2012 Report on Project Work - Immigrant and Refugee Rights

The Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project is dedicated to opening the path to prosperity for immigrants in North Carolina by protecting their rights, advocating for fairer policies, and helping them navigate the complex and confusing immigration system. Organizations and individuals throughout North Carolina rely on our attorneys, paralegals, and community educators for their legal and legislative expertise, their extensive connections, and their ability to bring people together.

Fighting for Immigrants’ Legal Rights

We provide free legal representation to hundreds of immigrants every year. We also helped thousands of young immigrants hoping to benefit from President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed young people who were brought to the United States without documentation as children to apply for a work permit and be granted a two-year deferral of deportation. This was a ground-shifting event for the immigrant community, and the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project was one of the few organizations with the legal capacity and know-how to help these young people.

  • Worked with community partners to assist some 2,000 young immigrants in preparing their DACA applications
  • Provided up-to-date information and legal advice about DACA to hundreds more at over 40 community events across North Carolina, and reached many more through our one-hour training videos in English and Spanish and our DACA factsheets in five languages
  • Secured legal status or other immigration relief for 150 of our clients; included two asylum victories establishing valuable precedents for victims of domestic violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation

Protecting Immigrants

Members of North Carolina’s immigrant community are often targeted by unscrupulous employers, landlords and business people who seek to take advantage of them, and their needs are often ignored by government officials. Our attorneys stand up for the rights of immigrants in all areas of the law.

  • Secured a finding from the US Department of Justice that the NC Administrative Office of the Courts had violated the law by not providing access to the court system for people who speak little or no English, and worked with federal and state officials to secure a settlement that will result in greatly increased language access in North Carolina courts
  • Received more than $140,000 for victims of a “notario” who claimed to be an attorney and duped hundreds of immigrants with fraudulent immigration legal services
  • Secured in-state tuition in the UNC system and NC community colleges for immigrant students who were granted Temporary Protected Status because of natural disasters in their countries of origin

Strengthening North Carolina’s Immigrant Community

We provide communications and legislative advocacy support, as well as education and information about legal issues to immigrant organizations and advocates throughout North Carolina.

  • As part of the We Are NC coalition, collaborated with immigrant community groups, educated lawmakers and the media, and provided legal guidance to successfully stop anti-immigrant proposals from becoming law
  • Gave nine presentations to immigrant groups in six counties covering issues including landlord-tenant and housing rights, employment rights, public benefits for immigrants, and immigration law issues
  • Participated in a nationally coordinated communications campaign to expose how American detention and deportation policies devastate families, and helped to secure more than 20,000 signatures calling on North Carolina to reunite a father deported to Mexico with his three American-citizen children, rather than terminate his parental rights and put the children in foster care

The Big Challenge for 2013 – Discriminatory State Policies

During the 2012 legislative session, we successfully fought numerous policy proposals that would have devastated immigrant families in North Carolina. The North Carolina House of Representatives launched a committee that set out to look for ways the state could make immigrants’ lives harder or more dangerous, such as shutting off heat and utilities for those who are undocumented. In response, we partnered with other immigrant advocacy organizations to create We Are NC, a coalition that exposed and ultimately stopped the committee’s proposals using a comprehensive communications and engagement strategy.

But we believe these proposals will re-emerge in 2013. While on the national stage there is greater acknowledgement of the importance of immigrants in the political debate, many legislators in North Carolina prefer to stick with the discriminatory and hateful rhetoric of the past. We believe they will try to turn that rhetoric into legislation in 2013.

We will be at the legislature, in the courts, and in communities throughout North Carolina fighting to defend and expand the rights of immigrants, and your support is vital to those efforts.

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