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Asylum Seekers File Class Action Lawsuit Against DHS Over One-Year Filing Deadline

Department of Homeland Security (AFGE FLICKR)

Department of Homeland Security (AFGE FLICKR)

Washington D.C. – The U.S. Government has placed unnecessary hurdles in front of asylum seekers who are attempting to file asylum applications within the required time period. In fact, bureaucratic obstacles, a well-documented court backlog, and jurisdictional disputes between agencies often make it impossible for individuals to file their asylum applications by the deadline, leaving them ineligible for asylum and subject to deportation. 

Immigration Policy Center logoIn an attempt to bring order and fairness to what has become an overly bureaucratic and chaotic process, today, 4 asylum-seekers filed a class action lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) failure to advise them of the deadline for filing their asylum applications, as well as both DHS’s and the immigration courts’ failure to adopt procedures which would ensure that an individual is able to file an asylum application by the deadline.  

Plaintiffs, represented by the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Dobrin & Han, PC, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, sue on behalf of themselves and all other individuals in the United States who are in the same situation.

The immigration statute imposes a one-year deadline within which an asylum seeker must apply for asylum. With very limited exceptions, an individual who misses this deadline becomes ineligible for asylum. Despite these dire consequences, DHS agents and officers do not notify asylum-seekers of the one-year deadline for filing. Additionally, neither DHS nor the immigration courts have adopted procedures to ensure that an individual is able to file an asylum application within one year. Many applicants and their attorneys take extraordinary steps to attempt to file, but even then have no guarantee that DHS or the immigration will find that the deadline was met.  

“It is inexcusable that DHS and EOIR—fully aware that their own case backlogs and bureaucratic stumbling blocks prevent many asylum-seekers from filing on time—have not adopted national, uniform procedures to remedy the situation,” said Mary Kenney, Senior Attorney with the American Immigration Council.

“In many cases, trying to comply with the one-year filing deadline is nothing but a wild-goose chase; timely filing an asylum application in open court is simply impossible when court hearings are routinely scheduled a year or more after the person’s arrival,” explained Trina Realmuto, Litigation Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

“Our Constitution and immigration laws require a fair process,” said Matt Adams, Legal Director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.  “The government must make the rules clear, ensuring that those who qualify for asylum have a genuine opportunity to apply.”

“The United States must continue to be a place of refuge for those fleeing harm in their home countries,” said Hilary Han, a partner at Dobrin & Han, PC.  “The government has failed to honor our obligation to genuine asylum seekers by making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to file their asylum applications in a timely manner.”

The complaint can be viewed here

AFL-CIO Launches Online Ads Targeting Senators On A Variety Of Issues Including The TPP

Ads to Target Senate Candidates in Six States

To view ads click here: http://bit.ly/293dN2i

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(Washington, DC) – Today the AFL-CIO launched the first round of ads in six key battleground states: Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and Wisconsin. The ads are uniquely targeted to reach working people and draw attention to Senate candidates whose policies are against the interests of working families.

“Working people will be a force in this election,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “These ads are just one of the many tools we will use to speak to our members and the community about what’s at stake. Our job is to educate working families on the candidates who aspire to lead America. We will stand together with politicians who share our values and oppose those who do not.”

The ads will run initially on Facebook and drive traffic to specific petitions on issues that matter to working people, including restoring the Voting Rights Act, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

LiUNA Calls On Congress To Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

 Supreme Court Split Decision on Immigration Underscores Importance of this Election and Urgency for Congress to Act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

(Terry O'Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America - LiUNA)

(Terry O’Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America – LiUNA)

Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2016) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s split decision on the President’s Executive Order to provide relief to immigrant families:

The Supreme Court’s inability to make a decision; thereby blocking any potential relief for immigrant families, underscores the importance of this election at all levels of government. The next President of the United States will have the critical job of filling the vacant seat on the Supreme Court—a seat that will be the deciding vote on critical issues that have an impact on families, workers, and our nation for years to come.

President Obama’s Executive Order was a temporary solution that was put forth after the U.S. House rejected the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation. LIUNA was proudly founded in 1903 by immigrant workers and we have long been a proud and united advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. The current system is broken and leads to unfair results in far too many cases; including tragic family separations and worker exploitation. It is outrageous and perplexing that while this Congress cannot get comprehensive immigration reform done, it is able to get expansion of exploitative H2B visa programs passed.

It’s up to Congress to right the injustices in our current immigration system and it’s urgent that they do so. The 2016 elections, which are around the corner, will set the stage for action on immigration and many other issues critical to our members. LIUNA strongly supports candidates like Secretary Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, who will champion working class families, fight for immigration reform, and put the right person on the Supreme Court so that America continues to be a country that provides protection from exploitation and grants every person the opportunity to prosper from hard work.

Disappointment Over SCOTUS Immigration Tie Highlights Call For Senate To “Do Your Job”

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

The Supreme Court splits on DACA and DAPA, highlighting the urgent need to confirm a ninth Supreme Court Justice.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, the case challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). This means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against these initiatives will stand.

This ruling does not impact the original DACA program launched in 2012.

“One of the reasons why America is such a diverse and inclusive nation is because we’re a nation of immigrants,” said President Barack Obama. “Our Founders conceived of this country as a refuge for the world. And for more than two centuries, welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.”

“But for more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama added.

Confirming that this ruled does not affect the original DACA program and in an attempt to ease people’s minds, Obama continued:

“I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed today, but it is important to understand what today means. The deferred action policy that has been in place for the last four years is not affected by this ruling. Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling. This means that the people who might have benefitted from the expanded deferred action policies — long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents — they will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

“The decision is a huge disappointment for immigrant families and their defenders. It’s bad for American communities, workers and the economy,” wrote the Immigration Policy Council. “We will continue to explore all available legal avenues and will urge the government to do the same. Ultimately, the nation needs a permanent solution to our outdated immigration system, and that must come from Congress. The fight will continue.”

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “While we are deeply disappointed by the Court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.”

“This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the Administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights,” added Trumka.

Locally, elected leaders and advocates spoke out against this decision.

“Today’s SCOTUS un-decision comes as a hard blow to the millions of immigrants that could have benefited from DAPA and the extension of DACA,” said Eva Castillo, Program Director for the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “We will not stand still, we will continue to push back against anti-immigrant politicians and what they represent.”

“In November our vote will speak loudly against all candidates that stand for hatred, xenophobia and racism. That is our pledge,” Castillo added.

In 2015, Senator Shaheen joined more than 30 Senators and 180 Members of the House of Representatives, in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court before the case went to trial.

“Families shouldn’t live in fear that at a moment’s notice a father, mother or child could be separated from their loved ones,” said Shaheen. “The Supreme Court’s order today is extremely disappointing and demonstrates why having only eight justices on our nation’s highest court hurts our country.”

“This order ignores the clear intent of Congress to grant the executive branch the discretion to establish and enforce immigration policy. Our country is at its strongest when we are open, inclusive and embrace all people. DAPA and expanded DACA would be good for families, our communities, and our economy and I am deeply disappointed that partisan opposition has prevented these initiatives from going forward.”

“It’s now up to us in Congress to work together to advance immigration policies that will keep families together and strengthen our nation,” Shaheen concluded.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

This split decision only further highlights the need for the US Senate to hold confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice.

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland 100 days ago and some Senators, including New Hampshire’s own Kelly Ayotte, are refusing to hold confirmation hearings on Garland.

“Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to do her job has now hit the 100 day mark as she keeps a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill with an anti-choice justice,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “100 days later, New Hampshire voters still want Ayotte to do her job and give the President’s nominee fair consideration.”

“Granite Staters have had enough of Kelly Ayotte’s political obstruction and reckless support for a misogynist presidential candidate who would appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” Miller added.

“Today’s decision is a shattering blow to millions of families and a painfully clear illustration of why we need a fully staffed Supreme Court in order to address the most important issues we face as a country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of the People for the American Way. “Without issuing a real opinion or providing any reasoning, our hobbled Supreme Court has allowed a single district court judge to implement a twisted ruling that will have a profound impact on the lives of families all across the country. The Court has provided no guidance to lower courts while simultaneously impacting millions of people’s lives.”

The People for the American Way have been leading the charge for the Senate to confirm a new Justice. Baker continued by blasting Ayotte for failing to uphold her Constitutional duty to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice.

“This isn’t how our system of justice is supposed to work. Yet Republicans including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are eager to force their ideology into law by any means necessary, have refused to perform their most basic responsibilities and give fair consideration to a pending Supreme Court nominee. This is the result of a broken system of government, and make no mistake, Republicans have broken it on purpose.”

Governor Maggie Hassan, who is running against Ayotte, highlighted Ayotte’s failure to do her job and confirm a new Justice.

“Earlier this week, the American Bar Association affirmed what members of both parties have said to be true: Judge Merrick Garland is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States and his nomination deserves fair consideration,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte continues to side with her party leadership in obstructing the Supreme Court confirmation process – despite the fact that a majority of Granite Staters support considering Garland’s confirmation now.”

“As this irresponsible blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process marks 100 days, I call on Senator Ayotte to drop the partisan politics, do her job and stop putting her political party before justice for Granite Staters,” Hassan concluded.

The Supreme Court has shown twice now that they cannot function properly with only eight Justices. The Senate must do their Constitutional duty and confirm a new Justice.

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.

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