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April 1, 2014 2

Anti-Immigrant Movement Pushes State Strategies In 2014

While the push for immi­gra­tion reform at the fed­eral level is cur­rently at a stand­still, the immi­gra­tion debate at the state and local level is in high gear. Con­tin­u­ing the trend of the past few years, law­mak­ers are intro­duc­ing large num­bers of pro-immigrant leg­is­la­tion in states around the country.dc-march-for-jobs-380

In response, the anti-immigrant move­ment is imple­ment­ing a multi-pronged strat­egy at the state and local level with sev­eral key goals in mind.  These include attempts to block leg­is­la­tion at the state level grant­ing in-state tuition to qual­i­fied stu­dents, as well as driver’s licenses and other pub­lic ben­e­fits to Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents. In June 2012, Pres­i­dent Obama issued the DACA exec­u­tive order, which allows some eli­gi­ble undoc­u­mented youth who were not born in the U.S. but who were brought to the coun­try at a young age to apply for tem­po­rary work autho­riza­tion, and calls for ICE agents to refrain from deport­ing them.

The anti-immigrant move­ment is also going beyond try­ing to pre­vent pro-immigrant leg­is­la­tion. Activists in the move­ment are attempt­ing to get restric­tive laws and poli­cies on the books such as greater voter reg­is­tra­tion restric­tions in the form of voter ID require­ments and English-only laws at the state and local level.

Please see “Anti-Immigrant Move­ment Imple­ments Nativist State Strate­gies in 2014” for more information.

 


El movimiento anti-inmigrante pro­mueve las estrate­gias estatales en 2014

Mien­tras que el impulso a la reforma migra­to­ria a nivel fed­eral está actual­mente fre­nado, el debate sobre la inmi­gración en el nivel local y estatal está en plena mar­cha. Con­tin­uando la ten­den­cia de los últi­mos años, los leg­is­ladores están intro­duciendo numerosas leyes en favor de los inmi­grantes en esta­dos de  todo el país.

En respuesta, el movimiento anti-inmigrante está imple­men­tando una estrate­gia mul­ti­facética a nivel estatal y local con var­ios obje­tivos en mente.  Estos incluyen inten­tos para blo­quear leyes a nivel estatal con­ce­di­endo tar­i­fas de matrícula estatal a estu­di­antes cal­i­fi­ca­dos, así como licen­cias de con­ducir y otros ben­efi­cios públi­cos a quienes cumplen los req­ui­si­tos del Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (Aplaza­miento de Acciones con­tra Menores)(DACA). En junio de 2012, el Pres­i­dente Obama emi­tió la orden ejec­u­tiva DACA que per­mite a algunos jóvenes indoc­u­men­ta­dos que no nacieron en Esta­dos Unidos pero lle­garon al país a una edad tem­prana solic­i­tar per­miso de tra­bajo tem­po­ral  y pide a los agentes del ICE  que se absten­gan de deportarlos .

El movimiento anti-inmigrante tam­bién va más allá al tratar de evi­tar la leg­is­lación pro-inmigrantes. Los activis­tas del movimiento inten­tan imple­men­tar leyes y políti­cas restric­ti­vas tales como may­ores restric­ciones en la inscrip­ción de votantes en forma de req­ui­si­tos de iden­ti­fi­cación de votantes y leyes para que se util­ice úni­ca­mente el inglés a nivel local y estatal.

Para mayor infor­ma­ción, por favor con­sulte “Anti-Immigrant Move­ment Imple­ments Nativist State Strate­gies in 2014”.

 

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March 25, 2014 1

The Hobby Lobby Case — It’s Not Okay To Discriminate In The Name of Religion

This week, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argu­ments in two con­sol­i­dated cases where own­ers of for-profit, sec­u­lar cor­po­ra­tions chal­lenge the fed­eral Afford­able Care Act’s (ACA) con­tra­cep­tion man­date as a vio­la­tion of their reli­gious free­dom rights.

The names of the two cases are Sebe­lius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Con­estoga Wood Spe­cial­ties Corp. v. Sebe­lius. hobby lobby

The ACA requires cov­ered employ­ers to pro­vide a full range of pre­ven­ta­tive health care and screen­ing ser­vices, includ­ing con­tra­cep­tives and birth con­trol, in their employer-sponsored health care plans. Refer­ring to the con­tra­cep­tion cov­er­age as a “man­date” is actu­ally a mis­nomer because employ­ers have the option of pay­ing a mod­est tax instead of pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive health insur­ance. And that tax is often less expen­sive than pro­vi­sion of employee health insurance.

How­ever, rec­og­niz­ing reli­gious sen­si­bil­i­ties sur­round­ing con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion, the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion worked hard to accom­mo­date dif­fer­ing reli­gious views. The so-called ACA con­tra­cep­tive man­date does not apply to non-profit reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions (like a church or syn­a­gogue) and religiously-affiliated orga­ni­za­tions (like church-affiliated schools) can eas­ily opt out of the require­ment by sign­ing and fil­ing a one-page form.

The fervently-religious own­ers of Hobby Lobby, a large chain of arts and crafts stores that employs over 13,000 peo­ple at over 500 loca­tions, brought suit against the man­date because they object to cer­tain forms of con­tra­cep­tion. The Tenth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals upheld their chal­lenge, decid­ing that the fed­eral Reli­gious Free­dom Restora­tion Act (RFRA) applies to cor­po­ra­tions and that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ACA con­tra­cep­tive man­date sub­stan­tially bur­dens the own­ers’ reli­gious practice.

The own­ers of Con­estoga Wood, a com­pany that employs hun­dreds of peo­ple that makes cab­i­nets and other wood­work­ing prod­ucts, sim­i­larly object, on reli­gious grounds, to pro­vid­ing con­tra­cep­tives to their employ­ees. How­ever, in this case, the Third Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, in con­trast to the Tenth Cir­cuit, decided that for-profit sec­u­lar cor­po­ra­tions can­not engage in reli­gious speech and are there­fore not pro­tected under the RFRA.

RFRA requires the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to demon­strate a com­pelling inter­est where it “sub­stan­tially bur­dens” a person’s reli­gious exer­cise. ADL strongly sup­ported the enact­ment of this 1993 statute, which was intended to be a shield against reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion. But in this case, the own­ers of Hobby Lobby and Con­estoga are attempt­ing to use RFRA as a sword – giv­ing them license to impose their reli­gious beliefs on oth­ers. That under­mines the pur­pose of the statute, and turns reli­gious free­dom on its head. There is no doubt that RFRA could not have been enacted into law if it had been antic­i­pated that it would later be used by cor­po­rate own­ers to thwart anti-discrimination laws or the reli­gious free­dom of com­pany employees.

ADL joined a coali­tion brief with a diverse group of more than two dozen faith-based orga­ni­za­tions. The brief, pre­pared by Amer­i­cans United for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, argues that apply­ing the con­cep­tion reg­u­la­tions to the cor­po­ra­tions does not sub­stan­tially bur­den reli­gion. For-profit cor­po­rate enti­ties do not prac­tice reli­gion. And because the legally dis­tinct cor­po­ra­tions would actu­ally pay for and pro­vide the com­pre­hen­sive health insur­ance, any reli­gious bur­den on their own­ers is min­i­mal. Not to men­tion that the own­ers have the option of their cor­po­ra­tions pay­ing a mod­est tax instead of pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive insurance.

The brief fur­ther asserts that Amer­i­cans do not lose their reli­gious free­dom when they estab­lish for profit busi­nesses. But the reli­gious beliefs of these employ­ers should not be imposed on third par­ties – their employ­ees – and the own­ers’ rights can­not trump the reli­gious rights of their employees.

It would be hard to over­state the stakes for reli­gious lib­erty and equal­ity in these two cases. The Amer­i­can work­force is highly diverse. Allow­ing sec­u­lar cor­po­rate own­ers to restrict access to afford­able con­tra­cep­tives on the basis of reli­gion dis­crim­i­nates against women and lim­its their equal­ity and inde­pen­dence. Approval of this action by the Court would also be a grave blow to reli­gious free­dom in this coun­try – and open the door to the specter of work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion and for-profit com­pa­nies deny­ing cov­er­age for other essen­tial med­ical ser­vices that some own­ers might deem reli­giously offen­sive, such as blood trans­fu­sions, psy­chi­atric care, and vaccinations.

 

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March 25, 2014 0

Salvation Army Case Has Important Implications for Faith-Based Initiative

the-salvation-army-logoThe New York Civil Lib­er­ties Union (NYCLU) recently obtained a favor­able set­tle­ment in a decades-old law­suit against the Sal­va­tion Army, which has impor­tant impli­ca­tions for the Faith-Based Ini­tia­tive.  This Ini­tia­tive, started under the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, has con­tin­ued as the Office of Faith-Based and Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ships under the Obama Administration.

New York State pays the Sal­va­tion Army over $188 mil­lion to pro­vide social ser­vices to New York res­i­dents of all back­grounds.  And tax­pay­ers fund 300 Sal­va­tion Army employ­ees to pro­vide these ser­vices.   The Sal­va­tion Army is a church, but prior to 2003 it did not pro­mote its faith or dis­crim­i­nate on the basis of reli­gion in the organization’s government-funded pro­grams.  Start­ing in 2003, how­ever, it sought to require taxpayer-funded employ­ees “to iden­tify their church affil­i­a­tion and to adhere to the reli­gious mis­sion of The Sal­va­tion Army.”

The set­tle­ment of the case, enti­tled Lown v. The Sal­va­tion Army (U.S. Dist. Ct. SDNY), bars the Sal­va­tion Army from dis­crim­i­nat­ing on the basis of reli­gion against taxpayer-funded employ­ees or ben­e­fi­cia­ries of these publicly-funded social ser­vices.  In 2010, the NYCLU set­tled the por­tion of its case against gov­ern­ment agen­cies that had con­tracts with The Sal­va­tion Army.

Stand­ing alone, the set­tle­ment is an impor­tant civil rights vic­tory, but it has even more sig­nif­i­cant ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the future direc­tion of the Office of Faith-Based and Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ships.  This pro­gram requires that reli­gious insti­tu­tions, which infuse reli­gion into their oper­a­tions and pro­grams, be eli­gi­ble for bil­lions of dol­lars of fed­eral social ser­vices con­tracts and funding.

The Obama Admin­is­tra­tion has issued sig­nif­i­cant and mean­ing­ful con­sti­tu­tional safe­guards against use of tax­payer funds to pros­e­ly­tize or indoc­tri­nate ben­e­fi­cia­ries of federally-funded social ser­vices.  How­ever, despite a 2008 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign promise that federally-funded, reli­gious social ser­vice providers would not be able to hire or fire for taxpayer-funded jobs on the basis of reli­gion, the Admin­is­tra­tion has not acted on that promise.   Publicly-funded sec­u­lar and religiously-affiliated social ser­vices providers are already pro­hib­ited from engag­ing in such discrimination.

Had the Lown case moved for­ward, it could have resulted in a trou­bling inter­pre­ta­tion of fed­eral anti-discrimination laws allow­ing reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions to dis­crim­i­nate on the basis of reli­gion for taxpayer-funded jobs.   The set­tle­ment pre­vented that harm­ful pos­si­bil­ity and it is a model of what the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should be requir­ing of any reli­gious social ser­vice con­trac­tor that takes pub­lic dollars.

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