Category Archives: News Releases

Statement from Montes Attorneys on DHS Claim That Montes Voluntarily Abandoned His DACA Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

Statement from Montes Attorneys on DHS Claim That He Voluntarily Abandoned His DACA Status

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today said in statements to the media that Juan Manuel Montes, a young immigrant who was physically deported despite having permission to live and work in the U.S. temporarily under DACA, left the country without first making arrangements that would have preserved his DACA status. The agency took back its initial statement to media denying that Montes’s DACA status had been renewed before he encountered Border Patrol and was forcibly removed in February 2017.

Nora A. Preciado, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center and co-counsel on the case, issued the following statement:

“Juan Manuel has been unequivocal in his assertion that he never voluntarily left the country while he had DACA. We believe him. We filed a FOIA lawsuit to get answers. Rather than continue to provide half-truths and varying assertions, DHS should respond to our request for documentation. We will see them in court.”

Mónica Ramírez Almadani, an attorney with Covington & Burling LLP in Los Angeles and co-counsel on the case, issued the following statement:

“The government is providing information to the press, but not to Juan Manuel and his attorneys. We know Juan Manuel was physically removed. We filed this lawsuit to find out how it happened.”

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Deported DACA Recipient Sues Trump Administration for Unlawfully Withholding Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

Deported DACA Recipient Sues Trump Administration for Unlawfully Withholding Information

LOS ANGELES — A young immigrant who was physically deported despite having permission to live and work in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program filed a federal lawsuit today demanding that the federal government turn over key information about his sudden deportation.

Juan Manuel Montes, 23, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California after U.S. immigration officials failed to provide any documentation to explain the legal basis for sending him to Mexico, even after his legal counsel contacted Border Patrol and requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Montes worked in California’s agricultural fields to help support his family and had studied welding at his local community college before he was detained by Border Patrol in Calexico, Calif., and then was swiftly sent to Mexico, in February 2017.

Montes is now fighting to understand what happened and to take the necessary steps to return to the U.S., his home since he was 9 years old.

“I was forced out because I was nervous and didn’t know what to do or say, but my home is there,” Montes said. “I miss my job. I miss school. And I want to continue to work toward better opportunities. But most of all, I miss my family, and I have hope that I will be able to go back so I can be with them again.”

Montes, who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child and has a cognitive disability, is believed to be the first-known DACA recipient with an active work permit to be physically deported by the Trump administration. He is represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Covington and Burling LLP, the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, and the Law Offices of Belinda Escobosa Helzer.

“Juan Manuel was funneled across the border without so much as a piece of paper to explain why or how,” said Nora A. Preciado, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “The government shouldn’t treat anyone this way—much less someone who has DACA. No one should have to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to them.”

On the night of February 17, Montes was walking to a taxi station in Calexico, a border town, when a Border Patrol agent on a bicycle stopped him and asked for an identification. Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car and did not have an identification on him.

Border Patrol then took him to a local station, where they made him sign documents without allowing him to see an immigration judge, seek counsel, or obtain copies of the documents he signed. Within hours, in the middle of the night, Montes was physically removed to Mexicali, Mexico.

“We look forward to presenting our case to the court, because our client has the right to know why and how he was physically removed from the United States when he had permission to live and work here,” said Mónica Ramírez Almadani, an attorney with Covington & Burling LLP in Los Angeles.

On March 15, with help from his attorneys, Montes filed a FOIA request with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), asking for all records of his interactions with the agency. CBP acknowledged receiving the request, but has not provided any additional information. Montes also sought additional information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and from the Calexico Port of Entry, to no avail. FOIA provides an agency with 20 business days to respond to a request for records. CBP and USCIS have failed to timely respond as required by law.

Announced by the Obama administration in June 2012, DACA allows eligible immigrant youth who were brought to the U.S. as children to live and work here temporarily. Montes was first approved for DACA in 2014 and successfully obtained a renewal in 2016. His DACA and work authorization were not set to expire until 2018.

Read the complaint here: www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/FOIA-Complaint-JMMB-2017-04-18.pdf.

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NILC Responds to Confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

NILC Responds to Confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Senate today confirmed Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. Gorsuch will take the seat left vacant since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings were marked by his refusal to address in any meaningful way basic questions about his record and ability to act independently of politics. When Republicans in the majority failed to secure the 60 votes previously required for confirmation, they chose to throw out longstanding Senate rules, lowering the threshold for confirmation to a simple majority.

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

“The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is always a momentous occasion. Unfortunately for Judge Gorsuch, the shameful political maneuvering that secured his seat in the high court will forever mar his place in history.

“The extreme partisanship that led to Gorsuch’s confirmation is far from what the American people deserve from those they elected to make critical decisions that directly impact their well-being. The lack of transparency that marked Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings and the rule change made to accommodate his divisive ideology will undoubtedly have a lasting eroding effect on our democratic institutions.

“At a time when the importance of checks and balances to uphold the Constitution and our most sacred American values has never been clearer, Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation will go down as a failure of our democratic process.”

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Administration’s “Sanctuary” Announcement Nothing More Than a Diversion Tactic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2017

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

Administration’s “Sanctuary” Announcement Nothing More Than a Diversion Tactic

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today again threatened to deny federal funding for any city or jurisdiction where law enforcement has made clear it will not deputize its officers as immigration agents. The administration is threatening to withhold more than four billion dollars of federal funding that is crucial for cities’ public services, including programs for victims.

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

“The Trump administration is licking its wounds after suffering a humiliating legislative defeat with the health care bill. In typical fashion, they are trying to manipulate the news cycle to distract and divert attention elsewhere.

“The legality of the community trust policies cities have instituted is clear; they are in compliance with federal law. In fact, several cities have already marched into court to defend their policies, and mayors across the country continue to speak out in support of these measures. The Trump administration’s attempt to circumvent the law is yet another example of this president’s commitment to overreach and abuse of power.

“Today’s threats put America’s immigrants in the administration’s crosshairs once again. The question now is how long will Congress allow and enable this president to scapegoat and criminalize our communities, undermining the very fabric of our democracy?”

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Court Rules That Louisiana May Not Deny Immigrants the Right to Marry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, NILC, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Stephen Boykewich, NOWCRJ, [email protected], 323-673-1307


Love Wins in Louisiana

Court rules that Louisiana may not deny immigrants the right to marry

NEW ORLEANS — A federal district court ruled today that the state law preventing a Louisiana man from marrying is likely unconstitutional and issued an order to prevent the law from harming Louisianans.

The court read extensive prepared findings from the bench and announced that a written order would follow. This ruling comes a half century after Loving v. Virginia, which upheld the rights of people to marry regardless of ethnicity or race.

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.

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.

“It was a huge shock to find out that I couldn’t legally marry my partner of more than 10 years, in my hometown in Louisiana,” Vo said. “I am grateful that the court will allow us to finally go through with our plans so our marriage will be recognized like everyone else’s in Louisiana.”

Vo is 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.

“Denying the fundamental right to get married to certain people because of where they were born or because of their immigration status isn’t just morally wrong, it’s against the law,” said NILC staff attorney Alvaro Huerta, who presented arguments in court today. “The court acted swiftly to provide immediate relief for our client and for anyone in Louisiana who has been or will be unjustly denied a marriage license by this unconstitutional law. The state of Louisiana has no business standing in the way of love.”

NOCWRJ Managing Director Audrey Stewart said, “Louisiana is stronger because of the immigrants who live, love, work, and worship here. At its best, our state is a place of welcome and diversity. The court’s ruling today reflected that by upholding the right of every Louisianan to marry the person they love.”

Skadden attorney Marley Ann Brumme added, “We appreciate the opportunity to present our arguments to the court today and are thrilled that the court upheld Mr. Vo’s constitutional rights.”

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.

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NILC Announces New Deputy Director Tom Kam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

NILC Announces New Deputy Director Tom Kam

WASHINGTON — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is excited to welcome Tom Kam, who has dedicated the bulk of his career to serving immigrant and refugee communities, as its new Deputy Director, Development and Operations.

In this new role, Kam will oversee internal operations and special projects, as well as help lead the organization’s strategic fundraising efforts. He will also serve as a key member of NILC’s Senior Leadership Team.

“The current discussion on immigration will determine how our country welcomes and treats immigrants and refugees for generations to come,” Kam said. “At this critical moment in which our communities are under attack, the work of the National Immigration Law Center and others to defend and advance the rights of all aspiring and new Americans is critical. I am thrilled to join in these efforts.”

Kam brings to NILC more than 30 years of experience in the provision of human services, public policy, strategic planning, organizational development, and fundraising. In faith-based, nonprofit and public settings, he has led in the delivery of health and human services to immigrant and refugee communities from Central America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Africa. From 1997 to 2006, he assumed a leadership role in directing the Washington Area Partnership for Immigrants, a funder’s collaborative that served and advocated on behalf of immigrant communities across the Washington, DC, metropolitan region.

“Tom’s dedication to immigrant and refugee rights and his extensive experience helping to grow and elevate organizations will be a great asset to NILC as the scope and pace of our work intensifies,” said NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié. “I am very proud to welcome Tom to NILC’s leadership. We are all excited and grateful to have him on our team.”

Kam is proud to be the son of an immigrant family from Panama. He was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and raised on more military bases than he cares to remember. He holds masters’ degrees in Divinity and in Social Work. Tom lives with his partner, mother, and two boxer pups in Washington, DC.

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Suing Groups Respond to Trump Administration Appeal of Maryland Block on Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, NILC, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU, 212-284-7347, [email protected]
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, 646-459-3081, [email protected]
Gabe Cahn, HIAS, 212-613-1312, [email protected]
Geoffrey Knox, MESA, 917-414-1749, [email protected]

Suing Groups Respond to Trump Administration Appeal of Maryland Court’s Block on Muslim Ban

LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration today appealed a ruling by a federal court in Maryland that blocked part of President Trump’s executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries to the U.S.

The appeal comes after U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang early Thursday enjoined a central provision of the order that bans travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen , finding that it likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That decision came after another federal judge, in Hawaii, temporarily blocked the key provisions of the executive order before it went into effect on Wednesday.

The Maryland case, IRAP v. Trump, will now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Maryland are representing the International Refugee Assistance Project of the Urban Justice Center, HIAS, and the Middle East Studies Association, along with several individuals, including U.S. citizens, affected by the ban.

Representatives from each group gave the following statements:

Karen Tumlin, Legal Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

“The courts have repeatedly rejected the Trump administration’s discriminatory Muslim and refugee ban, holding that our country’s core value of religious freedom cannot be swept away by presidential edict. We are confident that they will continue to side with the Constitution and with our clients, who have bravely stood up for themselves, the people they serve, and all those impacted by the president’s unlawful and inhumane policy.”

Omar Jadwat, Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project

“President Trump’s Muslim ban has fared miserably in the courts, and for good reason — it violates fundamental provisions of our Constitution. We look forward to defending this careful and well-reasoned decision in the appeals court.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of
HIAS

“The American tradition of welcoming refugees has been preserved thanks to judicial intervention just hours before the latest refugee and Muslim ban was to go into effect. Two federal judges have now thwarted President Trump’s second attempt at an unconstitutional travel ban aimed at Muslims. As the world’s oldest refugee resettlement agency, HIAS is prepared to remain true to American and Jewish values by pursuing this legal challenge as long as necessary to protect the American tradition of welcoming the vulnerable and persecuted.”

Becca Heller, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center

“President Trump’s revised executive order, much like the first one, has caused great harm to our clients: refugees who are in danger every day that they are not resettled to safety. They are literally in a life or death situation. We will continue fighting this discriminatory Muslim ban and protect the legal rights of refugees.”

Beth Baron, President of the Middle East Studies Association

“We will continue to fight attempts to implement an unlawful Muslim ban and look forward to seeing the judicious decision against it upheld.”

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NILC Responds to Trump Budget Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

NILC Responds to Trump Budget Proposal

NEW YORK — The Trump administration on Thursday released a budget proposal for next fiscal year that would dramatically retool government priorities, slashing funds for nearly all federal agencies in order to increase defense and security spending. In addition, the administration requested billions in additional funding for immigrant detention and deportation for this fiscal year.

The proposal would shortchange a wide swath of services and programs intended to improve and protect the lives of working-class Americans, including educational, cultural, environmental, and safety-net programs. All told, the Trump administration asks for more than $7.5 billion to help enact President Trump’s mass deportation agenda and to start construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Jackie Vimo, economic justice policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The Trump budget provides the latest window into this administration’s disturbing penchant for the politics of fear and hate, and puts the president’s disregard for working families on full display. Trump is attempting to rob all Americans of investment in our communities to enact his mass deportation agenda and perpetuate the terror he’s already imposing on immigrant communities. Rather than throw away billions of dollars to separate families and build a border wall that will do nothing for our national security, we should be looking for the best ways to ensure that everyone in our communities has access to resources that will help set them up for success.”

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Groups Challenge Revised Muslim Ban

More information on IRAP v. Trump can be found at www.nilc.org/irap-v-trump/.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, NILC, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU, 212-284-7347, [email protected]
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, 646-459-3081, [email protected]
Gabe Cahn, HIAS, 212-613-1312, [email protected]
Geoffrey Knox, MESA, 917-414-1749, [email protected]

Groups Challenge Revised Muslim Ban

BALTIMORE — Civil rights and refugee groups today asked a federal court in Maryland to block the Trump administration’s revised executive order, arguing that it would cause irreparable harm for their plaintiffs. The order, which still maintains the suspension of refugee resettlement along with banning entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, was issued on March 6.

The groups that brought the case include the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Maryland, and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, HIAS, and the Middle East Studies Association, along with individuals, including U.S. citizens, affected by the ban.

Representatives from each group gave the following statements:

Becca Heller, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center

“The exemption of Iraq from the (Muslim and refugee) ban is nothing but a weak attempt at righting one of the many egregious wrongs of the original order. The majority of Iraqis who have worked with the U.S. in Iraq arrive via the refugee resettlement program, which the new order attacks just as viciously. By suspending the program for 120 days and slashing the resettlement slots by 60,000, more than 50,000 Iraqis will still be affected, many of whom have worked for the U.S. or have family in the U.S.”

Karen Tumlin, Legal Director of the National Immigration Law Center

“A repackaged Muslim and refugee ban is still a Muslim and refugee ban. This version may be tweaked to work its way around the courts, but the intent remains the same. Trump has a clear and well-documented record of animus and discrimination directed at immigrants, refugees and Muslims, either from his tweets, stump speeches, or statements made to the media. There’s just no way to work around that fact. The courts have overwhelmingly rebuked the administration’s attempt to legalize bigotry and religious discrimination, and we are confident they will do so again.”

Mark Hetfield, CEO and President of HIAS

“As with the first executive order, President Trump has once again ignored the Constitution in order to fulfill his campaign promise of a Muslim ban. We are asking the court to intervene in order to protect thousands of refugees’ lives. HIAS is a Jewish organization that has worked since 1881 to protect and resettle refugees based on the Torah’s command to welcome the stranger. We cannot be bystanders as our own government turns away and discriminates against tens of thousands of refugees who have played by our rules and already subjected themselves to ‘extreme vetting.’”

Omar Jadwat, Director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project

“Putting a new coat of paint on the Muslim ban doesn’t solve its fundamental problem, which is that the Constitution and our laws prohibit religious discrimination. The further President Trump goes down this path, the clearer it is that he is violating that basic rule.”

Beth Baron, President, Middle East Studies Association

“The Middle East Studies Association joined this case because the new executive order cuts at the very core of our mission as a scholarly association — to facilitate the free exchange of ideas. The order directly harms our student and faculty members by preventing travel, disrupting research, and impeding careers. The order hurts us as an association intellectually and financially. It is incumbent upon us to support the interests of our members and stand up for the peoples of the region we study and our colleagues.”

Today’s filing is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IRAP-v-Trump-TRO-motion-2017-03-10.pdf.

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State-by-State Interactive Shows How Much Funding Cities Could Lose at the Hands of Trump Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2017

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, [email protected]
Tanya Arditi, Center for American Progress, [email protected]

New State-by-State Interactive Shows How Much Federal Funding Sanctuary Cities Could Lose at the Hands of President Trump’s Administration

WASHINGTON — In an executive order issued on January 25, President Donald Trump directed the Office of Management and Budget to compile a list of federal funds given to sanctuary jurisdictions. Though it does not specifically list what sources of funding are at risk, the order also directed the U.S. attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to ensure that such jurisdictions be deemed ineligible for most federal grants and further commanded the attorney general to “take appropriate enforcement action” against them.

A new interactive released today by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), calculates the amount of funding in sanctuary jurisdictions in 32 states that could be targeted by President Trump’s January 25 executive order. Of the states identified in the analysis, those that stand to lose the most are California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, and Massachusetts.

“Local and state law enforcement officials and departments understand that they know what’s best for the safety and security of their communities,” said Philip E. Wolgin, managing director for immigration policy at CAP. “No matter how much legislators or even the president try to scare the public into believing that sanctuary cities harbor criminals, the bottom line remains that counties with sanctuary policies experience less crime and stronger economies.”

All across the nation, more than 600 cities and counties, as well as a handful of states, have adopted policies that limit the extent of assistance they will provide federal immigration enforcement officers. A recent, first-of-its-kind systematic analysis by Tom K. Wong released by CAP and the NILC found that crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared with nonsanctuary counties and that economies are stronger in sanctuary counties.

“By seeking to revoke federal funding for sanctuary jurisdictions, the Trump administration is trying to force through executive action what has already been rejected by Congress,” said Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Cities and counties should be allowed, encouraged in fact, to focus on policies that strengthen their communities and ensure that victims and witnesses of crimes feel safe speaking to police no matter their immigration status.”

The five key funding sources identified by the authors as having been targeted in the past are:

  • The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program
  • U.S. Economic Development Administration grants
  • The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
  • The Community Development Block Grant program
  • The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

That being said, the authors point out that the Trump administration may not have the authority to take away this funding.

“The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from forcing or coercing states to assist in federal immigration enforcement, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the threat to withhold funding cannot be so significant that it effectively compels compliance,” said Melissa Keaney, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “Immigrants are and always have been part of the fabric of America, but the Trump administration stubbornly continues to use false premises of criminality to justify actions that are ultimately detrimental to states and to our nation as a whole.”

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at [email protected], Belle Woods at [email protected], or Adela de la Torre at [email protected].

Click here to access the interactive.

Click here to read “The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy” by Tom K. Wong.

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The National Immigration Law Center is exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. Our mission is grounded in the belief that every American—and aspiring American—should have the opportunity to fulfill their full potential regardless of where they were born or how much money they have. Using our deep expertise in a wide range of issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, we work with communities in courtrooms and legislatures to help advance policies that create a more just and equitable society for everyone.

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