After leaving a car crash that left one man dead, a 43-year-old New Jersey man, who had been driving a van that overturned, was arrested. In advance of his criminal trial, Antelmo Velasques was ordered released by the judge in his case.
But unbeknownst to prosecutors, Velasques actually transferred to ICE, which said he had an outstanding order of removal and promptly deported him to his native Guatemala.
New Jersey prosecutors argue the state’s bail reform, which greatly limited the circumstances under which criminal defendants could be detained, unintentionally opened the door for undocumented people facing serious criminal charges to be deported before they could ever go to trial. NJ.com
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Fear, Uncertainty, and a Glimmer of Hope for Long Island’s El Salvadoran TPS Holders
The injunction preserving Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan issued by California federal Judge Edward Chen on Wednesday night brought hope and celebration to Long Island’s sizable Salvadoran community. Still, the nearly 15,000-strong community of Long Island TPS holders — many of whom have held the status since it was first instituted 17 years ago — are not out of the woods yet. TPS has been extended as long as the lawsuit challenging it is ongoing, but even if the plaintiffs win, it could be ended later through a different process. For those who’ve firmly set down roots in the United States, with kids and mortgages, each day is a mixture of continuing on with their lives and worrying about what could happen to their families in the future. Read more at Documented.
NYC Health Chief Worried About Immigration Rhetoric
In an interview, NYC Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz said he was concerned about the impact that anti-immigrant rhetoric could have on public health in the city, as immigrant residents may assume seeking care could cause them to be denied residency or think ICE is monitoring hospitals. Though the New York City health system treats anyone who needs treatment regardless of ability to pay and without inquiring about immigration status, Dr. Katz believed that the climate of fear among immigrants — including those in the country legally — could lead some to ignore communicable diseases that might end up affecting everyone. WBGO
In a separate discussion with community and ethnic media, Dr. Katz he would burn medical records before turning them over to ICE if it came to that. The Manhattan Times
ICE Still Wants to Deport Pablo Villavicencio
As was expected, attorneys with the Southern District of New York, who are representing the government in the ongoing litigation, have signaled they’ll appeal the court ruling that resulted in Pablo Villavicencio being released from detention in August. The pizza delivery man and father of two was arrested and turned over to ICE while delivering food to the Fort Hamilton Army base. Judge Paul Crotty of the Second Circuit determined Villavicencio had a statutory right to complete pending immigration applications, that he could not be deported in the near future, and that it was improper for the government to detain him. El Diario (Spanish language)
Baltimore Immigration Court in Disarray
A leaked internal review of Baltimore’s immigration court — the only such court in Maryland — paints a picture of a severely understaffed and downright defunct facility. The DOJ-commissioned report was conducted between 2014 and 2017, and describes piles of documents sitting in hallways with no staff to properly file them and copiers that were broken for days at a time. There were often no Spanish speakers on staff despite 84 percent of cases involving respondents who only spoke Spanish. The number of immigration judges fluctuated between four and five, about half the number at other courts with comparable caseloads. VICE
Marriage Interview Arrest Practice Spreads to Florida
As litigation over the arrests of U.S. citizens’ immigrant spouses at marriage interviews progresses in Massachusetts, cases have begun cropping up in Florida. The arrests happen as immigrants, typically undocumented ones, are attempting to prove the legitimacy of their marriages to citizens, which would entitle them to receive permanent residency if successful. One attorney said she had seen at least four such cases in the Miami area in the last month alone. Documents filed in Massachusetts lawsuits show United States Citizenship and Immigration Services was communicating with ICE in order to coordinate these arrests, a practice perhaps taking place in Florida as well. CNN
California Sanctuary Battle Continues
A resolution in the California Supreme Court seems imminent as some municipalities continue to fight to opt out of statewide sanctuary provisions. The state and localities are squabbling over The California Values Act, which constricts local government officials’ and law enforcement officers’ ability to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Last week, Orange County Superior Court Judge James Crandall ruled California law permitted the charter city of Huntington Beach could form its own laws on local matters, and was thus exempt from the statewide sanctuary provisions. It’s not clear yet whether the decision will render other cities’ similar lawsuits moot. Pacific Standard
ICE Union Calls for State, Federal Investigations Into Portland Mayor
The National ICE Council, the union that represents ICE employees, has sent letters to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for investigations into Portland Mayor Todd Wheeler. The ICE Council accuses Wheeler of committing official misconduct while allowing protesters to harass and abuse ICE employees during weeks of protest outside a local ICE facility. During the summer protests, there were reports of harassment targeted not only at ICE officials, but at local food cart vendors and reporters. Nonetheless, no one was reported hurt, and the mayor has said he was simply allowing demonstrators to exercise their First Amendment rights. The Portland Tribune
Divestment Extends to Tech Companies in California
Nationwide efforts to force cities cut ties with immigration enforcers have reached tech companies, which provide backend infrastructure to federal immigration agencies in the Bay Area. Richmond, California adopted an ordinance in June to prohibit it from investing or contracting with companies providing “data broker” or “extreme vetting” services to ICE unless there is no alternative. Oakland and Berkeley are considering the move, with other cities expected to join in in the coming months. Big tech companies such as Amazon and Salesforce have recently faced protests over data management and surveillance tech provided to ICE and CBP. The Mercury News
Washington — TPS Injunction, Refugee Slashes, Citizenship Surges
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued an injunction blocking the termination of Temporary Protected Status for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador on Wednesday night, temporarily securing the legal status of some 300,000 people for whom it was set to expire.
The ruling provided another example of how, despite the federal government’s technical ability to take certain steps when it comes to immigration policy and regulations, those moves can challenged on the basis of motivations. In this case, Chen ruled President Trump harbored animus against non-white, non-European immigrants, and this racism was part of the decision-making process in the TPS decision.
The injunction will last as long as the case it sprung out of, Ramos v. Nielsen, is active. However, it certainly points to Chen eventually ruling against the government altogether, at which point the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated to the Supreme Court, would likely tilt the court toward siding with the government. Vox, Associated Press
The United States did not resettle even enough refugees to meet its heavily reduced cap for the last fiscal year. It’s taken in only 22,491 refugees in the entirety of fiscal 2018, far less than the 45,000 limit that had been set. Less than 500 refugees overall were resettled from the six countries impacted by the second iteration of the travel ban. CNN
Naturalizations, however, were at their highest number since 2013, reaching 754,700 in the latest fiscal year. USCIS has expanded staff and opened new centers to deal with surging applications after a drop in fiscal 2017. The numbers come in the midst of increased vetting and obstacles to reaching citizenship for more applicants. The Washington Post
Another little-noticed USCIS policy was published on the Federal Register, this time dealing with fee waivers for immigration benefits applications. Applications tendered with USCIS can carry fees in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, for which lower-income immigrants can obtain waivers. But USCIS now wants to limit waivers to those at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line or with particular financial hardships. Use of means-tested public benefits can currently prove an applicant needs a waiver, but that option would be eliminated, potentially limiting immigrants’ ability to secure waivers and afford applications for permanent residency. United Press International