February 4, 2010: New Bond Fund Helps NC Immigrants Get Fair Day in Court; SCSJ works with the fund to help low-income immigrant families

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Contact:
Rebecca Fontaine or Marty Rosenbluth, Immigration Unit, SCSJ
(919) 323-3380×116 or (919) 949-9050
Rebecca@scsj.org or Marty@scsj.org

Pat Malone, Director, National Immigration Bond Fund
(212) 781-2140; pmalone@publicinterestprojects.org

New Bond Fund Helps NC Immigrants Get Fair Day in Court;
SCSJ works with the fund to help low-income immigrant families

Durham, NC – A new Bond Fund is helping immigrants who are arrested post bond and access legal services. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice partnered with the National Immigrant Bond Fund to provide zero interest matching loans to immigrants who cannot afford to pay a full bond. The fund was created from a pool of private donors committed to protecting dignity and due process for immigrants. Since its inception in September, SCSJ has used the fund to help seven families.

Undocumented immigrants do not have the same right to due process and a fair trial afforded U.S. citizens. If immigrants cannot post bond immediately after entering Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, it can dramatically affect their ability to get justice. Detainees are then accelerated into deportation proceedings, which are difficult to contest because they do not have the right to an attorney if they cannot afford one, face language barriers, and lack access to documents they need to build their case since they are in custody.

Unlike bonds in the criminal courts, most families must pay immigration bonds in cash, rather than being able to pay 10% to a bond agency. Failure to post bond immediately can also result in a rapid transfer of detainees to courts outside of the state in which they were arrested.

This was the case with Samuel, who was arrested in Greensboro and rapidly transferred to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. “Everyone there was like me: we had no money and no resources. They treated us worse than criminals. They treated us like animals,” he says, pointing to the freezing temperatures and the lack of adequate food and water, clean clothes or soap for bathing.

In some cases, detainees have sufficient grounds to petition to be able to stay in the U.S., but are unable to explore those options and build their case while in detention. Even when these options are not available, being able to post bond and spend a few additional months with their family or being able to sell their property and prepare to return to their home country makes a huge difference.

When Edwin Aly Ramirez was arrested while translating for a friend in Greensboro, his first thought was of his wife and two children — with another on the way. “I thought I would never get to meet my newborn,” he said. Edwin came here at thirteen from war-torn El Salvador, “…this is my country. I don’t want to leave.”

“When immigrants are detained without being able to pay their bond, they are denied the right to fully defend their right to stay in this country, which often unjustly results in their being deported without being able to see their families or tie up outstanding obligations,” says SCSJ staff attorney Marty Rosenbluth. “The Bond Fund is an important step in combating the injustice and inequities in the immigration system.”

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice empowers minority and low-income populations to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights.
115 Market St., Suite 470; Durham, NC 27701; www.scsj.org

February 12, 2010: Rural Wake Community Challenges Placement of Sewage Treatment Plant & Incinerator; Joins Civil Rights March in Raleigh to call for Environmental Justice

SOUTHERN COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
http://www.scsj.org

For Immediate Release:
Friday, February 12, 2010

Contacts:
Chris Brook, Staff Attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
(919) 323-3380×113; Chris@Southerncoalition.org

New Hill, N.C. – On Tuesday February 9, 2010, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice submitted an official response on behalf of the New Hill Community Association to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Corps’ Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Released December 18, 2009, the document examines a proposed wastewater treatment facility in the New Hill community (also referred to as Site 14).

New Hill is a rural, majority-minority community in Western Wake County, located near the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant. Residents have been opposing the placement of the plant in their community since 2005; community members are calling it a case of environmental racism and have received the support of the NC Environmental Justice Network, the NAACP, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Next Saturday, February 27, New Hill residents and supporters will be marching in HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) with other communities from across North Carolina. The event begins at 9:30am at Shaw University and ends at the North Carolina Legislative Building. Point 10 of the HKonJ Peoples Agenda is “Promote Environmental Justice.” They will be available for media interviews at the event (contact Rev. Clanton during the event). The wastewater plant would serve nearby Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, and Morrisville, not New Hill.

THE KEY FINDINGS AND CONCERNS OF THE RESPONSE ARE:

  • Site 14 has a much larger human and environmental justice impacts than other suitable alternatives considered by the FEIS in the vicinity of New Hill.
  • The FEIS does not make clear how the disposal sewage sludge, which contains “a wide range of toxic substances and chemical compounds,” will occur. Options under consideration include land application, which has potential groundwater impacts, and incineration, which would result in residents of downwind communities inhaling sewage sludge residue.
  • The selection of Site 14 will have a direct and major impact on the New Hill Historic District.
  • The selection of Site 14 was reverse-engineered via the commitment of Western Wake Partner resources and money prior to the consideration of human and environmental impacts associated with this site. This reverse engineering has short-circuited a true consideration of alternative sites.
  • The choice of the Cape Fear River as the discharge point for the sewage treatment plant was reverse engineered and alternatives were not adequately considered. An alternative scenario involving discharge to Harris Lake, which would involve much less sewage pumping, fewer water quality implications, and no impact upon the CFR’s Raven Rock State Park, is no longer under consideration. The Partners did not adequately consider this discharge point and now are unwilling to complete a thorough review of this option.

SCSJ staff attorney Chris Brook states: “The recently published Final Environmental Impact Statement fails to either inform the public of impacts from the proposed action or compare viable alternatives. Instead, they have rationalized the siting of a sewage treatment plant in the middle of the New Hill community. The process of considering alternatives remains tainted by the Western Wake Partners condemnation of land for the sewage treatment plant before considering the site’s environmental or human impacts. How can the public trust all options are considered equally when the parties pushing the project have already invested millions in their preferred site?”

For more information, the full report, and copies of letters to the Army Corps of Engineers visit:
www.SCSJ.org/newhill
www.NewHillCA.org

Oct. 2, 2009: SCSJ Applauds Law Enforcement, Congressional Caucus’ Opposition to I.C.E’s 287(g) Program

Southern Coalition for Social Justice

MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, October 2, 2009
Contact:
Marty Rosenbluth, Immigration Attorney
(919) 323-3380×113, (919) 949-9050 cell; Marty@SCSJ.org

Elena Everett, Community Media Director
(919) 323-3380×112, (919) 413-1276 cell; Elena@scsj.org

Durham, NC – Yesterday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued a letter to President Obama urging him to “immediately terminate all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) under the 287(g) program and cease to establish further such agreements.” The caucus calls for action due to a “serious concern” of local law enforcement agencies using these “new powers to target communities of color, including a disproportionate number of Latinos, for arrest.”

Additionally, two Massachusetts law enforcement agencies – the Framingham police and the Barnstable County sheriff’s department – have discontinued their participation in the 287(g) program, stating that they felt pressured by federal officials to broaden their enforcement in ways inconsistent with department policies.

The 287(g) program was initially established by I.C.E. with a stated goal to combat terrorism and criminal activity by partnering with local law enforcement agencies. Currently, Alamance, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Gaston, Henderson, Mecklenburg, Wake Counties and the city of Durham have 287(g) agreements.

In February 2009, the UNC School of Law Immigration Human Rights Clinic and ACLU of North Carolina released a 152-page report on the problematic outcomes of law enforcement agencies’ partnerships with the 287(g) program.

On August 27, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice was one of over 500 civil rights, community, and immigrant rights organizations to ask that the program be immediately terminated. In a letter to President Obama, these organizations, which included the NAACP, ACLU, MALDEF, and Anti-Defamation League, cited the civil rights abuses, specifically the racial profiling, endemic to the program.

“It is our hope that law enforcement agencies in North Carolina and around the country acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the Congressional Caucus and follow the lead of their Massachusetts counterparts by ending their involvement in this dangerously misguided program,” stated Marty Rosenbluth, immigration attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

September 1, 2009: Newly Launched Bond Fund Partnership to Help Low-Income Immigrant Families in the South

MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Contact:
Marty Rosenbluth,
SCSJ Immigration attorney
(919) 323-3380×111;
Marty@SCSJ.org

Bob Hildeth
Chairperson, National Bond Fund
(617) 423-0211
rhildreth@ibsboston.com

Newly Launched Bond Fund Partnership to Help Low-Income Immigrant Families in the South

Durham, NC – The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and the National Immigrant Bond Fund (NIBF) have formed a partnership to provide legal and bond assistance to persons arrested by local authorities and detained for removal proceedings.

The purpose of the joint project is to:

(A) educate the public about the importance of getting out of immigration detention and obtaining an attorney to have a fair hearing;
(B) call attention to the problems of local enforcement of immigration law; and
(C) provide bond assistance to individuals who cannot otherwise afford to pay an immigration bond.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is one of few legal organizations in the south providing pro-bono legal support to immigrants facing deportation; this is particularly significant as undocumented immigrants are not entitled to indigent defense or legal counsel.

“We are very excited to partner with the National Immigrant Bond Fund – every week I see families whose lives are being torn apart because a father or brother was picked up on a minor and sometimes unsubstantiated charge – and because their immigration status is not current, they are put into removal proceedings without being able to see their families or tie up outstanding obligations. The Bond Fund will help us help more families,” said Marty Rosenbluth, immigration attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Bond Fund Chairperson Bob Hildreth states, “the Bond Fund works on a simple principle – we can provide up to 50% in matching funds to enable families to post bond for their loved one – we do this because we believe immigrant detainees should be afforded basic rights and that our current immigration laws are in urgent need of reform.”

“Through our partnership, families and communities come to SCSJ with their case, they raise 50% of the bond and apply for a match, and then we can give SCSJ the balance of the bond in the form of a 0% interest loan, which is repaid when the immigration case is completed.”

The National Immigrant Bond Fund (NIBF) is a project of Public Interest Projects, Inc. www.publicinterestprojects.org.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice empowers minority and low-income populations to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights.

www.scsj.org

July 10, 2009: Immigration Customs Enforcement to Announce Major Change to 287(g) Program

Contact:
Marty Rosenbluth, immigration attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
(919) 323-3380×111 or cell (919) 949-9050; Marty@SCSJ.org

Durham, NC – Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to announce major changes to the department’s policies regarding its 287(g) program. 287(g) enables ICE to enter into Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with local law enforcement agencies and give them training and authority to enforce immigration law. This program has led to widespread criticism from communities who feel it is being misused, and from advocates who charge that the lack of oversight is creating conditions that encourage racial profiling and targeting of immigrant communities.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice immigration attorney and policy specialist, Marty Rosenbluth, will be available to give comment on the changes when they are made public. The announcement from ICE is expected to come out today or over the weekend.

March 23, 2009; Southern Coalition for Social Justice will represent New Hill in an Environmental Justice Matter to Challenge Plans of Western Wake Partners

Durham, NC – March 24 at 7p.m. New Hill, NC residents will meet to discuss new ways to address concerns about a draft Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that examines locating a wastewater treatment plant in their community – a proposal by the Western Wake Partners that has drawn opposition from the New Hill community since 2005.

New Hill is a rural, majority-minority community in Western Wake County, located near the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant. They are opposed to the placement of the plant by the Western Wake Partners in their community, contending that:

  • The site places an unfair environmental burden on communities of color to the benefit of the predominantly white neighboring towns,
  • the majority of residents would not benefit from the plant as most households use septic systems, and an increased proximity to wastewater treatment increases risk of exposure to groundwater contaminants,
  • the proposed site is in the middle of the community’s historic district and adjacent to two community churches and a playground, and,
  • it would be detrimental to their way of life.

The wastewater plant would primarily serve nearby Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, and Morrisville.

The proposed site, Site 14, would impact 231 residents, over 75% of whom are African American. The New Hill Community Association contends that there are better sites that would have little-to-no human impact, and that the social and environmental justice impacts of this site were not adequately considered by the Western Wake Partners.

The New Hill Community Association is working with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to challenge the placement of the plant. The Army Corps of Engineers released their draft EIS on March 13, 2008. Residents now have until April 28 to submit comments.

At the Tuesday night meeting, New Hill residents will work to prepare public comments to deliver at the Draft EIS Public Comments Hearing on April 14. Tuesday night’s meeting will be held at the New Hill Baptist Church off old US 1 in New Hill, NC.

For more information visit:
www.SCSJ.org
www.NewHillca.org

December 11th, 2008: Southern Human Rights Organizers Protest “287g” Program and Treatment of NC Immigrant Community

SOUTHERN COALITION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
http://www.scsj.org

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, December 11, 2008

Contacts:
Elena Everett, Media Coordinator, 919-323-3380×112, cell 919-413-1276
elena@southerncoalition.org

SOUTHERN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZERS PROTEST “287(G)” PROGRAM AND TREATMENT OF NC IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY

DURHAM, NC – Participants in SHROC (the Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference) will hold a vigil and demonstration in front of the Wake County Jail on Saturday, December 13, from 5pm-7pm to protest the county’s 287(g) program.

SHROC is a biannual conference of human rights organizers from across the Southeast. SHROC leaders are particularly concerned about the targeting of immigrant communities throughout the South through the 287(g) program.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Department is one of eight law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to enter into a 287(g) agreement with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Proponents claim that these programs make our communities safer by facilitating the deportation of “dangerous convicted criminals.” In reality, this program has been mostly used to target people accused of minor offenses.

In Wake County, even victims of crime have been arrested under 287(g) and deported. Jose Sergio Ruis was deported after he reported a break-in at his home. He was told by police that his fingerprints were needed to distinguish them from those of potential suspects. Police ran his fingerprints through the ICE database and found that his immigration paperwork was not compliant. He was deported. Incidents like this have led many in immigrant communities to be fearful of cooperating with police.

The NC Sherriff’s Association reported that 33% of the over 3,000 people deported under the 287(g) program were detained for driving related offenses, other than DWI.
This has led to widespread suspicion that police are using racial profiling and that people are being arrested solely to give law enforcement the ability to check their immigration status. For example, community members report a marked increase in police checkpoints in areas with a high Latino populations, including in front of Spanish-language churches on Sunday mornings.

“Every member of our community has the right to live without fear. The 287(g) program is being abused and making our community members and immigrant families feel less safe,” said Marty Rosenbluth, staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

MORE INFORMATION

Southern Coalition for Social Justice; http://www.scsj.org
919-323-3380

Southern Human Rights Organizers Network; http://www.shroc.org

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January 14th, 2009: Rally Against Police Brutality

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Contacts:
Theresa El-Amin, Director, Southern Anti-Racism Network
919-824-0659, TheresaElAmin@aol.com
Elena Everett, Media Coordinator, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
919-323-3380×112, cell 919-413-1276, Elena@southerncoalition.org

DURHAM COMMUNITY AND MURDER VICTIMS’ FAMILIES RALLY ON JAN 15 TO PROTEST POLICE VIOLENCE AND THE KILLING OF OSCAR GRANT

DURHAM, NC – Community leaders, human rights attorneys, and families of the victims of police violence will hold a rally on Thursday, January 15, at 4:30 p.m. in front of the Durham Police Department (505 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham) as part of nationwide protests in the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer.

Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old unarmed African American youth who was shot to death on New Year’s Day on a subway platform in Oakland, CA. Since that time, there has been a nationwide outcry in response to the killing, including popular unrest in Oakland that lasted several days.

Communities are calling for justice and an end to police violence – particularly against youth of color. Speakers include:

• Brenda Howerton, Durham County Commissioner whose 19-year-old son was killed by Greensboro police

• Theresa El Amin, Southern Anti-Racism Network

• Anita Earls, Attorney and Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

• Arthur Romano, organizer, Gathering for Justice

• Nia Wilson, Director, SpiritHouse NC

• Al McSurley, Chapel Hill Human Rights Attorney and legal counsel for the NC NAACP

• Fred Battle, long-time past president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP

• Sandi Velez, community and prison ministry activist

“January 15 is the 80th birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is a fitting celebration of his life as we gather, our minds and hearts united with all those who have been lost to police brutality and the many more whose lives have been stolen from us as a result of unequal and segregated communities, inadequate education, unjust judicial systems and prisons for profit,” said Theresa El-Amin, director of the Southern Anti-Racism Network.

MORE INFORMATION

Southern Anti Racism Network; http://www.projectsarn.org

Southern Coalition for Social Justice; http://www.scsj.org; 919-323-3380

Spirithouse; http://spirithouse-nc.org

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