HIAS PA Issues Digest #4: ICE Detainers Illegal? and more

Fourth Edition                                                                                  July 27, 2017

HIAS Pennsylvania Immigration Issues Digest 

Lautenberg Cases Are Safe!


Sanctuary Cities At Risk in State Legislatures

The State of Texas has passed a troubling law that has been labeled a ban against sanctuary cities. This is because the law calls upon local and state government officials, university and college administrators, and local law enforcement to work to enforce immigration law. The law prohibits any of the aforementioned officials from prohibiting or “materially limiting” any local official from investigating a person’s legal status and reporting what they find to the feds or another local office.

What does this mean?

This law empowers anyone to call into question any American they suspect of being here “illegally”. Students in Texan universities are at risk of being deported for confiding in university officials. In turn, those officials (in addition to any other local entity) are at risk of being charged with a crime or terminated in their positions if they do not comply with the law. The law calls on employees to report their employers with the promise that anyone who is sued for complying to this law will be defended by the Attorney General of the State of Texas. Additionally, the “probable cause” that this law hinges on has been proven to be more often and not based on racial profiling and violations of civil rights. A federal judge in San Antonio is deciding whether or not to temporarily block SB4 from going into effect.

How can you help?

Pennsylvania State legislature also has a bill, SB10, which would defund Pennsylvania sanctuary cities and counties. This would threaten the safety of cities and municipalities by requiring them to violate the Constitution and “cooperate” with ICE by detaining, without a criminal warrant, persons suspected of violating immigration laws. SB10 has already been passed by the state senate and referred to the House Judiciary. Contact your state representatives and demand that the bill is never debated and if it is, that your representative opposes it in session. The ACLU’s chapter in Pennsylvania currently has a webpage with substantive information about the bill as well as information about its current status in the legislature.

Massachusetts Rules ICE Detainers Are Illegal

The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that court officers in the state cannot hold a person that they suspect may be undocumented at the request of federal immigration agents if there is no criminal warrant or detainer. Since the ruling was based on the Massachusetts Constitution and its provision preventing detention without due process, it did not go on to make any determination about whether such detainers also violate the Federal Constitution although other courts have ruled that this is also true.

What does this mean for American residents?

While the State Court ruling only applies to law enforcement officials in Massachusetts, the opinion remains instructive for all states where warrantless detention is prohibited by that state’s constitution.  

What can you do?

As mentioned before, you can fight State Bill SB from being passed in Pennsylvania by contacting your local representatives and state senators. Protect Pennsylvania residents from ICE profiling!

Tragic Case of Human Smuggling in San Antonio ​

Approximately 10 undocumented immigrants are dead after being crammed in the back of a refrigerated tractor-trailer whose refrigeration system broke down. They were alongside dozens of other undocumented immigrants, many of which suffered heat stroke and irreversible brain damage due to the conditions in that trailer. After the driver of the truck parked in a Walmart parking lot, the undocumented immigrants were discovered by a concerned Walmart employee who called the police.

What does this mean?

This tragedy is proof that America is in desperate need of serious immigration reform. Contrary to popular belief, it is incredibly difficult to enter this country. Modern laws make it nearly impossible for desperate persons fleeing violence, persecution, or starvation to migrate. Our ancestors, fleeing for the same reasons, were able to do so because there were few restrictions in place. That changed in the early twentieth century and has continued to become increasingly difficult with each passing decade. The dangerous risks that individuals take to come here reflect the intolerable living conditions individuals are escaping. Our broken system has led to tragedies such as this one in the past, and it is a situation that is only worsening in recent years.

What can you do?

Contact your state and local representatives and keep pressuring your Congressmen and women to make real, holistic, and non-discriminatory immigration reform that recognizes the contributions that immigrants and refugees make to our cultural and economic lives. Until the our government works to create system that is fair, streamlined, and non-partisan, we will continue to see tragic cases of human smuggling like that in San Antonio.

HIAS Pennsylvania in the News

Penn Law highlights Isabel Abreu, who received an Equal Justice Fellowship to work with immigrant survivors of Domestic Violence in the outer counties.


The  Jewish Exponent  describes Jewish Federation staff “field trips” to HIAS Pennsylvania and the Jewish Farm School, and what they learned.


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