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VACIR is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.

Author Archives: Ariel Garayar

DMV Data Privacy Protection Bill Drives Out of the VA Senate

For Immediate Release  

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Contact: Press@vacir.org

DMV Data Privacy Protection Bill Drives Out of the VA Senate

Richmond, VA — Today, the Virginia Senate passed H.B. 2163, the DMV Data Privacy Protection bill to ensure immigrants’ personal information, as well as that of other Virginia drivers, have security measures on how data companies and law enforcement can use it for immigration purposes.

H.B. 2163 would codify existing policies and practices that DMV has already put in place in its agreements with private companies to regulate the use of driver personal information and limit third-party data sharing. This also requires ICE and any other agencies to obtain a judicial warrant or court order to obtain DMV data for the purpose of civil immigration enforcement. Personal information includes a person’s address and photo.

“With this bill, Virginia takes the next step in disentangling our state functions from federal immigration enforcement,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “It’s not enough to say, we won’t intentionally help ICE arrest Virginia immigrants; we also need to look at everything we’re doing that may unintentionally contribute.”

Adding the information protection measures would incentivize immigrant families to obtain a driver privilege card. Thousands of drivers have been able to get a driver privilege card with many more in the process of learning the rules of the road. Getting a driver privilege card would make it easier for families to get to work, the grocery store, and the doctor’s office. 

“We are glad that the General Assembly has worked to protect the personal information of our community members when they are interacting with the DMV. The legislature has shown its commitment in advancing immigrant justice and we are glad it has done so. We look forward to Governor Northam signing this legislation once it passes so that our immigrant community can continue to call Virginia home,” said Luis Aguilar, CASA Virginia Director.

H.B. 2163 will now be sent back to the House of Delegates for a vote due to language changes in the Senate. If passed, it would be sent to the Governor’s desk.

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Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power, and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities

To read the report to Protect the Personal Information of Virginia Drivers, visit: https://www.virginiaimmigrantrights.org/driverprivacy/

Next Step in Protecting Immigrant Driver’s Information

For Immediate Release  

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Contact:

Press@vacir.org

Next Step in Protecting Immigrant Driver’s Information

Richmond, Va. — Building off of passage of Driver Privilege Card bill for undocumented immigrants, today the House of Delegates passed H.B. 2163, the DMV Data Privacy Protection bill. H.B. 2163 would protect the personal information of Virginia drivers from being bought and sold by private companies and prevent ICE from misusing it for civil immigration purposes. This information includes where a person lives, what car they drive, and a photo of what they look like.

Over 270,000+ undocumented Virginians are now eligible for a Driver’s Privilege Card. In January 2021, the first month of implementation over 2,000 drivers were able to receive a Driver Privilege Card. While obtaining the right to drive was a major victory, now thousands are giving personal information to the Department of Motor  Vehicles. 

“Immigrant families deserve to know that when they go home that ICE will not be at their door waiting for them,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “The General Assembly now has the ability to rebuild trust and continue the mission of improving the quality of life for the immigrant community.”

Anyone obtaining or eligible to apply for a DPC could run the risk of having their information shared unethically. There are several states who previously shared DMV data with federal law enforcement agencies, such as Washington, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, and Georgia. In granting access to the DMV database, states are feeding into the ICE pipeline, handing ICE a list of potential deportees.

H.B. 2163, DMV Data Privacy Protection Bill will now be sent to the Virginia State Senate.

Driver Information Protection Bill Passes VA Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 22, 2021

Contact: Press@vacir.org 

 

Driver Information Protection Bill Passes VA Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee

Richmond, VA — Today, the Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee passed H.B. 2163, the DMV Data Privacy Protection bill to help safeguard the information of new immigrant drivers who obtained a driver privilege card.

H.B. 2163 would add privacy protection measures for all driver’s information since state police and third-party data companies are able to access this information and potentially share it with ICE. This information includes where a person lives, what car they drive, and a photo of what they look like.

“Immigrant drivers are doing the right thing by taking the road test and getting a driver privilege card,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “By not protecting the information of drivers, we are putting at risk thousands of drivers and their families from being targeted by ICE.”

Currently, anyone obtaining a driver privilege card (DPC) could run the risk of having their information shared unethically. There are several states who previously shared DMV data with federal law enforcement agencies, such as Washington, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, and Georgia. In granting access to the DMV database, states are feeding into the ICE pipeline, handing ICE a list of potential deportees.

“We applaud the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for passing this important bill,” said John Cano, Centreville Immigration Forum. “This is a great victory for all Virginians as we continue to be a welcoming Virginia for all.”

Over 270,000+ undocumented immigrants are eligible to obtain a driver privilege card. This has helped families have the opportunity to drive to work, go to the doctors, and improve their quality of life.

“It is hope and relief for us. A great achievement,” said Geronimo R., driver and community member with Centreville Immigration Forum.

H.B. 2163 will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration of passage. If passed, H.B. 2163 would need to be sent to a conference committee due to language changes in the Senate.

Supreme Court Protects DACA

For Immediate Release  

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Contact:

Press@vacir.org

SUPREME COURT PROTECTS DACA

Today, the Supreme Court announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in place. This is a major win for DACA recipients and families who have faced the ongoing court battles.

“Today on a very special day for our family, we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary,” Lenka M., Dreamers Mother’s in Action.  “We arrived in the USA in March 2000 with my 2 children, ages 5 and 2. Now they are my young Dreamers. Continuing DACA means that they will be able to work and pay for their studies. Today we can sleep peacefully without uncertainty and the shadow of deportation. It means a lot to almost 700,000 dreamers who will be able to get on with their lives. DACA is temporary but we will continue fighting for a legalized pathway to citizenship for all because Home Is Here”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established in 2012 by President Obama under Executive Order. This enabled many undocumented immigrants who had come to the U.S. before age 16 to receive a temporary reprieve from deportation and work permits. This recognized the humanity of thousands of children. 

“We are overjoyed of today’s decision by the Supreme Court in protecting DACA,” Mohamed Gula, Executive Director of Emgage. “We will continue to fight until DACA is permanently protected and our Dreamers are considered as a member of our collective family.”

DACA is a promise that immigrants can be given the chance to live and thrive by being protected from deportation without the need for legislation that hurts other immigrants in their community. DACA helped 9,410 people develop deep roots in Virginia. DACA opened up opportunities for higher education, work, stability, and safety for the first time in many people’s lives.

“I am SO happy Supreme Court decided to keep DACA,” Woo, a community member with NAKASEC. It means I can continue working with the people I love and live life without worrying about losing my job and income. This decision was the work of us young people to fight for our rights and we did it.”

The Supreme Court understood the impact ending DACA would have on our society during COVID-19 through a supplemental brief submitted during the pandemic. In Virginia, over 2,700 DACA Recipients are on the front lines working in health care, education, and food-related jobs.

“Today we stand in complete celebration on the decision of the Supreme Court took in favor of DACA,” said Luis Aguilar, Virginia State Director with CASA and DACA recipient.  “Our immigrant community and society at large benefit from this decision. We will continue to fight justice for our immigrant communities. This is one more victory we can claim in building a more just society and equitable society. I look forward to the day where immigrant communities and communities of color are treated as equal.”

Without DACA, the US would have had the ability to deport people who have only known Virginia as their home. Many DACA recipients have had children and bought homes in the Commonwealth. Over 2,800 parents with children are DACA recipients in Virginia. Virginia is tied for 13th place for the number of DACA recipients by state.

“Last year we rallied in front of the Supreme Court in the freezing rain to demand they protect DACA,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the with Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “Today we are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized the value, talent, and greatness DACA recipients bring to Virginia and America. We honor so many who fought for this victory. Thank you to all who organized and helped make this victory possible.”

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR), a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations has had a long history of ensuring DACA recipients and their families are protected. Our work has included DACA renewal clinics, sending amicus briefs in support of DACA to the courts, advocacy work with the Virginia Congressional delegation and Attorney General, and rallies in front of the Supreme Court.

Prince William & Manassas Rejects Renewing ICE Agreement

For Immediate Release                                 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Contact:

Press@vacir.org

Prince William & Manassas Rejects Renewing ICE Agreement

Manassas, Va. — Today, the jail board overseeing the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center voted to end the 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At a time when the Trump administration has been creating new 287(g) agreements with localities, ending the agreement has been a push back from two of Virginia’s localities.

“With the national conversation rightfully focused on the brutalities of law enforcement against Black and Brown people, the ending of 287g in Prince William County is nothing short of historic,” said Luis Oyola, local committee chair of VACIR with Legal Aid Justice Center.  “This contract enabled far too many abuses by ICE and the Jail against immigrants in the County. This is the people’s win and we look forward to ending all abuses against the marginalized people of Prince William County.”

Prince William County is a majority-minority community. 1 in 4 immigrants reside in Prince William County. From 2011 to July 2019, over 6,503 inmates have been transferred to ICE. Since 2018, over 579 people have been deported under the agreement. 

“Negatives of the 287g agreement is far from keeping us safe,” said Lenka M, with Dreamers Mother’s In Action. “It has made the Latino community the most vulnerable. Our people are afraid to call the police if they are victims of some crime. It has made our city more insecure and has made people a target of discrimination. 12 years ago when that racist 287(g) deal was installed, many of my neighbors and friends abandoned the county out of fear. My family and I decided to stay because hatred couldn’t beat us. We wanted to fight for a better place to live. For my family and as a member of the PWC community, today is a historic day of change. Today is the day we say hate and discrimination, you are not welcome in my city.”

Many households are dependent on the income of a parent who may be deported. The median income for immigrant households on average drops from $36,000 to $15,400 when a family member is deported. This is well below the poverty line. Additionally, if a single parent is deported, children may be sent to foster care which puts more financial cost on the localities.

“We stand in absolute support with the new leadership at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board that has taken a clear stance against the 287(g) program. As an organization in Prince William County and Manassas, CASA has organized, advocated, and transformed the area these past years. This is a step forward for the county to end mass deportations, the criminalization of immigrants, and ripping families apart. We have new leadership in Prince William County that is more representative of all its residents and as such more in tune to the community needs and this is absolutely a victory for our community and progress for the county.” said Luis Aguilar, CASA Virginia Director.

The 287(g) agreement in Prince William County-Manassas Adult Detention Center is one of two in Virginia. The majority of the expenses to run the program are paid for by the taxpayers of Prince William County and Manassas. It costs both localities over $300,000 per year. A study by the Brookings Institute found that Prince William County had to raise property taxes and divert funds from reserves to start its 287(g) program in 2009. Because of the shifting dynamics of elected and appointed officials of the jail board, this policy reversal was possible.

“Ending the agreement is just the beginning of a movement to make our communities more inclusive, said Evelin Urrtia, VACIR 287(g) working group chair with Tenants and Workers United. “We have fought hard to make sure immigrant families stay together. This is time for us to create equitable solutions and to build trust within the immigrant community.”