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Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in U.S. v. Texas

US Supreme Court BuildingGovernment Makes Strong Case for Moving DAPA Forward

Washington D.C. – Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas. The highest court will now decide whether the President’s deferred action initiatives announced in November 2014, known as expanded DACA and DAPA, move forward.

“The lawyers arguing for the deferred action initiatives made a convincing case that the law and the Constitution are on our side. As expected, the Justices asked probing questions to both sides, demonstrating they understand the high stakes involved this case,” said Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

According to the Council’s Legal Director Melissa Crow, “Much of the argument focused on whether Texas really has standing – a sufficient stake in the outcome of the case to file a lawsuit. The arguments highlighted the fact that this is a political dispute about enforcement policies, not the type of legal dispute that should be before the Supreme Court. Texas’ arguments on standing are unconvincing. As Justice Breyer noted, a finding by the Court that Texas has standing could flood the courts with lawsuits based on all kinds of political disagreements between States and the federal government.”

President Obama’s deferred action initiatives advance common-sense enforcement priorities. To qualify for deferred action, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, register with the government and pass a criminal background check. Instead of tearing apart families through broad enforcement actions, the President is letting law enforcement officials focus their attention on those who pose the greatest threats to public safety.

The American Immigration Council and 325 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and service-provider organizations filed an amicus brief in the case outlining how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives.  

For more information, view the American Immigration Council resources on the case:

Resolution Against Immigration Executive Actions Validates Trump’s Racist Rhetoric

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on H.Res. 639 authorizing the House to file an amicus brief calling for continued obstruction of the Administration’s immigration executive actions in U.S. v. Texas.

Once again, we see that the only immigration votes House Republican leadership is willing to call are those aimed at dividing working families and demonizing immigrant workers. By supporting this resolution, House Republican leaders are validating Donald Trump’s racist political discourse.

Rather than offering real solutions, this resolution aims to deny millions of aspiring Americans the opportunity to gain a measure of increased dignity in their lives and security on the job. The DAPA and expanded DACA programs promise to provide much-needed relief for immigrant families and help mitigate the harm inflicted by our broken immigration system while we continue to press for comprehensive reform with a roadmap to citizenship.

Far from paralyzing those directly affected, political attacks and legal setbacks have further strengthened the resolve of a resilient community and inspired unprecedented levels of naturalization around the country. We know that an organized community is a stronger community, and that together we will rise.

Small Business Group Encourages Supreme Court to Uphold Executive Actions on Immigration Reform

Latino American Immigration (Immage by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)Statement by Rhett Buttle, President & Managing Director of Small Business Majority, on an amicus brief filed yesterday urging the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s executive actions on immigration

Small Business Majority, in conjunction with a coalition of business leaders and small business owners, filed an amicus brief this week urging the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s executive actions on immigration being challenged in United States v. Texas. We believe upholding the executive actions will help drive new business growth and ensure small businesses have adequate access to a skilled workforce.

Having access to a qualified workforce is of paramount importance to entrepreneurs looking to grow and expand their businesses. Our scientific opinion poll found 1 in 5 small business owners who have hired immigrants say it’s because they can’t find enough U.S. citizens to fill jobs. In fact, many small employers who have chosen to hire immigrants say one of the biggest challenges they face in using immigrant labor is concern about following the letter of the law.

This underscores why it’s critical to improve our immigration system and make it easier for employers to understand and comply with its requirements—and why upholding the executive actions is crucial to moving us closer to fixing the system as a whole.

However, we still need Congress to move forward on comprehensive reform. This would create a more stable workforce—something small businesses desperately need right now—and pad our country’s coffers. Specifically, two-thirds of small business owners believe we should allow more low-skilled foreign workers who might work in the agricultural, restaurant or service industries into this country legally, and a vast three-quarters agree the most appropriate solution for handling the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is to create a path toward citizenship so those here illegally can become legal taxpayers, pay their fair share and contribute to the economy and work toward citizenship in the future.

A resounding 88 percent of small employers believe our current immigration system is broken. The executive actions takes us one step closer to repairing our flawed system and ensuring we have a robust workforce. We urge the Supreme Court to uphold the executive actions on immigration in whole.

326 Immigration Advocacy Groups Send Brief To Supreme Court On U.S. v. Texas

In Landmark Case, U.S. v. Texas, 326 Civil Rights, Immigration, and Community Groups Urge Supreme Court to Let Immigration Relief Programs Go Forward

SEIU immigration rally _1Brief features profiles of families whose lives would improve if immigration directives were allowed to take effect

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas, urging the court to lift the injunction that blocked the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014.

The Obama administration’s expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) initiative were stopped by a federal district court in Texas, and that court’s order subsequently was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The lawsuit against the president’s executive actions was brought by 26 states. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” the brief filed by the civil rights groups argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying.”

The brief was filed by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and 320 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and service-provider organizations.

In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives. The brief provides examples of parents and individuals who would be able to contribute more fully to their communities if the immigration initiatives were allowed to take effect.

Among those impacted by the injunction are people who immigrated to the U.S. as children, did not meet the age and arrival date rules under the original DACA program (announced in 2012), but would qualify under the expanded program. These individuals continue contributing to their communities as they await relief from the courts. Also profiled are parents such as Dr. Alina Kipchumba, who came to the U.S. from Kenya 21 years ago, earned her Ph.D., and gave birth to a son in the U.S. She had work authorization but fell out of status when her son, who was born with a serious heart condition, had to undergo multiple heart surgeries that would not have been available in Kenya. Her son’s cardiologist warned that returning to Kenya would be a “death sentence” for her son.

“The stories in the brief illustrate the myriad ways that prospective beneficiaries of DAPA and expanded DACA could contribute to our country if given the chance. These initiatives constitute a lawful exercise of executive discretion, and we hope that the Supreme Court will affirm that in no uncertain terms,” said Melissa Crow, Legal Director, American Immigration Council.

“Groups from more than 40 states and all walks of life agree: we as a country are better off if we allow these initiatives to move forward,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “U.S. citizen children whose parents would qualify for this temporary relief from deportation will gain much-needed economic and emotional stability if the court allows these common sense measures to take effect.”

Advocates note that the Supreme Court should not be used to settle a political debate, with anti-immigrant activists trying to push through the courts what they haven’t been able to accomplish through the political process.

“This is a suspect legal challenge brought by Texas and followed up with support from the governors of Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina to tear apart families,” said Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel. “The president has clear legal authority on this matter. The purpose of the president’s action is to help immigrant families, many of which have mixed status, come from out of the shadows. These governors need to get out of the way and let the president do his job.”

The harmful effects of the injunction on families must be seriously considered, other advocates emphasized.

“We trust that the Supreme Court will recognize the historic tragedy of the detention and deportation machinery that rips families apart and erodes our justice system,” said María Rodríguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a partner of the Advancement Project. “The partisan battles waged by corporate interests and immigration demagogues, including Florida’s Pam Bondi, have done great harm to American tradition and families alike. Unfortunately, their extremism does not exist in a vacuum. It concretely affects thousands upon thousands of children and parents who either fear being torn apart or are condemned to live without one another because of deportation. Communities across the nation stand with immigrant families who need relief immediately and for policymakers to end detentions and deportations. We hope that the court will see the motivations behind the effort against DACA and DAPA, and the nefarious effects it has on vulnerable families.”

“President Obama’s deferred action policies would provide administrative relief to hardworking immigrant families who live in our communities and contribute to our economy every day,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “But because of this politically motivated, anti-immigrant lawsuit, the president’s initiatives have been frozen, forcing millions of parents and children to continue to live in the shadows, in constant fear of deportation and being separated from their families. We are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the president’s actions.”

“The lives of real people and their American-born children — not some political targets used in talking points on a campaign trail — are at stake in this case,” stated Rocio Saenz, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We hope the stories of immigrants who reflect our American past and success speak to the justices of the court. But above all, we hope justice prevails against the politics of hate. Far too many families have waited to cross this threshold. It’s time our country set the path forward as we ultimately continue to fight for our north star, lasting immigration reform.”

The full legal brief is available here

For an interactive timeline outlining the process for review by the Supreme Court click here

For more background on the legal challenges to executive action click here

To follow the case in the coming months, visit FightforFamilies.org.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka To Demand An End To Deportations At Pasadena’s Worker Center

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

During the event, day laborers, elected officials and immigrant and community leaders will highlight how failed enforcement policies undermine workers’ rights  

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will be at a worker center in Pasadena, Calif., today where he will oppose the ongoing deportations that undermine family unity and weaken rights for all workers. He will be joined by Los Angeles Labor Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks; Pasadena City Mayor, Terry Tornek; Pasadena Councilmember, District 5, Victor Gordo; California State Labor Commissioner, Julie Su; and dozens of day laborers and workers who will share their experiences as immigrant workers.

During the event President Trumka plans to deliver the following remarks [Excerpts]:

“America’s deportation crisis is a bipartisan failure. 

“And I could not come here today without saying how disappointed I am with the Obama Administration’s recent decision to send women and children back to dangerous Central American nations.

“I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for President Obama, yet the plague of immigration raids in America is nothing less than a travesty.  A human travesty.

“All over our country, those who fled violence and poverty to come here for a better life are being forced to live in fear.  This is wrong and today we say once again: stop the era of deportations!

“It’s time for us to ramp up the pressure on our elected leaders.  Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s labor movement and our allies, we are going to protect all working people.

“We demand an end to deportations and safe haven for workers who speak up on the job.

“We call on the Supreme Court to give DAPA and DACA the green light.  But no matter what the justices decide, we will keep mobilizing and keep organizing.

“We shouldn’t be building walls.  We should be building bridges—to security and prosperity and a better life.

“The future of immigrant workers is not in detention centers.  It’s in worker centers like this one.

“So brothers and sisters, continue to stand up when your communities are under attack.  Your bravery is inspiring.  Your courage lifts us all.”

Central American Mothers Targeted in Immigration Raids and Still Detained Pen Letter to President Obama

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

DILLEY, Texas — Seven women picked up and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in early January in widely publicized raids have made a direct and personal plea to President Barack Obama to allow their release while they pursue ongoing appeals of their deportation orders.

The women and their children, representing 33 people in 12 families, were picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in raids over New Year’s weekend. The families obtained temporary stays of their deportation orders with the help of attorneys from the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project based at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

Some of the 121 people ICE picked up were brought to the Dilley facility for processing The majority have been deported to their home countries. But the 12 families who received stays remain in detention, some at Dilley and others at the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Despite the fact that all of these women and children appeared at their hearings and consistently abided by the conditions of their release, DHS refuses to release them from custody while the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) considers their legal claims.

Now in their fourth week in detention, the women expressed their frustrations in a handwritten letter to President Obama, pleading with him to release them from detention and allow their children to return to their schools while their legal appeals proceed.

“Why did you choose us to…frighten other Central American families, with no regard for the suffering it causes us and our children?” they ask.

The women say that by trying to make an example of them, the U.S. government has made them more vulnerable. They note further that by seeking asylum they are following the law, but that their due process rights have been violated: “We complied with everything that was asked of us, but it was the system that failed us,” they continue.

In asking the President to hear their pleas, the women said that some in their group are “sick with depression and in psychological crisis.” Protesting their unjust treatment, the women asserted, “We are not criminals who you have to keep locked up. We have not committed any crime and it is unjust that our children, at such an early age, know what it’s like to be in a jail under guard 24 hours, when at this moment they should be in school living life with dignity like every child deserves to.”

The CARA Pro Bono Project continues to provide legal assistance to families held at the Dilley facility, while advocating for an end to family detention.

View text of the letters in English and Spanish.

New Report On The Horrible Conditions Inside Border Patrol Detention Center In Texas

Detention Center

Image from Jerry Doyle

Hieleras (Iceboxes) in the Rio Grande Valley Sector:
Lengthy Detention, Deplorable Conditions, and Abuse in CBP Holding Cells

Washington D.C. – Today, the American Immigration Council releases Hieleras (Iceboxes) in the Rio Grande Valley Sector: Lengthy Detention, Deplorable Conditions, and Abuse in CBP Holding Cells, by Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D.

Each year, the Border Patrol—a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—holds hundreds of thousands of individuals, including women and children, in detention facilities near the U.S. southern border. These facilities are meant to hold individuals for a short time while they undergo initial processing and a decision is made about where they go next, taking into account whether they are adults or children. The holding cells are not designed for overnight or extended detention, and yet the research shows they are routinely used in this way.

This paper zeros in on CBP holding facilities—often referred to as “hieleras”—in the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande Valley sector reports the highest number of apprehensions, including a disproportionately high share of women and minors apprehended and held there compared to all other southwest border sectors.

Using various sources of data, this new report takes a deep look at two aspects of detention in CBP facilities in the sector. First, based on never-before-released government data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, it reveals that individuals are detained for unconscionably long periods of time in facilities that are not designed nor equipped for overnight sleeping.

In addition, analyzing new survey data from the Binational Defense and Advocacy Program (Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional), as well as declarations from a sample of women who were recently detained in the facilities, the paper sheds light on the deplorable conditions of detention that are prevalent in CBP holding cells, including extreme temperatures, overcrowding, and inadequate meals.


To view the paper in its entirety, see:

After Refusing To Criticize Donald Trump, Trump Begins Fundraising For Ayotte

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Image curtesy of American Bridge

The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s newly minted Donald Trump koozies are being hocked to fundraise on behalf of their slate of Senate candidates for 2016, including Senator Kelly Ayotte. This is the second time in two weeks that the NRSC’s Trump strategy has been revealed.  Last week, a leaked confidential NRSC memo detailed instructions to Senate incumbents and candidates on implementing Trump-like strategies for their 2016 campaigns.  Trump called the NRSC candidate guide a “compliment.” 

“Donald Trump’s hateful, divisive rhetoric and policies are as un-American as they are incendiary. Fundraising on Trump’s hate speech to re-elect Sen. Ayotte is desperate and outrageous. Sen. Ayotte has already said that the former reality star’s campaign is ‘a positive thing,’ and refuses to ‘criticize Trump directly,’ even after his call to ban Muslisms. Trump and Sen. Ayotte’s policies would hurt the Granite State. Their agenda would make it harder for New Hampshirites to get a quality education, crush women’s access to healthcare, and take away insurance coverage for children of low income families,” said Jessica Mackler, president of American Bridge 21st Century. “Just like the NRSC koozie says, Sen. Ayotte’s  policies show she’s ‘with Trump.'”

In June, Senator Ayotte said Donald Trump’s candidacy for President was “a positive thing.”

As reported by BuzzFeed, “Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire said Tuesday that Donald Trump running for president is ‘a positive thing’ because it gives people more choices. ‘Well I think I said before, anyone has a chance to win in New Hampshire,’ Ayotte told Boston Herald radio on Tuesday morning when asked about his chances to win the Granite State. ‘The thing about the Republican field right now is it’s obviously a very broad field and it’s got a lot of depth. So I think the more individuals that get in so that the people of New Hampshire and the country have a choice, I think that’s a positive thing.’” 

Last week, NHPR reported that Senator Ayotte would not rule out supporting Trump is he became the nominee. “When asked whether she would support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination, Ayotte wouldn’t rule it out. ‘Well, at this point, we’re going to let the people of New Hampshire sort this out. I’ll support the Republican nominee.’”

Also last week, the Associated Press reported that Ayotte also refused to criticize Trump over his “religious based tests for immigrants.”

“New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she opposes any ‘religious-based test for our immigration standards,’ but she declined to criticize Trump directly when pressed by reporters.”

Religious based persecution is outright wrong. Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the Muslim community is fascist and all to reminiscent of the persecution of Japanese Americans and Jews in Europe.  By refusing to condemn Trump for his remarks, Senator Ayotte is essentially saying that is acceptable to have a fascist dictator in the White House.

“We know that Kelly Ayotte has vowed to back Donald Trump for President if he wins the nomination. Does she also condone her Washington backers raising money off of his hateful and un-American comments to support her campaign?” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “No amount of koozies will make voters forget Kelly Ayotte’s real Washington record of siding with her special interest backers against New Hampshire families and small businesses.”

Labor And Civil Rights Groups Urge Supreme Court To Take Immigration Case From Texas

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Coalition of Immigration, Civil Rights, Labor, and Social Service Groups Urges
Supreme Court to Protect President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Legal Brief Filed by 224 Groups Pushes High Court to Hear Landmark Immigration Case, Texas v. U.S.

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief, urging the Supreme Court to review the case, Texas v. U.S., that has blocked some of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The filing comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction put in place by a Texas federal district court that blocked implementation of protections for millions of immigrants across the country.

The filing from the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, comes only ten days after the formal request, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to review the case. Amicus briefs in support of a cert petition are usually due 30 days after the petition is filed. The amici coalition acted swiftly given that the Department of Justice has requested a briefing schedule that would allow the Supreme Court ample time to hear the case during the current term and issue a decision by June 2016.

“The breadth and depth of support for the President’s executive actions is clear,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center. “It’s now up to the Supreme Court to take the case up this term and put the legal questions to rest so that the over 5 million U.S. citizen children whose parents are eligible for DAPA, can finally have stability and be free from the fear that they will one day be separated from their parents.

“With more than 200 organizations joining this amicus, including labor groups that represent millions of immigrant workers, there’s no question that the president’s immigration initiatives are necessary and backed by the majority of the American public,” said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International. “The Supreme Court has a responsibility to take this case, just as we have a duty to mobilize our communities to continue to defend the immigration action and push lasting immigration reform to the forefront of the agenda with our vote.”

The brief provides personal stories and testimonials about potential beneficiaries of expanded DACA and DAPA and explains how these deferred action initiatives would positively impact millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, family members, employers, employees and other community members. The groups explain that the sweeping injunction upheld in the lower court directly harms individuals who have either been in the U.S. since they were children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

“The individuals profiled in the brief illustrate the havoc this case has wreaked on the lives of millions of immigrants who remain in legal limbo,” added Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case and give hard working immigrant families the chance to live and work without fear of deportation.”

The immigration programs, which were announced by the President last November, would expand eligibility for the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and expand protections for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through a program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Together, the programs would allow millions of undocumented individuals to remain in the United States without fear of deportation and apply for work authorization permits for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal. 

“The DAPA and expanded DACA policies will help ensure that families are not needlessly separated and that immigrant workers can speak up for basic safety and fairness on the job without facing retaliation,” said Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.  “We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case right away.” 

  • Click here to see the full legal brief.
  • Click here for more background on the legal challenges to executive action on immigration: 
  • Click here to see an interactive timeline outlining the process for review of the case by the Supreme Court:

Candlelight Vigils Tuesday In Support Of Refugee Resettlement

Candlelight (Lisa Widerberg FLIKR CC)

Candlelight (Lisa Widerberg FLIKR CC)

Candlelight vigils will be held tomorrow, November 24, outside the offices of U.S. Senators in Manchester, Nashua, and Dover and at Four Corners in Conway to call for New Hampshire’s elected officials to keep our doors open to refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq, and other war-torn areas of the world. 

The vigils, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, will take place from 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM at the following locations:

MANCHESTER – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Manchester office at 2 Wall Street, moving to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office at 1200 Elm Street.  Local contact:  Eva Castillo, (603) 661-2873.

NASHUA – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office at 60 Main Street, moving to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office at 144 Main Street.  Local contact:  Sylvia Gale, (603) 557-8417.

DOVER – Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office at 340 Central Avenue.   Local contact: Maggie Fogarty, (603) 988-7115.

CONWAY – Corner of Route 16 and Route 153.  Local contact: Andrea Walsh, (603) 447-2113.

The solemn vigils were motivated by passage last week of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which adds serious obstacles to the refugee resettlement process, said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee.  The Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure during the first week of December, she added.  

The vigils will include songs, prayers, and periods of silent reflection.

“Turning our backs on refugees is a betrayal of our nation’s highest values,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. 

Participants have been asked to bring candles and signs with respectful messages welcoming refugees.

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