Category Archives: November 2017

Federal Judge Grants Leave to Amend DACA Lawsuit to Include Those Rejected by Arbitrary Deadline

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2017

CONTACT
– Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, media@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
– Daniel Altschuler, Make the Road New York, Daniel.altschuler@maketheroadny.org, 917-494-5922
– Healy Ko, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, 267-304-5260

Federal Judge Grants Leave to Amend DACA Lawsuit to Include Those Rejected by Arbitrary Deadline

NEW YORK — Today, attorneys and plaintiffs representing immigrant youth in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s arbitrary termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program asked a federal court in Brooklyn for relief for thousands of immigrant youth whose DACA renewal applications were improperly rejected. The court granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to include the approximately 4,000 DACA recipients whose renewals were rejected as a result of the government’s unworkable October 5 renewal deadline. The court also agreed to the plaintiffs’ proposed schedule to file a motion for class certification to provide nationwide relief to all DACA-eligible individuals.

The hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York today follows news reports that a number of DACA renewal applications were rejected despite arriving by the arbitrary October 5 deadline because they were delivered to lockboxes after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS’s) last pickup for the day. News reports also revealed that delays in the U.S. Postal Service resulted in the late arrival of a number of renewal applications. Approximately 4,000 applications in total were improperly rejected for arriving after the cutoff, according to a USCIS official deposed on October 18 as part of the case.

On Wednesday evening, the night before the hearing, USCIS announced that it would accept renewal applications from individuals who could demonstrate that their applications arrived after the October 5 deadline due to postal service delays. USCIS said it will also invite individuals whose applications arrived by October 5, but were rejected, to reapply.

Varlene Cooper, a member of Make the Road New York (MRNY) who was wrongly denied her DACA renewal because of a postal error and has two U.S.-citizen children, said, “I’m pleased that USCIS appears willing to review my application, but I will not rest until my family and I, and all 4,000 DACA recipients whose renewals were denied because of an arbitrary deadline, get the justice we deserve.”

Batalla Vidal v. Duke, the first lawsuit filed challenging the termination of DACA, was brought by six New York dreamers—Martín Batalla Vidal, Antonio Alarcon, Eliana Fernandez, Carolina Fung Feng, Mariano Mondragon, and Carlos Vargas—and MRNY as an organization. They are represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Make the Road New York, and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School.

“We are pleased that the judge allowed us to amend and that our case will move forward,” said Carlos Vargas, a DACA recipient plaintiff and member of Make the Road New York. “We will continue fighting for justice for all 800,000 DACA recipients in this case, as we also continue fighting in the streets and in Congress for a clean DREAM Act to address once and for all the crisis that Trump created.”

Last week, attorneys in the case sent a letter to the federal government bringing to light 13 members or clients of Make the Road New York whose renewal applications were rejected despite those individuals taking proper steps to comply with the government’s arbitrary deadline. The DACA status of the 13 individuals are set to expire before March 5, 2018, when the Trump administration is set to end the entire program.

“The court has put the government on notice: If the government does not adequately address the 4,000 applications unjustly rejected by USCIS, we are prepared to fight in court,” said Emily Villano, a law student intern at the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School.

Approximately 22,000 DACA-eligible immigrant youth will lose their ability to work and become vulnerable to immigration enforcement before March 5, 2018. That averages out to 122 people per day since the Trump administration announced the end of DACA on September 5, 2017, according to the Center for American Progress.

If Congress fails to enact a permanent legislative solution, the number of DACA recipients losing protections after March 5, 2018, will increase dramatically to 915 per day through March 2020, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

“The court continues to recognize what we all know, which is that we need a permanent legislative solution to this problem,” said Joshua Rosenthal, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “We need Congress to pass a clean Dream Act this year, one that gives immigrant youth a sense of security and the ability to continue in their jobs, in their pursuit of education, and as contributing members of our communities—without adding any punitive measures that would harm immigrant communities.”

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200+ Groups Say GOP Tax Plans Hurt Immigrant Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2017

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

200+ Groups Say GOP Tax Plans Hurt Immigrant Children

Advocates urge lawmakers to reject “anti-child and anti-immigrant proposals”

WASHINGTON — More than 200 organizations Wednesday sent Members of Congress a joint letter opposing tax legislation advanced by Republican leadership of the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter, led by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), focuses on provisions that will drive up child poverty by denying tax benefits to immigrant children. It was signed by dozens of other local, state, and national organizations, ranging from the National Association of Social Workers and the National Education Association to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and UnidosUS.

“This letter sends a clear message to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle: attacks on immigrant families face fierce opposition from national and local leaders all over America,” said Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

The letter focuses on provisions of the House and Senate tax bills that would deny the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and its refundable portion to children who lack a Social Security Number (SSN). Both bills directly target approximately 1 million DREAMer children and their families, threatening to drive them into poverty. Targeting any children in a family will harm the family as a whole — and over 5 million children live in mixed-status households. The House proposal includes similar provisions restricting eligibility for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps students access postsecondary education.

The CTC alone lifts 1.5 million children out of poverty every year and alleviates poverty’s impact for millions more. Its average value for children affected by this change is $1,800. Research shows that comparable income increases correlate with increased reading and math test scores, and children who receive tax credits are more likely to attend college and have higher lifelong earnings. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Latino children and young children are more likely than their peers to live in poverty. Additional information about the issue is available in a companion fact sheet.

“It’s as simple as it is brutal — any lawmaker who supports this bill is voting to increase child poverty,” said Olivia Golden, CLASP’s executive director.

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Groups File Class Action Challenge to Trump Administration’s Latest Refugee Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2017

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, NILC, media@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Henrike Dessaules, IRAP, hdessaules@refugeerights.org, 646-459-3081
Gabe Cahn, HIAS, gabe.cahn@hias.org, 202-412-1678
Deb Frockt, Jewish Family Service of Seattle, dfrockt@jfsseattle.org, 206-861-3148
Mindy Berkowitz, Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, mindyb@jfssv.org, 408-357-7455

Groups File Class Action Challenge to Trump Administration’s Latest Refugee Ban

LOS ANGELES — Refugee-serving agencies and individuals today challenged President Trump’s most recent executive order banning refugees, filing a lawsuit in a federal district court in Seattle. The executive order blocks for at least 90 days refugee resettlement from 11 countries and indefinitely pauses the follow-to-join program, which reunites spouses and children with refugees already in the United States.

A nationwide preliminary injunction motion on both restrictions will be filed in the coming days. The lawsuit charges that the order is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to suspend refugee admissions without legal authority and to ban refugees from entering the United States. The new restrictions would block a significant number of refugees seeking resettlement to the U.S. through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The order also directly targets Muslims, as approximately 80 percent of all Muslim refugees who resettled in the U.S. in the past two fiscal years have been from 9 of the 11 blocked countries.

According to the filed complaint, this latest attempt by the Trump administration to suspend refugee admissions is no different from its prior attempts — the administration continues to lack authority to suspend refugee admissions in this way. Moreover, this is yet another attempt to target Muslims in violation of the Constitution.

The plaintiffs in the case are Jewish Family Service of Seattle and Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley — both local partners of national refugee resettlement agency HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees — along with individuals, including U.S. citizens and people with family members who are impacted by the new refugee restrictions. These include refugees in the final stages of their resettlement process who are now trapped in limbo, parents who are desperately trying to reunite with their displaced children, and a military supervisor hoping to save his Iraqi interpreter’s life.

The latter, plaintiff Allen R. Vaught, is a veteran of the Iraq war who hired plaintiff John Doe 1 as a translator in 2003 and formed a close bond with him during his deployment. When Vaught was injured by an IED in an ambush, John Doe 1 traveled almost 60 miles to check on him. Vaught has tried to help his translator get resettled to the U.S. since 2014, as he still lives in dangerous conditions and away from his family. However, the recent refugee ban executive order could mean that John Doe’s travel to the U.S. could be delayed indefinitely.

Another plaintiff and client of Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus, Ohio, Afkab Mohamed Hussein, is a Somali refugee residing in the U.S. and has an approved follow-to-join petition for his wife and son, the latter of whom he was never able to meet prior to being resettled. The new refugee restrictions would prevent him from being reunited with his family.

The plaintiffs are being represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center; the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); Lauren Aguiar, Mollie M. Kornreich and Abigail Sheehan Davis; Perkins Coie; and HIAS.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington state.

The following are quotes from:

Allen R. Vaught, plaintiff. “As a soldier who served in Iraq, I believe the latest refugee executive order is a solution in search of a problem, made only to stoke irrational fear. That executive order has derailed efforts to get my last surviving Iraqi translator, who served bravely alongside U.S. military forces for many years, to the United States despite his extremely thorough vetting. That executive order is inconsistent with the American values I fought for as an officer in the United States Army.”

Becca Heller, director of IRAP.
“The president has continuously and openly stated that he will ban Muslims from our country ever since his first days on the campaign trail. This new executive order will do just that — as applied, it would have kept out 80 percent of the Muslim refugees to the U.S. in recent years. The refugees from these countries are fleeing the very terror that the U.S. is trying to fight: the Islamic State and other militants in the Middle East and North Africa. Rather than make America safer, the order abdicates America’s status as a global humanitarian leader and damages our credibility with our allies in the region.”

Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Seattle. “Last week was the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The Jewish people know all too well that if the United States shuts its doors to those who are persecuted, lives will be in jeopardy. Remembering our past, we know this is the time we must unequivocally stand with vulnerable refugees, reunite families, and act in accordance with commandments requiring us to welcome the stranger and save one life as if it is the entire world.”

Mindy Berkowitz, executive director of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley.
“With family members stuck in limbo and awaiting the chance at safety in the United States, our clients here are begging us, ‘Please save my sister and her little boy. Please save my cousin.’ These refugees cannot go back to their home countries for fear of further persecution, and now America is turning its back on them in their time of urgent need. We can and must fulfill our responsibility as a country to provide protection to refugees.”

Lauren Aguiar, law firm partner. “As lawyers, we are privileged to play a critical role in ensuring that the rule of law is upheld through strong and independent judicial decisions that preserve the freedoms and protections our Constitution grants to even the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. The refugees impacted by this ban risk losing the ability for themselves and their families to resettle and pursue their lives in safety; those who need our advocacy the most often cannot afford representation, which is why it is so important for lawyers in the private bar to take on pro bono work of this nature.”

Melissa Keaney, staff attorney, National Immigration Law Center. “Xenophobic policies that threaten to slam our nation’s doors in the face of those seeking refuge threaten the most cherished aspects of our national identity. We are filing this lawsuit today to make sure that our country does not turn its back on those who have already given so much to come here.”

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS. “The global refugee crisis has reached record high proportions, yet the Trump administration has set a record low ceiling for refugees that may be resettled to the United States. In addition, the administration has once again attempted a ban by indefinitely closing the door on refugees of 11 nationalities, 9 of which come from predominantly Muslim majority countries, and has even thrown obstacles in the way to prevent refugee spouses from reuniting with one another and with their young children. We’ve seen this before, and we won’t stand for it. This is why HIAS has joined the legal team representing Jewish community partners in our ongoing struggle to welcome refugees and show America’s strength as a country.”

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GOP’s #TBT Tax Plan Is So ’80s, Advocates Charge, Urging Opposition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2017

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

GOP’s #TBT Tax Plan Is So ’80s, Advocates Charge, Urging Opposition

Lavish corporate subsidies, ballooning national debt, and increasing child poverty among bill’s consequences

WASHINGTON — Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday released comprehensive tax legislation that would dramatically cut corporate rates, add more than $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years, and strip millions of children of a tax credit instrumental in reducing child poverty.

The legislation includes a provision that would deny the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to more than five million children — 4 million U.S. citizens and the rest young “Dreamers” — whose parents are undocumented. It includes broadly similar provisions constraining American Opportunity Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility. The CTC alone lifts 1.5 million children out of poverty every year and mitigates poverty’s impact for millions more.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) has compared House tax policy efforts to landmark tax legislation enacted 1986. The 1980s were also marked by a culture of corporate excess, a $1.8 trillion expansion of the national debt, and increasing child poverty.

The following statement was issued by Jackie Vimo, economic justice policy analyst for the National Immigration Law Center:

“The House GOP has taken ‘Throwback Thursday’ too far, with a tax bill that’s an ’80s mashup only Gordon Gekko would love. It slashes taxes for the rich, like Freddy Kruger attacking a sleepover. For the rest of us, driving up the national debt and child poverty to subsidize lavish subsidies for giant corporations and wealthy donors is a Nightmare on Main Street.”

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We Must Pass a Legislative Solution for Dreamers Before the Year’s End

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2017

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

Statement in Response to Trump and Senate Republicans:
We Must Pass a Legislative Solution for Dreamers Before the Year’s End

WASHINGTON — President Trump and Senate Republicans announced today that they will not attach a legislative solution for Dreamers to an end-of-year spending bill, leaving the futures of hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo.

After rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, the president put pressure on Congress to pass a solution for the nearly 800,000 young immigrants who have been able to live, work, and study in the U.S. under the program.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that an urgent legislative solution is critical. Every major poll shows widespread bipartisan support for such a solution, and Congress has no excuse not to move swiftly to vote on a permanent solution before the holidays. Failure to act will cause immediate and permanent damage.

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

“The news today that President Trump and Senate Republicans will not include a solution for Dreamers in the end-of-year spending bill is not only unacceptable, but impossibly cruel. The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of young people and their families hang in limbo, and a solution simply cannot wait until next year. Their educators, employers, and community members cannot wait anymore. We have come too far to turn back now.

“Negotiations do not begin with a white supremacist wish list. Trump created this crisis by recklessly ending DACA in September, and in doing so he asked Congress to act. Congress has an opportunity to do the right thing, but not if it refuses to engage in good-faith conversations about practical solutions to move our country forward. Failure to act will cause immediate and permanent damage not only for immigrant youth but for the country.

“This is a moment of truth for Republicans. Will they show up to actually govern? Or will they continue to cater to their white nationalist fringe? The answer should be simple.”

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