Press Releases

Immigration, Legal Groups Demand DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Retract Lie That Trump Administration Was Not Implementing A Family Separation Policy


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Immigration, Legal Groups Demand DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Retract Lie That Trump Administration Was Not Implementing A Family Separation Policy

Trump Administration Violated Federal Law In Issuing Deliberate Falsehood to Shift Debate and Mislead Public on Unconscionable Forced Family Separation

Americans for Immigrant Justice, RAICES, Muslim Advocates, File Legal Petition Demanding Immediate Retraction

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, on behalf of immigrant advocacy and legal organizations, Democracy Forward petitioned the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to retract and correct false statements claiming the Trump Administration did not implement a policy of forced family separation along the Southwest Border.  The groups are challenging the intentionally inaccurate claims under the Information Quality Act (“IQA”), a law requiring federal agencies to disseminate accurate and reliable information to the public. 

The groups include Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and Muslim Advocates.

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Stay of Removal Extended for Men and Women on Failed Deportation Flight

Judge Finds Jurisdiction Over Challenge to Somali Deportations 

Miami, FL - (January 30, 2018) - U. S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles ruled on Friday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is temporarily enjoined from deporting 92 Somalis who ICE had previously tried to deport in December 2017 in a botched flight that was forced to return the Somalis back to the United States.

The Order stated, "While the Court recognizes that the executive branch has broad discretion to carry out removal orders, the Court finds that it has jurisdiction in this case to prevent the unlawful exercise of that discretion against these specific Petitioners."

The 92 men and women sustained injuries from being shackled at their wrists, waists, and legs for almost two days, including over 20 hours when the plane sat on the runway in Dakar, Senegal. During the time that the flight was in Senegal, the detainees report that ICE agents abused them and deprived them of access to the bathroom.

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ICE Abuses Men and Women On 48-Hour Deportation Flight to Somalia

Class-action lawsuit represents 92 immigrants who were shackled and abused during failed deportation

MIAMI, Fla. (December 19, 2017) - The Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, Americans for Immigrant Justice, James H. Binger Center for New Americans at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Legal Aid Service of Broward County have filed a class-action lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order against Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The lawsuit cites inhumane conditions and egregious abuse of 92 Somali men and women during a failed attempt to deport them by plane on December 7, 2017.

For the duration of the almost 48-hour trip, ICE shackled the Somali immigrants at their wrists, waist, and legs and forced them to stay seated. While the plane sat on the runway for 23 hours in Senegal, ICE agents kicked, struck, choked, and dragged some detainees down the aisle of the plane and put others in straitjackets. The deportees were also denied access to a working bathroom, leaving some detainees to relieve themselves into bottles or on themselves. 

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Immigrant Rights Advocates Demand Civil Rights Investigation Into ICE Raids That Targeted Sponsors Of Unaccompanied Children

December 6, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eight immigrant rights organizations filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of Inspector General today on behalf of some of the 400 people swept up this summer in a DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation. The operation used unaccompanied immigrant children who were trying to reunite with their families to identify and target their relatives who live in the United States. The organizations are calling for an investigation of civil rights violations against eight individuals whose stories are described in the complaint.

The complaint details how ICE officers misrepresented their objectives and coerced young immigrants during the agency’s “surge initiative” from June to August 2017. The operation sought information about the immigration status of parents and other relatives who came forward to sponsor unaccompanied children. Officers then used that information to locate or lure family members to ICE offices, where they were arrested and detained. These actions, the groups say, undermine U.S. laws governing the treatment of unaccompanied children. Those laws include the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, as well as individuals’ due process rights and right to family unity, protected by the U.S. Constitution. The operation also contravenes U.S. obligations under international and domestic refugee law.

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The Battle for Justice for Haitians Continues

Miami, FL - November 21, 2017 - Last night, on the cusp of a holiday celebrating family, immigration, and welcoming all to our tables, we learned that Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke decided to terminate Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS), giving Haitians 18 months to pack their bags.  This announcement was a painful and cruel reminder of how little our government seems to care about Haitians and other TPS recipients who have lived here for upwards of 20 years and have raised families that include nearly 275,000 U.S. born children. 
"Our sense of freedom has been stripped away. It's fear and it's stress.  Most people fear all law enforcement now."  - Farrah Larrieux, TPS recipient and AI Justice client

Haitians are an integral part of our workforce and the economic costs of ending this much-needed protection are enormous. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau, the inability of Haitians to continue working here would result in $2.8 billion in lost GDP over a decade, and $428 million in lost Social Security and Medicare contributions.  On the other hand, the cost of deporting Haitian TPS holders is $469 million.

The Sunshine state's economy benefits enormously from TPS workers, including staffing at Florida's medical facilities, airports and taxis, as well as the construction and hospitality industries.
"Our Haitian TPS families have had far too many sleepless nights in recent months, and sadly this news will only increase their anxiety. But we haven't lost the war yet, and will work tirelessly during these next 18 months with our Democratic and Republican friends in Congress to fix our broken immigration system," said AI Justice Executive Director Cheryl Little. 

"Many of us have been working to achieve justice for Haitians for decades, and one of our biggest achievements was the granting of TPS following the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  For once, our government did the right thing by Haitians and they had hope for a better future.  Despite a growing sense of hopelessness, we have not given up," Little added.

As reported in the New York Times yesterday, one of the younger beneficiaries of the program, Peterson Exais, an AI Justice client, barely survived the earthquake. He arrived in the United States when he was 9 years old to receive emergency medical care after surviving for days under the rubble. He endured more than a dozen surgeries and has become a promising dancer at a magnet school in Miami. Now 17 years old, Peterson dreams of pursuing studies at the Juilliard School. "This is very devastating news for me," he said yesterday.
"As advocates, we are tired.  We are disappointed.  However, our work is more important than ever, and we must rally.  We have a lot of work to do in the next 18 months," said AI Justice Family Defense Program Director Adonia Simpson. "AI Justice will continue to work to identify alternative and better forms of relief for our clients.  We will continue to push for a legislative solution for not only our TPS recipients, but also for DREAMers, which as a whole total more than a million vibrant, hardworking, and contributing members of our community.  AI Justice stands with you and will fight for you."

It's Time to Unleash the DREAM

September 5, 2017
The decision today to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) sets a new low for an Administration bent on harming and dehumanizing our fellow immigrants. 
In 2012, when Obama provided a temporary reprieve from deportation for our country's DREAMers - immigrants brought here by their parents as young children - it was life-changing. 800,000 of our country's DREAMers have been able to work legally, get a social security number, pay taxes, pay in-state college tuition, and in Florida get a much coveted driver's license.  All of this is now at stake. 
DREAMers have been forced to weather many a storm over the years, as Congressional efforts to provide them a path to legalization failed.  The first DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, and DREAMers have been on an emotional rollercoaster ever since.  In 2010, the bipartisan DREAM Act fell just five votes short of passage.  In 2013, the bipartisan Senate Immigration Reform bill, which included the DREAM Act, was never brought to the House floor for a vote despite significant support.
When Trump was running for the Presidency, he vowed to end DACA on day one of taking office.  After the election, he promised to keep DACA alive for "these amazing kids," kids who were counting on him to keep his word.  But Trump caved after 10 state Attorney Generals threatened to file suit by September 5th unless DACA ends.  His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who doesn't even support most legal immigration, said he can't defend DACA if these states sue.  Rounding up DREAMers won't be much of a challenge.  Every DACA applicant had to provide immigration officials their current contact information.

AI Justice had the privilege of representing the four Miami-Dade College students who walked 1500 miles, from Miami to Washington, D.C. in 2010, to garner support for the DREAM Act and make the case for comprehensive immigration reform.  One of the DREAMers, Felipe Matos, said they decided to undertake this journey despite the potential dangers, telling us, "We are aware of the risks.  We are risking our future because our present is unbearable." Today countless DREAMers across the country are feeling like Felipe - the present seems unbearable.

Passage of a DREAM bill would stop the immense brain drain that occurs when ambitious young people are deported or blocked from achieving their full potential. In 2010 the Congressional Budget Office estimated passage of the DREAM Act would reduce our deficit by $1.4 Billion over ten years.  A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that ending DACA would reduce the U.S. GDP by at least $433.4 billion over 10 years.
It's far past time for Congress to stop the colossal waste of talent that our country can't afford by enacting legislation that offers immigrant youth a path to permanent legal status. Currently, there are two pending bi-partisan bills, the Recognizing America's Children Act and the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide DREAMers a path to citizenship. We urge Democrats and Republicans to step up to the plate and work tirelessly to ensure that these deserving kids can finally pursue their dreams. Countless DREAMers and millions of U.S. citizens are hoping and praying that they will.
Destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of our country's young residents who have done nothing wrong and everything right is morally reprehensible and just plain stupid.



AI Justice Continues to Advocate for Justice for Haitians

Miami, FL - May 22, 2017 - Department of Homeland Security sources have indicated that Temporary Protected Status for Haiti will be renewed for 6 months.  Following the January 12, 2010 earthquake that shook Haiti to its core, taking 300,000 Haitian lives and injuring 1.5 million, the United States granted Haitians Temporary Protected status (TPS), allowing them to live and work here legally.  Since then, Haiti suffered additional calamities.  In 2016, a category 5 storm slammed Haiti, destroying entire towns and affecting an estimated 2.1 million Haitians.  An ongoing cholera epidemic - reportedly the world's largest- has killed 9,500 Haitians and sickened 900,000 others.  Until today, TPS status has been renewed every 18 months since 2010. 

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AI Justice Condemns President Trump's Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

Miami, FL - January 25, 2017 - Today, President Trump signed two Executive Orders that have devastating effects on immigrants in our communities and asylum-seekers seeking protection at our borders. Trump's Orders call for the immediate construction of a wall along the Southwest border; mandatory detention for asylum-seekers; massive expansion of immigration detention centers; the tripling of enforcement officers; the reinstatement of harmful 287(g) partnerships with local law enforcement; and the cancellation of federal grants to cities and counties that refuse to engage in immigration enforcement activities, including Miami.

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Community Leaders to Hold Frank Discussion on Immigration

WHO: Khalid Mirza, Founding Member, Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations (COSMOS);
Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, Consul General of Mexico in Miami;
Markenzy Lapointe, Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner; and
Monica Lazaro, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) DREAMer client.
WHAT:  The Immigrant Experience: Today's Realities
WHERE:  Coral Gables Congregational Church,  3010 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables
WHEN:  Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, 7-8:30pm
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Obama Administration's Decision to Resume Haitian Deportations Must Be Reversed Now

Miami, FL - October 9, 2016 - On September 22, 2016, the Obama Administration announced it was resuming Haitian deportations and new arrivals would face expedited removal. Countless Haitians who made it to the border since the policy change are currently in ICE custody in the San Diego area. Meanwhile, roughly 7000 Haitians without TPS who were released before the policy change now face detention and deportation. Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) represents a number of these Haitians, who currently have work permits and are terrified of return.

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6355 NW 36th St, Suite 2201
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About Us:

AI Justice is an award-winning non-profit law and advocacy firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, we champion the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocate for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serve as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speak for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.