL-CIO argued that because Mezonos Maven Bakery violated federal law by failing to verify the employees’ work authorization when they were hired, the company should not be allowed to escape liability for the wrongful firings based on the Supreme Court’s Hoffman Plastic decision.  While an NLRB administrative law judge initially agreed that the Hoffman Plastic decision did not apply in this case, the NLRB, relying on Hoffman Plastic, reversed the decision and dismissed the award.

The NLRB’s ruling gives unscrupulous employers an incentive to hire unauthorized workers, whom they can hire and then illegally fire with impunity, and thereby depress the working conditions of all workers.

As Ana Avendaño, the AFL-CIO’s assistant to the president and director of immigration and community actions, stated: “If employers can violate the rights of undocumented workers with impunity, all workers suffer. Justice demands that all workers be allowed to speak out about unfair or unsafe conditions without fear of being fired for exercising their federally-protected workplace rights.”

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Para Divulgación Inmediata
Miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2012

Contacto
NILC: Adela de la Torre (213) 674-2832
AFL-CIO: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5018

Centro Nacional de Ley Migratoria y la AFL-CIO buscan restaurar los derechos de inmigrantes que fueron injustamente despedidos

El grupo pidió a la Corte de Apelaciones del Segundo Circuito que revise una decisión de la Junta Nacional de Relaciones Laborales

WASHINGTON – El Centro Nacional de Ley Migratoria (National Immigration Law Center, NILC) y la Federación Estadounidense del Trabajo y Congreso de Organizaciones Industriales (AFL-CIO, por sus siglas en inglés) le pidieron el día de hoy a la Corte de Apelaciones del Segundo Circuito de los Estados Unidos que revise una decisión de la Junta Nacional de Relaciones Laborales (NLRB, por sus siglas en inglés) que le niega salarios de tramitación a los trabajadores que fueron despedidos después de quejarse de condiciones laborales injustas en Mezonos Maven Bakery en Brooklyn, New York.

Esta acción legal, cuyo objetico es restaurar los derechos de los trabajadores inmigrantes, ocurre justo diez años después del fallo del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia sobre el caso Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB, en el cual se decidió que los trabajadores que hayan sido injustamente despedidos no tienen derecho a recibir salarios de tramitación bajo la Ley Nacional de Relaciones Laborales.

“Los trabajadores no deberían tener que escoger entre expresar sus preocupaciones sobre las condiciones en sus lugares de trabajo y recibir un salario. Desafortunadamente, esa elección fue impuesta a los valientes trabajadores de Mezonos Bakery. A estos trabajadores no se les debería quitar los recursos legales que están disponibles para el resto de nosotros, si es que son víctimas de abusos en sus lugares de trabajo”, señaló Mariaelena Hincapié, directora ejecutiva del Centro Nacional de Ley Migratoria. “Estamos apelando este caso el día de hoy para luchar por la protección de los derechos básicos de los trabajadores para poder abogar por un lugar de trabajo justo y seguro”.

Este es el último paso en los nueve años que ha durado el proceso legal en contra de Mezonos Maven Bakery por el despido de estos trabajadores. Los cinco demandantes en este juicio han descrito condiciones laborales terribles, en donde los trabajadores estaban forzados a trabajar de 60 a 75 horas sin recibir paga de sobretiempo y también que fueron víctimas de acosos. Los trabajadores fueron despedidos después de que se quejaron sobre estas condiciones.

En los cargos originales realizados ante la NLRB, NILC y la AFL-CIO argumentaron que debido a que Mezonos Maven Bakery violó la ley federal al no verificar el permiso de trabajo de los empleados cuando fueron contratados,  la compañía no debería ser exenta de responsabilidad por haber despedido injustamente a estos trabajadores, basándose en la decisión de Hoffman Plastic del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia. Mientras que un juez administrativo de la NLRB inicialmente estuvo de acuerdo que la decisión de Hoffman Plastic no aplicaba a este caso, la NLRB, basándose en Hoffman Plastic rechazó esta decisión y anuló la adjudicación.

El fallo de la NLRB le otorga los empleadores inescrupulosos un incentivo para emplear a trabajadores que no tienen la debida autorización de trabajo, a quienes se les puede contratar y después despedir ilegalmente con impunidad y, por lo tanto, afecta negativamente a las condiciones laborales de todos los trabajadores.

Ana Avendaño, asistente del presidente y directora de inmigración y de acción comunitaria para la AFL-CIO, señaló respecto a este caso que “si los empleadores pueden violar los derechos de los trabajadores indocumentados con impunidad, todos los trabajadores son afectados. La justicia demanda que se le permita a todos los trabajadores hablar sobre condiciones laborales poco seguras o injustas sin temer de ser despedidos, sólo por ejercer sus derechos en el lugar de trabajo que son protegidos por la ley federal”.

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NILC Mourns the Loss of NAACP LDF President Payton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2012

NILC MOURNS THE PASSING OF CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER JOHN PAYTON

The National Immigration Law Center mourns the passing of John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Known as one of the most adept members of the Supreme Court Bar, Payton led the Legal Defense Fund to take on some of the greatest civil rights challenges in recent decades, including the fight to ensure that all people, no matter where they were born or the color of their skin, were not denied their Constitutionally-protected rights. He is survived by his wife, Gay, a prominent civil rights attorney. Below is a quote from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“With John Payton’s passing, the civil rights movement lost another giant. Payton rightly understood that a challenge to anyone’s rights threatens cherished Constitutional protections for all of us, and led the Legal Defense Fund accordingly. His brilliance, tenacity, and clarity in vision will be sorely missed.  John will be remembered as a visionary for the best our country can be.”

For more information, read John Payton In Memoriam.

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Challenge to Alabama’s HB 56: HICA v. Bentley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2012

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Parts of Alabama’s Discriminatory Anti-Immigrant Law

Court Issues Order Temporarily Enjoining Business Transaction and Contract Provisions of HB 56

ATLANTA – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today blocked two key sections of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law pending a final ruling on the appeal.

The ruling comes several days after a civil rights coalition and the U.S. Department of Justice presented arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, arguing the Alabama anti-immigrant law should be blocked. During the hearing in Atlanta, civil rights attorneys told a panel of three judges that the law fundamentally conflicts with federal law and systematically violates the rights of U.S. citizens and immigrants with and without lawful status. The coalition of civil rights groups that sued against the law said today it was pleased the court considered its renewed pleas to block provisions pending the appeal based on harms the law is inflicting.

Parts of the Alabama law took effect in September, causing a great humanitarian and economic crisis. A ruling issued today by the three-judge panel blocks Sections 27 and 30 of the law, which restricted business transactions with the state government, and made contracts with private parties unenforceable if one party had knowledge that a party was undocumented, negatively impacting many portions of people’s everyday lives.

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “Today’s order brings immediate relief to countless Alabamians whose fundamental rights have been trampled by this anti-immigrant law. These provisions were designed to make it impossible for ordinary families to live in Alabama by stripping them of their ability to engage in contracts – like rental agreements or car leases – and to do any business with the state government. They are unconstitutional and the court rightly blocked them pending a final ruling on the appeal.”

“Today’s ruling strikes at the heart of this racist law and is yet another blow for the effort to pass similar laws across the country,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the SPLC. “This law is clearly unconstitutional and is causing harm every day for citizens and non-citizens alike. We hope that the Alabama legislature will be guided by this latest loss in the courts and look to other state legislatures that are abandoning similar efforts and finally repeal this law.”

Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for NILC, said: “Today’s decision decision is a huge victory for all Alabamians, who will no longer be subjected to onerous ‘show me your papers’ requirements when attempting to engage in basic, daily transactions, such as getting water service. The decision should also serve as a warning to Mississippi or other states attempting to copy this unlawful provision.”

The civil rights organizations involved in HICA v. Bentley, the class-action challenge to Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, include the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, and LatinoJustice-PRLDEF.

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Challenge to Alabama, Georgia Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2012

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), (213) 400-7822; delatorre@nilc.org

Civil Rights Groups Ask Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to Block Anti-Immigrant Laws in Georgia and Alabama

Hearings Represent First Eleventh Circuit Legal Test for Draconian Anti-Immigrant Laws

ATLANTA — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today heard arguments from civil rights attorneys in the legal challenges to Georgia’s and Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant laws.

A panel of three judges were told that the laws, Georgia’s HB 87 and Alabama’s HB 56, endanger public safety; invite racial profiling of Latinos, Asians, and others who appear foreign; and interfere with federal law.

“The Alabama and Georgia anti-immigrant laws have created a police state where citizens and immigrants alike are subject to inquisitions during traffic stops, and state employees and ordinary people are asked to view their neighbors with suspicion,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate such intrusions on our liberty.”

The two cases represent the first civil rights challenges to pernicious anti-immigrant legislation to reach the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The coalition of civil rights group asked the court to leave in place an injunction against major provisions of the Georgia law and to halt implementation of the worst elements of the Alabama law.

“Today we asked the court to strike down both the Alabama and Georgia anti-immigrant laws as unconstitutional,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Both of these laws have trampled on civil rights and encouraged rampant prejudice against immigrants — especially Latinos — without regard to status.”

In Georgia, as in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, and South Carolina, a federal district court blocked several provisions of the state’s anti-immigrant law, including one that would have authorized law enforcement officers to demand “papers” of individuals in a variety of settings, from going into effect. In Alabama, however, major components of HB 56 were allowed to take effect. The calls that subsequently flooded a coalition-created legal hotline painted a picture of immediate widespread discrimination and rights violations.

“Alabama presents a cautionary tale for any state looking to impose its own immigration law upon its inhabitants,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel at the National Immigration Law Center. “Citizens as well as immigrants in Alabama have suffered tremendous rights violations from an unconstitutional law that threatens our most cherished freedoms. The Eleventh Circuit can and should stop this law before it causes further damage to Alabama’s society and economy, and the court should affirm the injunction that prevents Georgians from undergoing the same irreparable violations suffered by their neighbors.”

Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said: “With all the pressing issues facing our state and our country, it is a shame that our legislature thinks that criminalizing acts of charity and neighborliness is a good use of their time. I have faith that this mean-spirited law will not remain on the books in our state.”

Until the appeals court issues a decision, the lower courts’ rulings in both cases will remain in effect.

“Alabama and Georgia are home to burgeoning Asian American communities, and we are deeply concerned that HB 56 and HB 87 will only cause more fear and isolation among these communities,” said Marita Etcubañez, director of programs at the Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice). “Asian Americans have a long history of being targeted with exclusionary policies like these; this is a civil rights crisis and this must not happen in America again.”

Jessica Karp, Staff Attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said, “The anti-immigrant laws in Georgia and Alabama are cruel, misguided, and racist. They are also unconstitutional. As attorneys in the courtroom enumerated the many legal infirmities of these hate laws, the rallies outside gave testament to the devastating effect the laws have had on Georgia and Alabama families and the growing strength of the political opposition.”

For more information about the coalition’s challenge to HB 87, visit http://nilc.org/hb87.html.

For more information about the coalition’s challenge to HB 56, visit http://nilc.org/hb56hvb.html.

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