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Early Arrival: Former Undocumented Trump Organization Employee is Seeking Asylum

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: A Municipal Health Care Program for Immigrants? — Employers Threaten Workers With Deportation — Unaccompanied Child Sponsor Change, Lawmakers Accompany Asylum-seekers, UN Refugee Compact

Felipe De La Hoz

Dec 19, 2018

Hudson County Correctional Facility. Photo: Mazin Sidahmed

Among the many changes that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions made to the immigration court system, one of the most consequential was his termination of immigration judges’ ability to administratively close cases, and the forced reopening of cases that had been discretionarily taken off the calendar.

One such case was that of Santos, an immigrant who had been convicted of second degree assault in 2016 and sentenced to four years in prison and placed in deportation proceedings. While serving his prison sentence, however, he suffered a stroke and lost the ability to speak or communicate, prompting the judge to administratively close his case.

Sessions’ directive has now forced Santos’ case to be re-calendared. Santos was recently beamed in via video link to an immigration court that’s situated at a different correctional facility than where he’s staying. He appeared on screen but was unable to do anything.

Read more at Documented

Hello, I’m Felipe De La Hos with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at felipe.delahoz@documentedny.com.

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Municipal Access to Health Care for Immigrants?

With the New York State Senate set to flip to Democratic control early next year, conversations in Albany have begun centering the possibility of a single-payer state health insurance system. Such a system, though, would run into legal hurdles over insuring the undocumented, and possible new federal public charge rules could also cause less legal immigrants to sign up for subsidized medical insurance like Medicare. So New York City policymakers have started looking at a municipal option. It wouldn’t be insurance exactly, but would connect uninsurable city residents to a low-cost, managed health plan that takes advantage of the city’s existing public hospital system. Such a plan has actually already been tested in the city, been deemed a success, and recommended for expansion, but city officials never moved on it. Read more at Documented

Immigrants and Their Families Reflect on Immigration Detention

At a Lower East Side venue on Sunday afternoon, people whose lives had been affected by immigration detention deconstructed their experiences through music, poetry and prose for the latest edition of the Art of the Return. The bi-monthly event series focused on the art of formerly incarcerated people was Documented’s first live event, and the series is produced by our audience editor Allen Arthur. The Brooklyn organization H.O.L.L.A! and The Institute for Transformative Mentoring performed rap songs and recited poetry. Edafe Okporo read from his book about fleeing his native Nigeria after being threatened for LGBT+ advocacy, and author and advocate Khalil Cumberbatch was interviewed by Arthur about his own incarceration story, which included a stint in ICE detention. Read more at Documented

Former Undocumented Trump Organization Employee is Seeking Asylum

Victorina Morales, the undocumented immigrant who had been working at the Trump Bedminster Golf Club before telling her story to The New York Times, is now seeking asylum protections. Morales had told the Times the club had hired her and helped her stay employed while fully aware of her immigration status. Her attorney has now asked the state attorney general to investigate conditions at the club, where she and other undocumented workers say they were mistreated and threatened with deportation. The media attention Morales received after this profile is expected to play a role in her case, as her attorney argues it puts her in danger if she was sent back to Guatemala. NJ.com

Know Your Rights Series to Start in NYC

New York City and the Robin Hood Foundation on Tuesday announced joint funding for a series of ‘know your rights’ forums for immigrants throughout New York City. With $225,000 coming from the city and $125,000 provided by Robin Hood, a total of $350,000 will be disbursed to community organizations such as Lutheran Social Services of New York and MASA. They’ll conduct forums to educate specifically immigrant workers and immigrants in general about their rights and immigration-related policy developments. Felipe De La Hoz for Documented

ICE Official Addresses Recent Enforcement, Removal Operations in NJ, NJTV News Online

Judge Convicts Protester Behind Statue of Liberty Climb, Courthouse News Service

U.S. Immigration Court Backlog Grew Nearly 50% Since Trump Took Office, Gothamist


Employers Emboldened to Use Immigration as Weapon Against Workers

In California, the heightened climate around immigration has prompted employers to illegally use immigration enforcement to threaten employees. According to data kept by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, the agency has received 172 complaints alleging employers threatened retaliation against workers based on their legal status since President Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, while it received 29 such complaints from 2014 to 2016. One accused employer is Munger Brothers LLC, North America’s largest blueberry grower. It allegedly forced workers on temporary seasonal visas into dangerous conditions, threatening to send those who did not comply back to Mexico. Bloomberg

Former ICE Official Immediately Goes to Work as Paid Witness for GEO Group

Less than three months after resigning as ICE’s executive associate director for management and administration, Tracey Valerio was working as a paid witness for private prison behemoth GEO Group in a lawsuit challenging its practice of paying detainees as little as $1 a day for labor. Valerio may have violated a federal ethics law restricting former federal officials from working for private companies connected to their ex-agencies. ICE itself wrote to the court expressing concern over Valerio’s work, and she abruptly quit the case. Valerio is far from the only former official to quickly pass through the revolving door between government and GEO. The Daily Beast

Longtime Residents of Cambodian Origin Deported

ICE deported nearly 50 Cambodians in a chartered flight to Phnom Penh Monday, completing an ordeal that advocates and civil rights groups had attempted to stop. The deportees are longtime legal permanent residents who arrived in the United States as refugees but were deemed deportable as a result of criminal convictions, many of which were decades old. The Cambodian government had refused to take deportees back, but pressure from the Trump administration led to a new agreement that facilitated the deportations. Many recent deportees were born on refugee camps during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and don’t have any family in Cambodia nor speak the local language. NPR

California Judges Refusing to Issue Assembly-Line Convictions

At federal courtrooms around California, judges have been dismissing criminal charges against immigrants deported by the government before their cases are finished. Federal prosecutors have for years conducted mass case hearings across border states like Arizona and New Mexico. But in September, federal judges decided to stop accepting guilty pleas at initial appearances and set second hearings for five days later. Immigrants who were deported in the interim, or who did not get to speak with an attorney, would have their criminal cases dismissed. The dismissals did not prevent their deportation, but kept them from having criminal records. Associated Press

When ICE Comes to Town, Rolling Stone

Vietnamese Refugees, Immigrants Across U.S. Face Deportation Under Proposed Trump policy, The Houston Chronicle

Deported Immigrants Get Their Last Flight on ‘ICE Air’, Associated Press

Boston Mayor Doubles Down on Support for Immigrants Amid Plea From ICE, The Boston Herald

Pentagon Has Sent Home Nearly 3,000 Active-Duty Border Troops, The Hill

Honduran Mom and Children in Viral Tear Gas Photo Allowed Entry to US, CNN

Use Of Video Technology Surges In Immigration Courts, Gothamist

Washington — Unaccompanied Child Sponsor Change, Lawmakers Accompany Asylum-seekers, UN Refugee Compact

The Department of Health and Human Services, which is in charge of caring for unaccompanied immigrant minors in the United States, announced yesterday it would no longer require background checks on every member of the household of someone hoping to sponsor a child for release from HHS custody. The requirement had been in place since June, and allowed ICE to run immigration-related checks on the fingerprints collected, prompting 170 recent arrests of potential sponsors and causing many to fear collecting a child from custody. Now, only the direct potential sponsor, and not members of their household, will have to submit fingerprints. It is unclear whether they can still be used for immigration enforcement purposes. Texas Monthly

Two California Congress members, Reps. Nanette Barragán and Jimmy Gomez, traveled to the border region and met with asylum-seekers at the port of entry at Otay Mesa, San Diego. They said they witnessed would-be asylum-seekers being turned away and ignored, and Barragán tweeted a claim that one of her staffers had been detained upon reentry to the United States. The Hill

Several high-level former officials in Republican presidential administrations wrote a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court to counter the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to ban people who crossed into the United States illegally from seeking asylum. The matter is now tied up in litigation, and the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to put a lower court’s injunction against the practice on hold as the legal fight moves to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief, signed by a former director of both the FBI and the CIA and two former acting attorneys general, among others, states the asylum ban is illegal, and urges the Justices to decline to put the injunction on hold. BuzzFeed News

The United States joined Hungary as the only other nation in the United Nations General Assembly to vote no on the Global Compact for Migration, a new global compact meant to provide support for the world’s record number of refugees. Associated Press

After proclaiming he would be “proud” to send the government into a shutdown if he didn’t get his $5 billion in funding for a border wall, President Trump’s White House backed off somewhat, saying it wanted to avoid a government shutdown and that it would work with Democrats and Republicans to find a solution, most likely a continuing resolution that would carry the government through the beginning of next year. The Wall Street Journal

Felipe De La Hoz

Reporter at Documented.



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