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Immigrants' Rights Update | December 22, 2010



NILC Statements, NILC in the News

New and Updated NILC Resources

Other Important New Resources

New Reports Available on the Web


NILC Statements, NILC in the News

As the Senate’s December 18 vote on the DREAM Act approached, letters and statements in support of the bill poured in, and we posted as many as we were able to.  Just a scroll through our Immigrant Student Adjustment / DREAM Act page, specially rearranged in preparation for the hour of truth, will give you an idea of the voices and viewpoints that the 45 senators who declined to vote for cloture had to either ignore or oppose in failing to support DREAM.

In addition, statements issued by NILC policy staff and Executive Director Marielena Hincapié during the run-up to and aftermath of the votes in the House of Representatives (Dec. 8) and the Senate can be accessed from our News Releases and NILC Statements page.  DREAM-related blog articles, too, are available from NILC in the News.

  • Statements about other important issues are available from the News Releases page as well.  The issues include:

  • The argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the first challenge to the recent wave of state and local anti-immigrant laws to reach the Court.

  • The California Supreme Court’s ruling, in Martinez v. Regents, rejecting a challenge to AB 540, a California law that allows students who have attended California high schools for three years and received their diploma or GED to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in California.

  • Congress’s failure to extend Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash assistance for up to 5,600 refugees who are elderly or have permanent disabilities.

  • The Dept. of Homeland Security’s flip-flops over the past several months regarding its “Secure Communities” immigration enforcement program and, specifically, whether states and localities may opt out of participating in it.

New and Updated NILC Resources

Since the last newsletter was published, we’ve posted these new or updated resources on our website:

Immigrant student adjustment / DREAM Act.  Warning: The cumulative effect that reading the profiles in DREAM Act Class of 2001-2010: Profiles of DREAMers, with List of DREAM Act Supporters may have on you is deep emotion, even tears.  Other resources we created or updated to inform the debate on DREAM include:

Health care.  To be “lawfully residing” in the U.S. for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility purposes, children and pregnant women must be “lawfully present” in the U.S. and must meet the Medicaid state residency rules at 42 C.F.R. § 435.403.  Lawfully present immigrants include the “qualified” immigrants listed in 8 U.S.C. § 1641, as well as several other categories of non–U.S. citizens who have permission to live and/or work in the U.S.  The immigration categories that are considered lawfully present for Medicaid and CHIP eligibility purposes are described in our 6-page “Lawfully Residing” Children and Pregnant Women Eligible for Medicaid and CHIP.

Public benefits.  Tanya Broder, our eligibility-for-public-benefits maven, has again updated two of our most popular resources, the Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs table and the Major Benefit Programs Available to Immigrants in California table.

Enforcement of immigration law by state and local entities.  A reminder: We’ve posted most of the pleadings in three important cases whose main issues concern whether states and localities may write their own immigration and immigrant-related employer sanctions laws, in apparent defiance of the long-established principle that the federal government’s authority in immigration matters is exclusive.  We represent plaintiffs in two of the cases (Chamber and Friendly House).  The three cases are:


Other Important New Resources

Here are other newly available resources, as well as news or reminders we’d like to call to your attention:

U-Visa Toolkit.  A new resource compiled by Legal Momentum and the Vera Institute of Justice, the Tool Kit for Law Enforcement Use of the U-Visa, provides an overview of the U-visa and explains who qualifies for it and which criminal activities make their victims potentially eligible for the U-visa.  It also explains the U-visa application process and provides other information to assist law enforcement in their role as certifiers of U-visa applicants.

USCIS introduces first-ever fee waiver form.  The new Form I-912 became available for use on November 23, the same day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ latest fee schedule took effect.  Read more about the new fee waiver form in USCIS’s news release announcing it.

Health care reform for refugees.  Refugees, as lawfully present immigrants, are eligible for the same protections and benefits under the Affordable Care Act as U.S. citizens.  Often, refugees arrive in the U.S. after years without access to proper medical care and, in many cases, work for employers who do not provide health insurance.  The new health care reform law will give refugees access to affordable health coverage and protection against insurance practices that can deny coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions or those who become ill, according to Health Care Reform for Refugees, a publication of the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Authority of State and Local Police to Enforce Federal Immigration Law.  The Congressional Research Service regularly publishes reports for Congress on issues of pressing concern.  It issued this particular report in September.

Understanding SB1070 from the Lens of Institutionalized Racism and Civil Rights.  This article by Bill Ong Hing, a professor of law at the University of San Francisco, provides valuable historical context for understanding how we’ve come full circle to the sad state of affairs that currently obtains.  From the article’s introduction: “The controversial [Arizona] law would make it a state crime for [a non–U.S. citizen] to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, bar state or local officials from enacting sanctuary laws, and crack down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting undocumented [people].  The intent of the legislation, major portions of which are currently enjoined, is to make life miserable for the undocumented in Arizona in hopes of achieving ‘attrition through enforcement.’  Critics charge that the law invites racial profiling and exceeds state authority.”

Two films focusing on racial profiling.  Speaking of racial profiling, Americans on Hold: Profiling, Prejudice, and National Security “is a documentary film that exposes the U.S. government’s use of discriminatory profiling in the name of national security, and its impact on South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim community members.” And Face the Truth: Racial Profiling Across America features “stories of individuals affected by racial profiling and educational interviews with notable law enforcement and civil society leaders.”

New Reports Available on the Web

And finally, here’s a selection of the many immigrants’ rights-related reports that have caught your editor’s eye since September.