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Early Arrival: What’s Next After Schneiderman Resigns?

The shock surrounding the sudden resignation of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman reverberated into Tuesday, as attention turned to the question of who will take the position of the state’s top law enforcement official.

Schneiderman resigned Monday evening, three hours after The New Yorker published allegations from four women that the former attorney general physically, sexually and psychologically abused them.

Following Schneiderman’s resignation, attention quickly turned to who would take his job. The successor will be appointed by the Democratic New York state legislature. The post has been temporarily filled by Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood. Most lawmakers agreed that it should be a woman to take the role. The long list, according to multiple outlets, includes Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Kathleen Rice of Long Island, and Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout, among others.

Whoever takes on the job will inherit an office that has been aggressively fighting the Trump administration on a number of issues, including immigration. The immigration-related litigation includes:

  • a lawsuit to block the president’s travel ban
  • a lawsuit to block the citizenship question appearing in the 2020 census
  • a lawsuit to block the president from rescinding DACA
    an amicus brief in the case against the government to defend sanctuary cities.

According to the AG’s office, Schneiderman’s resignation will not affect these lawsuits. “Our work is continuing without interruption,” Amy Spitalnick, press secretary at the attorney general’s office, told Documented.

Ellis Island

Council member appears in court for protest arrest
Councilman Jumaane Williams appeared in criminal court on Tuesday for his arrest during a protest against the deportation of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir in January. Williams was arrested for blocking an ambulance carrying Ragbir. He disputes the charges against him on the grounds that Ragbir’s detention was improper, and the ambulance was only used by ICE to circumvent protestors. The case was adjourned with the presiding judge setting a trial date for July 30, which will allow Williams’ defense team to subpoena the NYPD, FDNY and ICE for records related to the arrest. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

Long Island congressmen ask for new immigration court
Rep. Lee Zeldin and Rep. Peter King asked ICE for a new immigration court in Long Island to address the ongoing backlog. In a letter sent on Tuesday to James McHenry, Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the congressmen asked that one of the 75 new courtrooms requested by ICE in fiscal year 2019 be established in Long Island, where the backlog is among the nation’s highest. Republicans Zeldin and King are both hawkish on immigration and often connect the gang violence of MS-13 and others on Long Island to immigration policy. Patch

Extradition of accused Mexican traffickers raises victim hopes for justice, Thomson Reuters Foundation

National

Sessions makes family separation the law
The federal government will adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on people crossing the Southwest border illegally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday. At press conferences in Scottsdale, Arizona and San Diego, Sessions said that the government will ramp up criminal prosecution of border crossers and separation of families to deter future migrants.

What is the policy?
The new policy means that everybody crossing the border illegally will be referred to the Department of Justice to face criminal prosecution for the misdemeanor of illegal entry. Under this policy, even asylum seekers will who cross the Southwest border will face prosecution. The Department of Homeland Security will refer 100 percent of illegal border crossers to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Sessions conceded that a 100 percent prosecution rate was unlikely, but promised the department will take on as many cases as possible.

What does this mean for families crossing the border?
People crossing the border with their children are more likely to be separated now. If a parent is prosecuted for illegal entry, the child they entered with will be considered an unaccompanied minor and placed with a guardian away from their parents. An increase in prosecution will almost certainly lead to an increase in family separation.

Why is the government doing this?
According to Sessions, the “zero tolerance” policy is part of the deterrent strategy that the administration hopes will make crossing the Southwest border less appealing. The DOJ and ICE claimed a pilot of the “zero tolerance” program in El Paso, Texas led to a 64 percent drop in illegal crossing in the 2017 fiscal year. However, Vox’s Dara Lind investigated the numbers and found a 64 percent increase in family-units crossing the El Paso section of the border between July and November 2017. DHS told Vox that the drop was between Oct. 2016 and Oct. 2017. Vox, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico

‘Sanctuary city’ policies are throttling ICE
Despite harsher rhetoric, ICE’s enforcement under Trump has not reached the levels seen in the peak years of President Barack Obama due to pushback from uncooperative cities and states, a new report by the Migration Policy Institute found. Locations with ‘sanctuary’ policies, a term that loosely means jurisdictions in which the local police do not comply with requests from federal immigration agents, have stymied ICE. The 40 percent increase in arrests and deportations in the first eight months of last year, was still only half the peak number of the Obama years. MPI

U.S. and Canada combine to stop Nigerian asylum seekers
Three Canadian immigration officials are working with U.S. officials in Lagos, Nigeria to combat alleged abuse of American travel documents, the BBC reported on Monday. There has been a surge in the number of Nigerians with valid U.S. visas traveling north to Canada to seek asylum. Nigerians made up half the 5,052 asylum claims in Canada this year. Many asylum seekers walk into the Canadian province of Quebec through an irregular passage north of Plattsburgh, New York. BBC

Undocumented immigrants face court fines in Texas for being detained by ICE
Undocumented immigrants in Harris County, Texas are being fined and having their bond revoked for missing court dates while they’re locked in detention. In Harris County, undocumented immigrants are often taken to federal immigration detention centers after meeting bail requirements wrote Stephen Paulsen for the Texas Observer. When their court dates arise, Harris County does not track whether defendants are in detention and ICE does not release inmates for court dates, leaving the courts to conclude they missed their scheduled appearance. This could lead to a defendant’s bond being revoked. The Observer estimated this is the case in five to 10 percent of bond revocation. Texas Observer

Travel Ban affecting Australian asylum seeker swap deal
The travel ban is affecting an asylum seeker swap deal between Australia and the U.S. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. government agreed to take 1,250 asylum seekers who are currently being held in Australia’s controversial offshore detention centers in Manus Island and Nauru, while Australia agreed to settle several dozen Central American migrants. However, all Somali and Iranian applicants held by the Australian government, have been denied due to Trump’s travel ban, which blocks citizens from several Muslim majority countries. An Iranian woman reportedly attempted suicide after her application was rejected. The Guardian

Dreamers in Georgia denied hearing on in-state tuition
The Supreme Court of Georgia declined an appeal to hear the case that Dreamers are eligible for in-state tuition on Monday. The decision leaves in place an appeals court ruling, which found that students are not eligible for the reduced in-state tuition costs. Georgia joins Arizona where the Supreme Court upheld a similar ruling in April. Twenty states currently offer in-state tuition to Dreamers, according to the Nation. WABE

Press Freedom, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Groups Call on ICE to Immediately Release Detained Journalist Manuel Durán Ortega, Latino Rebels

ACLU sues 3 federal agencies for immigration records, The Associated Press

White House assures FIFA a travel ban would not affect 2026 World Cup, The Associated Press

Opinion

  • Does Donald Trump Understand What DACA Means? by Amy Davidson Sorkin, staff writer. The New Yorker
  • Now immigrants are being harassed on the witness stand in California courtrooms, by Scott Wiener, California state senator and George Gascón, district attorney of San Francisco.
    The Sacramento Bee
  • I am American. Trump’s travel ban keeps me from seeing my grandmother, by Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The Kansas City Star

Washington – DHS ignored TPS warning

New revelations from The Washington Post show that the DHS took the decision to revoke temporary protected status from 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, despite warnings from diplomats that it would destabilize the region.

More than 400,000 people living in the U.S. – some for decades – under temporary protected status have received a termination date for their visas to happen over the next few years. The status is granted to people escaping natural disasters, conflict and civil unrest.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said that, upon review, her agency found conditions in countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, and last week, Honduras, have improved and therefore the protected status is no longer necessary.

However, diplomatic cables from embassies based in Central America said that those countries were in no position to take back hundreds of thousands of people, and a mass deportation could trigger a crisis.

According to the Washington Post, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored this advice and recommended ending the program anyway. Former Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke was less convinced and chose to postpone the decision on Honduras’s TPS status by six months, a move which led to her departure (she stepped down in February).

When Nielsen took over DHS, she adopted a much narrower interpretation of TPS, only focusing on the original reason it was granted. Since she took charge, several countries have had their status removed. The Washington Post

Dems get testy twice with Trump Homeland Security chief, The Hill

Queens, New York – April 27, 2018: Views of law offices in Astoria neighborhood along Steinway Street. Photo: Christopher Lee for Documented.

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