State and Local Advocacy to Support DACA Recipients and Other State Residents

State and Local Advocacy to Support DACA Recipients and Other State Residents

NOVEMBER 2017

The termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, combined with increased immigration enforcement, is fueling anxiety in communities that have been harmed by mass deportations. States and localities should advance inclusive policies that protect the health and well-being of all residents, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Below are various options for moving pro-immigrant policies, as well as links to resources on each issue area.


CONTENTS

FEDERAL ADVOCACY
STATE AND LOCAL ADVOCACY
Universal legal representation for immigrants
Driver’s licenses and municipal identification cards
Tuition equity, financial aid, scholarships, institutional aid
Health care
Limit local entanglement with federal immigration enforcement efforts
Safe zone policies (schools, clinics, nonprofits, and more)
Reinforce and communicate with consumers regarding existing privacy rules
Workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, antidiscrimination, civil rights
Explore alternative strategies for pursuing training and earning income
Criminal justice reforms, racial justice and more
POLICY AND ADVOCACY RESOURCES


FEDERAL ADVOCACY

State and local policymakers can advocate with the federal government to support passage of the Dream Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth—in a manner that does not undermine the rights of others living in U.S. communities, or increase border enforcement, detentions, or deportations.

  • Advocate for a Dream Act that does not contain border or interior enforcement provisions.
  • Join litigation to preserve DACA.
  • Document the benefits of investing in immigrant youth and the consequences of terminating work permits and protection from removal for individuals, families, communities, and local economies—for use in advocacy, litigation, media.
  • Adopt resolutions urging Congress to support the Dream Act, refugees, immigration reform, etc. Resolutions adopted recently include:
    CA: SR7 (urging Congress to address immigration reform, preserve DACA, not pursue mass incarceration or expedited removal; adopted Dec. 2016); HR66 (support for immigration reform, including pathway to citizenship for DACA grantees; adopted Sept. 2017).
    IL: SR864 (urging the president and Congress to preserve DACA protections; adopted Oct. 2017); HR587 (recognizing the need for a DACA program; adopted Oct. 2017).
    NE: LR26 (oppose rescission of DACA; adopted May 2017).
    NJ: AR210 (opposes rescission of DACA; adopted Feb. 2017).


STATE AND LOCAL ADVOCACY

Universal legal representation for immigrants

Despite the potential life-or-death consequences, the immigration system does not provide attorneys to people defending against their deportation, even when they are in detention. Yet access to a lawyer can increase the chances of fair and efficient outcomes exponentially, minimize prolonged detention, and reduce costs for states, localities, and families. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has expanded its deportation priorities drastically to include virtually any person in the U.S. without authorization—regardless of age, ties to the U.S., or other humanitarian factors—has collected a significant amount of personal information about DACA recipients and their family members. States and localities can help protect the rights of their residents by investing in access to counsel for DACA grantees, their families, and other noncitizens at risk of removal.

Resources

State investments in legal services

  • CA: AB105 ($45 million for 3 budget years for immigration relief/defense/education); AB130 ($20 million to support existing DACA grantees and organizations that contract with the state); AB134 ($10 million, of which $7 million goes to community colleges and $3 million to California State Universities and University of California for loan programs).
  • NY: $10 million; access to counsel more generally.

Local right-to-counsel campaigns (including public/private partnerships)

Driver’s licenses and municipal identification cards

Expanding access to driver’s licenses helps ensure that drivers can be trained, tested, insured, and held accountable for their driving records—and makes it more likely that drivers will report an accident. Licensed drivers can safely drive their children and family members to school, medical appointments, and work. For these reasons, 12 states and the District of Columbia make licenses available to eligible residents, regardless of their immigration status. Many localities also issue municipal identification cards to facilitate daily activities such as opening a bank account and to help residents feel more comfortable interacting with government agencies.

DACA grantees have been able to obtain driver’s licenses in every state. But in most states their license (and opportunity to obtain a new license) will expire when their DACA expires. States and localities can address this by making driver’s licenses and/or municipal identification cards available to all residents. This would help reduce hardships for individuals losing their driver’s license or state identification document. States that already issue driver’s licenses to all residents can ensure a smooth transition to a new license for immigrant youth whose DACA grants expire, where needed.

Resources

Tuition equity, financial aid, scholarships, institutional aid

DACA opened educational opportunities for many recipients. States and localities can help preserve and expand these opportunities for all students, regardless of their immigration status. At least 20 states and the District of Columbia already have laws or policies offering access to in-state tuition to students who meet certain criteria, regardless of their immigration status. Although neither DACA grantees nor undocumented students are eligible for federal financial aid, a growing number of states offer financial aid, institutional aid or scholarships, regardless of a student’s immigration status. Several other states and institutions made in-state tuition and/or aid available to DACA grantees specifically. In these states, former DACA grantees will face new obstacles to pursuing higher education. Campaigns to provide in-state tuition, state or institutional aid, or scholarships can help ensure that students can fulfill their potential.

Resources

Recent state/local legislation

  • DC: B21-0422 – access to in-state tuition and local financial aid to students who meet certain criteria, regardless of their immigration status; effective Apr. 28, 2017.
  • CA: SB68 – expands access to in-state tuition and financial aid for youth who meet certain criteria, regardless of their immigration status; signed Oct. 2017.

Health care

A 2017 survey conducted by Professor Tom K. Wong found that 57 percent of DACA recipients (and 67 percent of DACA recipients over age 25) gained access to health insurance through their employer (see DACA Recipients’ Economic and Educational Gains Continue to Grow, Center for American Progress). If DACA recipients lose their jobs, many will also lose access to health coverage. Although DACA recipients were excluded from the major federal health coverage programs like Medicaid and access to the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace, some states cover them with state funds. Many states offer pregnancy-related services regardless of a woman’s immigration status, and some states cover children regardless of their immigration status. Advocates in states that cover DACA grantees are working to make sure they can keep their coverage.

State and local advocates in other states can work to ensure that their state adopts all federal options to cover immigrants and to explore state and local solutions for immigrants who are excluded from access to affordable health coverage. States and localities also can invest in mental health and general wellness resources, to help individuals and families experiencing anxiety, stress, and trauma.

Resources

Recent state legislation

  • NV: SB325 – lawfully residing children; effective July 1, 2017.
  • OR: SB558 – health care for all children; signed Aug. 2017.
  • AR: HCR1012 – urging agency to submit plan to cover lawfully residing kids; approved March 2017.
  • Broader health coverage campaigns debated in CA, NV, NJ, NY, OR, and WA.

Limit local entanglement with federal immigration enforcement efforts

States and localities have a significant interest in ensuring that their residents feel comfortable seeking critical services and conducting other important daily activities. Given the pervasive fear and anxiety in immigrant communities, efforts to disentangle local law enforcement agencies from immigration enforcement efforts are crucial.

Resources

Recent state responses

  • IL: SB 31—the Trust Act—prohibits law enforcement agencies from stopping, arresting, searching, detaining, or holding individuals based solely on their immigration status, in the absence of a valid enforceable warrant; and prohibits law enforcement agencies from detaining a person based on an immigration detainer or “ICE hold.” Signed Aug. 2017.
  • OR: HB 3464 limits inquiries and disclosure of information for immigration enforcement purposes. AG to publish model policies. Signed Aug. 2017.
  • VT: S79 limits collection or disclosure of personally identifying information to federal agencies for registration purposes. Governor must approve any 287(g) agreements. Signed March 2017.
  • CA: SB54—the California Values Act—prohibits law enforcement agencies from detaining people based on immigration holds, making arrests on civil immigration warrants, and entering into 287(g) agreements, with some exceptions. State attorney general to develop model policies for schools, libraries, health facilities, courthouses, Labor Commission, Agricultural Labor Relations Board, workers’ compensation, and shelters. Signed Oct. 2017. AB103 places a moratorium on expansion of immigrant detention space; approved June 2017. SB29 prohibits new contracts and contract renewals after Jan. 1, 2018, with private prisons for immigration detention; requires public notice/hearing before new deeds may be signed for purpose of civil immigration enforcement; signed Oct. 2017. SR22 urges the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to reaffirm its sensitive locations policy; adopted March 2017.
  • NY: An executive order prohibits state agencies from asking individuals about their immigration status and from disclosing immigration data; signed Sept. 2017.

Safe zone policies (schools, clinics, nonprofits, and more)

Safe zone policies help ensure that families feel safer when taking their children to school, seeking care from health clinics or hospitals, or securing other essential services. The policies, grounded in the mission and legal obligations of schools, clinics, and other entities, protect the rights of students, patients, and consumers. These policies empower immigrant families and improve access to crucial services, while helping schools, clinics, and other service providers carry out their mission in a way that protects all persons using their facilities. State and local entities can adopt these policies and protocols, which create a welcoming environment for immigrants.

Resources

Recent state and local responses

Reinforce and communicate with consumers regarding existing privacy rules

Existing federal, state, and local privacy laws and policies limit the collection, use, and disclosure of information provided by applicants for certain services. These rules generally protect personal information from being used or disclosed for purposes that are not related to administering the program or service. State and local officials can reinforce these practices and communicate with consumers to help address concerns about seeking essential services.

Recent state/local responses

Workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, antidiscrimination, civil rights

Although existing laws protect the civil rights of individuals, including immigrants, states and localities can and should do more to combat discrimination and protect the rights of immigrant workers and tenants.

Resources

Recent state/local responses

  • CA: AB291 strengthens protections for immigrant tenants against housing discrimination, retaliation, etc.; signed Oct. 2017. AB299 expands prohibition on state, localities, or other public entities requiring inquiries regarding a tenant’s immigration status; signed Oct. 2017.
  • CA: AB450 provides for protections related to worksite immigration enforcement, generally requiring notice, judicial warrant, subpoena, and court order as conditions of access to individuals or documents; signed Oct. 2017.
  • CA: Labor Code sections 244, 1019, 1019.1 prohibit immigration-related retaliation, immigration-related unfair practices, and document abuse by employers.
  • Expanding the definition of state law crime of extortion to include:
    — Destroying or threatening to destroy immigration-related documents: VA: Criminal Code section 2-59; HI: Penal Code section 707-764.
    — Reporting or threatening to report immigration status: MD: HB493 (May 2016); CO: Rev Stat section 18-3-207; CA: Penal Code section 519.
    — NOTE: Extortion is a criminal offense. A person who is extorted may qualify for a U visa, and extortion is a basis for RICO liability.
  • CA: SB674 establishes a statewide protocol for U-visa certifications that includes a presumption of “victim helpfulness”; signed Oct. 2015.
  • HI: HB607—Kapuna Care—provides funds for home care recipients who need certain services, to help caregivers remain in the work force; signed July 2017.

Explore alternative strategies for pursuing training and earning income

DACA grantees will lose their employment authorization, which has allowed them to work in jobs that match their training and skills, increase their earnings, and support themselves and their families. Once they lose employment authorization, this group, like other undocumented immigrants, will need to explore alternative options for earning income. These could include, for example, self-employment as an independent contractor or as a member of a worker-owned cooperative.

Resources

Potential state/local response

  • Scholarships and grants for training and research programs.
  • Centers and organizations that support entrepreneurs, including small business/transactional law school clinics.
  • Legal and incubation support for individuals/groups seeking to form cooperatives or limited liability companies.
  • Grants or loans to provide start-up capital for cooperatives and entrepreneurs.
  • Safety-net fund for recently unemployed who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Access to state disability insurance for eligible workers.
  • Expand protections for independent contractors, such as those in New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act.
  • Explore state licensing schemes that are consistent with federal law.

Criminal justice reforms, racial justice and more

Racial disparities in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately target people of color, increase the risks that immigrants will be deported after an encounter with law enforcement. As states and localities examine how their policies reinforce anti-Black and other forms of bias in the criminal justice system, immigrants’ rights advocates can collaborate with racial justice advocates to reduce criminalization and incarceration, regardless of a person’s immigration status.

Resources

Recent state/local response

  • Gang database reform: CA AB90, signed Oct. 2017, creates accountability and oversight of shared gang databases; the prior version is described in NILC’s 2016 report.
  • Bail reform:
    NJ: Public Law 2014, Chapter 31 – bail reform and speedy trial; in effect Jan. 1, 2017.
    CA: SB10 – pretrial release/bail reform; work on proposal to continue next year.
  • Other California measures:
    AB493 – prohibits detention of hate crime survivors/witnesses; signed Sept. 2017.
    AB208 – pretrial diversion for certain drug offenses; signed Oct. 2017.
    SB180 – repeals sentence enhancement for certain drug crimes unless involves a minor; signed Oct. 2017.
    SB613 – repeals requirement for state department of developmental services, state hospitals, and Juvenile Justice to cooperate with U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security in arranging to remove institutionalized individuals; signed Oct. 2017.


POLICY AND ADVOCACY RESOURCES