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Immigrant's Rights
The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights and civil liberties of every person in this country. Upholding the rights of the politically disenfranchised is vital; when the government has the power to deny legal rights and due process to one group of people, it puts all our rights in danger.

DREAMers Drivers License Case Moves Forward

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December 19, 2014
For Immediate Release

Contact:    Tyler Richard, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 402.476.8091 x104, 402.202.6211

Lincoln, NE- Today the United States District Court of Nebraska issued a ruling rejecting the state of Nebraska's attempt to remove a lawsuit on behalf of DREAMers against Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman from state to federal court. The State of Nebraska removed the case to federal court after multiple hearings had already taken place and with trial scheduled in state court only a month away.

The case will be remanded back to state court where it was originally filed and proceed according to the discretion of the trial court.

Background:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska and the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project filed a lawsuit in June 2013 in state court against Governor Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”). The lawsuit, Hernandez v. Heineman, challenges a decision by the Governor and the DMV to deny driver's licenses to young people who have been authorized to remain lawfully in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed in January 2013 that individuals granted deferred action under DACA are authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to be in the U.S. and are therefore considered to be lawfully present. The suit is brought on behalf of four named plaintiffs, all DACA recipients who were brought to the U.S. as children, have grown up in Nebraska, graduated from local high schools and are currently authorized to work in the country.

Currently, Nebraska is the only state in the country that is denying driver's licenses to DACA recipients. Arizona also denied drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients but, after a successful challenge, Arizona has been ordered by a federal court to start issuing licenses to DACA recipients starting December 22, 2014. Arizona has indicated it will continue to defend its policies.

The following statement can be attributed to Danielle Conrad, Executive Director

This is an important procedural victory that will ensure the case can move forward without additional delay. The state's policy to discriminate against lawfully present young people is unacceptable. Nebraska is now the last state in the country that denies drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients. It is time to move forward, to honor the intent of the Nebraska legislature, and ensure that all who are lawfully present in our state have the ability to travel to work and to school. Securing drivers’ licenses is important to ensuring these young people can more fully contribute to our communities and to our economy. Ensuring access to drivers’ licenses helps to keep our roadways safe for all Nebraskans.

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ABOUT: The ACLU of Nebraska and its diverse membership works in courts, the legislature and our communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States and Nebraska guarantee everyone in this state.

 

ACLU and JFON Applaud Douglas County Policy Declining Immigration Detainer Requests

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Nebraska’s four largest counties now ensure constitutional protections that build trust among immigrant communities, joining jurisdictions across the country that refuse to honor ICE detainer requests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 2, 2014

CONTACT:  Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or Dawn Bashara, (402) 898-1349 x14, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

LINCOLN – Douglas County has joined Sarpy, Hall and Lancaster Counties in adopting a policy declining to hold individuals in county jails based on requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The move comes in response to a series of letters sent by the ACLU of Nebraska and Justice for our Neighbors-Nebraska this summer.

“Douglas County is no longer honoring 48 hour detainer requests filed by ICE,” said Mark Foxall, Douglas County Corrections Director.

ICE routinely issues requests to jails and law enforcement agencies to hold people detained in their facilities for up to 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) longer than they would otherwise be released because of suspected civil immigration offenses. A growing list of municipalities around the country have refused to honor these requests from ICE. Agencies frequently cite the cost to local taxpayers as a primary reason.

“This move by Douglas County will improve public safety by fostering trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities,” said Shane Ellison, Legal Director of Justice for Our Neighbors-Nebraska. “This program has proved to be a failure in Nebraska, as over half of all ICE holds have been filed on individuals with no conviction at all. The immigrants that want to be productive, contributing U.S. residents won’t come forward to report crimes if they see local law enforcement as an arm of ICE. This move will protect everyone’s public safety.”

In 2012, there were 729 immigration holds issued for Douglas County – nearly a quarter of all in the state. According to Ellison, citing the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Douglas County issued over five times more ICE detainers than any other county. Lancaster, Sarpy and Hall Counties made their decisions not to grant detainer requests earlier this year.

Currently in Nebraska, the ACLU has a lawsuit against Sarpy County over their previous policy of granting ICE detainer requests. One of the individuals held on a detainer was Ramon Mendoza, a naturalized US citizen. He was pulled over in Papillion for “windshield obstruction,” – his son’s boxing ribbon which was the size of a quarter. Papillion Police took Mendoza to the Sarpy County Correctional Center and detained him for four days, because they thought he might be undocumented. When his wife and children came to the jail to present Ramon’s social security card, certificate of citizenship and US passport, they were turned away. Sarpy County officials told Ramon he’d be “given ten years in federal prison and then be deported back to Mexico.” Eventually, Ramon was released but he has since been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the experience. The case is ongoing.

“Local taxpayers get the bill when a county grants an ICE detainer,” said ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller. “Our law enforcement agents have enough on their plates without having to deal with unfunded federal programs that violate people’s basic civil rights. You cannot be put in jail simply because the government wants to investigate you. We hope all Nebraska counties will follow the lead of our largest counties in adopting similar policies.”

Recently, several federal courts have made clear that detainer requests are non-binding and that local authorities, not ICE, are ultimately liable for violations of constitutional rights that result from honoring immigration detainer requests. The letter from the ACLU and JFON made clear that the organizations are prepared to take legal action should a person in Nebraska custody be held unconstitutionally as a result of an ICE detainer request. The organizations also warned counties that unless they decline to honor any ICE detainer requests without judicial findings of probable cause or warrant, they expose themselves to unnecessary liability.

Read the letter from ACLU of Nebraska and Justice for Our Neighbors-Nebraska.

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ABOUT: The ACLU of Nebraska and its diverse membership works in courts, the legislature and our communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States and Nebraska guarantee everyone in this state.

ABOUT:  Justice for Our Neighbors- Nebraska is a faith-driven ministry, welcoming immigrants into our communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.

 
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