The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition


Immigration policy affects all aspects of society. Regardless of status, immigrants have always played a central role in the life and growth of our nation. Immigrants contribute $10 billion a year to this country's economic growth. Unfortunately, in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks, immigrants in the United States have increasingly been targets of discrimination and suspicion. Our country must be defended, but one must not forget this nation's commitment to the ideals of equality and freedom for all peoples.

Pledge to Support Immigration Reform!

Add your name to our growing list of individuals who support fair and comprehensive immigration reform. Then share it with friends and family!

Policy Letters

Oppose H.R.2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act) - 08/20/13

Protecting Due Process and Civil & Human Rights in S.744 - 06/11/13

Preserve Fair Hearings: Oppose Grassley Amendments #21 & #22 - 05/21/13

Oppose Grassley Amendment #53 to S. 744 to Expand Unnecessary Detention - 05/20/13

Oppose Graham Amendment #3 to S. 744, Regarding Arbitrary “Additional Security Screening” for RPI Applicants - 05/20/13

Support Blumenthal Amendment #2 to Curtail Abuses in Immigration Solitary Confinement - 05/20/13

Oppose Sessions Amendment #31 to S. 744 To Put Unnecessary Restrictions on Earned Income Tax Credit - 05/17/13

Oppose Graham Amendment #1 to S. 744 To Bar Return to Country of Origin by Asylee - 05/17/13

Oppose Grassley Amendments #27 and #52 to S. 744 Maintain Improvements to the Asylum System - 05/15/13

Support Coons Amendment #2 to S. 744 to Ensure Safer, More Humane Deportation Practices - 05/09/13

Support and Priorities for Immigration Reform Legislation - 05/09/13

Support Blumenthal Amendment #10 to S. 744 - Protect Civil Rights in the SW Border Region Prosecution Initiative - 05/09/13

Press Releases

May 22, 2013 Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds Senate Judiciary Committee for Advancing Bipartisan Immigration Bill

May 1, 2013 New Polling on African-American Attitudes on Immigration Reform

April 17, 2013 Civil and Human Rights Coalition Welcomes Immigration Bill, Urges Congress to “Strike the Right Balance”

April 10, 2013 Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds Efforts for Immigration Reform


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ICE Program Continues to Cast Too Wide a Net

September 21, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

According to a recent report in the Des Moines Register, the federal Secure Communities program may not be achieving the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) original objective – to detain violent felons and fugitives.

Sixty-seven percent of those detained under the program in Iowa had no previous criminal offenses, while the number of non-fugitives arrested by the agency nearly doubled over the last three years. ICE announced the Secure Communities program in March of 2008.  The plan was designed to help pursue the deportation of immigrants convicted of high-level felonies. The program allows local law enforcement to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and verify the immigration status of arrestees.

Civil rights and immigrants' rights groups are concerned that the program gives local and state authorities license to unfairly target innocent people along ethnic lines without adequately address local communities concerns about violent felons and fugitives.  The National Immigration Law Center expressed apprehension (PDF) due to the absence of any requirements for audits and oversight, the inaccuracy of DHS databases, and the lack of redress for those who have been wrongly identified.

Since the program's creation, ICE has not enacted regulations to curb racial profiling or the potential for law enforcement to make arrests solely as a pretext for checking an individual's immigration status. 

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Immigration Detention System Violates Civil Rights

August 3, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

A Broken System report cover

Over the past two decades, the U.S. immigrant detention system has fractured, exposing people to unjustified detainment and frequent violations of their civil and human rights. 

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently holds more than 30,000 immigrant detainees—nearly five times the number held in 1992.  According to "A Broken System," a new report by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the ACLU of Southern California, immigration detention facilities routinely violate detainees' basic rights, including the right to adequate access to mail and telephone, sanitary living conditions, and legal and personal visitation.


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LCCR in Business Week: Don't Eliminate Birthright Citizenship

July 27, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

In a recent column on BusinessWeek.com, Rob Randhava, LCCR counsel, debates the merits of eliminating birthright citizenship in the U.S. with immigration restrictionist Roy Beck.  The 14th Amendment grants U.S. citizenship to all children born in the U.S., which, in most cases, includes American territories like the Virgin Islands, except children of foreign diplomats.

But opponents claim that the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to illegal immigrants, and want to pass a law that would make kids of illegal immigrants not eligible for automatic citizenship.  Randhava explains why eliminating birthright citizenship would not help the U.S. deal with illegal immigration:

"The best way to reduce illegal immigration is by addressing both its supply and demand, through realistic enforcement and better legal channels that meet business needs without causing unfair wage competition. Ending birthright citizenship would just change the subject."

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New Campaign Will Push for Immigration Reform This Year

June 8, 2009 - Posted by Cathy Montoya

People standing around a podium singing

Participants of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign Summit end their three-day conference with a motivational song.  June 5, 2009.  

Last week, more than 800 activists representing 200 labor, religious, and civil and human rights organizations gathered at Galludet University in Washington, D.C., for three days to launch a national campaign to push Congress to pass immigration reform this year, and commit themselves to building support in their home states.  If Congress doesn't pass immigration reform legislation, states and local governments will continue to struggle with immigration.

Activists at the summit focused on creating a cohesive message and grassroots strategy for the campaign.  They also met with more than 140 members of Congress and staff and sent 100,000 faxes to Capitol Hill showing support for immigration reform.

Keynote speakers included Cecilia Muñoz, White House director for intergovernmental affairs, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D. Ill., who spoke to attendees about "workable solutions that uphold out nation's values and move us forward together."

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Department of Labor Suspends Harmful Bush Regulations to Agricultural Guestworker Program

June 5, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

The Department of Labor recently announced that it is suspending harmful Bush administration regulations to the H-2A guestworker program for nine months beginning June 29.

The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to hire foreign workers on temporary work permits to fill agricultural jobs that last 10 months or less. Prior to the Bush regulations, employers had to prove that they tried to hire U.S. workers but were unable to find qualified employees.

The department's decision comes after organizations representing farmworkers filed a lawsuit arguing that Bush's changes to the program, which went into effect on January 17, lowered immigrants' wages and violated federal laws protecting workers' rights.  LCCR and other civil rights organizations also urged the department to overturn the Bush regulations.

The department has temporarily reinstated the previous regulations while it develops new ones for the guestworker program.  Many labor, immigrant and civil rights organizations are pushing for Congress to pass the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act (AGJobs), which would strengthen the guestworker program by providing more worker protections to foreign-born and domestic workers.

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Julian Bond Testifies in Support of the Immigration Rights of Same-Sex Couples

June 4, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Julian Bond, NAACP chairman, testified yesterday in support of the Uniting American Families Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would give gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their foreign-born permanent partners for legal residency in the U.S. The act does not provide any other benefits and all other immigration requirements must be met. 

"It is because the NAACP supports the civil rights protections of all people, and is opposed to discrimination based on any criteria, that we support inclusion of the principles inherent in Uniting American Families Act in any comprehensive immigration reform," said Bond.

Julian Bond's full testimony

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Memorial Day: Honoring the Service of Citizen and Immigrant Soldiers

May 25, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Today, LCCR honors the service of soldiers serving in the U.S. military – citizens and immigrants alike. 

Legal permanent residents have long served in the U.S. military – and gotten citizenship in return.  But loopholes in U.S. immigration policy often hinder legal permanent residents' ability to achieve citizenship even in this case.  Approximately 8,000 legal, permanent immigrants join the military each year, and nearly 29,000 foreign-born people currently serve but are not American citizens.

In this video, Rene of Atlanta shares his struggle of obtaining U.S. citizenship despite his years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. While Rene fortunately became a permanent citizen after filming the video, his story represents the great struggle of so many immigrant servicemen and women who continue to experience difficulties with achieving citizenship within our broken immigration system.  

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New Poll Reveals Challenges and Successes of Immigrant Women in the U.S.

May 14, 2009 - Posted by Corrine Yu

A new poll surveying the views of immigrant women who were born in Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries highlights the barriers they face and the challenges they must overcome once settling in the United States.

The women who were surveyed said that the main reason they came to the U.S. was to join family members who were already here.  When asked to name the biggest challenge they faced as immigrant women in the U.S., "helping my children achieve success" and "being able to hold my family together" were the top answers – underscoring the importance of family to these women.


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One Year After Postville Raid, Immigration Reform Still Needed

May 12, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Hundreds of immigration reform advocates are meeting in Postville, Iowa, today to call attention to the one-year anniversary of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on a Agriprocessors meat packing plant that resulted in the arrest of 389 undocumented workers, mostly from Guatemala and Mexico. Immigrant rights advocates say the raid's anniversary serves as a grim reminder of the need to reform the nation's immigration system.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and other civil rights advocates in the region organized bus trips to Postville for marches, prayer vigils, and other events. Similar events are being held nationwide.

Prior to the raid, Agriprocessors paid their employees well below the minimum wage, illegally garnished their wages for required uniforms, and had a history of workers suffering broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss. After the raid, state authorities ultimately levied millions in fines against the plant for various labor violations.

As a result of the raid, the local economy worsened as Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy, and families were torn apart after many of the workers pled guilty to identity theft charges, facing prison sentences and deportation.

In a recent press statement, National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani said, "Postville will one day be remembered as a dark chapter in U.S. history that served as a catalyst for reforming our nation's immigration system into something we can take pride in again, something that honors our history as a nation of immigrants, and something that helps to renew and strengthen America." 

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Congress Must Consider All Low-Wage Workers in Immigration Reform Legislation

May 6, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Civil rights and labor organizations told Congress last week that immigration reform could happen this year if it takes into account the concerns of all low-wage workers in the legislation.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR, said that Congress must fix our nation's immigration system now because "it fails to keep up with economic realities, it fails to provide an orderly way to keep track of who is here, it inhumanely splits and keeps families apart, it penalizes children for the actions of their parents, and it is so unfair and so burdensome that it fails to give people enough incentives to play by the rules."

He added that Congress' immigration reform legislation must take into account the needs of low-wage workers, those that are citizens and those that are immigrants, by:

  • providing more effective enforcement of antidiscrimination laws;
  • improving advertising and tools to alert workers of job vacancies;
  • increasing public education efforts to counter stereotypes about native and non-native born workers;
  • enhancing job skills and training programs for all low-wage earners; and
  • increasing enforcement of fair pay and overtime requirements and safety, health and labor laws.

In April, the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win federation, the two largest labor federations in the nation, annouced their own standards for immigration reform, which has a similar focus on low-wage workers  "The key to designing a sustainable workplace immigration system is that the flow of future workers must be rationally based on the always-evolving labor market needs of the United States," said Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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