Ruby Robinson and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

Managing attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center works hard, day and night.

Featured photo courtesy of Ruby Robinson

Ruby Robinson said these days he is especially grateful for Shabbat. Otherwise, he would be up until all hours of the night, every night, working on behalf of his clients as managing attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC).

Since January 2017, the Trump administration has made sweeping policy changes to asylum policy, border enforcement, and laws concerning deportations and interior immigration law enforcement.

To keep up, Robinson said that MIRC quadrupled its staff and budget. Its efforts here resulted in the reuniting of all children moved to Michigan with their parent(s) by Oct. 23, 2018.

MIRC also supports Iraqi nationals threatened with deportation. It provides advocacy, litigation, and legal support to counsel and partnering organizations like the ACLU of Michigan

“It seems like when it comes to why and who Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) selects to deport, it goes against any rhyme or reason,” Robinson said. “The government is playing games with these people’s lives.”

For example, in one September 2018 case, Robinson said MIRC was notified that a deaf Nigerian man with severe cognitive and mental health challenges who had lived in the United States since the 1980s was given five days to prepare for deportation after 10 years of this being unenforced for humanitarian reasons.

With help from advocates, journalists, Congressman Dan Kildee and others, MIRC quickly secured a year reprieve and, since that time, was able to reopen the underlying deportation order based on new evidence and alleged prior attorney misconduct/negligence. A hearing is scheduled soon.

Robinson said that MIRC is also co-leading systemic advocacy around proposed changes to the public charges on grounds of inadmissibility, which is currently stayed in three federal courts.

These changes would deny hundreds of thousands of middle-class U.S. citizens and permanent residents from being able to lawfully help their spouses to immigrate.

MIRC is litigating individual and class-action claims against produce growers, dairy farms and other workplaces that discriminate, underpay or violate workplace protections against undocumented workers.

MIRC is also setting up a detention hotline so individuals detained by ICE across the state can call free to receive tailored legal advice, direct representation and/or pro bono referrals. MIRC is also supporting municipalities across Michigan seeking practices and policies to help them become more equitable, inclusive and accountable, like municipal ID and language access.

“Despite the mounting challenges and human rights abuses, we are more humbled than ever by the generosity and support from immigrant leaders, partner organizations, volunteers and our supporters who are helping all of us seek real justice for Michigan’s immigrants,” Robinson said.


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