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Early Arrival: Battle for Driver’s Licenses is Renewed

Max Siegelbaum

May 14, 2018

Jerome Ave, Bronx, New York

The fight over immigrant driver’s licenses is being revived.

On Monday, advocates, local politicians, immigrant laborers and a Saugerties Police Chief will rally in Albany in support of legislation introduced to the Assembly and the Senate to create a program that would allow for the state to issue driver’s licenses to all New Yorkers. Similar measures have been attempted in the past, all of them were failures. Other states like Colorado and Utah have successfully created similar programs.

The issue has also become a flashpoint in the gubernatorial primary race. Candidate Cynthia Nixon appeared in a video with City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, where he announced his endorsement of the former actress. Menchaca and Nixon called for a statewide program to provide driver’s licenses to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.

Advocates of those programs argue that providing driver’s licenses to immigrants will force more people to take driver’s education courses, increase state revenue and force more drivers to become insured. In attendance at the rally will be Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra, the GreenLight NY coalition and a group of dairy farmers, who will travel to Albany from around Rochester to speak about the legislation.

The legislation was introduced by Bronx Congressman Marcos Crespo and Bronx Senator Luis Sepulveda. Both measures were referred to the transportation committee and have yet to be voted on. 13 WHAM

Ellis Island

Staten Island cops join immigrants for soccer tournament
The players came from all over the world: Mexico, Sierra Leone, Honduras and Guatemala. The cops came from precincts all over Staten Island. They joined together on Saturday for the inaugural “Tournament of Dreams” at the College of Staten Island gym. In attendance was Kenneth Corey, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Staten Island, Kevin A. Williams, the executive officer of Police Borough Staten Island and Ceasar Vargas, an advocate for immigrant’s rights. The tournament included eight teams with at least one NYPD officer or detective on each team. The event was held to foster trust between the immigrants and the NYPD. S.I. Live

Kristin Gillibrand introduces bill to crack down on border patrol searches
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a bill that will place more scrutiny on the practices of border patrol and ICE agents. ICE and Customs and Border Patrol agents have drawn criticism for boarding Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses and randomly questioning the citizenship of travelers. The New York Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have called upon Greyhound to prevent federal agents from entering its buses. GIllibrand, a New York Democratic senator, has introduced The Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act, which would require agents to document encounters they have while conducting those searches. Currently, agents have a wide mandate to stop and interrogate members of the public within 100 miles of the border. CBP and ICE agents do have some restrictions on their powers, but enforcement data is sparse. The bill would require the agencies to create this data. Vox

An El Salvadoran family in New Jersey spends Mother’s Day apart, WNYC


DACA recipients are slow to reapply
Applications to renew DACA have been slow, according to a review of USCIS data from the Los Angeles Times. Only 12 percent of the 165,210 people whose DACA protections expire from June to December applied for renewal, according to the data. The number of applications filed to the program has risen in recent months, but the number of DACA recipients reapplying is lagging behind. According to lawyers, activists and DACA recipients, anxiety over ICE’s detention practices and confusion are partial reasons for the lag. Trump canceled the program last year. It was reinstated after a court decision in January by U.S. District Judge William Alsup. The Los Angeles Times

Fractures appear in California over immigration
California has become increasingly divided over the issue of immigration. Driven by the election of Donald Trump and the California Values Act, which prohibits communication between local law enforcement and ICE, the state is experiencing fissures in its local politics and community relationships. Recently, over a dozen small cities and counties have joined a lawsuit brought forward by the Trump administration that challenges the constitutionality of the sanctuary-state law. Other cities like are challenging so-called Sanctuary laws on an individual basis. The Washington Post reports that fear in California’s immigrant communities has also frayed relationships with local law enforcement further. The Washington Post

ICE detention is interfering with criminal courts
ICE is targeting immigrants charged with crimes but whose criminal cases have not been resolved, according to the Associated Press. Advocates say these tactics are blocking due process rights and disrupting the criminal justice system as local prosecutors struggle to get immigrants in court and ICE scrambles to hold on to them. They also say ICE has used criminal charges against detainees in proceedings, despite the charges being unresolved. These tactics prevent people potentially charged with crimes they didn’t commit from receiving full due process rights. They also potentially prevent defendants guilty of violent crimes from facing full punishment. In one case in Massachusetts, a Guatemala native named Victor Ramirez was accused of raping a child among other charges. He was detained by ICE before his trial began in September and the they refused to release him to Massachusetts authorities for trial. Ramirez was deported last week. Associated Press

Families reunite with deported relatives in El Paso for Mother’s Day. Dallas Morning News

Mass ICE Raids Leave a Trail of Misery and Broken Communities, The Intercept

Maryland’s Crab Country: Not Enough Visas, Not Enough Workers, The Wall Street Journal


  • John Kelly, Who Doesn’t Think Undocumented Immigrants Can Be American, Should Visit New York City By Ben Mathis-Lilley, by Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate’s chief news blogger. Slate
  • John Kelly’s terrible immigration lies, by Paul Waldman, opinion writer. The Washington Post
  • Is The Attempt To Rescind DACA Lawful? By Steven Gordon, a partner at Holland & Knight. Law 360

Washington — Kelly in hot water over remarks

The president’s chief of staff John Kelly has gotten himself into hot water during a routine interview with NPR where he made some choice remarks about undocumented immigrants.

“They’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society,” he said of people who come to the U.S. illegally. “They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills,” he added.

On TPS, Kelly denied recent reports that he called former Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to implore her to rescind the status for Hondurans last year. He expressed support for the decision to cancel the status but also suggested a path to citizenship would be appropriate for people who have been here a long period of time. 

“I think we should fold all of the TPS people that have been here for a considerable period of time and find a way for them to be on a path to citizenship,” he told NPR.

It’s not the first time Kelly has made controversial comments on immigration. In February, he faced backlash after he said the people eligible for DACA who had not applied were “too afraid” or “too lazy.” Other publications were quick to note that Kelly’s great-grandparents were immigrants from Italy and Ireland. NPR [Transcript]CNN, The Washington Post

Bronx, New York – May 6, 2018: Views of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: Christopher Lee for Documented.

Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




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