Category Archives: November 2016

NILC Responds to Selection of Rep. Price to Head HHS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

NILC Responds to Selection of Rep. Price to Head HHS

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has announced that Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other federal programs that provide access to affordable health care to millions of Americans, has been selected to head the Dept. of Health and Human Services in the incoming administration. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:

“The selection of Rep. Tom Price to head HHS is yet another worrisome instance of President-elect Trump reaching into the fringes of American politics to select for high office individuals who will determine the direction our country will take in the coming years. For years Price has been at the forefront of a hyperpartisan fight to undo significant improvements in access to affordable health care that have resulted from the Affordable Care Act. Rather than build on progress made by this landmark law to ensure health care for all, Price’s proposed alternative would undermine protections for those with preexisting conditions, would favor older, wealthier Americans at the expense of those most in need, and would roll back reproductive rights for women.

“What’s more, Price’s record shows longstanding support for undoing nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ communities and for cutting programs that provide essential care to women and children. A vision so far out of the mainstream is not what the American people want or need.”

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Federal Court Order: Border Patrol Hieleras Can No Longer Be a Constitution-Free Zone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org
Wendy Feliz, American Immigration Council, 202-812-2499, wfeliz@immcouncil.org
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-773-6007, skilar@acluaz.org
Megan Sallomi, LCCR, 415-543-9697 x209, msallomi@lccr.com
Hayley Home, Morrison & Foerster LLP, 415-268-6021, HHome@mofo.com

Federal Court Order: Border Patrol Hieleras Can No Longer Be a Constitution-Free Zone

Federal district court delivers forceful opinion ordering Border Patrol to improve conditions in Arizona holding facilities

LOS ANGELES — A federal district court today found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the constitutional rights of people detained in holding facilities in Arizona and ordered the government to take steps to improve conditions in these facilities, known as hieleras. This is the latest turn in a legal challenge filed in June 2015 by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, Morrison & Foerster, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

“Today is a victory for our plaintiffs, and a victory for the Constitution,” said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “No one, regardless of where they were born, should be subjected to the deplorable conditions our plaintiffs and other class members endured in the hieleras and we will ensure this order is implemented swiftly.”

“This decision represents critical progress in rectifying CBP’s reprehensible treatment of individuals arriving in the United States,” according to Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council.  “Based on the damning evidence presented by the Plaintiffs, the Court properly rejected the agency’s excuses that it had done everything within its means to protect the health and safety of those in its custody.”

Attorneys sued over the deplorable conditions in the hieleras, which were initially designed as temporary holding facilities for immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol agents within the Tucson Sector, which encompasses much of the Sonoran Desert. Photographic evidence of the conditions was released earlier this year after the Court rejected the federal government’s attempt to conceal them.

“In secret prisons, where basic human needs were withheld and detainees were treated worse than convicted criminals, today’s order has real meaning for the thousands of lives affected,” said Colette Reiner Mayer of Morrison & Foerster and counsel in the case. “This is a good first step towards remedying the harsh unconstitutional conditions in the Border Patrol detention facilities in the Tucson Sector.”

In December 2015, attorneys representing the plaintiff class of detained immigrants sought a preliminary injunction to stop the Border Patrol’s unconstitutional detention practices while the case is litigated. The injunction granted today is based on compelling evidence of inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in the Tucson facilities—much of which was disclosed after the Court found the Border Patrol had destroyed video recordings from these facilities and failed to turn over other relevant documentation.

“The court properly applied the constitutional ban on punishing civil detainees and condemned the inhumane conditions of detention in Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector facilities,” said ACLU of Arizona Senior Counsel Dan Pochoda. “This order will greatly improve the harmful and illegal conditions that thousands of Border Patrol detainees have had to endure and that the government has kept hidden from the public for years.”

People who have been held in Tucson Sector facilities described to the court bone-chillingly cold holding cells, limited access to food and water, nonexistent access to personal hygiene products, and other appalling conditions. Former Washington state corrections secretary and an expert for the plaintiffs, Eldon Vail, said in a declaration to the court: “The conditions of confinement I witnessed through my inspections and through studying the records in this case are unthinkable in any other jurisdiction I have seen or heard about.  The CBP are housing people in conditions that are unnecessarily harsh, dangerous and contrary to accepted industry practices and standards.”

Former detainees told the court in declarations that the conditions in the holding facilities as far inferior to those they found in the local jails.  According to one declarant, “The Nogales sheriff jail was very different. They turned off all but one light…and there were only 15 men with me in a 20-person cell that had mattresses and beds…the sheriffs treated us better than Border Patrol.”

The order comes on the heels of a two-day evidentiary hearing earlier this week, where the court heard testimony from experts and others on detention conditions in the Tucson Sector. Written testimony from plaintiffs and declarants was also considered.

The order issued today is at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Doe-v-Johnson-prelim-inj-order-2016-11-18.pdf.

For more information about Doe et al. v Johnson et al., visit www.nilc.org/issues/litigation/jdoe1vjohnson/.

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NILC Responds to Trump Rhetoric and Bannon Appointment Announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2016

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

NILC Responds to Trump Rhetoric and Bannon Appointment Announcement

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump announced during a “60 Minutes” interview aired last night that he would seek to immediately deport millions of immigrants living in the United States, describing these immigrants as “criminals.” Later, the Trump transition team announced that Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, would serve as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Breitbart News has a history of publishing material that is xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic.

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

“Immigrants, women, and communities of color have wondered if Donald Trump would dial back the ugly campaign rhetoric and move toward serving the entire nation. Instead, yesterday he took concrete steps toward turning ugly rhetoric into policy. By making unconstitutional promises of mass deportation and placing Bannon within the inner circle of the White House, Trump sent a powerful message of exclusion to those of us fighting for justice and equality for all.

“Today, we send a message back: We are here to stay. Trump’s mass deportation plans fly in the face of the Constitution that in January he will swear to uphold. And when he attempts to implement these plans, we will use every legal tool at our disposal to stop him and to defend immigrant communities.”

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Trump Victory Signals Troubling Times in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149

Trump Victory Signals Troubling Times in America

National Immigration Law Center responds to electoral results

WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States. Trump, a Republican whose campaign was unprecedentedly divisive—and whose platform was unapologetically anti-immigrant and anti-refugee—beat the Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Throughout his campaign for president, Trump posited a less inclusive vision for our country and promised to ramp up efforts to find, detain, and deport immigrants through a new “Deportation Force.” He vowed to build a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border and to ban newcomers based on their religious beliefs. He also said he would undo the most significant victory immigrants achieved under the Obama administration, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. If he rescinds DACA, the ability of thousands of immigrant youth to pursue a chance at attaining their full potential will be at risk.

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

“We live in troubling times. The election of a candidate who staked his presidential bid on racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric has left our country more polarized than ever. President-elect Trump touted draconian changes to our immigration system, which should gravely concern everyone who cares about our values of fairness and equality.

“Trump made a series of outlandish promises throughout his campaign to appeal to America’s demons. He did so while insulting Mexicans, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, people with disabilities, women, and anyone who dared to call him out for his distinct lack of substance and his improprieties. Efforts to exclude or disenfranchise the majority of Americans should have no place in our country. And we cannot allow them to continue into Trump’s presidency.

“Many of Trump’s immigration proposals don’t square with our Constitution. Our communities have successfully beaten back similar ill-conceived proposals in states like Arizona and Alabama, and we will continue fight—in the courtroom, if necessary—to ensure that the rights of immigrant and refugee communities are protected across the country. Now those victories are at risk, depending on whom Trump appoints to fill Supreme Court vacancies. But we are ready to mount an all-out defense of the many victories immigrant communities have fought so hard for.

“While immigrant communities fight back at the federal level, we will continue working closely alongside our allies and with state and local policymakers in states—from California to New York, Colorado to Florida—to advance progressive policies that improve the lives of immigrants and refugees and create greater opportunities so that they can contribute even more to their communities.

“Trump’s election must serve as a wake-up call for everyone who shares our vision for a more inclusive America that treats everyone with dignity and fairness. Despite this election, our country’s demographics are changing inexorably, and Latinx voters came out in large numbers to stand up to Trump’s hate. All the communities who have been attacked by Trump must come together now for our country, and we must all reach out to Trump supporters who are have been motivated by fear and economic insecurity. Now, more than ever, we must stand against hate and move towards much-needed healing.”

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California Dreamer Challenges Nationwide Immigration Injunction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149, gastelum@nilc.org

California Dreamer Challenges Nationwide Immigration Injunction

New lawsuit alleges Texas order not binding in California, advances actions already taken in New York, Illinois

SAN FRANCISCO — A new federal lawsuit filed today advances efforts to reinstate the Obama administration’s immigration relief initiatives, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (expanded DACA), in some parts of the country.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Rocío Sanchez Ponce, a DACA recipient, is the third to challenge the reach of an unlawfully broad injunction in U.S. v. Texas. It follows similar lawsuits by Martín Batalla Vidal in the Eastern District of New York and by José Lopez in the Northern District of Illinois.

The three lawsuits seek to fix a wrongdoing suffered by thousands of DACA recipients who are not party to the Texas case, and they could open up a new pathway for the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA outside of Texas, providing relief to millions of families.

“As a new mom, I have a lot on my plate,” said Sanchez Ponce, the mother of a three-year-old boy and a four-month-old girl. “So, when my DACA application was approved, I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through the process again for three years. Then that was taken away because of a judge in Texas. It’s not right. My family and so many others contributing to our communities all over the country should not have to cut our plans short because of an unfair order.”

Sanchez Ponce, 23, is a longtime resident of Hayward, Calif., who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was six years old. She is represented by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

In February 2015, Sanchez Ponce received a three-year work permit from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under newly issued rules for DACA. That same month, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the federal district court in South Texas, issued an injunction in U.S. v. Texas that blocked DAPA and the expansion of DACA nationwide, based solely on claims of alleged costs to Texas. The federal government relied on that injunction to wrongfully revoke three-year work permits that had been issued to thousands of DACA recipients across the country, including to Sanchez Ponce and the plaintiffs in the New York and Illinois lawsuits.

Sanchez Ponce seeks reinstatement of her three-year work permit because its revocation on the basis of the overbroad injunction was unlawful. Furthermore, by challenging the scope of the Texas injunction, the lawsuit could lead to the reinstatement of DAPA and expanded DACA for millions of families in states that are not part of the Texas lawsuit.

“Rocío, Martín, and José had no say in U.S. v. Texas,” said Melissa Keaney, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “Yet their lives and millions more were entangled by an unlawfully broad order in that case. We are proud to stand with them to fight back so that millions of families, and our country as a whole, can reap the benefits of the Obama administration’s immigration initiatives.”

Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants such as Sanchez Ponce, who came to the U.S. as children, to live and work in the country temporarily if they meet certain eligibility requirements.

In November 2014, the Obama administration sought to build on the success of that initiative by expanding eligibility requirements to include more immigrant youth and by creating the DAPA program, which would similarly allow some undocumented parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to live and work in the U.S. temporarily. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security announced that new and renewing DACA applicants would be approved for three- rather than two-year periods. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began issuing three-year work permits that same month.

In December 2014, Texas and 25 other states sued to stop the implementation of DAPA and expansion of DACA. In February 2015, Judge Hanen issued a nationwide injunction blocking both initiatives. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month refused to rehear the case after deadlocking and issuing no decision in June.

The complaint filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Sanchez-Ponce-v-Baran-complaint-2016-11-03.pdf.

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New NILC Reports Detail the Racist Origins of SB 1070, but Also New State and Local Inclusive Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149

New NILC Reports Detail the Racist Origins of SB 1070, but Also New State and Local Inclusive Policies

As legislative sessions and legal disputes wind down, we try to take stock of how they’ve played out, including the lessons they’ve taught us and our movement. We’ve summarized some of what we’ve learned in two new (but very different) reports.

One report unmasks details about the racism and xenophobia out of which one the most notorious state anti-immigrant laws to date, Arizona’s SB 1070, was born. The second report, on the other hand, summarizes some of the remarkably productive and inclusive developments at the state and local levels that came out of this year’s legislative sessions.

Along Racial Lines: The Genesis of Arizona’s SB 1070 Is a Cautionary Tale of Race-based Immigration Policy. Quoting and citing emails obtained mostly through discovery in Valle del Sol v. Whiting, our civil rights lawsuit against SB 1070, we present concrete evidence that the nation’s most notorious state-level anti-immigrant law was inspired by racism and xenophobia. Emails written and sent by the law’s authors and most ardent supporters show that anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment were major factors driving the law’s attrition-through-racial-profiling approach.

This report is especially important at a time when xenophobic rhetoric is at an all-time high in our national discourse. Those who have lived through the daily realities of SB 1070 in Arizona know how much damage the law has caused communities across the state and recognize that it should not be replicated on a national level.

States Reject Immigration Enforcement Measures and Advance Inclusive Policies in 2016. While a significant portion of the national conversation has, for a while, seemed mired in anti-immigrant rhetoric, many state and local lawmakers have been trying to make our communities better for all of us, regardless of where we were born. From Nebraska to California, legislators on both sides of the aisle rejected measures designed to make life miserable for immigrants, and adopted immigrant-inclusive policies instead.

Read our new report on the 2016 state legislative sessions to learn more about how immigrant-inclusive policies became law this year.

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