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Immigrant Rights

The Constitution guarantees basic rights and freedoms to all people in America, not just U.S. citizens. Advocating fair treatment for non-citizens has been an important part of the ACLU’s work since its founding in 1920, when it opposed the summary arrest and deportation of Eastern European immigrants during the Palmer Raids.

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Topic Resources

Published: 
Monday, April 13, 2015
No one should be locked up because they don’t have the money to buy their freedom. But this is the plight of countless men and women currently imprisoned in our immigration detention system.
Published: 
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
In Cambodian Boys Don’t Cry, Rasmey Sam speaks about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime and how fortunate he feels being able to attend Cal State San Bernadino. He reflects on how formative those years had been for him, and how he was happy to be able to rebuild his life in the United States.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, August 1, 2014
The ACLU and civil rights groups have asked a federal court to immediately stop the government from pursuing deportation proceedings against several children unless it ensures they have legal representation. The move comes as immigration courts are speeding up deportation hearings via a "rocket docket."
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The ACLU and allies are pursuing a lawsuit challenging the federal government's failure to provide immigrant children with legal representation in deportation proceedings against them. It is unfair to force children to defend themselves alone against government prosecutors.
Published: 
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A terrific article in the New York Times calls out government officials for using detained immigrants as extremely cheap labor at federal detention centers. For performing such essential tasks as preparing meals, scrubbing bathrooms, and buffing hallways, the jailed workers are paid all of 13 cents an hour (i.e., a dollar a day) – far less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour that would be paid to contractors.
Published: 
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Some good news: A recent federal court ruling in Oregon is spurring Washington counties to stop holding immigrants in their jail past the time they are eligible for release. The court found that detainer requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are just that – optional requests – and sheriffs could be liable for violating an individual’s constitutional rights by continuing to hold the person.
Published: 
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The ongoing hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma has been a remarkable protest, with 750 detainees refusing to eat on its first day and immigrant rights activists rallying community support outside the facility. Veteran reporter Nina Shapiro provides an excellent overview of the issues that sparked it in the Seattle Weekly.
Published: 
Monday, November 4, 2013
The ACLU and other advocates for immigrant rights are challenging the lack of due process for individuals who are subject to mandatory detention while the government brings deportation cases against them for past crimes. These people are often longtime legal residents, rehabilitated and leading productive lives in their communities. It is unlawful and unjust for the government to keep them locked up with no opportunity to prove eligibility for release or bond.
Published: 
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
According to a new note to a Rule of Professional Conduct approved by the Washington Supreme Court recently, attorneys cannot use a person’s immigration status to intimidate, coerce or obstruct that person for reasons unrelated to a civil case.
Published: 
Friday, May 17, 2013
On an unusually warm and sunny May 1st, I gathered with ACLU of Washington coworkers and supporters at Judkins Park in Seattle’s Central District, joining with thousands of others to participate in the annual May Day march.  The march began here in Washington 13 years ago as a day of advocacy for worker and immigration rights, and it continues to provide a safe and supportive forum for individuals to tell their stories and publicly express their support.

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