Category Archives: News Releases

Statement on Justice Kennedy’s Retirement from the Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

Statement on Justice Kennedy’s Retirement from the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement today from the United States Supreme Court. Kennedy, who was appointed to the Court in 1987, authored several landmark decisions in his tenure as an associate justice.

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

“Justice Kennedy’s announcement has sent shockwaves to the millions of us who read and dissected his opinions in law school and as litigators. Although some of us may not have always agreed with his opinions, it was clear that he both respected and understood his awesome responsibility to the American people.

“The events of the recent weeks underscore the pivotal moment our country is in. Ranging from the traumatic separations of families at the border to this week’s Supreme Court decisions on the Muslim ban, we are reminded that the soul of our nation is at stake. The president, the Senate, and the American people have a responsibility to ensure that Kennedy’s replacement is able to administer justice fairly to all of us, regardless of the color of our skin, where we were born, how much money we have, or what our faith is.

“The stakes could not be higher, both for the courts and for the nation. It is now up to the Senate to ensure it fulfills one of its most important duties and serves to check and balance this most important of upcoming judicial nominations. As Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia died, leaving a vacancy on the Court, the American people should have a say in determining who fills this important seat. We urge the Senate to take a similarly deliberative approach now. November is a few short months from now, and voters should remember that while those they elect to the Senate or the House will serve for terms of six or two years, a Supreme Court justice appointment lasts for life.”

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Supreme Court Decision Threatens Worker Rights for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

Supreme Court Decision Threatens Worker Rights for All

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned more than four decades of case law by ruling that public-sector employees may no longer be required to pay fees to the unions whose advocacy helps advance their rights. The 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME could have a major impact on workplace rights, regardless of union membership. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“For far too long, the rules have been stacked against working people in favor of the millionaire and billionaire class. This ruling makes this divide even worse by threatening the ability of public sector unions to successfully represent their workers.

“The truth is that all of us, regardless of whether we are in a union, benefit when there are strong unions advocating for safer, better, fairer workplaces. We need the protections that unions provide now more than ever before.

“This Supreme Court decision reminds us that the urgency could not be greater. This is a time to unite, organize, mobilize, and fight for policies and rules that give all workers, regardless of where we were born, a fair opportunity to earn a decent living. We must elect a Congress that has working families’ best interests at heart and are willing to use their political power to bring about the changes all workers need. We will continue to stand proudly with our union sisters and brothers as we fight for fairness and justice — now and in November.

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Supreme Court Allows Discriminatory Muslim Ban to Stand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

Supreme Court Allows Discriminatory Muslim Ban to Stand

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a ruling upholding the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, allowing the government to effectively ban individuals from several Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States.

The Court heard oral arguments in April 2018 on Hawaii v. Trump, a legal challenge to one of the latest iterations of President Trump’s Muslim ban. This executive order, first issued in September 2017, indefinitely bans people from several Muslim-majority countries from coming to the U.S. The Supreme Court had previously stayed earlier preliminary injunctions partially blocking the ban, allowing it to go into full effect. The New York Times has recently covered the devastation and ongoing family separation caused by the ban.

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

“Today the arc of justice just got longer. The Supreme Court ruling marks this as another painful day in our country’s history. The Court’s decision ignores and empowers this administration’s bigotry and serves as a tacit approval of religious and ethnic discrimination that runs counter to the inclusionary principles that our country aspires to. President Trump’s Muslim ban has already caused immeasurable suffering to families and communities and is part of the administration’s overall strategy of attacking and separating immigrant and refugee families.

“The Supreme Court has been wrong before. Today, the Roberts Court joins the shameful legacy left by Court majorities that sanctioned the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans (Korematsu) and the perpetuation of slavery in the U.S. (Dred Scott).

“The fights for religious freedom and justice for all immigrant families do not end here. The right to live in peace and be treated with dignity and justice no matter one’s race, ethnicity, or religion is too important to let one person, one president destroy. In November, we must elect a Congress that will hold this administration accountable. We continue to stand proudly with our plaintiffs, refugees, and the American Muslim community and will fight in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, at the ballot box, and alongside our communities until there is no Muslim ban ever.”

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NILC Files FOIA Asking 16 Government Agencies to Reveal How They Plan to Reunify Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org, 202-805-0375

NILC Files FOIA Asking 16 Government Agencies to Reveal How They Plan to Reunify Families

LOS ANGELES — In response to the dearth of information provided by the Trump administration, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding that the federal government provide information about its plans for reuniting families separated at the border. As part of the FOIA, NILC asks for locations, numbers, guidelines, and about any training or policy that sheds light on what each of the agencies named in the FOIA is doing to address these issues, given the harm separated families are suffering.

“The Trump administration created a major humanitarian crisis by separating children from their parents at the border under its ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, and the president’s executive order does nothing to address the immeasurable damage it has inflicted on immigrant families,” said Nora Preciado, a NILC senior staff attorney. “Since the Trump administration has failed to provide a clear plan, we are deeply concerned that children are being lost in the system. It is absolutely unacceptable that there is no indication that government agencies are working on a plan to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children who were separated from their parents under the zero-tolerance policy.”

The FOIA was filed amid disturbing reports of immigrants being coerced into foregoing the asylum process in order to be reunited and deported with their children. These reports are eerily reminiscent of the U.S. government’s treatment of Salvadorans who sought asylum during the 1980s, when the National Immigration Law Center first sued the government to protect the rights of Salvadoran asylees.

“Our Constitution protects everyone against the inhumane treatment we are witnessing along the border,” said Mayra Joachin, NILC staff attorney. “The federal government has a responsibility to abide by the Constitution. We’re filing our FOIA today to find out what, if anything, the government has done to uphold the laws its officials are sworn to defend.”

The executive order the president signed last week does not clearly address how the government plans to provide a solution for the parents and children who remain detained separately, many without access to legal counsel. The agencies from which this FOIA requests information include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Navy (which is in charge of securing space at military bases), the secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice, and others.

The FOIA request filed today is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FOIA-Request-re-Family-Separation-2018-06-25.pdf.

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Legal Victory in Arizona: State Must Accept Proof of Work Authorization as Sufficient Documentation from Immigrants Seeking Driver’s Licenses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, media@nilc.org
Tony Marcano, amarcano@maldef.org, 213-629-2512 x128

Legal Victory in Arizona: State Must Accept Proof of Work Authorization as Sufficient Documentation from Immigrants Seeking Driver’s Licenses

LOS ANGELES — Arizona must accept proof of work authorization as sufficient documentation from immigrants seeking to obtain driver’s licenses, a federal court ruled this week.

The decision in Valenzuela v. Ducey, a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), and the Ortega Law Firm P.C. blocks Arizona’s Department of Transportation from denying licenses to immigrants with deferred action.

“A driver’s license is about more than a piece of paper,” said Nicholas Espíritu, staff attorney at NILC, who argued the motion for summary judgement. “Our plaintiffs should be treated just like anyone else and have the freedom to live their lives fully in their communities. This order allows them to have the license they need to drive to work and support their families, and it prevents Arizona from engaging in a discriminatory practice.”

NILC and MALDEF sued Arizona on behalf of several deferred action holders who, despite having received work authorization from the federal government, were denied the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license. Deferred action recipients include survivors of domestic violence and other serious crimes.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell said that the state cannot create a policy that grants driver’s licenses to some deferred action recipients, while denying them to others.

“This decision is a great victory for the courageous individuals who brought this lawsuit to challenge Arizona’s harsh and unnecessary driver’s license policy, and for hundreds of individuals across the state affected by this policy,” said Julia Gomez, staff attorney at MALDEF, who argued a companion motion in the case. “The court’s order ensures that deferred action recipients can finally get on with their lives, and helps remove the hurdles that come from not being able to drive.”

Arizona’s discriminatory policy followed an initial attempt to deny licenses to all those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. NILC, MALDEF, and others successfully challenged that discriminatory policy in 2012.

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Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center envisions a society in which all people — regardless of race, gender, income level, or immigration status — have the opportunity to live freely, work safely, and thrive in society. For more information, visit www.nilc.org and follow on Twitter @NILC_org.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit www.maldef.org.

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Ryan and Goodlatte Immigration Bills Are Ransom Notes, Not Solutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2018

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

Ryan and Goodlatte Immigration Bills Are Ransom Notes, Not Solutions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives this week is expected to vote on two anti-immigrant bills that would make sweeping, harmful changes to our immigration system and provide inadequate protections for Dreamers. Republican House leaders advanced the two proposals — commonly known as the Ryan bill and the Goodlatte bill, after their respective sponsors — in order to stave off good-faith efforts to bring bipartisan, narrowly tailored legislative solutions for Dreamers up for a vote.

The expected votes come in the midst of widespread outrage over the Trump administration’s policy resulting in the separation of children and their parents seeking asylum. Among a litany of extremist, anti-immigrant provisions, the Ryan and Goodlatte bills both call for extreme border militarization and enforcement, including funding for President Trump’s border wall. Neither would end the jailing of children and families.

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

“Paul Ryan and likeminded Republicans for months have played into the Trump White House’s cruel and repulsive ploy to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip to enact an extremist, anti-immigrant agenda and build his border wall. These latest efforts in the House only show Republican leadership’s commitment to thwart any real solution for immigrant youth and their complicity in this administration’s efforts to hurt the broader immigrant community and people of color.

The Ryan and Goodlatte bills are ransom notes. And what’s worse, Trump and his enablers in Congress are now taking more hostages: kids ripped away from their parents and jailed. Any lawmaker who truly cares about finding a real solution for Dreamers must reject these partisan, extremist proposals.”

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Montgomery County Policy Falls Short in Providing Legal Representation to Immigrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2018

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

Montgomery County Policy Falls Short in Providing Legal Representation to Immigrants

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County, MD, Council last week approved a legal defense fund for some immigrants facing deportation. The program is an attempt to ensure due process for people in immigration court, who — unlike those in civil and criminal proceedings — are not afforded access to a lawyer if they cannot afford one.

Numerous politically and geographically diverse localities around the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, Baltimore, Columbus, Denver, San Antonio, Prince George’s County, and Washington, DC, have instituted similar legal aid programs for immigrants based on financial need. Disappointingly, however, Montgomery County’s program excludes many immigrants, even when they may be eligible for immigration relief, based on past criminal convictions. The exclusions are so vast that they would make the program unavailable to as many as 75 percent of the clients served by the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition, which has successfully represented Montgomery County residents in fighting their immigration cases for years.

Avideh Moussavian, a senior policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“While we are pleased to see Montgomery County take this important step in protecting its residents from our harsh immigration policies and in ensuring that more people get a fair day in immigration court, we are deeply disappointed by these due process carveouts.

“These programs aim to increase fairness and efficiency by ensuring that no one should have to face the devastating consequences of deportation or navigate our complex immigration courts on their own simply because they cannot afford a capable lawyer. But due process carveouts that leave behind so many immigrants — including those with strong, viable cases for fighting their deportation — make the program fall far short of its intended goals. At a time when the federal government routinely criminalizes immigrants and communities of color, local and state governments need to reject this harmful narrative of dividing immigrant communities along these harmful lines.

“It is a testament to the tireless work of local advocates, such as the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition and CASA, that Montgomery County leaders approved such an investment, and we hope the county fulfills the intended goals of the funding by ensuring due process for all.”

Emily Tucker, a senior staff attorney for Immigrant Rights at the Center for Popular Democracy, said:

“There is still time for the county to realize that these carveouts defeat the entire purpose of the program. We are hopeful that local leaders will look to the example set by several other initiatives of this kind around the country, which protect the due process rights of all people facing deportation and do not discriminate against people with past convictions.”

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POWER Act Would Empower U.S. Workers at a Critical Time

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018

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

POWER Act Would Empower U.S. Workers at a Critical Time

WASHINGTON — Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today reintroduced the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act, which would strengthen the labor and civil rights of immigrant workers.

The POWER Act would provide workers with tools to exercise their rights to organize for safe working conditions and fair wages without fear of retaliation from abusive employers or deportation. It has the support of a broad and diverse cross-section of labor, civil rights, and immigrants’ rights organizations that, collectively, represent millions of working people across the United States.

Key provisions of the bill include expanding eligibility for U visas for workers who are involved in a workplace claim and who fear or have been threatened with force, physical restraint, serious harm, or other abuses. The POWER Act would also allow stays of removal and employment authorization for workers who have filed or are material witnesses in a workplace claim.

Jessie Hahn, a labor and employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“Our current immigration and labor systems provide a perverse set of incentives for abusive employers to exploit immigrant workers. Under the Trump administration, these conditions have been exacerbated by attacks on existing protections for workers and ramped up immigration enforcement, including the reemergence of violent worksite raids designed to intimidate and silence workers. Unscrupulous employers are exploiting fearful workers to undercut honest employers trying to play by the rules.

“The POWER Act would provide the means to hold abusive employers accountable, while also promoting fair wages and fair working conditions for all workers and creating a level playing field for all employers. This sensible legislation, rooted in the principle that all workers should be able to take a stand against labor violations, is now more important than ever. We applaud Congresswoman Chu and Senator Menendez for reintroducing the POWER Act and implore Congress to give it serious consideration.”

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National Immigration Law Center Launches Winning in the States Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2018

CONTACT
Email: media@nilc.org
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

National Immigration Law Center Launches Winning in the States Initiative

NILC plans to invest more than $5M over next three years to drive advances in the states

Washington — Today, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is launching the Winning in the States initiative to fast-track policy advances at the state and local levels and build momentum for reforms at the federal level.

Together, NILC and its state partners will prioritize encouraging state policies that include making college accessible by enabling immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid, improving public safety by ensuring that immigrants have access to driver’s licenses, ensuring that law enforcement can focus on keeping communities safe rather than being deputized as deportation force agents, and enabling immigrant children to have access to health protections.

In the first year of the initiative, the effort is providing deep, strategic investments and hands-on campaign support in Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, and Tennessee while offering a more robust support infrastructure for states across the country that rely on NILC for legal, policy, and communications expertise.

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

“Despite efforts that seek to divide us, immigrants and their allies are successfully advocating for policy change at the state and local levels, working in close partnership with elected officials and leaders in business, labor and faith communities. Through our Winning in the States initiative, NILC will deepen its support of these efforts, helping bring about an America where all residents, regardless of their immigration status, are treated fairly, feel safe in pursuing their daily activities, and are welcomed as full, contributing members of society. By building on victories at the state and local levels, we’ll help shape a more inclusive narrative where immigrants are recognized as integral to making local communities stronger and healthier. We firmly believe this will help create the political conditions needed for federal reforms.”

Johanna Calle, director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), said:

“NILC’s Winning in the States Project is a game-changer for us. Their hands-on help with bill drafting, political strategy, and communications, along with financial support, is invaluable as we work to take advantage of pro-immigrant momentum in the Garden State this legislative session to grant access to driver’s licenses for immigrants and pass Fair and Welcoming actions at the state level.”

Nicole Melaku, executive director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), said:

“This legislative session, we worked to secure protections for Colorado’s immigrant communities and successfully expanded access to driver’s licenses for all. From strategic counsel in dealing with legislative leaders to support drafting legislation and crafting polling, the NILC team has become a crucial partner to us.”

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), said:

“Tennessee is one of America’s newest immigrant gateways and home to one of the country’s fastest growing immigrant populations. When our state and local policies make it easier for all families to fully participate, contribute, and belong, our whole community will be stronger.”

Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa Oregon, said:

“We’re readying to fight a November ballot initiative that would undo Oregon’s 30-year-old sanctuary policy, and the road ahead will be a challenge. We’re thankful to have a key national partner on the campaign’s executive committee helping us beat back this effort.”

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E-Verify Is a Bad Deal for Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2018

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

E-Verify Is a Bad Deal for Florida

WASHINGTON — Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission is currently considering P29, a proposal to force Florida employers to use a new employment authorization system, likely E-Verify. E-Verify is the federal government’s error-ridden electronic employment eligibility verification system. Below is a statement from Jessie Hahn, labor and employment policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center:

“We have studied the effects of E-Verify for years, and the truth is it continues to harm both U.S. citizens and authorized immigrant workers. Even one job lost because of bureaucratic red tape is too many. With E-Verify, both U.S. citizens who were born abroad and authorized immigrant workers are more likely to be negatively affected by a system error, which can result in a job loss.

“The impact of E-Verify errors on Floridians has already been felt. The National Immigration Law Center has received at least one report of a U.S. citizen who was unfairly fired from her job due to an E-Verify error and had to take a lower-paid position elsewhere. This problem would be exacerbated if all employers were forced to use this system.

“Without adequate protections, those who suffer E-Verify errors may not even know why they lose their jobs. This creates a nightmarish scenario in which the government will effectively prevent some workers with skills and work authorization from obtaining work.

“We urge state lawmakers to reject this proposal, which will only hurt Floridians.”

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