The Bergen County Jail in New Jersey — which, along with a few other facilities in New York and New Jersey, holds immigrants detained by ICE in New York City — follows outdated detention standards set in 2000.
Notably, those mean detainees can’t have any physical contact with visitors who are not their attorneys. They can’t even hug loved ones — a change especially drastic for those who’ve previously been detained in less restrictive facilities.
The Bergen County Jail, like its counterpart in Hudson County, now holds more immigration detainees than local inmates awaiting criminal proceedings, and it has had a checkered history of detainee abuse. This old rule is making life in the facility even harder for detained immigrants, they say. WNYC
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Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Medallion-Backed Loans in Limbo
Melrose Credit Union held over a billion dollars in loans backed by New York City taxicab medallions for years. But the Queens-based credit union had a history of mismanagement, and when medallion values sunk, it found itself near insolvency and was taken over by the federal government. Now, the National Credit Union Administration has liquidated Melrose altogether, selling off many of its assets to Teachers Federal Credit Union. Specifically excluded from that sale, however, are the over $800 billion in taxi medallion-backed loans, which TFCU apparently refused to take. The loans are now the NCUA’s responsibility, and it intends to service them. These same loans were faulted over the summer for contributing to the suicides of drivers who couldn’t pay them back. Read more at documented
Bergen County Jail Head Called to Resign
Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, who also heads the county jail, is being called to resign by Governor Phil Murphy and other state and local officials. Audio emerged of him apparently saying racist things about black people and disparaging the attorney general of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, saying Grewal was only put in that post because of “the turban.” Grewal, who is Sikh, wears a turban. The remarks were apparently made at Murphy’s inauguration. WNYC
Potential Unaccompanied Child Sponsors Arrested by ICE
Senior ICE official Matthew Albence admitted in Congressional testimony Tuesday that immigration authorities have arrested 41 people who wanted to sponsor and host unaccompanied migrant minors held in shelter programs. The arrests came following a new policy of enhanced background checks for potential sponsors instituted earlier this year, which include fingerprinting and ICE immigration checks. They’re meant to prevent children from going to traffickers or other bad actors, as some have in the past, but immigration advocates worried they’ll be used for immigration enforcement. HHS now has over 13,000 children in custody, and the arrests of potential sponsors may discourage others from coming forward. CNN
CBP Vehicles and Officers Arrive in Florence-hit Areas
Before Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas, ICE and CBP announced they would not conduct regular immigration enforcement operations in affected areas areas. So many locals were confused and alarmed to see CBP vehicles in areas where recovery efforts were underway. FEMA can activate federal personnel from other agencies to assist in disaster management efforts, which in this case included personnel from agencies like the IRS, the FBI and CBP, though not ICE. This wasn’t widely publicized, leading to some immigrants to fear that they’d be apprehended. The News & Observer
Immigration Crackdown Increasingly Ensnares Those Without Criminal Record
ICE arrests have increased across the board, but arrests of people with no criminal convictions have grown at a rate far beyond the detention of those who had been convicted of a crime. Even among the those that did have convictions, most had been found guilty of minor offenses, including illegal entry or re-entry to the United States. Those were first and third most common charges deportees had been found guilty of. In many cases, immigrants enter ICE’s crosshairs as a result of brushes with the criminal system, and are put into removal proceedings even if their criminal cases are fully dismissed. Associated Press
Largest Drop in Mexican-Born Immigrants in a Decade
From 2016 to 2017, the United States saw 300,000 less Mexican immigrants than the year before — the largest yearly drop since 2007 to 2008. The figure, drawn from census data, includes documented and undocumented immigrants of Mexican birth, and appears to be an escalation of the long-term trend of greater numbers of Mexicans leaving the United States than those entering. The drop can be attributed the growth of economic opportunities in Mexico and the dangers of living as an undocumented immigrant in the midst of an intensifying immigration enforcement crackdown, among other things. HuffPost
Some Immigrants Summoned with False Court Dates
Attorneys and immigration advocates reported that immigrants are being sent summonses with bogus court dates that don’t actually appear on the docket. It’s an apparent attempt to get around a recent court ruling prohibiting the government from issuing summonses with no time and place of appearance. These fake summonses lead immigrants to unexpectedly show up for hearings that don’t exist, straining their attorneys and the system at large. Some attorneys and legal groups are considering legal action to stop this new practice. Pacific Standard
Washington — Funds moved around at HHS
In an effort to pay for the housing and care of a rapidly ballooning child migrant population, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to shuffle hundreds of millions of dollars out of other programs and into its Unaccompanied Alien Children fund, according to a letter sent by HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Of the up to $266 million that could be reallocated, about $80 million comes from other refugee programs, and the rest is coming from programs as varied as Head Start, HIV/AIDS research, and the National Cancer Institute. Yahoo News
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has wide latitude to dictate official immigration court policy from his perch atop the Justice Department, issued a decision this week that further restrains immigration judges from using judicial discretion. In another case, Sessions ruled that judges did not have “free-floating power” to end removal proceedings, apparently intending to make it harder for asylum seekers to remain out of detention. Sessions also referred one matter to himself, which could allow him to rule that asylum seekers who have passed credible fear interviews — the first step in an asylum case — are not entitled to bond hearings. BuzzFeed, KPBS
Newly released documents outlining official state department guidelines for enforcing the so-called travel ban clarify how travelers from a banned country can obtain waivers. The waivers were a big part of the government’s case defending itself from challenges to the ban, the current version of which was upheld by the Supreme Court. But the documents make clear that for individuals who would typically qualify for a waiver, actually getting one is almost impossible. Vox
Stephen Miller wins again with the lowering of the refugee cap to 30,000 for the next fiscal year. This year’s cap is also far higher than the number of refugees expected to be admitted. Miller prevailed over other more moderate voices in the administration, and has almost unparalleled authority on federal immigration regulations. NBC News
Congress may intervene on Flores, the decades-old settlement that governs aspects of family detention and how the government can treat children in its custody, which the federal government is currently attempting to pull out of. Some senators have expressed a desire to take up the issue legislatively, as the administration’s attempts to exit the agreement will likely get bogged down in court. Voice of America
Politico profiles Lee Francis Cissna, the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Cissna, a career government official far removed from the likes of Miller, has nonetheless emerged as one of the most effective immigration hawks in the administration. Politico