LAN

The Latino Action Network is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of United States society.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Upcoming Immigration Seminars: Deferred Action

Several organizations have seminars scheduled over the next week to share information with the community regarding President Obama's Executive Order related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action  for Parents of U.S. Citizens (DAPA). Some of these seminars were scheduled prior to the recent developments in the U.S. courts temporarily enjoining the implementation of the Executive Order.  They were originally organized to provide the community with information provided by attorneys about the benefits of these programs and how the community can prepare to take advantage of them. However, given the resent developments, attorneys at these seminars will also be providing information about the court injunction and the impact that it will have on the roll-out of DACA and DAPA. 

A list of some of the events are listed below along with copies of the actual event announcements.  Please share widely. Also, feel free to contact the Latino Action Network at: LatinoActionNetwork.org to share similar events happening in your area. 

Hightstown: Saturday, February 21, 2015

Paterson: Saturday, February 21st and Saturday February 28th


Garfield: Saturday, February 28th



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY JEH C. JOHNSON CONCERNING THE DISTRICT COURT’S RULING CONCERNING DAPA AND DACA

Please read the statement below from Sec. Johnson’s office regarding the ruling concerning DAPA & DACA. 

Press Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Press Release  

Feb. 17, 2015

Contact: DHS Press Office, (202) 282-8010

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY JEH C. JOHNSON CONCERNING THE DISTRICT COURT’S RULING CONCERNING DAPA AND DACA

I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it. 

Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA. 

The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.

It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect.

The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. 

Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities. The priorities established in my November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” remain in full force and effect. Pursuant to those enforcement priorities, we continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. I am pleased that an increasing percentage of removals each year are of those convicted of crimes.  I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally -- are now at the lowest levels in years.

For more information, visit>www.dhs.gov<.

 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Photo Album: Latino Action Network's 2015 Legislative Conference

The Latino Action Network thanks all of the Latino activists, speakers and presenters who attended the Latino Action Network's 2015 Legislative Conference. The conference was a great success because of your participation.  We have posted photos from our 2015 Legislative Conference to our Facebook page.  Please click on the link below to view the full photo album:

LAN 2015 LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE PHOTO ALBUM


Friday, January 16, 2015

Register HERE for 2015 Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference

2015 Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference


You are cordially invited to the Latino Action Network’s Annual Legislative Conference. The conference will take place on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the Crystal Room, Robert Treat Hotel Conference Center in Newark, New Jersey.


The event will include a full program, with keynote presentations and dynamic workshops with panels discussing a full array of issues of great importance to New Jersey's Latino community.

Our Keynote Speakers will be:

NJ Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and NJ Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

Breakout panels will cover the following subjects:

  • Immigration Issues
  • Education: K-12 and Financial Aid for DACA
  • Health Disparities and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • Affordable Housing
  • Labor Issues
  • State Budget Process

We expect an audience of over 200 persons, including Latino elected officials, civic and community leaders interested in developing a shared vision for New Jersey.

This Legislative Conference is hosted by the Latino Action Network (LAN) in collaboration with The Latino Institute, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization, and the Latino Coalition, a member organization of the LAN.

Please click in HERE to register for the LAN Legislative Conference or go to:


You can also contact Carmen Torres at973-273-0273 or via email at carmentorres50@optimum.net if you have any questions about the program.

We are looking forward to presence, as we work together to benefit the Latino community.


N.J. must stop Gov. Christie's defiance of state's Fair Housing Act: Opinion



N.J. must stop Gov. Christie's defiance of state's Fair Housing Act: Opinion

By Frank Argote-Freyre and Richard T. Smith

Star-Ledger January 13, 2015

For the past five years, the Christie Administration has, at every turn, tried to undermine New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act, which guarantees that communities cannot use unfair land-use laws to keep out lower-income families, seniors and people with special needs. It is clear Gov. Chris Christie is opposed to this law. He called the original lawsuit that led to it, brought by two local chapters of the NAACP against Mount Laurel Township, an “abomination.” The NAACP acted, at that time, to prevent the displacement of a vibrant African-American community with a long history in the region.

It is unfortunate the Governor believes this lawsuit was inappropriate. The Christie Administration has gone so far as to obstruct and refuse to enforce laws emanating from that original civil rights decision. This is a dangerous precedent. Christie appears deeply committed to undermining the principles of the law and circumventing the legal system. First, he went to the Legislature and tried to change the law, but they refused to undercut basic civil rights protections. Then he went to the courts and tried to argue he did not have to comply with the law. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in September 2013 that he did. So now the Governor is attempting to defy both the Legislature and the courts by simply not acting in accordance with existing laws.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue on Jan. 6. The Court thus should move forward with the only realistic option in front of it – allow the courts to directly hear fair housing challenges, instead of having them stalled in an administrative process going nowhere.

In its September 2013 decision, the Supreme Court ordered the Christie Administration to "eliminate the limbo in which municipalities, New Jersey citizens, developers, and affordable housing interest groups have lived for too long.” It required the Christie Administration to develop new rules to implement the Fair Housing Act within five months.

Christie appears deeply committed to undermining the principles of the law and circumventing the legal system.

On the last day of that five-month period, the Christie Administration asked for an indefinite extension to develop rules. The Supreme Court granted an extension, but put a time limit on it, saying that if rules were not finalized by Nov. 17, then the Court would consider taking steps to enforce the law through the court system directly.

The Christie Administration next proposed rules that were transparently ridiculous. Towns' fair housing obligations would be based on a spreadsheet that was supposedly “lost.” Land in Monmouth County was mislabeled as being in Ocean County. The State disregarded its own official growth projections to manipulate housing requirements so they were as low as possible. The state also assumed that growth would only occur and lower-income people would only live on undeveloped farms or forests, when in recent years the majority of development in New Jersey has been redevelopment of existing land in places like Montclair, Summit and Red Bank.

After public hearings drew angry responses and the Christie Administration received more than 3,000 comments, they refused to make changes to correct these flaws. But fortunately, half the members of the Council on Affordable Housing, which had ultimate authority over the proposed rules, refused to go along with such an obvious attempt to undermine the Fair Housing Act. As such, no rules were adopted by the Nov. 17 deadline, and the State failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s deadline even after the extension.

Now, the Supreme Court is considering what to do next. There must be no more extensions or delays. Tens of thousands of people waiting for a decent place to live - a number made significantly bigger after Superstorm Sandy - have waited long enough. The Christie Administration’s process is a dead end, and the regulations that were proposed were not a good faith response. It is time for the courts to ensure that their decisions are followed, and directly enforce the state’s fair housing laws since the Christie Administration apparently refuses to do so.

Frank Argote-Freyre is president of the Latino Action Network and Richard T. Smith is president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference.

The original article can be found at:

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/nj_must_stop_gov_christies_defiance_states_fair_housing_act_opinion.html

Monday, December 15, 2014

N.J. correctional facilities should stop honoring ICE detainers: Opinion

The following Op-Ed was written on behalf of the Latino Action Network by LAN Steering Committee member John P. Leschak, Esq. and appeared in today's Star-Ledger. 

N.J. correctional facilities should stop honoring ICE detainers: Opinion

Star-Ledger
December 15, 2014
By John P. Leschak

For many years, we have had two systems of justice in New Jersey and in other parts of the nation: One for immigrants and another for everybody else.

At the heart of this unjust system are the detainers placed on suspected undocumented immigrants by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of the Department of Homeland Security. A detainer is a legal request by ICE to hold an individual, most often picked up for minor offenses, even after they have posted bail. These detainers can lead to the incarceration of individuals for weeks and months without a proper hearing on the charges against them.

As President Obama forcefully stated in his recent national address, we need to move away from a deportation policy that breaks up families. The current detainer policy is a vestige of a flawed system.

These detainers are immoral, unjust and most likely illegal, according to a federal appeals court, that ruled earlier this year that they violate the U.S. Constitution. The court found that the federal government cannot force states and municipalities to honor these detainer requests and unjustly jail immigrants.

To be clear, before a court releases anyone charged with a criminal offense, an assessment of flight risk must be made and an appropriate bail set. It is important to note that a person charged with a crime – a minor or major offense – is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. This same legal protection extends to everyone. In addition, immigration matters fall under a separate area of the law and a determination of status in this country follows a very different legal process.

Given these facts, the Latino Action Network calls on all New Jersey correctional institutions to stop honoring ICE detainers. We echo the call of the American Civil Liberties Union that has already begun to champion this effort. Currently five New Jersey counties have decided to stop honoring ICE detainers. (Middlesex, Ocean, Union, Burlington, and Camden).

If the injustice of illegal detention were not enough, the economics of improperly detaining immigrants should give local and county governments pause to question their current policies. State, county and local correctional institutions are not reimbursed for detaining these individuals and, therefore, the cost falls solely on local taxpayers.

Furthermore, holding immigrants for federal immigration authorities exposes local governments to lawsuits. Our Constitution protects any person from being deprived of liberty without probable cause, and without due process of law. Because ICE detainer requests are not supported by a judicial warrant, jails act illegally when they detain people based on them.

This legal liability is real. A Pennsylvania county recently paid $95,000 in damages for illegally detaining Ernesto Galarza, a U.S. citizen, for three days. All of this money had to come from the county coffers since the federal government told them they did not cover it. Also, in Oregon, a county paid $30,000 to Maria Miranda-Olivares, who was held in detention 19 hours after her criminal case concluded.

In the aftermath of these lawsuits, more than 250 jurisdictions, across the nation, have stopped complying with ICE detainer requests. It is time that all of our county jails and state prisons follow suit and decline to detain immigrants in the absence of a warrant issued by a U.S. magistrate.

Rejecting immigration detainers is morally right and has the added benefit of making good economic sense.

John P. Leschak, Esq., is a member of the Latino Action Network Steering Committee.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Latino Action Network and Coalition Partners Reach Agreement with Christie Administration to Set Aside Additional Sandy Relief Funds for Working Poor Families



Latino Action Network and Coalition Partners Reach Agreement with Christie Administration to Set Aside Additional Sandy Relief Funds for Working Poor Families

For Immediate Release: May 30, 2014
Contacts:
Frank Argote-Freyre, President – 908-670-0552
Christian Estevez, Executive Vice President – 973-418-7012

The Latino Action Network announced today that it has settled a fair housing complaint that it jointly filed with the NJ NAACP and Fair Share Housing Center challenging the State of New Jersey’s distribution of federal disaster recovery funds. The agreement reached with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State of New Jersey requires significant changes to the use of federal funds for Hurricane Sandy recovery. The agreement is available on the Latino Action Network’s website here : LAN Hurricane Sandy Agreement

“This settlement will help Spanish-speaking New Jerseyans and others who are still out of their homes get information that wasn’t provided to them before, said Frank Argote-Freyre, President of the Latino Action Network.  “Spanish-speaking staff will be available at every recovery center and homeowners and renters will be given the chance to live in or closer to their homes that were damaged. We have one more chance to get this right, and I am hopeful that this agreement will help the state do a better job.” 

The agreement requires changes to the recovery effort which address the needs of Latinos, African-American and working poor families impacted by Sandy that have not been addressed to date. In response to erroneous information on the State’s website that had incorrect deadlines, the State is required to make its Sandy website fully bilingual, and provide equal access for people whose primary language is not English from the first day of applications for new programs. In response to findings that Latinos and African-Americans were rejected from the State’s main homeowner rebuilding program, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation [RREM] program, significantly more often than white non-Latino applicants, the State will reexamine all applications to make sure that applicants were not unfairly rejected. In response to a lower share of resources to renters displaced by Sandy, who are disproportionately Latino and African-American, the State will dedicate at least $240 million in additional immediate help and longer-term rebuilding funds to renters impacted by Sandy.

“Working poor families impacted by Sandy should have the same rights as everyone else to rebuild their homes and lives,” said Christian Estevez, Executive Vice-President of the Latino Action Network. “This agreement will help make the Sandy recovery more fair and inclusive.”

Key terms of the agreement include:

  • Provides a minimum of $215 million in addition to $379 million previously allocated to build replacement homes for people impacted by Sandy, and for the first time sets firm targets for prioritizing the most impacted communities in New Jersey, especially the three most impacted counties, Ocean, Monmouth, and Atlantic, to ensure that people are not forced to leave their communities permanently as a result of the storm;
  • Establishes a $15 million pool for immediate help for renters who are still displaced from Sandy, which can be used for up to two years while replacement homes are being built;
  • Requires a re-review of the applications of everyone rejected from the RREM program, responding to information that nearly 80 percent of rejected applicants whose applications were reviewed were incorrectly rejected, with rejection rates 2.5x higher for African-Americans and 1.5x higher for Latinos;
  •  Requires the State to provide equal access to non-English speakers for all programs funded with HUD’s disaster recovery funds and to build a bilingual website for all programs;
  • Provides that as new programs open, there must be equal access for applicants whose primary language is not English from day one;
  • Requires compliance with Section 3 requirements, which provide a preference for local contractors to do federally funded work and access the job opportunities over out of state contractors;
  • Provides an additional $10 million in addition to $50 million previously allocated to help people with special needs impacted by Sandy;
  • Provides enhanced outreach to low- and moderate-income communities that have been underserved by the recovery to date, including enhanced partnerships with community groups and housing counseling to help people who are facing financial distress in recovering from Sandy, and integrates outreach to Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities into this outreach process;
  • Provides a minimum of $10 million to help people in manufactured homes recover from Sandy and rebuild or replace their homes, including the heavily Latino portions of Moonachie impacted by Sandy;
  • Allows applicants to get funds without a substantial damage letter previously required by the state, which has been a particular problem for Latinos in the Ironbound section of Newark and elsewhere, and allows both renters and owners to show concrete proof of damage through other means such as home inspections if FEMA calculated damage incorrectly;  
  • Requires the State to comply with the Open Public Records Requests related to Sandy in a timely fashion and to provide more public information to make sure Sandy funds are being distributed fairly.
The Latino Action Network and other complainants were represented by Kevin D. Walsh and Adam M. Gordon of Fair Share Housing Center based in Cherry Hill, NJ and Michael Allen of the civil rights firm Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, based in Washington, D.C.