It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane. - Pope Francis
The response of the Catholic Church to the continued arrival of Central American children and families seeking protection in the United States has been tremendous. Local dioceses and Catholic Charities programs have been on the frontlines helping to provide shelter, clothing, education, and critical legal and social services to migrant children from the moment they cross the border to their reunification with relatives across the country. While the faith-based and non-profit community continues to welcome unaccompanied children and arriving families, we can do more to assist and also must call on our local governments to respond with equal humanity and action.
There is substantial room for advocating that city and county governments step up and take action to welcome and protect unaccompanied children in our communities. Local governments can play a coordinating role helping to connect arriving children with existing community and public services. They can also adopt policies to expand access to much-needed legal representation, education, healthcare, and social services. Consider the following advocacy suggestions:
1. Create a task force
New York City created an interagency task force for city agencies to coordinate resources and formulate a citywide response to the rising number of unaccompanied minors coming to live in the area. The goals of the task force are to target outreach to schools and neighborhood with large Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran populations and provide information to families about school and health insurance enrollment, legal screenings and referrals.
2. Pass a resolution of welcome
The City Council of Columbia, South Carolina adopted a resolution welcoming every refugee child and unaccompanied immigrant child released to sponsors within the community. The resolution also calls on local, state, and federal leaders to work together to address the current child refugee crisis by immediately adopting comprehensive immigration reform.
3. Conduct community outreach
The New York City Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs has teamed up with the city’s Department of Education and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide direct services to children and families at the federal Immigration Court. Each day, during the court’s juvenile docket, city representatives are available to assist children and their guardians with school enrollment and English language programs, and enroll children in the state-funded public health insurance program.
4. Connect children with existing services
Cities and counties can play a coordinating or clearinghouse role in connecting service providers with children in need. The state of Maryland launched a bilingual website called “Buscando Maryland” which allows visitors to search by zip code for organizations that provide food, clothing, language, transportation, legal services, medical care, education, religious services, counseling, and recreation. This type of resource could be replicated at a city or county level.
5. Fund additional services
In response to community advocacy, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance providing $2.1 million over the next two years to fund non-profit organizations to represent unaccompanied children and families on the San Francisco Immigration Court's expedited removal docket. City funding initiatives for legal services can also be collaborative efforts with philanthropists, as in the case of a recent $1.9 million joint initiative of the New York City Council, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the New York Community Trust.
6. Issue a call to action
In addition to taking actions themselves, city and county leaders can call on various constituents to volunteer time, donate money, or otherwise come to the assistance of unaccompanied children. For example, the Attorney General of California has asked a number of large law firms to dedicate pro bono hours to represent children in their immigration proceedings. The Mayor of Davenport, Iowa has announced his support for the state’s Caring Cities Campaign and called on city residents and social service agencies to provide housing for some of the children.
By Jen Riddle and Kassandra Haynes
Many states and localities are considering and enacting laws and policies that welcome undocumented individuals and enhance their ability to live, work, and participate as contributing members of society. Eleven states have passed laws granting driver’s licenses or privileges to all residents, regardless of immigration status. Not only has the issuance of driver’s licenses permitted undocumented residents of these states to travel safely and legally to work and school, it has provided them with a form of identification. Cities are also recognizing that the ability to identify oneself is critical to civic participation. Specifically, New Haven (Connecticut), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond (California), Washington D.C., and Asbury Park and Mercer County (New Jersey) now offer municipal identification cards to all city residents. The municipal ID program recently approved by the New York City Council will launch in early 2015 and could benefit as many as 500,000 undocumented immigrants as well as other vulnerable New Yorkers.
ID cards typically display the photo and address of the cardholder and will empower residents to report crimes to the police. They will enable individuals establish their identity to emergency medical responders. With the cards, individuals may also gain access to essential services such as opening bank accounts, obtaining loans, renting apartments, filling prescriptions, and picking up children from school. Click here for a list of ways in which ID cards would enhance individuals’ daily lives. While municipal ID cards are available to all who can establish residency, they are especially valuable to vulnerable residents – not only undocumented immigrants, but also victims of domestic violence and natural disasters, the homeless, low-income senior citizens, and the formerly incarcerated.
Advocates are campaigning for municipal ID programs in a number of other cities around the country, including Boston, Philadelphia, Iowa City, Tucson, and Phoenix. Such proposals are an important step toward embracing and protecting all city residents and affirming their dignity as human beings. CLINIC has prepared talking points on why municipal ID cards are fundamentally fair, make our communities safer, promote community inclusiveness, and further Catholic social teaching.
This summary was prepared in June 2014 with assistance from Legal Fellow Kassandra Haynes. It is intended for informational purposes, not as legal advice. For advocacy strategy assistance, customized legal analysis, or the development of resources specific to your city or campaign, please contact State and Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at (301) 565-4807 or email@example.com.
This webinar addresses advocacy on behalf of unaccompanied children residing with sponsors and relatives across the United States as they await their immigration hearings. Panelists provide updates on where the children are living, their impact on local communities, and steps you can take to welcome them. Panelists also provide specific suggestions for local advocacy on behalf of young migrants seeking safety in our country – how to educate community members and how to persuade policymakers to ensure access to much-needed legal representation, education, healthcare, and other social services.
Held on: 9/26/14
Sarah Bronstein, Senior Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)
Ashley Feasley, Migration Policy Advisor, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Katie Kuennen, Assistant Director of Family Reunification, USCCB
Jen Riddle, Advocacy Attorney, CLINIC
Niloufar Khonsari, Immigration Attorney and Executive Director, Pangea Legal Services
Michelle Mendez, Senior Managing Attorney, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Washington, DC
New York Passes Law to Protect Immigrants Against Fraud
On August 6, 2014, New York enacted the Immigrant Assistance Service Enforcement Act to protect individuals against immigration fraud and punish perpetrators. The law ensures that only attorneys and representatives accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can provide immigration legal services, strengthens translation requirements, increases civil penalties for immigration fraud violations, and creates two new immigration assistance fraud crimes – a felony and a misdemeanor. The legislation also institutionalizes the New York State Office for New Americans, an entity created by the Governor last March to offer immigrant communities legal services, civics and English as a Second Language classes, and other services. This law will serve as a model for other state legislatures around the country. Congratulations to Catholic Charities of New York which worked with other allies to get the bill passed.
Colorado Begins Issuing Licenses to Undocumented Drivers
Starting August 1, 2014, undocumented residents of Colorado began applying for driver’s licenses at five Department of Revenue locations across the state. Colorado’s law permits residents who cannot demonstrate lawful presence but have a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for a three-year driving license. However, the license is distinguishable from the standard license in that it has a black banner on the front reading “Not Valid For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes.” An estimated 45,000 people are expected to be eligible. Colorado was one of eight states that passed laws last year permitting undocumented residents to apply for driving privileges. Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont have already begun granting licenses. California and Connecticut will start in January 2015. The implementation of Oregon’s driver’s license law is on hold pending the outcome of a voter referendum in November.
According to Appeals Court, Arizona Must Grant Driver’s Licenses to DACA Recipients
On July 7, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Arizona’s policy of denying driver’s licenses to state residents with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). According to the court, the plaintiffs succeeded in showing that they were likely to suffer serious harm as a result of the state policy. The Appeals Court ordered the lower federal court in Phoenix to issue an order prohibiting the state from refusing to accept DACA recipients’ employment authorization documents as proof that they are authorized under federal law to be present in the United States and, therefore, eligible to receive a driver’s license. However the lower court has not yet issued the order because the state of Arizona has asked for a rehearing. The only other state that continues to deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients is Nebraska.
Boston Becomes the Latest Major City to Limit Police Cooperation with ICE
On August 20, 2014, the Boston City Council unanimously passed an ordinance limiting the instances in which police will detain immigrants for possible deportation. The Boston TRUST Act prohibits law enforcement from holding someone pursuant to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer unless the individual in custody has been convicted of a violent crime; has been convicted of a felony in the past ten years; is a registered sex offender; is on the federal terrorist watch list; or is the subject of a criminal warrant. Advocates claim the measure will improve relations between police and immigrants who often fear that reporting crimes will result in deportation. According to federal statistics, nearly half of the 757 individuals deported from Boston and Suffolk County from 2008 through March 2014 had no criminal record. The act will also protect Boston from civil lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of detaining immigrants. Boston’s Mayor believes the ordinance will uphold immigrants’ rights and preserve public safety, family unity, and due process, and has expressed his intent to sign the measure into law. Boston joins more than 200 municipalities across the country that have adopted anti-detainer measures.
Maricopa County Agrees to Stop “Self-Smuggling” Prosecutions Under Arizona Law
In late July, Maricopa County agreed to settle a lawsuit challenging its controversial policy of prosecuting undocumented immigrants for the felony of conspiring to “smuggle themselves” into the United States. According to a 2005 law, it is a state crime to smuggle unauthorized immigrants into Arizona. While this law was passed to target human smugglers, Maricopa County was using it to also charge migrants – i.e. individuals who had paid to be smuggled into the country. Since 2006, the county convicted approximately 14,000 individuals of felony conspiracy to smuggle themselves. This conviction made them ineligible to legalize their immigration status and become lawful permanent residents in the future. Last year, a U.S. District Court in Phoenix found these prosecutions were an unconstitutional attempt by a state to regulate immigration, which is a federal matter. However, Maricopa County appealed the court’s ruling. Now, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has decided to end the litigation, pay $675,000 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs, and cease the practice.
San Francisco and Alameda Counties Provide Free Representation to Immigrants Facing Deportation
New York City was the first jurisdiction in the country to create a functioning public defender system for immigrants facing deportation. In June, the city announced that its municipally funded Immigrant Family Unity Project would guarantee legal representation to all detained immigrants in deportation proceedings. Recently, the public defender offices in San Francisco and Alameda counties have each hired an immigration lawyer to provide free representation to noncitizen public defender clients who face subsequent deportation proceedings. These immigration experts will also advise their fellow public defenders about the complicated intersection between criminal law and immigration law. Both counties hope that this model will inspire other county public defender offices to develop similar programs which can play a critical role in ensuring due process for immigrants. In the words of San Francisco Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, “Even a minor brush with the law can trigger devastating consequences for…families. This collateral damage is far worse than a jail sentence and includes losing the right to work, to support one's children and to stay in the country.”
New State-Level Data on DACA Applicants and Recipients
It has been 2 years since the Obama Administration implemented the DACA program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released statistics on the characteristics of DACA applicants and recipients, including the number of applicants and recipients and the application approval rates based on state and metropolitan area. The Brookings Institute took a closer look at the metropolitan data. Finally, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) issued a profile of DACA applicants containing the application rates in the 15 states with the highest number of DACA-eligible residents as well as an interactive map with detailed state profiles of the DACA-eligible population.
This document was prepared in August 2014 for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions, please contact State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 565-4807.
By Jen Riddle
CLINIC is happy to announce an important new resource for affiliates concerned about the ways in which state and local governments may be participating in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. There are a number of programs through which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other federal agencies recruit state and local law enforcement officials to help conduct immigration enforcement.
Often, participating in these programs may not be in the best interest of law enforcement or the local community. The cost of participation can be a drain on state and local resources and divert limited law enforcement efforts from more effective safety and crime prevention methods. Fortunately, most of these programs are completely voluntary. CLINIC’s new resource, “The Cost of State & Local Involvement in Immigration Enforcement,” outlines the major programs through which your state or local government may be cooperating in immigration enforcement, including how much they cost and whether they are mandatory. The document can be found here.
CLINIC will continue to develop resources so partners and affiliates can approach their state and local governments and law enforcement agencies and advocate for positive reforms that welcome and integrate – rather than punish – immigrant families.
New York City Council Approves Municipal Identification Card Program
On June 26, the New York City Council voted 43-3 to create a municipal identification card for city residents. Starting in early 2015, the new “City ID” card will be available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, and will be recognized as proof of identity by all city agencies. New York’s municipal ID program will be the largest in the country and could benefit as many as 500,000 undocumented immigrants in addition to other vulnerable New Yorkers. The cards will empower holders to report crimes to the police, allow them to establish their identity to emergency medical responders, and enhance their access to essential services from opening bank accounts and obtaining loans to renting apartments, filling prescriptions, and picking up children from school. According to Mayor de Blasio, who is expected to sign the bill into law, "the municipal ID is more than just a card—it provides New Yorkers who are currently living in the shadows with dignity and peace of mind.” Similar programs are active in a handful of cities including New Haven, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A recent Center for Popular Democracy report found that municipal ID cards “play a consistently positive role in empowering and protecting vulnerable communities” and result in practical benefits as well as carrying “symbolic importance in creating a sense of shared community and belonging for immigrants and other marginalized individuals.” If you are interested in advocating for municipal IDs in your county or city, please consult CLINIC’s talking points on why such programs are fundamentally fair, make our communities safer, promote community inclusiveness, and further Catholic social teaching as well as a list of ways in which ID cards will enhance individuals’ daily lives.
This month, the New York City Council allocated $4.9 million dollars to fund the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. The program began as a pilot last year in two public defenders’ offices but the increased funding will guarantee that, starting in 2015, all of New York City’s poor detained immigrants have legal representation in their removal proceedings. The federal government does not provide immigrants facing deportation with free court-appointed attorneys, and those who are detained are even less likely to be represented by counsel and, as a result, more likely to be deported. According to Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, “New York City will become the first jurisdiction in the nation to have a functioning public defender system for immigrants facing deportation…[and] no family will have a loved one locked up and deported simply because they cannot afford a lawyer.” The project will fund representation for well over 1,300 immigrants, and advocates hope to eventually expand the project to cover all immigrants facing deportation in the state of New York. Proponents believe a state-wide project would save the government millions of dollars by reducing the length of adults’ stay in detention and the costs of foster care and health care for the U.S. citizen children of those deported, as well as savings to employers who have to replace workers who are detained and deported.
First of Its Kind State Citizenship Bill Introduced in New York Legislature
On June 16, days before the New York legislature adjourned for 2014, the New York Is Home Act (SB 7879/ A. 10129) was introduced. The bill would grant “state citizenship” to an estimated 2.7 million non-citizens - both documented and undocumented - who have lived and paid taxes in New York for at least three years. Intended to promote fuller civic, economic, and political participation by immigrants, the bill would confer the right to vote in state and local elections and run for public office in addition to access to state Medicaid coverage, professional licensing, tuition assistance, and driver’s licenses. The responsibilities of state citizenship would include swearing to uphold the state's constitution and laws and committing to serve on a jury. Finally, the bill would limit state and local law enforcement officers’ participation in immigration enforcement by prohibiting them from honoring immigration detainers, restricting ICE’s access to state and local facilities such as courthouses, and limiting information sharing with the Department of Homeland Security without a criminal warrant. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Gustavo Rivera, says the bill is a direct response to the failure of Congress to pass federal immigration reform and he hopes it will start a conversation, both locally and nationally, about what changes can be made at the state level. The bill is expected to be re-introduced in 2015 and may serve as a model for other states seeking to pass pro-immigrant integration measures.
Courts Find Utah and Montana Immigration Enforcement Laws Unconstitutional
On June 20, a federal district court in Montana ruled that provisions of a law requiring state agencies to make immigration status determinations before they could grant certain state services were preempted by federal immigration law. Legislative Referendum No. 21 was approved in 2012 by more than 80% of Montana voters and would have required all Montana residents to prove their citizenship or legal immigration status before they could attend a public university, receive unemployment insurance benefits, obtain a professional license, work for a state agency, or receive services for crime victims or the physically disabled. The law permitted state agencies to determine whether or not a Montana resident was an “illegal alien” (the term used by the law) and required state employees to report unlawfully present non-citizens to the federal government. Since only authorized federal agents are permitted to determine someone’s immigration status, the court found this aspect to be an impermissible state regulation of immigration. While the court upheld the provision permitting state agencies to report an individual’s immigration status to ICE, it is believed that they will not do so since they are not permitted to make immigration status determinations in the first place. This law was initially proposed by the legislature, which subsequently referred it to the state’s voters instead. The Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance attorney who filed the lawsuit hopes that Montana’s legislature and other state legislatures will learn “from this ruling that the state has no business enforcing federal immigration policy and needs to leave these issues to the federal government.”
On June 18, a federal judge in Utah struck down several sections of Utah’s 2011 immigration enforcement law, HB 497. Notably, the court found that federal law preempted the provision allowing warrantless arrests based on the suspicion that someone has violated his or her immigration status as well as the provision making it a state crime to harbor or transport an undocumented individual (including such activities as driving someone to church or to the store). The decision also clarified that people are not required to carry federal documents verifying their immigration status with them at all times. The district court upheld the “show me your papers” provision of Utah’s law that allows police to check the immigration status of those stopped for other lawful reasons. However, it imposed limits on how this section can be enforced. For example, Utah police may not prolong the detention of individuals during traffic stops or other types of stops solely to verify immigration status with federal officials. Provisions similar to those struck down this month by the Utah court have already been halted in other states including Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana. According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, “[this] decision really is the last across the country to issue a stinging rebuke of the anti-immigration agenda.”
Maine Restricts Undocumented Immigrants’ Rights to State Welfare
On June 11, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS") announced a change in who will be eligible for welfare benefits under the state’s General Assistance program that helps low-income residents cover necessary living expenses. Under the previous rules, an applicant was only required to demonstrate need, without verifying his or her immigration status, in order to qualify for the municipally-administered benefits that are jointly funded by state and local taxes. Under the new policy, the state will cease its General Assistance funding for undocumented residents. Maine’s DHHS Commissioner claims the change in policy is required under 8 U.S.C. 1621(a), a federal law that prohibits states from providing certain public benefits to non-citizens without lawful status unless the state has adopted a law affirmatively providing for the provision of such benefits. According to the Commissioner, Maine does not have such a statute. Among opponents to the recent policy change are Maine’s Attorney General who objected to an earlier and broader proposal to deny General Assistance not only to undocumented immigrants but also to those with lawful status including asylum seekers and asylees. According to the Attorney General’s legal opinion, the proposal would violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. and state constitutions and requires approval by the Maine legislature. She warned, “You can’t make every town in Maine a mini immigration office.” The recent change in policy may affect an estimated 1,000 Maine residents.
Judge Dismisses DACA Grantees’ Lawsuit Seeking In-State Tuition in Georgia
A superior court judge dismissed the lawsuit brought against the Georgia Board of Regents by 39 DACA grantees last year seeking eligibility for in-state tuition at public universities. According to the board’s policy, non-citizens with “lawful presence” qualify for in-state tuition rates, yet students with DACA have been denied. The plaintiffs argued that this language covers DACA recipients who are recognized as lawfully present by the federal government. According to the court, the case must be dismissed under the concept of sovereign immunity which prevents the state from being sued for “declaratory relief” (a legal term for a judge’s determination of the parties’ legal rights). The DACA students plan to appeal and are also considering filing a new lawsuit in federal court alleging a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Citizen Challenges Tuition Policy of South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
On June 10, a South Carolina student filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the state Commission on Higher Education’s policy that denies U.S. citizens with undocumented parents eligibility for financial aid and in-state tuition. The plaintiff, a U.S. citizen and long-time South Carolina resident, was denied financial aid and in-state tuition because, as a dependent of undocumented parents who are not considered to be state residents, she is also considered a “non-resident” under the commission’s policy. The lawsuit alleges that the student has been denied equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
New Report Examines States’ Role in Implementing Immigration Reform
The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released a report exploring the critical role that states and localities would play if Congress were to pass immigration reform with a legalization component. Among the state and local governments’ responsibilities in implementing legalization and integrating its beneficiaries are conducting outreach and public education, providing documentation needed to meet the eligibility requirements of the program, offering English language and civics education, and protecting immigrants from fraudulent legal service providers. The report also provides data and a map of the growth and size of the unauthorized immigrant population across the 50 states.
Massachusetts Legislature Declines to Pass Driver’s License Law for Undocumented Residents
On June 23, the Massachusetts legislature voted to send the “Safe Driving Bill” (HR 3285) to study rather than proceeding to approve the legislation. The bill would have made driver's licenses available to undocumented residents by removing the requirement that applicants present a Social Security number. Advocates are committed to reviving the bill during next legislative session. Click here for information about the 11 states that have passed laws permitting undocumented drivers to apply for licenses.
Florida Governor Signs Bills on Tuition Equity and Law Licenses into Law
This month Governor Rick Scott signed into law two pro-immigrant measures passed by the state legislature this session. HB 851 extends eligibility for in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to undocumented residents. Click here to listen to an interview with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops about advocating for passage of the new tuition equity law. Governor Scott also signed HB 755, a bill that will permit DACA recipients who have been in the U.S. for over 10 years to practice law so long as they meet the other requirements for acquiring a law license in the state.
This document was prepared in June 2014 for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at email@example.com or (301) 565-4807.
Currently, seven states and the District of Columbia grant driver’s licenses to residents who cannot prove lawful presence in the United States. Four additional states have passed legislation to that effect and will begin granting licenses to undocumented residents within the next year. However, only two of these states offer undocumented residents the standard driver’s license available to individuals lawfully present in the country. The other states offer licenses—sometimes called “driver’s privilege cards”—that contain language limiting the use of the license and are somehow marked or distinguishable by title, color, or design.
For most immigrants, driving is necessary in their everyday lives. They need to drive to get to work, to school, and to the supermarket. In addition, many immigrants are self-employed and rely on their cars to be able run their businesses and do their jobs. Consequently, the ability to drive is often essential to providing basic life necessities like food, shelter, and medical care. Granting driver’s licenses to undocumented individuals greatly improves their quality of life and well-being by allowing them to legally drive and live their lives as normally as possible.
Despite the many benefits, there are a number of drawbacks to having a marked driver’s license. For undocumented individuals, having state-issued identification that is noticeably different from that of other residents draws attention to them and their lack of legal status. Because of the markings, everyone from police officers to the clerk at the corner store can know someone’s immigration status just by looking at their state-issued identification. The actors who learn this information that they would not otherwise know may not have either the right or the need to know it. Additionally, there is a risk that police officers, upon seeing a marked license, will inquire about the individual’s immigration status or even contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Several people interviewed by CLINIC describe feeling “discriminated against” or treated differently when using marked driver’s licenses. Because of these issues, many undocumented residents report only showing their marked driver’s license when absolutely necessary. They offer other forms of identification whenever possible.
Marked driver’s licenses also cause problems for individuals because they are often not accepted as identification or proof of age. Individuals have been turned away from stores when attempting to pay with a credit card or check, pick up prescriptions, or prove their age when purchasing alcohol or other restricted items. Others have been unable to sign the legal documents required to obtain loans or lease apartments. At least one student interviewed by CLINIC was turned away from the ACT college entrance exam because her marked license was not considered valid identification by ACT administrators.
Additionally, the application process and requirements for a marked driver’s license are often considerably more onerous and burdensome than those for the standard license. In many states, the application requires a large amount of paperwork and documents, much more than is required for a standard license. Marked driver’s licenses often must also be renewed more frequently than standard licenses, in some states as often as every year or two. This requires undocumented residents to go through the application process and pay the application fee far more often than individuals with standard licenses. All of these additional requirements impose a real burden on holders of marked driver’s licenses.
Overall, granting driver’s licenses to undocumented individuals is a good policy that helps immigrants participate more fully in society. It is also consistent with Catholic social teaching. Individuals must work to support their families and contribute to society. The Catholic faith calls for respecting every human being, regardless of immigration status, and acknowledging the dignity of their efforts to work in order to provide for themselves and their families. But the positive benefits of driver’s licenses are significantly undermined when such licenses are marked to denote that the holder is without lawful status or are not accepted as a form of official identification. For this reason, unmarked licenses with full privileges are preferable to marked licenses or “privilege cards.” If licenses must be distinguished in some way, states should strive to make the distinguishing features as minimal as possible in order to avoid unduly stigmatizing undocumented residents.
This document was prepared in July 2014 by CLINIC Advocacy Intern Matthew Seamon. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions, please contact State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 565-4807.
Florida Becomes 20th State to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Students
Advocates had been pushing for tuition equity in Florida for over a decade. On May 2, 2014 the state legislature passed HB 851, a bi-partisan bill that will grant in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to all qualified Florida residents, regardless of immigration status. The bill is still awaiting signature by Governor Rick Scott who called it “an exciting day for every student that dreams of a college education.” Under the new law, Florida high school graduates who attended at least 3 years of high school in the state will now qualify for in-state tuition rates. Approximately 200,000 students may now be able to pursue higher education. According to one young advocate: “Some of Florida’s best and brightest students are forced into low-wage jobs instead of going to college—jobs in construction, agriculture, and housekeeping—that kept me and my fellow immigrant students in the shadows instead of giving us the opportunity to contribute our best to our communities and our state…For me, the passage of the bill is the answer to my prayers and the prayers of all the undocumented youth in Florida.”
Legislature Attempts to Pave the Way for Undocumented Lawyers Seeking Bar Admission in Florida
On May 1, 2014, the Florida legislature passed HB 755, a family law bill with a provision authorizing the State Supreme Court to admit to the Florida Bar undocumented attorneys who were brought to the U.S. as children, have been in the country for over 10 years, and have received work authorization and a social security number as long as they meet the other admission requirements. This law followed a March decision by the Supreme Court of Florida denying admission to DACA recipient Jose Godinez-Samperio based on his undocumented status. It is now up to the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider its previous decision and decide whether to admit Mr. Godinez-Samperio. Florida’s law is similar to one passed by the California legislature last year.
Supreme Court Will Not Interfere with Fremont’s Anti-Immigrant Housing Ordinance
This month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the legal challenge to the Fremont, Nebraska ordinance aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from renting housing. As a result, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2013 decision, which found the city’s rental ordinance does not interfere with federal immigration laws, will stand. City police began implementing the ordinance last month and report that 140 occupancy licenses have already been issued to renters who have paid the $5 fee and attested to their immigration status. According to Fremont’s mayor, the town has already spent $186,000 defending and enforcing the ordinance and plans to spend up to $1.5 million moving ahead. Opponents are monitoring the ordinance’s implementation and may bring a future legal challenge if prospective tenants report discriminatory enforcement. Kansas’ Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, who defended the ordinance, called the Supreme Court’s decision a “bright green light” for cities in other states in the jurisdiction of the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota) to adopt similar measures. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases involving similar ordinances in Hazelton, Pennsylvania and Farmers Branch, Texas that were found to be unconstitutional by the 3rd and 5th Circuit Courts. Despite the obvious circuit split, the Supreme Court has been unwilling to get involved so far but may decide to weigh in on the issue at some point in the future.
Federal Government Reminds Schools about Immigrants’ Right to Education
On May 8, the Departments of Education and Justice updated their guidance to public elementary and secondary schools about their obligations to provide all children with equal access to an education. The resources aim “to ensure the schoolhouse door remains open to all” and that enrollment processes do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, citizenship, or immigration status (including the status of students’ parents or guardians). Included in the practical guidance are examples of the types of documents schools may accept as proof of a child’s age or residency (including foreign birth certificates) and reminders about the impermissibility of requiring certain documents – such as parents’ state-issued driver’s licenses (which are often unavailable to undocumented residents). Schools are asked to translate information about enrollment into languages other than English for parents with limited English proficiency. The Department of Education has resolved complaints against 11 schools or districts since 2011 and investigations are ongoing against schools in Louisiana, New Mexico, and South Carolina. The Justice Department has entered into settlement agreements with school districts in Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. Examples of improper practices include requiring students to provide their immigration status or date of entry into the U.S. or denying enrollment because of a parent’s decision not to provide the child’s Social Security number.
California Legislature Continues to Lead the Country with Pro-Immigrant Bills
For those looking to promote pro-immigrant integration bills in state legislatures, consider some measures being debated in California this session. SB 1005 would extend affordable, all-inclusive health coverage to undocumented Californians. Specifically, it would expand eligibility for Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program) to low-income individuals who cannot currently qualify due to lack of immigration status and would also create a state-run exchange for the undocumented to purchase health care insurance. Its sponsor claims the bill will save taxpayers money by facilitating preventative treatment and reducing reliance on expensive emergency room care.
Another California bill, SB 1159, would remove professional licensing barriers that prevent undocumented workers from practicing their occupations including doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, real estate agents, and security guards. The bill would allow 40 state boards to accept a federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in lieu of a Social Security number as proof of identity for individuals applying for professional licenses. The bill was passed by the Senate on May 8, 2014 and will now go to the Assembly. The change would be of tremendous benefit to California’s workforce, an estimated 1.85 million of who are undocumented.
On May 23, the California State Assembly passed AB 1876, a bill that would reduce the cost of phone calls for immigrants and others detained in California’s jails and limit the ability of phone companies, law enforcement agencies, and private prison corporations to profit from inflated phone rates. The exorbitant cost of phone calls for those held in county jails is an affront to human dignity because it prevents detainees from communicating with their families and limits their ability to obtain and communicate with legal counsel. The bill now moves to the Senate.
On May 28, the Senate passed SB 1210 which would create the California DREAM loan program to provide loans of up to $4,000 to qualifying undocumented youth who wish to study at participating institutions within the University of California and California State University systems.
Reacting to Court Decisions on Immigration Detainers, Dozens of Counties Say “No” to ICE
Two recent court decisions on the use of ICE detainers have resulted in a domino effect of local law enforcement policies limiting cooperation with ICE in enforcing immigration laws. In March, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that immigration detainers are not mandatory and that Lehigh County, Pennsylvania could be violating the Constitution by complying with ICE detainers. In April, a U.S. District Court in Oregon found that Clackamas County sheriffs had violated the Fourth Amendment rights of an individual they continued to hold under an ICE detainer without probable cause. In the wake of these decisions, local law enforcement agencies across the country are changing their policies about when they will hold individuals for ICE. More than 75 counties in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California as well as Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and Somerville, Massachusetts have announced they will only honor detainer requests from ICE under limited circumstances, such as when a federal magistrate has issued an arrest warrant. Many local law enforcement leaders cited fears of civil liability in addition to concerns about the constitutionality of ICE detainers. A complete list of the jurisdictions that limit compliance with ICE detainers is available here.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the process of conducting a review of federal immigration enforcement policies following a request in March by President Obama to look into ways to make enforcement more “humane.” On May 29, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson testified at an oversight hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security that the controversial Secure Communities program “need[s] a fresh start.” Through Secure Communities, the fingerprints of people arrested by local police are automatically run through a DHS database so that ICE can decide whether to issue detainers in order to take these individuals into immigration custody.
The 15 States with the Largest Immigrant Populations
The Pew Research Center recently compiled a summary of the percentages of foreign-born residents living in each of the 15 “top immigrant states.” According to the 2012 data, 79% of the country’s total immigrants reside in these 15 states. In California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida, one in five residents are foreign-born. Click here to see the data in addition to how the rankings have changed over the past two decades.
This document was prepared in May 2014 for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at email@example.com or (301) 565-4807.
By Jen Riddle
In our March 2014 newsletter, we wrote about ways affiliates can make a difference in encouraging state and local law enforcement to limit compliance with civil immigration detainers issued by ICE. We have recently released talking points sharing reasons states should keep local law enforcement separate from federal immigration functions. We encourage you to use these in advocating to limit the extent to which your local police and sheriffs are cooperating with ICE by detaining individuals for transfer to ICE custody.
An increasing number of states and localities are refusing to do the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws. Many states, counties, and cities have passed laws or policies that officially restrict the extent to which law enforcement may continue to detain individuals to hand over to ICE.
Two states, California and Connecticut, have passed state-wide TRUST (Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools) Acts. Twelve cities and fifty-five counties (in orange) have passed anti-detainer measures. Some of the cities include: Los Angeles, San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New Orleans. Counties include: Miami-Dade County in Florida and 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties. A complete list of these jurisdictions is available on CLINIC’s website. The policies adopted range from broad limitations prohibiting local law enforcement from honoring any ICE detainer requests to more narrow measures, such as complying only when the arrested individual has actually been charged with or convicted of a particular serious crime or violent felony, when there is a prior written agreement from ICE agreeing to reimburse them for all detainer-related expenses, and when ICE has obtained a judicial warrant backed by probable cause (like a warrant issued by a judge).
For more information, see the State and Local Immigration Project page on CLINIC’s website.
This webinar is for current and aspiring immigrant advocates on a grassroots level. Immigration laws and policies come from the federal government but immigrants' lives are also impacted by state and local laws and policies. This webinar provides an overview of the role each level of government plays in regulating the lives and livelihoods of immigrants. You will learn about our broken federal immigration system and what you can do to help convince Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. We also cover the limited role of the Executive Branch in setting immigration policies. Finally, we discuss the types of laws and policies that state and local governments around the country are passing on such important matters as higher education, driver's licenses, immigration fraud, and police involvement in immigration enforcement. In addition to learning about these issues, you will acquire tools and strategies for advocating to change policies and practices in your communities.
Held on: 5/22/14
- Allison Posner, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc (CLINIC)
- Jen Riddle, State and Local Advocacy Attorney, CLINIC
- Reverend Timothy Graff, Pastor, St. Joseph's Parish, Bogota, NJ and Director of Human Concerns, Archdiocese of Newark
It is estimated that 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States every year. These graduates face various financial barriers to pursuing a college education, including the fact that a social security number is required to qualify for federal financial aid. Since the Obama administration announced its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, over 520,000 youth have been granted permission to work and, as a result, the right to obtain a social security number. (Click here for the numbers of individuals granted DACA in each state). While not all individuals believed to be eligible for DACA have been able to apply, the program has been instrumental in illuminating some of the difficulties undocumented young people face in their quest to pursue higher education and obtain legal employment. In particular, state educators, policy makers, and the public at large are beginning to appreciate the financial and educational barriers faced by undocumented youth and seek meaningful solutions.
Out-of-state students pay an average of $22,203 a year to attend a public, 4-year college while in-state residents pay an average of $8,893. Recognizing this substantial difference in tuition, as well as the tremendous social and economic contributions of college graduates, a growing number of states are passing tuition equity laws – laws that extend eligibility for in-state tuition rates to all residents regardless of immigration status. More than 60% of our foreign-born population currently lives in a state with tuition equity. Undocumented residents who meet certain criteria can access in-state tuition in 19 states. 16 of these states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington) have state-wide tuition equity laws or policies while 3 states (Hawaii, Michigan, and Rhode Island) have tuition equity policies at major educational institutions. 
While this is great progress, there remains work to be done in the remaining states in which legislators have not yet passed tuition equity laws. On the most restrictive end of the spectrum, Georgia explicitly prohibits undocumented students from accessing in-state tuition while Alabama and South Carolina bar undocumented students from even enrolling in public institutions of higher education. CLINIC has prepared Talking Points on why offering in-state tuition rates to all residents, regardless of immigration status, is fundamentally fair, fiscally responsible, beneficial to the economy, and in line with Catholic social teaching. We hope these will assist in your advocacy, whether it is convincing state legislators to sponsor or vote for a tuition equity bill; persuading decision-makers in university systems that tuition equity is sound public policy; writing an op-ed or speaking to the media; or converting the minds and hearts of members of your community.
 See background information on the federal IN-STATE for DREAMERS Act of 2014, available at: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/ac4d9ed0-b3ae-4168-970d-c08eb35b4a04/instatefordreamersact2014.pdf
 It is worth noting that Ohio and Massachusetts, along with a handful of individual universities and community colleges around the country, limit access to in-state tuition to DACA grantees only.
This summary was prepared in April 2014 for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or
By Jen Riddle
How many undocumented students could benefit from in-state tuition?
It is estimated that 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States every year. These graduates face various financial barriers to pursuing a college education, including the fact that a social security number is required to qualify for federal financial aid. Since the Obama administration announced its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, over 520,000 youth have been granted permission to work and, as a result, the right to obtain a social security number. While not all individuals believed to be eligible for DACA have been able to apply, the program has been instrumental in illuminating some of the difficulties undocumented young people face in their quest to pursue higher education and obtain legal employment. In particular, state educators, policy makers, and the public at large are beginning to appreciate the financial and educational barriers faced by undocumented youth and seek meaningful solutions.
What is the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition?
Out-of-state students pay an average of $22,203 a year to attend a public, four-year college, while in-state residents pay an average of $8,893. Recognizing this substantial difference in tuition, as well as the tremendous social and economic contributions of college graduates, a growing number of states are passing tuition equity laws – laws that extend eligibility for in-state tuition rates to all residents regardless of immigration status.
Which states already allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates?
More than 60 percent of our foreign-born population currently lives in a state with tuition equity. Undocumented residents who meet certain criteria can access in-state tuition in 19 states. Sixteen of these states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington) have state-wide tuition equity laws or policies while three states (Hawaii, Michigan, and Rhode Island) have tuition equity policies at major educational institutions. While this is great progress, there remains work to be done in the remaining states in which legislators have not yet passed tuition equity laws. On the most restrictive end of the spectrum, Georgia explicitly prohibits undocumented students from accessing in-state tuition while Alabama and South Carolina bar undocumented students from even enrolling in public institutions of higher education.
What can I do?
CLINIC has prepared Talking Points on why offering in-state tuition rates to all residents, regardless of immigration status, is fundamentally fair, fiscally responsible, beneficial to the economy, and in line with Catholic social teaching. We hope these will assist in your advocacy, whether it is convincing state legislators to sponsor or vote for a tuition equity bill; persuading decision-makers in university systems that tuition equity is sound public policy; writing an op-ed or speaking to the media; or converting the minds and hearts of members of your community.
For advocacy strategy assistance, customized legal analysis, or the development of resources specific to your state or campaign, please reach out to State and Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at (301) 565-4807 or email@example.com.
Offering in-state tuition rates to all residents benefits the state’s economy.
- In-state tuition is not free tuition. Tuition equity laws will generate increased revenue from students who could not otherwise afford to attend college.
- Laws that invest in young people by promoting access to affordable higher education create a more educated workforce and make the state stronger and more competitive.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with Bachelor’s degrees earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than those with high school diplomas. College graduates have higher-earning potential, will pay higher taxes, and will likely spend more in state economies.
- Individuals with increased earning potential rely less on state resources such as healthcare and social services.
Offering in-state tuition rates to all residents is fundamentally fair.
- Students brought to this country as young children should not be deprived of access to state colleges and universities because of their parents’ choices.
- Access to in-state tuition makes the college experience possible for our state’s best and brightest who often cannot afford the cost of out-of-state or international student tuition.
- Talented, hardworking students should not be excluded from the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Tuition equity provides them the tools to succeed fully as community members and continue contributing to the state.
Offering in-state tuition rates to all residents is fiscally responsible.
- The state has already educated its students from kindergarten through high school. Giving all students an equal opportunity to attend college maximizes the state’s return on its investment and ensures these skills and talents do not go to waste.
- Tuition equity laws build the state’s workforce by opening the door for future doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and other professionals to give back to our state and our communities.
- Young people who have been educated in this state consider it to be their home. It is wise to retain hard-working, economically-productive residents and their families.
Offering in-state tuition rates to all residents furthers the message of Catholic social teaching.
- Our Catholic tradition teaches us to protect and respect human dignity, regardless of immigration status. An affordable education allows all state residents the opportunity to live in dignity.
- Higher education increases individuals’ opportunities to obtain employment – a fundamental right necessary to support their families.
- Enabling a student to afford college positively impacts both the financial and human potential of that student’s entire family.
This summary was prepared in March 2014 with assistance from Legal Fellow, Kassandra Haynes. It is intended for informational purposes, not as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State and Local Advocacy Attorney, Jen Riddle, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 565-4807.
 A free public elementary and secondary education is a fundamental constitutional right of all children, regardless of immigration status. This was established in 1982 by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Plyler v. Doe.
Why States Should Provide Access to Driver’s Licenses to All Residents
Granting driver’s licenses to all residents improves public safety on our roads.
- Extending driving privileges to undocumented immigrants will require individuals to take driver’s tests and properly register with the state’s motor vehicle agency.
- Licensed drivers know the rules of the road and have a proper understanding of traffic regulations.
- Licensed drivers will be more likely to obtain auto insurance, reducing the cost of accidents involving uninsured motorists and potentially lowering insurance rates for everyone.
- Individuals with driver’s licenses will be less likely to flee the scene of an accident.
- Law enforcement can better ensure public safety when they can identify motorists and access accurate traffic records.
- Unlicensed drivers are 5 times more likely to be in a fatal car accident.
Granting driver’s licenses to all residents makes our communities safer.
- States can maintain accurate records including the names and addresses of all state residents.
- First responders and health care providers will be better able to determine the identity of victims and patients.
- State resources can be directed to more crucial priorities if courts and jails are less congested by issues arising from driving without a license or insurance, such as civil violations, criminal charges, and jail time.
Granting driver’s licenses to all residents benefits the economy.
- Driver’s license application fees will generate revenue for states.
- Enhanced mobility of immigrant workers will grow American businesses and stimulate state economies.
- An increase in licensed drivers will boost the auto insurance and auto sales industries.
- Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that cost other policy holders. More licensed and insured drivers will reduce the number of accidents and lower insurance rates for all.
Granting driver’s licenses to all residents strengthens families.
- In this country, driving is often essential to holding a job to provide basic life necessities for one’s family, such as food, shelter, and medical care. Those who drive work more hours and earn higher wages.
- With the permission to drive safely and legally to work, school, and elsewhere, undocumented families can participate more fully in society without the constant fear of being stopped by the police.
- Driver’s licenses can serve as a form of identification that allows immigrant families to live more visibly in society with greater access to financial institutions, medical care, and other basic services. For the undocumented, “a driver’s license is not only a driver’s license, it’s proof that you exist.”
Granting driver’s licenses to all residents is consistent with Catholic social teaching.
- Individuals must work to provide for their families and contribute to society. In this country, driving is often essential to hold a job that provides food, shelter, and medical care for families.
- The Catholic faith calls for respecting every human being, regardless of immigration status, and acknowledging the dignity of their efforts to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.
This summary was prepared in February 2014 by Legal Fellow, Kassandra Haynes. It is intended for informational purposes, not as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State and Local Advocacy Attorney, Jen Riddle, at email@example.com or (301) 565-4807.
 Unlicensed to Kill, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (Nov. 2011), available at: www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2011Unlicensed2Kill.pdf.
 “Why Undocumented Immigrants Need Driver’s Licenses,” Jose Antonio Vargas, BuzzFeed (Oct 31, 2013), available at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/joseiswriting/why-undocumented-immigrants-need-drivers-licenses.
This webinar will address immigration detention, including the federal mandate requiring the detention of certain immigrants, the recent rise of immigration detention, and alternatives to detention. Additionally, the panel will include local perspectives on the effects of detention facilities on communities and how local stakeholders can help combat this national phenomenon.
- Ashley Feasley, Migration Policy Advisor, USCCB
- Christina Fialho, attorney, co-executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)
- Sister JoAnn Persch, Sister of Mercy, Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants
This webinar provides an overview of collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies through the Criminal Alien Program, 287(g) Partnerships, and Secure Communities as well as the use of ICE detainers to identify potentially deportable individuals in state or local custody. Panelists will address how these programs harm American families and communities and suggest ways to advocate on a state and local level against their continuation.
Held on: 11/8/13
- Allison Posner, Director of Advocacy, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
- Jen Riddle, Advocacy Attorney, CLINIC
- Mark Fleming, National Litigation Coordinator, National Immigrant Justice Center
- Alissa Escarce, Policy Associate, Rights Working Group
- Jill Malone, Volunteer Advocate, Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the Diocese of San Jose
As members of Congress prepare to return to Washington, D.C. from the summer recess, the future of U.S. federal immigration policy remains uncertain. Families and communities across America continue to advocate for comprehensive reform to fix our broken immigration laws. Despite the looming uncertainty on a federal level, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Many of the immigration enforcement actions undertaken by state and local actors attempting to make up for federal inaction are not workable solutions. This message is coming both from court decisions in legal challenges to state and local immigration enforcement as well as from the states and localities themselves. Some recent developments are highlighted below.
4th Circuit Issues Two Decisions Limiting State and Local Role in Immigration Enforcement
Three Provisions of South Carolina Anti-Immigrant Law Must Remain Blocked
On July 23, 2013 the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that three major sections of South Carolina’s 2011 anti-immigrant law, SB 20, must remain blocked. Among other things, the law made it a felony for someone to harbor or transport an unauthorized immigrant and for unauthorized immigrants to allow themselves to be harbored or transported. In addition, SB 20 made it a misdemeanor to fail to carry immigration paperwork. Finally, it made it a state crime to carry false or fraudulent identification documents for the purpose of proving lawful presence in the U.S. The 4th Circuit found that, because each provision was preempted by federal law, the lower court was correct to prevent them from being enforced. According to the court, criminalizing individuals who are “attempting to do no more than go to school, go to work, and care for their families” is inconsistent with federal immigration policy and objectives. Despite this legal victory, the provision of South Carolina’s law that requires local police to check the immigration status of detained individuals they suspect of being in the country without documents has been in force since the U.S. Supreme Court permitted implementation of a similar “show me your papers” provision of Arizona’s immigration law (SB 1070) last June.
Maryland Sheriffs Cannot Detain or Arrest Solely on Suspicion of Immigration Status Violations
On August 7, 2013, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that local and state law enforcement officers may not detain or arrest an individual based solely on a known or suspected civil violation of federal immigration law. This lawsuit was brought by Roxana Santos who was seized and arrested by two Frederick County, Maryland sheriffs based on their discovery that ICE had issued a civil warrant against her. Neither deputy was authorized to engage in federal immigration law enforcement under a 287(g) agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and ICE. Citing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States, the circuit court found that local law enforcement officers do not have the authority to arrest individuals solely based on civil immigration violations. The court reminded us that most immigration violations are civil infractions - not crimes - and that Congress entrusted the authority to make removability decisions to the federal government - not to state or local actors. As a result, Santos’ unlawful detention by the sheriffs violated her 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure.
New Orleans and Newark Join Growing List of Cities to Limit Compliance with ICE Detainer Requests
Localities across the country continue to adopt policies or ordinances restricting the extent to which local law enforcement may cooperate with ICE by honoring immigration detainers. ICE detainers are requests that a local law enforcement agency continue to hold an individual in criminal custody for up to 48 hours beyond when he or she would otherwise be released so that ICE can assume custody. The Sheriff of Orleans Parish announced on August 14, 2013, that his office would only comply with such requests from ICE when they involved individuals charged with specific violent felonies. The Sheriff’s Office also stated that it will no longer initiate investigations into the immigration status of individuals in its custody. This policy is “one of the farthest-reaching of its kind in the country.” The new guidance followed a unanimous New Orleans City Council resolution urging the Sheriff to stop honoring ICE detainers entirely. It is also part of a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit filed by two immigrant workers who were held unconstitutionally on the basis of ICE detainers for 90 and 160 days beyond the conclusion of their criminal sentences. New Orleans is the first locality in the Southern U.S. to implement an anti-detainer policy. Other jurisdictions with similar policies include San Miguel and Taos counties in New Mexico; San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in California; Cook and Champaign counties in Illinois; Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; Multnomah County, Oregon; and the cities of Washington, D.C., Chicago, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and New York.
Newark, New Jersey also recently announced that it will cease complying with ICE requests to hold suspects accused of minor crimes such as shoplifting or vandalism. Advocates for the new policy directive, signed by Newark’s Police Director on July 24, 2013, included the Newark Archdiocese Department of Social Concerns and several Newark churches. Reverend Karl Esker of St. James Church acknowledged the role of local law enforcement in “funnel[ing] immigrants into the detention and deportation dragnet through problematic information-sharing initiatives that devastate the stability of communities.” He commended the Newark Police Director for his leadership on this issue and called the policy “absolutely essential in a city…. [w]here trust between local law enforcement and the community is crucial to protecting public safety.”
ICE Declines to Sign Immigration Enforcement Partnership Agreement with Knox County, Tennessee
In contrast to local law enforcement leaders in New Orleans and Newark, the Sheriff of Knox County, Tennessee would like to enhance his agency’s role in federal immigration enforcement. The Sheriff had expressed interest in entering into a partnership with ICE under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The 287(g) program allows certain local law enforcement officers, following training from ICE, to be deputized to enforce federal immigration law in their local jurisdictions. ICE currently maintains 287(g) agreements with 36 law enforcement agencies in 19 states, has trained more than 1,300 local law enforcement officers, and credits the program with identifying more than 309,283 potentially removable aliens since January 2006. Following several weeks of negotiations, ICE ultimately declined to enter into a 287(g) partnership with Knox County. The Sheriff posted the following response on his agency’s website: “I will continue to enforce these federal immigration violations with or without the help of [ICE]. If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail until the appropriate federal agency responds.”
This controversial statement by the Knox County Sheriff illustrates the diverse views on the precise role that local law enforcement can and should play in identifying unauthorized immigrants and effectuating their removal under federal immigration laws. For many, last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down
Arizona’s infamous immigration law made it clear that immigration enforcement is the purview of the federal government, not state legislatures or local police. Yet, there are local law enforcement officers, state legislators, and members of Congress who clearly disagree.
Federal Enforcement-Only Bill Would Compel States to Enforce Immigration Laws
This June, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2237), an enforcement-only bill that would essentially overturn the Arizona v. United States decision by empowering - in instances even mandating - states and localities to act as immigration agents and criminalize immigration violations. Concerns include further exacerbating strained state and local resources, compromising community safety, and increasing the risks of discrimination and racial profiling. A number of local and state law enforcement officials and departments have opposed further delegation of immigration enforcement to local police. According to Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor in Tucson, Arizona, “Law enforcement officers have taken an oath to protect all those who live within our communities, regardless of race, culture, or nation of birth. We don’t need short-sighted laws that tie our hands and prevent us from establishing the trust we need to protect the communities we serve.” For a summary of the SAFE Act, click here .
This document was prepared in August 2013 for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State & Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 565-4807.
This webinar is for legal service providers, immigrant advocates, educators, faith leaders, employers, community organizers, and others helping DREAMers apply for DACA or navigate work, school, and life after receiving DACA. Have you had issues helping DACA applicants meet the education eligibility requirements, obtain juvenile records, or access scholarships or loans? Have you or your DREAMers encountered hesitation, confusion or obstruction from state and local actors in understanding what DACA means and what rights DACA grantees have with respect to employment or access to driver's licenses, higher education or health care? We discuss these issues and suggest strategies for advocating on behalf of individual DREAMers as well as broader efforts to change states' policies and practices. We also consider how lessons learned from DACA will likely be valuable in implementing a future legalization program.
Date recorded: June 26, 2013