Category Archives: Uncategorized

What Does the DAPA Rescission Mean and What Implications Does It Have for DACA?

What Does the DAPA Rescission Mean and What Implications Does It Have for DACA?

By Ignacia Rodriguez, NILC immigration policy advocate
June 23, 2017

On June 15, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly signed a memo rescinding the Obama administration’s November 2014 memorandum that announced a deferred action program for parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA),  as well as expansions of  DACA. The DACA expansion would have covered more people who came to the  U.S. as children and provided all DACA recipients protection from deportation and work permits for three years instead of the current two.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release and a set of frequently asked questions, along with the memo.

So what does the rescission of the DAPA memo mean for DAPA and the expansion of DACA?

  • DAPA, a program never implemented due to a court order, will never be implemented unless a new memorandum re-announcing the program is issued and that’s impractical to expect from this administration.
  • The rescission of the memo also ends the expansions of DACA, which would have greatly improved the lives of those previously excluded from the 2012 DACA program due to the age requirement and/or the continuous presence in the U.S. since 2007 requirement.
  • DHS emphasized that people who have secured three-year work permits (obtained between November 2014 and February 2015) don’t have to return their work permits and can thus wait to renew their DACA and work permits until closer to the expirations dates. Some have interpreted that to mean that DACA will still be available until at least February 2018 because if you received your three-year work permit in February 2015 it expires in February 2018. However, as we’ve learned over the last six months, nothing is certain with this administration, and things could change at any time.
  • In terminating DAPA, the Trump administration intends to end the Texas v. U.S. However, they have asked for an extension until June 29 to file their status report. It is to be determined if the court will grant an extension or what would happen after that, but the case continues until the judge orders otherwise.

What does the rescission of the DAPA memo mean for the 2012 DACA program?

  • By the morning of June 16, rumors were circulating in the media that the memo and accompanying materials signaled that DACA was safe indefinitely. However, these were only rumors. The memo and related materials only state that the decision does NOT affect DACA and that people can continue to apply and renew their DACA. There was no affirmative promise by the administration to keep DACA indefinitely. The White House quickly clarified that the president has not made a final determination about whether to continue or discontinue DACA in the future. TheNew York Times subsequently republished its original article on the topic, clarifying that the DACA program is still under review.
  • June 15 also marked the fifthanniversary of the DACA announcement. Some people wondered why DHS chose June 15 to make a decision on DAPA. Was it to remind us of the vulnerability of DACA? Was it to minimize our celebration of this victory? Or was it just that they had a court deadline of June 15 and inadvertently made the decision on the same day as the DACA anniversary? Given the court deadline, we can’t read too much into why they chose this date to make a decision.

We will continue to monitor and report on developments going forward, especially because it’s not at all clear what the future holds for DACA. Even with the 2012 DACA memorandum in place, we’ve seen the Trump administration targeting DACA recipients, such as Daniel Ramirez, Juan Manuel Montes, Dany Vargas, and others, and the hateful rhetoric spewed by government officials has emboldened some immigration agents to arbitrarily target immigrant communities, including peoplewith DACA.

We also will be keeping an eye on the processing of DACA applications. The high number of DACA approvals since January (over 107,000 renewal approvals and 17,000 initial approvals), were surprising, and some assumed they all happened under the Trump administration.  However, these numbers don’t really signal how the current administration will treat DACA cases going forward, given that those statistics captured a period that overlapped with President Obama’s last few weeks in office. The high number could have resulted from DACA renewal applicants applying early out of concern that Trump would end DACA immediately upon entering office, or it could be part of the cyclical nature of DACA renewals. It also may have been a combination of both. We’ll have a better sense of the Trump administration’s processing of DACA applications when the next set of USCIS data (covering April through June) is released.

In the meantime, please refer back regularly to our Frequently Asked Questions page for the most up to date information and recommendations for applicants and DACA recipients.

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Plyler v. Doe Decision Must Be Honored and Protected

On Plyler v. Doe’s 35th Anniversary, This Landmark Supreme Court Decision Must Be Honored and Protected

By Ignacia Rodriguez, NILC immigration policy advocate
June 15, 2017

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, the landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional for a state to deny students access to public elementary or secondary education based on their immigration status.

As someone who was undocumented for 19 years and who benefited greatly from a public education, I’ve benefited tremendously from the decision in Plyler. I’ll be forever grateful to those who defended my right to an education and am proud to be among those who will continue fighting to maintain this right for others.

Despite Plyler’s long history, some people in this country continue to want to eliminate immigrant children’s access to a basic education. In 1994, California voters approved Proposition 187, which in part would have prohibited undocumented children from accessing public K–12 schools. Prop 187 also would have required schools to notify federal immigration authorities of students they believed to be undocumented. These provisions were never implemented, however, because the courts struck down virtually all of Prop 187’s provisions.

In 1998, then–California governor Pete Wilson came to El Rincon Elementary School, where I was in fifth grade. Parents were notified, because the governor’s choice to visit our school was assumed to be very exciting. But for some of us it was mostly scary. My mom, when she heard about Wilson’s impending visit, told me to stay as far away from him as I could. I remembered having seen him on Univision news and in commercials. On the day he visited, lots of my fellow students were having their pictures taken with him, but I stayed as far back in the auditorium as I could. I felt like I was in danger, but I was too young at the time to articulate why. I wasn’t actually conscious of the fact that he was trying to get me kicked out of elementary school because of my immigration status.

I relate my own experience simply to show that despite their young age, children are aware at some level of what’s going on in the broader culture, and they internalize it even if they don’t have the words to describe it. I’m turning 30 this year, and I still remember viscerally how I felt when Wilson visited my elementary school.

That’s why it’s important to create a safe space for all students in schools. At NILC, we are ready and willing to push back against any attempts to hinder the effects of Plyler and also to work with partners to create a safe space for all students, regardless of their immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or religion.

If you’d like to join us, here are some materials on how you can help make schools safe spaces:

– Check out Jess Hanson’s recent blog post, “School Settings are Sensitive Locations that Should Be Off-Limits to Immigration Enforcement,” to learn more about why schools should actually be regarded as sensitive locations, as well as the current state of law, guidance, and on-the-ground practice of immigration enforcement related to school settings.

– Encourage your school to become a sanctuary school/campus safe zone. It’s up to your school to define what that means, but the idea is, if possible, to work with students, parents, school board members, teachers, and school staff to identify ways that the school can create an environment that fosters learning without anyone on campus having to fear what would happen if immigration agents were to show up. For model resolution language, see www.nilc.org/campus-safe-zones-language-k-12/.

– Check out E4FC’s recent publication “Understanding the Sanctuary School and Safe Zone Movement: A Quick Guide for Educators.”

– The Immigrant Legal Resource Center also has a guide for how schools can support immigrant families: “Help for Immigrant Families: Guidance for Schools.”

– Be on the lookout for a practice advisory on the extent to which both K–12 schools and colleges can legally protect their students from immigration enforcement on campus. It will likely be published and available on NILC’s website in late June or July.

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Muslim Ban 2.0: What Happens Next?

Muslim Ban 2.0: What Happens Next?

The Supreme Court’s action of
June 26, 2017, is explained HERE.
By Esther Sung, NILC staff attorney
June 9, 2017

Wondering what happens next in our Muslim ban case, IRAP v. Trump? Here’s everything you need to know, from the recent decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, to the Trump administration’s appeal of that decision, and what the Supreme Court could do next.

This is a case brought by HIAS and the International Refugee Assistance Project, who are represented by NILC, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the ACLU of Maryland.

What happened at the Fourth Circuit?

The Fourth Circuit is the first federal appeals court to hear and issue a decision on a lawsuit brought against President Trump’s second Muslim-ban executive order, the one he signed on March 6, 2017. The Fourth Circuit heard arguments in IRAP v. Trump in an initial en banc hearing. This means that instead of a panel of just three judges hearing and deciding the case immediately after it was appealed from the federal district court in Maryland, all the judges in the Fourth Circuit, minus two who recused themselves, heard the case.

Of the thirteen judges who heard the case, ten voted to affirm the district court’s preliminary injunction, and three dissented from the majority opinion.

The ten judges who voted to affirm found that the March 6 executive order violates the U.S. Constitution—and that it “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” Three judges, in concurring opinions, provided several reasons why the executive order also violates the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The judges who dissented, on the other hand, argued that the court should show deference to the national security justifications the administration made for having issued the executive order.

Now what is the Trump administration asking the Supreme Court to do?

Late on the night of June 1, 2017, the administration filed papers asking the Supreme Court to “stay” the injunction issued by the federal court in Maryland and another injunction that was issued by a federal court in Hawaii—in other words, to lift both injunctions and allow the Muslim-ban executive order to go into full effect. The Maryland court’s injunction currently prevents section 2(c) of the executive order—the section that creates the Muslim ban (also known as the “travel ban”)—from taking effect.

The Hawaii court’s injunction is broader and currently prevents sections 2 and 6—which include the executive order’s refugee ban and reduction in refugee admissions for FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000—from taking effect. The administration’s request regarding the Hawaii injunction is unusual because the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the Hawaii district, has not yet issued an opinion on its validity.

In a separate filing, the administration also asked the Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari in the Maryland case, which would enable the Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding the injunction of section 2(c) of the executive order. Section 2(c) bans for 90 days the entry into the U.S. of nationals of six designated countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to allow expedited briefing on both these requests because it wants the Court to decide them before it takes its summer recess at the end of June.

What happens next at the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court has already allowed for expedited briefing on the administration’s requests and has ordered the plaintiffs/appellees to respond to the administration’s filings by 3 p.m. ET, Monday, June 12.

To grant the administration’s request for a stay of the Maryland and Hawaii injunctions and allow the executive order to go into full effect, five justices would need to vote in favor of a stay. The justices can issue their decision on the administration’s stay application at any time after the plaintiffs/appellees file their response on June 12.

To grant the administration’s request for a writ of certiorari, only four justices would need to vote in favor of granting certiorari. The justices will likely decide the request during one of several remaining previously scheduled conferences in June and issue a decision after that, likely at the same time it releases opinions in other cases on the Court’s docket.

No Muslim ban ever!

The Fourth Circuit, like several other courts across the country, found that the executive order unconstitutionally disfavors Muslims and is clearly motivated by unconstitutional discriminatory intent. The majority opinion and concurrences were a victory for the American public and our democracy, and a reminder that no one—not even the president—is above the Constitution. NILC stands ready to continue the fight against the president and his politics of hate in the highest court in the land.

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A Simple Way to Resist the Trump Anti-Immigrant Agenda? Refuse to Pay for It

A Simple Way to Resist the Trump Anti-Immigrant Agenda? Refuse to Pay for It

By Jackie Vimo, NILC economic justice policy analyst
June 1, 2017

With so much news coming out of the White House since late January, it can be challenging to keep track of all the ways the Trump administration is attacking immigrants and working families. However, it’s crucial that we pay close attention to one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of American families that this nation has ever faced: the devastating cuts the president’s proposed budget contains that are intended to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and to fund a massive deportation force that will tear families apart and spread fear across communities nationwide.

The federal budget process may seem overwhelming and unintelligible to many people outside Washington, DC, but it is more important than ever that taxpayers speak out to let Congress know that we will not allow our tax dollars to be used to fund Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda at the expense of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Congress controls the purse strings for the funds that the president requires to enact his agenda, and our best hope to defeat his proposals lies in telling Congress to deny him our tax dollars. Instead of building walls and spreading fear, Congress should be funding programs to create jobs, build a strong health care system, and educate our next generation.

Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, released last Tuesday, threatens to decimate crucial economic supports for low- and middle-income families. The proposed budget slashes funding for Medicaid by nearly half over the next ten years, cuts food stamps by nearly 30 percent, breaks his promise to protect programs for the disabled because it cuts $72 billion from Social Security programs, cuts Environmental Protection Agency funding by a third, ends all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and eliminates programs to help kids afford college.

Trump’s budget uses these cuts to pay for his anti-immigrant agenda, including increased funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is currently under fire for fiscal mismanagement and allegations of agent misconduct. This budget is a “Robin Hood in reverse” that steals money from the nation’s vulnerable communities to fill the pockets of millionaires and corporations. It promotes policies that will scapegoat immigrants and terrorize communities by flooding neighborhoods with immigration agents operating under inadequate government oversight.

The Trump budget asks taxpayers to allocate $4.5 billion on top of the $19 billion we already spend on immigration enforcement to fund the president’s plans to build an ineffective and xenophobic wall and to deport millions of immigrants, tearing apart families and communities. Most of this funding would go to hire 1,000 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and 500 hundred new Border Patrol officers, and to build 74 miles of wall on the southern border.

DHS is already struggling to hire agents that the agency already has funding for, partly because two out of every three applicants for Border Patrol positions fail the required polygraph test. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s mother agency within DHS, has suggested that it may loosen testing requirements, thereby putting badges and guns into the hands of people who can’t even pass a lie detector test.

More militarized immigration agents on our streets will only make our communities less safe and increase the levels of terror that already exist. In just the first few months of the Trump presidency, his policies’ chilling effects have led to a decline in the number of women reporting sexual assault and domestic violence and to an increased generalized fear of the police among Latinos. Furthermore, the Trump budget encourages increased collaboration between DHS and local law enforcement. Our communities are safer when all residents can feel safe interacting with their local police officers.

In addition to flooding our streets with immigration agents, the Trump budget would also swell our immigrant detention system by funding an additional 51,379 detention beds, an increase of almost 20,000 beds over last year’s 34,000-bed funding level. As Trump calls for increased detention of immigrants, his budget also proposes to eliminate protections currently provided by ICE detention standards and increase the average number of days that immigrants, including asylum-seekers fleeing horrific conditions and children, are detained.

In addition, the budget calls for making E-Verify, the federal government’s Web-based employment eligibility verification system, mandatory—an expensive mandate that would hurt employers, increase unemployment, and harm our economy. Finally, the Trump budget proposes restricting eligibility for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to only people who have Social Security numbers (SSNs). While the EITC already requires that the filer provide an SSN, this budget would require that both the taxpayer parent as well as the qualifying child have an SSN to receive the EITC or the CTC. This policy would primarily harm working-class taxpayers and millions of U.S. citizen children who live in mixed–immigration status families.

Budget negotiations can be complicated, but resisting the dangerous proposals in Trump’s proposed budget is simple.  We need to tell Congress that it cannot be complicit in Trump’s build-up of a deportation army at the expense of cuts to crucial social programs. In fact, Congress should be decreasing the funding for the bloated DHS enforcement and detention system that fails to adequately manage tax dollars and violates the rights of immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens. Instead of building walls and funding fear to divide us, we should use our taxpayer dollars to build a stronger economy and healthier communities.

Resisting Trump’s agenda is as simple as denying the White House our tax dollars. You don’t need to be a budget expert to know that military boots and border walls don’t pay for themselves—we can stop the Trump agenda by refusing to pay for it.

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Lawyers for First Known Deported DACA Recipient Ask the Court to Bring Juan Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2017

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

Lawyers for First Known Deported DACA Recipient Ask the Court to Bring Juan Home

Amended complaint makes new allegations against the federal government

LOS ANGELES — Lawyers for Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, a 23-year-old DACA recipient, filed an amended complaint in federal district court today alleging their client was unlawfully expelled from the United States in violation of the Constitution and federal law and requesting that he be returned to this country, which is his home.

The original lawsuit against U.S. immigration authorities, filed on April 18, 2017, sought only additional documentation to explain why Montes was removed from the country. This amended complaint challenges the unlawful nature of Montes’s removal. It comes after the federal government initially and erroneously denied that Montes had DACA and provided some limited documentation concerning Montes’s removal.

“We initially sought an answer to one simple question: What happened to Juan Manuel?” said Mónica Ramírez Almadani, an attorney with Covington & Burling LLP in Los Angeles. “The government’s response to date has been woefully inadequate. Their minimal responses have made only one thing clear: that Juan Manuel should never have been taken from his home in this manner.”

Before he was removed from the country, Montes worked in area agricultural fields and was pursuing a welding degree at his local community college.

The amended complaint alleges that Montes was stopped and questioned by a Border Patrol agent while he was walking to find a taxi near the Calexico port of entry. He was detained by the Border Patrol agent and, a few hours later,  was expelled from the country.

Montes was a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows immigrant youth to apply for temporary work authorization and deferral from deportation for two years, subject to renewal for another two years. Though the federal government initially denied that Montes had DACA when he was removed from the U.S., it later acknowledged that Montes did have DACA at the time he was removed and that it was not set to expire until 2018.

“The federal government made a promise to Mr. Montes,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center. “He came forward, paid a fee, subjected himself to a background and biometric check. In return, he was promised that he would be protected from deportation. The federal government broke its promise without providing due process and by violating federal laws and regulations.”

For more information about Montes Bojorquez v. USCBP, visit www.nilc.org/issues/litigation/montes-v-uscbp/.

A copy of the complaint filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Juan-Manuel-Montes-Bojorquez-Amended-Complaint.pdf

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NILC Responds to Defeat of ACA Replacement Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2017

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

NILC Responds to Defeat of ACA Replacement Bill

WASHINGTON — Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday failed to reach a consensus and were forced to abandon their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, dealing a blow to President Trump and GOP lawmakers who for years have promised to do away with the law passed under the Obama administration.

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

“For seven years, we’ve seen access to our health care system improve for millions of Americans thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which, while not perfect, has saved countless lives and livelihoods. Key components of this landmark law provide the cornerstone upon which our society should build a system that provides health care for all.

“This Republican health care legislation, in contrast, would have been worse than repeal alone. The proposed bill would have left tens of millions of people across our country—including many immigrants—without access to health insurance. It was a bad deal for everyone, and we are all better off for its defeat.

“President Trump should know by now that every one of his attempts to further disenfranchise vulnerable populations, including immigrants, will be met with resistance. This is the first of many fights to come. Whether it’s in Congress, in the courtroom, or working alongside our partner organizations and communities, we will continue to fight back against any attack on our families.”

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NILC Announces New Deputy Director Reshma Shamasunder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2017

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

NILC Announces New Deputy Director Reshma Shamasunder

LOS ANGELES — The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is excited to welcome Reshma Shamasunder, a longtime champion for immigrants’ rights, as its new Deputy Director, Programs.

In this role, Shamasunder will oversee the organization’s legal, policy and advocacy, and communications strategies. She will also serve as a key member of NILC’s Senior Leadership Team.

“The National Immigration Law Center is and has been a leading advocate for low-income immigrants and their families for many years,” Shamasunder said. “In these challenging times, NILC’s role in fighting back against a xenophobic and nativist-driven agenda is crucial. I am humbled to take on a leadership role in these efforts at a time when they are more important than ever. I intend to take on my new role with the seriousness and passion this moment warrants.”

Prior to joining NILC, Shamasunder played a key role in state-level campaigns in California that benefit low-income, immigrant, and vulnerable communities. For 12 years she served as the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), helping to spearhead important policy wins, including placing limits on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, preserving important health and human services programs, providing access to driver’s licenses for all Californians, and furthering important immigrant integration efforts. Under Shamasunder’s leadership, CIPC became a vibrant statewide organization that now not only helps shape California’s most inclusive policies, but also helps to build the capacity of nascent immigrants’ rights organizations and coalitions throughout California.

Shamasunder also served on the boards of Health Access California and the South Asian Network in Los Angeles, and was an inaugural fellow of the Rockwood Fellowship for a New California, a leadership program for California’s immigrant rights leaders. Shamasunder most recently received Families USA’s Health Equity Advocate Award. Last year she received a NILC Courageous Luminaries Award.

“I am thrilled to have Reshma join NILC’s leadership. For more than a decade she has helped transform the lives of countless California families, and she is poised to help us do the same across the country,” said NILC Executive Director Marielena Hincapié. “Her many years of service to immigrant communities will be a tremendous asset as we advance our mission of ensuring that all people, regardless of where they were born or their income, have access to opportunities that have helped generations of new Americans thrive and contribute to our communities. We are incredibly proud and grateful to welcome Reshma to our team.”

Shamasunder is the daughter of Indian immigrants and was raised in California’s Mojave Desert. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She will start in her new role at NILC on March 1 and will be based in NILC’s Los Angeles headquarters.

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DHS Memos Lay Out Mass Deportation Blueprint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2017

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

DHS Memos Lay Out Mass Deportation Blueprint

LOS ANGELES — The Trump administration today released documents laying out a plan for radical changes to immigration enforcement. The documents set into policy draconian and expensive measures outlined in President Trump’s immigration executive orders, including mandatory detention, rushed court proceedings, and a rollback in protections for unaccompanied children apprehended at the border.

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

“The Trump administration has created a blueprint for mass deportation like we’ve never seen. Today’s memos are breathtaking in scope, undoing decades of guidance and best practice intended to help protect vulnerable populations. If unhindered, they will wreak havoc on our economy, our communities, and our families.

“President Trump is governing by fear and not by what is best for the American people. As we have seen in the past few weeks, the consistency and uniformity required to have rule of law has gone out the window. Longtime community members and members of well-established families are being detained and deported. Everyone is now a priority for immigration enforcement.

“Our country is better than this, and better judgment will ultimately prevail, but this is a dangerous time that requires us all to fight back against these policies. We are committed to ensuring immigrants are well-informed about their constitutional rights so that they can make empowered decisions. Every single immigrant needs to have a safety plan in place. We are determined to do everything necessary to ensure that these policies don’t get implemented.”

Information about immigration enforcement–related rights is available at www.nilc.org/KnowYourRights (www.nilc.org/ConozcaSusDerechos) and www.nilc.org/know-your-rights/.

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Dreamers Defend Themselves in Judge Hanen’s Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2016

CONTACT
Juan Gastelum, National Immigration Law Center, gastelum@nilc.org, 213-375-3149
Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, media@aclutx.org, 713-325-7010

Dreamers Defend Themselves in Judge Hanen’s Court

“Fearless Four” respond to judge’s demand for their personal data with amicus brief

LOS ANGELES — Four young immigrants whose private information was ordered disclosed by a federal judge in U.S. v. Texas filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case today, arguing that the judge’s order violates their constitutional right to privacy, runs contrary to precedent, and is unjustified.

The group, known as the Fearless Four, includes Juan Escalante of Florida, Angelica Villalobos of Oklahoma, and two others who filed anonymously. They are just a few in a group of about 50,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who would be impacted by an outlandish order by U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in the case challenging the Obama administration’s immigration executive actions.

“I applied to DACA in 2012 with the understanding that my private information would be kept confidential, and in good faith provided every detail about my life the federal government requested,” said Escalante, whose DACA renewal was approved in December 2014. “Judge Hanen’s order seeks to undermine my constitutional right to privacy and could potentially expose personal information to individuals who may wish to retaliate against my family and me. Private means private.”

In addition to constitutional rights violations, the brief points to relevant case law that requires the courts to exercise discretion and restraint when it comes to forced disclosure of an individual’s highly sensitive information, even in cases of alleged misconduct. Furthermore, the brief argues that even if Hanen’s order was not precluded by precedent, it is not justified since it punishes individuals who are not party to the case, not those who committed the perceived misconduct, and would therefore not deter future misconduct.

“There’s no question Judge Hanen exceeded his authority with this order,” said Justin Cox, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “But most importantly, he has not given sufficient weight to the privacy concerns of tens of thousands of individuals who have no connection to this case. Courts are allowed to sanction attorneys for misconduct, but this order is not aimed at the attorneys Judge Hanen said misbehaved—it’s aimed at DACA recipients.”

Announced in 2012, DACA allows some young undocumented immigrants who were brought 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 announced that new and renewing applicants could get DACA for three rather than two years, and that the Department of Homeland Security would modify eligibility requirements to expand the applicant pool. At the same time, the administration announced another initiative, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which would similarly allow some undocumented parents of American children to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

Texas and 25 other states sued the federal government to block the implementation of DAPA and the expansion of DACA shortly after they were announced. That case, now known as U.S. v. Texas, was first heard in Hanen’s court in Brownsville, Texas, and eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In February 2015, before DAPA and the expansion of DACA went into effect, Hanen issued a nationwide injunction that blocked both initiatives. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had begun issuing three-year work permits to people whose DACA applications were approved as of November 24, 2014, in accordance with the policies laid out in the Dept. of Homeland Security memo accompanying the announcement.

In May 2016, Hanen issued an order in which he claimed the U.S. Department of Justice lawyers representing the federal government had misled him and the suing states by not disclosing that the government was issuing three-year work permits. As punishment, he demanded that the federal government turn over the names, locations, and other private identifying information of about 50,000 individuals who live in the 26 states involved in the lawsuit and who had received three-year work permits between November 2014 and March 2015. He also ordered all Justice Department lawyers who appear in court in any of the 26 states to attend a yearly ethics course for five years.

“It is shameful and sad that Judge Hanen would even try to abuse his power to violate my constitutional rights and the rights of 50,000 other DACAmented youth, with no real justification,” said Villalobos, a mother of four whose DACA renewal was approved in November 2014. “Our privacy should not be sacrificed for one judge’s political crusade against those in power.”

The Justice Department asked Hanen to stay his order while the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating in U.S. v Texas. The National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Texas also filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Fearless Four. A writ of mandamus allows impacted individuals to initiate a new action in the court of appeals to seek redress for a lower court order.

“Common sense and the Constitution lead to one conclusion: nothing that has happened in this case could possibly justify the massive invasion of DACA recipients’ privacy that the order would cause,” said Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

On June 7, Hanen granted the Justice Department’s motion to stay his order, and he set a hearing to reconsider the sanctions for Aug. 22. Last week, he rescheduled that hearing for Aug. 31.

The amicus brief filed today is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Villalobos-Amicus-Brief-2016-08-12.pdf.

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Expanded Medi-Cal for undocumented kids: What it means and how to apply

Expanded Medi-Cal for undocumented kids
What it means and how to apply

By Gabrielle Lessard, NILC health policy attorney
JULY 28, 2016

This summer, California kids have access to more than the state’s famous beaches. Under a new law that took effect this spring, all low-income California residents under age 19 are eligible to receive comprehensive health care through Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. Children and youth who did not meet immigration status requirements were previously eligible for only “restricted scope” emergency and pregnancy services.

California is not the first state to provide comprehensive health care to low-income children regardless of their immigration status—New York, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts and Washington, DC, all preceded California. However, the number of undocumented residents in California is significantly higher than in the other states. Just prior to the implementation of the Medi-Cal eligibility expansion, there were close to 135,000 children and youth enrolled in restricted-scope Medi-Cal. These beneficiaries are being transitioned into full-scope coverage without having to submit an application; however, they need to choose a primary physician and, in some counties, a health plan.

Many newly eligible children and youth were not enrolled in restricted scope coverage and will need to submit a Medi-Cal application. These include a significant number of children served through a program operated as a charitable activity of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, children enrolled in county-operated programs, and those without a current source of health care or coverage.

Advocates for children, immigrants, and access to health care recognized that outreach and education were needed to reach families whose children were not currently connected to the health-care system. Resources were required both to inform families about the Medi-Cal expansion and to reassure them that it was safe to enroll their children. The advocates collaborated in the development of a Health4AllKids website that provides information in English and Spanish and a toolkit for community-based organizations to use in doing outreach. The California Endowment, a statewide health foundation, developed and distributed signs, shirts, flyers, and other resources to support outreach, and produced and placed advertisements informing consumers of the expansion.

Expanding Medi-Cal to all kids was an important step forward for California. But until all California residents have access to comprehensive, affordable health care, our children and youth will continue to suffer the financial insecurity and emotional pain of having family members without insurance. NILC and our partners will continue working until we have #Health4All

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