Last week, reporters dredged up a series of flyers and statements from presidential hopeful and upstate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). The materials showed Gillibrand’s generally conservative views on immigration reform, from “closing” the border to tightly regulating the number of immigrants in the U.S. In one flyer, her campaign announced it supported “the removal of illegal aliens by expanding detention capacity and increasing the number of Federal District Court judges.”
In 2008 election campaign literature, Gillibrand said she was “firmly against providing amnesty to illegal immigrants.” In the Senate, she continued that conservative record. She voted against former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s attempt to create a program to issue licenses in New York State for immigrants. She co-sponsored the SAVE Act, a bill that called for an enforcement-only approach to immigration and would have added 8,000 new border patrol agents and 1,150 ICE agents, among other measures.
In the past 10 years, her outward position has changed greatly. She now supports abolishing ICE and other progressive ideals for immigration reform. Past critics from the state’s immigration advocacy groups now speak highly of her and her views. But Gillibrand might face steep opposition for the drastic change, as immigration is shaping up to be a major issue in the 2020 election. Gillibrand has been on the defensive after reporters have been combing over her past. “(My positions) certainly weren’t empathetic and they were not kind and I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives,” she told CNN. CNN
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Woodstock Approves License Measure
The board of Woodstock, the town made famous for the 1969 eponymous music festival, unanimously voted to approve a resolution to support a law that would give immigrants driver’s licenses. The vote was supported by local law enforcement, including Woodstock Police Chief Clayton Keefe and Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra. The Driver License Access Privacy Act, also known as Green Light NY, is currently being pushed through the state legislature. It would allow anyone in New York to obtain a driver’s license. Immigration advocacy groups have said it will be a top priority in 2019. Hudson Valley One
Nepali Community is the Fastest Growing Asian Group in the City
The Nepali American community was New York City’s fastest growing Asian community from 2010 to 2015, according to new data released in a report from the Asian American Federation. The organization released profiles for 12 Asian American communities in the city. The highest proportion of foreign born in a particular community was the Nepalese, while Bangladeshi Americans were growing ast the second highest rate. The largest Asian population remains people of Chinese descent, at 564,636, but they grew by just 15 percent from 2010 to 2015. Voices of NY
Capital Region Workforce is Becoming More International
Employers in New York’s Capital Region are looking toward immigrants, refugees and other foreign-born residents to staff their companies as unemployment numbers continue to sink. Unemployment in the Capital Region, which includes Albany and the surrounding areas, fell to under four percent over the summer. The area has welcomed 4,200 refugees in recent years and more STEM graduates come from diverse backgrounds. Up to 100 manufacturing companies told the Capital Region Workforce Development Institute they are willing to make accommodations for non-English speakers, including language classes. The workforce is quickly diversifying, according to business leaders. Albany Times Union
Detention Commissary Items Cost Four Times the Outside Price
At Adelanto detention center in California, a can of tuna and a miniature stick of deodorant together would cost over six days of manual labor. Immigrants rely on the commissary for food, which puts them in a difficult place of having to choose between nutrition or hygiene products. Advocates say the $1-per-day wages are part of an exploitative system of private prison companies using detainee labor to cut costs and boost profits. Goods in commissaries can cost up to four times the price of the same items outside detention. Reuters
Report Looks at Two Years of Immigration Statistics
Two years into President Donald Trump’s term, refugee admissions have plummeted, asylum applications are being rejected at an increasing pace, arrests of immigrants without criminal records have spiked and hundreds of thousands of people’s immigration statuses have been threatened by efforts to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Temporary Protected Status. Vox’s Dara Lind and Javier Zarracina examine the vast impact the Trump administration has had on immigration enforcement in the U.S. through statistics. Vox
El Salvador Call Centers are Staffed with Deportees
If you call to make a hotel reservation or change a flight, the person on the other end of the line might be a deportee in El Salvador. Call centers are a growing industry in El Salvador, and employers have found deportees to be a steady supply of fluent English speakers. Sociology Professor Nestor Rodriguez interviewed 300 deportees and found “their attitude was they were not Salvadoran like the rest of the people,” he said. Many struggle to find work when the arrive in the country, so the call centers have capitalized, paying them about $2.15 per hour. CBS
California’s Immigration Courts Suffer Over Shutdown
As the government shutdown continues, more immigration court hearings are being cancelled. The issue is at its worst in California, where over 9,000 hearings have been cancelled, giving it the largest backlog of any state. Mario Guzman, a teenager from El Salvador applying for asylum, had his final hearing scheduled for January 3. He has been preparing for the hearing for months and has waited for it for a year, but it was cancelled because of the furlough. Jasmine Ngo has meanwhile been fighting her immigration case for seven years and doesn’t know when her next court hearing will be. KQED – NPR
Immigrant Texans Are Skeptical of Trump’s Offers
Over the weekend, Trump offered new terms for a potential border wall deal. In exchange for $5.7 billion for the wall, he said he would extend protection for the 800,000 immigrants who benefit from DACA and to TPS recipients. DACA recipients in Texas were highly skeptical of these promises, with one saying “I don’t trust Trump — I don’t believe him.” Since Trump started attacking the programs, people in the San Antonio, Texas had seen the legal status of their family members thrown into peril, as well as a slowdown in business. New York Times
Washington — Trump Border Wall Deal for DACA and TPS Protections Falls Flat
On Saturday, President Trump offered a deal to recipients of former President Barack Obama’s flagship program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in exchange for Democrats agreeing to his $5.7 billion border wall. Trump offered to restore Temporary Protected Status for 300,000 people, which he recently cancelled, and extend DACA for three more years. Democrats quickly rejected it, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying the deal was “not a compromise but more hostage taking.”
As the shutdown enters its fifth week, the offer was the first time Trump has attempted to compromise for wall funding. Workers have gone without pay for weeks and emergency funding that some agencies are surviving on will run out soon. Polls show most people blame Trump for the shutdown, not Democrats.
The deal may backfire on both sides of the political spectrum. Democrats were unhappy with the terms of the deal as it would still fund the wall, while Trump’s right-wing base felt it was too soft on immigration. “Trump proposes amnesty,” conservative commentator Ann Coulter said on Twitter. “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” The New York Times, The New York Times
A new report from the Government Accountability Office calls on the State Department to develop an interagency study on the effects of climate change on migration. Right before Obama left office, he issued a directive for agencies included the Department of Defense, USAID and the State Department to study climate change and how it might affect their respective missions. Trump rescinded this directive shortly after he came into office. The GAO is calling for it to renew these studies. ImmigrationProf Blog
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is calling on the F.B.I. to open a perjury investigationinto Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over her congressional testimony about the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy. Merkley cited a document from 2017 that showed Nielsen’s staff discussing a family separation option for dealing with an influx of families seeking asylum. The policy memo from the DHS released by Merkley’s office said that “D.H.S. is considering separating family units, placing the adults in adult detention, and placing the minors under the age of 18 in the custody.” New York Times
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