Category Archives: News Releases

Trump Anti-Family Regulation Draws 15,000+ Comments in First Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2018

CONTACT
– National Immigration Law Center: Juan Gastelum (213-375-3149) or Hayley Burgess (202-384-1279), [email protected]
– Center for Law and Social Policy: Tom Salyers (202-607-1074), [email protected]

Trump Anti-Family Regulation Draws 15,000+ Comments in First Week

Proposal would deny immigrants for meeting basic needs

WASHINGTON — A Trump administration regulatory proposal to effectively restrict immigration access based on income has drawn more than 15,000 comments since the legally required public comment period opened on October 10. Widely reported by the press, the “public charge” regulation would put people at risk of immigration denials if they use Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare’s prescription drug assistance program, or other programs. The National Immigration Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy are coordinating a campaign to protect millions of immigrant families from this attack.

“This massive response shows that people see the Trump regulation for what it is — reckless, deeply unfair, and inconsistent with core American values,” said Madison Hardee, a senior policy analyst/attorney at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Experts warn that the plan would worsen hunger, unmet health needs, and other problems by making immigrant families — including families with children — afraid to get the help they need. Comments opposing the regulation validate those concerns.

“I am applying for Green Card. I already dis-enrolled my child from CHIP out of fear since the draft policy floated around early this year. I pray every day nothing bad happens to my child,” wrote one anonymous commenter.

Advocates for economic opportunity and immigrant families charge that the proposal would put wealthy immigrants ahead of families and expand a policy that has been historically abused. Commenters also underscore those concerns.

“This rule is diametrically opposed to our most basic values as a nation and devalues the fact that many of our top doctors, scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs are the children or grandchildren of immigrants who came to the United States with little more than the clothes on their backs and dreams for a better future,” wrote Meredith Owen of Church World Service.

“My husband’s entire family arrived as widows and child refugees from the Holocaust. Many immigrants arrive in similar tragic circumstances in which they need to use the US’s social safety net,” wrote commenter Janet Rosenbaum.

Individuals who have submitted comments to date opposing the regulation include elected officials, physicians, food pantry and other human services agency administrators, and community voices. A week ago, advocates released a joint letter signed by more than 1,500 nonprofits representing a wide range of concerns, from housing to faith, hunger to immigrants’ rights.

Federal law requires that the administration give the public an opportunity to comment on this expansive proposal. Commenters are not required to give their address or divulge their immigration status. Concerned members of the public can learn more and submit comments on the proposal at www.ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org through December 10, 2018.

Advocates observed that the pace of comments to date could put the public charge regulation on track to surpass the 50,714 comments received on a student visa training options regulation proposed in 2015. That proposal appears to have received the most comments submitted on any regulatory proposal by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“There is still much work to be done and only a few weeks to do it,” said Sonya Schwartz, a senior policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “But it’s encouraging to see the American people raising their voices to resist Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-family agenda and take the power back.”

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Trump Rule Rigs Immigration for the Super-Rich, Expands Abusive Policy to Put Families at Risk, Advocates Say

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2018

CONTACT
– National Immigration Law Center: Juan Gastelum (213-375-3149) or Hayley Burgess (202-384-1279), [email protected]
– Center for Law and Social Policy: Tom Salyers (202-607-1074), [email protected]
– Center for American Progress: Julia Cusick (202-495-3682), [email protected]
– National Domestic Workers Alliance: Natalia Jaramillo (786-317-3524),  [email protected]

Trump Rule Rigs Immigration for the Super-Rich, Expands Abusive Policy to Put Families at Risk, Advocates Say

Proposal Would Deny Immigrants for Meeting Basic Needs

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is soon expected to circumvent Congress, proposing regulations to effectively restrict immigration access, based on income. Widely reported by the press, the regulation would put people at risk of immigration denials if they use Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, or other programs. Experts warn that the plan would worsen hunger, unmet health needs, and other problems by making immigrant families — including families with children — afraid to get the help they need. Advocates for economic opportunity and immigrant families charged that the proposal would put wealthy immigrants ahead of families and that it expands a policy that has been historically abused.

White House aide Stephen Miller, architect of the administration’s child separation policy, is reported to have led this “public charge” effort. News reports indicate that the proposal was also developed by an advisor who has personal relationships “with prominent white supremacists and racists.” Historians have warned that public charge regulations have been abused in the past to deny otherwise-eligible applicants access to lawful immigration avenues, based on race and religion. Because it would almost exclusively affect family-based immigrants, the Trump proposal will disproportionately affect families of color, especially Latinos.

Federal law requires that the administration give the public an opportunity to comment on this expansive proposal, when and if it is formally proposed. Commenters will not be required to give their address or divulge their immigration status. Advocates will post updates on http://www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org, as available.

Responding to the administration’s move, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the National Immigration Law Center, the Center for American Progress, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance issued the following statements:

“The proposal is reckless, deeply unfair, and inconsistent with core American values. It explicitly places a priority on well-off families and ignores families who have waited years to be reunited. This proposal says work and family don’t matter — only money matters. And at a time when one-fourth of children in America have at least one immigrant parent, it’s a direct attack on children. The good news is that by rising up together and fighting back — as we have done against other attacks — we can speak up for immigrant families,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.

“The Trump administration is trying to achieve through the back door what it hasn’t been able to do through Congress, which is to radically reform the legal immigration system. Through this rule, they want to restrict family immigration as the use of certain programs can prevent families from being reunited, getting a green card, or even becoming naturalized citizens,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

“My immigrant mother worked hard to build a better life for herself and her children. But if this proposal had been in place, she likely wouldn’t have had that opportunity, and I wouldn’t be here today. Now, with the flick of a pen, the Trump administration hopes to deny others a chance at the American Dream. The changes to the public charge provision would fundamentally alter our system for family-based immigration. Public charge has a sordid history. It was abused in the past to keep out Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Irish Catholics, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and unmarried women, among others. Once again, President Trump is prioritizing wealth over family and — just like his policy of tearing thousands of children from their parents at the border — undermining the fundamental values of our nation,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.

“This is Trump’s latest plot to keep separating families. He is willing to put over 20 million children at risk of malnutrition and disease, just to push his anti-immigrant agenda. This change in rules will punish millions of low-income mothers like domestic workers who take care of our loved ones and our homes, yet often struggle to make enough to take care of their own families and rely on our democracy to keep their families healthy and safe. No parent should have to choose between feeding their children or keeping their family together. Tearing families apart is a choice that we don’t have to keep making,” said Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-chair of the Families Belong Together campaign.

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RECORDING of news teleconference (Sun., Sept. 23, 2018): https://www.nilc.org/families-news-conf-2018-09-23/ or https://wp.me/a7gMAF-4Ez

MORE INFORMATION on “public charge”: www.nilc.org/exec-orders-and-access-to-public-programs/

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Trump Administration Proposal Would Separate Immigrant Families, Harm Public Health and Wellbeing for All of Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2018

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Trump Administration Proposal Would Separate Immigrant Families, Harm Public Health and Wellbeing for All of Us

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today announced it would propose a new rule that would prevent immigrant families on the road to U.S. citizenship from being able to secure permanent lawful immigration status if they utilize any of a vast array of health care supports, nutrition assistance, or other services. Previous versions of the proposed rule have been decried by public health officials, mayors, faith leaders, and anti-poverty advocates due to its breathtaking scope and the potential consequences of such a policy change.

On Saturday, Sept. 22, major news outlets announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would post the proposed rule for public comment in the Federal Register.

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

“Building on the traumatic separation of families at the border, the Trump administration has taken another cruel step. This proposed rule change will similarly result in the separation of families and is just the latest assault on immigrant families. This is an inhumane attack on the health and wellbeing of so many families and communities across the country.

“How you contribute to your community — and not what you look like or the contents of your wallet — should be what matters most. This proposed rule does the opposite and makes clear that the Trump administration continues to prioritize money over family unity by ensuring that only the wealthiest can afford to build a future in this country.

“The Trump administration is using this regulatory backdoor approach because it attempted to enact its draconian agenda of restricting legal immigration through Congress — and failed. This rule change is radical and extreme, and it leaves the door wide open for potential abuse. All of us, regardless of where we were born, suffer when immigrants are penalized for trying to have their basic needs met.

“Whether by ripping families apart, enacting a Muslim ban, ending temporary protected status, or callously holding immigrant youth with DACA hostage to politics, the Trump administration has shown that its appetite for harming the immigrant community is insatiable. This latest attack on immigrants is a cynical ploy to deflect from its current political misfortunes and to attempt to scapegoat immigrants once again just in time for the midterm elections.

“In this case, however, we have the tools to fight back. The comment period for the proposed rule will provide an opportunity for all Americans, regardless of citizenship status, to tell the government that we oppose this rule change. Instead of using an administrative backdoor to attack immigrants, the Trump administration should work with Congress on legislation that would make our communities stronger and healthier. Our power is in our voice, and the time to use it is now.”

To learn more about the Trump administration’s proposed rule change, please visit www.protectimmigrantfamilies.org.

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MORE INFORMATION on “public charge”: www.nilc.org/exec-orders-and-access-to-public-programs/

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Tennessee OSHA Slams Meatpacking Plant Where Massive ICE Raid Took Place with 27 Violations and $41,775 in Penalties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2018

CONTACT
– Hayley Burgess, National Immigration Law Center, 202-805-0375, [email protected]
– Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, 646-584-5281, [email protected]
– Jen Fuson, SPLC, 334-956-8226, [email protected]
– Amy Lebowitz, National Employment Law Project, 646-200-5322, [email protected]

Tennessee OSHA Slams Meatpacking Plant Where Massive ICE Raid Took Place with 27 Violations and $41,775  in Penalties

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) has slammed the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant in Bean Station, Tennessee, with $41,775 in fines and cited the company for 27 violations, 23 of which were categorized as “serious” because of the risk of physical harm or death posed to workers. These violations and investigations came to light after a raid of the plant in April, during which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used aggressive, militaristic force to arrest nearly a hundred workers, including at least one U.S. citizen and others with work authorization.

The fine is among the highest levied by TOSHA and indicates the seriousness of the violations found by the state agency and the dangers facing the workers in the plant. The TOSHA investigation found that the company failed to provide even the most basic safety equipment and sanitary facilities, creating an extremely hazardous work environment for plant employees. Employees faced a wide range of injuries due to dangerous levels of noise, exposure to chemicals, faulty equipment, and poor sanitation.

Southeastern Provision has flagrantly violated laws that are intended to protect all workers in this country. In addition to these egregious safety and health violations, the company is currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) for violations of wage and hour laws. The company’s owner agreed to plead guilty last week to criminal charges related to tax evasion and failure to pay workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. These charges resulted from his practice of paying his employees off the books and underreporting his employees’ wages to the state and federal government.

Copies of the TOSHA citations can be found here:

In response to this development, the following individuals issued these statements:

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):
“Meatpacking is already among the country’s most dangerous jobs, but Mr. Brantley failed to provide even the most basic protections, putting the health, safety, and lives of his employees at risk. When employers and the government hold the threat of deportation above workers’ heads, they are less likely to report dangerous conditions like those that persisted at Southeastern Provision. The administration’s escalating use of worksite raids has instilled a greater sense of fear in workers across the country, enabling employers like Mr. Brantley to dangerously cut corners.”

Jessie Hahn, labor and employment policy attorney, National Immigration Law Center (NILC):
“These citations confirm what we have known to be true through the firsthand accounts of several former employees. Mr. Brantley is intentionally and blatantly defying required workplace health and safety standards — and putting his employees in grave danger — in order to save himself money. Despite many employees suffering injuries and some having to seek treatment at the hospital, he did not keep any of the required records of injuries, he encouraged his employees to deny their injuries were work-related to hospital staff, and to date he has not taken any action to improve safety conditions. These citations are an important step, but much more must be done to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Southeastern Provision employees now and in the future.”

Mary Bauer, deputy legal director, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
“Southeastern Provision knowingly endangered its workers by failing to adhere to basic worker safety and health laws. Although the company kept no records of worker injuries, we know people did get injured. Southeastern Provision also evaded federal tax laws and is under investigation for not paying overtime.

“Companies like Southeastern Provision that put profit over the dignity and safety of workers gain an unfair advantage over honest competitors who live up to their obligations under the law. Rather than ripping vulnerable and exploited workers from their families, detaining them, and threatening to deport them, the federal government should focus enforcement efforts on employers who put workers at risk and evade their obligations to pay taxes and pay their workers.”

Deborah Berkowitz, worker safety and health program director, National Employment Law Project (NELP):
“Instead of targeting and arresting the workers, this administration and Tennessee’s counterpart agencies must hold this employer fully accountable for violating not only tax laws, but for the egregious violations of basic worker protections done to simply inflate profits and undercut competitors. Employees at Southeastern Provision have experienced conditions and dangers that no worker anywhere should have to endure.”

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Rights Groups Respond to Charges Against Owner of Tennessee Meatpacking Plant Where Massive ICE Raid Took Place

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, National Immigration Law Center, 202-805-0375, [email protected]
Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, 646-584-5281, [email protected]
Jen Fuson, Southern Poverty Law Center, 334-956-8226, [email protected]

National & Local Civil Rights Groups Respond to Federal Charges Against Owner of Tennessee Meatpacking Plant Where Massive ICE Raid Took Place

MORRISTOWN, TN — James Brantley, the owner of Southeastern Provision, a meatpacking plant in Eastern Tennessee, pled guilty yesterday to federal charges of tax evasion and wire fraud. He is charged with evading nearly $1.3 million in federal payroll taxes over the past decade and neglecting to pay state and federal fees such as unemployment and workers’ comp premiums.

For years, Southeastern Provision has flagrantly violated laws that are intended to protect all workers in this country.  In addition to having been charged with tax evasion, the company is being investigated by both the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) and the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) to determine whether its employees’ working conditions were inhumane and unhealthful. These charges came to light after a massive raid of the plant in April, during which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used aggressive, militaristic force to arrest nearly a hundred workers, including one U.S. citizen and several who have work authorization.

As a country, we must stand up and demand that any company that abuses its workers be held accountable for its actions to the full extent of the law. All too often, workers bear the brunt of this abuse and are used as scapegoats, while companies are able to continue to operate without consequence.

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):
“We are glad that Mr. Brantley is finally being held accountable for some of his egregious employment practices. But these charges could have been brought by the federal government and a plea deal reached without bringing armed ICE agents into the town and ripping 97 hard-working members of the community from their families. In the four months since the raid, we’ve worked alongside the 97 families who had been the only ones to suffer any consequences from the investigation. The families are still struggling to recover from the devastation of the raid, including many whose loved ones are still being held in detention or who have already been shipped out of the country. By conducting mass worksite raids in Tennessee, Ohio, and Nebraska, the government is instilling fear in workers and making them less likely to report the kind of egregious working conditions that persisted at Southeastern Provision.”

Jessie Hahn, labor and employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC):
“These latest charges and the pending investigations against Mr. Brantley shed light on a pervasive problem across the country in which the federal government has allowed low-road employment practices to go unchecked, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The federal government has choices in how it enforces immigration laws, and in this case ICE’s decision to conduct a large, militaristic raid was reflective of a larger pattern of attacking and destabilizing immigrant communities. Contrary to ICE’s representation that this kind of enforcement is designed to combat worker exploitation, ICE’s use of fear and intimidation tactics has the effect of empowering abusive employers and driving immigrant workers further underground.”

Michelle Lapointe, senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
“The federal government responded to this employer’s widespread and pervasive violations of the law by ripping vulnerable and exploited workers from their families, detaining them, and threatening to deport them. This is wrong. When workers live in fear of deportation, they are intimidated from reporting unsafe and unfair working conditions. Southeastern Provision had been circumventing basic employment laws for years, including taking advantage of workers by not paying overtime for working over 60 hours per week, exposing workers to health and safety hazards, and denying basic human dignity at work. We hope this employer’s punishment is a lesson to employers to treat all workers with respect and ensure safe and dignified working conditions. And we hope the federal government sees that terrorizing immigrants into silence creates space for bad actors like this employer to flout the law.”

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP):
“Instead of targeting and arresting the workers, this administration and the state of Tennessee’s counterpart agencies must hold this employer fully accountable for violating not only tax laws, but for the egregious violations of basic worker protections done to simply inflate profits and undercut competitors. Employees at Southeastern Provision have experienced conditions and dangers that no worker anywhere should have to endure.”

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Trump Regulations Rig Immigration System for the Wealthy, Put Millions of Families at Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, [email protected], 202-805-0375
Barbara Semedo, CLASP, [email protected], 202-906-8010

Trump Regulations Rig Immigration System for the Wealthy, Put Millions of Families at Risk

Press reports suggest Trump administration may soon propose sweeping change

WASHINGTON — Press reports suggest that the Trump administration may soon act unilaterally to put forward proposals that will restrict access to immigration for applicants with incomes under $60,000. The proposal, reported by NBC News and other outlets, places wealth over family, hard work, and potential as a criterion for who can contribute to the United States. For example, various leaked proposals would put immigrants at risk if they — or potentially their families, including children born in the United States — get health care under Medicaid or Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) or if they get help that is crucial to putting food on the table for millions of working Americans under the Earned Income Tax Credit. Earlier reports estimated that the regulation would impact 20 million people or more.

Advocates decried the leaked proposed regulations during a press call earlier today. Quotes can be found below:

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC):

“The Trump administration’s proposed ‘public charge’ regulation is a major component of Trump’s extremist anti-immigrant agenda that seeks to decrease the number of brown families in this country. Whether it’s separating families at the border or separating families who have deep ties to our communities and country, including U.S. citizen children, these are all cruel policies and a cynical effort to use immigration as wedge issue in the midterm elections.

“This proposed regulation is a perversion of our country’s values of family unity and fairness. No parent should ever have to make the impossible choice between feeding their children, giving them healthcare, and having a future in this country.

“We’ve seen abuses like this before in our history — whether it was turning away Jewish families fleeing the Holocaust or discriminating against Irish Catholics. We cannot let history repeat itself. By working hard and building better lives for their families, immigrants have made and continue to make our country stronger every day. We must stand by our neighbors, friends, and communities across the nation to ensure that every family in this country has the basics they need to thrive.”

Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP):

“As we’ve seen in the separation of children from their parents on the border, the administration’s policies towards immigrants too often target children for the greatest damage. They are the ones who will bear the brunt of long-term damage as their families’ lives, health, and economic security are upended.

“The common theme across these policies is their cruelty and reckless disregard for long-term consequences. With 1 in 4 American children living with an immigrant parent, the damaging consequences affect not only children themselves but the whole country.

“Compromising a child’s ability to thrive is not only immoral, it’s deeply damaging to the future of our nation.”

Shelby Gonzales, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP):

“One of our biggest concerns is that people who are eligible for programs such as health and nutrition will be frightened from participating in those programs that we know have immediate and long-term positive effects. As a result, we will see people who have medical needs forgo services, and families will go hungry.”

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Litigators & Stakeholders in DACA Legal Battles Discuss Strategy and Human Impacts Ahead of Texas Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, NILC, [email protected], 202-384-1279
Bruna Bouhid, UWD, [email protected], 202-850-0812
Sandra Hernandez, MALDEF, [email protected], 310-386-5768

Litigators & Stakeholders in DACA Legal Battles Discuss Strategy and Human Impacts Ahead of Texas Hearing

WASHINGTON — Legal experts and immigrant youth leaders today discussed what is next in the legal defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and the enormous impact the cases will have on the lives of immigrant youth and their families.

Following a ruling Friday by the D.C. federal district court and ahead of a key federal court hearing in Houston this week, litigators explained the status of several DACA-related cases moving through the courts and the potential for ground-shifting developments on the horizon.

DACA recipients spoke about the importance of partial relief — now under threat — obtained through various legal victories, and the continued urgency for a permanent solution for immigrant youth following President Trump’s efforts to eliminate their DACA protections.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “Thanks to the leadership of courageous DACA recipients, lawyers, and organizations who challenged Trump’s cruel and unlawful termination of DACA, more than 100,000 DACA renewals have been approved since January 2018, and tens of thousands more are in the pipeline. The relief provided by the courts so far — although limited and likely temporary — has been crucial, especially in the face of Congress’s failure to enact permanent protections for Dreamers. But now, even that limited relief has come under threat. The next weeks and few months could see developments in the courts that significantly alter the landscape for DACA recipients. It’s a critical time for DACA recipients, our communities, and members of the media to stay informed.”

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said, “MALDEF is proud to represent the 22 courageous leaders and DACA recipients who have intervened to defend DACA in the Texas case because the federal government cannot be trusted to do so adequately. This is a significantly different case than the challenge to DAPA from two years ago, so we expect the courts to continue to protect DACA until the Congress selects leadership who will actually lead by acting to permanently protect these hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who contribute so much to our country.”

Donald Verrilli, a partner and founder of the D.C. office of Munger, Tolles & Olson, and the U.S. Solicitor General from 2011 to 2016, said, “The government is hiding behind a weak and insubstantial legal rationale because it is unwilling to embrace the reality that it is abandoning DACA for reasons of policy, not reasons of law. This seems quite consistent with what the government is doing, for example, in the case — also filed by Texas — challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The government is unwilling to own its position that it is trying to use the courts to achieve. It is very hard to see that as anything other than a misuse of the judicial process to try to achieve policy objectives that once again the administration is not willing to affirmatively embrace.”

Greisa Martinez, deputy executive director of United We Dream and a DACA recipient, said, “Last week, D.C. federal district judge John Bates ruled that Trump’s decision to kill the DACA program was wrong — and we agree. When immigrant youth and our allies fought to create DACA to protect us, we knew that it was the right thing to do. From the start, the program and this idea that immigrants should be protected and not deported came under harsh attack from those who want to see mass deportation. In spite of this, the courts and common sense have shown that DACA works. As Trump tries everything he can to kill protections and feed more immigrants to his deportation force, Congress must vote to defund the deportation agencies and pass legislation to protect immigrants in a way that is permanent and clean from enforcement. In the face of uncertainty and danger, immigrant youth and our allies are determined to #LiveUnafraid and continue our fight to defend our communities.”

Eliana Fernandez, a DACA recipient and plaintiff in Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen and an immigration case manager at Make the Road New York, said, “I joined the lawsuit against Trump’s decision to end DACA to fight for my family and community. As a result of the injunctions obtained, more than 100,000 Dreamers like me have been able to continue renewing DACA, which provides us protection from Trump’s deportation force. As a mother, having been able to renew my DACA this past July means — for now — that I can continue to be with my children, have a job, pay for my mortgage, and continue to fight for my community.”

A recording of today’s call is available at https://wp.me/a7gMAF-4ze.

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Groups Challenge the Waiver Component of Trump Administration’s Muslim Travel Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]

Groups Challenge the Waiver Component of Trump Administration’s Muslim Travel Ban

SEATTLE — In response to the June 26, 2018, U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Council on American-Islamic Relations – California, Iranian American Bar Association, Lane Powell PC, National Immigration Law Center, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, in partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington State, have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the Muslim travel ban waiver process on behalf of organizational plaintiffs OneAmerica and PARS Equality Center, as well as individual plaintiffs from all of the Muslim-majority countries subject to the travel ban.

The current waiver process is inconsistent and arbitrary, and so few visa applicants have actually been granted a waiver, that the process by which waivers are supposedly granted has become mere window dressing for the ban itself. This lawsuit seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for its failure to implement a good-faith, lawful, and constitutional waiver process so that families who qualify for waivers under the terms of the presidential proclamation that established the ban actually receive waivers and are issued visas.

“We will continue our fight against Trump’s discriminatory Muslim ban, but, in the meantime, countless families are suffering needlessly due to the administration’s failure to implement a coherent visa waiver policy,” said Esther Sung, staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “We’re suing today to hold the Trump administration accountable.”

Since December 2017, countless individuals and families have been denied a visa and a waiver under the Muslim travel ban without notice of the process, an opportunity to submit evidence, or consideration under the waiver scheme. According to the U.S. State Department, only 2 percent of applicants have received waivers, and former U.S. consular officials have called the process “fraudulent.”

“The administration’s sham ‘waiver’ and its haphazard process have failed to provide a fair and meaningful opportunity for relief from the travel ban, which continues to separate families and upend lives,” said organizational plaintiff PARS Equality Center’s managing attorney. “The courts have been an important bulwark to protect the rights of those targeted by this administration’s discriminatory immigration policies, and we hope they continue in this important role today.”

The purpose of this lawsuit is to force the government to clarify and implement a waiver process for those individuals who would otherwise be permanently banned from entering the U.S. The plaintiffs are asking the court to require the government to provide a meaningful opportunity to access what is, for most, the only means to reunite with family under an otherwise permanent ban.

This lawsuit is part of a larger attempt to fight against the Muslim travel ban and represents affected communities for every Muslim-majority country targeted in the ban. Through this lawsuit and additional measures, the co-counsel organizations will continue to push for equity and accountability, and fight the travel ban through every possible avenue — in court, on the streets, and through mobilization and policy/legislative change. Having national travel bans on entire groups of people based on religious belief or countries of origin devalues America’s shared cultural emphases on equality and acceptance.

The complaint filed yesterday in PARS Equality Center, et al. v. Pompeo, et al. is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PARS-Equality-Ctr-v-Pompeo-complaint-2018-07-31.pdf.

The exhibits attached to the filed complaint are available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PARS-Equality-Ctr-v-Pompeo-complaint-exhibits-2018-07-31.pdf.

A recording of a telephonic press conference about this filing held earlier today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Muslim-ban-waiver-lawsuit-teleconf-2018-08-01.mp3.

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Groups Respond to Court Ruling Allowing Refugee Ban Lawsuit to Proceed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2018

PRESS CONTACTS
Adela de la Torre, NILC, 202-384-1275, [email protected]
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, 646-459-3081, [email protected]
Bill Swersey, HIAS, 212-613-1349, [email protected]
Deb Frockt, Jewish Family Service of Seattle, 206-861-3148, [email protected]
Mindy Berkowitz, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, 408-357-7455, [email protected]

Groups Respond to Court Ruling Allowing Refugee Ban Lawsuit to Proceed

SEATTLE — This past Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart issued a decision allowing plaintiffs to seek certain discovery in Jewish Family Service v. Trump, which challenges the Trump administration’s refugee ban issued on October 24, 2017. This decision will allow the plaintiffs to find out whether the suspensions in the refugee resettlement process are continuing in another form.

While Judge Robart had largely blocked the government’s ban on processing refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries back in December 2017, refugee admissions from those countries have ground to a near halt. The individual plaintiffs, including an Iraqi man hiding in Egypt who had worked as a translator for the U.S. military and a Somali refugee trying to be reunited with his wife and young son, have not gotten any closer to finding relief despite years of waiting. Meanwhile, the United States has accepted the lowest number of refugees in any year since the establishment of the Refugee Act in 1980.

Jewish Family Service v. Trump was brought on behalf of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, and nine individual plaintiffs by attorneys at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP); the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); Perkins Coie LLP; HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees; and individual attorneys Lauren Aguiar, Mollie M. Kornreich, and Abigail Shaheen Davis.

In response to the ruling, the counsel and plaintiffs issued the following statements:

Rabbi Will Berkovitz, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Family Service of Seattle: “The United States is on track to resettle the smallest number of refugees since Congress unanimously passed the Refugee Act of 1980. We are hopeful that with this ruling, a very lucky few will have the chance to be reunited with their families in the U.S. Jewish tradition says, To save one life is to save the world. This ruling offers a glimmer of possibility that lives will be saved and human beings of all faiths, from any country of origin, will once again be able look to America as a welcoming beacon.”

Mindy Berkowitz, Executive Director, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley: “The refugee families in our care are so desperate to be reunited with their loved ones. They hope beyond hope that by permitting our case to proceed to discovery that their brothers, wives and parents can join them in a life of freedom in the U.S.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS: “HIAS welcomes the court’s ruling. Family unity is a human right guaranteed by international and U.S. law. Yet whether we are talking about asylum-seekers at the border or refugees resettled to the U.S., the Trump administration has actually dedicated taxpayer resources to tearing or keeping families apart. We at HIAS are grateful that the court has once again stepped in to prevent the administration from getting away with its cruel and lawless anti-family policies.”

Mariko Hirose, Litigation Director, IRAP: “By allowing our case to proceed to discovery, the court recognized the plight of thousands of refugees who have been devastatingly impacted by this refugee ban. This ruling further proves the need for heightened transparency from an administration that has proactively stalled the refugee resettlement program and continues to vilify refugees, particularly Muslim refugees, who are seeking safe haven in the United States.”

Melissa Keaney, Staff Attorney, NILC: “This ruling should serve as a reminder that the fight for fairness and equality for refugees is alive and well. We are committed to getting the transparency and accountability that our clients — and those like them — deserve.”

The order can be viewed here.

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Trump Administration Must Reunite Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]

Trump Administration Must Reunite Families

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has missed a court-ordered deadline to reunite all parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. government earlier failed to meet a July 10 deadline to reunify children under the age of five with their parents. Hundreds of children remain separated from their parents who came to this country seeking safety.

Diana Pliego, policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The Trump administration again has failed to remedy a crisis it created when it began its ‘zero tolerance’ policy of criminalizing people seeking refuge in our country. After subjecting families to unthinkable pain and trauma, the administration should be doing everything possible to ensure that every child it took is back with their parent. Instead, it has cynically deemed hundreds of parents ‘ineligible’ for reunification, and hundreds were deported back to danger without their kids. Many of these parents have been misled or pressured into signing away their rights.

“The Trump administration has mishandled this crisis at every step. We must demand that it reunite every family it separated. Parents who were deported without their kids must be allowed to return and given a fair opportunity to make their case. The administration has a moral responsibility to right this horrid atrocity it created.”

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