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Early Arrival: Video Trials Could Impact Immigration Court Outcomes

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Conman Targets Immigrants — Sessions Warns New Judges Against “Fake Claims” — Texas Tent Shelter to be Expanded

When Enrique had his case heard a Varick Street immigration court, some of his friends came to show support. But Enrique couldn’t quite see them. He is one of the hundreds of immigrants who have their cases heard in immigration court through a video call.

The lower Manhattan court rolled out video cases after a large protest in front of the court in late June. An immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesman said “this decision was made in order to ensure the safety of ICE employees, the court, the public and the detainees.”

But it also could affect immigrants’ case outcomes, attorneys say. It makes it harder for defendants to find a lawyer and communicate with the attorneys defending them. WNYC

Good morning, and welcome to Early Arrival. Today’s edition is brought to you by Mazin Sidahmed and Irene Spezzamonte, we’re 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 mazin.sidahmed@documentedny.com or irene.spezzamonte@documentedny.com.

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Longtime Conman Targets Immigrants With Visa Scam

Schoen LaBombard, a former bobsled driver turned extortionist, allegedly posed as a “commander” in the State Department and convinced at least 14 people that he could use his connections to fast track visas. He acquired $23,000 from them in the process, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance says. Today’s uncertain times likely fueled migrants’ susceptibly to the frauds. Read more at Documented.

Video Trials Could Impact Immigration Court Outcomes

When Enrique had his case heard a Varick Street immigration court, some of his friends came to show support. But Enrique couldn’t quite see them. He is one of the hundreds of immigrants who have their cases heard in immigration court through a video call. The lower Manhattan court rolled out video cases after a large protest in front of the court in late June. But it also could hurt immigrants’ chances of finding a lawyer and how well those lawyers communicate with their clients. WNYC

Investigation Finds Shoddy Treatment of Home Care Employees

The New York City Department of Consumer affairs conducted a year-long investigation into 42 home care agencies in the city and found they were not giving their workers appropriate time off and pay for extra time. The agencies investigated employ about 30 percent of the total of caregivers in the city, many of whom are undocumented immigrants. Voices of New York

Prominent Immigrant Åctivist Arrested Upstate [Opinion]

Attica police pulled over an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala for speeding. After failing to present a driver license, he was taken into a detention facility in Batavia where he is now facing deportation. Carlos Cardona Fuentes has lived in the United States for more than 10 years and is vice president of independent farmworks group Alianza Agricola. He was driving home to celebrate his daughter’s third birthday, but was detained “all because New York, which is supposed to be a state that’s friendly to immigrants, would not grant me a driver’s license.” Fuentes wrote in an op-ed. New York Daily News

Under Trump, Immigrants Have it Bad — Black Immigrants Even Worse. N.J can help, Star Ledger [Opinion]

Stay up to date on our latest work and relevant immigration news by following the Documented Twitter and Facebook.


Sessions Warns New Judges Against “Fake Claims”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparked complaints Monday with his comments at a speech to 44 newly hired immigration judges. “No great and prosperous nation can have both a generous welfare system and great prosperity and open borders,” Sessions said during his speech. Sessions also warned the new judges not to rule with sympathy and to be aware of “fake claims” that could create an even larger immigration case backlog, apparently referring to an asylum system that has “been abused for years.” BuzzFeed News, CNN

Former Shelter Worker Convicted of Child Abuse

A former employee at a Arizona shelter was convicted of molesting seven unaccompanied minors, age 15 to 17, who were in government custody. Levian Pacheco was found guilty of several counts of abusive sexual contact and sexual abuse over the course of 11 months. His victims were being held at a Southwest Keys Facility in Arizona. The Southwest Key shelters housed dozens of children separated from their parents under the zero tolerance policy, though Pacheco’s crimes occurred before the policy went into effect. Arizona Republic

WaPo: Border Arrests Surge in August

The numbers of migrant families crossing the border illegally increased in August, a Trump administration official and Border Patrol agents in South Texas told The Washington Post. The families, most of them coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, are seeking asylum as they flee highly violent countries. This influx is the opposite of what the Trump administration hoped for when implementing “zero tolerance” and other harsh border security policies. The Washington Post

Reunited Families Begin New Life

Finally together after being split at the border, migrant families are starting new lives across the U.S. The New York Times spoken with Lillian Taracena and her two children from Guatemala who are now living in Oregon. Taracena, 29, immigrated to the U.S. without proper documentation in June, and is now fighting for asylum as her children begin school. The New York Times.

Parents Still Separated Due to Accusations of MS-13 Ties

Some parents remain separated from their children due to so-called “red flags,” such as prior arrests or a history of child abuse. The Washington Post found that some still-split parents received red flags due to false accusations of ties to MS-13 and other gangs. Carlos Castillo Estrada, who is detained in Port Isabel Detention Center, said he was a victim of MS-13 — not a member. So he was surprised when a social worker told him he was barred from seeing his son as the government believed he was a member of the 18th Street gang. The Washington Post

USCIS Can Now Deny Visas With No Notice to the Applicants

A new policy starting Tuesday will allow immigration officers to deny visa or green card petitions without giving applicants a chance to fix mistakes or add further evidence. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration officers were previously ordered to tell applicants to fix application mistakes, but now can deny the application outright. This could force people into deportation proceedings as they try to renew visas. ProPublica.

Parenting After Being Deported [Podcast]

In 2017, Idalia, a mother of three from New England, was deported to Honduras after she had lived in the United States for two decades. More than a year later, her three children are still adjusting to life without their mother while worrying their father will be deported, too. The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman and Micah Hauser spent time with her children. Idalia tries to be a present mother and wife through video calls from Honduras, but her children still struggle to get by. The New Yorker

A West Georgia Refuge for Families of Detainees [In-Depth]

Along Georgia’s western border with Alabama, a hospitality center has been welcoming immigration detainees’ families for eight years. El Rifugio started to offer hospitality to those visiting loved ones at the Stuart Detention Center, the largest ICE detention center in the United States. The center is located a mile away from Stuart, and has been especially vital  for mothers with young children who visit detainees. The Nation

Deaf Immigrant Man Ordered Deported By ICE

A deaf immigrant from Detroit with cognitive disabilities is facing deportation after he has been living in the United States for more than 30 years. Nigeria-born Francis Anwana came to the states in 1987 under a student visa, but remained in the country while not enrolled in school, making him eligible for deportation. Following a public outcry, ICE said Anwana could “make arrangements to depart the U.S. voluntarily.” Detroit Free Press

Immigrant Wins Lawsuit Against Alaska Police

A Peruvian immigrant, who had been detained for over a year, won a lawsuit against the Palmer Police department in Alaska, receiving a written apology and a $50,000 settlement from the department. Alex Caceda-Mantilla, then 38, was working at a bar when three men attacked a bartender and he defended her. When police arrived, they learned of an immigration detainer warrant filed against Caceda and arrested him. Anchorage Daily News

Iraqi Refugee Challenging 16-month ICE Detention Without Charges, Star Tribune

Here’s What Happened to the 99 Immigrant Children Separated From Their Parents and Sent to Chicago, ProPublic Illinois

America’s System for Resettling Refugees Is Collapsing, The Atlantic

‘Landmark’ Wage Theft Conviction Overturned by Texas Appeals Court, Texas Observer

Washington – Texas Tent Shelter to be Expanded

A tent shelter in Texas for children separated at the border with Mexico will broaden its capacity from 1,200 beds to up to 3,800, the U.S. government announced Tuesday.

The shelter was originally opened with 360 beds while the administration’s zero tolerance policy was in effect. An agency spokeswoman said the family separation policy was not the driving force behind the expansion, and 1,400 beds will be placed on ‘reserve status.’

The expansion reflects a recent jump in the number of people crossing the border. Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the facility, has taken a lot more children into its custody. AP News, The Washington Post

Rabbi Slams Stephen Miller

Neil Comess-Daniels, Stephen Miller’s childhood rabbi, publicly criticized Miller during his Rosh Hashanah sermon. Miller, who is Trump’s special adviser, was the main mind behind the zero-tolerance policy that separated families at the border. Daniels said that these actions made it clear to him that Miller “didn’t get the Jewish message” and that he should be acknowledge his wrongdoing. The Guardian

Killing an Executive Order Is Harder Than You Think, Mother Jones

Perdue: USDA Will Look Into Immigrants Dropping From WIC, Politico

Trump Called Haiti a ‘sh–hole’ While Campaigning in Miami, Woodward’s Book Says, Miami Herald

Mazin Sidahmed

Mazin Sidahmed is the co-executive director of Documented. He previously worked for the Guardian US in New York. He started his career writing for The Daily Star in Beirut and he also contributed to Politico New York.




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