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New Immigration Clinic at GMU

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 27, 2019
Media Contacts:
Kathleen Corcoran
kcorcoran6@gmu.edu
(703)993-8332

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg
simon@justice4all.org
(703) 778-3450

The Legal Aid Justice Center and George Masin University’s Antonin Scalia Law School Announce New Immigration Clinic

Arlington, VA — The Legal Aid Justice Center (LACJ) today announced a new immigration litigation clinic at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. The clinic, which launches this fall offers students the opportunity to gain translatable skills and valuable perspectives on immigration law, specifically the deportation process and habeas corpus litigation.

The Immigration Litigation Clinic director is Becky Wolozin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, who started her career at LAJC in the JustChildren program, focusing on the intersection of child advocacy and immigration.

“I am thrilled this clinic will be offered at Scalia Law School.  Clinical work represents such a formative experience in law school, and it is an honor and a pleasure to be a part of that for young law students at the beginning of their legal careers,” said Ms. Wolozin.  “Not only will the students in this clinic get incredible legal experience, they will also gain important and profound human experience helping those fighting for the right to exist and to be together with their families.”

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, the Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy program at LAJC and co-teacher of the clinic, said “Through this clinic, law students will have the opportunity to represent clients, hone their litigation skills, learn a complicated area of law, and have an impact on some of the most important issues affecting millions of people across the nation.”

This clinic is made possible through a gift from Leonard A. Bennett, a 1989 graduate of George Mason University and a 1994 graduate of the George Mason School of Law.  A trial attorney and consumer advocate since 1994, Bennett works for Consumer Litigation Associates in Newport News, Virginia, and is often quoted in the New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

“I am so grateful to Len Bennett for his generous gift, making the new Immigration Litigation Clinic possible, said Dean Henry N. Butler.  “Len’s philanthropy will profoundly impact our students and the clients they serve.”

“I also want to thank the Legal Aid Justice Center for partnering with Scalia Law to give our students first-hand experience advocating for immigrant families.  We are proud to educate students who will become lawyer committed to justice for all,” Dean Butler concluded.

About George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
In July 2016, the George Mason University School of Law was renamed Antonin Scalia Law School in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice.  Scalia Law is renowned for its academic emphasis on the the intersection of law and economics, with some of the nation’s top law and economic scholars on the faculty.  National Jurist ranks Scalia Law as a Top 20 Law School for students pursuing careers in government.  A relatively young law school, Scalia Law School has been ranked a US News Top 50 Law School for 18 years, and recently ranked #4 for its part-time program.  Scalia Law School is ranked #19 by Shanghai’s Global Rankings for Law.  National Jurist ranks Washington DC, across the Potomac from Scalia Law School, the best city in the nation for young attorneys.

About the Legal Aid Justice Center
The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out exploitative policies and practices that keep people in poverty.  LAJC uses impact litigation, community organizing, and policy advocacy to solve urgent problems in areas such as housing, education, civil rights, workers’ rights, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance.  LAJC also offers clinics at the University of Virginia Law School and the University of Richmond Law School.

Rally to Protect Immigrant Children

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RALLY TO PROTECT IMMIGRANT CHILDREN – STOP THE ABUSES AND DEATHS!

WHAT: Are you outraged at the recent reports of abuses and deaths of immigrant children detained in President Trump’s camps and looking for a way to fight back?  Come join us at our Rally to Protect Immigrant Children where we will demand that this administration provide safe and sanitary housing and care for all immigrants detained by DHS, respect the Flores Decree, and stop the devastating family separations.  Come out and make your voice heard in defense of immigrants’ rights.  These children need all of us to act.  We must not remain silent.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 2nd from 10:00 am to 11:00 am

WHERE: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
For more information, please contact novaintern@justice4all.org

Organized by: Centreville Immigration Forum (CIF), International Mayan League, Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), and Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO).

Know Your Rights Training in Case of ICE Raids

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Know Your Rights Training in Case of ICE Raids for Service Providers

WHAT: The Legal Aid Justice Center is organizing a “Know your Rights” presentation for service providers in Northern Virginia in response to a recent announcement of large-scale ICE raids in the DMV region. Although President Trump cancelled the raids hours before they were set to begin, we don’t know if it is a permanent cancellation. He has suggested in media interviews that he will reinstitute them in two weeks if Congress is unable to agree on a deal to handle the humanitarian crisis at the border.

The uncertainty created by these announcements has resulted in widespread fear among the immigrant communities that we serve. We are working to ensure that our community members and neighbors know their rights when interacting with law enforcement/ICE agents in order to combat their fear and help them ensure their rights are respected. We hope you will be able to attend this upcoming training so that you can assist us with this effort. 

We will be updating attendees on the proposed public charge rule change and the and Dream and Promise Act as well.

WHEN: Thursday, June 27th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

WHERE: 2110 Washington Blvd. 2nd FL Arlington, VA 22204 (Syphax Education Center)

REGISTRATION required: Please fill out this link:https://forms.gle/ieSsnUkffdD8gNkx8

For more information, please contact novaintern@justice4all.org  

Organized by Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program in collaboration with VACOLAO 

Driver’s Licenses Reinstated for Thousands

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 3, 2019

LEGAL AID JUSTICE CENTER
Contact: Amy Woolard, 434-529-1846, amy@justice4all.org

BUDGET AMENDMENT REINSTATING DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR THOUSANDS OF VIRGINIANS PASSES

Today the General Assembly rose to a tremendous occasion and passed a budget amendment that brings fairness and justice to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Virginians whose driver’s licenses will now be reinstated from suspensions levied for unpaid court fines and fees.  This amendment will also help countless others by preventing future court debt-related suspensions for the remaining duration of the state budget.  All Virginians must have a fair opportunity to fulfill their obligations without losing their jobs, their ability to care for their families, and their dignity.

We are so grateful to Sen. Bill Stanley, the members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Governor Northam and his administration, and all the policymakers who shepherded this effort to success.  We are also thankful for our many partners in advocacy who fought with us for this common-sense reform.

Without question, we celebrate an important victory today along with many of our clients in the Stinnie v Holcomb litigation, but we also hold the understanding that our efforts are not complete.  The passage of this amendment does not moot the Stinnie case, nor does it end our legislative advocacy: the action taken in this amendment lives only as long as the current budget cycle, “freezing” court debt-related driver’s license suspensions until the existing statute can be fully repealed.  For today, however, we are only filled with gratitude for this positive step, and will wait another day to assess what work is left to be done.

 

 

 

ICE on the Harbor

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Norfolk City Jail helps ICE arrest and deport Virginia immigrants.

In August 2017, the Norfolk City Jail entered a modified Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow immigrants in ICE custody to be temporarily held by the Jail.  Since then an estimated 1,200 immigrants in ICE custody have been held at the Jail, most of whom have not had a hearing before a judge and many with no criminal history. 

Read full report: ICE ON THE HARBOR

Press Coverage: Virginian Pilot

Join LAJC and local organizations for a community discussion on Norfolk Jail’s partnership with ICE.

 

Arguments in Key Immigrants’ Rights Cases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 3, 2018

Press contacts:
Lizette Olmos, lolmos@weareacasa.org (240) 706-2624 mobile
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, simon@justice4all.org, (703) 720-5605 direct dial

Fourth Circuit to Hear Arguments in Key Immigrants’ Rights Cases
Plaintiffs, Attorneys, and Supporters Gather After Hearings on DACA Cancellation and Racial Profiling of Immigrants to Weigh in on Cases

WHO: DACA-mented Plaintiffs, Litigators, CASA, Legal Aid Justice Center, and supporting organizations including Church World Service

WHERE: Steps of US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Corner of Bank and N. 10th Street, Richmond, VA

WHAT: Press Conference and Rally Featuring Immigrants Challenging the Trump Administration in Court

WHEN: Tuesday, December 11th at 11:30 a.m.

RICHMOND, VA (Monday, December 3, 2018) – Immigrants will gather outside the U.S. Court of Appeals next Tuesday to describe their efforts to challenge the actions of the Trump Administration and ICE agents before a court of law. The press conference and rally is being held at a rare confluence of separate cases that together challenge core pillars of the Trump administration’s attempts to permanently alter the lives of immigrants in America.

The first case, Casa de Maryland v DHS, is brought by 16 DACA-mented immigrants and 9 immigrant rights organizations to challenge the administration’s cancellation of the DACA program. This case joins others across the country that seek to reverse the administration’s discriminatory and illegal termination of the program; a decision that has left in limbo the lives of people brought to the US as children.

The second case, Mynor Tun-Cos v. B. Perrotte, is brought by the Legal Aid Justice Center on behalf of nine plaintiffs whose constitutional rights were violated by ICE agents during raids in Fairfax and Arlington Counties involving racial profiling and warrantless home invasions. In response to the lawsuit, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice is arguing to the Court of Appeals that individuals may never sue ICE agents under any circumstances for violating their constitutional rights.

A third case, Reyna v. Hott, also filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center, will be heard the following day and challenges ICE’s practice of separating families by transferring immigrant detainees to out-of-state detention centers away from their U.S.-born children. A group of leading child development specialists from Harvard University and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry filed a brief in support of the class action, describing the mental harm to children when their parents are detained far away without the possibility of visitation.
                                       
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With almost 100,000 members, CASA is the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the Mid-Atlantic region spanning Maryland, Virginia and South Central Pennsylvania. More information about CASA’s services, organizing, and advocacy work is available at www.wearecasa.org or follow us on Facebook CASAforAll or Twitter @CASAforall.

Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses. More information is available at https://www.justice4all.org/current-initiatives/fighting-ice-enforcement-abuses/ .

Challenge to ORR Child Detention Policy

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts:      Rebecca Wolozin, (571) 373-0518
                  Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, (434) 218-9376

FEDERAL COURT ALLOWS CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT POLICY USING DETAINED CHILDREN AS BAIT TO ARREST FAMILIES

ALEXANDRIA, VA (November 16, 2018) — Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied the U.S. government’s motion to dismiss Legal Aid Justice Center’s lawsuit on behalf of detained immigrant children and their families, striking a blow to a new immigration policy that has kept thousands of children unnecessarily detained for months. The Court’s decision is a victory for immigrant children and their families in Virginia and across the country. 

This case is particularly significant, not only in Virginia, but nationally. Over 13,000 children are held by Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) under the policies challenged in this suit, hundreds of whom are in Virginia. Because the policies are federal policies implemented across the country, the outcome of this case will have a nationwide impact. 

Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), together with the intellectual property law firm of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, and Fox, brought this first-of-its-kind class action lawsuit challenging the government’s recent policy of sharing sponsor information and information about sponsors’ household members with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That policy has resulted in ICE arrests of family and friends that came forward to bring their children home.

“The Trump administration has been carrying out a backdoor family separation agenda, keeping immigrant children apart from their families and using children as bait to break up the very families they have traveled so far and risked so much to join,” said Becky Wolozin, lead counsel and attorney with LAJC’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. “This decision is a victory for immigrant children and families. The Court has said clearly that the government cannot run roughshod over the rights of these children and their loved ones.” 

The lawsuit stemmed from the experience of four children in ORR custody on Virginia who were held by the government for over five months while their relatives tried to bring them home. Three of the four children were finally reunified with their families – one just weeks before the Court’s order came down. The three children who have been reunified with their families have been dismissed from the case. One child remains in government custody, where he has been held apart from his adult sister for six months, after fleeing violence and neglect in his home country. 

“For years, ORR has neglected its obligations under the Administrative Procedure Act,” said Sterne Kessler Director Salvador Bezos, lead of the firm’s immigration-focused pro bono matters. “The Administrative Procedure Act provides essential protections against this kind of agency overreach. I am proud of my colleagues’ and LAJC’s efforts to force the government to meet its obligations to the children in its custody.”

“ORR is supposed to protect vulnerable immigrant children. Instead it is placing them in harm’s way under the guise of child welfare,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director of LAJC’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. “Their policy and its enforcement undermine successfully placing children with their families and the vast surveillance actions are destabilizing immigrant communities.” 

In the November 15th ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema firmly upheld children’s right to liberty and the right to family unity for immigrant families. Judge Brinkema found that the children and their sponsors provided sufficient reason to suggest that their constitutional rights were violated, and that the government violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it enacted its ICE sharing policy earlier this year.  The case will now move forward as LAJC works to certify the class and the parties work to complete discovery. 

Read the legal ruling here

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Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses.  More information is available at http://www.justice4all.org/current-initiatives/fighting-family-separation/

Inhumane Family Separation Case Settled

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Scott Simpson, scott@muslimadvocates.org
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, simon@justice4all.org
Nicole Vogt, nicole@npstrategygroup.com

Civil Rights Groups Settle Case Against Trump Administration’s Inhumane Family Separation Policies

Settlement Could Give Well Over 1,000 Parents Another Chance at Asylum

Washington, DC, September 12, 2018 – In accordance with a new agreement reached today in Dora v. Sessions and companion cases Ms. L v. ICE and M.M.M. v. Sessions – three legal actions that are challenging the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance and family-separation policies – the government has agreed that all parents still in the United States who underwent the asylum interview process after being forcibly separated from their children and subsequently had their claim rejected will now have a second chance to have their asylum request reviewed, including the opportunity to submit additional evidence and testimony.  Today’s agreement, if approved by the court, will provide much needed relief to these parents and their children and will ensure that their asylum claims are properly considered by federal officials.

According to Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney for Muslim Advocates, “Today’s agreement is a significant victory for parents who were denied a real chance at asylum. The parents in these lawsuits all came to the United States fleeing unspeakable violence and seeking shelter for themselves and their children. The government forcibly separated them from their children, causing them severe psychological trauma and denying them a meaningful opportunity to make their case for asylum. With this agreement, they will finally have a real chance to be heard and to secure safety and stability for themselves and their families.”

According to Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia, “Our government forcibly ripped children from the arms of asylum-seeking parents, and then asked them, debilitated by trauma, all by themselves, unrepresented by lawyers, to articulate complex legal claims without any support or accommodation.  With this settlement, those parents will now finally have a fair shot at winning protection in the United States.”

Dora v. Sessions was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Muslim Advocates and Legal Aid Justice Center on behalf of 29 plaintiffs forcibly separated from their children under the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane “zero tolerance” policy.  The complaint alleged that, because of the disabling trauma of family separation, parents were confused, disoriented, unable to focus on anything other than the whereabouts and well-being of their children, and unable to adequately articulate their experiences to the interviewing officers. As a result, the plaintiffs received negative credible fear determinations, and faced immediate deportation. The complaint raised claims under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

A copy of the settlement can be found here: Agreement Dora v Sessions

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Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses.  More information is available at http://www.justice4all.org/current-initiatives/fighting-family-separation/

Lawsuit Challenges Culpeper County Sheriff

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For Immediate Release:

Contact
Legal Aid Justice Center: Sophia Leticia Gregg, sophia@justice4all.org, 703-720-5602
Victor M. Glasberg & Associates, Victor M. Glasberg, vmg@robinhoodesq.com, 703-684-1100,

CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT CHALLENGES CULPEPER COUNTY SHERIFF’S YEARS OF VIOLATING IMMIGRANTS’ CIVIL RIGHTS

Culpeper, VIRGINIA, September 10, 2018 – A Virginia resident has filed a class-action civil rights lawsuit against Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins for his unlawful practice of holding immigrants in jail past their release dates.  The lawsuit, brought by the Legal Aid Justice Center and Victor M. Glasberg and Associates, challenges the Sheriff’s policy of honoring “immigration detainers,” which are requests from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to hold individuals in local custody past the time they are ordered released by a state judge.  Unlike criminal warrants, immigration detainers are not signed by a judge and do not authorize a local jail to continue to incarcerate an individual.  Courts across the country have found that holding immigrants on ICE detainers violates their constitutional rights.

In 2015, Attorney General Mark Herring put Virginia sheriffs on notice that honoring immigration detainers was illegal when he issued an opinion aptly titled Legality of ICE Detainer Requests. Attorney General Herring’s opinion clearly stated, “[A]n adult inmate or a juvenile inmate with a fixed release date should be released from custody on that date notwithstanding the agency’s receipt of an ICE detainer.”

“I was pulled over and arrested for a minor traffic violation in Culpeper County, ” said Francisco Guardado Rios, the plantiff in this class action. “I never would have imagined that it would have led to me spending three months in jail.”  

According to Sophia Gregg, staff attorney at Legal Aid Justice Center: “This case stems from our ongoing advocacy in Culpeper County and countless stories like Mr. Guardado Rios’ that we heard over the course of many months. All people, regardless of their perceived immigration status, have the right to be free from unlawful incarceration.  For years Sheriff Jenkins has been acting outside of the law and today we begin the fight to hold him accountable.”

According to Vic Glasberg, veteran civil rights lawyer: “Keeping folks in jail without charges or a conviction is what happens in countries governed by tyrants.  Actions like this must be resisted by those interested in living in a free society.”

The lawsuit, Rios v. Jenkins, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville Division.  A copy of the complaint can be found at Culpepper Complaint.   

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Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses. Our ‘De-ICE Virginia’ campaign seeks to sever the ties between local law enforcement and ICE. More information can be found at http://www.justice4all.org/current-initiatives/de-ice-virginia/

Victor M. Glasberg has been practicing civil rights law in his Alexandria, VA law firm since 1982.  Information about the firm may be found on its website www.robinhoodesq.com.

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