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Early Arrival: Another Cab Driver Takes His Life

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.

Mazin Sidahmed

May 29, 2018

Members of the New York Taxi Worker's Association rally outside City Hall.

Taxi workers and their families gathered for a vigil on Sunday to commemorate the life of a Yu Mein Chow who is believed to be the latest driver to commit suicide.

Chow, who went by the nickname Kenny, was found floating in the East River on Wednesday. He had been missing since May 11 and friends and family members believe he jumped to his death. His family also said he had been under financial pressure due to the $700,000 debt he had from purchasing his Taxi medallion.

Chow is the fifth yellow cab driver believed to have committed suicide this year. Competition from ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, have made it difficult for yellow cab drivers to earn a living. Some are saddled with deep debt from the cost of purchasing a medallion, which have been devalued due to the fact that drivers working for ride-sharing apps do not require one.  

“Make no mistake: the crisis that took Kenny’s life and the lives of four other drivers pushed to suicide in recent months was entirely preventable,” Bhairavi Desai, executive director of New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a statement. “City Hall allowed Uber and Lyft to expand unchecked, devastating the lives and livelihoods of New York City’s professional drivers. There are real human consequences to a business model predicated on destroying labor standards and treating workers as expendable.”

NYTWA plans to hold a rally near City Hall on Tuesday at 1 p.m.. The New York Times

Ellis Island

ICE tries to force undocumented immigrant onto a plane at JFK
An undocumented immigrant said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers unsuccessfully tried to force him to board a flight to the Central African Republic at John F. Kennedy airport on Thursday. Prince Gbohoutou told the Washington Post that ICE officers drove him to JFK, where they cut him out of a seatbelt –slicing his hand in the process– and handcuffed him to a wheelchair to force him on to the flight. The flight attendants would not allow an unwilling passenger on the plane, he added. ICE denies the accusations of abuse. The Washington Post

Yemeni girl with cerebral palsy lands in U.S. for help despite Trump travel ban, USA Today

New York Trails Neighbors in Helping Dreamers Achieve an Education, Gotham Gazette [Opinion]


Confusion runs rampant on Twitter

A series of immigration stories went viral this weekend and sparked an intense debate on Twitter. However, the discussion led to conflation between family separation at the border and unaccompanied children being placed with temporary guardians.

It began with a couple of stories published around the same time, on the effects of the administration’s new policy of prosecuting all attempted border crossings. That practice separates children from their parents. The topic made its way to Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show and on to go viral over the weekend.

The confusion and misinformation started almost immediately. People on social media, including journalists and politicians, quickly began conflating family separation with the month-old story about the Office of Refugee Resettlement admitting that it had lost track of 1,475 minors who had been placed with sponsors, or temporary guardians. Many implied that the government was taking kids away at the border and subsequently losing them.

The problem is, ORR lost track of them before the family separation policies went into effect, and most of these children had arrived at the border already unaccompanied. Photos depicting children in detention that quickly went viral turned out to be from an Arizona Republic article from 2014.

ORR losing track of those children doesn’t mean they were trafficked or otherwise harmed, as many were implying. It means whoever they were placed with stopped answering ORR’s calls, which could be for multiple reasons that have nothing to do with criminality.

Some commentators were also using Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection interchangeably, but it’s important to note that the family separation policy applies solely to people caught crossing a border, which is the jurisdiction of CBP. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

CBP alters statement on officer killing border crosser
Customs and Border Patrol released a second statement on Friday regarding the fatal shooting of Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles by an agent. The second statement provides a different account of the events that transpired on Wednesday, according to the HuffPost. CBP originally stated that the agent had come under attack from people who were wielding blunt objects. In Friday’s statement, no blunt objects were mentioned, but CBP claims the agent was ‘rushed’ by a group of people who were caught crossing the border. HuffPost

Government issues 15,000 guest worker visas
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday it will issue an additional 15,000 guest worker visas this year, as employers are struggling to fill temporary jobs in seasonal industries. Due to a thriving economy, the government issued the 66,000 annual cap of the H-2B visas. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen granted the additional visas in response to pressure from lawmakers, according to The Washington Post. This is the second year in which additional visas have been granted. Nielsen called on Congress to pass legislation to establish an appropriate number of seasonal visas. The Washington Post

Ivanka Trump photo with son sparks backlash over border separations, The Guardian

Attorney: BC student detained by ICE was not a DACA recipient, KBAK/KBFX

A pilot kidnapped a foreign student and tried to deport him to China, police say, The Washington Post


  • This Is What Trump’s Forced Separation Policy Looks Like, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. The Daily Beast
  • The Trump administration’s immigration policies are impossibly cruel. That’s the whole point, Paul Waldman, opinion writer for The Plum. The Washington Post
  • The long nightmare of the Dreamers, Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board. The Chicago Tribune

Washington – Trump blames Dems for family separation

A tweet fromPresident Donald Trump led to confusion on Saturday when he called on Democrats to end family separation at the border – a policy his administration has touted.

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.

The White House told the Washington Post that Democrats had refused to close “loopholes” in immigration policy that cause family separation. They have previously noted anti-trafficking laws as one such loophole. Politico, The Washington Post

Senators are starting back-channel talks with the White House over an immigration-reform deal. It has become clear that an immigration debate will reach the Senate this year, either from the House or the courts. Senators want to ensure that they’re ready in order to avoid a repeat of the deadlock in February’s talks. Politico

The hostile border between Trump and the head of DHS, The Washington Post

Trump pick for refugee bureau draws flak for anti-immigrant views, Politico

Members of the New York Taxi Worker’s Association rally outside City Hall. Photo: Max Siegelbaum for Documented.

Mazin Sidahmed

Mazin Sidahmed is the co-executive director of Documented. He previously worked for the Guardian US in New York. He started his career writing for The Daily Star in Beirut and he also contributed to Politico New York.




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