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Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 12, 2011

South Carolina passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in 2011. The law required police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops when they have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an undocumented immigrant. It also criminalized everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants. The SPLC joined a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. A settlement reached in 2014 blocked major provisions of the law.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

July 08, 2011

Alabama passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in June 2011. The law threatened to chill children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. The SPLC led a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in an agreement that effectively gutted the law.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

August 12, 2010

Mississippi authorities took a newborn baby from her Mexican immigrant mother and placed the daughter with two white Gulf Coast lawyers who frequently practiced law before the youth court judge who approved the child’s removal. The mother was then prohibited from speaking publicly about her family's ordeal despite her request to waive confidentiality rules of the youth court. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family and appealed the earlier gag order.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 16, 2010

Frantz Pierre, a migrant farmworker from Haiti, was denied compensation by the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission after falling and breaking his right ankle outside company housing. He had just arrived at the 400-acre tomato farm owned by Seaside Farms on St. Helena Island when he slipped on a wet sidewalk outside the workers’ barrack-like dormitory. After the Southern Poverty Law Center took legal action on Pierre’s behalf, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed Pierre's right to compensation and sent the case back to the lower court. 

Children's Rights

Date Filed

October 19, 2009

Children and teens held at the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi were subjected to shockingly inhumane treatment. The youths endured physical and mental abuse as they were crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with pepper spray for minor infractions. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Lauderdale County and reached a settlement agreement to end the abuses.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

May 21, 2009

A Latina factory worker in North Carolina was brutally assaulted by the plant manager after she had earlier reported his sexual harassment to officials of the yarn company that employed her, according to a federal court complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

April 20, 2009

Children held at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi endured squalid conditions and horrific physical and mental abuse that violated their civil rights. They were forced to endure shackling, physical assaults by staff, confinement to vermin-infested cells and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions that resulted in widespread contraction of scabies and staph infections. The detention center also failed to provide children with adequate medical and mental health care during their confinement. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in a settlement agreement to protect children and teens detained at the center from abuse and neglect.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 16, 2008

A dozen Latino workers at a Tennessee cheese factory went weeks without pay and endured an abusive work environment before demanding paychecks from an employer, who then had them arrested, jailed and threatened with deportation. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit charging the company, its president and members of the local sheriff’s department with conspiring to violate the rights of the workers.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

May 14, 2008

Migrant farmworker Victor Marquez was traveling to his hometown in Querétero, Mexico, to pay for his new home, only to have his life savings seized by police who alleged it was drug money. During the May 5, 2008, traffic stop in Loxley, Ala., a police officer confiscated more than $19,000 from Marquez even though he earned a majority of the money by working the bean harvest in south Florida. Marquez was not charged. The Southern Poverty Law Center won the return of the money after the state refused to provide documents and information requested by SPLC lawyers representing Marquez.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

January 18, 2009

New regulations for the nation’s H-2B guest worker program, enacted in the waning days of the Bush administration, threatened to weaken worker protections and make it easier to replace U.S. workers with temporary foreign labor. The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of immigrant rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new regulations.

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