District attorneys from Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx gathered with lawmakers at Judson Memorial Church to protest the practice of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers making arrests inside New York City courthouses. The DAs were joined by lawmakers, advocates and attorneys.
“ICE enforcement activity at city courts undermines our justice system and creates fear within immigrant communities,” said City Councilmember Rory Lancman, a candidate for Queens DA. The law enforcement officials say the arrests erode the trust they build in the community and make it more difficult for the courts to operate smoothly. Last week, Documented uncovered records that show New York State court officers have help facilitate ICE arrests.
The lawmakers and law enforcement officials are calling for the passage of the Protect Our Courts Act, which would keep ICE agents from trawling the city’s courts and force them to obtain a judicial warrant to make any arrests. A recent report from the Immigrant Defense Project showed that court arrests in New York are up by 1,700 since President Trump was inaugurated. Queens Daily Eagle
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ICE Court Arrests Strike Fear Upstate
In Ballston Spa, near Albany, a woman was arrested by ICE outside of the criminal court after appearing for a case where she was accused of forging a check. The woman said it was a mistake and the alleged victim asked the court to dismiss the charge. The immigration case was dropped, but the woman’s lawyers haven’t heard from her since. A report from the Immigrant Defense Project showed there were 18 arrests in or outside courthouses outside New York City, but attorneys expect the true number is much higher. Albany Times Union
Muslim Community Patrol Met With Trepidation
Last spring, a letter was mailed throughout England that announced a “Punish a Muslim Day.” New Yorker Maeen Ali saw the viral story became concerned for his four children. He decided to start the all-volunteer Muslim Community Patrol & Services, a multi-function program that runs everything from translation to connections to food pantries and mentorship. The patrollers drive blue and white Fords that look almost identical to NYPD cruisers. The MCP has gotten support from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, but also received pushback from right-wing websites and the community. Some are worried a misstep from the patrol would reflect poorly on the City’s Muslim community. The New York Times
Taxi Surge Pricing Begins
This weekend, a new fee will be tacked on to New York City taxis and ride shares in an effort to fund the City’s mass transit system. Called congestion pricing, Ubers, Lyfts and other car services driving south of 96th Street in Manhattan will have a $2.75 surcharge tacked on and yellow cabs will be $2.50 extra. Taxi drivers and medallion owners have been fighting the program, as they feel it will put a further financial burden on their businesses as passengers may turn to mass transit instead of cabs. ABC 7
Rapper 21 Savage Arrested by ICE to be Potentially Deported to the UK
Rapper 21 Savage, whose birth name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by ICE on Sunday in Atlanta. The agency claims he is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom who came to the U.S. in 2005 and overstayed his visa. Abraham-Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, and was put into removal proceedings by ICE. Despite being a widely known, Grammy-nominated musician, Abraham-Joseph rarely mentioned his U.K. citizenship in the media and the news came as a surprise to many on social media. WBSTV
Immigrant Rights Attorneys and Journalists Denied Entry to Mexico
Two U.S. immigration attorneys and two journalists were denied entry into Mexico recently after their passports were flagged by an unknown government. All four were detained by Mexican border immigration officials while trying to enter the country, then returned to the U.S. The two attorneys, Nora Phillips and Erika Pinheiro, work for Al Otro Lado, a nonprofit immigration advocacy group based in Los Angeles and Tijuana. Kitra Cahana, a freelance photographer was denied entry to Mexico twice in recent weeks. Daniel Ochoa, a Spanish citizen and Associated Press photographer was denied entry as well. The Los Angeles Times
India Petitions US Over Fake University ICE Sting
The Indian government has lodged a protest with the U.S. after several Indian students were swept up in an ICE sting. The agency set up a fake university called University of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan, saying it was targeting immigrants seeking to commit visa fraud. Indian media outlets say more than 100 students had since been detained, and ICE says eight people have been indicted in relation to exploiting the country’s student visa system. “We underlined that students, who may have been duped into enrolling in the ‘University’, should be treated differently from those recruiters who have duped them,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The New York Times
US Attorney Investigates Voter Fraud Instead of Ballot Tampering Initiative
This summer, 20 immigrants were arrested in North Carolina and charged for voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. While this happened, a separate organized ballot-tampering effort state officials were aware of was supposedly unfolding, showing how the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. focused on illegal voting by non-citizens rather than ballot-tampering. North Carolina’s 9th District congressional seat remains unfilled as the state investigates what happened. A Washington Post review of cases involving people charged with illegally voting found systemic problems allowed noncitizens to register and cast ballots without knowing they were doing anything illegal. The Washington Post
New Film Depicts Real Story of an Immigration Detention Infiltration
In 2012, Marco Saavedra and Viridiana Martinez decided to turn themselves in to federal authorities to get into the Broward Transitional Center, and immigration detention center in Florida. They aimed to collect the stories of people inside the facility and show what U.S. immigration detention is really like. Their story is the subject of a film by director Alex Rivera, which screened at Sundance Film Festival this week. Blending reenactments and interviews, the film tells of asylum seekers, domestic violence victims and others caught up in the immigration enforcement machine. Saavedra and Martinez were eventually kicked out of Broward. Deseret News
Washington — Trump’s Immigration and Border Security Crossroads DHS Alleges ICE Wrongdoing, Ghana Visas Denied
When President Trump delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, it will come as he faces mounting threats from Democrats and his own party. After being dealt a defeat over the government shutdown, Trump can either double down on his once-failed push for border wall funding, or change course and try to reconcile the growing divide on immigration and border security issues.
Last week, Trump said his address would be about “unification,” but he recently has grown more confrontational in congressional negotiations. The president’s advisers say his address will not be focused on immigration, but rather infrastructure development, prescription drug pricing and the turmoil in Venezuela.
Trump has said he is on the verge of declaring a national emergency which would allow him to direct federal funds toward border wall construction without congressional approval. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has told him the national emergency would be possible, and some federal agencies have looked into the logistics of building the wall. GOP leaders are resistant to the president declaring a national emergency. The Washington Post
A new report from the office of the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general says ICE failed to hold private contractors accountable for problems at immigration detention facilities where they were contracted to hold immigrants. The wrongdoing ranges from contractors failing to report sexual assaults and employee misconduct — including the use of tear gas instead of pepper spray — and mixing non-violent offenders with people who have violent histories. In most of these examples, contractors did not face any consequences. ICE found 14,000 deficiencies between October 2015 and June 2018 but issued only two fines. NPR
The U.S. has placed visa restrictions on Ghana after the country refused to accept Ghanaian citizens DHS was attempting to deport. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told consular offices in Ghana to stop issuing certain visas to applicants, without specifying which ones. Over the past two years, about 550 Ghanaian citizens were slated to be deported. According to a report released by ICE, countries with visa sanctions had higher deportation rates in those years. The U.S. took similar measures against Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone in 2017. CNN