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Early Arrival: Long Island Congressmen Want Immigration Court

Early Arrival is a Documented newsletter that provides a round-up of the most vital local and national immigration news. This is an archived edition of the newsletter.

Republican congressmen Lee Zeldin and Peter King have sent a letter to the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) asking for an immigration court to be opened on Long Island, serving Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The letter notes the massive backlog in the courts that currently serve both New York City and Long Island, with over 80,000 cases pending. It argues that the new court would help the counties combat gangs, including MS-13. It specifically references almost 2,700 unaccompanied minors resettled on Long Island in fiscal year 2017.

King told Newsday that having a court serving the two counties, which are each among the top ten counties in the country by volume of pending cases, would allow immigrants who had a valid case to make to go before a judge and potentially resolve their proceedings sooner.

Not everyone is convinced that the simple addition of a court would help move things along, as it would not change the underlying dynamics that created the backlog initially. The New York Immigration Coalition’s Camille Mackler attributed the backlog to “punitive policies that don’t make sense,” as opposed to a lack of courts.

The mention of unaccompanied minors is also concerning to some, as reports have noted the overclassification of children as gang members based on flimsy evidence like colors they’re seen wearing or tattoos they have. Newsday

Ellis Island

Arguments held in New York bond case
On Friday, a Manhattan federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit seeking to restore a right to bond hearings for immigrant detainees. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that periodic hearings are not legally required for some immigrant detainees. Andrea Sáenz, a supervisor in the Immigration Practice of Brooklyn Defender Services and Jordan Wells, an attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, argued on behalf of Augustin Sajous, the lead plaintiff in the proposed class-action lawsuit. Sajous is a Haitian man currently in detention who had a scheduled bond hearing canceled after the Supreme Court ruling. Sáenz and Wells argued that the government’s detention of Sajous seemed criminal in nature and their client is entitled to a hearing after six months of detention. Max Siegelbaum for Documented

New OCA guidelines for ICE arrests

The Office of Court Administration recently issued updated guidelines to staff for dealing with immigration agents. The new rules stipulate that court officers must check whether or not ICE personnel have warrants in hand when they attempt to enter courthouses to make arrests, to note whether the warrant is judicial or administrative, scan it, and alert the judge. Judges will also not be required to issue bench warrants when they become aware that a defendant with an open criminal case has been taken into ICE custody, and instead can direct prosecutors to file a request to have the defendant produced in court by ICE. The new rules come after the OCA has faced pressure from public defenders and advocates to clamp down on ICE’s ability to freely perform immigration arrests in the city’s courthouses. The policy still won’t prevent agents from entering courts and making arrests. Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Advocates to rally for tweak in sentencing law to reduce deportations
Activists led by the Fortune Society and the Immigrant Defense Project will travel to Albany on Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to pass the One Day to Protect New Yorkers Act, which would reduce the maximum sentence for Class A misdemeanors from 365 to 364 days. That small change could potentially shield thousands from deportation, as federal immigration law holds that immigrants convicted of a crime that carries a sentence of one year or more are subject to automatic deportation, regardless of whether or not the immigrant actually receives the full sentence. New York Daily News

Schlossberg show continues
Hundreds of people camped outside the Upper West Side apartment of ‘racist lawyer’ Aaron Scholssberg on Friday for a mariachi-fueled dance party. Scholssberg was filmed threatening Spanish-speaking staff at a Midtown restaurant last Wednesday, and New Yorkers quickly organized to identify him and counter his hateful rhetoric. That culminated with his law firm getting kicked out of its building for violating its regulations, and his case has also been referred to a grievance committee for attorneys and is being investigated. NBC New York

New York Initiative Helps Low-Income Immigrants Apply for Citizenship, Latin American Herald Tribune

Quebec protesters block access to border crossing near site used by asylum seekers, Toronto Star


Immigration-related federal prosecutions already high in border districts
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy for the southwestern border obscures the fact that immigration-related cases already make up the majority of federal prosecutions in border districts, an analysis by the Marshall Project found. The analysis revealed that over 30 percent of all federal criminal convictions in the last fiscal year were for immigration offenses, including “illegal re-entry” and people-smuggling.  For border districts during the Obama administration, some years saw more than half of federal prison sentences handed to people convicted of immigration-related crimes. Though these convictions had dipped since a 2012 peak, recent data shows they are climbing again. Marshall Project

Two U.S. citizens detained by Border Patrol for speaking Spanish
Two women were detained by Border Patrol in the northern town of Havre, Montana after an agent heard them speaking Spanish. The women, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernandez, were reportedly in a convenience store where they exchanged some words in Spanish while waiting in line. A border agent standing behind them asked for their IDs and then detained them in the parking lot, Suda told The Washington Post. She began recording the incident. In the video, the agent can be heard saying, “Ma’am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here, and I saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.” Suda said they were let go after 35 to 40 minutes. The Washington Post

Duran could face deportation by end of month
Memphis-based Spanish language journalist Manuel Duran could be deported as early as the end of May, according to his attorneys. Duran has been in ICE custody ever since being turned over by Memphis Police following an April 3 arrest while covering a protest. His case is going to the Board of Immigration Appeals after an Atlanta immigration court declined to reopen an old deportation case, meaning respite could come right as ICE is preparing to deport him to El Salvador. His attorneys have argued that Duran, who had apparently been ordered deported in 2007, was targeted by the local police department and ICE for having reported on alleged cooperation between them. Commercial Appeal

Confusion in Massachusetts over 287(g)
Despite the state’s highest court ruling last July that state law prohibits local law enforcement from executing ICE detainers, some jurisdictions in Massachusetts have continued holding immigrant detainees for the agency to pick up. A handful of local law enforcement agencies that have entered into 287(g) agreements with ICE – which effectively deputize local officials as federal immigration agents – say that the partnership means they are acting as federal law enforcement and therefore not in violation of the court ruling. It is likely that this interpretation will come under legal scrutiny soon, and other local departments are waiting for more clarity before entering into their own 287(g) agreements. WBUR

This is what the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on the border means for people fleeing violence, WESA

Georgia immigration board drafts proposed opinion against Decatur, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Are Pres. Trump’s Immigration Policies Making California Roads Less Safe?, CBS Sacramento


  • No, Mr. President, I am not obstructing justice, by Libby Shaaf, mayor of Oakland, California. The Washington Post
  • Trump anti-sanctuary meeting was just bad political theater, by Raul A. Reyes, attorney and columnist. The Hill
  • Congress must ignore myths on immigration, by Dennis Gonzales, regional Vice President of Mission Integration for CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. San Antonio Express-News

Washington – Legislative sparring over immigration policy

An $867 billion farm bill backed by the Trump administration was sunk on Friday by conservative congress members who wanted a vote on immigration legislation to precede the farm bill.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus joined with Democrats and some moderate Republicans opposed to the bill’s work requirements for food stamps to kill the legislation in an embarrassment to Speaker Paul Ryan and the president.

The conservatives were also attempting to prevent efforts by some of their colleagues to force a vote on several pending immigration bills that could provide legal status to undocumented immigrants, a move they vehemently oppose.

The mechanism to force such a vote is called a discharge petition, and it appears that its proponents have almost gathered the votes necessary to move it along, drawing from Democrats’ commitment to protecting young immigrants at risk of losing DACA status and Republicans’ exasperation with their own leadership’s inaction. Ryan has started losing his grip on the caucus after announcing he would not run for reelection.

Republican leaders, nervous about the prospect of the petition passing, have been promising their members that a variety of immigration bills will be put to a vote in June. It’s unclear if this will be enough to stop the campaign. Bloomberg, Vox

Manhattan, New York – May 6, 2018: Views of 201 Varick Street building. Photo: Christopher Lee for Documented.

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