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Early Arrival: Advocates Rally for ICE Courthouse Arrests Bill

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.

Advocates and legislators are continuing their full-court push in favor of the Protect Our Courts Act, a piece of legislation that’s aimed at banning the controversial practice of ICE agents detaining immigrants in courthouses. The act was introduced by Long Island Assembly member Michaelle Solages

“We want people to be able to return to the courts,” said Anthony Posada, supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Community Justice Unit, at a press conference on the steps of the New York County Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon.

He and other speakers stressed that having a deterrent for immigrants to go to court could endanger the whole community as witnesses stay home and victims hesitate to report crimes or press charges. A simultaneous press conference in Albany featured Solages and other backers.

The bill is only the latest iteration of a longstanding campaign by immigration advocates, public defenders and prosecutors to compel state authorities to prevent such arrests. In late April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo amended an existing executive order to bar civil immigration arrests in state facilities but claimed that he did not have jurisdiction over the courts.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who would ostensibly have the right to unilaterally impose restrictions on ICE agents, has so far maintained that the state court system does not have the legal right to block entry to federal law enforcement personnel, and cannot interfere with the arrests. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

Ellis Island

Activists protest private prison corporations at conference
Activists with the Freedom Cities campaign demonstrated against the private prison industry Tuesday afternoon in front of the Midtown Hilton. The hotel was hosting the REITweek conference, an annual gathering of investors and participants in real estate investment trusts (REITs). This year featured presentations by private prison companies CoreCivic and the Geo Group, which run immigration detention centers across the U.S. The companies have used their large real estate holdings, in the form of prisons, as a way to gain the specialized REIT designation and subsequently lower their tax burdens. A small group of protesters brandished signs with messages like “prisons ≠ real estate” and a prop representation of brown hands chained together while chanting slogans, including “no tax dollars for incarceration.” Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

Sessions creates two federal immigration prosecutor positions in Brooklyn
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has created two new positions at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to prosecute federal immigration crimes. Nationwide, Sessions announced that 311 Assistant U.S. Attorney positions would be created in order to help prosecute violent crimes, opioid-related charges and immigration-related violations of federal law, according to a release from the Justice Department. Nine positions were created in total with two of them specifically dedicated to fighting immigration fraud and ‘illegal immigration.’ The DOJ created 35 immigration prosecutor positions in total. Documented

An undocumented man may be deported over a 1993 cannabis conviction
An undocumented Jamaican man from New York is fighting to stay in the U.S. after his green card application was denied due to a minor criminal conviction from 1993. Howard – his last name was withheld – was arrested twice that year on charges related to possession of cannabis, which he claims was under an ounce. His green card application was denied because he could not produce court records proving it was less than an ounce. Howard is currently petitioning the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to get his record expunged, but he could still get deported. New York Daily News

More details emerge in Bronx garbage truck death
Mouctar Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was crushed to death under the wheels of a garbage truck he was working on in November 2017. At the time, the privately owned waste disposal company claimed he was a homeless person that leapt out in front of the truck. An investigation by Kiera Feldman for ProPublica and Voice of America revealed his death was covered up by the company, Sanitation Salvage. In a new report, Feldman examines the company’s aggressive business practices and connections to local politicians. Voice of America & ProPublica

Immigrant advocates and lawyers are pushing to shorten the maximum sentence for misdemeanors in New York from one year to 364 days. Immigrants who are here legally can be deported if they spend a year in jail. Spectrum News

National

UN to US: Stop separating families
The United Nations is concerned with the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, which has led to the separation of over 600 children from their families. A spokeswoman of the U.N. human rights office told Agence France Press that  “The U.S. should immediately halt this practice … The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life and is a serious violation of the rights of the child. The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles.” Agence France Presse

A Georgia detention center is a “ticking bomb”
Stewart Detention Center in Georgia is a “ticking bomb,” according to current and former employees. An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and Atlanta NPR station WABE found that the detention center had no psychiatrist on staff, was chronically understaffed for many medical positions, had widespread drug smuggling problems and mixed non-violent offenders with high-security detainees. Illegal drugs were “continuously coming into the facility,” according to an inspection report the team found. DHS arrested several employees for smuggling drugs into the facility. Reveal & WABE

ICE and CBP raid an Ohio landscaping business
In an unusual show of force, About 200 federal officers descended on an Ohio landscaping business to arrest workers on immigration-related charges. The officers were from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol and arrested 114 people from two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center. Some wore camouflage fatigues and carried automatic rifles. ICE said it would likely file criminal charges against the people arrested, including tax evasion and identity theft. The agents were assisted by a surveillance aircraft. Associated Press

Drugs pour through San Diego border wall
Donald Trump has sold border walls as an effective tactic in stopping both people and drugs passing North to the U.S. from Mexico. This is partially true. Arrest rates near the San Diego border have plummeted 96 percent from 1869 to 2018, according to DHS statistics. However, U.S. seizure data paints a very different picture for drug smugglers. Federal data indicates that San Diego, the area of the U.S. with most dense fencing and other security measures, has become the most heavily trafficked port for hard drugs in the country. Also, seizures of fentanyl in San Diego nearly doubled last year to 139 pounds, over three-quarters of all fentanyl seizures at U.S. border crossings, The Washington Post reported. That border crossing is responsible for more methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin than anywhere else in the country, according to federal data. The Washington Post

How Texas’ decade-long border security operation has turned South Texas into one of the most heavily policed and surveilled places in the nation, Texas Observer

Supreme Court vacates ruling that allowed an unauthorized immigrant teen to get an abortion, Vox

Border agents and child welfare workers are running out of space to shelter children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border, NBC News

Federal criminal prosecutions of individuals apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the southwest border with Mexico jumped 30 percent in April 2018 over March figures, Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

A 23-year-old man who killed another man painting a mural in Oakland in 2015 plead no contest to murder charges. Marquise Holloway stole the gun used in the killing from an ICE agent’s car, East Bay Times

Opinion

  • Deportation Is Turning Pregnant Women Into Single Mothers, by Elizabeth A. Mosley and William D. Lopez, postdoctoral fellows at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and the University of Michigan School of Public Health respectively. HuffPost
  • Taxi-Driver Suicides Are a Warning, by Reihan Salam, contributing editor at The Atlantic and The National Review. The Atlantic
  • US liberal Islamophobia is rising – and more insidious than rightwing bigotry, by Khaled A Beydoun, a law professor and author of American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear. The Guardian

Washington – Republicans sour on “zero-tolerance” policy

The Trump administration’s“zero-tolerance” policy is beginning to backfire on the White House, according to The Washington Post. Senate Republicans are unhappy with how the policy is being enforced in their states.

“I don’t think it’s right to separate families this way, particularly those in asylum cases. They haven’t broken laws. They’re availing themselves of the legal avenues that are there,” Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told the Post. Sen. Rob Portman was also critical of the policy. Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, announced he requested details about the policy and why families are being separated from the Department of Homeland Security.

The policy was meant to deter families from crossing the Southwest border illegally, but data from DHS shows it has had little to no effect. Instead, the zero-tolerance policy has separated hundreds of children from their parents and inflamed much of the country, including Democrats and Republicans on all sides of the political spectrum.

“I’m disturbed by this. I don’t think children should be separated from biological parents at any age, but especially if they’re infants and toddlers. I think it’s traumatic and terribly difficult on the child,” said Hugh Hewitt, a conservative commentator and radio host, to Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an interview on Tuesday.

Trump also tried to blame Democrats for the family separation policy on Tuesday again, further drawing the ire of his party.

A top White House official told the Post that the administration was advocating for Republicans to bundle talks about the separation policy with discussions about DACA. The Washington Post

ICE director Thomas Homan drew flak on Tuesday for participating in a discussion with the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an anti-immigrant hate group.

“If you think ICE is racist, is Congress racist? Because they enacted these laws,” Homan told Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for CIS at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.

Homan defended the ‘zero tolerance’ policy while adding that he feels ICE is being unfairly blamed for it. Homan claimed that his agency isn’t separating families, but rather CBP is in charge of enforcing the recently enacted policy.

“I transport children to an HHS [Health and Human Services] facility. That’s my job. We’re doing what we’re congressionally mandated to do. I’m not throwing CBP under the bus; I support it.” VICE News

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

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