Category Archives: News Releases

Statement on the Passing of Juan Osuna

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Statement on the Passing of Juan Osuna

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center mourns the passing of Juan Osuna, former director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and a former associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, who passed away unexpectedly this week in Falls Church, Virginia.

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

“Juan Osuna will be remembered as a tireless and dedicated advocate for justice for immigrants. He had an unparalleled knowledge of our immigration court system. He was thoughtful, scholarly, and kind in his pursuit of a just and fair court system.

“Juan was an exemplary public servant whose commitment to fairness shone through throughout his tenure. The immigrant advocacy community lost a fierce ally this week. Our thoughts are with his wife, Wendy Young, the president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and his family during this difficult time.”

For more information about Osuna’s career and life, please visit https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2017/08/16/in-memoriam-juan-p-osuna.aspx?sthash.jluem8jE.mjjo.

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President Trump’s Silence on White Supremacism Is Deafening

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2017

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

President Trump’s Silence on White Supremacism Is Deafening

LOS ANGELES — White supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent today when neo-Nazis and others engaged in violent assaults against counter-protesters and people of color. These acts resulted in at least one fatality and several injuries. In his remarks on today’s events, President Trump blamed “many sides” for today’s atrocities.

Below is a statement issued by Reshma Shamasunder, deputy director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today, people who stood for fairness, justice, and equality were physically harmed. Our thoughts and prayers are with these courageous leaders and their families.

“President Trump’s failure to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and the role they played in contributing to this violence is shameful and dangerous. Through discriminatory policy, messaging and, at times, deafening silence, President Trump is sending a clear message to communities of color that our freedom, our rights, and our place in this country are less important than those of others.

“This is not acceptable. We stand firmly with the brave leaders fighting for justice and dignity for all of us, regardless of where we were born, the color of our skin, how we pray, or whom we love. The Trump administration and elected officials should do the same.”

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Court Upholds Marriage Equality in Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2017

CONTACT
Elizabeth Beresford, NILC, elizabeth@elizabethbberesford.com, 917-648-0189
Stephen Boykewich, NOWCRJ, stephen@guestworkeralliance.org, 323-673-1307

Court Upholds Marriage Equality in Louisiana

Ruling permanently blocks state law that denies immigrants the right to marry

NEW ORLEANS — A federal district court today issued a powerful rebuke against anti-immigrant discrimination in Louisiana, issuing a permanent injunction against a state law that denies marriage equality to foreign-born Louisianans.

Viet “Victor” Anh Vo filed the lawsuit, Vo v. Gee, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in October 2016 after he and his fiancée were prevented from obtaining a marriage license in multiple Louisiana parishes. They were blocked by an unconstitutional state law that requires any foreign-born person to present a certified birth certificate to obtain a marriage license. U.S.-born applicants can obtain a waiver of that requirement, but foreign-born persons cannot.

The order for summary judgment issued by the court today says, “The unconstitutionality of Act 436 applies to all residents of the State of Louisiana, not just Mr. Vo.”

Vo said, “I am thrilled that I will finally be able to marry my partner of more than 10 years in my Louisiana hometown. And I’m proud that because of our efforts, no one in Louisiana will be denied the right to marry the person they love because of the place they were born.”

Vo, 32, is a U.S. citizen and has been a resident of Louisiana since he was three months old. He was never issued an official birth certificate because he was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam. His fiancée is also a U.S. citizen and lifelong Louisiana resident.

Vo was represented pro bono by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP.

“To be able to marry the person you love is a fundamental right in this country no matter where you come from and where you live. Today, the court has again strongly rebuked any attempt to undermine that right. The freedom to marry is the law of the land,” said NILC staff attorney Alvaro Huerta.

NOCWRJ Staff Attorney Mary Yanik said, “This law came from the politics of hatred and discrimination, and that’s not what Louisiana stands for. The decision today reflects Louisiana’s proudest legacy, as the birthplace of movements for human and civil rights.”

Skadden attorney Marley Ann Brumme said, “We are thrilled with the Court’s decision to permanently extend the protections provided by its earlier ruling. Mr. Vo can finally marry his partner in their home state of Louisiana without the burden of unconstitutional requirements imposed solely because of the place of his birth, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to help Mr. Vo in vindicating his rights and those of other Louisianans similarly situated.”

Today’s ruling comes a half century after Loving v. Virginia, which upheld the rights of people to marry regardless of ethnicity or race.

Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Act 436, also known as HB 836, in July 2015. Before it passed, lawmakers warned that it would unnecessarily burden foreign-born residents such as Vo and that it was “a mistake” to try to use marriage to regulate immigration. Louisiana lawmakers passed it anyway, and the law went into effect in January 2016.

Today’s court order is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Vo-v-Gee-Opinion-and-Permanent-Injunction-2017-08-08.pdf.

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Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Diversity Visa Denials

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2017

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, 202-384-1279, media@nilc.org
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 212-284-7347, isarda-sorensen@aclu.org
Yusuf Barzinji, ADC, 202-244-2990, yalbarzinji@adc.org

Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Diversity Visa Denials

WASHINGTON — Groups filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the U.S. State Department’s refusal to process visa applications for winners of the U.S. Diversity Visa Program lottery who hail from the six countries covered by President Trump’s Muslim ban.

The lawsuit was brought by Jenner & Block LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center. It was filed on behalf of lottery winners from Iran and Yemen, and charges the federal government with running afoul of federal law and regulations by refusing to issue visas to eligible winners.

The lottery program provides an opportunity to a limited number of immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates to come to the United States. The randomly selected winners receive a visa, provided that they satisfy the eligibility requirements and qualify under the government’s general rules for visas. Only 50,000 diversity visas are awarded each year. Over the last 10 years, 16 million people on average have applied each year for the annual lottery.

The program requires consulates to issue visas to lottery winners no later than September 30, or the winners lose their chance to immigrate to the United States. The case filed today asks that the government process lottery winners’ visa applications by that date, as required by federal law and regulations.

Trump’s Muslim ban currently prohibits the entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who do not have bona fide connections to the United States (or who fall within another exception). The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to consider the ban’s constitutionality later in the fall in separate litigation.

The following statements are from:

Esther Sung, National Immigration Law Center. “The federal government made a promise to our plaintiffs and hundreds of others like them, and they put their faith in that promise. Now, thanks to President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban, the State Department is unlawfully backing away from that promise. This isn’t right, fair, or lawful, and we are willing to do what it takes — including going to court — to fight for the rights of our clients.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “A winning lottery spot is a rare and precious thing. If our clients do not receive their visas by September 30, they lose what may be their only chance at becoming Americans. By refusing to issue their visas during the ban, the State Department is violating the law and threatening to run out the clock. While we look forward to demonstrating, in separate litigation, that the ban is unconstitutional and should be struck down, the government’s freeze on diversity visa applicants is unlawful and unjustifiable no matter how that case turns out.”

Samer Khalaf, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “ADC’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeks to prohibit the discriminatory delay of diversity visa issuance to Yemeni nationals. The denial of diversity visas and lengthy processing is targeting Yemenis based on their national origin and religion. Administrative processing should not be used to wait people out and keep them from an opportunity for a visa they qualify for. This vile attempt by the Trump administration to refuse admission to those who have sacrificed everything for a better opportunity is uncalled for, and unacceptable. ADC stands with the Yemenis and all those who are affected. We will do everything in our power to see that justice is served.”

Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Yemeni American Merchant Association of New York. “After connecting with many of the diversity visa lottery winners in the last couple of weeks, their voices and stories remain etched in our minds. We are grateful that today the world will learn of their broken promise to the American dream. We will tirelessly stand with them until they get the judicial relief they deserve.”

Plaintiff Radad Furooz. “I sold everything I had to get the chance to travel to the USA. I have nothing and nowhere to go now. The executive order travel ban has destroyed my dreams.”

Scott Michelman, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of the District of Columbia. “The State Department’s discriminatory visa denial policy goes beyond even the terms of Trump’s unconstitutional entry ban. The courts must uphold the rule of law and preserve visa lottery winners’ only realistic chance at someday becoming Americans — an opportunity that the federal government promised them and now is unjustifiably withholding.”

The case, P.K. v. Tillerson, was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.

The complaint is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/pk-v-tillerson-complaint-2017-08-03.pdf.

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The RAISE Act Is Cruel and Un-American

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

The RAISE Act Is Cruel and Un-American

WASHINGTON — Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) presented legislation to President Trump today that proposes radically reducing legal immigration to the United States, reversing decades of well-established policy that prioritizes family-based legal immigration.

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

“The Republican Party continues to double down on the execution of President Trump’s white nationalist blueprint for America. The RAISE Act is their latest extremist proposal that would cut legal immigration levels by half. This is a radical and alarming departure from America’s longstanding history of welcoming and embracing the diversity and family reunification values that give us our moral and economic advantage in the world.

“The bill would devastate families, eliminating the traditional and long-accepted means by which family members such as grandparents, mothers, fathers, and siblings are able to reunite with their families who have emigrated to the United States. An emphasis on so-called ‘merit-based’ immigration is a manipulative and misleading ploy that inaccurately suggests less legal immigration means more jobs for American workers. Economists from both sides of the political spectrum clearly and consistently reject this. The economic consequences and impact on American families would be devastating.

“The truth is that this is just another one of the Republican Party’s sinister attacks on immigrants. It is yet another move made to dismantle our national identity.”

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Senate Should Focus on Solutions That Move the Country Forward, Not Backward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Senate Should Focus on Solutions That Move the Country Forward, Not Backward

WASHINGTON — After the U.S. Senate rejected several Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal proposals on a bipartisan basis last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) closed debate, ending for now the Republican-led Congress’s ACA repeal efforts.

The Congressional Budget Office determined that the various repeal and, in some cases, replacement proposals considered by Congress in recent weeks would take health coverage away from between 16 and 32 million people. In addition to repealing the ACA, those bills included provisions making deep cuts to Medicaid, dramatically increasing out-of-pocket costs and premiums, undermining employer-sponsored insurance, and eliminating critical patient protection reforms.

The GOP legislation included proposals that would particularly harm immigrant families by excluding lawfully present immigrants from assistance for and even enrollment in the ACA marketplaces. Several senators who have supported responsible immigration reform proposals in the past, including Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dean Heller (R-NV), nevertheless voted this week to deny immigrants health care.

Reacting to the Senate vote, the National Immigration Law Center released the following statement from its director of policy and advocacy, Kamal Essaheb:

“Last night’s vote was the latest in a series of failed attempts to pass bad legislation that would have caused millions of people to suffer, and it sends a pretty clear signal. Dismantling solutions isn’t legislating, and denying people—any people—health care and other basic needs isn’t a solution.

“This isn’t a loss for congressional Republicans, it’s an opportunity for lawmakers of both parties to recommit to finding real paths forward for our country. Leaders from both parties should know that if and when they return to health policy or the funding of health programs, the people they represent will hold them accountable for last night’s vote and for any votes in the future that harm the health of their communities.”

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New House Bills Signal Growing Bipartisan Support for Protecting Immigrant Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

New House Bills Signal Growing Bipartisan Support for Protecting Immigrant Youth

LOS ANGELES — Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced a new bill, the American Hope Act, that would provide undocumented immigrant youth who have been in the U.S. from a young age with a pathway to U.S. citizenship. The bill, which was crafted with the input of undocumented young immigrants themselves and introduced with 112 cosponsors, would provide permanent protections to immigrant youth regardless of education level, military service, or work history. It follows the bipartisan, bicameral introduction of the Dream Act, which would similarly provide permanent protections under more limited criteria.

The introduction of legislative proposals to protect immigrant youth in both chambers of Congress comes in the midst of uncertainty about the Trump administration’s plans for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has authorized nearly 800,000 young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. temporarily since 2012. President Trump has said that immigrant youth can “rest easy,” but his administration has targeted DACA recipients and made conflicting statements about the future of the program.

Ignacia Rodriguez, an immigration policy advocate with the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The American Hope Act underscores that the starting point for any conversation about policies that have broad impact on people’s lives should be a recognition of value in every person. It embodies the principle—dignity—that should be at the core of any proposal to protect undocumented immigrant youth.

“We are encouraged by the bill’s introduction, as well as that of other legislative proposals that demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for immigrant youth who have fought for the opportunity to stay in their communities and pursue their full potential.

“However, these bills and the lives of the people they would directly impact should not be held ransom for more border militarization. And, crucially, we must continue to uphold DACA, which has been a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and benefitted our country as a whole.”

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Irresponsible Vote on Senate “Repeal and Disgrace” Health Care Bill Opposed by Immigrant Advocates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Irresponsible Vote on Senate “Repeal and Disgrace” Health Care Bill Opposed by Immigrant Advocates

WASHINGTON — After two prior failures, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—this time without even knowing what form of the deeply unpopular bill the Senate will be considering.

Today’s anticipated vote on a “motion to proceed” will determine whether the Senate can consider GOP plans to repeal the ACA, which the Congressional Budget Office has determined will take health coverage away from between 22 to 32 million people, depending on which plan the Senate takes up. In addition to repealing the ACA, the bills put forth so far would make deep cuts to Medicaid, dramatically increase out-of-pocket costs and raise premiums, undermine employer-sponsored insurance, and eliminate critical patient protection reforms.

The different GOP proposals all include proposals that would particularly harm immigrant families. The Senate GOP bill—the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)—goes further than a radical proposal passed earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill backed by McConnell cuts off all access to health insurance for some lawfully present immigrants, by barring them from accessing the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces and eliminating their access to the financial assistance that 84 percent of participants on the marketplace rely on. However, by denying tax credits to many lawfully present immigrants, the House bill would effectively achieve a similar unacceptable outcome.

In anticipation of today’s vote, the National Immigration Law Center released the following statement by its health policy attorney, Matthew Lopas:

“Congressional Republicans promised repeal and replace, but this is repeal and disgrace. Decisions about the health of millions of families, immigrant and citizen alike, should not be made on the fly on the floor of the Senate. I rarely agree with President Trump, but he was right when he called the House bill ‘mean.’ The Senate Republican bill is downright cruel, and that’s why responsible Republicans like Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, Lisa Murkowski, and Dean Heller have all publicly opposed it. They must keep their word and reject this unpopular, anti–health care scheme.”

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Bipartisan Dream Act Highlights Broad Support for Existing Immigrant Youth Protections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2017

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Bipartisan Dream Act Highlights Broad Support for Existing Immigrant Youth Protections

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today introduced a new Dream Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide a pathway to legal status for some undocumented immigrant youth. The bill would provide a path to legal status for immigrant youth who arrived in the U.S. as children and who either attend college or perform military service.

The introduction comes amidst news media reports that Trump administration officials are pushing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, despite the president’s previous comments that he would “work something out” for immigrant youth and that they can “rest easy.” DACA, which has been in place since 2012, authorizes some young immigrants to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“It is encouraging to see members of Congress from both parties willing to work together to bring forward the Dream Act, which has always enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. The legislation would provide a necessary, longer-term solution for immigrant youth who have fought for the ability to work, go to school, and live without fear of deportation.

“However, politicians who would try to hold the lives of immigrant youth hostage to get more immigration enforcement should be ashamed.

“Nor should any bill introduction serve to diminish the critical importance of DACA, which has fundamentally enhanced the lives of nearly 800,000 people, including my own.

“Thanks to DACA, our country has seen what people can accomplish when given an opportunity to contribute more fully to their communities. DACA works, and it should be kept in place regardless of any potential legislation. President Trump needs to end the uncertainty his administration has imposed on immigrant youth and unequivocally support DACA.”

A table comparing provisions of the 2010 and 2017 Dream Acts and DACA is available at www.nilc.org/dream-acts-and-daca-compared/.

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SCOTUS Decision to Limit What Qualifies as a “Bona Fide” Relationship for Refugees Affected by Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2017

CONTACT
Marcos Rodríguez Maciel, 559-920-0534, mmaciel@skdknick.com

NILC Disappointed by Today’s Supreme Court Decision to Limit What Qualifies as a “Bona Fide” Relationship for Refugees Affected by Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that partially stays the Hawaii federal district court’s order clarifying that refugees with a relationship with resettlement agencies in the United States remain protected by the preliminary injunction of President Trump’s Muslim-ban executive order. In response to today’s decision, Justin Cox, a National Immigration Law Center staff attorney, issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration has been clear about its intention to slam the door on Muslims and refugees however it can. The opening provided last month by the Supreme Court was abused by the administration, and we will continue to fight alongside our immigrant and refugee communities and in courtrooms to prevent our plaintiffs’ clients from being shut out of the country they already consider their home.

“Whether aimed at nationals of Muslim-majority countries or refugees, the intent behind the ban is clear: to keep people out based on how they pray. This action isn’t just unconstitutional, it betrays our nation’s deepest values for inclusivity and religious freedom.

“Family unity won today, but clarity and security for refugees remains at risk. We will continue the fight in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to ensure that refugees can find the shelter they were offered by settlement agencies in the United States. We hope the court of appeals will take up this case as soon as possible.”

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