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Early Arrival: NYC Immigration Courts Have Country’s Worst Backlog

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: ICE Detainees May Be Scattered —  Migrant Children Shipped to Desert Camp — Trump Administration Unprepared for Family Separation

New York City immigrant courts had 99,919 pending cases at the end of August, giving them the biggest backlog of any other court in the country. The number is nearly double the amount of pending cases in 2014 (54,964), according to new data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has proposed instituting quotas to force judges to work through cases faster. But judges have challenged the solution, saying it affects their independence.

This backlog can sometime mean a longer time in detention. For example, a Jamaican woman who says she was tortured and raped by her uncle has been detained in Hudson County, New Jersey for nearly a year and a half, despite a judge finding her credible. The New York Daily News

Good morning, and welcome to Early Arrival. I’m Max Siegelbaum, 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 max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com or on Twitter.

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ICE Detainees May Be Scattered As Hudson County Weighs Canceling Contract

With about 600 ICE detainees as of late last year, more detained New York and New Jersey immigrants end up in Hudson CountyCorrectional Facility than anywhere else. The facility, though, has been plagued by reports that they’re treated poorly. Activists sued to dismantle the jail’s ICE contract, and on Sept. 6, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced that the county would vote to end its contract with ICE by 2020 and possibly sooner. While the detainees’ fates haven’t been decided yet, two counties in California followed a similar path to Hudson. There, immigrants were scattered to other facilities in and outside the state. New York immigration advocates and attorneys fear the detainees might befall a similar fate if Hudson shuts the door on them. Read more at Documented. This story was also published with WNYC.

Farmworkers Fired After ICE Audit

The owners of Gebarten Acres Farm, in upstate New York, fired 17 of their workers after an ICE attorney visited the dairy farm for an audit of the farmworkers citizenship. Farms like Gebarten Acres are increasingly facing audits of their staff’s citizenship this year, local authorities said. That’s in line with former ICE director Thomas Homan’s promise of more workplace audits when he lead ICE. These audits check that a company’s staff have completed the necessary I-9 forms, which verify their work authorization. Gebarten’s workers found jobs at other farms and outside the state. Read more at Documented.

Refugee Population Admitted to NY and NJ Continues to Plummet

The number of refugees admitted in New York and New Jersey was down to just 59 percent last fiscal year, a representation of low acceptance rates under the Trump administration. Just a handful of Iraqis and Syrians were resettled in New York and New Jersey last year, compared to hundreds resettled in the year before. Likewise, 515 Somalis arrived in New York in 2017, while in 2018, just two came to the state. In the same time period, the number of Russian and Moldovan refugees grew significantly. WNYC

Suicides Get Taxi Drivers Talking: ‘I’m Going to Be One of Them,’ The New York Times  

Hotline for Immigrants Worried About ‘Public Charge’ Rule. El Diario via Voices of NY

Investigating the Investigators of Long Island’s MS-13 Victims, WNYC


Hundreds of Migrant Children Shipped to Texas Desert Camp

Over the past few weeks, migrant children have been woken up in the middle of the night and quietly sent cross-country to a tent city in the West Texas desert. These children had been housed in private foster homes or shelters and had access to education and legal care. But now, they sleep in bunks, are separated by gender and have no school. The federal government is now dealing with the largest population of immigrant minors it has ever faced: 13,000. It’s set up the tent city in Tornillo, Texas to address the problem, and is housing up to 3,800 children there. The New York Times

Violations Found in Detention Center During Surprise Inspection

Homeland Security auditors found several problems in a surprise inspection of a privately owned detention center in Adelanto, California in May. In a report released Tuesday, inspectors detailed violations of federal detention standards, including finding 15 “nooses” in 20 of the men’s cells. They also found detainees losing teeth from lack of dental care and a disabled inmate stranded in a wheelchair for over a week. Adelanto Detention Center is run by GEO Group, a private company, and is also the site of an immigration court. ICE has ordered a full inspection and review of Adelanto that will begin this month. The Washington Post.

Judge Supports American Family Border Abuse Claim

An American family detained at the U.S.-Canada border received some vindication from a federal judge. Abdisalam Wilwai driving home to Minnesota from Canada with his wife and four children when CBP officers swarmed his car, guns drawn, at the Portal, North Dakota border station. They forced Wilwai out of the car, handcuffed him and detained him for nearly 11 hours because his name appeared on a terrorist watch list. Wilwai sued the government, and the judge in the case wrote that the allegations “could lead a reasonable factfinder to determine that Plaintiffs’ detention was unreasonable.” ACLU

Immigrants Pay More in Health Insurance than Native-Born Americans

A new report reveals immigrants pay an average of $1,123 more in health insurance premiums than insurers spend on their health care, an inequality totalling $24.7 billion from 2008 to 2014. This is the opposite for native-born Americans, who pay an average of $163 less than their insurers. The report was published in the journal Health Affairs, and makes the argument that immigrants are subsidizing healthcare for American citizens. This discrepancy is partially due to the immigrants’ lower cost of care and some people’s reluctance to seek out healthcare. Language barriers also proved to be an issue. Splinter

Judge Quota Begins

October 1 was the first day of a new policy that has already caused uproar among immigration judges. All judges now have to complete 700 removal cases in the next year or face sanctions, which could hurt their career prospects. The quotas were instituted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in attempt to chip away at the massive national backlog of immigration cases, which has notoriously ballooned under his watch. Immigration judges have fired back, saying the quotas are an attack on their independence. Immigration Impact

USCIS is Suffocating the H-1B Program: F-1 Cap Gap Students in Limbo – Cora-Ann V. Pestaina, LexisNexis Legal Newsroom

American Girl: A Story of Immigration, Fear and Fortitude, The Washington Post

Gender-Reveal Party Accident Leaves Border Agent Bearing Guilt For Wildfire, NPR

Washington — Report: Trump Administration Was Unprepared for Family Separation

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General has catalogued many administration mistakes both during and after the three months when zero tolerance was active in a new report released Monday. The agency also sharply criticized the Trump administration for its lack of preparation to handle the policy’s aftermath.

The OIG found DHS’ computer systems could have tracked family members who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, contrary to what the administration implied. The agency also reportedly held the children separated from their parents far past legal limits. Agents gave inconsistent information to migrants arriving at the border, who did not understand they would be separated from their children, the report says.

Part of this confusion was caused by the lack of a way to share information between agencies, a problem compounded by the fact that the zero-tolerance policy often involved several different agencies at once.  The New York Times

Back in the present day, the Trump administration has begun to deny visas to same-sex partners of United Nations employees and foreign diplomats, according to a report from Foreign Policy. The State Department started granting visas to same-sex yet unmarried partners in 2009, but did not do the same for heterosexual partnerships. Now, the U.S. will extend diplomatic visas only to married spouses of U.S. diplomats. Unmarried people currently on those visas will now have 30 days to get married or leave the country. Foreign Policy

USCIS Begins Implementing Plan to Issue More Deportation Notices, Immigration Impact

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