A federal judge has asked the government how it can justify the ongoing five-year detention of a Jamaican immigrant who was stripped of his legal permanent residency following conviction for an assault charge in 2011.
After serving three years in prison, Joseph Hechavarria was released and taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and sent to the Federal Detention Center in Batavia New York, where he has remained for over five years without a bond hearing. He has not been released due to immigration judges’ findings that he is a danger to the community, but there is also no current prospect for his deportation as his case winds its way through appeals.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo has decided that this violates his Hechavarria’s first amendment rights and hinted that he will order Hechavarria released with conditions. The issue of prolonged detention appears serious at Batavia, where another detainee was held for six years. The Buffalo News
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Ongoing Government Shutdown Affects New York Immigration Cases
The ongoing partial government shutdown has led to the cancellation of thousands of non-detainee hearings scheduled for New York City immigration courts and sparked uncertainty about their future. Immigration attorneys say neither they nor their clients have even received notices about the cancellations, sparking fears that clients who may have already been waiting years for a hearing might have their cases postponed until 2022 or 2023. Hearings continue for immigrants detained by ICE and undergoing removal proceedings, everyone else has had hearings indefinitely postponed. Three New York City-based courts are expected to run out of appropriated funds this Friday if the shutdown continues, interfering with Habeas petitions that argue an immigrant has been unlawfully detained. Read more at Documented.
Arrest of Undocumented Bronx Restaurant Owner Raises Questions
The circumstances of the Friday arrest of Yajaira Saavedra, co-owner of a popular Bronx restaurant, by multiple plainclothes NYPD officers remain unclear. Police claim an officer’s safety was threatened, while Saavedra and her family say officers arrived unannounced and tried to force them to close their restaurant. Following the La Morada restaurant arrest, caught on video by Saveedra’s siblings, Saveedra was taken to the 40th precinct and then released that same evening without charges. Saveedra claims she was never told the reason for the arrest at all. Her family speculates it was targeted because she and her mother Natalia Mendez’s have protested over immigrant rights and gentrification. Eater
Proposed Essex County Budget Would Continue to Rely on Immigration Detention Revenues
Officials in Essex County, New Jersey have finalized their proposed budget for 2019. And, as it has before, it includes projected revenues from housing federal inmates, inmates from Gloucester County, New Jersey, and immigration detainees at the Essex County Correctional Facility. The county has been forced to lay off much of its municipal workforce amid recent budget shortfalls, and officials see the proposed $42.7 million in detention revenues — nearly six percent of the entire budget — as necessary to avoid any further reductions. Officials in neighboring Hudson County announced last year will pull out of their contract to house ICE detainees. Patch
Cuomo Addresses Immigration Agenda
In his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to pass the state DREAM Act; increase support for the Liberty legal defense program; codify Executive Order 170, which bans state cooperation with immigration enforcement authorities except as required by law, into state law; and continue the state’s ongoing lawsuits against the federal government on immigration matters. He did not mention driver’s licenses for the undocumented, state funding for Census 2020 outreach efforts or language access programs, which are top priorities of local immigration groups. Read more about the address at NY1.
Health Providers Struggle to Inform Without Being Alarmist
Doctors and other health providers, especially those serving heavily immigrant populations, are struggling to figure out how to tell patients about the potential effects of proposed public charge rules. The proposed rules would make the use of public benefits count against people applying for immigration benefits. Doctors want to keep patients informed about the possible repercussions, but the rules have not and may not go into effect. Some health care systems and facilities are keeping trained experts on hand to explain the situation, and some have tried to address questions and misinformation if the subject is brought up, but will avoid raising it. Kaiser Health News
As Sudden Border Group Releases Increase, Charities Step In
In recent months, U.S. authorities at the southern border have released large numbers of asylum-seeking migrants at bus stations and in border cities without much guidance, no food, no money and no ability to travel to wherever they may have relatives in the country. Federal officials say this is due to facilities at the border being overwhelmed by the migrants, especially in light of time constraint on how long minors may be kept in custody. But charity and nonprofit workers say the government has also reduced its communication, prompting scrambles to deal with confused migrants released onto the streets all at once. The New York Times
E-Verify Bills Introduced in Florida, Highlighting Warring GOP Factions
Proposed legislation that would require Florida businesses to use the E-Verify program to check the work eligibility of every new hire have been introduced in the State House and State Senate. The proposals have long been controversial within the Republican Party in Florida, where conservative immigration hardliners see it as an obvious way to discourage undocumented immigrants to settle in the state. But business interests — especially in agriculture, tourism and construction, which would likely collapse without access to undocumented labor — are vehemently opposed. During his campaign, current Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to sign such a bill if it came to him. WWSB
Confrontation Over Sanctuary City Bill in Virginia
The national debate over sanctuary cities — a municipality that limits its cooperation with immigration enforcement authorities — has prompted a flurry of policymaking in states across the country. One such state is Virginia, where, despite there currently being no sanctuary jurisdictions, the State Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee voted to advance a bill banning such jurisdictions to the full Senate after a contentious hearing that saw multiple immigration advocates speak out against it. Following the vote, protesters heckled State Sen. Dick Black, the GOP legislator who introduced the measure. A similar bill was vetoed last year by Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. Associated Press
Washington — Census 2020, Trump Mocks Going to Court Dates, Gillibrand Running, Hardliner Barr
A federal district judge in New York on Tuesday ruled in favor of the a group of states, led by New York, suing the federal government over a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The Commerce Department, which administers the decennial count, said Justice Department asked it to include the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Memos later showed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross led the proposal. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman dismissed that argument as a pretext and chided the government for legal deficiencies in its case. The case will now likely move to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and could soon end up before the Supreme Court. NPR
During a visit to New Orleans on Monday, President Trump mocked immigrants who abide by the law and attend their immigration court hearings as scheduled. He started by falsely claiming only two percent of immigrants given a court date actually show up for it. In reality, about 60 to 75 percent of non-detained immigrants with active proceedings before immigration courts attend. Of those who did show up, Trump said “those people you almost don’t want ‘cause they cannot be very smart.” Vox
Hot on the heels of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Julián Castro’s entry into the sure-to-be-crowded 2020 Democratic primary race, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her own bid for the presidency. Both candidates have progressive view on immigration, though Gillibrand’s appears to have transformed dramatically since her moderately conservative positions as a Blue Dog Democratic Congress member in the mid-to-late 2000s. She now has gone so far as to call for the elimination of ICE. Immigration will likely be one of the most significant policy discussions going into the campaign. NPR
Attorney general nominee William Barr’s record in government suggests he would be just as, if not more, hawkish on immigration than Jeff Sessions was. He certainly has an expansive view of executive authority, which President Trump has tried to use often in implementing draconian immigration policies. The Intercept