Despite pushback from immigration advocates and local elected officials, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca, the city budget once again excludes immigrants convicted of one of 170 so-called “serious” crimes — everything from criminal trespass to promoting prostitution to using chemical or biological weapons — from being able to receive city-funded civil immigration defense.
As was the case last year, anonymous donors will apparently contribute the funds necessary to provide these defense expenses as Mayor Bill de Blasio has steadfastly refused to use a dime of city money for these immigrants in particular. City & State
Good morning, and welcome to Early Arrival. I’m Felipe De La Hoz, here to take you through the latest in local and national immigration news and analysis. If you have feedback, suggestions, tips or leads, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.
CBP goes hunting on upstate transportation
Agents with Customs and Border Protection have been ramping up their searches and detentions at transportation hubs and on buses and trains upstate. CBP confirmed that the increase is partly due to authority to approve searches being given to regional administrators, as opposed to having to come down from D.C. Passengers have been encountering more agents stationed in transportation centers in Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, questioning people they suspect of being in the country without authorization. Some attorneys and advocates have complained that this suspicion is often based on a person’s ethnicity or race. For undocumented immigrants, who are not allowed to obtain driver’s licenses and are therefore more dependent on public transit, detentions are up. The Post-Standard
Anti-family separation protest happens in Brooklyn
More than 100 people gathered next to Brooklyn Borough Hall on Thursday to protest the separation of families at the border. Chants of “No Hate. No Fear. Refugees are welcome here” and “Donald Trump has got to go” rang out from the crowd that consisted of people of all ages. The crowd had gathered to protest the administration’s zero tolerance policy that has led to children being separated from their parents. The protest was organized by volunteers from the group Families Belong Together. Amanda Sawyer, a volunteer with the group, told Documented she would like to see more action from New York based politicians. “We haven’t heard much from [Sen. Kirsten] Gillibrand or [Sen. Chuck] Schumer by way of stopping these policies,” Sawyer said. The protest was one of many that took place simultaneously around the country. Mazin Sidahmed for Documented
ICE press releases don’t tell the full story
Immigration and Custom Enforcement has a penchant for highlighting the worst cases out of a large arrest operation to bolster its claims that it is mainly going after criminals and people illegally present in the United States and that it relies on news organizations to uncritically parrot their claims. That was the case when it touted a five-day operation in New Jersey that netted 91 arrests, zeroing in on alleged murderers and rapists. It turns out, however, that the operation also resulted in the arrest of multiple legal permanent residents, including a man who had been legally residing in the United States for 30 years and had completed his probation on an 11-year-old conviction for possessing an air gun. WNYC
City Council bill would hit 22 street vendors
A bill being debated in the City Council would expand a no-vending zone in the surroundings of the World Trade Center, in effect banning 22 street vendors that currently operate in the proposed expanded zone. The bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and the NYPD say that the measure is required for safety, as it would reduce concentrated foot traffic around the carts that are near the WTC’s checkpoints. In comments that have particularly rattled the vendors and their supporters, the NYPD has also said the carts themselves could be used to hide explosives or for other nefarious purposes. The vendors have pointed out that most of them are Muslim and that the safety argument is fundamentally Islamophobic. Eater
Where’s the data?
In the early days of the Trump presidency, the Department of Homeland Security promised to start putting out detailed reports on municipalities’ cooperation with internal immigration enforcement and the criminal records of immigrants released without honoring detainers. The first sets were riddled with errors and forced the department to issue corrections. Since then, not only has DHS stopped putting out those reports, it’s tried to stop putting out basic, once easily publicly accessible data about the nation’s immigration agencies. This turnaround has resulted in two lawsuits against the federal government by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a vital source of data and analysis on immigration and criminal justice. The outcomes of these lawsuits could fundamentally shift our ability to understand the impacts of the nation’s immigration policy, and set precedent for other government agencies’ data release practices. Bloomberg Businessweek
Inside the Brownsville facility
It took the police being called on a U.S. Senator on camera, but reporters were finally allowed to tour one of the facilities being used by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to house detained, unaccompanied immigrant children, both those who entered the country alone and, now, also those taken from their parents at the border. The Casa Padre facility in Brownsville, Texas, is in a converted former Walmart and run by nonprofit under contract with ORR. The facility currently houses close to 1,500 boys aged 10 to 17, slightly over its official capacity. The boys are locked in 22 hours a day on weekdays, 21 on weekends, and are crammed five to a room in rooms built for four. The children are permitted to speak over the phone to their parents, provided they know where the parent is and they have access to a phone in whichever penal facility they are being held. NBC News
Soon, it might be tents on a military base
Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, of which ORR is a part, will be visiting an Army base and two Air Force bases in Texas to determine if they could be used to house thousands of detained children in tents. The federal government’s new blanket policy of separating children from parents crossing the border illegally — or, in some cases, even legally requesting asylum — has quickly overwhelmed the existing facilities, which are at 95 percent capacity, and sent HHS scrambling to find extra accommodation. The tent city, which would hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children while the government tried to find a sponsor for them in the United States, would likely lack the professionalized childcare staff that existing child detention facilities such as Casa Padre have. McClatchy DC
Sessions’ rationalizations get Biblical
In a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to defend his agency’s family separation policy. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said, invoking a passage that one historian said had been used by Southern anti-abolitionists in the run-up to the Civil War. It’s also worth noting that no existing law forces the government to criminally prosecute every individual unlawfully entering the United States — and, by extension, take them away from any children they traveled with — and, in fact, the law specifically permits people to request asylum at ports of entry. The Washington Post
Yet the administration is losing its grip on Christian conservatives
Conservative Christians, a group that has long formed the backbone of Donald Trump’s base of support and who have generally stood steadfastly with the president through personal sex scandals and official misconduct by members of the administration, are expressing disgust with recent immigration enforcement policies. A coalition of evangelical groups, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have all written to the administration or internally resolved to condemn actions including Sessions’ decision to declare most victims of domestic and gang violence ineligible and the separation of families at the border. “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” said the Rev. Franklin Graham, one of President Trump’s most consistent boosters. The New York Times
Immigration judges worry about their independence
The nation’s administrative immigration judges have long fretted over the fact that, as Department of Justice employees, they are responsive to the machinery of the executive branch and lack the judicial independence that their counterparts in the federal judiciary enjoy. Now, with Sessions routinely setting precedent and interfering in their decision-making, such as through imposing quotas on cases heard per year in the face of ever-growing dockets, swelled by policies like zero tolerance. The judges can be moved around the country by the DOJ at will, and cases routinely involve frightened immigrants, some who are longtime residents, many with no lawyer, all begging for relief that a judge may believe that they are not legally entitled to. Many fear burnout. The New York Times
- While Congress sleeps, Trump is remaking immigration policy, by the Editorial Board. The San Francisco Chronicle
- A Theory of Animals, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, a writer and Emerson fellow. Jezebel
- Jeff Sessions’ Latest Immigration Ruling Is a Violation of International Law, correspondent Mark Joseph Stern in conversation with Archi Pyati, chief of policy at the Tahirih Justice Center. Slate
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Washington — Moderate immigration wing collapses and ‘compromise bill’ takes a hard line
The failure of the discharge petition to force more moderate immigration legislation to the fore left Congress’ more hawkish legislators and the House Republican leadership holding all the cards.
The draft bill, which was circulating around the Capitol building on Thursday, would enact billions of dollars for increased border security, including a border wall, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, end family-based sponsorship for married children and siblings of U.S. citizens, make asylum claims harder to make and allow for longer incarceration of migrant children.
In exchange, it offers to stop family separations at the border (a policy enacted by the federal government that is not required by law) and provides a merit-based pathway for Dreamers to eventually obtain permanent residency and citizenship. The New York Times
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that President Trump is on board to sign the compromise immigration bill once Congress hashes it out, a position that was backed up by the president himself. The New York Times
Iowa Congressman and white nationalist Steve King has introduced a bill to criminally punish local officials who interfere with immigration enforcement. The bill is named the “Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018,” after the Oakland mayor who warned residents of an upcoming raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Read the bill