All three candidates for Queens District Attorney have now agreed to support policies that would take into consideration how convictions would affect immigration status when charging and negotiating plea deals with noncitizens. Unlike his counterpart in Brooklyn, retiring Queens D.A. Richard Brown has not instituted or even explored a policy to ameliorate the potentially dire consequences of certain criminal convictions for documented and undocumented immigrants alike.
City Councilman Rory Lancman was the first to announce his candidacy for the soon-to-be-open seat, and included an endorsement of the immigration-conscious charging practices as part of his reform agenda for the office. Following Documented’s publication of an article on the subject, retired judge Gregory Lasak said he also supported the policy.
Now, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who announced her candidacy last week, has confirmed to the Queens Daily Eagle that she is also open to the idea of reviewing charges on the basis of whether they would affect immigration status. The three candidates’ statements make it likely that the office will adopt such a policy regardless of who wins the election next year.
Read more at Queens Daily Eagle.
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Cuomo Wants Resettlement Agencies to Stay Open
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to keep all four existing refugee resettlement agencies in Buffalo open in the face of proposed budget cuts to refugee resettlement programs and a lowered cap on refugee admissions for the fiscal year. Cuomo wrote that four organizations apparently on the chopping block have a separate focus, but also work jointly to serve the over 6,000 refugees who’ve arrived in Buffalo in the past five years. There agencies and their network of community volunteers prove “the depth of support for refugee welcome in Buffalo,” Cuomo wrote. Read the letter.
New Jersey Students Navigate Newly Available State Tuition Aid
After New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into law in May of this year, the state became the tenth in the nation to offer both in-state tuition and state financial aid to undocumented students graduating from its high schools. The initial rollout was a little rocky, as the state agency handling the program wanted it running immediately to benefit graduating high schoolers, leading to confusion among school counselors and a less-than-intuitive application interface. Still, the program launched, and over 600 undocumented students received tuition assistance. WNYC
African Community Leaders Gather in Plea for Missing Man
The family of Ibrahim Diallo made an impassioned plea for information on the missing man’s whereabouts at a press conference in the Bronx on Tuesday. His mother, Hawa Diallo, and sister, Fatima Diallo, spoke through tears as they called for any information about their missing relative. The 28-year old recently moved to Atlanta where he was studying and driving an Uber. According to his family, he called his mother Friday evening and told her he was driving to the Bronx to visit her. They received a missed call from him overnight but have not heard with him since. The family filed a missing persons report with the Atlanta Police Department. Several members of the local African community came out in support of the Diallo family, who are of Guinean and Mauritanian origin. Mazin Sidahmed for Documented
Despite Administration’s Claims, Asylum Requests Increase at Ports of Entry
Statistics released by Customs and Border Protection this week counter the Trump administration’s claims that asylum-seekers are trying enter to the U.S. illegally. The share of border crossers who petitioned for asylum when caught grew from 13 to just 14 percent of all border crossers between 2017 to 2018, while the share of those arriving at legal ports of entry without documentation who then claimed asylum grew from 16 to 31 percent. In the western part of the border especially, about half of all asylum-seekers are arriving at ports of entry, and a CBP official acknowledged the number would likely be higher if border officers weren’t turning people away. Vox
Another 170 Would-Be Child Sponsors Arrested by ICE
Immigration Authorities have arrested 170 more people who came forward to sponsor undocumented migrant children currently in Department of Health and Human Services custody between July and November of this year. Background checks on potential sponsors were not used for immigration enforcement until this spring, when ICE began fingerprinting and running background checks on would-be sponsors. This was ostensibly to safeguard children who would be placed in sponsors’ care, but 109 of those arrested had no criminal record. The sudden threat of deportation appears to have discouraged undocumented sponsors, and the number of children in government custody has hit a record high of over 14,700. The San Francisco Chronicle
ICE Employment Audits and Raids Mostly Target Workers
While ICE leadership at the beginning of the Trump administration had pledged to vigorously pursue both employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants and the workers themselves, data obtained by USA Today shows the crackdown mostly hit undocumented employees. The 113 managers who were charged with criminal violations in fiscal year 2018 represented an 82 percent increase over the previous year, but the 666 workers charged represented a spike of 812 percent. Meanwhile, the 121 federal indictments and convictions of managers in FY 2018 were a 10-year low for the agency. Audits of company workforces increased massively, from 1,360 in 2017 to 5,981 in 2018. USA Today
Border Officials Continue to Turn Away Asylum-Seeking Minors
Both U.S. and Mexican border and immigration officials have continued to turn back mostly Central American minors who have attempted to claim asylum. The children are being told that port-of-entry processing is at capacity, are physically blocked from crossing by American border officials and then sometimes deported by Mexican immigration officials, VICE reports. Entering the country as a minor makes it much more likely they would successfully win asylum, but many are nearing their 18th birthdays and diminished legal protections that come with them. VICE News
Emails Show GEO Group Officials Coordinating With ICE
Emails between ICE personnel and GEO Group — one of the country’s largest private prison operators that holds about a third of ICE detainees — show them discussing legal strategy following California’s passage of a bill that curtailed private prisons from operating freely in the state. Adam Hasner, the former majority leader of the Florida House of Representatives and now an executive with GEO Group, forwarded the company’s analysis of the California bill to officials at ICE. Those officials then forwarded it to higher-level officials at the Department of Homeland Security. Multiple former high-ranking ICE officials have gone on to work for GEO Group, and the private corporation is known to have a cozy relationship with the federal agency. The Miami New Times
Washington — Oval Office Meeting, CBP Defends Tear Gas, Public Charge
Last night, the comment period closed for the controversial proposed ‘public charge’ rule, which if enacted would consider the use of noncash public benefits like housing and food aid as evidence that a potential immigration benefits recipient was likely to become dependent on the government.
The proposal has been described as a back-door immigration restriction on low-income people, and cities and states around the nation have worked to defeat it. By law, the government must read and respond to every distinct public comment submitted about the rule, and it has been flooded with over 200,000 comments, including a comment crafted by 33 municipal leaders around the nation led by Chicago and New York. The number of immigrants who would be affected could number in the millions. Vox, Wired
In a bizarre, contentious Oval Office meeting between President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump explicitly said he would “shut down the government for border security,” referring to his insistence that his pet border wall project be funded at a $5 billion level. The meeting, which some had hoped would lead to a budget deal that would allow the government to stay open past a Dec. 21 deadline, appeared to only inflame tensions. Politico
Testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan defended his agents’ use of tear gas against what he described as “assaultive” migrants that were approaching the border last month. He said the incident was under a standard review, but insisted that agents had acted in a way consistent with their training. He also endorsed the idea of a fortification of the border, but seemed to suggest that an actual concrete wall along the border was not an optimal solution. The Washington Post
Trump’s pick for next attorney general, William Barr, once justified keeping hundreds of Haitian asylum-seekers off of the United States mainland and processing their claims in Guantanamo Bay when he was attorney general in 1991. He called Guantanamo “a very convenient base outside the United States, and it’s serving a good function.” Quartz