Press Releases

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."
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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.

 

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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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Sad News for Haitians in Need of Refuge

Miami, FL - September 22, 2016 - For the past several months, our Miami office has been assisting Haitians who left Haiti following the earthquake in search of jobs and safety in Brazil. They are now seeking refuge in the United States, given Brazil's political and economic instability.
 
Earlier today the Obama Administration announced that it is resuming Haitian deportations and new arrivals at the Border will have their cases expedited. An estimated 2000 Haitians already here who have final removal orders are also at risk of removal. Deportations to Haiti were suspended following the 2010 earthquake.
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Americans for Immigrant Justice and Miami Dade College Present Award-Winning Documentary, DREAM: An American Story

Miami, FL - August 3, 2016 - Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) presents Dream:  An American Story on Monday, Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m., at Miami Dade College's (MDC) acclaimed Tower Theater. DREAM: An American Story explores the struggles of DREAMers through the story of Killian High School and MDC graduate and former top student, Juan Gomez, whose classmates rally to the cause when he is threatened with deportation.  Local DREAMers who undertook the 1400 mile Trail of Dreams walk from Miami to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the plight of undocumented immigrants are also featured in this stirring film. That journey began on the steps of the Freedom Tower at MDC and was completed by four MDC students. 

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Americans for Immigrant Justice and MDC Present DREAM: An American Story

Documentary Film Screening and Panel Discussion at MDC's Iconic Tower Theater 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Miami, FL - August 8, 2016 - Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) presents Dream:  An American Story, an award-winning feature-length documentary film which chronicles the life of MDC graduate and former top student Juan Gomez on Monday, Aug. 29 at 5:30 p.m., at Miami Dade College's (MDC) acclaimed Tower Theater.
 
Academically gifted, Juan Gomez firmly believes in the philosophy and promise of the American Dream. Facing separation from his parents, and caught in the midst of a dysfunctional immigration system and a deadlocked Congress, this dedicated and hardworking student struggles to gain legal status in the United States, the country he entered at age two with his parents who fled Colombia seeking asylum.  The film will be preceded by a reception and a panel discussion will take place following the screening.
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Another Serious Setback for Hardworking Immigrant Families Following Today's U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Miami, FL - June 23, 2016 - In a split 4-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has left in place a nationwide injunction that leaves countless immigrants who have lived here for years, worked hard, paid taxes and have U.S. citizen children without hope for a better future. President Obama's directive on November 20, 2014, granting Deferred Action to Parents of U.S. citizen and legal resident children (DAPA) and expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), sadly remains on hold and once again immigrant families have been dealt a devastating blow. An estimated 230,000 eligible immigrants in Florida alone could benefit from DAPA/DACA; its implementation over the next 10 years could add over $9 billion to Florida's GDP. Every U.S. president since Eisenhower has used his executive authority to grant temporary immigration relief.

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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.