Chances are growing that New York’s undocumented immigrants will see a new law allowing them to receive a driver’s license now that Democrats control all the levers of state government.
Living without a driver’s license is hard enough for immigrants in suburbs and rural areas where public transportation is limited. But allowing undocumented immigrants to hold a state driver license would also help protect them against deportation proceedings, which have often been triggered when immigrants are pulled over without a valid license.
One bill, the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, is expected to be presented again in 2019. A Democratic-held legislature is very likely to vote the bill through, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legal adviser has indicated the governor will sign off if it lands on his desk. Voices of New York
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Turnout Skyrockets in NYC’s Immigrant-Heavy Areas
In an election where they had been co-opted as a divisive point of contention, immigrants in New York City made their voices heard. In Jackson Heights, Queens, where 26 percent of the population is composed of naturalized citizens, 37 percent of enrolled voters cast their ballots for the governor’s race in the most recent election. Just 20 percent showed up for 2014’s midterms. A nearby district saw registered voters increase by 88 percent from 2014, and voter turnout increased from 18 percent to 34 percent. The district also elected the first Dreamer to the New York State Assembly. These spikes in voter participation are likely thanks to community-based organizations who mobilized locals to go to the polls. Read more at Documented.
New Jersey Police Turning More Undocumented Immigrants to ICE
New data from New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, shows that law enforcement officers in New Jersey are turning an increasing number of undocumented immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is entitled to ask local law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours to allow officers time to take them into custody. But local police can decline to do so. Data drawn from those ICE detainer requests shows that requests rose 87.5 percent in 2017. Law enforcement in New Jersey agreed to 63 percent of the requests, 9 percent more than the national total of 54 percent. WNYC
American Citizens Increasingly Seeking Asylum in Canada
In 2017, 2550 U.S. citizens applied for asylum in Canada. That makes them the third largest applicant group after Haiti and Nigeria, and marks a sixfold increase from 2016. The majority of applications were from minors whose parents are not American citizens. In these cases, the minors claimed their parents were being persecuted in their country of origin. About 85 percent of those minors’ parents came from Haiti, meaning they likely accompany Haitian applicants who are fleeing the U.S. amid concerns the Trump administration will end their Temporary Protected Status designations. CNN
How Immigrant Tech Entrepreneurs Help the American Economy
Immigrants who’ve started technology companies in the U.S. have created, on average, 1,200 jobs per company. And most of those jobs are in America. Per a new study from the National Foundation for American Policy, 55 percent of American startup companies worth $1 billion or more have at least one immigrant founder. Some of the most famous immigrant entrepreneurs include Garrett Camp, the founder of Uber, and Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal. Many immigrants, including Musk, were able to start their own companies thanks to an H-1B visa or family-based sponsor. Meanwhile, President Trump has proposed limiting these visas. Forbes
Thousands of Immigrants Spend Years in Detention — Even Without a Criminal Record
All immigration processes are currently dragging on longer than in years past. But new data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse shows the situation gets much worse when immigrants fight have a criminal record, no matter how severe. Recently, several detained immigrants in California spent more than three years detained, even after serving their criminal sentence, per TRAC data. The majority of America’s 44,000 detained immigrants don’t have previous criminal record, and those who do commonly face illegal entry, DUI and assault charges. Their elongated stays likely stem from their inability to access bond hearings. The State Journal-Register
Number of Children in Detention Reaches Record High
Exactly 14,056 children are being held in Health and Human Services detention facilities, a government source told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. This number surpasses the total calculated two months ago, even after President Donald Trump announced he would stop the zero tolerance policy, which caused thousands of children to be detained separately from their families. This high number likely comes because minors are waiting for an appropriate adult to become their sponsor. But the sponsorship process has slowed after ICE started running background checks and collecting fingerprints for possible sponsors. ICE admitted in September it was using this information to arrest adults. San Francisco Chronicle
Democratic Leaders Challenge Private Immigration Center Operators
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is leading a group of progressive senators including Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D- N.J.), in questioning privately owned companies on the conditions they maintain for detained immigrants. The senators wrote a letter specifically addressed to CoreCivic, The GEO Group and The Nakamoto Group — the three biggest companies who profit off immigration detention. The letter claims facilities owned by GEO Group and CoreCivic were lacking adequate medical treatment, had moldy food and did not provide basic personal care items. The Nakamoto Group is contracted to inspect detention centers, and politicians said its inspectors were much less likely to find deficiencies than federal inspectors. The Hill
Washington — Immigration Officials Grapple With Caravan’s Approach
As thousands of troops await the arrival of the migrant caravan on the Southern Border, immigration officials met last week to discuss the future of the asylum seekers slowly marching toward the border.
During the meeting, officials from Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection and ICE discussed the possibility of sending asylum seekers who are crossing the southern border back to Mexico while their cases are being processed in the United States. That would likely force them to wait months if not years for their cases to be worked out.
In the meantime, President Trump has scarcely mentioned the caravan since the midterm elections, raising questions that he was using the caravan as a political strategy to stoke fear and mobilize Republicans. That streak of silence ended Sunday, when Trump tweeted that “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it,” adding that the people in the caravan “are causing crime and big problems in Mexico” and telling them to “go home.” Mexican cities have largely welcomed the caravan, providing shelters throughout their long journey from Honduras. BuzzFeed News, The Houston Chronicle