News

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 
Hallie Ryan
Managing Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center
703.226.3426

A federal court has given the green light to a lawsuit challenging ICE’s use of warrantless home invasions and vehicle stops, denying the government’s Motion to Dismiss and allowing the lawsuit to continue into discovery.  This is one of the first rulings of its kind since President Trump took office.

The case stems from two separate instances last year in Arlington and Fairfax County, Virginia, and alleges that a team of ICE agents employed illegal search and seizure methods along with racial profiling to detain nine residents.

In the first incident, ICE agents invaded the Arlington County home of a U.S. citizen without a warrant in the early morning hours.  The plaintiffs allege that the agents went from bedroom to bedroom, including barging in on a sleeping grandmother and child, rounding up all of the Latino occupants without any reason to believe they had committed any crime or violated the immigration laws.  The agents then asked the homeowner if there were other “Spanish families” in the neighborhood.  

In the second incident, two Latino Fairfax County men were heading to work when an unmarked SUV blocked their car from pulling out of its parking spot.  The lawsuit alleges that the same ICE agents jumped out of the SUV and proceeded to detain the men without any reason to believe they had committed any crime or violated immigration laws. 

The lawsuit, filed last fall by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP against the ICE agents involved in the two incidents, contends that the plaintiffs’ 4th and 5th Amendment constitutional rights were violated when they were stopped and their homes searched, and that the plaintiffs were targets of these illegal searches because of their Latino ethnicity.  (The 4th Amendment to the Constitution protects people in the U.S. against unreasonable search and seizure, ensuring that law enforcement must have a credible reason to believe that the person is engaged in illegal activity in order to search and/or detain him. The equal protection clause of the 5th Amendment protects against racial profiling by law enforcement).

In the April 5th ruling, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria found that the plaintiffs have stated a case that their constitutional rights were violated by the ICE agents, and found that the court has proper jurisdiction over the case and can hear it. 

Read the legal ruling (PDF)

 

About Legal Aid Justice Center:
The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty through litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing. LAJC’s Immigration Advocacy Program supports low-income immigrants in their efforts to find justice and fair treatment. 

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The 2018 Virginia legislative regular session came to a close this month on March 10, but reached its conclusion without the General Assembly passing a biennial budget for 2018-2020.  The main issue preventing agreement on the budget was whether or not Virginia will opt into federal funding to expand our Medicaid program to cover the three to four hundred thousand uninsured Virginians living in poverty who are currently ineligible for any affordable quality health plan. While Governor Northam and a majority of the House of Delegates agreed on a plan to move forward with expanding coverage, Senate Republicans did not, and the budget bills did not move forward.

Still, Virginia can only operate with an approved budget, so Governor Northam has called a Special Session for April 11th, at which point legislators will return to Richmond and try again to come to an agreement on funding priorities. LAJC continues to unequivocally support expanding Medicaid (or a sincerely similar plan) to ensure health care coverage access for the 400,000 Virginians who are cut off from being able to access critical basic care. We are members of the Healthcare for All Virginians coalition, and stand in support with the coalition’s work.

The Reconvened or “Veto” session is scheduled for April 18th, at which point the General Assembly will deal with any amendments to bills from the Governor and other matters. Below you’ll find some highlights of our legislative session work:

Educate Every Child:
SB 170 (Stanley): Our effort to dramatically curb suspensions of young students in grades pre-K through third grade is on its way to Governor Northam’s desk, coming out of both the Senate and House on very strong votes. The bill caps most all suspensions of children in these grades at no more than three days. During the 2015-2016 school year, Virginia schools doled out more than 17,300 suspensions just in these early years. We’re grateful to our bipartisan patrons and champions, especially Senators Stanley, McClellan, Locke, and Dunnavant for their strong advocacy.
 
HB1600 (Bourne) is also awaiting Governor Northam’s pen, passing out of the legislature on similarly strong votes. This bipartisan bill, chief co-patroned by Del. Dickie Bell, narrows the length of most all long-term suspensions to a period of 11-45 days, down from its current span of 11-364 days, in an effort to reduce school pushout.
 
Read more on the data and policy behind these bills in our Suspended Progress 2017 report released last September. Also stay tuned for more analysis of implementing these new laws, via practice advisories and follow-up reporting in the next edition of Suspended Progress.
 
K-12 Budget Amendments: Like everyone in the Commonwealth, we’re eager to see the biennial budget process resolved. If the legislature approves a plan to accept federal funding to increase health care access, we anticipate at least some of those savings to be invested in K-12 education. Both the House and Senate have indicated their interest in directing some funds toward students and teachers, though their respective approaches differ. We’ve advocated for increases in the funding stream directed towards economically disadvantaged students (the “At-Risk Add-on”) and funds for schools to implement alternatives to suspensions and expulsions. We’ll update you all after the Special Session to outline how the agreement is to unfold for K-12.

Juvenile Justice:
We’ve been working to protect investments in home- and community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth, supporting efforts to keep youth out of incarceration. Through our partnership in the RISE for Youth coalition, we’ve been working hard to push back against legislative efforts to unnecessarily construct new, large youth prisons that we know hurt youth and families. Stay tuned for our budget result analysis in this area, as well.

Protect Civil Rights and Decriminalize Poverty:
One in six drivers in Virginia has their license suspended for unpaid court fines and fees—an unfair, automatic process that keeps many people in a cycle of debt, unemployment, and further criminal charges. We worked hard to champion SB 181 (Stanley), a bill that would’ve repealed this suspension statute and helped dismantle the Commonwealth’s debtors’ prison model that our code enables. The bill performed strongly in the Senate, reporting out of a challenging Courts committee, an often insurmountable Finance committee, and the Senate floor before crossing over into House Appropriations, where it was ultimately struck down on a 5(Rs) – 3(Ds) party line vote. We increasingly built strong bipartisan legislative and media support for the bill before and over the course of the session, and have already begun plans to bring it back next year.

Support Immigrant Communities:
LAJC partnered with VACOLAO on priorities to ensure that immigrant communities have equal treatment, equal opportunities, and equal representation in the Commonwealth, including: driver’s license/permit access for all immigrant Virginians and in-state tuition access for immigrant Virginia students regardless of legal status. Unfortunately, despite fervent advocacy and inspirational positive turnout at committee hearings, these bills were voted down along party lines. We will continue to advocate on these and other immigration issues, to grow bipartisan support for these critical human and civil rights efforts.

To become involved with our legislative advocacy, please contact LAJC Attorney and Policy Coordinator Amy Woolard at amy@justice4all.org. You can also sign up for email alerts on our website here

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Legal Aid Justice Center has won an important first-in-the-nation class action case in federal court in Alexandria, establishing the right to bond hearings for a class of detained immigrants whom the government is holding in long-term no-bond detention.

When immigrants are deported to countries where human rights violations are rampant, they often find themselves subject to persecution, torture, or even death threats.  And since the U.S. government almost never gives a visa to someone who has already been deported, these individuals may find themselves with no option other than to try to return to the United States and cross the border illegally to seek a form of legal protection from persecution known as “withholding of removal.”

Previously, ICE and the immigration courts refused to grant bond to these individuals, holding them in prison-like conditions in immigration detention centers for months if not years while they fought out their cases.  Legal Aid Justice Center filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of five immigrants held in this prolonged no-bond detention, and won release for two of them, but the government refused to apply the decision more broadly to other similarly situated immigrants held in detention.

We then filed a first-in-the-nation class action, seeking access to bond hearings for all immigrants detained in Virginia who fall into this category.  On February 26, 2018, federal district judge Leonie M. Brinkema granted our motions in full, giving our clients and the class members all of the relief we asked for.  We understand that there are about 50 immigrants currently detained at the Farmville detention center who meet this description, with more being arrested every week.  Now, they will have the chance to pay a bond and leave detention, reunite with their families, and resume normal lives while they fight their cases for protection.

Special thanks to our pro bono co-counsel at Mayer Brown LLP, Murray Osorio LLP, Law Office of James Reyes, and Blessinger Legal PLLC – we couldn’t possibly do it without you!

The judge’s opinion can be found here: Memorandum Opinion (PDF)

The judge’s order can be found here:  Order (PDF)

The opinion applies to all immigrants who are in pending withholding-only proceedings, and “as of December 7, 2017 or at any time thereafter are detained within the Commonwealth of Virginia under the authority of [ICE].”  The government has been ordered to notify all class members by March 13, 2018, and to provide them with a bond hearing (or a Joseph hearing, if appropriate) by March 28, 2018.

We will be monitoring compliance with this opinion, and want to hear from Virginia attorneys who represent a class member.  If you represent a class member, or if you have questions as to whether your client might be a class member, please e-mail LAJC attorney Rachel McFarland at rmcfarland@justice4all.org to let us know. 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ADVOCACY GROUPS OPPOSE BI-PARTISAN ‘DEAL’ ON FELONY LARCENY THRESHOLD

Richmond, Va., February 13, 2018 —
The organizations listed below support an increase in Virginia’s long-outdated felony larceny threshold but oppose the so-called bipartisan compromise announced last week that traded an increase in the threshold for passage of legislation enhancing the enforcement of restitution orders entered in criminal cases.

At just $200, the current threshold amount of theft that allows charging someone with a felony in Virginia – invoking possible prison time and a loss of voting rights for life – is the lowest in the country and hasn’t been increased since 1980. Over the ensuing 37 years, inflation on an item worth $200 would have increased its value to nearly $600 today. ($200 in 1980 has the same “purchasing power” as $594.14 in 2017.)  In that sense, an increase in the felony larceny threshold to $500, which appears to be a move in the right direction, doesn’t even keep pace with inflation.  If you reverse the inflation calculation, an increase in the threshold to $500 will mean that you will be able to be convicted of a felony today for stealing the equivalent of just $168.31 in 1980 dollars. So, arguably, we are going backwards, not forwards.

Still, an increase to $500 might have been acceptable were it not for additional provisions of the “deal” struck to obtain bipartisan support for the increase. We are concerned with the proposed changes to how payments of restitution will be enforced in Virginia that were part of the announced “compromise.” If these changes are adopted, indigent defendants without the ability to pay restitution could be kept on probation indefinitely. It would also turn probation officers and judges into debt collectors. Even if someone is released from probation, they would still face 10 years of court hearings where a judge would have the discretion to put them back on probation or put them in jail for failing to pay restitution at any time. This unjust scheme amounts to a form of Debtor’s Prison.

This is not just a matter of fairness and keeping up with a changing economy. It is a racial justice issue, a women’s rights issue and an economic justice issue. The “compromise” as agreed to would continue to affect women and people of color disparately, as well as keep many poor people under indefinite looming threat of additional consequences under the criminal justice system.

For these reasons, we oppose the announced compromise on the grand larceny threshold and accompanying legislation regarding restitution.

American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
Justice Forward Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center
Loudoun County Branch of the NAACP
NAKASEC (National Korean American Service & Education Consortium)
Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Virginia Organizing

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Sylvia Cosby Jones, Esq., Managing Attorney
Legal Aid Justice Center
804-521-7305 | sylvia@justice4all.org

James Bowling, Esq., St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP
Counsel for the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority
434-296-7138 | jmb@stlawva.com

JOINT PRESS RELEASE:

PUBLIC HOUSING TENANTS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH RICHMOND REDEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING AUTHORITY ON CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

 Richmond, Va., February 6, 2018—

Public housing tenants and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) have reached a proposed settlement in a federal class action lawsuit challenging RRHA’s implementation of tenant utility allowances. 

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, $951,835.45 will be distributed among current and former Richmond public housing tenants who were impacted by RRHA’s utility surcharges from November 1, 2012, through October 31, 2016.  An additional $79,590.23 will be returned to tenants through implementation of new utility allowances. Cenquetta Harris, a named plaintiff in the case, said of the proposed settlement: “As tenants, we work hard to try to pay our bills, but our utility bills were too high. This settlement shows that when we band together to stand up for ourselves, we can make sure that everyone is treated fairly.”  RRHA Interim Chief Executive Officer Orlando Artze said, “We are pleased to have worked constructively with the plaintiffs over the past several years to resolve this complex dispute so that RRHA can continue to focus on meeting the needs of residents in our public housing communities.”

The class action lawsuit, filed in February 2017, alleges that RRHA’s failure to properly set, implement, and charge electric utility allowances, resulted in excessive charges to current and former public housing tenants.  A proposed class of plaintiffs, represented by lawyers at Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), and Thomas D. Domonoske, Consumer Litigation Associates, contend that these excessive charges increased tenants’ share of their housing costs, and caused tenants to pay more than allowed.

While RRHA denies any wrongdoing, the parties have agreed to the proposed settlement in order to avoid the uncertainty and expense associated with continued litigation, and believe that the proposed settlement agreement is in the best interest of RRHA and all impacted public housing tenants.  “RRHA is glad to have reached an amicable result with the tenant plaintiffs in this case, which promotes RRHA’s goal of transparency and fairness while providing affordable housing to Richmond residents,” said Artze.  “It is important to note that RRHA did not benefit financially from the billing of utility charges to residents.  In fact, the administrative requirements of the utility surcharge system and insufficient HUD subsidy result in RRHA’s provision of electric utility service to residents at a financial loss to the agency.”  Similar settlements have been reached with the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority as well as the Petersburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

The proposed settlement, filed today, must be approved by Federal District Court Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. before it is final.  In addition to monetary relief, RRHA will make changes in its lease as well as in certain policies and practices, including:

  • Setting and implementing new, higher utility allowances that will stay in place for at least 3 years.
  • Creating new notices, policies and procedures for elderly and disabled tenants needing additional electric usage due to their conditions.
  • Changing its billing statements to give tenants more information about their utility surcharges.
  • Ensuring RRHA staff is trained regarding utility billing procedures, tenant requests for relief from utility billing, and the grievance procedure.

“The settlement is the result of hard work by both parties, and we are very pleased that in addition to relief for past charges, our clients will be billed fairly and in compliance with HUD rules going forward,” said Sylvia Jones, attorney for the plaintiff tenants.  Interim CEO Orlando Artze also noted that he is pleased that any unclaimed refunds will be used to create an energy efficiency fund for the benefit of RRHA public housing residents.   

Documents:

Settlement Agreement (PDF) 

Joint Motion for Class Certification and Preliminary Approval (PDF)

Memo in Support of Joint Motion (PDF)

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About the Legal Aid Justice Center
The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), representing Plaintiffs in this case, 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, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance. LAJC’s primary service areas are Charlottesville, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Petersburg, but the effects of their work are felt statewide.

About Thomas D. Domonoske
Mr. Domonoske, representing the Plaintiffs in this case, is of counsel with Consumer Litigation Associates.  His primary emphasis is on using the civil justice system to remedy credit-related frauds, including predatory lending, debt collection, and credit reporting.  He has published many articles on several aspects of consumer law in various professional publications.  In the past seventeen years he has given over 140 consumer law trainings at various events around the country and regularly trains JAG lawyers for the United States military.  He has served as a member of the Harrisonburg City School Board and also on the Board of Directors of the Fairfield Center and the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

About the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA)                            
A locally administered, and federally funded housing authority, RRHA provides real estate development, rental housing assistance, and property management of public housing communities for low and moderate-income families throughout the City of Richmond.

About St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP
St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP, representing RRHA in this case, is a litigation firm that has past experience in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 public housing litigation and represents clients in Virginia state and federal courts in matters including civil rights law, business law, eminent domain, criminal defense, college and university disciplinary proceedings, government representation, estate planning and real estate matters.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Pat Levy-Lavelle
Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center
804-521-7308 | pat@justice4all.org

New Report: Court Reforms Don’t Ease License Suspensions
Commonwealth’s suspended drivers sentenced to 348,000 days
in jail annually 
for driving while in default

Richmond, Va., January 24, 2018—Nearly one million Virginia driver’s licenses remain suspended for unpaid court debt a year after significant legislative and judicial efforts at reforms aimed at helping people reinstate their licenses, according to a new report released today by the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Commonwealth’s license-for-payment system led to the sentencing of approximately 1.74 million jail days for people charged with driving on a license suspended only for failure to pay court fines and costs, which is an average of more than 348,000 jail days each year.

The report,“Driving on Empty: Payment Plan Reforms Don’t Fix Virginia’s Court Debt Crisis,” examines 116 general district court payment plan policies and finds that:

  • Payment plan policies in place across Virginia are not designed to take into account people’s individual financial circumstances, resulting in unrealistic and unaffordable payment plans that often lead to default;
  • More than 1/3 of GDC polices do not mention ability to pay at all. None provides any indication how it evaluates ability to pay or what that means for payment plan terms; and
  • Many courts have no community service provisions (or very restrictive community service provisions), charge arbitrarily high down payments to enter plans, fail to mention the statutory right to seek modification of plans, or restrict access to subsequent payment plans for indebted Virginians who default.   

“Virginia’s automatic license suspension policy is quite literally Virginia’s form of debtor’s prison,” said Pat Levy-Lavelle, attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “If you can’t drive, you can’t work, and you can’t pay. And if you do drive, you go to jail—and even the most generous of payment plan policies can’t save you.”

To read more about Virginia’s license-for-payment system, go to http://www.justice4all.org/drive.

Attachment:
Driving on Empty Report (pdf)

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 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, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance. LAJC’s primary service areas are Charlottesville, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Petersburg, but the effects of their work are felt statewide.

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Dear Friends of LAJC, 
  
The 2018 Virginia legislative session is underway! Session began Wednesday, January 10th, as the legislature worked to organize itself amidst many new faces and a new building: this year—and for at least three more sessions until a new building is completed—the General Assembly will complete much of its committee work and have legislative offices in the Pocahontas Building, located at 900 E. Main St. in Richmond. 
  
Legislators have already filed more than 2400 bills & resolutions so far for this 60-day session, and more are coming. LAJC staff will be working to educate policymakers and support our partners on a variety of issues, but our primary priorities for this session:  
   
Educate Every Child 
SB 170 (Stanley, McClellan) / HB 296 (D. Bell, Bourne): Once again, we’ll be working hard to roll back harmful school suspension and expulsion laws. This year we’ll be focusing on eliminating suspension and expulsion for students in Pre-K to 3rd grade. Read more on the data and policy behind our recommendation in our Suspended Progress 2017 report released last October
  
SB 476 (Reeves): In an effort to limit unnecessary and harmful contact between students and law enforcement, we are supporting this bill to give schools discretion in whether to refer students to law enforcement for misdemeanors and status offenses. Currently, schools have no choice and are mandated to refer nearly all offenses. 
  
Budget Amendments: LAJC will be supporting several budget amendments to make sure our schools are adequately funded and focused on improving school climate and reducing suspension and expulsion. These amendments include: additional funding for alternatives to suspension and expulsion; increasing targeted “At-risk Add-on” funding for economically disadvantaged students; and lifting the artificial cap on schools’ ability to fund support staff such as social workers, psychologists, nurses, and maintenance staff. 
   
Juvenile Justice: We will be working to protect investments in home- and community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth and making sure Virginia juvenile justice policies don’t create an open door to the adult prison system. 
  
Protect Civil Rights and Decriminalize Poverty
SB 181
 (Stanley)One in six drivers in Virginia has their license suspended for unpaid court fines and fees—an unfair, automatic process that keeps many people in a cycle of debt, unemployment, criminal charges, and even jail when they must drive to meet their basic needs: work, healthcare appointments, the grocery store, and more. SB181 would repeal this license suspension statute, which is not only ineffective at collecting fines and fees, but also props up a debtors’ prison model in the Commonwealth. 
  
LAJC will also be weighing in on any criminal justice efforts that affect low-income communities of color, who most often bear the weight of policies that impede access to justice and expand/perpetuate mass incarceration and its consequences. Among those proposals, we will be supporting a broad increase to the felony larceny threshold and positive reform to the discovery process in Virginia.

Support Immigrant Communities
LAJC will be working in partnership with VACOLAO to ensure that immigrant communities have equal treatment, equal opportunities, and equal representation in the Commonwealth. Priorities for this session include: driver’s license/permit access for all immigrant Virginians; in-state tuition access for immigrant Virginia students regardless of legal status, and resolution efforts to condemn hate and celebrate diversity.  
   
Improve Health Care Access
LAJC unequivocally supports expanding Medicaid to ensure health care coverage access for the 400,000 Virginians who are cut off from being able to access critical basic care. We are members of the Healthcare for All Virginians coalition, and stand in support with the coalition’s work.
  
To get involved with our legislative advocacy, please contact LAJC Attorney and Policy Coordinator Amy Woolard at amy@justice4all.org
  
You can also sign up for email alerts on our website here (we will be sending more session updates like this one), and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We will be sharing advocacy materials, updates, blog posts, and calls to action as the session progresses!

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CONTACT:
Becky Wolozin
Attorney, Legal Aid Justice Center
703-720-5606 | becky@justice4all.org

Falls Church, Virginia (January 8, 2018) – In response to growing school enrollment barriers faced by immigrant students across Virginia, the Legal Aid Justice Center has released a practice guide, Dream Big: Education for Immigrant Students and Children of Immigrants. The guide clarifies the responsibilities of the Commonwealth’s school divisions to provide tuition-free education to all students, regardless of immigration status. It also outlines general school enrollment principles under Virginia law and answers common questions faced by attorneys and service providers who are assisting immigrant families.

“Virginia schools should be welcoming, supportive, and safe places for all students,” said Becky Wolozin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center and author of the practice guide. “Unfortunately, immigrant children and children who have immigrant parents often face unnecessary barriers to enrolling in school and obtaining the services they need to learn. We hope this guide will assist advocates in using state and federal protections to ensure that all children in Virginia have the opportunity to learn.”

The guide addresses some of the most common barriers to school enrollment faced by immigrant children, including unnecessary and onerous enrollment documentation requirements and family instability due to deportation. Using a question and answer format, the guide clarifies school division responsibilities to immigrant students and families. State and federal law protect the right of all children to attend public school, regardless of immigration status. 

Resources

Dream Big: Education for Immigrant Students and Children of Immigrants

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On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, two immigrant youth from Virginia filed a lawsuit seeking to have their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) reinstated and extended for two years. Represented pro bono by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Outten and Golden, they argue that the Trump Administration’s decision to deny them the opportunity to once more renew DACA violated their constitutional rights.

“DACA changed my life,” said 26-year-old Nurimaro Park of Fairfax, Virginia. “Before DACA, I didn’t see much of a future for myself. I was always anxious, my job prospects were poor, and I couldn’t even get a driver’s license. Even though my family came to this country from Korea to give me a better life, I didn’t see myself being able to have much of a life at all.”

Mr. Park’s second two-year DACA extension had recently lapsed and he was saving money to pay for the $495 renewal fee, when on September 5, 2017—without any warning—the Trump Administration announced that the entire DACA program would be phased out beginning in March 2018. But for Mr. Park, and some 50,000 other immigrants like him1 whose DACA extensions had already lapsed and who were still making plans to renew, the program was being cancelled effective immediately, robbing them of a fair chance to renew and plunging their lives into uncertainty. “I was crushed,” Mr. Park said. “I had no warning. If the government had told me this was coming on September 5, I could have taken steps to renew before then.”

“Nurimaro Park played by the rules, but the Trump Administration changed the rules on him,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program. “Fifty thousand other Dreamers just like him were wrongly denied their right to two more years of DACA. To change a deadline without telling people that you are going to do it, and then denying them DACA because they missed the deadline that they had no way of knowing about, violates a basic sense of fair play and decency, and it also violates the Constitution.”

“Many people think that the deadline for Congress to pass a Dream Act is March 5, 2018, because when that’s when the whole DACA program will begin to sunset,” said Mary Bauer, executive director of the Virginia-based Legal Aid Justice Center. “But for Nurimaro Park, and for some 50,000 others, the DACA program has already ended. The emergency has already begun.”

David Lopez, a Washington, D.C.-based partner in Outten & Golden LLP, which concentrates on employee rights, added, “The Administration’s decision to change the DACA renewal policies abruptly and without notice illegally pushed thousands of productive workers who followed the rules into the shadows without legal status.” Outten & Golden recently launched a Resistance Task Force to protect individuals like Mr. Park from efforts by the current administration to curtail workplace protections.

DACA Lawsuit (pdf)


About the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program: The Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program supports low-income immigrants in their efforts to find justice and fair treatment. In addition to representing clients with individual legal issues, we promote systemic reforms to reduce the abuse and exploitation of immigrants, and advocate for state and local policies that promote integration and protect immigrants from aggressive immigration enforcement. Our work aims to end the mass detention and deportation of immigrants, with a special focus on child refugees fleeing violence and individuals and communities targeted for enforcement by overzealous federal immigration agents.

About Outten & Golden LLP: Outten & Golden LLP, a 50-plus attorney law firm, represents employees in individual and class action litigation challenging employment discrimination, wage theft, and other workplace injustices. As advocates for workplace fairness, our passion and profession is to help advance the goals of employees and protect their rights against injustices. Outten & Golden LLP also recently launched a Legal Resistance Task Force to protect the workplace rights of the people and communities targeted by the actions and policies of the Trump Administration. Details: http://www.outtengolden.com and http://www.ogresistance.com.