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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.

Category Archives: Press Releases

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.

Forced Sterilizations Continues ICE’s Practice of Dehumanization of Immigrants

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 28, 20

Contact: Margie Del Castillo

Press@vacir.org

 

Alexandria, VA – The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) 

Healthcare worker Dawn Wooten made allegations of forced hysterectomies at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility located in Ocilla, Georgia on September 14, 2020. Ms. Wooten who worked at the Irwin Detention Center (IDC) located three hours south of Atlanta, Georgia stated on the Chris Hayes show, “I had several detained women on numerous occasions that would come to me and say ‘Ms. Wooten, I had a hysterectomy. Why?”

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights applauds Ms. Wooten’s bravery and dedication to hold those accountable for egregious violations of human rights. 

Margie Del Castillo, the VACIR Board Chair, is calling for a full investigation into these serious allegations and demands justice for the women and people who have suffered forced sterilization. “This is not the first time we learned of cruel and inhumane treatment towards Black women and women of color at the hands of the United States government. Our society and communities must hold the Immigration and Customs Enforcement accountable for its numerous human rights violations. These latest allegations are the result of a system that has failed our communities, families, and every member of our society. We at VACIR hold Congress and the Trump Administration responsible for the neglect, incompetency, and overall failure of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is beyond time to eliminate the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and replace it with a new system that reflects the ethics, moral compass, and affords the dignity and compassion the immigrant community deserves.”

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The 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.

 

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.