Category Archives: Uncategorized

We Hope for an American Future (The Torch)

We hope for an American future

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Tim Sell, guest blogger
FEBRUARY 12, 2018

When an Ethiopian boy effectively arrived on our rural central Maryland doorstep as a one-year-old, my wife and I chose to do the right thing.

Prior to our first meeting, our Ethiopian boy was brought to America for emergency surgery by a missionary sponsored by our church. He received excellent care from the kind folks at the University of Maryland and Ronald McDonald House, both of which provided their services free of charge. His ventricular septal defect was corrected, and he has not had a single problem with his heart since.

“So began our journey of learning the bumpy road of immigration in America.”
Photo courtesy of Tim Sell

It was after he recovered from the surgery that we learned of the boy’s mother’s desire that he stay in America. She wanted a better life for him. Our church solicited volunteers for a sponsor family. My wife eagerly volunteered, and I somewhat hesitantly agreed. We were both naive.

So began our journey of learning the bumpy road of immigration in America.

My wife and I were able legally to adopt the five-year-old Ethiopian boy in Maryland. It seemed odd to us that it was legally possible to adopt him, despite it being legally impossible for him to obtain U.S. citizenship — but adoption was at least a step in the right direction.

The legal adoption status served us well in terms of his education, as it allowed our son to attend grade school in Maryland. We could forget about the “immigration problem” for a few years. “Surely the politicians will be able to come up with a reasonable solution by the time he grows up,” we thought.

As our son became a teenager, we realized that simple things that other teenagers take for granted, such as getting his driver’s license or a part-time job, were going to be impossible for him.

Here’s a phrase we’ve heard from an immigration attorney more than once: “He can’t be here.”

But we can pay for the paperwork, we’re willing to navigate through any bureaucracy you throw at us, he’s our legally adopted son, he doesn’t even remember any other country besides America, and doesn’t want any more than what any other American boy wants….

“He can’t be here. He can’t be here.

In 2014, we learned about DACA from an immigration attorney. DACA seemed to be what we had been waiting for for 16 years. The politicians seemed to be “figuring it out”! Thanks to DACA, later that year, at 17, our son received a Social Security number and an employment authorization card.

It saddened me, though, to learn that he was ashamed/afraid to reveal his immigration status to his friends in high school. He said it was common for him to hear kids talking harshly about “illegals” and about how they needed to be sent “home.” I tried to calmly explain to him that revealing his situation to them might provide them with a more educated and moral view of the situation. But I understood his rationale in keeping quiet. I still remember being 17 — I just wanted to “fit in.” Our son was no different.

At 17, our son wanted to become an American soldier. Due to his immigration status, he was turned away. It turned out that not even DACA could help him with that dream.

At 18, thanks to the privileges provided by DACA, our son was able to get part-time jobs working construction and at restaurants. Like any American teenager with a part-time job, he paid his taxes, with Dad’s help filling out the forms.

At 19 — fear. Will DACA end tomorrow? Will ICE agents be knocking our door down? Our own American government wouldn’t forcibly send a law-abiding citizen to a strange country … would it?

At 20, our son wants to study health fitness and physical education at college. He dreams of becoming a fitness instructor or phys. ed. teacher. DACA makes that dream possible. We can even hope for something better. We hope for an American future where one day he may even be a “legal United States citizen.”

Tim Sell is an American dad from central Maryland.

The decision by the Trump administration to abruptly end DACA without having any permanent solution in place for the young people who have benefited or would benefit from the program is hurting families, such as the Sell family, all over the United States. A recent poll shows that a majority of American voters feels that families are at the core of the United States as a nation and are more likely to support an immigration deal if it is based in keeping families together. 

Learn more about what you can do to help immigrant youth and their families, visit or call Congress at 478-488-8059 and ask them to vote on the bipartisan Dream Act now!


How ICE Uses Databases and Information-Sharing to Deport Immigrants

How ICE Uses Databases and Information-Sharing to Deport Immigrants

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Joan Friedland, guest blogger
January 25, 2018

Immigrants’ rights advocates are concerned about how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the larger agency of which it’s a part, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), use databases and information-sharing systems to target people for deportation. Advocates are particularly interested in understanding how ICE interacts with state and local law enforcement agencies and with state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs), fearing that even innocent contact with police or DMVs will put immigrants and their family members at risk of deportation.

Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: Basic Information for Advocates about Databases and Information-Sharing among Federal, State, and Local Agencies, a report published by NILC this past September, explores how some of these databases and information-sharing systems work. We’ve learned that there are no simple answers. There is instead a complex web of databases and information-sharing among federal, state, and local agencies that facilitates immigration enforcement. The report describes an intertwined set of databases, information-sharing systems, and informal relationships that don’t always require any formal collaboration or agreements between federal and state agencies.

How the Information-Sharing Works

Secure Communities. Sometimes there are technological connections between databases or systems, as in the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. When police arrest someone, their fingerprints are checked automatically against both FBI and DHS databases. These databases are interoperable and, in effect, speak with each other. A “hit” can trigger removal proceedings against the arrested person. And this happens even in cities that have adopted policies that limit their role in immigration enforcement activities.

DMV databases. In some circumstances, ICE has access to information-sharing systems that allow it to tap into state databases. For example, ICE can use a state-owned network called Nlets and state criminal justice networks to obtain information about arrests and convictions, or to obtain information from DMV databases about a person, such as their home address or license plate number. ICE can use this information to decide whom to target for immigration enforcement and to locate the people it’s targeted.

National Crime Information Center database. Police also may have access to a federal database that can be used to trigger immigration enforcement. For example, officers on the beat can use the U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database when they are seeking background information on a person they encounter in the field. Even though the NCIC is called a criminal database, it also includes civil immigration information, such as information about administrative arrests and deportations. Police can use this information, which is often inaccurate, to report individuals to ICE. And police officers who have authority to enforce immigration law under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are explicitly granted access to federal databases as immigration enforcers.

Gang databases. Gang databases are illustrative of how inaccurate and misleading information can migrate from one federal or state database to another and can be used for immigration enforcement, with devastating effects. State and federal agencies, including ICE, use commercial database software called GangNET. This database contains notoriously inaccurate information about gangs and alleged gangs, including photos of individuals alleged to be gang members or associates. In a single search, government agencies can simultaneously search their own GangNET system and a network of GangNET systems in other states and federal agencies. ICE has its own Gang File that accesses GangNET and other investigative systems developed by private contractors. A Gang File in the FBI’s NCIC database provides information to state and local law enforcement, as well as to ICE.

Mobile biometric devices. ICE agents in the field, sometimes working with local police, use mobile devices to take biometrics such as fingerprints or photos of people they encounter, often profiling people based on how they look or act. They also rely on facial recognition systems owned by local police agencies. One ICE agent described how he ran an individual’s photo through the police’s facial recognition system after his “spidey senses” started “tingling” when he encountered the person—an MO guaranteed to exacerbate unjust profiling based on race or other factors. Biometrics taken in the field are checked against and stored in FBI and DHS databases, where they become available for future searches even if they did not result in an ICE arrest.

Informal communications. But the tangled web is comprised of more than merely technology. Informal communications between ICE and state and local agencies play a major role, too. For example, ICE agents might ask state DMV employees to run DMV photos through ICE’s facial recognition systems or to check the license plates associated with a particular address where agents suspect undocumented immigrants live. ICE agents might simply be given access to lists of foreign-born people who are being held in particular jails, or they may be allowed to enter jails to interview such individuals. Probation and parole officers often give ICE agents information about their probationers or parolees, or arrange for agents to detain them at their offices.

Joan Friedland is a NILC consultant and the primary author of our report “Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web.” She formerly was a managing attorney at NILC.


Cinco cosas que debe saber sobre el último anuncio de USCIS

USCIS y las solicitudes de renovación de DACA

Por Ignacia Rodriguez (NILC) y Sanaa Abrar y Greisa Martinez (United We Dream)

Última actualización 29 DE ENERO DE 2018 | English version

El Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de EE.UU. (USCIS, por su sigla en inglés) ha anunciado que volverá a aceptar solicitudes de renovación de DACA (Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia) a partir del 13 de enero de 2018. Este cambio de política es en respuesta a la medida cautelar de una corte de distrito de EE.UU. en San Francisco dictada el 9 de enero que requiere al gobierno federal que vuelva a aceptar solicitudes de renovación de DACA. Este cambio de posición se debe a varias demandas que disputaron la decisión de la administración Trump del 5 de septiembre de 2017 de dar por terminado el programa DACA, que es inmensamente popular.

Esta es otra victoria en el camino a obtener una solución permanente para los jóvenes inmigrantes, la Ley Dream, en lo posible para el 8 de febrero. Proporcionaremos actualizaciones a medida que recibamos más información, pero he aquí cinco cosas que creemos que debe saber:

1. USCIS está aceptando ahora ciertas solicitudes de renovación de DACA. Si su DACA venció a partir del 5 de septiembre de 2016, puede enviar a USCIS una solicitud de renovación de DACA. Para esto tiene que llenar la última versión del formulario I-821D, Consideración de acción diferida para los llegados en la infancia; el formulario I-765, Solicitud de autorización de empleo; y el formulario I-765WS, Hoja de trabajo. Si su DACA venció antes del 5 de septiembre de 2016, tiene que volver a solicitarla como si fuera la primera vez, en vez de renovarla. Ya sea que presente su solicitud de DACA inicial o una solicitud de renovación, tiene que incluir la fecha en que venció o va a vencer su DACA en la parte 1 del formulario I-821D.

2. USCIS no aceptará solicitudes de DACA de personas que no la han solicitado anteriormente. USCIS no aceptará solicitudes de DACA de personas que nunca la tuvieron. Si usted es elegible para DACA pero no la solicitó en el pasado, este anuncio no se aplica a su caso.

3. No se aceptarán solicitudes de permiso de reingreso (permiso adelantado de viaje) de los beneficiarios de DACA. USCIS no aceptará ni aprobará solicitudes de permiso de reingreso de los beneficiarios de DACA.

4. No sabemos por cuánto tiempo USCIS seguirá aceptando solicitudes de renovación de DACA. La administración Trump declaró que piensa disputar “vigorosamente” la decisión de la corte de distrito. Esto quiere decir que el periodo en que podrá presentar solicitudes de renovación de DACA es incierto. Si cumple con los requisitos mencionados más arriba, debe evaluar si le conviene presentar su solicitud inmediatamente.

5. ¡Nuestra lucha para conseguir que se apruebe la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero continúa! Este es un testamento al trabajo que los jóvenes indocumentados han liderado para combatir la decisión de Trump de dar por terminado con el programa DACA, anunciada el 5 de septiembre de 2017. No obstante, no podemos seguir nuestras vidas en un limbo cotidiano, o mensual. Nuestra meta es clara: conseguir la aprobación de la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero. No todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad están protegidos por DACA, de manera que seguimos corriendo el riesgo de detención y deportación hasta obtener una solución legislativa permanente. Envíe un mensaje de texto con el contenido “DreamActNow” al 877877 para aprender cómo se puede sumar a la presión sobre el Congreso para que se coloque en el lado correcto de la historia, ¡y promulgue la Ley Dream para el 8 de febrero!


Five Things to Know about the Latest USCIS Announcement

USCIS and DACA Renewal Applications

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Ignacia Rodriguez, NILC, and Sanaa Abrar and Greisa Martinez, United We Dream

Last updated JANUARY 29, 2018 | Versión en español

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it would resume accepting DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewal applications beginning January 13, 2018. This policy change is in response to the January 9 injunction by a U.S. district court in San Francisco requiring the federal government to resume accepting DACA renewal applications. This policy reversal is the result of several lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s September 5, 2017, decision to terminate the wildly successful DACA program.

This is another victory on the path to winning a permanent solution for immigrant youth, which is the Dream Act, optimally by February 8. We will be providing updates as more information becomes available, but here are the top five things we think you should know:

1. USCIS is now accepting certain DACA renewal applications. If your DACA expired on or after September 5, 2016, you may send USCIS a DACA renewal application. This means you must fill out the latest versions of Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and Form I-765WS Worksheet. If your DACA expired before September 5, 2016, you must reapply by filing your application as a first-time one rather than as a renewal. All applicants, whether filing as first-timers or as renewing, must include the date their DACA expired or will expire on Part 1 of the Form I-821D.

2. USCIS will not accept new DACA applications from people who haven’t applied previously. No actually first-time DACA applications will be accepted by USCIS. If you are eligible for DACA now but have not applied for it in the past, this announcement does not apply to you.

3. Requests for advance parole from DACA recipients will not be accepted. USCIS will not accept or approve any advance parole requests from DACA recipients.

4. We do not know how long USCIS will continue to accept DACA renewal applications. The Trump administration stated that it plans to “vigorously” challenge the district court’s decision. This means that the window of time available for submitting your DACA renewal application is uncertain. If you fulfill the requirements mentioned above, you should assess whether to apply immediately.

5. Our fight to get the Dream Act passed by February 8 continues! This is a testament to the work that undocumented youth have led to fight back against Trump’s decision to end DACA, which was announced on Sept. 5, 2017. However, we can’t keep living our lives in monthly — or daily — limbo. Our goal is clear: win the Dream Act by February 8. Not all of us are protected by DACA, so our community remains at risk of detention and deportation until we win a permanent legislative solution. Text DreamActNow to 877877 to learn how you can join us in pressuring Congress to stand on the right side of history and pass the Dream Act by February 8!


“The Fosters” Season Premiere Shows How You Can Support Immigrant Families

“The Fosters” Season Premiere Shows How You Can Support Immigrant Families

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Alvaro M. Huerta, NILC staff attorney
January 9, 2018

Tonight’s season premiere episode, “Sanctuary,” of “The Fosters” on the Freeform channel touches on some important topics related to how our country’s immigration system continues to rip families apart.

In last season’s finale, Callie and AJ helped their friend Ximena seek sanctuary in a church when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came looking for Ximena because she had spoken out at a rally and disclosed that she’s undocumented. Ximena was previously granted protection from deportation through a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which President Obama’s administration initiated in 2012.

DACA allowed young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to get temporary protection from deportation and eligibility to work in the U.S. To maintain these benefits, DACA recipients had to apply to renew it every two years. Ximena didn’t renew her DACA because she was afraid of getting her family in trouble with ICE, so her protection under DACA had ended and, although she did eventually apply to renew it, the renewal still had not been approved at the time ICE came to arrest her.

What’s happened to Ximena in “The Fosters” happens to thousands of immigrant youth every day. In fact, Ximena’s story mirrors that of a young woman named Daniela “Dany” Vargas, whose DACA status had also lapsed and who was detained by ICE and placed in deportation proceedings just minutes after participating in a rally to protest immigration raids.

The Trump administration terminated the DACA program this past September. A fraction of the nearly 800,000 young people with DACA were allowed to apply to renew it during a short, one-month window. While some were able to renew their DACA in that time, at least 1,900 people had their applications wrongly rejected due to problems with the mail. Others had applications rejected because of small clerical-type errors, or because they couldn’t pull together enough funds in such a short amount of time to pay the nearly $500 renewal application fee. To date, over 15,000 people have lost their DACA status and, with it, their temporary protection from deportation and their ability to provide from themselves and their families.

Back on “The Fosters,” Ximena finds sanctuary in a local church. Many religious institutions have bravely decided to stand up against the harsh deportation system. They are supporting their communities’ immigrant members by providing sanctuary and connecting immigrant families at risk of deportation with local immigration attorneys and immigrants’ rights organizations. Under most circumstances, ICE may not enter private spaces, including a church or someone’s home, without a valid search warrant signed by a judge.

But not all undocumented immigrants are able to find sanctuary. That’s why it’s important to know what your rights are and what to do if ICE comes looking for you or your family. Ximena had a plan. She knew to check in right away with family members and to reach out to her family’s immigration attorney, whose telephone number she had memorized. You can also locate a family member who’s been detained by searching online, and you can connect with a local nonprofit immigrants’ rights organization to get support. If you witness an immigration raid or see someone being detained by ICE, you can record ICE’s or the police’s actions, but do so from a safe distance and without getting in the way of the officers.

Fortunately, there is a solution for people such as Ximena and her family. Congress has an opportunity to pass the Dream Act, a bill that would grant legal status to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and for whom this country is the only home they’ve ever known. Congress is currently negotiating with the White House on what will be included in the Dream Act, and the goal is to see the bill become law soon. But we need to let Congress know that we demand the Dream Act so that families like Ximena’s won’t be torn apart!

It’s important to raise the visibility of immigrants caught up by the deportation system. Using social media like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube is one way to get the word out about the Dream Act and people like Ximena who are as American as anyone else. We cannot stand by while thousands of children are separated from their parents. People rallied outside of the church where Ximena took refuge and shamed ICE into leaving. We need to make immigrants’ stories even more visible!

Callie and AJ stepped in to help Ximena when she was in need, and the Fosters were there when Callie needed them most. It’s important to have a support network when you and your family are caught up in the broken immigration system. The Fosters stepped up for Ximena. Let’s all step up for our immigrant friends and family by making sure that Congress passes the Dream Act now!


Congress Failed Dreamers and the Country Tonight

December 21, 2017

Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Congress Failed Dreamers and the Country Tonight
We Are Disappointed but Undeterred in Our Fight for Justice

WASHINGTON — Following the U.S. Senate’s approval of a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running for four more weeks, members of Congress broke for the holidays today without addressing the precarious situation facing hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth and their families. Congress failed also to provide adequate relief funding for disaster-impacted areas and to fully reauthorize a vital health insurance program for children.

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

“Today, Congress voted callously to place millions of Americans – and citizens in waiting – in harm’s way. By leaving town, they’re leaving immigrant youth at risk of deportation, children at risk of losing health coverage, and families without the overdue relief they need to overcome recent natural disasters.

“Far too many senators have claimed to stand for the bipartisan Dream Act when it was convenient, and then voted tonight to fund Dreamers’ deportations. Those who call themselves champions for Dreamers but voted against them tonight should feel nothing but shame. While they’re at home celebrating, millions of families will continue in a state of uncertainty, instability, and anxiety, wondering if this may be their last holiday season together.

“It is immoral that some members of Congress refuse to acknowledge the situation of Dreamers for the Trump-fabricated crisis it is. More than 13,000 immigrant youth have lost DACA protections since September, and 3,400 more will become vulnerable to deportation before the next spending bill vote in January. Their lives should weigh heavily on the conscious of every member of Congress.

“This crisis is part of this administration’s continued attempt to implement a white supremacist agenda. But we are also here because some Democrats failed to stand with their brave colleagues to defend their principles and fight for immigrant youth and children needing health care.

“On the heels of the tax heist one thing is clear: We must hold Congress accountable. We must unite and work together for children, families, low-income immigrants, and all of our communities.

“Congress may be leaving town, but we are here to stay. We will be here and ready to put our elected officials back to work in January. We are resolute in our mission to ensure that immigrant youth have a secure future in this country, which is their home, and we will continue to fight alongside immigrant youth and our partners until we win.”



Heartless Tax Bill Leaves Millions Out in the Cold

December 20, 2017

Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Heartless Tax Bill Leaves Millions Out in the Cold

Congress threatens to go home for the holidays having done nothing for working families

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed a comprehensive tax reform bill that would fundamentally alter our nation’s tax structure, skewing benefits to major corporations and extremely wealthy individuals. The bill, which blows a $1.5 trillion hole in the government’s budget, could be paid for in years to come by slashing our health care system, food and nutrition programs, housing support, and a vast array of social programs that make communities healthier and stronger.

The bill also disproportionately harms immigrant families, who will no longer be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for immigrant children without a Social Security Number. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Congress has now passed the most unconscionable piece of legislation, which we expect President Trump will sign into law. This would mark an end to the first year of an administration intent on attacking children, families, women, immigrants and people of color,  LGBTQ communities, and the most vulnerable among us. This is the most regressive bill in recent memory, and the entire nation, no matter where we were born or how much we earn, will suffer the consequences. Republicans tried to sell this disastrous bill to the American public, but we’re not buying it. This is a bill designed to placate the donor class, while leaving the rest of us out in the cold.

“This is a Christmas gift to the richest of the rich which will be paid for by hurting millions of families – including low-income immigrant families – for generations to come. This legislation is particularly cruel to immigrant children and families, who will no longer receive the vital Child Tax Credit. This credit has provided an economic lifeline to millions, allowing families to put food on the table and keep roofs over their children’s heads.

“Today is a shameful day in American history. Today’s children and future generations will remember the Trump Administration and the Republican party as having turned its back on the majority of Americans in favor of corporations and the rich.

“Congress should not go home for the holidays on this disastrous note. Now that they have passed this deeply unpopular piece of legislation, they should do the work Americans actually want them to do: protect Dreamers and reauthorize CHIP without delay.”



Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: New NILC Report Looks at Cooperation Between Local Law Enforcement and Federal Agencies

Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: New NILC Report Looks at Cooperation Between Local Law Enforcement and Federal Agencies

Sept. 22, 2017

Immigrants are caught in a complex and opaque web of databases, related systems, and information-sharing mechanisms that make it easier for immigration enforcement to disrupt their lives and prevent them from fully participating in economic and social life in the United States.

These databases, systems, and mechanisms often depend on the entanglement of state and local law enforcement or licensing agencies with federal immigration and law enforcement agencies.

Advocates, including NILC, have raised many concerns about how these databases and information-sharing mechanisms work. President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) implementation memos will expand immigration enforcement dramatically without due process protections, increase state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, and undermine federal Privacy Act guarantees.

We took a closer look at these entanglements between immigration and law enforcement and outlined what we found in our new report, Untangling the Immigration Enforcement Web: Basic Information for Advocates about Databases and Information-Sharing Among Federal, State, and Local Agencies. This report describes how some of these databases and information-sharing networks work but also outlines actions local advocates can take to minimize these entanglements.

Below are some highlights of the report:

  • The FBI’s Next Generation Identification database and DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System are interoperable, meaning fingerprints of an arrested person may be checked against both databases.
  • State and local law enforcement have access to federal databases that contain civil immigration information, while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has access to local law enforcement databases that allow it to identify immigrants who have been arrested. Jails also often give ICE agents access to jails, along with lists of people being held.
  • Informal contact also exists among all these agencies. An example of this might be a local police officer contacting ICE regarding a stopped driver if they suspect the driver is undocumented.
  • Local, state, and federal gang databases also interact. These databases identify certain people as gang members, often without much reason, and may include photos and other information. ICE even started its own gang database in 2010. Because gang members have long been considered a priority for immigration enforcement, being identified as a gang member or someone who “associates” with gang members can have dramatic consequences for immigrants.
  • Mobile biometrics technologies, such as mobile fingerprinting and iris scans, may be used by ICE agents on people “encountered” during investigations, in violation of legal standards established by the Fourth Amendment, such as probable cause. This can result in so-called “collateral” arrests of people who were not originally targeted. This biometric information is also kept in databases, even for people who were not arrested.
  • ICE has used department of motor vehicles (DMV) records to locate individuals for immigration enforcement purposes and has used DMVs’ technological capacities, such as facial recognition software, to identify and locate targets. ICE has also asked DMVs to “run” license plates at particular addresses in order to determine the identities of residents there.

Though these potentially unconstitutional information-sharing mechanisms are disturbing, there are many ways advocates can fight back, including pressuring local governments to stop these types of cooperation among agencies, alerting media to individual stories of discrimination, filing lawsuits, and more. There are also ways to file complaints directly with the agencies when they improperly use biometrics devices, and local governments should also be asked to ensure that Privacy Act standards apply to noncitizens.

More details on these databases and information-sharing systems—along with more ideas on how to fight back—can be found in the report.


They Risked Everything for a Shot at the American Dream. Now, We Must Stand Up and Defend Them.

They Risked Everything for a Shot at the American Dream; Now We Must Stand Up and Defend Them

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Kamal Essaheb, NILC director of policy and advocacy
September 7, 2017

This week President Trump shut the door on nearly a million young people, and didn’t even have the courage to face their questions. This callous and immoral decision that requires all of us who choose to be on the right side of history to speak out and let our elected leaders know that this is not the type of country we want to be.

Trump chose to put hundreds of thousands young immigrants across the country in peril by announcing an imminent end to the undeniably successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

For five years, DACA has allowed these youth, often referred to as “dreamers,” to come forward and pursue the same educational, professional and life opportunities available to anyone who grew up in the U.S. It is up to all of us to ensure that these protections remain in place. We must continue to raise our voices and tell our representatives in Congress to swiftly pass the Dream Act of 2017.

This is a defining moment for our country. Trump again gave in to his anti-immigrant advisors and base, putting politics above people—hate over reason. He chose to pull the rug out from under nearly a million people who are working, studying and contributing to their communities. In doing so, he is putting their families, their livelihood and their sense of security and belonging in this country at stake.

Trump’s decision to end DACA is the latest in an abhorrent pattern of immoral and, in many cases, unlawful attacks on immigrants, communities of color, and other disenfranchised Americans. Following his comments on Charlottesville and the pardoning of Joe Arpaio, Trump has again made it clear that white supremacists have their greatest ally in the White House. We cannot let this disgusting vision for America’s future to prevail.

Faced with yet another unconscionable act by Trump, we are ready to fight with the brave young people and allies who fought for and won DACA. But we are much stronger when people from all walks of life get involved. Whether you’re a teacher, nurse, coach, or a local leader, now is the time to stand side by side with dreamers and up for what’s right.

DACA recipients did everything we asked them to do. They voluntarily came forward, provided information, paid a fee and went through background checks. They relied on a promise by the federal government to allow them to live and work here, and keep their information safe. We must all keep the government from reneging on that promise. And we must not allow Trump to use the lives of these young people to advance his own agenda.


Dreamers’ Stories Show What Would Be Lost if DACA Were to End

Dreamers’ Stories Show What Would Be Lost if DACA
Were to End

August 25, 2017

Getting a driver’s license, finding a job, going to college—these are milestones in life that most of us take for granted, but for more than 800,000 young people, these things are only possible because of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

We asked DACA recipients, along with their friends and family members, to tell us what DACA means for them. The responses poured in, and the message was plain: DACA changes lives.

Fatima, for instance, was able to launch a successful career in interior design in New York City after getting DACA, and Yanet got her nursing assistant license and started working in an acute rehabilitation facility in Arizona.

Maria, of Phoenix, bought a home and started her own business, and Shahrzad loves paying taxes because she’s proud to contribute to her country.

DACA recipients are part of the everyday fabric of our communities. They’re hair stylists, software developers, dental hygienists, and more. To pull the rug from under their feet would not only be absurdly cruel, it would undermine the whole economy. Reports estimate that ending DACA could reduce the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $433.4 billion over the next 10 years, but that doesn’t even begin to touch the personal losses people could suffer if families are torn apart.

With rumors again circulating that the Trump administration may soon end DACA, it is more important than ever to share these stories and remind everyone how critical this program is for individuals and our communities. We urge everyone to share these stories, and their own, with the hashtag #DefendDACA. There’s no time to waste. DACA is under real threat, and we must show that we won’t let it go without a hell of a fight.

You can find the DACA stories we’ve collected so far here. We continue to add more daily, so check back often.