Category Archives: August 2022

NILC and SPLC Win Class Certification in Lawsuit Alleging ICE and IRS Agents Violated Workers’ Civil Rights During Workplace Raid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2022

CONTACT
National Immigration Law Center, Emily Morris, [email protected], 213-457-7458
Southern Poverty Law Center, Anna Núñez, [email protected], 334-201-9236

NILC and SPLC Win Class Certification in Lawsuit Alleging ICE and IRS Agents Violated Workers’ Civil Rights During Workplace Raid

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court in Tennessee has cleared the way for a collective federal civil rights action brought on behalf of over 100 Latino workers against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents involved in the planning and execution of a racially-motivated workplace raid at a Tennessee meat processing plant, on April 5, 2018.  Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee granted class certification in Isabel Zelaya, et al. v. Robert Hammer, et al, a lawsuit alleging ICE and IRS agents violated workers’ civil rights.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), along with their co-counsel, sought class certification on behalf of approximately 100 Latino workers who were unlawfully targeted for arrest on the basis of their race and ethnicity on April 5, 2018, in what was the largest workplace immigration raid in nearly a decade. Agents from ICE, the IRS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Morristown Police Department carried out the raid. The federal lawsuit alleges claims of conspiracy to violate workers’ equal protection rights, excessive force, and false arrest.  

The court, in granting the workers’ motion for class certification, ruled that Plaintiffs satisfied all class action requirements, and that the class action is likely the only way over one-hundred Latino workers impacted during the raid could bring these claims. The court found the Plaintiffs submitted evidence suggesting that each class member was allegedly harmed through the execution of a single plan orchestrated by the IRS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Additionally, the court found that “in the run-up to the Raid, case agents frequently discussed arresting Hispanic workers and conflated Hispanic ethnicity with illegal status,” noting that ‘“the initial plan for the Raid indicated that ‘Hispanics’ will be processed through HSI/ERO procedures,” and that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) ‘anticipate[d] working late into the evening processing the Hispanics the day of the warrant.’” 

The court also noted that the evidence to date showed that “No white workers were arrested on the day of the Raid,” but that the “individuals arrested that day and transported to the Armory were uniformly Hispanic,” and that agents “detained the Latino employees — even those who asserted they had valid work authorizations — and transported them to the Morristown Armory on vans.”

The ruling means that over 100 Latino class members may now proceed collectively to prosecute this civil rights case against ICE and IRS agents as the case enters the summary judgment phase this fall.  

The following statements are provided by:

Michelle Lapointe, senior staff attorney, National Immigration Law Center

“This raid was conducted in an unnecessarily violent, humiliating and demeaning manner toward Latino workers. Plaintiffs seek justice on behalf of all Latino workers detained during the raid. We are pleased the court will allow the case to proceed as a class action, and look forward to proving our claims in court.”

Meredith Stewart, senior supervising attorney for the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center

“As class counsel, we look forward to defending the constitutional rights of each class member whom the federal agents unlawfully targeted for enforcement during the Raid. The Constitution protects all people from law enforcement overreach, and the class members look forward to vindicating those rights in Court. This week’s ruling is a significant step in our fight for justice for our clients and their families.”

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BACKGROUND:

Zelaya et al. v. Miles et al. was filed on Feb. 21, 2019.  Plaintiffs are represented by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), pro bono attorneys Eben P. Colby, Jeremy A. Berman, Arthur R. Bookout and the law firms of Sherrard, Roe, Voigt & Harbison and Sperling & Slater. On April 5, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Morristown Police Department, executed the largest workplace immigration raid in nearly a decade, detaining approximately 100 Latino workers at an east Tennessee meat processing plant, violating their civil rights. 

NILC Celebrates Senate Passage of Health and Climate Bill, Rejection of Anti-Immigrant Agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2022

CONTACT
Email: med[email protected]
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Celebrates Senate Passage of Health and Climate Bill, Rejection of Anti-Immigrant Agenda 

WASHINGTON — Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement upon Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act — landmark health and climate legislation: 

“Today is a historic day for our country and for our planet. While far from perfect, this bill promises to take major steps towards bolstering the health of our communities and ensuring that future generations will have a more sustainable world to live in. Importantly, the Senate sent a clear message that hate and xenophobia have no place in our society by voting down every anti-immigrant amendment, including amendments that would have codified the Trump administration’s Title 42 asylum ban. We commend Majority Leader Schumer for his leadership in keeping the Democratic caucus united around delivering this legislation. We are especially thankful to Senators Menendez and Padilla, who stood up as our champions to advocate boldly on behalf of asylum seekers and low-income immigrant communities throughout the process.

“We urge the House to move quickly to pass this legislation, and for President Biden to sign it into law. We stand ready to continue to support our partners and allies in the climate justice and healthcare sectors as they work to make our communities at home and abroad safer, healthier, and more sustainable. We look forward to partnering with the Biden administration, Congress, and stakeholders across civil society to take positive, constructive action on a host of immigration issues, including by passing legislation that would provide permanent protections for DACA recipients.”

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NILC Statement Urging Democrats to Reject Harmful Anti-Immigrant Amendments in Crucial Reconciliation Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2022

CONTACT
Email: [email protected]
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement Urging Democrats to Reject Harmful Anti-Immigrant Amendments in Crucial Reconciliation Bill

WASHINGTON — Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement ahead of the upcoming deliberation in Congress on a health care and climate bill:

“With Congress poised to act on unprecedented legislation that addresses critical issues facing our communities on healthcare and our planet due to increasing climate disasters, lawmakers must reject any attempt to poison this historic legislation with unrelated, harmful immigration amendments.

“Democratic leaders must be unequivocal and ensure any anti-immigrant amendments are kept out of this bill, including opposing any final version that departs from the climate and healthcare deal to codify the Trump administration’s Title 42 asylum ban.

“For years, Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to pass real legislative solutions to update our dysfunctional immigration system. Capitulating to their politically motivated scapegoating of immigrants, and allowing them to use a climate and health care bill to block people seeking safety and freedom, would be unconscionable.

“A deal’s a deal, and there’s no reason to allow political gamesmanship to poison this legislation with anti-immigrant provisions that would harm our country.”

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NILC Statement on Court Decision in Pars Equality Center v. Pompeo  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2022

CONTACT
Email: [email protected],
Madison Allman, 202-384-1279
Emily Morris, 213-457-7458

NILC Statement on Court Decision in Pars Equality Center v. Pompeo  

WASHINGTON — After a federal court ruled that the Biden administration must undo the harms of the Muslim and African Bans and reconsider denied visa applications, Max Wolson, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“This momentous victory is a result of tireless organizing by communities around the country and will have profound impact on those whose lives and livelihoods have been derailed by the Muslim and African bans. Now, we look to the Biden administration to do the right thing by living up to its promises, redressing the ongoing harms of these discriminatory bans, and finally establishing a fair process to ensure that people denied opportunities and relief in the U.S. no longer have to live in limbo.”

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Families, Civil Rights Organizations Celebrate Court Decision that U.S. Government Must Redress Muslim Ban Harms 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2022

CONTACT
Madison Allman, NILC, [email protected], 202-384-1279
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, [email protected]

Families, Civil Rights Organizations Celebrate Court Decision that U.S. Government Must Redress Muslim Ban Harms 

Federal court rules Biden administration must undo the harms of the Muslim and African Bans and proactively reconsider denied visa applicants 

No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition of over 100 Muslim and immigrants’ rights groups hails decision, mobilizes to hold Biden administration accountable to ruling

SAN FRANCISCO – While families remain separated by the Trump administration’s racist and Islamophobic Muslim and African Bans, a federal court in San Francisco ruled in Pars Equality Center, et. al. v. Pompeo, et. al. that the Biden administration must  undo the harms of the Bans. 

The Biden administration must now meet with the plaintiffs to establish a fair and effective process to reopen and reconsider applications from people who were denied family reunification, jobs and educational opportunities, and medical treatment as a result of the Bans and the current administration’s protracted refusals to redress the lasting harms, even after rescinding the Bans on President Biden’s first day in office. 

“Our clients have been living in legal limbo for years, unable to live full, abundant lives, pursue their careers, and start a family,” said Paris Etemadi Scott, Legal Director at Pars Equality Center, which brought the lawsuit with others in 2018. “Communities in every part of the U.S. and in countries around the world are celebrating: the Biden administration must finish the work of their rescission and end the shameful discrimination that people from Muslim-majority and African countries have faced, simply because of where they were born. This decision shows the power of relentless community organizing for what’s right.” 

With offices spread across California, Pars Equality Center provides extensive social and legal services to Iranian Americans, Persian-speaking, and other underserved immigrant communities. Since the Biden administration rescinded the Bans, dozens of the center’s clients have endured an indefinite state of limbo. As a result of the ruling, the U.S. government has been ordered to quickly remedy the lasting harms of the Bans with a clear and legitimate process.

In the wake of the ruling, the No Muslim Ban Ever Coalition, the largest national grassroots coalition focused on rescinding the Bans, is mobilizing to ensure the Biden administration effectively and swiftly implements the court’s ruling. The coalition continues to advocate for the NO BAN Act, which would limit dangerously broad authority in U.S. immigration law so that no future president can issue bans that bar the entry of people based on their religion or national origin. 

Prior to rescission, more than 41,800 individuals and families have been denied visas and waivers under the Muslim and African Bans without notice of the process, an opportunity to submit evidence or file for reconsideration. Despite the Biden administration’s rescission of the Bans, families remain separated and caught in a black hole of administrative delays, with little information or clarity and no recourse to repair the damage. More than 34,800 people signed a petition in the past year urging the Biden administration to allow all individuals who were denied entry by the Bans their fair shot at immigration.

Pars Equality Center and community members from Muslim-majority countries were represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Council on American-Islamic Relations – California, Iranian American Bar Association, and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

Additional details and documents related to the case, Pars Equality Center, et. al. v. Pompeo, et. al., can be found here: https://www.nilc.org/issues/litigation/pars-equality-center-v-pompeo/

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