A group of foreign guestworkers lured from Mexico and Guatemala to plant pine trees for Eller and Sons Trees, Inc., one of the nation’s largest forestry contractors, were not paid the wages they had earned. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the Franklin, Ga., company on behalf of the workers, winning a record $11.8 million judgment in October 2012..
Each year, thousands of immigrant children are detained and deported. Alone, unable to speak English, and without lawyers, they wait in detention centers to learn their fate. The Center filed a groundbreaking lawsuit to establish their right to legal representation, but the case was dismissed. The district court ruled that children do not have a legal right to an attorney during removal proceedings.
An Alabama tax assessor who used racial slurs denied tax exemptions to non-English speaking immigrant homeowners, and forced them to pay double the normal taxes. The Center filed suit, ending this discriminatory policy and securing reimbursements.
Prior to a Center suit, Alabama immigrants seeking to obtain their state driver's license were turned away or asked to complete the English-only tests. Although the case was ultimately lost on appeal, due to the Center's lawsuit Alabama now offers the driver's license test in eight foreign languages.
After learning that police in Fairfield, Alabama, may have been using a city ordinance to harass low-wage Latino day laborers, the SPLC and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network asked the police chief for public records to determine if Latinos were being targeted. When the police chief refused to respond, the SPLC and the day laborer group filed a lawsuit to compel him to release the records.