Category Archives: September 2011

Emergency Request to Block Provisions of H.B. 56

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 29, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

Emergency Request to Block Provisions of H.B. 56

Today, the coalition of civil rights organizations that filed HICA et al. v. Bentley, et al., the class-action challenge to Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, filed a notice of appeal and an emergency request that the district court temporarily block several provisions not previously enjoined by the court’s orders of September 28 while the decision is appealed. The coalition sought this temporary relief from the district court to prevent enforcement of these provisions pending their emergency appeal to the 11th Circuit court of appeals.

If allowed to go into effect, the provisions the coalition asked the court to block in its emergency request would:

  • Chill children’s access to schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents.
  • Mandate all immigrants to carry their “papers” and present them upon request.
  • Authorize police to demand “papers” showing immigration or citizenship status during routine traffic stops.
  • Prohibit undocumented immigrants from entering into business transactions in the state, which could prevent them from receiving public utilities such as water and sewage services.
  • Prohibit the enforcement of contracts if either of the participants in the contract is undocumented, such that child support, rental, loan and other agreements would become unenforceable.

Provisions that would have criminalized the solicitation of work and provisions that criminalized transporting undocumented friends and family were blocked by yesterday’s order.

View for copies of the emergency request and notice of appeal.

# # #

 

Share

Court’s Ruling Undermines American Values

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 28, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org
Marion Steinfels, SPLC, (334) 956-8417; marion.steinfels@splcenter.org
Vesna Jaksic, ACLU national, (212) 284-7347 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Olivia Turner, ACLU, Alabama, (334) 265-2754 ext. 204; oturner@aclualabama.org
Laura Rodriguez, MALDEF, (310) 956-2425; lrodriguez@maldef.org
Sin Yen Ling, Asian Law Caucus, (415) 896-1701; sinyenL@asianlawcaucus.org
Madeline Friedman, LatinoJustice PRLDEF: 212-739-7581, 201-600-1397 or mfriedman@latinojustice.org

Decision Out-of-Step with Previous Rebukes to State Anti-Immigrant Laws

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The federal court’s ruling today, in HICA et al. v Robert Bentley, et al., blocked significant elements of the nation’s most extreme anti-immigrant law but also left large parts in place, undermining the most fundamental American values of fairness and equality and devastating thousands across the state including citizens, lawful immigrants, and immigrants without lawful status alike.

Despite the fact that courts in other states have rebuked similar laws, today’s decision reaffirms the state’s ability to authorize police to demand “papers” showing citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops. The court also refused to block the chilling affect the law will have on children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the coalition of civil rights groups challenging the law have vowed to appeal today’s decision.

“The Alabama court has permitted provisions of the law to take effect that require local police, and even school teachers, to become de facto immigration agents,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel of NILC. “Allowing these portions of the law to take effect will cause irreparable harm to communities of color in Alabama, and we will take every legal action necessary to ensure that these provisions ultimately will be stripped from Alabama’s lawbooks.”

“Today is a dark day for Alabama,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “This decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”

“While the court has blocked some extremely problematic provisions from going into effect, thereby allowing Alabamians to continue engaging in everyday activities such as seeking employment and giving rides to neighbors, we are deeply concerned by the decision to allow some unconstitutional provisions to stand, “ said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Laws that require police to demand ‘papers’ from people who they suspect appear undocumented, encourage racial profiling, threaten public safety and undermine American values have no place in our society.”

“Alabama’s decision today condones racial profiling, and harms children by permitting the inquiry of their immigration status upon school enrollment,” said Sin Yen Ling, staff attorney with Asian Law Caucus. “The Court today has strayed from protecting the civil rights of all Alabamians.”

“Given the breadth of this decision, it promises to open a new and ugly chapter on race relations in the United States,” said Foster Maer of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Here we have a court saying that it’s okay for a State to discriminate against Latinos and other immigrants in such key areas as the right to get an education, to be free from unreasonable searches, to enforce contracts, to access the government. Latinos across the country understand what this decision means and are going to be horrified by it.”

“Although the Court did block provisions discriminating against day laborers and immigrant college students, the people of Alabama will be subjected to racial profiling, to requests to show their papers, and to immigration inquiries in elementary schools. We will appeal to prevent these injustices,” said Victor Viramontes of Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“Today’s decision marks a setback for civil rights in Alabama,” said Erin Oshiro, senior staff attorney at the Asian American Justice Center. “We are deeply concerned that Alabama’s 46,000 Asian Americans, which includes U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, as well as others will now be subject to racial profiling and harassment.”

“One bright spot in today’s largely outrageous decision was the judge’s finding that the anti-day labor provisions of HB 56 are likely unconstitutional. This finding represents the second legal victory in as many weeks for day laborers who work under difficult circumstances each day to feed their families, strengthen their communities, and–as this decision shows–defend basic rights for us all,” said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “The court’s decision to enjoin the anti-solicitation provisions of HB 56 is a victory for all who enjoy the freedom of speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It serves as a reminder that yesterdays “criminals” sometimes emerge as today’s civil rights champions. We all owe a debt of gratitude to day laborers- and to all immigrants in Alabama- who are now in a historic fight for the rights of us all.”

The civil rights coalition participating in this challenge include Mary Bauer, Sam Brooke, Andrew Turner, Michelle Lapointe, Dan Werner, and Naomi Tsu of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Cecillia D. Wang, Katherine Desormeau, Kenneth J. Sugarman, Andre Segura, Elora Mukherjee, Omar C. Jadwat, Lee Gelernt, Michael K. T. Tan of the American Civil Liberties Union and Allison Neal and Freddy Rubio of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama; Linton Joaquin, Karen Tumlin, Tanya Broder, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Melissa S. Keaney of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); Sin Yen Ling of the Asian Law Caucus; Erin E. Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center; Foster Maer, Ghita Schwarz and Diana Sen of Latino Justice; Nina Perales, Victor Viramontes, Martha Gomez, and Amy Pedersen of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); Chris Newman and Jessica Karp of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, G. Brian Spears, Ben Bruner, Herman Watson, Jr., Eric Artrip and Rebekah Keith McKinney.

# # #

 

Share

E-Verify Legislation Passes Out of Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 22, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

Bill Would Force Unfunded Mandate on Small Businesses, Lead to 770,000 Job Losses

WASHINGTON, DC — After a chaotic and lengthy markup session, Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) mandatory E-Verify legislation, the Legal Workers Act, passed out of committee Wednesday afternoon. The party-line vote clears the way for the measure to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Experts and advocates on both sides of the aisle have called Smith’s bill a jobs killer at a time when our economy can least afford it. Below is a statement from Tyler Moran, policy director for the National Immigration Law Center:

“During yesterday’s proceedings, Rep. Lamar Smith and his anti-immigrant colleague Steve King (R-IA) made it clear that mass deportation, and not jobs creation, was on their agenda. Despite reams of evidence that E-Verify would burden small businesses and workers alike and result in job loss for hundreds of thousands of US workers, they ignored the facts and led the way to pass this misguided legislation out of committee.

“Legislators on both sides of the aisle should take note: workers, businesses, and our economy need more than job killer legislation masqueraded as job creation. We will not accept anti-immigrant efforts to impose unfunded mandates on small businesses and force people to wade through miles of bureaucratic red tape at a time of stagnant growth and widespread unemployment. Leaders of the House of Representatives have a choice: they can continue to follow an extremist, anti-immigrant, job killing agenda, or they can focus much-needed efforts on bringing our sputtering economy back to life.”

# # #

 

Share

S-Comm Should Be Shelved, Not Tweaked

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 16, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

S-Comm Should Be Shelved, Not Tweaked

WASHINGTON, DC — Amid a flurry of resignations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advisory Council Task Force today released its report and recommendations on Secure Communities, a fingerprint sharing immigration enforcement program that has eroded public trust in law enforcement. The recommendations were not signed by several of the task force’s 20 members, some of whom called for the suspension of the program in order to correct fundamental flaws. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today’s report unsurprisingly outlines several major and systemic flaws with Secure Communities. Although the task force members rightly identified many of this program’s detractions, which sever crucial ties between communities of color and law enforcement and decimate public trust between immigrant communities and the Obama administration, they failed to make the crucial call to terminate this harmful program. We commend those task force members who chose to resign rather than add their names to this incomplete report and endorse DHS’s repeated attempts to tinker with a program that is beyond repair. Unless Secure Communities is halted, it will continue to wreak havoc on the communities many of the members of the task force care about.

“The task force identified a few substantive recommendations that would reduce the number of people caught in Secure Communities’ dragnet. Unfortunately, past experience shows that when it comes to this pernicious immigration enforcement program, such recommendations go under advisement, and are never actually implemented.

“Ultimately, even major changes to Secure Communities will not restore public trust in law enforcement. The Obama administration must abandon this fundamentally flawed program. Enforcement-only immigration policies may score political points among a few voters, but it is already leading to anger and apathy among many voters who recognize these policies come at the price of community engagement and public safety. We urge DHS and its task force members to instead expend their time, intellect, and efforts on ending our country’s mass immigration enforcement-only strategies and work to increase prosperity and true safety in our communities.”

View the task force’s report.

# # #

 

Share

Rep. Smith Kicks Off Debate on Bill Requiring E-Verify

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 15, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

Anti-Immigrant Legislator Kicks Off Debate on Mandatory E-Verify

WASHINGTON, DC — Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) today kicked off debate on the Legal Workforce Act, legislation that would force all business owners to run employees through E-Verify, an error-ridden government database, to determine work authorization. Those who are erroneously flagged as unauthorized to work in the United States spend hours navigating governmental bureaucracies to amend their records or are terminated. Experts estimate that at least 770,000 workers will face termination if mandatory E-Verify efforts are not repealed. Below is a statement from Tyler Moran, policy director, National Immigration Law Center:

“Lamar Smith has dressed up his mass-deportation agenda as a jobs bill but the facts speak for themselves: E-Verify will force hundreds of thousands of American workers to wade through miles of red tape or, ultimately, lose their jobs.

“It is ironic that what Chairman Smith is proposing is in direct conflict with Republican leadership’s agenda of deregulation, job creation and keeping small businesses afloat. After this bill passes the committee, Speaker Boehner has a choice: he can go down Smith’s divisive path by advocating legislation that would ultimately lead to job loss in districts across the country, or, he can use these important moments in the Congressional calendar to focus on job creation.”

# # #

 

Share

Lamar Smith Holds Hearing on Job-Killer Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 8, 2011

CONTACT:
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org

Texas Republican Touts Legislation That Would Strip Workers of Their Rights, Does Nothing to Bring Economy Back on Track

WASHINGTON, DC — In the face of mounting opposition to his proposal to make use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system mandatory, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) today held a hearing on his recently introduced “American Specialty Agriculture Act,” a bill that would strip farm workers of their labor rights as well as bring thousands of new guest workers into the U.S. while doing nothing for the undocumented workers currently picking our crops. Below is a statement from Tyler Moran, policy director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Lamar Smith’s American Specialty Agriculture Act is a misguided attempt to slow opposition to his bill that would make E-Verify mandatory. Smith is right to recognize that his E-Verify bill would have a devastating impact on agriculture, but the agriculture bill does nothing to solve the problem. And while he claims that both bills would create jobs, he has no evidence to support that claim. But we do know that the American Specialty Agriculture Act would bring in 500,000 new guest workers a year, strip agricultural workers of basic labor rights, and do absolutely nothing to help the American worker.

“Smith has proven that he is concerned about the American worker only when it helps advance his mass deportation agenda. President Obama today will lay out a plan to create new jobs in this country. California — the country’s largest agricultural player — has legislation pending that would address the needs of agricultural workers. These are the types of discussions and legislation we need to get our economy back on track and Americans back to work.”

# # #

 

Share

Report Finds Due Process Abuses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2011

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org 
Jennifer Lee Koh, Western State University College of Law: (714) 459-1136; jkoh@wsulaw.edu
Jayashri Srikantiah, Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic: (650) 724-2442; jsrikantiah@law.stanford.edu

“Deportation Without Due Process” Shines Light on Government “Stipulated Order of Removal” Program, Finds Evidence of Misuse

FULLERTON, Calif. — Using a little-known government program, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has pushed nearly 160,000 immigrants — many with deep ties to the United States — through an expedited deportation process, sometimes without adequately informing them of their right to a day in court, according to a new analysis of thousands of pages of released government documents.

The report, written by attorneys and law professors at Stanford Law School, the National Immigration Law Center, and Western State University College of Law, determined that DHS agents administering the program provided legally inaccurate portrayals of the opportunities to remain in the United States in order to boost deportation numbers, even though judges and others involved in the program voiced their concerns about how the program short-circuited individuals’ rights.

Authors procured the previously unreleased documents, which included emails, memos, and data, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. According to the report, the documents revealed evidence that agents involved with the program routinely provided inaccurate and misleading information to detainees in deportation proceedings to coerce them into signing “stipulated orders of removal.” Such an order waives a noncitizen’s right to a day in court in exchange for speedy deportation. At least one immigration judge involved in the program determined that, “the waiver is not knowing in almost all cases.”

“The stipulated removal program has hit some of the most powerless members of our society the hardest:  poor immigrants who are in immigration detention, who don’t have lawyers, and who are facing minor, civil immigration charges.  Some of these noncitizens might actually have qualified to apply for lawful immigration status,” said Jennifer Lee Koh, lead author of the report and assistant professor of law at Western State University College of Law. “Unfortunately, the documents reveal a government agency that is willing to cut corners around immigrants’ constitutional due process rights in the name of boosting deportation numbers.”

Among the most troubling documents obtained through the lawsuit is a Spanish-language script, apparently used by agents administrating the program, to convince immigrants to sign the stipulated order of removal. The script, which is replete with grammatical errors and legal inaccuracies, erroneously informs immigrants that the “only” way to “fix” their papers is through certain family relationships and openly discourages immigrants from taking their cases to court.

“This report confirms what attorneys working in detention centers have heard for years: non-citizens, especially those with limited English skills, are pressured into signing documents without being informed of the severe consequences of their actions,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center and co-author of the report. “Such activity flies in the face of our constitutionally-protected due process rights. Sadly, the DHS seems to have determined that flagrant disregard for the Constitution is a fair price to pay for the expedient expulsion of thousands of members of our communities.”

The report shows that the program, which began nearly a decade ago and dramatically expanded in 2003, has been encouraged by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers at various levels of the organization. According to documents reviewed by the authors of the report, field offices were encouraged to use the program to boost deportation numbers and given incentives to increase the number of stipulated orders of removal signed by detainees in their jurisdictions.

“The stipulated removal program is a misguided solution to the U.S. government’s practice of over-detaining immigrants,” said Jayashri Srikantiah, professor of law and director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School and co-author of the report. “The Obama administration should reconsider its detention practices instead of pressuring detainees to sign their own deportation orders.  Due process requires more than a coerced choice between continued detention and giving up one’s day in court.”

The documents released show evidence that the noncitizens ensnared by the program were not given accurate information about their rights or current immigration law, and the documents reviewed suggest there are no policies preventing administrators from offering stipulated orders of removal to juveniles, the mentally ill, or other vulnerable populations. In 96% of all cases under the program analyzed by the authors of the report, immigrants did not have access to a lawyer, who could have provided immigrants with an accurate description of the often permanent ramifications of signing a stipulated order of removal. Authors propose a variety of policy recommendations to prevent future misuse of the program, including mandating that those who sign stipulated orders of removal hold brief meetings with judges to discuss the consequences of participation in this program, and expanding access to legal information and attorneys.

The FOIA lawsuit was filed by Stanford Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Southern California, and the National Lawyers Guild-San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. The documents procured are available at http://blogs.law.stanford.edu/stipulatedremoval/.

The Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (IRC) at Stanford Law School is committed to protecting the human rights of all noncitizens regardless of immigration status. Clinic Director Jayashri Srikantiah and Anna R. Welch, the clinic’s Cooley Godward Kronish Fellow, supervise students on direct services and legal advocacy projects. Students in the clinic represent individual immigrants in a variety of settings and since the clinic’s inception, students have sought humanitarian relief from deportation on behalf of noncitizens with criminal convictions and assisted immigrant survivors of domestic violence in gaining lawful status in the United States. The clinic has also conducted legal advocacy on behalf of institutional clients in a wide range of areas, including challenging prolonged immigration detention, protecting the due process rights of immigrants in deportation proceedings, and broadening the access of immigrant survivors to much-needed legal services. The clinic’s webpage is www.law.stanford.edu/clinics/irc.

Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center envisions a society in which all people — regardless of race, gender, income level, or immigration status — have the opportunity to live freely, work safely, and thrive peacefully. The organization’s advocates and attorneys use a variety of tools, including policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to achieve this vision.

Western State University College of Law (www.wsulaw.edu) was founded in 1966 and is the oldest law school in Orange County with more than 11,000 alumni. Located in the heart of Southern California, Western State University offers both full- and part-time programs, taught by a dedicated and highly motivated faculty who serve as scholars and mentors both inside and outside of the classroom. The Western State University College of Law Immigration Clinic, provides practical training to law students, serves low-income noncitizens in a range of immigration matters, and provides advocacy on immigrants’ rights issues.

The report is available as a free download, in PDF format.

Listen to the telephonic press briefing about the report (MP3).

# # #

 

Share
111