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Early Arrival: Lt. Gov. Hochul Flip-Flops on Driver’s Licenses

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.

Over a decade ago, Kathy Hochul was the Erie County Clerk and was staunchly opposed to then-Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Back then, her opinion was that all immigrants who apply for a license should get arrested.

Hochul – now Lt. Governor – has changed her opinion. She fully supports the idea and has come out in opposition to current Erie County Clerk, Mickey Kearns, a lifelong Buffalo-area resident and former state assembly member. In May, Kearns vowed he would never issue a driver’s license to an undocumented person even if the Driver License Access and Privacy Act becomes law, which would grant undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for state-issued licenses.

On Friday, Hochul told reporters the current times are different and understanding the need for people to get to jobs, changed her mind. Advocates for such programs say supplying immigrants with driver’s licenses leads to more insured drivers and safer roads.

The law would be particularly valuable to farming communities in rural parts of the state, where private vehicles are necessary for transportation and many of the workers are undocumented.

Immigrant advocates and politicians have long struggled to pass legislation that grants undocumented immigrants New York State driver’s licenses. Spitzer notoriously failed to pass such legislation in 2007. Democrats have tried to introduce similar measures several times since. All efforts were met with failure. Spectrum News, WGRZ2, Politico NY

Ellis Island

New Yorkers gather to protest border separations
Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in Lower Manhattan to protest the federal government separating families caught crossing the Southwest border on Friday. The protests were part of The National Day of Action for Children, which included demonstrations in more than 24 cities across the country, including Atlanta, Santa Monica, Calif. and Miami. According to Ana Maria Archila from the Center for Popular Democracy, 700 children have been separated from their families since the program began, reported Pix11.NPR, PIX11, Mazin Sidahmed for Documented.

TPS recipients prepare for new lives
The city estimated that there are 15,000 residents who received Temporary Protected Status. They primarily come from Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador and contributed over $500 million in New York’s GDP last year, Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs, told Fox 5. Over the past year, the Trump administration has terminated that status for most people from those countries, leaving many in a perilous situation. Fox 5 spoke to Giddel Contreras a Honduran national who lost his TPS recently. He’s been living in the U.S. since 1998, and may face deportation on January 5, 2020 when TPS ends for Hondurans.Fox 5

Politicians and leading advocates endorse ICE courthouse arrests bill
Last week, over two dozen New York State assembly members introduced the Protect Our Courts Act, a bill that would banish Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents from arresting immigrants in-state courthouses without a judicial warrant or a court order. The bill also applies to the trip to and from the courthouse. In a statement from the Immigrant Defense Project, city and state lawmakers, alongside members of the law enforcement community and immigration advocacy groups came out in support of the act. Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Alisa Wellek, Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project, and Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU, among others announced their support. On Tuesday, the group will hold a joint press conference in Albany and New York City to announce the bill. Documented

At Hunter Colleges graduation, an undocumented student was reunited with the lobbyist who helped her go from a deli counter to college, The New York Times.

New York state files a legal brief in support of Philadelphia’s battle over federal grants related to the crackdown on sanctuary policies, Associated Press

National

Despite federal efforts, Southwestern border crossings remain high
The Trump administration’s family separation policy was designed as a means to deter immigrant families from crossing the Southwest border. Trump’s deployment of the National Guard to the border was meant to have a similar effect. According to Department of Homeland Security statistics, these efforts are not working. In March and April, border arrests surged to over 50,000. May arrests are expected to be just as high. The Washington Post reported that Trump held the low statistics from previous months as proof that his border enforcement efforts were working. The spike in border activity triggered his fallout with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, which almost drove her to resign. The Washington Post

CBP agents physically prevent asylum seekers from entering U.S.
On a sweltering day recently, three Guatemalans were stopped on the bridge that links El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. They were seeking to claim asylum in the United States. Near the middle of the bridge, they were met by Customs and Border Patrol agents, who asked them for identification and told them there was no more room in the cells they were using for detainees. This tactic marks an escalation in border policing practices, according to Texas Monthly. CBP agents preventing or attempting to prevent some from doing so, is another example of how the Trump administration is trying to prevent asylum seekers and migrants from entering the country. Texas Monthly.

Immigration fears lead to fewer police reports of domestic violence
Law enforcement officials in Houston, Texas, reported a 16 percent drop in reports of domestic violence from the city’s Latino community last year. Police chalk this up to fear of law enforcement in the community brought on by harsher immigration enforcement and an overall hostility towards undocumented immigrants. Houston police recorded a drop of over 1,000 reports of domestic violence from Hispanic people from 2016 to 2017. Police departments in Denver, San Diego and Los Angeles also reported a similar trend. The New York Times.

Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef debuts a new immigration focused podcast
In 2011, a surgeon named Bassem Youssef began creating and posting YouTube videos where he satirized daily news and politics in Egypt. Based on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report, El-Bernameg (The Show) became a smash hit in Egypt, but had an abrupt end several years later when Youssef began to face serious political pressure. He now lives in the U.S. and has a new podcast where he speaks to fellow immigrants about the immigrant experience in the United States. Brian Lehrer interviewed him about his new project, ReMade in America. WNYC.

CBP continues to over exaggerate assaults
According to the FBI, 397 CBP agents were assaulted in 2016. This is at odds with CBP statistics, which are 14 percent higher, at 454 incidents. New FBI data reported by The Intercept shows that CBP agents are infrequently injured in assaults: about 1 in 4 in 2017. It also shows that despite the agency claiming otherwise, agents were less likely to get injured in 2017 than 2016, with a 22 percent drop in agent injuries. The Intercept previously reported that CBP was including the number of assailants and the number of weapons they used in the formula used to tally up assaults on their agents. One incident involving six agents resulted in 126 assaults, according to agency calculations. In 2017, the FBI counted 432 assaults, while CBP counted 786. The Intercept

How one month reshaped the US immigration landscape, CNN

Closest Relative of Children Whose Parents Died Fleeing ICE Gets Deported, Splinter.

Caravan Mother Who Is Seeking Asylum Says Immigration Agents Took Her Children, BuzzFeed


United States Seeks to Reject Asylum Seekers by Designating Mexico a Safe Third Country, American Immigration Council

Opinion:

  • Steve Bannon’s strategy for midterm victory: immigration by Fareed Zakaria, CNN anchor. The Washington Post
  • Will we just stand by as migrant children are taken from their parents? By Francine Prose, novelist, poet and essayist. The Guardian
  • The Mexican Revival of Small-Town America, By Alfredo Corchado, the Mexico border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News. The New York Times.

Washington – Republicans champion immigration to save themselves

Rep. Jeff Denham has done something unlikely for a Republican from a red leaning part of the Central Valley in California: He has decided to take on the party establishment on immigration, an issue that under the Trump administration has become increasingly polarized.

Denham is leading a group of Republican representatives – many of whom are on shaky footing with their constituents – to pressure Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote to protect DACA recipients, a program the president ended.

The two dozen representatives are on the precipice of forcing a vote, which will usher in a politically risky debate on immigration, which could push immigration hardliners away from the party and energize the Democrats.

Other Republicans have found themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to both tow the increasingly hardline party message and to address their constituents. Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado had to learn Spanish after the lines of his district were redrawn and included more Latinos.

This week, the representatives will return to a stalemate. The moderate Republicans are inching closer towards triggering the vote in June on a group of immigration related bills. They have also indicated they’re willing to work with GOP leaders on a compromise plan as well. The House GOP will meet on June 7 to discuss potential solutions. The New York TimesWashington Examiner

Sen. Jeff Merkley posted a video on social media of him trying to enter a facility in Brownsville, Texas, which is run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “I am told that this former Walmart may currently be housing hundreds of refugee children who have been separated from their parents,” the post said. Merkley was denied entrance and recorded a conversation with staff from the facility, who also called local police who came to speak with the senator. The Hill

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

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