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Early Arrival: New York Joins in Nationwide Demonstrations Over Immigration Policy

Felipe De La Hoz

Jul 03, 2018

March against family separation in Brooklyn

New Yorkers were among thousands of people around the country who turned out on Saturday for a series of simultaneous marches to protest the Trump administration’s so-called zero tolerance policy, which has compelled the criminal prosecution of everyone crossing the border illegally and has had the effect of separating families.

The hundreds of planned demonstrations, organized primarily by the progressive organization MoveOn, came on the heels of the growing national reckoning over the fact that, despite the zero tolerance policy being ostensibly over — what exactly replaces it is an open question — the administration has no coherent plan for reunifying already separated families.

A federal source revealed to NY1 that, as of June 25, New York was housing 327 children that had been separated from their families at the border. New York had the highest volume of such children out of all the states that are not on the southwest border itself, far outpacing neighbors such as Pennsylvania (24 separated children) and New Jersey (two separated children). This is largely due to the state’s already robust system of residential and foster care facilities and space availability. NY1

In New York, some 30,000 marchers joined the demonstration that began at Foley Square, just outside the local DHS offices, and ended in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza. The protesters — from local unions, professional associations and such immigrant and civil rights groups as Families for Freedom and Desis Rising Up & Moving — also expressed broader frustrations with the country’s immigration enforcement. Many brandished signs with the “abolish ICE” slogan, fresh off a spate of high-profile political endorsements of the position. Max Siegelbaum for Documented, Patch, NY1

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 felipe.delahoz@documentedny.com or on Twitter.

Ellis Island

Rezoning Could Decimate Local Immigrant-Owned Businesses
The rezoning of a two-mile commercial stretch of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx — favored by both the local council member and the Bronx borough president — would wreak havoc on longstanding immigrant-owned businesses. In addition to the standard bodegas, barber shops, flower shops and assorted small businesses that would be seen in any block in New York, that area is particularly well-known for auto shops, whose workers fear they could be heavily impacted. Some area landlords are already talking about lucrative offers they’re receiving for the commercial spaces now largely occupied by well-established local businesses. Documented

Bergen County Cashes in with Immigrant Detainees
Despite elected officials that are largely anti-Trump Democrats, New Jersey’s Bergen county is set to make about $12 million through a contract with the federal government to house immigrant detainees in its county jail. The payday could fund over 15% of the county’s sheriff’s office budget, but it has also led to dismay among local activists who see the municipal government as complicit in the federal administration’s immigration enforcement agenda. Officials have defended themselves by maintaining that detainees arrested by the federal government will be held somewhere, regardless of whether the county has a contract to house them, so they might as well offer up their comparatively humane local jail. Activists are not convinced. NorthJersey.com

Mayor de Blasio Joins Calls for Abolishing ICE: ‘It is broken’, New York Daily News

When Rudy Giuliani Sided with New York’s Immigrants, Newsday [Opinion]


Top Border Patrol Official To Become Acting ICE Director
With the retirement of ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, a polarizing and openly defiant figure who has issued a series of forceful public defenses of his agency’s practices under the Trump administration, ICE will now be helmed by a senior Border Patrol official, Ronald D. Vitiello. The veteran officer and current acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection will initially serve as the acting director of ICE, in advance of what could be a bruising Senate confirmation process as the agency’s operations become increasingly unpalatable to even moderate Democrats. The New York Times

Asylum Seekers in Tijuana are Undeterred
Despite news of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy and the recent push to expand family detention trickling out among would-be asylum seekers at the southwest border, most of those waiting at the San Ysidro port of entry have decided to stick it out, more fearful of the violence and uncertainty back home than the prospect of a harsh immigration system in the United States. Though the policy of family separation was framed as an attempt at deterrence by members of the administration, it’s clear that migrants fearful for their lives under the yoke of of violent gangs and weak states will often take their chances with the immigration system rather than turn back. One young migrant mother said a couple of families in line to claim asylum had turned back after getting word of the separations, but the majority had stayed. The San Diego Union-Tribune

Parents Separated from Their Children are Losing Credible Fear Interviews
Attorneys representing parents who have already been separated from their children under zero tolerance say that their clients’ distress over the separation and their subsequent inability to reunite with their children has caused them to struggle with passing the credible fear interview that all asylum seekers are subjected to as part of the first phase of their immigration process. For some parents, the ability to speak with their children actually makes things worse, as the children describe poor conditions or feelings of abandonment that the parent can do nothing about. Clearing the credible fear hurdle requires an ability to effectively argue before an asylum officer that a person’s life and safety are at risk in their home country, and parents are apparently too distraught to be able to do so. HuffPost

Family Separations Began Ramping Up Before Zero Tolerance
Records and interviews reviewed by the Los Angeles Times demonstrate that the separations of families seeking asylum at the southwest border began increasing about a year before the zero tolerance policy was officially put into effect. Children have long been taken into separate custody when officers determined that they were at risk or that the adults traveling with them were not their legal guardians, but asylum seekers say they were separated from their children even when presenting themselves at points of entry with original documentation proving familial relationships, going as far back as May 2017. Because these children were removed without criminal charges being necessarily brought against their parents, legal observers worry that the end of zero tolerance won’t be the end of family separation. Los Angeles Times

Sponsoring a Minor can be Laborious and Expensive
Family members in the United States can sponsor unaccompanied minors held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement — both those minors that crossed the border without guardians and those that were separated from their parents. The process allows children to live with family as they continue their immigration cases instead of being held in residential or foster care programs contracted by ORR, where they can be turned over to ICE if they turn 18 while in custody. For these family members, however, the process to actually take a child in can involve submitting to onerous background checks that now include submitting fingerprints to ICE, which frightens away potential sponsors with any immigration issues of their own. Potential sponsors must also pay the airfare for the minors and an escort, which for children held in faraway facilities can add up to thousands of dollars. The New York Times

Inspector General: ICE Failed in Conditions at Child Detention Centers, The Hill

Vietnamese Refugees who Got a Warm Welcome from America Puzzle at Family Separations, Harsh Rhetoric, Los Angeles Times

The US is on Track to Admit the Fewest Number of Refugees Since the Resettlement Program Began, CNN

For one Teen Asylum Seeker, Confessing Fears led to Months in Detention, CNN

Trump’s Immigrant Detention Plans Benefit These Companies, The Wall Street Journal


  • Cages Are Cruel. The Desert Is, Too by Francisco Cantú, author and former Border Patrol agent, The New York Times
  • America Gave me a Good Immigrant Award. Oh, how Bittersweet by Maeve Higgins, author and podcast host, The Guardian
  • We Can’t Ignore the Scars of Those Seeking Asylum for Domestic Abuse and Gang Violence by Allison Bond, Katherine Crabtree, and Rashmi Jasrasaria, physicians with the Massachusetts General Hospital Asylum Clinic, STAT News

Washington – Administration Considers Asylum Clampdown as Abolish ICE Heats Up

An immigration proposal drafted by the federal administration and obtained by Vox would have broad implications for the asylum system if enacted, further narrowing eligibility and precision-targeting Central American asylum seekers in particular.

The proposal, which has yet to be put on the Federal Register, would bar anyone convicted of entering the country illegally from being able to seek asylum, formalize a narrowing of eligibility based on domestic or gang violence, prevent almost anyone who had traveled through Mexico to reach the United States from applying for asylum, and generally make it more difficult to receive a favorable outcome. Vox

This is taking place against the backdrop of a Democratic party that was blindsided by the Congressional primary victory of Bronx Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and which is having to wrestle with growing calls for the abolishment of ICE. High-profile Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris have since at least tentatively jumped on that bandwagon, though the details of what exactly that would mean to each are fuzzier. Associated Press

Not everyone was immediately on board: the House Hispanic Caucus passed around talking points highlighting some of the agency’s less controversial functions and called for it to be kept around. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar declined to endorse the abolishment position when asked on ABC. Daily Beast, The Hill

The president once again called for the end of due process for people accused of illegally crossing the border into the United States, tweeting “When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering.”

The administration formalized its position that to stop family separations it must detain families together indefinitely, writing in a court filing that an injunction barring its separation policy had already canceled out the so-called Flores decision prohibiting the detention of minors for over 20 days. Read the filing

Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s win in the Mexican presidential election casts doubt on the ability of the United States to achieve its bilateral cooperation objectives when it comes to migration. AMLO, as the president-elect is known, will be unlikely to accede to U.S. demands to establish Mexico as a safe third-country or cooperate in preventing migrants from traveling through Mexico and into the United States. Politico

Felipe De La Hoz

Reporter at Documented.



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