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Early Arrival: Immigrants Afraid to Report Threats From Employers

Though there have been increases in cases of employers threatening employees over their immigration status, New York state officials still believe that the phenomenon is underreported and are encouraging employees to come forward with any allegations of abuse.

The deputy commissioner of the worker protection at the state Department of Labor told El Diario that there had been only 30 complaints of threats related to immigration status in the last three years, but actual incidences were much higher.

One worker, a 47-year-old Ecuadorian native who works as a cook at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, said that when he complained about low pay, his employers gave him and his co-workers employment eligibility forms to fill out, long after they’d already been hired. That is considered an illegal intimidation tactic and carries significant penalties for the employer, but many vulnerable employees across the state are too fearful to report the harassment.

The employee said his bosses had specifically referenced the president in their taunts, “Ever since Trump became president, I have felt that there is more discrimination,” he told El Dirario. “They tell us: ‘Leave. You have no rights here.’”

Read More at El Diario (translated in Voices of NY)

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.

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Local

Tipped Workers Protest

Tipped workers with the Our Fair Wage NY coalition, including restaurant workers, nail salon workers, and others, protested in front of the NY State Restaurant Association on Wednesday, demanding that the state eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and pointing to a report, issued simultaneously, that pointed to wage gaps between immigrant workers and their U.S.-born counterparts. Standing outside the 6th Avenue office, the activists described feeling powerless to complain when owners and bosses failed to fill in the gap between their tipped wages and the state minimum wage. One nail salon worker said that she had a hard time providing for her son, and called on Governor Cuomo to expeditiously direct the Department of Labor to bump the sub-minimum wage up to parity. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

New Jersey Dumps Geo Group Stock

Following a report by Documented on a New Jersey pension fund buying $1 million in stock from the two largest private detention companies in the country, activists began pressuring the state to fully divest from its holdings in the private prison industry. After indicating earlier that it would sell the Geo Group stock in its large public worker pension fund, the state of New Jersey has now gone sold its $1.3 million in Geo Group stock. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said that the state had made the determination after reviewing the merits of the investment, “including consideration of environmental, social and governance issues.” NJ.com

Immigrants from South Asia celebrate diversity in New Jersey, Crux

Max & Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, Gotham Gazette

Fixing ‘politics syndrome’: How Assembly Woman Ari Espinal wants to focus on the Queens community, Pix 11

Peralta and Ramos talk immigration and Roosevelt Avenue in bilingual Queens Facebook Live forum, Queens Courier

National

It has been 148 days since Memphis-based journalist Manuel Durán was detained by immigration authorities after first being arrested by the Memphis Police Department while covering a protest. Documented will keep a running tally of how long Durán remains in detention.

The Federal Government Denies U.S. Citizens Passports

Though the practice isn’t fully new, the government has broadly expanded a practice of questioning the citizenship and the legitimacy of birth certificates for some U.S. citizens from the border area. Pointing to previous admissions by some midwives and others that they had occasionally taken money in exchange for providing U.S. birth documents to people that had actually been born in Mexico, the government has been asking a wide array of citizens, including former military personnel and even former Border Patrol agents, for proof of citizenship beyond birth certificates or passports, like baptismal records or medical records from their birth. In some cases, the government has even taken away U.S. passports from people attempting to re-enter the country, stranding them, or put people with U.S. citizenship into deportation proceedings. The Washington Post

Bureaucratic Uncertainty Puts Families at Risk

Even for people trying very hard to follow the letter of the law when it comes to immigration law, the bureaucracy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can make it difficult to successfully navigate a process. One family who adopted a young Peruvian girl found that it could not get her residency application through and was forced to wait in limbo until the intervention of a local congressman forced the issue. The backlog at all levels of the agency, not only in asylum cases, has made the system complex and expensive to navigate, as people hoping to successfully submit applications must file paperwork that might be returned months later with a request for more information or outright denied. The already opaque process has been made worse by directives like the so-called Muslim ban. Denverite

Nicaraguan TPS Holders Fear a Return to Nicaragua

Nicaraguans who hold temporary protected status were given the shortest advance notice of the termination of their status of any of the nations whose TPS designation is being discontinued, with only 12 months to either prepare to leave the United States, often after decades of legal residency, or to attempt to find another status that would allow them to continue living legally in the country. As the early January deadline approaches, some of the over 5,000 Nicaraguans who would be affected are expressing fear of returning as the situation there deteriorates. The Trump administration, as recently as July, imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan officials for human rights violation, prompting some lawmakers to question why the protected status of Nicaraguan nationals was being terminated. CNN

ICE Finds Ways Around Local Sanctuary Rules

The Sheriff of Oregon’s Multnomah County has refused to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials in almost any way, going so far as withholding public mugshots from his officers’ arrests to ICE. However, emails obtained by the Willamette Week show that the U.S. Marshals Service, which has access to some of the jail data that the sheriff refuses to provide to immigration authorities, is forwarding the data to ICE. This relationship illustrates one of the ways in which even sanctuary jurisdictions can have their protections circumvented when there is any sharing of information with a federal agency. The sheriff’s office is contractually obliged to share certain booking data with the Marshals, making it difficult to prevent data-sharing with ICE. Willamette Week

Asylum Claims Get Tougher for Venezuelans

Despite the perception that Venezuelans are one of the nationalities that has a relatively easy time winning asylum as their government becomes increasingly authoritarian and repressive, Venezuelans are having an increasingly difficult time winning their asylum bids. Even a Venezuelan Army deserter who joined the country’s opposition, and a political activist who claims his home was attacked by pro-government forces had their claims denied. Last year, deportations of Venezuelans were up 36 percent from their volume a year earlier, and the deportations this year are on pace to stay at that increased volume. ABC News

Many Transgender Asylum-Seekers Held In Special ICE Unit, KUNM

Bank of America freezing accounts of customers suspected of not being US citizens, The Sacramento Bee

The U.S. is back to being a nation of immigrants, Axios

Washington — White House intervenes on TPS, Congressman issues warning

During the decision-making process around ending TPS for Nicaraguans, the White House had a direct and arguably improper role. According to emails released as part of an ongoing lawsuit, then-Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that she had changed her mind about the timeframe to end that TPS designation after having a conversation with White House adviser Tom Bossert. Vox

Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego warned federal immigration officials that they couldn’t claim to be simply following orders if they were deporting Americans as part of the reported effort to question the birth certificates of some citizens along the border region. The Hill

A DHS policy analyst who had been identified as the author of a litany of anti-immigrant, fringe articles and was connected to far-right organizations has left government, become just the latest member of the executive branch to have their connections to the alt-right and anti-immigrant sentiments exposed by the press. Mother Jones

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