The New York City Council is set to introduce a package of bills that would legalize the use of throttle-operated e-bikes around the city. It’s a longtime goal of advocates for the city’s largely immigrant corps of delivery cyclists who rely on self-propelling bikes to zip around and make dozens of deliveries over multi-hour shifts.
While pedal-assisted electric bikes are considered street legal in the city, the cheaper throttle-powered bikes are considered banned under state law and have been the subject of police crackdowns. Mayor Bill de Blasio has claimed, without evidence, that the bikes are dangerous and cause many traffic accidents.
Ironically, attorneys for electric scooter companies targeted at millennials identified a potential workaround of the prohibition in state law, clearing the path for the possible legalization of throttle-operated bikes. The New York Times
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1 Year After Sex Workers’s Death, Problems Remain
One year after 38-year-old sex worker Yang Song fell to her death in Queens while attempting to evade NYPD officers during a vice squad raid, dozens of fellow workers, allies and family members gathered near the spot where Song died to commemorate her and draw attention to the continuing struggles of the immigrant-dominated sex worker industry. Though arrests of “Asian-identified” sex workers on prostitution charges have recently declined after skyrocketing in the years leading up to 2016, advocates say it is still difficult for sex workers to seek help from authorities when they need it. They also contend that the official approach is still very much rooted in criminality, with sex workers either seen as helpless trafficking victims or criminals in their own right. A more effective system, advocates say, would involve providing resources and helping workers maintain a level of safety and stability. Read more at Documented.
Noncitizen New Yorkers Entitled to Jury Trials for All Deportable Offenses
The New York Court of Appeals — the state’s highest appellate court — overruled a lower court ruling on Tuesday in a victory for noncitizen New Yorkers. Noncitizens facing even misdemeanor charges now have the right to a full jury trial if a conviction on those non-serious charges would likely trigger a deportation. Prior to the ruling, class-B misdemeanors would likely be decided on bench trials where a judge could summarily rule on guilt. The Bronx District Attorney’s office said they disagreed with the ruling and were considering escalating it to the Supreme Court. Courthouse News
New Jersey Lawmakers Reach License Deal
After months of talks, state lawmakers in New Jersey are set to introduce a bill to the state legislature that would create a two-tiered state drivers license system. REAL ID-compliant identification is dedicated to residents who have a social security number, while “standard” identification could accommodate undocumented immigrants. The move would bring the state into compliance with the 2005 federal REAL ID Act, which allows states to issue IDs that can be used for federal purposes like air travel, while also letting immigrants and others without documents obtain a license and insurance. The North Jersey Record
Family Separations Continue Despite Court-Ordered Halt
After a massive public outcry following weeks of family separations under the so-called zero-tolerance policy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending the short-lived practice. A federal judge subsequently ordered the reunification of affected families. But this has not stopped Customs and Border Protection officials from continuing to separate asylum-seeking families at the border by flimsily claiming minors would be in danger if left in their parents’ custody, ProPublica reports. In one case, a father who had traveled from El Salvador had his four-year-old son taken from him based on CBP’s claims, without evidence, that he was a member of MS-13. ProPublica
Tornillo Staffers Working Without FBI Checks
Over 2,000 workers hired to look after minors held at Tornillo, Texas’ ‘tent city’ have not received fingerprint-based FBI background checks mandatory for Health and Human Services staffers working directly with children in the department’s care. The checks are meant to ensure those working with children do not have serious criminal records. The nonprofit contractor claimed it repeatedly contacted the government about the issue, but had not received access to government databases to run the checks. HHS’ Office of the Inspector General confirmed the issue and warned of substantial risks to children in a report. VICE News
Number of Undocumented People in Country Continues to Decline
A report using Census data and modeling estimates shows the number of undocumented immigrants in the country recently hit its lowest numbers in a decade, continuing a years-long pattern. There were an estimated 10.7 million undocumented people in the United States as of 2016, down from 2007’s peak of 12.2 million, largely due to the decline in unauthorized entries from Mexican nationals. Mexicans still make up the largest group of undocumented immigrants, but their share of the undocumented population has fallen. About two-thirds of undocumented people have lived in the country for over ten years, and nearly half live with a U.S.-born child. Pew Research
Autopsy of ICE Fatality Reveals Evidence of BeatingA private autopsy conducted on Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, a 33-year-old transgender woman who died in ICE custody in May, revealed evidence of physical abuse. Hernández Rodriguez traveled to the United States with an earlier caravan to claim asylum after what she described as attacks and a climate of fear resulting from her gender identity. She died from complications related to dehydration and an HIV infection while at a CoreCivic facility in New Mexico, the autopsy concluded. Her body also displayed signs of bruising consistent with blunt-force trauma, as well as wrist lacerations indicative of handcuff injuries. The Daily Beast
Tear Gas Not Harmless for Children
Doctors say tear gas could have particularly damaging and long-term effects on children. Still, CBP deployed of tear gas at the Tijuana border crossing against asylum-seekers protesting their prolonged wait to apply for asylum — and many protesters had children with them. Childrens’ weaker respiratory systems and smaller airways can harshen tear gas’ effects, and their lack of awareness of how to prevent breathing in the gas can mean they inhale more of it, potentially leading to permanent respiratory problems. Medical practitioners also worried that the experience of having been sprayed with the chemical agents could have a lasting psychological impact on the children. HuffPost
Washington — Trump vs. Mexico, Census trial over, Border Funding
That’s a wrap on arguments in the federal case brought by 18 attorneys general challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman jabbed at the federal government for having attempted to stop the trial on 14 separate occasions, including with a Supreme Court appeal just before closing arguments. He is expected to rule in the coming weeks on the question of whether the Commerce Department added the question to deliberately suppress response rates among immigrants and dilute the power of immigrant-heavy states. Courthouse News
In other court news, the federal government has pressed ahead with its attempts to tie grant funding, including public safety disbursements, to localities cooperating with federal immigration enforcement authorities, and has lost repeatedly in court. Judges in multiple cases around the country have already declared unconstitutional a part of immigration law prohibiting state and local governments from restricting information about an immigrant’s status from federal officials. The administration could soon end up getting the provision declared null throughout the country. The San Francisco Chronicle
Despite judicial victories on DACA, the program remains on thin ice, as courts have merely prevented the government from ending it. A federal judge in Texas is expected to rule the program unconstitutional in a multi-state lawsuit that challenges its legality, and the federal government seems eager to get the question before the Supreme Court. Pacific Standard
Images of CBP personnel launching tear gas into Mexico at protesting asylum-seekers has highlighted the difficulties incoming Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador will face in dealing with his temperamental neighbor to the north. AMLO, as the incoming president is popularly known, had campaigned as a leftist firebrand promising to stand up to Trump. But he will face practical questions, including how much to cooperate with U.S. border and immigration authorities in stemming the flow of asylum-seeking migrants to the U.S. The New York TimesTrump has used images of the chaos at the border — a chaos he certainly helped manufacture — to again push for funding for a border wall and threaten to close the border altogether (it’s not clear where he would find the legal authority to do that). He also managed to get some conciliatory words out of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. CNN