Category Archives: March 2014

ACA Special Enrollment Period

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2014

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

NILC: Immigrant Families Won’t Be Penalized for Affordable Care Act Glitches

Special Enrollment Period Will Allow Immigrant Families to #GetCovered

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration provided guidance Wednesday clarifying that certain individuals who tried but were unable to sign up for health coverage by March 31 would be eligible for a special enrollment period, allowing immigrant families who were shut out of the system due to technical glitches more time to purchase the coverage they need. Those who are eligible for the health care program but do not purchase insurance will face a tax penalty. The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“All people, regardless of where they were born or how much money they have, should have access to health care. Unfortunately, glitches in the online health insurance marketplace prevented many low-income immigrant families from being able to purchase this vital coverage for themselves or their family members. We are very pleased with the new guidance on special enrollment periods, which responds directly to requests the National Immigration Law Center and our allies have made of the administration. The much-needed guidance recognizes that for the first 5.5 months of Affordable Care Act open enrollment, many families were simply unable to purchase the insurance they needed and these families should not be penalized for these technical errors.

“The administration must now do all it can to inform eligible immigrants that they have more time to enroll. Incomplete or misleading information by opponents of the program created unnecessary fears about purchasing insurance through www.healthcare.gov, and every effort should be made to reassure those who are eligible that they now have more time to sign up for affordable health care.

“Finally, as with all policies, details matter. Any opening of the enrollment period will be useless unless and until all the technical glitches immigrant families currently face are fixed. We stand committed to partnering with the administration and key stakeholders to ensure that every eligible family can get covered, and we will continue to fight until they can purchase the insurance they need.”

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More information about Affordable Care Act programs and issues is available here.

 

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Discharge Petition for Immigration Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2014

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

National Immigration Law Center Responds to House Petition to Force Vote on Commonsense Immigration Reform This Year

WASHINGTON — Seeking to remove the House blockade on commonsense immigration reform, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California today announced the filing of a discharge petition, a legislative maneuver to force a House floor vote on immigration reform. The discharge petition — an infrequently used tool that, if signed by a majority of House members, forces House leadership to bring up a bill for a vote — was proposed by Democrats because the GOP-led House has failed to act.

The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC):

“To be successful, the discharge petition must be signed by a bipartisan majority of the House. We have known since last summer, after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill, that a majority of the House has recognized the need to fix our broken immigration system and vote on legislation.

“The power to bring an immigration bill to the floor is in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, but he has refused to bring a bill to the floor because of the opposition of a band of Tea Party restrictionists.

“The ball is in Boehner’s court. It is time for him to lead for the good of the country instead of cowering in fear of losing his speakership.”

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Debo Adegbile Nomination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2014

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

National Immigration Law Center Reacts to Senate’s Failure to Confirm Debo Adegbile for Department of Justice Post

WASHINGTON — Recently, the Senate failed to confirm Debo Adegbile to head the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights. Adegbile, who has served as director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, is an accomplished and respected attorney who has defended the rights of many of the most marginalized members of society. More than 86 organizations, including the National Immigration Law Center, supported Adegbile’s nomination. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Debo Adegbile is uniquely qualified for this important post in the Department of Justice, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by the Senate’s failure to confirm this candidate to lead the department’s Office of Civil Rights. The Senate’s rejection of Adegbile, whose legal skills have earned him bipartisan praise, sent a disturbing message to the civil rights and legal community that those who serve the most marginalized segments of our society should do so at their own risk.

“One of the bedrocks of our Constitution is the right to counsel. All people — no matter their resources or the accusations levied against them — should have a fair day in court, which means they should have adequate legal representation. The Senate, which is composed of many lawyers, seems to have forgotten this crucial aspect of every attorney’s ethical duty. This forgetfulness seems selective. As Senator Harkinrightly pointed out, the majority of the Senate saw no problem with another appointee’s defense of those accused of murder. The only difference is that one appointee — John Roberts — is white, while Mr. Adegbile is not.

“We urge the Senate to reconsider the nomination of this exceptionally qualified candidate to lead the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights. Senator Reid and his colleagues have the opportunity — and the obligation — to right this grievous error, and they should do so as soon as possible.”

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Dignity for Aspiring Citizens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2014

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

We Will Continue to Fight for Permanent Dignity for Aspiring Citizens

WASHINGTON, DC — National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié issued the following statement following a White House meeting today between President Obama and advocates for commonsense immigration reform:

“President Obama made clear today that he will continue to throw all his political weight behind urging Congress to fix our broken immigration system. We will do the same: On June 27, a year will have gone by since the Senate passed immigration reform legislation. In the meantime, the House has done nothing but vote on bills that would make our immigration system worse.

“Our community has suffered at the hands of a broken immigration system for far too long. The National Immigration Law Center has developed recommendations to curb deportations, which we will share with the President and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. We fully expect them to work with us to mitigate the pain caused by family separations that destroy our communities and economy.

“The road to dignity for all immigrants may be difficult, but our movement has the power and the will to get it done. Immigration reform – with or without full support from both political parties – is a matter of when, not if.  We will continue to urge President Obama to do what he can to prevent further pain, but the ultimate, permanent solution to fix our broken system lies in the Halls of Congress.”

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HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2014

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

NILC Praises Proposed Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act of 2014

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center applauds legislation introduced by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and cosponsored by Reps. Donna Christensen, Barbara Lee, Marcia Fudge, Eleanor Norton, Luis Gutierrez, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Marc Veasey that would remove harmful and discriminatory barriers that now prohibit immigrants from participating in health care programs that their tax dollars support.

The Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act would undo poor policy that currently prevents many immigrants who are authorized to live and work in the U.S., pay taxes, and contribute to our communities from accessing affordable health coverage.

The HEAL Act would restore eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to immigrants who are lawfully present without making them endure the current five-year waiting period. The bill also would allow young people who have permission to be in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to participate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and apply for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Under this measure, eligible DACA participants also could apply for Medicaid or CHIP.

The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“While congressional conservatives try to dismantle Obamacare and keep immigrants from accessing programs that their tax dollars support, Rep. Lujan Grisham and others have offered an idea that would improve our health care system by making affordable care accessible to millions of immigrants who are currently left out.

“Current law defies logic. A flu virus strikes without regard to how long a person has had lawful status. Lack of preventive health care results in costly illnesses and thwarts early detection of preventable diseases. Children cannot grow up to be strong and productive if they have limited health care.

“The existing policies also are inhumane. The arbitrary five-year waiting period for accessing key health programs, as well as other restrictions, were put in place by politicians intent on denying immigrants access to the programs that immigrants’ tax dollars support. Yet having to wait five years for diagnosis and treatment can be a death sentence for someone suffering from an undiagnosed cancer.

“Our national leaders must commit to providing quality care for everyone, including the most vulnerable in our society, for the good of our communities and our economy. No one should be denied access to affordable health care based on income or immigration status. We applaud the legislation and look forward to its consideration.”

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House Considers Anti-Immigrant Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2014

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

House Leaders Take Tone-Deaf Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Obamacare Approach to a New Level

House refuses to fix broken immigration system and instead targets immigrants, in search of problems that do not exist

WASHINGTON — In their continuing attack on the most vulnerable members of society, including immigrants, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are considering two bills that would challenge the president’s executive authority and needlessly set up a major constitutional debate.

The chamber is considering the ENFORCE Act (HR 4138) and the Faithful Execution of the Law Act (HR 3973). These bills were devised by conservatives intent on blocking commonsense immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is creating access to affordable health care for millions of Americans.

The legislation would limit any president’s executive authority and would permit the House or the Senate to sue the executive branch if Congress thinks the White House is not fully executing laws passed by Congress. Sponsors cited President Obama’s implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and management of Obamacare as reasons to rein in his authority. The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

“From a legal standpoint, the bills raise constitutional issues regarding the separation-of-powers principles laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives who are promoting these bills falsely claim the president has ignored congressional action when, in fact, the president has exercised his discretionary authority.

“The DACA program, for example, is not a wholesale, nonenforcement of immigration law with regard to DREAMers, but has deferred action on a case-by-case basis, well within the constitutional authority of the executive branch. Indeed, we continue to argue that the administration has many more administrative tools it can and should employ to curb record-breaking deportations.

“We aren’t alone in this analysis. Nearly one hundred legal scholars signed a letter to President Obama in 2012 outlining the president’s legal authority to provide relief from deportation and work authorization to immigrants.

“With regard to health care, the president is working towards implementation of the Affordable Care Act, not trying to end it.

“In truth, today’s activities represent not a legal dispute but an immoral attempt by House leadership to pander to extremists in its ranks and offer up more House votes against immigrants and Obamacare. A key sponsor has acknowledged that these bills will not advance in the Senate, just as the House’s previous effort to defund DACA—the only other vote on immigration the House has taken—did not advance.

“It’s time to stop debasing our democracy and end the politics of polarization. Instead of wasting time on anti-immigrant legislation, Congress should restore honor to its branch of government and do the job it was elected to do: resolve national problems through legislation. Congress must enact commonsense immigration reform or face voters’ ire at the polls in 2014 and 2016.”

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Settlement in South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2014

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

Civil Rights Coalition Achieves Important Protections Against South Carolina’s Anti-Immigrant Law

CHARLESTON, SC — A civil rights coalition that challenged South Carolina’s anti-immigrant law, Act 69 (also known as SB 20), announced today an agreement with the state that permanently blocks key provisions and provides strict limits on the “racial profiling” provisions of the law. The agreement was also entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice, effectively ending two consolidated lawsuits against Act 69 in the state.

The proposed settlement filed today, which is pending review by the court, will permanently block provisions that criminalize daily interactions with undocumented immigrants, similar to provisions permanently enjoined as a result of settlements in similar cases in Alabama and Georgia. The settlement also will prevent enforcement of a provision that would have imposed criminal penalties on those who fail to carry immigration documents.

A key component of the settlement agreement creates strict guidance for the provision of Act 20 which mandates that police demand “papers” of those who appear foreign. The proposed settlement includes a formal opinion from the state’s attorney general clarifying that state law does not authorize law enforcement to detain a person for any period of time to determine immigration status.

“After nearly three years, this ugly chapter in South Carolina’s civil rights history will finally come to a close,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “Today’s settlement makes clear that South Carolinians, regardless of where they were born, can live free from fear that they will be detained by police simply to determine whether they are in this country without authorization. Other states can — and should — make such clarifications in their own laws.”

“The state has finally agreed to put to rest the most divisive provisions of South Carolina’s anti-immigrant law, which would have given local officials carte blanche to criminalize the lives of immigrants and those who interact with them,” said Andre Segura, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We are especially pleased that the state has set forth clear limits on what its officers can and can’t do — none of its officers is permitted to prolong stops or detain individuals believed or even determined to be undocumented for any purpose. Constitutional rights apply to all, and no one is required to answer any question by state or local officials about their immigration status.”

The National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and other civil rights groups filed the class action suit, Low Country Immigration Coalition v. Haley, in October 2011.

Amy Pedersen, staff attorney for MALDEF, said, “This settlement should turn South Carolina efforts spent defending a largely unconstitutional law toward ensuring that state and local officers undertake law enforcement not on the basis of individuals’ immigration status, real or perceived, but in line with our federal system of government and laws preserving freedom and individual liberties.”

The lawsuit charged that SB 20 subjected South Carolinians — including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents — to unlawful search and seizure and interfered with federal power and authority over immigration matters. The suit also asserted that the law unconstitutionally mandated police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops when they have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is not in the country lawfully, and criminalized South Carolinians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals, such as driving someone to church or renting a room to a friend.

“Today is a victory for the brave community members who challenged SB 20 and for all South Carolinians,” said Michelle Lapointe, Southern Poverty Law Center staff attorney. “Three years ago, South Carolina became one of several southern states that attempted to legislate away people’s constitutional rights. We are glad that the most egregious portions of this mean-spirited law will be permanently blocked, and we will remain vigilant and will take action if immigration enforcement violates civil rights.”

More information about the case and settlement can be found atwww.nilc.org/sb20.html.

Attorneys in the case include Tumlin, Linton Joaquin, Nora Preciado, Melissa Keaney, Nicolas Espiritu, and Alvaro Huerta of the National Immigration Law Center; Michelle Lapointe, Sam Brooke, Naomi Tsu, and Dan Werner of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Justin B. Cox, Andre Segura, Cecillia Wang, Omar C. Jadwat, Justin B. Cox, Lee Gelernt and Kate Desormeau of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Amy Pedersen, Victor Viramontes and Martha L. Gomez, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Foster S. Maer of LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; Tammy Besherse of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center; and Susan Dunn of the ACLU Foundation of South Carolina.

The proposed final judgment is available atwww.nilc.org/document.html?id=1067.

The joint report regarding case status and disposition is available atwww.nilc.org/document.html?id=1068.

The South Carolina solicitor general’s opinion that is included in the settlement agreement is available at www.nilc.org/document.html?id=1069.

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