To Combat Trump’s Attacks on Immigrants, Attorney General Candidate Tish James Releases Plan to Protect New York Immigrants

NEW YORK -- With Donald Trump’s continued attacks on immigrants, Attorney General candidate Tish James today released a policy brief outlining how she will use the Attorney General’s Office to protect immigrant communities in New York. In addition to challenging Trump’s harmful policies with legal action, Tish James will investigate companies profiting off of these policies and stand up to bad actors who defraud immigrant New Yorkers.

Among the highlights of her brief:

  • Fight to abolish ICE and for a complete rewrite of the Federal statutes that underpin our immigration system

  • Take legal action to keep ICE out of State Courts

  • Sue to protect immigrants’ access to benefits

  • Defend New York City as a Sanctuary City

  • Enforce federal standards for family detention

  • Investigate companies profiting off immigrant detention

  • Litigate to defend young immigrants

  • Continue the fight to stop the census immigration question

  • Take on fraud and discrimination that targets immigrants

To view the full policy brief, click here.

“This Administration’s immigration policies are unjust and inhumane. People are detained to break their spirit and to terrorize immigrant communities -- not for public safety. This immigrants’ right platform -- from abolishing ICE to protecting immigrant children, to investigating the companies that profit off these horrible policies — is exactly what we should be doing in New York,” said Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

“In courtrooms across New York, attorneys are working day in and day out to protect immigrants from the Trump Administration’s harmful policies -- and we need an Attorney General who understands that. These proposals will support our work and help protect immigrants across the state,” said Bret Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW), representing Legal Aid and other legal service provider attorneys in New York.

“We are a nation of immigrants -- and for generations, New York has been America’s front door. One in five New Yorkers are immigrants, and we need a strong, effective Attorney General who will work tirelessly to defend their rights. I will take legal action against Donald Trump’s harmful immigration policies, protect New Yorkers from those who would try to deceive them, and investigate the corporations that put profits over people,” said Attorney General candidate Tish James.

The policy brief outlines how, as Attorney General, Tish James will fight harmful federal policies, protect immigrant children, and defend against fraud and discrimination that targets immigrants. Highlights include:

Fighting Harmful Federal Policies

  • Abolish ICE -- Tish James has previously called for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for so many recent abuses, to be dismantled. But, abolishing ICE is not enough without changing the laws that created a system and an agency that needs to be restructured and reimagined. As Attorney General, she will advocate for ICE to be abolished, and for a complete rewrite of the Federal statutes that underpin our immigration system.

  • Take Legal Action to Keep ICE Out of State Courts -- ICE activity in and around courthouses in New York State increased 1,200 percent from 2016 to 2017. One-third of those arrests occurred upstate or on Long Island. This discourages immigrant victims and witnesses from reporting crimes and testifying, and deters them from defending themselves in court or resolving matters like traffic violations. As Attorney General, Tish James will take legal action to challenge ICE’s interference with our State courts.

  • Sue to Protect Immigrants’ Access to Benefits -- A leaked draft of a Federal rule shows that the Trump Administration plans to make immigrants ineligible to become permanent residents if they use public benefits like subsidized healthcare, public housing, or food stamps. This forces immigrant New Yorkers -- documented and undocumented alike -- into the shadows, and puts vulnerable children and seniors at even greater risk. If this rule is put into action, Attorney General Tish James will sue the federal government to stop it from taking effect.

  • Defend New York as a Sanctuary City -- Attorney General Barbara Underwood and five other Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration from restricting law enforcement funding based on sanctuary city policies. As Attorney General, Tish James will vigorously defend New York City’s right to remain a sanctuary city.

Protect Immigrant Children

  • Enforce Federal Standards for Family Detention -- Family detention standards are governed by a settlement agreement in the case Flores v Sessions, which requires services be provided and children be held in the least restrictive setting available and for only a limited time. As Attorney General, Tish James will work with a multi-state coalition of Attorneys General to ensure that separated children and their parents’ rights are protected.

  • Investigate Companies Profiting off Immigrant Detention -- Publicly traded companies profit off transporting and detaining children, and providing other detainee infrastructure. As Attorney General, Tish James will investigate whether those companies adequately warned their shareholders of their complicity in detaining children and the potential liability implicit in those actions.

  • Litigate to Defend Young Immigrants  -- The Trump Administration is targeting all immigrants, but when that discrimination is targeted at young people like DREAMers and kids who have been abused or neglected, the discrimination is particularly cruel. A new policy has resulted in thousands of 18-21 year olds previously eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) being at risk of deportation. SIJS is a humanitarian relief program that provides a path to citizenship for immigrants under 21 years old who have been abused or neglected by a parent, and for whom a judge determines returning to their country of origin would not be in the child’s best interest. As Attorney General, Tish James will look to bring a national class action suit to defend SIJS and will continue the litigation to defend DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

  • Continue the Fight to Stop the Census Immigration Question -- An accurate census is critical to so many aspects of government, from drawing voting districts to determining federal funding for critical social programs. Adding a question about citizenship status will effectively suppress the response of immigrants, and disadvantage states like New York with higher immigrant populations. As Attorney General, Tish James will continue lawsuits to block this question from the 2020 Census.

Taking on Fraud and Discrimination that Targets Immigrants

  • Prosecute Fraudsters -- Bad actors like unauthorized “notarios” and unscrupulous attorneys take advantage of immigrant New Yorkers, and offer fraudulent services that can trigger deportation proceedings. As Attorney General, Tish James will prosecute those who prey on immigrant New Yorkers.

  • Create an Anonymous Anti-Discrimination Hotline -- As Attorney General, Tish James will create an anonymous hotline to report discrimination in housing, employment, and commerce based on immigrant status, race, religion, or nationality. She will sue anyone who commits systemic discrimination.