Category Archives: March 2015

Senator Harry Reid Retiring

March 27, 2015

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

NILC Statement on Sen. Harry Reid’s Retirement Announcement

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced this morning that he would not seek reelection, which means he will be ending a career of more than three decades in the Capitol. The following is a statement by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Senator Harry Reid has been a steadfast champion for all families, regardless of where they came from or how much money they have. His commitment to justice and equality for all led him to take strong stands to protect and advance the rights of immigrant youth and workers, even when such choices were politically risky.

“Good leadership is sometimes hard to find, but Sen. Reid has been one of the best. His retirement represents a loss for low-income immigrants and working families, who have always had, in him, a strong advocate.

“We will miss his voice and leadership in the Senate.”

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Attacks on Immigrants in Budget Resolution

March 24, 2015

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

Senators Urged Not to Agree to Attacks on Low-Wage Immigrants in Budget Blueprint

WASHINGTON — As congressional conservatives continue advancing legislative attacks against immigrants and President Obama’s recent immigration relief initiatives, nearly 100 national and state religious, medical, labor, children’s and anti-poverty advocacy organizations are urging senators to steer clear of budget proposals that would hurt low-wage immigrants.

At issue are proposals expected to be offered during the Senate budget debate that would strip eligibility for tax credits from millions of children and their working, tax-paying immigrant families. These proposals are the latest in a series of efforts by conservative lawmakers to deprive immigrants of all economic supports, including tax credits earned through the work they do and the taxes they pay.

“The Budget Resolution must not be used to further impoverish low-wage immigrants by changing tax law and disallowing eligibility for the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the refundable Child Tax Credit,” states a letter sent Tuesday to senators by the National Immigration Law Center and dozens of advocacy groups.

“Immigrant workers perform some of the most essential jobs that make up the backbone of our economy and immigrant families make significant tax contributions at every level,” including local, state and federal income taxes, as well as payroll taxes that support the Social Security and Medicare systems, the letter explained. “Despite these significant tax contributions, most immigrant workers may never be eligible to collect their earned benefits.” Undocumented immigrants are denied federal safety-net assistance, including help through the food stamp program (known as SNAP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and nonemergency Medicaid.

“The choice is clear. Congress can produce a budget blueprint that protects our economy and maximizes the contributions of immigrant workers, or it can go home for its two-week spring break and explain to taxpayers why their pocketbooks are being emptied to pay for lawmakers’ attacks against immigrants,” said Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli, a policy analyst with the National Immigration Law Center. “Congress can do right by the taxpayers and abandon these senseless attacks. It can go even further by working on long-term immigration reform that would produce greater economic benefits for everyone.”

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Response to ICE Director’s Statement

March 20, 2015

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

Saldaña’s Prayers Are an Immigrant Family’s Nightmare

WASHINGTON — Testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña shocked the immigrant advocacy community when she said, “Thank you. Amen. Yes,” in response to a question from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) about whether Congress should make immigration detainers, or requests to local law enforcement officials to hold immigrants for ICE, mandatory. Today, Saldaña issued a statement in which she attempts to clarify that she believes such detainers should not be made mandatory. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“In her first hearing testifying before Congress as ICE director, Sarah Saldaña showed little regard for immigrant families and even less concern for the U.S. Constitution as she lamented the fact that litigation had precluded her agents from going after immigrants in local communities. Her attempt today to “clarify” her position only raised more concerns, as the statement seems to serve mostly to tout the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), the administration’s new immigration enforcement strategy. Director Saldaña has left immigrant advocates across the nation wondering whether PEP is simply S-COMM — a program that shattered countless immigrant families and has led to Fourth Amendment violations — by another name.

“The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of implementing significant policy changes to its enforcement and deportation priorities announced by President Obama last November. These changes are meant to restore order and fairness to our immigration system, which has for far too long resulted in the deportation of mothers, fathers, and workers. These changes were also designed to allow local law enforcement leaders to restore immigrant communities’ trust in them.

“Director Saldaña’s comments are deeply troubling and run counter to the new DHS policies. We urge President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to ensure that everyone within ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from top to bottom, complies with the president’s recent executive actions on immigration.”

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House Judiciary Committee Passes HR 1148


March 18, 2015

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

House of Representatives Mass Deportation Bill Shows Little Learned from Past Anti-Immigrant Behavior

WASHINGTON — In a party-line vote, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill out of committee that would criminalize immigrants who are not authorized to be in the U.S. and would turn local law enforcement into de facto immigration officers. The bill, HR 1148, is nearly identical to the 2013 SAFE Act, an anti-immigrant proposal that drew the ire of immigrants’ rights groups and local law enforcement. Below is a statement from Kamal Essaheb, immigration policy attorney for the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today’s proceedings show that in their zeal to attack immigrant communities, anti-immigrant legislators in the House Judiciary Committee are willing to threaten everyone else’s safety. That’s why law enforcement leaders across the country have urged lawmakers to reject this proposal. Unfortunately, these requests — from those whose job it is to protect and serve everyone in their communities — seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

“Attacks on immigrant communities are nothing new: Arizona, Alabama, and others attempted to create state-based racial profiling laws, and all these laws trampled on the rights of people of color, regardless of where they were born. It’s time to abandon misguided efforts to export failed Arizona-style policies to other states and instead focus on proposals that improve public safety for everyone by restoring relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.”

The committee also passed, in a party-line vote, HR 5137, a bill that would eliminate key protections for unaccompanied noncitizen children. Specifically, the bill would make it harder for such children to access legal help and would raise the standard for showing that they have a credible fear of being persecuted if they are returned to their home countries.

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Immigration Relief Crucial to U.S. Economic Health

March 17, 2015

Gebe Martinez, [email protected], 703-731-9505

NILC Urges Congress to Keep Integrity of Tax Rules to Secure Economic Benefits of President’s Immigration Initiatives

Benefits from immigration relief will improve the economy for everyone, according to NILC testimony before House subcommittees

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s immigration initiatives will have a positive impact on the economy, and failure to carry them out “would severely harm the federal budget,” the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) stated in its comments today before U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittees on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules, and National Security.

Two components of the president’s announced immigration policy changes — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — “will provide a natural economic stimulus for everyone,” testified Avideh Moussavian, NILC’s economic justice policy attorney. The impact of the immigration relief extends beyond dollars and cents, by making communities “safer, more prosperous, and better integrated in ways that simply cannot be measured.”

Moussavian cited estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) showing that the president’s initiatives would generate $18.9 billion in revenues, including payroll and income taxes, over the next ten years. If the proposals are blocked, the federal budget deficit will rise by more than $6.3 billion during the same period, according to the CBO and JCT. Conservatives who oppose commonsense immigration reform legislation, and this initial step toward administrative relief, have wrongly claimed that people who are granted DAPA or expanded DACA would receive costly federal benefits.

“Although immigrants who qualify for DACA or DAPA pay taxes, they are nevertheless excluded from many economic supports. They are unable to purchase health insurance — even at full cost — in state or federally run health care exchanges. They are similarly excluded from programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP, and federal Medicaid, among other things,” Moussavian testified.

At the same time, working families who have Social Security numbers and pay taxes have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

“It is a longstanding federal tax principle that the same rules apply to all taxpayers who are working lawfully in the U.S. This includes access to certain earned tax credit programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),” Moussavian told lawmakers. “And while we may disagree on the president’s executive actions, we need to protect the integrity of the tax system.”

The written testimony that NILC’s Avideh Moussavian submitted to the House subcommittees is available at

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DOJ Files Stay Request in Texas v. U.S.

March 12, 2015

Adela de la Torre, [email protected], 213-400-7822

Department of Justice Takes Strong Step to Stem Harm Caused by District Court Ruling in Texas

Emergency stay request should be granted without delay

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed an emergency stay request to allow President Obama’s recent immigration initiatives to go into effect while the appellate court considers Texas, et al. v. United States, et al., the pending lawsuit against the immigration initiatives. The stay request, which was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, would allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expansion, along with the deferred action initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA), to be implemented. The National Immigration Law Center, along with several civil, labor, and immigrants’ rights organizations, filed a brief in support of the Obama administration in this case. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“This filing rightly recognizes that our communities are robbed of the opportunity to live free from fear of deportation and our economy is deprived of much-needed fiscal benefits with each day that this injunction remains in place. The legal bar for granting such a stay is high, and for good reason: our justice system can and should consider fully the facts of each case. However, we firmly believe that in this case, like in other recent major civil rights cases, the Department of Justice’s request more than meets these high standards.

“Although they may disagree on the politics, legal experts across the ideological spectrum agreethat the actions President Obama took to mend parts of our broken immigration system fell well within the president’s legal authority. The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but that’s no reason to allow people and our economy to suffer while this case makes its way through the courts. The Fifth Circuit can and should grant this important emergency stay request, and they should do so without delay.”

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Bills Undermine Rights of Workers, Children, Asylees

March 4, 2015

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

House Bills Undermine Rights of Workers, Children, Asylees

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center calls for rejection of a package of bills approved this week by the House Judiciary Committee that underscore conservatives’ “deportation only” strategy at the expense of privacy rights, civil rights, and fair labor standards for workers. The measures also would undermine critical due process protections for asylees and subject children to prolonged detention in facilities that are not age appropriate.

The bills that passed the House Judiciary Committee include:

H.R. 1147, the Legal Workforce Act, which requires all U.S. employers to use the error-prone E-Verify system, at great cost to the federal government, businesses and workers. The bill would put the jobs of hundreds of thousands of authorized U.S. workers at risk while pushing immigrant workers and businesses deeper into the underground economy.

A government-commissioned study found that Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) were four times more likely to receive an erroneous E-Verify determination under the currently voluntary E-Verify system, and that work-authorized immigrant workers were 27 times more likely to receive an erroneous E-Verify determination than U.S.-born workers.

H.R. 1149, the Protection of Children Act is a harsh departure from the U.S. tradition of protecting those who have been subjected to violence, human trafficking, abuse and other crimes. The bill undermines critical due process protections in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

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

“It is the height of hypocrisy that the conservative-led House Judiciary Committee approved the E-Verify bill by asserting they are trying to protect U.S. workers without harming small businesses, when, in fact, the bill would do the opposite. The damage a mandatory E-Verify system would cause for American workers is clear. In this economy, the loss of just one job due to an error-prone government system is one job too many.

“Furthermore, the measures to remove critical human and civil rights for children and asylees are unconscionable. We have investigated detention facilities and found troubling violations, particularly for women and children. The legislation would set back our nation’s humanitarian legacy.”

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