Category Archives: October 2013

HICA v. Bentley Settlement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, National Immigration Law Center, (213) 400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org
Apreill Hartsfield, Southern Poverty Law Center, (334) 782-6624, apreill.hartsfield@splcenter.org
Isabel Alegria, American Civil Liberties Union, (415) 343-0785 or (646) 438-4146, media@aclu.org
Larry Gonzalez, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, (202) 466-0879,lgonzalez@rabengroup.com

Civil Rights Coalition Victorious in Suit Against Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Law

Agreement Permanently Blocks Most of the Law’s Worst Provisions, Strictly Limits Racial Profiling Provision

MONTGOMERY, ALThe coalition of civil rights groups that challenged Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, announced today an agreement that permanently blocks key provisions of the law and significantly limits racial profiling under sections 12 and 18, the “show me your papers” provisions. A similar agreement is being entered in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and also in one brought by church leaders. Both agreements are pending final approval by the court.

Under the agreement, the provisions currently temporarily blocked by the courts will be permanently blocked. The state will also pay the coalition attorneys’ fees and costs, as required under federal law. Alabama joins Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, and other states whose anti-immigrant laws have been blocked by the courts.

“Today’s settlement should remind legislators in both Montgomery and Washington that a person’s constitutional rights may not be legislated away,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center. “Supporters of attempts to nationalize racial profiling policies such as Alabama’s HB 56 should be warned: We will fight these efforts at the Capitol, and, if necessary, in the courtroom.”

“We warned the legislature when they were debating HB 56 that if they passed this draconian law, we would sue in court and win,” said Kristi Graunke, senior staff supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “That we have done. Now it is time for our state lawmakers to repeal the remnants of HB 56 and for our congressional delegation to support meaningful immigration reform that will fix our broken system.”

The state also agrees that local police may not hold someone during a traffic stop solely to check the person’s immigration status. This is a significant victory because many departments across the state have interpreted the “show me your papers” provisions to authorize detaining people just to check their immigration status. The coalition will remain vigilant to ensure these abuses do not continue.

“I am thankful that most of the law has been permanently blocked and that tranquility has been restored to the Hispanic community,” said Maria D. Ceja Zamora, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I am glad to see there are still organizations like those that brought the lawsuit to help stop discriminatory laws like HB 56. God bless, and keep up the good work.”

“This court order gives firm assurance that all Alabamians are on equal footing, regardless of their immigration status,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama are on notice — if they detain anyone based on suspicions about immigration status, they will be violating the U.S. Constitution and we will take swift action to protect people’s civil rights against such violations.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and other civil rights groups filed the class action suit, HICA v. Bentley,in July 2011. The suit challenged provisions of the law that chilled children’s access to public schools, authorized police to demand “papers” during traffic stops, and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals.

The following key provisions of the law have now been permanently blocked by the courts as a result of this lawsuit:

  • Section 10, which criminalized failing to register one’s immigration status, was initially blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and now has been permanently blocked.
  • Section 28, which required schools to verify the immigration status of newly enrolled K-12 students, was initially blocked by the 11th Circuit and now has been permanently blocked.
  • Section 13, which criminalized giving a ride or renting to someone who is undocumented, was initially blocked by the U.S. District Court in Birmingham and now has been permanently blocked.
  • Section 11(a), which criminalized the solicitation of work by unauthorized immigrants, was initially blocked by the District Court in Birmingham and now has been permanently blocked.
  • Sections 11(f) and (g), which criminalized day laborers’ First Amendment right to solicit work, was initially blocked by the District Court in Birmingham and now have been permanently blocked.
  • Section 27, which infringed on the ability of individuals to contract with someone who was undocumented, was initially blocked by the 11th Circuit and now has been permanently blocked.

“The heart of Alabama’s unconstitutional anti-immigrant law will be blocked permanently with this agreement, an historic victory for everyone living in the state,” said Victor Viramontes, National Senior Counsel, MALDEF. “Other states and localities that consider targeting day laborers, immigrant school children, or immigrant workers should learn from Alabama’s costly mistakes.”

The state agreed to pay $350,000 in legal fees and costs to the coalition lawyers.

“During the long two years since HB 56 was implemented in our state, we have witnessed its harmful effects on our community members and on the reputation of our state,” said Isabel Rubio, executive director for Hispanic Interest Coalition for Alabama (HICA), a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We are thankful that state and local officials have worked with the courts and our legal partners to resolve the destructive issues brought about by this unjust law. We will continue to work toward building a future in which Alabama is known as a place where immigrants are welcomed and recognized for their valuable contributions.”

“We advised the legislature that HB56 would not pass constitutional muster and warned against a state policy that pitted neighbors against one another,” said Shay Farley, legal director for Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Inc., a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Today, we celebrate this victory with our co-plaintiffs and counsel, thankful that the mean-spirited prohibitions and sanctions unlawfully imposed by HB56 are now history and are permanently enjoined.”

More information about the case and settlement can be found atwww.nilc.org/hb56hvb.html.

Attorneys in the case include Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Tanya Broder, Shiu-Ming Cheer, and Melissa S. Keaney of the National Immigration Law Center; Graunke, Sam Brooke, Mary Bauer, Andrew Turner, Michelle LaPointe, Dan Werner, and Naomi Tsu of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Wang, Justin B. Cox, Katherine Desormeau, Kenneth J. Sugarman, Andre Segura, Elora Mukherjee, Omar C. Jadwat, Lee Gelernt and Michael K. T. Tan of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Victor Viramontes, Martha L. Gomez, Nina Perales, and Amy Pedersen of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Foster S. Maer, Ghita Schwarz and Diana S. Sen of LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; Chris Newman and Jessica Karp of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network; Sin Yen Ling of the Asian Law Caucus; Erin E. Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center; Allison Neal and Freddy Rubio (cooperating counsel) of the ACLU Foundation of Alabama; G. Brian Spears, Ben Bruner, Herman Watson, Jr., Eric J. Artrip and Rebekah Keith McKinney.

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Momentum Grows for Immigration Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2013

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

Denham Support Brings More Momentum for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) has announced that he will cosponsor H.R. 15, the recently introduced commonsense immigration reform proposal in the House of Representatives. Denham is the first Republican to support the measure, which is based upon the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May and the border security bill that was unanimously approved by the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this year. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“We applaud Rep. Denham for doing what’s best for his district, California, and our country by supporting H.R. 15. Immigration may, at the moment, be painted as partisan, but for decades, members of both parties have led the fight for an immigration system that meets our economic and societal needs.

“As Rep. Denham has shown, actions speak louder than words. The more than two dozen other members of his party who have expressed support for immigration reform can and should follow in Denham’s lead. Furthermore, House leaders should recognize that Denham’s stance isn’t just a matter of sound public policy — it’s also good politics. We urge House leaders to move away from the anti-immigrant, divisive politics of the recent past and join Denham in doing what the American people elect members of Congress to do: legislate effectively.”

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ICE Issues Important Clarification

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA
October 25, 2013 / 25 de octubre, 2013

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

***ENGLISH VERSION BELOW***

El Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) disminuye las preocupaciones de inmigrantes que soliciten seguro médico bajo la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio

ICE aclara que la información incluida en las solicitudes de seguro de salud no será utilizada para propósitos de control migratorio.

WASHINGTON — El Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE por sus siglas en inglés) confirmó hoy que padres de familias inmigrantes pueden inscribir a sus hijos y a otros miembros de la familia que sean elegibles en los programas de cobertura de salud sin preocuparse de consecuencias por su estatus migratorio. La Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA por sus siglas en inglés) prohíbe a inmigrantes indocumentados y a las personas que se les ha concedido acción diferida a través del programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA por sus siglas en inglés) comprar seguro médico a través de los mercados de seguros de salud (también conocidos como intercambios), pero permite que sus familiares elegibles — incluyendo a niños ciudadanos estadounidenses — puedan aplicar. A continuación se muestra una declaración de Marielena Hincapié, directora ejecutiva del Centro Nacional de Leyes Migratorias (NILC por sus siglas en inglés):

“El miedo de ser deportado nunca debe impedirle a un padre inmigrante que compre cuidado de salud a bajo precio para sus hijos. Desafortunadamente, defensores de derechos alrededor del país han informado que este miedo es un gran obstáculo para inscribir a niños ciudadanos bajo la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (también conocida como Obamacare). La clarificación publicada hoy, debe brindar calma a las familias de inmigrantes que pueden haber sido renuentes a inscribir a familiares elegibles al seguro médico.

“Además, los inmigrantes indocumentados deben recordar que cuando apliquen en nombre de los miembros elegibles de su familia, no serán obligados a proporcionar información sobre su estatus migratorio o un número de seguro social si no lo tienen.

“Para ser una sociedad productiva, todas las personas deben tener acceso a atención médica de calidad y a bajo precio. Esperamos que esta clarificación elimine algunos de estos temores, pero también seguiremos luchando para asegurar que todos aquellos que viven y trabajan en los Estados Unidos puedan comprar un seguro médico accesible que necesitan para protegerse a sí mismos y a sus familias.”

La “Aclaración de las prácticas existentes en relación con cierta información de cuidado de salud” del ICE está disponible enwww.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/ice-aca-memo.pdf.

Una publicación titulada “¿Qué necesitan saber las familias inmigrantes sobre el mercado [de cuidado de salud]?” también está disponible en el sitio web de Obamacare del gobierno federal, enhttps://www.healthcare.gov/what-do-immigrant-families-need-to-know/.

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ICE Alleviates Immigrants’ Concerns about Applying for Obamacare

ICE clarifies that information on health insurance applications will not be used for immigration enforcement.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today confirmed that immigrant parents can enroll their children and other eligible family members in health care coverage programs without triggering immigration enforcement activity. The Affordable Care Act bars undocumented immigrants and individuals granted deferred action through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from buying insurance through the health insurance marketplaces (also called “exchanges”) but allows their eligible family members — including U.S. citizen children — to apply. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Fear about deportation should never prevent an immigrant parent from purchasing affordable health care for his or her children. Unfortunately, advocates across the country have reported that this fear is a major barrier to enrolling citizen children in Obamacare. The clarification published today should provide sorely needed reassurance to immigrant families who may have been reluctant to sign up eligible family members for health insurance.

“Also, immigrants without documents should remember that when they apply on behalf of eligible family members, they will not be required to provide information about their own immigration status or to provide a Social Security number if they do not have one.

“In order to have a productive society, all individuals should have access to affordable, quality health care. While we hope this clarification will allay some of these fears, we will also continue to fight to ensure that all those living and working in the United States can purchase the affordable health insurance they need to protect themselves and their families.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Clarification of Existing Practices Related to Certain Health Care Information” is available at www.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/ice-aca-memo.pdf.

An online publication titled “What do immigrant families need to know about the Marketplace?” also is available on the federal government’s Obamacare website, at https://www.healthcare.gov/what-do-immigrant-families-need-to-know/.

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Groups Urge Defeat of E-Verify Mandate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 2013

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

House Bill Would Throw Citizens and Authorized Workers Out of Jobs

Letter to Congress Signed by More Than 100 Groups Urges Defeat of E-Verify Mandate

WASHINGTON — In a letter sent to Congress today, more than 100 groups representing workers and immigrant, civil rights, and faith communities state their opposition to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1772), saying it would not repair the immigration system and would instead lessen worker protections and threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and authorized workers due to government errors.

The organizations noted in their letter that the measure, which would rapidly force every U.S. employer to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system such as E-Verify, would seriously hurt the economy by expanding the cash-driven underground economy operated by those seeking to avoid having to comply with regulations.

The Legal Workforce Act “represents an outdated, enforcement-only approach that threatens the livelihood of all workers, including U.S. citizens, while failing to provide real solutions for law-abiding employers,” the letter states.

“Not one single person should lose his or her job because of a government error or an employer’s failure to follow the program’s rules,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “Before this legislation is rushed to the House floor, our representatives should take a close look at the E-Verify system’s flaws and listen to the stories of real people who have lost jobs and suffered greatly due to errors in the databases on which E-Verify relies.”

A report by the National Immigration Law Center examines data from a recent government study of E-Verify and concludes that if E-Verify’s use were made mandatory, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and legally authorized workers would have to contact a government office or risk losing their job if they are flagged by the system.

Instead of being a “silver bullet” to find unauthorized workers, this bill, absent a program to legalize the immigration status of unauthorized workers, would “push employers and workers further into the underground economy, as paying workers cash or misclassifying the workers as independent contractors is the simplest way of not complying with the bill’s mandate,” according to the letter. The result would be a $17.3 billion loss in federal tax revenues, because this would increase the number of employers who resort to the black market outside of the regular economy.

The Senate-passed immigration reform legislation, which includes a path to citizenship for undocumented people, includes protections for workers, such as allowing workers to correct errors in the government databases on which E-Verify relies and also creating new penalties for employers who abuse the system. However, the enforcement-only Legal Workforce Act that has passed the House Judiciary Committee does not contain such protections.

Instead of a single enforcement-only bill that targets workers, Congress must act on commonsense immigration reform that supports our country’s economic vitality by providing work authorization and worker protections, the groups that signed the letter urge.

The letter to Congress is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Legal-Workforce-Act-Ltr-Final-10-18-2013.pdf. NILC’s report titled “Verification Nation: How E-Verify Affects America’s Workers” is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Verification-Nation-2013-08_rev11-06-13.pdf.

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Jeh Johnson to Be Tapped for DHS Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2013

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

Jeh Johnson to Be Nominated to Lead Dept. of Homeland Security

National Immigration Law Center Urges Senate to Confirm Johnson Without Delay

WASHINGTON — President Obama will nominate Jeh Johnson, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, to succeed Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Johnson has previously served in the public interest sector as general counsel of the Department of Defense and as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force. Johnson was the first African American partner of Paul, Weiss and also is the first African American nominee for this cabinet-level position.

“Jeh Johnson’s professional experience makes it clear that he will be a strong manager of what is undoubtedly one of the most complex cabinets within the executive branch. His experience with leading efforts for the repeal of the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against LGBT soldiers will serve him well in the immigration context, where both Senator Reid and President Obama have reiterated their commitment to reforming our broken immigration system.”

“Johnson need not wait until Congress has enacted immigration reform legislation to make real improvements to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) treatment of immigrants, however. As the administration comes ever closer to reaching the dubious milestone of having deported two million immigrants, Johnson has a leadership opportunity to fully implement the directives that have already been issued to stop deporting the citizens of tomorrow and provide much-needed relief to immigrant families and our communities.

“Mr. Johnson’s credentials, while impressive, make it essential that he have a deputy secretary who understands our complex immigration system. Fortunately, the Obama administration has nominated such an individual to this position. Alejandro Mayorkas, the current head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is eminently qualified to ensure that all facets of DHS’s mandate are understood by those charged with leading the organization. The Senate should confirm both these nominees, who would fill critical leadership gaps at DHS, immediately.”

“If confirmed, Mr. Johnson will have an opportunity to bring our most cherished values for due process, fair consideration, and family unity to DHS’s culture. We look forward to working with the future DHS secretary and his staff to restore transparency, accountability, and trust between immigrant communities and this department.”

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NILC Awards Dinner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-674-2832, delatorre@nilc.org

GROUPS CELEBRATE THE “YEAR OF THE IMMIGRANT” AT NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER COURAGEOUS LUMINARIES AWARDS DINNER

SEIU, Southern Border Communities Coalition Recognized for Their Leadership on Immigrants’ Rights

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds will gather this Thursday, Oct. 17, to celebrate a banner year for immigrants’ rights at the National Immigration Law Center’s annual Courageous Luminaries Awards Dinner. This year’s honorees, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, will be recognized for the unique and powerful role each group has played in the fight for just, humane immigration reform.

The awards dinner, which will be hosted by comedienne Jenny Yang, will take place at The Center at Cathedral Plaza, 555 West Temple Street, Los Angeles California, at 6 pm. Guests will enjoy musical performances from La Chamba, a Los Angeles band that draws musical inspiration from Peruvian Chicha rhythms, and the multiethnic Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance drummers.

“In a year in which immigration debates too often have focused on politics over policy, SEIU and the Southern Border Communities Coalition stand out as champions of sound legislation that protects workers’ rights, promotes community safety, and upholds civil liberties for all those living in this country,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We are so proud to fight alongside organizations like these for immigration laws that reflect our nation’s values of justice, fairness, and family unity.”

Courageous Luminary – Movement Leader honoree SEIU is a national leader for economic justice and is known for its fierce advocacy for immigration reform. The organization, which represents more than two million workers, has devoted an unprecedented amount of resources to mobilize the country, shift the public debate, and engage in legislative advocacy to ensure that aspiring citizens can become full participants in the nation’s society and democracy. Their commitment to immigrants’ rights extends beyond the halls of Congress: SEIU workers have served as plaintiffs in several of the National Immigration Law Center’s lawsuits challenging racial profiling laws in Arizona and elsewhere.

Courageous Luminary – Community Leader honoree Southern Border Communities Coalition has emerged as a powerful voice representing the economic and societal needs of the millions of Americans living and working along the U.S.-Mexico border. Representatives from the organization have been unafraid to hold members of both political parties accountable for overzealous border militarization and have advocated that the country instead dedicate border resources on initiatives that promote economic growth and respect civil and human rights.

Previous Courageous Luminary Award recipients include Academy Award–nominated actor Demián Bichir, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and advocate Jose Antonio Vargas, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, Ai-jen Poo and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Day Laborer Organizing Network executive director Pablo Alvarado, and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. The Courageous Luminaries Awards Dinner ceremony was established in 2007 to honor individuals and organizations that have worked to improve the lives of low-income immigrants in the United States.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC advances its mission through policy analysis, litigation, education, and advocacy. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, thwarted policies that would have devastated the lives of low-income immigrants and their family members, and advanced major policies that reinforce our nation’s values of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

To purchase tickets to the 2013 Courageous Luminaries Awards Dinner, please visit http://www.nilc.org/2013awardsdinner.html.

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Harboring Provision of Arizona’s SB1070 Blocked

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, NILC, 213-400-7822, delatorre@nilc.org
Isabel Alegria, ACLU, 415-343-0785, media@aclu.org
Larry Gonzalez, The Raben Group (MALDEF), (202) 466-0879,lgonzalez@rabengroup.com

Federal Court Deals New Blow to Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant SB 1070

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding a preliminary injunction against the “harboring” provision of Arizona’s SB 1070 law.

The harboring provision was blocked by the district court in September 2012, and the state of Arizona appealed to the Ninth Circuit. In trying to make life impossible and miserable for undocumented immigrants, SB 1070’s harboring provision would have made it a crime for ordinary Arizonans to do simple things such as give a neighbor or a relative a ride, or for a landlord to rent a home to certain immigrants. In today’s ruling the Ninth Circuit joined the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits in striking down state and local laws prohibiting various ordinary interactions with individuals based on immigration status.

SB 1070 has been challenged by a large civil rights coalition, including lead counsel from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). This is the second time that the civil rights coalition has succeeded in enjoining provisions that were not ruled on in the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on SB 1070. In both of those instances—in which the provisions dealt with day labor and harboring—the groups succeeded in the district court and also prevailed in the Ninth Circuit.

The following are comments from members of the coalition:

“The Ninth Circuit has hammered another nail into the coffin of racial profiling laws like Arizona’s SB 1070,” said Nora Preciado, a NILC staff attorney. “ This decision should serve as a reminder to state and federal lawmakers that attempts to criminalize daily interactions with immigrants will not be tolerated, inside or outside the courtroom.”

“We’ve demonstrated again today that the architects of SB 1070 disregarded not only human dignity and common sense, but also the United States Constitution, when they enacted Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant law,” said Omar Jadwat, supervising attorney, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The punitive and self-destructive approach to immigration embodied in SB 1070 has correctly been rejected by state legislatures and courts around the country, and we look forward to the day when Arizona, too, abandons this regrettable course.”

“The federal courts have gutted SB 1070 and blocked enforcement of all of its criminal provisions, a point affirmed by today’s decision,” said Victor Viramontes, national senior counsel, MALDEF. ”With this ruling, the Ninth Circuit again rebuked Arizona’s attempts to unconstitutionally target immigrants.”

A copy of today’s ruling in Valle del Sol, et al. v. State of Arizona is available here.

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TRUST Act Signed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 5, 2013

CONTACT
Gebe Martinez, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com, 703-731-9505

TRUST Act: Governor Brown Signs Hallmark Immigration Legislation

LOS ANGELES — Affirming California’s standing as the trailblazer on immigrant rights, Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation that solidifies civil rights, workplace and education protections for immigrants in the Golden State.

The National Immigration Law Center applauds Gov. Brown for keeping his promise to sign the TRUST Act (A.B. 4), which sets minimum protections for immigrants so that they can live and work safely in the state without fear of law enforcement and deportations. The new law ensures California law enforcement will not submit to requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to hold people who have been charged with or convicted only of minor crimes so that agents can buy time to transfer them to immigration authorities.

The governor’s signature on the TRUST Act follows his signing earlier this week of another law that allows immigrants to be issued driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status. He also signed, earlier, a new law that codifies basic labor rights — such as the right to overtime pay — of domestic workers.

“Nineteen years after California’s Prop. 187, which took our state down the dark road of anti-immigrant politics and policy, Gov. Brown has blazed the national trail for commonsense immigration policies,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. Hincapié spoke from Los Angeles, where she was participating in one of more than 180 National Day of Action for Dignity and Respectevents being held across the U.S. in support of federal commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“The TRUST Act is particularly significant because it turns the state’s immigration policy away from the criminalization of immigrants — given the rise in deportations under the Obama administration — and keeps immigration enforcement in the hands of the federal government, where it belongs,” Hincapié added.

During a recent news conference sponsored by NILC, law enforcement officials from across the country released a letter they sent to Congressin which they opposed the so-called SAFE Act, currently pending in the House, which would essentially force local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. Law enforcement leaders said such efforts would undermine their community policing programs and crime-solving duties.

Hincapié also noted that, while change in California’s immigration policies did not come swiftly, NILC is “thrilled that Gov. Brown finally did the right thing, not only for the millions of immigrants and their families who have long suffered under ICE’s unjust enforcement practices, but for the entire state that benefits from the diverse and hard working population.”

As he signed the TRUST Act, the governor said he was not going to wait while Washington waffles on immigration. “If Congress takes a good look at the common sense approach applied in California, it will quit stalling and pass an immigration reform law with a path to citizenship this year,” Hincapié said.

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Governor Jerry Brown Signs Driver’s License Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 3, 2013

CONTACT:
Gebe Martinez, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com,703-731-9505

Inclusive Measure Puts California Back in the Driver’s Seat for Immigration Reform

Bill Signed by Governor Brown Will Improve Public Safety, Allow Immigrants to Apply for Licenses Regardless of Their Status

LOS ANGELES — California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 60, a driver’s license bill, into law earlier today. The measure, which will allow California residents who do not have proof that their presence in the U.S. is authorized to apply for a driver’s license, received bipartisan support in the California legislature. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“After many years of advocacy on this issue, including support from law enforcement leaders, businesses, insurance companies, labor, farm workers, legislators, and immigrant rights, civil rights, and faith-based organizations, Governor Jerry Brown has recognized the public safety benefits of allowing all Californians—regardless of immigration status—to apply for a state driver’s license. The Golden State will join ten other states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in understanding that, when all drivers can be tested, licensed, and insured, we’re better off as a community.

“The new law isn’t perfect. Markings on the license will put a driver who presents it at risk that police and others could assume that the person is living in this country without proper permission. These markings could lead to racial profiling or other discriminatory behavior. But the law includes helpful antidiscrimination and privacy protections that we plan to monitor to ensure that all residents can drive their children safely to school, to doctor’s appointments and work, to take care of other daily needs, and to continue contributing to the state.

“We firmly believe that all people living and laboring in California should be able to travel freely, without fear that a broken taillight may lead to deportation. This bill brings us a crucial step closer to achieving this vision.

“Our federal legislators and policymakers should follow in the footsteps of California, and seven other states that passed similar measures this year, by recognizing that immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, are integral members of our communities and economy. Like Governor Brown, we hope that this law sends a message to Congress to enact federal immigration reform, which will allow immigrants to fully participate in our democracy. These commonsense policies at the state and federal levels will benefit all of us.”

More information about immigrants’ access to driver’s licenses is available here.

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House Democrats Introduce Immigration Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 2, 2013

CONTACT:
Gebe Martinez, gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com,703-731-9505

Democrats Keep Momentum Going for Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON — Democrats from the House of Representatives today introduced a commonsense immigration reform bill that would create a road to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans, including young immigrants known as DREAMers.

The bill is anchored by two bipartisan proposals: the measure approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year that would overhaul the immigration system and include a path to citizenship for people who currently are undocumented, and a border security bill cosponsored by Republicans and Democrats and passed unanimously by the House Homeland Security Committee. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund:

“In the wake of the federal government shutdown, it is refreshing to see this Democratic bill that’s based on measures that enjoy strong bipartisan support. We applaud the House Democrats for stepping forward to introduce a bill that would create an immigration system that respects family unity and allows those who have dedicated their lives to improving the economy and our communities to fully participate in society.

“However, this bill is far from perfect. We remain concerned — as we’ve been with the Senate’s committee bill and the version that passed on the floor — that the ten- to thirteen-year road to citizenship is too long, is extremely narrow, and will be especially difficult for low-income immigrants. For example, immigrants who qualify for registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status — the first step toward citizenship under the Senate bill — would be allowed to live and work in the U.S. but would be denied access to programs paid for by their tax dollars.

“In a week when we are celebrating an unprecedented level of access to health care coverage created by the new health insurance marketplaces, we believe consideration should be given to allowing the immigrants who benefit from legalization to have access to affordable health care — reducing program costs for everyone — instead of requiring them to wait at least a decade before participating in Obamacare.

“This adjustment in the legislative proposals would make economic and moral sense, and preserve the principle that fundamental governmental assistance programs — student aid, health care, and nutrition assistance — should allow all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic or immigration status, to reach the first rung of the ladder of opportunity.

“This bill is a reminder that, in addition to the economic issues facing our nation, immigration reform is also a top priority for the country. At a time when Congress’s approval ratings are at an all-time low, this bill provides an opportunity for both parties to show the American people that they can, in fact, legislate. We call on Republicans to come to the table and support this bill or proffer a counteroffer that will benefit our communities and our country. The energy, urgency, and political will are here. Americans — of all backgrounds — should not have to wait any longer for reforms that would make our immigration system conform to our values. The time is now.”

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