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Early Arrival: Haiti TPS Trial to Begin Monday

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Advocates Focus on Licenses, DREAM Act — Immigration Is a Top National Issue — Border Wall Started as a Campaign Memory Device

Monday marks the first day of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of several Haitian temporary protected status holders against the Trump administration. Patrick Saget of Haïti Liberté, a Haitian newspaper, is a lead plaintiff on the case, which is alleging the Trump administration violated the Constitution in terminating TPS protections.

The trial is expected to run four days, says Steven Forester, the immigration policy coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild; Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt P.A; and Mayer Brown. The hearings will be held at the Eastern District of New York Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.

The lawyers will likely attack the Trump administration’s reasoning for ending the program, which they say was unrelated to its original intention: providing a safe home for people displaced by violence or natural disasters. “Terminating temporary protected status should only really have to do with the conditions in Haiti,” said Paromita Shah, an associate director of NIPNLG. “They were hunting for reasons to cut it short.” The Haitian Times

Welcome back to Early Arrival. I’m Max Siegelbaum, here after our two week hiatus to run down what happened in immigration over the weekend and what to keep an eye on moving forward. As always, you can reach me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com

Local

In New Year, Immigrant Advocates Set Their Sights on Licenses, DREAM Act

The last two years of Trump’s presidency have been busy for New York’s immigrant advocacy organizations. Still, they’re planning ahead “We need to expand driving permits to everyone, and to protect and invest in services and programs to keep our communities strong,” said Steven Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition. Choi is also seeking a census funding increase of $40 million, $20 million to fund the Liberty Defense Project and funding for other projects. Javier H. Valdés, co-director of Make the Road New York is also seeking the creation of a driver’s license program and the passage of the New York DREAM Act. El Diario via Voices of NY

NY Naturalization Program Hits Record Number of Participants

A state program helped 6,100 immigrants become citizens last year, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. NaturalizeNY is a state-run program that helps immigrants prepare for citizenship test and connects them to federal waivers that lessen the cost of becoming a citizen. It had the highest participation rate since the program began in 2016, according to the governor’s office. Associated Press

DMV Candidate Would Support Immigrant License Law

The new potential head of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles says he would support a license program that would grant undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. Cuomo’s pick for DMV chief, Mark Schroeder, said once lawmakers passed legislation that would allow licenses to be issued, he would “implement what the legislation says and what the letter of the law is,” he said. Schroeder, who is the outgoing Buffalo city comptroller, opposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s efforts to create a similar program because he tried to use an executive order to create it, not through legislation, he said. Spectrum News

N.Y. Rep. Jerry Nadler On His Plans For Immigration And The Mueller Investigation, NPR

National

Immigration Has Become a Top National Issue

Both Democrats and Republicans are more likely to say immigration is a top issue facing the country than a year ago, according to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About 65 percent of Republicans say it’s in the top five problems facing the country, up from 42 percent in 2017. Roughly 37 percent of Democrats say it’s a top five issue, compared to about 20 percent a year ago. About two-thirds of the people who thought immigration was a top issue felt Congress was unlikely to make progress on it. Associated Press

Shutdown Affects Immigration Enforcement System

As the government shutdown continues, the immigration enforcement apparatus has been affected across the country. Border Patrol agents continue to work, but won’t get paid until it ends. The visa verification tool for employers, E-Verify, is currently down. Much of the immigration court system is closed. Some judges are working without pay. All of these effects are taking a toll on the morale of federal employees in those agencies, according to union representatives. NPR

Increased Detention Policies Create Chaos on the Border

The infrastructure designed and built to house people — primarily single men — caught crossing the border has been overwhelmed by an influx of families, as the Trump administration has stripped many prior policies that free immigrants from detention while their cases are pending. Border cities are feeling the impact of this change, seeing as federal authorities have been releasing hundreds immigrants randomly at border bus stations and other public spaces without instructions. This has overburdened the facilities where they are kept and the local nonprofits that help migrants, leading to health issues for the migrants themselves. The New York Times

Mexican Officials are Left in the Dark on Potential Asylum Policies

Last month, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced tens of thousands of asylum seekers would be returned to Mexico while their cases are considered. There is still scant information about whether this is actually happening and if so, what will happen. Mexican officials who would implement the yet-unconfirmed policy say they have no news about the potential change.  “I had heard rumors, but I was not consulted,” Tonatiuh Guillén, head of Mexico’s national immigration authority, told the Guardian. “It’s not some small detail. The numbers just aren’t manageable. It will have far-reaching effects on services, employment, everything — the social and political fabric of Tijuana and other border cities,” Guillén said. The Guardian

Georgia Sanctuary Policy Oversight Board Draws Criticism

Georgia has a unique organization with a singular purpose: Punish cities for not cracking down on immigration. In Georgia, residents can file complaints against cities or counties that they consider to be breaking state law related to immigration. Most of the complaints have come through one private citizen, but recently Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle filed a complaint against the city of Decatur. The board has many critics, conservative and liberal, and has only issued one $1000 fine, against Atlanta. Smaller cities have still had to defend themselves against the complaints. Stateline

Washington — The Border Wall Started as a Campaign Memory Device. It’s Now Dividing the Country.

Trump’s border wall may have been a pavlovian tool to keep him talking about immigration, according to several campaign advisers. In 2014, Trump was mulling a potential presidential run. His advisers found he frequently went off script and rarely could remember to hit his main talking points. They came up with the border wall to help him focus on immigration, saying its physicality would appeal to the real estate mogul.

But every time Trump brought up the wall on the campaign trail, it would draw cheers from the crowd and soon became a main point of his campaign speeches. By transforming the wall into a totem of his administration’s anti-immigration policies, he actually made it politically unsustainable for Democrats to fund it, despite them supporting similar measures in the past. Now the wall has become wedge between the president, Democrats and much of the GOP as the government shutdown continues into its third week.

Trump is asking for $5.6 billion to build his border wall, which many in Congress do not want to give him. Because of that hundreds of thousands of federal workers have not been paid for the past two weeks. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food to 38 million low-income Americans, will face cuts and run out of funds in March. Tax refunds in April may be delayed, joining other vital federally administered programs also threatened by the impasse. The New York Times, The New York Times, The Guardian

DOJ Admits to Some Misleading Statements in Travel Ban Analysis

The Justice Department owned up to several mistakes and misleading statements it used to bolster claims in a report that implied a link between terrorism in the U.S. and immigration. Officials, though, declined to retract or correct the report.

Last year, the DOJ and DHS issued a report in relation to the travel ban that analyzed the security risk of international travel from several countries. The report claimed 402 of 549 individuals convicted of terrorism were foreign born, but this included 100 people who were extradited for acts they committed overseas. The wording made seem that they were immigrants living in the U.S. Critics also cited several other deceptive statements in the report.

After a lawsuit, the DOJ finally issued a tepid statement about the report, saying some of the statements in the report were in fact misleading. The Washington Post

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