Category Archives: September 2016

NY Dreamer Suing Government to Implement Obama Immigration Relief Heads to Court

September 22, 2016

Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Daniel Altschuler, Make the Road New York, [email protected], 917-494-5922
Susanna Evarts, Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Yale Law School, [email protected], 207-653-9499

NY Dreamer Suing Government to Implement Obama Immigration Relief Heads to Court

First federal court hearing held in lawsuit seeking order that Obama administration’s immigration program should proceed

NEW YORK, NY — Today, Martín Batalla Vidal, an immigrant New Yorker and Make the Road New York member who filed suit against the federal government to challenge a Texas federal court’s nationwide injunction stopping President Obama’s 2014 immigration relief initiatives, had his first appearance in court. Before the pre-motion conference began, immigrant New Yorkers, elected officials, and allies rallied outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall to show support for Mr. Batalla Vidal’s case and applaud his courage in coming forward to stand up for his community.

Batalla Vidal, a 26-year-old New York City resident who initially obtained a three-year work permit under the Obama administration’s 2014 immigration relief initiatives, later had his permit limited by one year when a federal judge in Texas, Andrew Hanen, issued a sweeping, nationwide preliminary injunction in Texas v. United States. Batalla Vidal’s case argues that Judge Hanen’s injunction should not apply in states like New York, as they were not party to the suit blocking the immigration initiatives, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). New York, along with fifteen other states and the District of Columbia, filed a joint brief in Texas v. U.S. that argued against the injunction and emphasized the benefits that DAPA and expanded DACA would have for their states.

Immigrant New Yorkers, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and New York City Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso rallied together outside Brooklyn’s Borough Hall before the hearing Thursday to show solidarity with Batalla Vidal and to express support for this case, which would create a path for the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA for millions of immigrants in New York and across the nation.

Batalla Vidal is represented by Make the Road New York (MRNY), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic (WIRAC) at Yale Law School.

“We stand proudly with Martín as he proceeds with this case, which is a light in the darkness for millions of immigrants like me,” said Magdalena Brito, a Make the Road New York member with two U.S.-citizen children, who would benefit from DAPA. “We hope the judge will rule correctly and permit expanded DACA and DAPA to move forward, which will help keep my family, and millions of families like mine, together and bring economic improvement to New York and dozens of other states.”

In 2015, the federal government relied on Judge Hanen’s injunction to wrongfully revoke or limit three-year work permits that had been issued to thousands of expanded-DACA recipients across the country, including Batalla Vidal. This case challenges the scope of Judge Hanen’s injunction, arguing that it should not apply to states like New York, which had not filed suit against the programs in the first place.

“Judge Hanen denied security and stability to thousands of New Yorkers without even hearing from them,” said Amit Jain, a law student intern in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “Martín is standing up to ensure that his voice is heard. We are thrilled to stand with him today.”

Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants, such as Batalla Vidal, 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 additional 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 country temporarily. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that new and renewing DACA applicants would be approved for three-year, 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 expanded DACA. In February 2015, Judge Hanen issued a nationwide injunction blocking both programs. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June of 2016 deadlocked 4-4, with no decision issued.

“An overly broad injunction has unjustly denied millions of immigrant families an opportunity to leave fear and uncertainty behind and move on with their lives,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center. “Thanks to our inspiring plaintiff, Martín, there’s now a chance that at least some of them will be able to get relief. We are grateful for his willingness to speak out for himself and others.”

Batalla Vidal’s home state of New York, and many others, have attested to the benefits of DACA and DAPA, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. Approximately 60 percent of individuals eligible for DAPA and expanded DACA live outside of states involved in the Texas case.

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NILC Responds to Obama Administration’s Policy Shift on Haitian Refugees

September 22, 2016

Juan Gastelum, [email protected], 213-375-3149

NILC Responds to Obama Administration’s Policy Shift on Haitian Refugees

LOS ANGELES — In a sudden policy shift, the Obama administration announced today that it will move to swiftly deport survivors of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake who have sought refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.

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

“Haiti’s massive earthquake in 2010 created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, and its impacts are still being felt today. With their country still reeling from the aftermath, it is unconscionable that the Obama administration would move to deport refugees who were displaced by this devastating natural disaster. Just days ago, President Obama was on the world stage talking about our moral obligation to help people around the world who have been displaced by unlivable conditions. These people don’t just come from oceans away—they also live here in our hemisphere.

It’s troubling that the administration has not learned from the criticism for how it has treated Central American families. Rather than continuing with its failed deterrence approach of detaining and deporting those seeking refuge in our country, the administration should consider granting these families humanitarian relief. The Obama administration should not turn its back on these families who have fought so hard to seek safety here. “

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Civil Rights Groups: House Hearing Just Another Anti-Immigrant Sideshow

September 21, 2016

Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, [email protected], 213-375-3149
Adam Luna, United We Dream, [email protected]
Carl Lipscombe, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, [email protected]

Civil Rights Groups: House Hearing Just Another Anti-Immigrant Sideshow

Political Leaders Should Move Past Xenophobic Rhetoric

WASHINGTON – As the House Judiciary Committee plans for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) oversight hearing with ICE Director Sarah Saldaña tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET, we call on those looking to be leaders on immigration to cast aside harmful and xenophobic rhetoric that divides our communities and instead focus on realistic, humane and just reforms. House Judiciary Committee members, along with Ms. Saldaña, have a long history of using irresponsible rhetoric that paints our country’s diverse and vibrant immigrant communities in a sweeping and denigrating light and ignores their enormous social and economic contributions.

Avideh Moussavian, Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center: “Anyone serious about ICE oversight should be asking why ICE is criminalizing immigrant communities through aggressive tactics like home raids that create a ripple effect of fear. Why is ICE targeting vulnerable populations of women and children seeking asylum in the U.S. and flagrantly violating due process by denying immigrants any meaningful opportunity to present their case to a judge? Meaningful oversight means ensuring that ICE is held accountable for complying with civil rights laws, and that there is transparency for how the agency operates.”

Carl Lipscombe, Policy & Legal Manager, Black Alliance for Just Immigration: “ICE policies are destroying black and brown immigrant communities. On one hand, you’ve got lawmakers on all sides calling for criminal justice reform, and the Department of Justice saying it rejects destructive labels like “felon” and “convict” and that it wants to cut ties with prison profiteers. In alarming contrast, DHS continues to incarcerate immigrants at record levels and promote damaging stereotypes about our communities.”

Greisa Martinez Rosas, Advocacy Director, United We Dream: “Our country needs fewer deportations and more relief on immigration. Instead, this Congressional committee is demanding more deportations and less relief. Director Saldaña leads an agency that is guilty of abusing our communities. Director Saldaña and her agency should be held accountable for this abuse but instead, Congressional leaders are berating her for not separating families quickly enough.”

Tomorrow’s hearing will be streamed on


Arizona Attorney General Issues Opinion Establishing Constitutional Standards for Enforcement of Key SB 1070 Provisions, Ending Lawsuit

September 15, 2016

Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-492-8540, [email protected]
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 212-284-7347, [email protected]
Sandra Hernandez, MALDEF, 213-629-2512 ext. 129, [email protected]
Armando Carmona, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, 951-966-6500, [email protected]

Arizona Attorney General Issues Opinion Establishing Constitutional Standards for Enforcement of Key SB 1070 Provisions, Ending Lawsuit

Immigrants’ and civil rights groups vow to monitor enforcement of “show me your papers” law

PHOENIX — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office today issued an opinion establishing guidelines for the implementation of two remaining provisions of the state’s 2010 racial profiling law, SB 1070.

With the opinion, the organizations that brought Valle del Sol et al. v. Whiting et al. have agreed to conclude this challenge to SB 1070, which the courts have largely rendered unenforceable.

Every criminal provision of SB 1070 has been blocked, and today’s attorney general opinion, which will be sent to law enforcement agencies across the state, sets down narrow guidelines for how two remaining provisions of the law, sections 2(B) and 2(D), can be enforced. The opinion dictates that officers may not use race or ethnicity to develop reasonable suspicion that someone is unlawfully present in the United States, may not stop people solely to investigate immigration status, and may not hold people in order to investigate immigration status if it will extend the stop beyond the time necessary to address the state law basis for the contact.

“Arizona blazed a trail of mean-spirited policies intended to starve and isolate immigrants six years ago, and many states followed this flawed path,” said MALDEF’s National Senior Counsel Victor Viramontes. “After millions of dollars spent on lawyers, multiple federal decisions blocking key provisions of the law, and finally a state-issued opinion severely constraining local law enforcement, Arizona’s policies have failed to serve anyone living in Arizona.”

“This last step in the SB 1070 litigation makes it clear that what the legislature intended—and much of the immigration enforcement that police in Arizona previously engaged in—is unlawful,” said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The attorney general’s legal opinion makes it clear that no one can be detained based on suspected immigration status, and no one can be targeted because of their race. Officers who do not pay scrupulous attention to the limits of their authority will be held accountable, just as Sheriff Arpaio has been held accountable.”

“Thanks to the inspiring people who brought this lawsuit, the state of Arizona is finally making a public commitment to permanently uphold basic civil rights protections threatened by its misguided 2010 anti-immigrant law,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center. “While this important agreement marks an end to a hard-fought legal battle, we will continue to be vigilant to ensure that local law enforcement doesn’t violate these important protections. A recognition of the rights of communities of color on paper is not enough until it is reflected in the lived experience of all Arizonans.”

Plaintiffs in the case include Valle del Sol, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Service Employees International Union, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, Southside Presbyterian Church of Tucson, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, Arizona South Asians for Safe Families, the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona, Border Action Network, the Arizona Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, and Tonatierra Community Development Institute.

Counsel on the case include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Ortega Law Firm, P.C., Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Altshuler Berzon LLP.

The Arizona Attorney General opinion filed today is available here:

The joint agreement to end Valle del Sol et al. v. Whiting et al. is available here:

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Immigrant and Civil Rights Groups Challenge Arizona Policy Denying Driver’s Licenses to Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Immigrants

September 13, 2016

Juan Gastelum, NILC, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
Sandra Hernandez, MALDEF, 213-629-2512, ext. 129, [email protected]

Immigrant and Civil Rights Groups Challenge Arizona Policy Denying Driver’s Licenses to Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Immigrants

Class-action lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of five immigrants who received deferred action and work permits

PHOENIX — Immigrant and civil rights groups have filed a legal challenge to Arizona’s policy of denying certain lawfully present immigrants access to driver’s licenses.

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the Ortega Law Firm filed a federal class-action lawsuit in Phoenix on behalf of five individuals, including a mother of two who is currently battling cancer. All five individuals received deferred action and have work permits. Four await processing of visas for survivors of domestic violence and other serious crimes. Another has deferred action to care for her child with spina bifida.

The lawsuit alleges that Arizona’s policy, which fails to provide driver’s licenses to all deferred action recipients, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Federal law prohibits arbitrary and unsupported discrimination against groups of people; there is no basis for denying licenses to recipients of deferred action.

“Arizona is unjustly preventing some of its most vulnerable residents from driving lawfully, impeding their ability to live safely apart from their abusers and hindering their prospects for a better life,” said Nicholas Espíritu, a staff attorney at NILC. “As we’ve seen, these discriminatory policies not only run afoul of the law, they’re also bad for public safety and well-being.”

“Arizona continues to double down on its anti-immigrant campaigns that directly harm Latinos in all walks of life,” stated Victor Viramontes, MALDEF’s National Senior Counsel. “Like before, a federal court will have to tell Arizona that it cannot discriminate against its own residents.”

Before 2012, all individuals with federal work authorization were able to obtain a driver’s license in Arizona. However, after President Obama’s announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order mandating that DACA recipients be denied driver’s licenses. Brewer’s policy was eventually struck down by a federal judge.

Arizona officials, however, are now denying driver’s licenses to other immigrants who, like DACA recipients, are federally authorized to be present in the United States, according to the lawsuit.

Among the women challenging the state’s policy is Maria del Carmen Cruz Hernandez, a single mother of two who is battling cancer. Hernandez received deferred action and a work permit last year but was denied a driver’s license this year. Without a license, Cruz has found it hard to attend necessary medical treatment. Moreover, she has struggled economically. Cruz has also lost out on several employment opportunities that would pay more than her current job cleaning houses, because they would require her to drive.

“I need a driver’s license primarily for work and to live my daily life,” said Cruz. “Even regular errands take a significant amount of time when you’re limited to commuting by bus. That’s time I could be spending with my family.”

Another plaintiff, Guadalupe Nava, attempted to get a driver’s license three times using a work permit she received after applying for a visa for domestic abuse survivors. Each time she was turned away. As a single mother of two small girls, Nava has had to drive without a license on occasion to keep up with her job and family responsibilities.

The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in this case, Osaria, et al. v. Ducey, et al., is available at

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