Using a community-lawyering model, SCSJ levels the playing field to protect the civil, economic, and political rights in priority areas that are defined by the communities SCSJ seeks to serve. Currently, the priority areas are: Voting Rights; Environmental Justice; Criminal Justice; and Human Rights. SCSJ will take on cases under the broader rubric of Human Rights if they meet certain criteria and promise broad impact, such as:
Immigrant communities face criminalization, marginalization, and exclusion from basic services and formal education. They account for a growing percentage of people living below poverty in the US many of whom live in constant fear of deportation, detention, and separation from their families and communities.
Immigrants in the South
The Southeast plays an important role in this human rights crisis faced by immigrant communities. Between 2000 and 2009, immigrants made up more of the growth of the suburban poor population in the South than in other region. This region has experienced the highest rate of growth of Latino immigrant communities nationally over the past twenty years. Between 1990 and 2000 North Carolina’s Latino community grew by over 400%: comprised largely of Mexican and Central American migrants and their children. These communities often work in sectors that remain critical to the economic viability of southern states, in particular agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing which rely on the exploitation of migrant labor.
Immigrant communities are building strong modes of individual and collective resistance. They are organizing campaigns to stop the deportation of individuals, fighting against and even holding back further punitive laws, and leading education campaigns about human rights and immigrant’s legal protections under the constitution. In support of this movement for survival and self-determination, SCSJ advances immigrants’ rights through —
- Statewide, regional and national movement-building
- Community education
- High impact cases
- Grassroots policy
SCSJ has worked in coordination with NC ICE Watch and the We Are NC Coalition addressing immigration policy and enforcement on a statewide level. We are also members of the Rights Working Group and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). We seek to support such groups as these that centralize an International Human Rights framework.
In the past we have supported the Trail of DREAMs, the NC DREAM Team, participated in Know Your Rights education with communities across the state. We have also used the NNNIRR’s Human Rights Education and abuse documentation projects. We represented individuals placed in removal proceedings due to immigration enforcement policies due to 287(g) and the Secure Communities programs. These past two years we provided technical and legal support to a successful campaign with an immigrant church in Raleigh and Lumberton, NC, stopping the deportation of 21 church members who were placed in deportation proceedings after a racial profiling incident fraught with human rights abuses at the hands of border patrol.
What SCSJ Stands for
- An end to punitive immigration enforcement laws
- Rights for all immigrants regardless of immigration status
- Human rights principles applied to policies affecting migrant communities
- Fair and just immigration reform
- Fair and Just Trade and Economic Policy
- Redressing inequities in our criminal justice system that impact communities of color, including migrants
- Protection of immigrant worker’s rights
- Equal access to K-12 and higher education for all immigrants
- A vibrant, inclusive immigrant justice movement bringing together diverse communities
“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – César Chávez, United Farm Workers
SCSJ believes that eliminating the achievement gap in education is a crucial racial justice issue. Inequality in education is directly related to providing equal access to meaningful employment, implementing fair housing policies, and eliminating criminal justice system disparities. SCSJ partners with community organizations in North Carolina and national groups who seek equality in the education of all students. Recently, SCSJ drafted and filed a Title VI complaint challenging racially disparate school discipline on behalf of the NAACP, as well as participated as amici in appeals to preserve access to pre-kindergarten education for economically disadvantaged children. Recently SCSJ helped a Lumberton community ensure that their local charter school provided open enrollment access to all residents – not just the children of affluent community members. Currently SCSJ is co-counsel in a case seeking equal access to public education for undocumented immigrant children in North Carolina.
Learn more about public education access here.