After four hours of emotional testimony both for and against the county government’s plan to discontinue a local ICE detention contract by December 2020, Hudson County legislators, as expected, moved to impose that expiration and create advisory groups that would examine conditions at the county jail where ICE detainees are held.
Anti-ICE activists came down on both sides of the issue, with some suggesting the contract was a moral stain on the county, and others pointing out that canceling the contract wouldn’t prevent ICE from detaining the immigrants anyway, and it was preferable to have them detained nearby.
Still others testified in favor of the contract on fiduciary grounds, saying the county should maintain revenues generated by the contract. Ultimately, the vote means the county will be looking for alternate sources of revenue and developing a plan to move the detainees out. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented
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Canadian Pension Fund Tangled In U.S. Immigration Detention Debate
A federal Canadian pension fund, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, plowed nearly $6 million into stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, the two largest U.S. private detention corporations. For a fund that manages $366.6 billion in assets on behalf of about 20 million Canadian retirees, the private detention investment is relatively meager. Still, it does represent a significant growth in the total value of private detention stocks held by the fund from last year to this year. Records show that from August 2017 to the same month in 2018, CPPIB’s holdings of Geo Group stock increased 13-fold, to shares worth $4.2 million. Members of Parliament and Canadian advocacy groups expressed concern over the holdings, saying that despite any growth prospects that the stock might individually have, buying into the U.S. for-profit detention system is simply sending the wrong message. Read more at Documented.
One Brooklyn Teen’s Asylum Ordeal Illustrates Pitfalls
The story of Melvin, a teenager from Guatemala who crossed the border seeking asylum in January, illustrates how seeking asylum as a minor has changed under the Trump administration. The Brooklyn-based teen had fled Guatemala after having been threatened by a gang. He had trouble finding a lawyer, as pro bono attorneys are stretched thin. And even though Melvin underwent and passed a credible fear interview, it was a lot harder to do so under the narrowed standards for who qualifies as a persecuted group eligible for asylum. Court backlogs also mean the case could drag on for years, with policies changing in the meantime. WNYC
Lack of English Language Education is a Growing Problem for Older Immigrants
The growth of New York’s immigrant senior citizen population has far outpaced the growth of native-born counterparts, and it’s only supposed to get bigger. But many older immigrants have spent decades living in heavily immigrant neighborhoods, or have arrived recently to be with family already living in New York, meaning they never learned to speak English. A ballooning population of older, non-English-speaking immigrants presents challenges for the city, as they might find it difficult to engage in everyday tasks. Government-funded English-learning adult education programs also typically measure success by whether graduates get jobs or increase earnings, meaning older immigrants are sometimes not sought out for or turned away from these programs. City Limits
Over 500 Immigrant Recruits Discharged From Military
According to a redacted list obtained by the Associated Press, the military discharged 502 recruits from the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program between July 2017 and July 2018. The program was set up a decade ago to help the military recruit immigrants with specialized language and technical skills and put them on a fast track to citizenship, but it got bogged down amid calls for increased vetting of recruits. The list obtained by the AP lists “refuse to enlist” as a reason for the cancellation of two thirds of the recruits’ contracts, but some have disputed that explanation. Associated Press
North Carolina Man Caught Up in Voter Fraud Effort
A longtime legal permanent resident who had gone through the entire naturalization process except the final oath of citizenship pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of voting as an alien. Alessandro Cannizzaro, 47-year-old Italy native who has lived in the U.S. since 1985, apparently did not realize he wasn’t fully naturalized, registered as a Republican, and voted in the 2016 election. He was one of several longtime residents swept up in an aggressive probe of noncitizen voting this year. The judge found Cannizzaro had not intentionally lied about his voting eligibility, but he could still face a removal proceeding. HuffPost
ICE Cutting Back on Post-Detention Planning for Arizona Asylum-Seekers
Asylum-seeking families released from ICE custody in Arizona will no longer receive ICE’s help in coordinating with local NGOs, communicating with family members, or ensuring they have somewhere to go when released. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the shift at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, saying increases in the volume of families claiming asylum at the Southwest border were overwhelming ICE’s resources. Dozens of families were released by ICE to a local church in recent days after detention facilities hit capacity. An agency spokesperson added that the advance planning was adding more days to the amount of time families were held in detention, potentially causing violations of the Flores settlement. CNN
Immigration Authorities Continue to Use Disputed Dental Assessments
Though they are explicitly barred by law from doing so, it appears that ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement — the department of Health and Human Services that handles unaccompanied minors — continue to use odontological assessments to determine the age of detainees whose age is in dispute. Given that the custody of adults and minors are handled by different departments entirely, it is crucial for the government to know if a particular person is over 18 or not. The science behind these evaluations is not settled, and its determinations are not certain. VICE News
Catholic Church to Issue ID Cards to Help Baltimore Undocumented Population
Following the lead of the Catholic Church in Texas, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has announced that it will begin issuing ID cards with names, addresses, and dates of birth, largely targeted at undocumented immigrants who may be fearful of interactions with the police or other authorities without possessing an identification. The cards will clearly indicate they are not government-issued, but the city of Baltimore and its police department intend to recognize the cards as official documentation. To obtain a card, applicants must be parish members for three months and provide other identity documents and a witness to vouch for their identity. Records used will not be kept. NPR
Washington — Public charge, Wilbur Ross, Pence and Central America
The so-called public charge rule, which would weigh use of a wide array of public benefits and assistance against applicants for immigration benefits, has finally been published in the Federal Register after months of draft leaks and false starts. This begins a 60-day comment period, in which activists say they’ll flood the Department of Homeland Security opposition to the plan.
If the rule were to go into effect as is, it would drastically reduce the number of immigrants eligible for residency or citizenship based on their usage of lawful public benefits, and likely prompt many to withdraw from using assistance like food aid, housing aid and certain healthcare coverage.
Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in court filings, backtracked on earlier comments he had made before lawmakers about the process of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. He admitted that he had been in touch with White House officials, including then-White House adviser Stephen Bannon, about the proposal.
The filings also continue to make clear that, despite claims that the Justice Department initially pushed for the question’s inclusion, the process was really sparked by Ross. The New York State Attorney General’s office is now seeking to depose Ross as part of a lawsuit challenging the legality of the question. NPR
Vice President Mike Pence told Presidents Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras and Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, and Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador that the United States would do more to bolster their economies if they were able to stem the flow of undocumented migrants leaving Central America for the U.S. Associated Press