The ultimate fate of temporary protected status remains uncertain, as a federal judge blocked termination of the program as litigation winds its way through the court system. Still, the confusion surrounding TPS — which the Trump administration has opted to let expire for several countries — has already led to concrete repercussions for some TPS holders.
Delays in renewing work authorizations had been mounting for years, but have gotten noticeably worse in the last two. Just prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the federal government announced expiring permits were receiving automatic six-month extensions to account for late reissues. Nonetheless, private employers and even the state Motor Vehicle Commission in New Jersey have failed to accept the regulations.
One New Jersey TPS holder was fired from his longtime elevator operator job after failing to present his employer with a new EAD card (he was later reinstated). Several others were denied drivers licenses by confused bureaucratic staff. The confusion over the current status of the program only compounds misunderstandings.
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Buffalo’s Refugee Lifeline is at Risk
As Buffalo fought a decades-long losing battle against a declining population, it was buoyed by an influx of refugees that had been resettled by several local aid organizations. The over 12,000 refugees that arrived over the span of ten years helped stave off an economic downturn and stabilize the region. Now, the sharply declining numbers of refugees being accepted into the country threatens to reverse some of the local economy’s gains. Business owners in the region voice concerns over losing an important source of often exemplary employees, and landlords fear a drop in families looking to rent. Associated Press
Villavicencio Arrested Over Domestic Dispute
Pablo Villavicencio, the pizza delivery man who was arrested and transferred to ICE at the Fort Hamilton Army base, has been arrested on Long Island over an alleged domestic dispute with his wife, with whom he has two young daughters. He has now posted bail, but must stay away from his wife as the case proceeds. She alleges that Villavicencio had become angry ever since she told him she wanted a divorce. Whether the criminal charge sticks has no bearing on the question of the legality of his immigration detention by military members. He had been ordered released by a federal judge so he could pursue immigration applications submitted as a result of his wife’s U.S. citizenship. Newsday
Questions Remain Over Hudson County ICE Contract
Hudson County freeholders voted nearly two weeks ago to limit the county jail’s detention contract with ICE to December 2020, but there remains little clarity on how the process will actually play out. The resolution that the board actually passed is sparse, and does not lay out how the county wll prepare for or implement a phasing out of the immigrant detainees at the jail. Those procedural quirks will instead be handled as they arise. The possibility of ICE getting tired of a drawn-out process and simply transferring all of its detainees out of the jail at once remains. The Jersey Journal
Immigration Enforcement’s Tech Backbone
A new report by Mijente, the National Immigration Project and the Immigrant Defense Project sheds light on the technical infrastructure behind ICE’s targeting and removal operations. The involvement of Palantir, the data analytics company that creates systems for compiling and sifting through enormous amounts of data to find patterns and isolate targets, was already well-known. Less publicly noted is the crucial role that Amazon plays in the system, largely by providing Palantir servers. The massive e-commerce company has often aggressively pursued government contracts, especially for its cloud computing systems. It seems clear the surveillance tech that helps ICE track down immigrants couldn’t function without Amazon’s technology. MIT Technology Review
Speaking of Amazon, the Daily Beast has learned that the company pitched and held several meetings with ICE officials on the use of its real-time facial recognition software. The technology would allow surveillance of immigrants’ comings and goings, as the system would theoretically be able to recognize and track specific people. Several police departments around the country already use the Rekognition software, and civil liberties groups worry that not only does it facilitate mass and unchecked surveillance, but that the technology is often wrong in identifying people, potentially leading to false arrests. Daily Beast
Migrants Stranded in Tijuana
As they find themselves unable to cross into the United States to ultimately apply for asylum, migrants are crowding on the Tijuana side of the U.S.-Mexico border. Humanitarian resources are stretched thin near the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Many migrants that arrive hope to speedily cross over into the U.S. and do not understand they may have to wait to make an asylum claim. Shelters run by the Salvation Army and other organizations are at capacity, while migrants, including surging numbers of families with young children, continue to arrive. The presence of a migrant ‘caravan’ that’s still nearly 1,000 miles from the border from Honduras threatens to exacerbate the situation. The Los Angeles Times
Refugee Resettlement Agencies Feel the Pinch
Refugee resettlements continue to tank, having hit only half of the refugee cap in the last fiscal year and facing an even smaller cap this year. It’s led resettlement agencies to consider paring back or closing altogether as work dries up and federal funding grows uncertain. Some staff are being shifted to longer-term services for refugees that have already been resettled, and the State Department confirmed it is expecting to fund a smaller number of resettlement agencies than it has in the past. In the meantime, global crises have created the greatest number of international refugees in decades. The San Diego Union-Tribune
Immigration Rhetoric Potentially Leading to Birth Complications
A study by Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health examined premature birth rates in New York City and found the percentages of preterm births for Latinas had increased in the period between the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign and the inauguration of President Trump. The study suggests an explanation for the shift is the stress associated with being part of a targeted group; stress is known to be one of the causes for premature births. The correlation could mean that generalized anti-immigrant rhetoric could be affecting not only the current population, but future generations of Americans who are born preterm and have higher rates of infant mortality and illness. HuffPost
Recruits’ Loyalty Questioned Over Interest in Legal Process
In the latest twist in the saga of immigrant military recruits with specialized skills who had been promised citizenship, interest in lawsuits surrounding the program have been counted as signs of disloyalty in official security screenings. Ramped-up background checks and security requirements had forced many Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program members into a limbo where they had enlisted but could not report for basic training. Some had even been secretly discharged by the military. That led to lawsuits filed against the Department of Defense, which caused the Army to reverse the discharge of over 30 enlistees. Buzzfeed
Washington — Sessions continues power grab, dark and false accounts of the caravan
It’s become clear that the migrant ‘caravan’ in particular — a group of up to 7,000 people from mostly Honduras and Guatemala traveling north to claim asylum in the United States — as well as immigration in general is a key part of the midterm election strategy for Donald Trump and Republicans around the country.
Trump has already managed to utter an astounding amount of falsehoods about the caravan — which remains about 1,000 miles away from the border — including that it is full of criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” who are not in search of a better life, but rather seeking to infiltrate the United States. The claim was soon contradicted by one of the administration’s own counterterrorism officials. Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that Democrats are encouraging undocumented people to vote illegally in elections throughout the country. Bloomberg, CNN, The Washington Post
Among the supposed actions that Trump said he would take in reaction to the caravan is sending the military to close the border and prevent any of the asylum seekers from entering, It’s an assertion that seems rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of U.S. and international law, which explicitly allows individuals to petition for asylum at ports of entry. Nonetheless the rhetoric of the caravan as an ‘invasion’ has caught on. TIME
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now seeking to weigh in on immigration cases even before they have been ruled on by the Board of Immigration Appeals. That is typically the stage at which an attorney general could intervene by referring a BIA decision to himself and, in doing so, create official immigration policy. The practice of attorneys general weighing in on immigration cases was an anomaly before Sessions, but he has frequently used his authority to cast aside wide swaths of settled policy for the nation’s immigration courts. The ability to refer cases before they’ve even reached the BIA could essentially give Sessions the ability to dictate immigration policy at will. The Hill
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