Category Archives: News Releases

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.

###

Share

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.

###

Share

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.”

###

Share

NILC Demands Information from the Government about Treatment of Jailed Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], (202) 805-0375
Lindsay Toczylowski, [email protected], (213) 634-7181

National Immigration Law Center Demands Information from the Government about Treatment of Jailed Children

LOS ANGELES — The National Immigration Law Center today filed a Freedom of Immigration Act (FOIA) request on behalf of Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) to demand that the government shed light on whether its treatment of jailed immigrant children and their parents accords with U.S. law. This move comes after ImmDef was repeatedly cut off from its clients, notwithstanding their due process rights. In several cases, Imm Def has learned that its clients were sent to be reunited in family jails, potentially subjecting these children to prolonged and unnecessary incarceration.

The FOIA request seeks information about the government’s policies, practices, and contracts governing “Stage II” of the government’s family reunification efforts. This includes policies governing how reunited families’ immigration cases are treated, and whether and how these families are allowed to pursue alternatives to incarceration.

“The Trump administration has done nothing but obfuscate and mislead the American public throughout this whole manufactured crisis, and we — along with these children — deserve the truth,” said Josh Rosenthal, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “All of us, regardless of where we were born or how old we are, have the right to be treated fairly under the law. ImmDef’s experience with this administration makes it clear that these children’s rights are not being protected — and we need to know why.”

The groups have asked for the government to provide information in an expedited way, citing the growing urgency of the situation these children face.

“We are representing parents and children impacted by these policies, but instead of a government that protects families, our clients have encountered a government that puts its draconian agenda over their well-being,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “The government’s practices of moving our clients without notice and stopping all communication between client and attorney would be an abhorrent miscarriage of justice in any instance. The fact that the government is showing such callous disregard for its own laws and policies regarding the treatment of children and families seeking reunification is even more appalling.”

This FOIA request was filed shortly after the deadline a U.S. district court in San Diego had set for the federal government to reunite families it had forcibly separated. Current estimates indicate that only 34 percent of families have been reunited, and several hundred parents have been deported without their children.

###

Share

NILC Responds to Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2018

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

NILC Responds to Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

LOS ANGELES — President Donald Trump today announced the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The announcement comes just over a week after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would soon retire.

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

“The Supreme Court is essential to maintaining the strength and integrity of our democracy. Its role in upholding the rights and values that we, as a nation, cherish most cannot be overstated.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s record makes it clear that he cannot be entrusted to uphold the awesome responsibility to be independent, open-minded, and to fairly weigh critical legal questions that have broad and significant impact on the lives of all who call the United States home. Kavanaugh’s legal writings and recent dissents speak for themselves: he thinks immigrant communities should be Constitution-free zones, and that reproductive justice should be curtailed.

“Especially at a time when the president and his administration have so freely traversed the boundaries of legality, the Senate has a responsibility to protect all its constituents. This includes the most marginalized, such as women, people of color, LGTBQI, workers, and the immigrant families, that live in their communities. If they do so, the majority of Senators should find that Judge Kavanaugh is unfit to serve in the highest court in the land.   

“The next Supreme Court justice must demonstrate a commitment to defend the rights of all people in the United States, as provided by the Constitution, and to serve as an independent check on the presidency regardless of who occupies the White House. Judge Kavanaugh cannot demonstrate such a commitment. The Senate has a responsibility to reject his nomination.”

###

Share

DACA Recipient Marco Villada Back Home in the U.S. after Six Months Stranded in Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2018

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

DACA Recipient Marco Villada Back Home in the U.S. after Six Months Stranded in Mexico

LOS ANGELES — A married couple forcibly separated by a Trump administration misapplication of immigration law has been reunited after months of legal advocacy and community pressure. Marco Villada Garibay is back home with his husband, Israel Serrato, in California, following an emotional reunion at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday.

“I’m immensely grateful to all the people who have taken the time to learn about the situation my husband, Israel, and I were in and who supported us through this difficult time,” Villada said. “I’m very happy to be back home and to put this painful period behind us. We were in limbo for half a year. Now, we can finally start planning for our future.”

Villada, who was previously a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, had been stranded in Mexico since January, when U.S. consular officials in Ciudad Juarez unlawfully denied his application for a spousal immigrant visa and barred him from returning to the U.S. In April, Villada and Serrato — represented by the National Immigration Law Center, the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, and Mayer Brown LLP — challenged that decision in federal court.

After an outpouring of support from tens of thousands of Americans, including several members of Congress, the Human Rights Campaign, and the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), consular officials called Villada back for a follow-up interview. The U.S. State Department later reversed its denial and issued Villada’s visa. The Washington Post broke the news of his return home.

“We’re glad that the federal government has reversed its unjust decision and that Marco will finally be able to return home to the U.S. where he belongs,” said Nora Preciado, senior staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “This is a testament to the efforts of so many people who spoke out against the government’s unfair treatment of Marco and in support of bringing him back. But we also know this never should have happened and that it has caused irreversible harm.”

Villada, 35, arrived in the U.S. when he was six years old and has lived most of his life in Los Angeles. He and Serrato, a U.S. citizen, were married in 2014, six months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The couple has been working for years to adjust Villada’s status to lawful permanent residency.

“Sadly, we know that there are countless people with similar stories that won’t end up with the same good news,” said Stacy Tolchin, one of Villada’s attorneys. “So many people are living in excruciating uncertainty because of this administration’s attacks on immigrant communities, on families, and on due process and the rule of law. As we celebrate Marco’s return, we are also thinking of all the families who haven’t been so lucky.”

“Marco’s case is not at all unique — wrongful immigration decisions are far too common,” said Andrew Pincus, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP. “Our Constitution and laws require fair decision-making processes, with strong judicial oversight. And we need permanent protection for Dreamers.”

After Villada was barred from reentering the U.S., the couple was forced to leave their home and sell off many of their belongings in order to keep up with their financial obligations. Serrato moved in with a friend and Villada was taken in by family members in Mexico.

In the six months since Villada was unjustly barred from coming home, he missed out on celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with his parents. His brother, who is an active duty military service member, was deployed for a second tour in the Middle East. Villada wasn’t able to attend his only sister’s quinceañera, which the family had been planning and looking forward to for years. And Villada and Serrato spent their fourth wedding anniversary apart.

“This experience has been hugely disruptive for me and Israel, and for the people we love the most,” Villada says. “We have a lot of rebuilding to do, and we can’t take back time, but we’re hopeful and excited for what comes next.”

“I hope everyone experiencing uncertainty and fear right now, including DACA recipients, can hang on to hope,” Serrato says. “Even in the hardest times, there are people out there working to make the U.S. a better place for all of us. Reach out to people and organizations in your area doing this work. Get involved in and support these efforts, even if you’re not personally impacted.”

###

Share

Another Republican Anti-Immigrant Bill Fails

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 202-805-0375

Another Republican Anti-Immigrant Bill Fails

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives today resoundingly rejected Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) bill proposing sweeping, harmful changes to our immigration system in exchange for woefully inadequate protections for Dreamers. Ryan’s bill fell nearly 100 votes short of those needed to move forward, garnering even less support than another White House–endorsed bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that was overwhelmingly defeated last week.

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

“This is the third time the Republican-controlled Congress has rejected a White House­–sponsored immigration proposal. Republican leadership has failed yet again at solving the crisis Trump created when he ended the DACA program.

“For months, Republican congressional leaders have gone out of their way to stop any bipartisan proposals to resolve the uncertainty facing immigrant youth. Today’s vote sends a clear message that political games and extremist, anti-immigrant, partisan bills won’t get the job done. A real solution requires real compromise, which means working across the aisle.

“The need for Congress to pass a permanent solution for Dreamers has not gone away. People’s lives continue to hang in the balance as congressional leadership continues to use immigrant youth as political pawns.

“Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda has had its day on the floor. It has failed and failed and failed again. It’s past time for Congress to get serious and pass the Dream Act.”

###

Share

Statement on Justice Kennedy’s Retirement from the Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 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.”

###

Share

Supreme Court Decision Threatens Worker Rights for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 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.

###

Share

Supreme Court Allows Discriminatory Muslim Ban to Stand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018

CONTACT
Hayley Burgess, [email protected], 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.”

###

Share
111