A bill that would criminalize threatening someone with deportation could be slated for a vote in the New York state legislature soon. The bill would add the threat of deportation to a list of blackmail threats, which are illegal.
State Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, both Democrats, are backers of the bill. Solages introduced legislation to tackle the issue last year but it didn’t reach a vote in the Assembly. But Kaplan introduced a new bill, which has made it out of committee in the newly Democratic-controlled Senate.
Republican State Sen. Thomas O’Mara voted against the bill in the committee as he said he did not believe a carve-out for deportation. The Times Union
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Poor Census Planning Puts New York State at Risk
New York state suffered an undercount in the 2010 census, costing it two Congressional seats. The state has steadily been losing representatives in Congress since 1953, and some are worried it will lose another two in 2020. A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in New York, recommended the state government allocate $40 million in funding specifically for community-based outreach to prevent an undercount. States around the country have already allocated millions to their efforts, with California earmarking $100.3 million. The 2020 Census has been further complicated by the potential addition of a question about citizenship, which organizers are afraid will scare immigrants out of completing the census. Read more at Documented.
High Rent is Hurting Immigrant Business Owners
Immigrant business owners are struggling to deal with New York City’s continuously rising rent, a new survey by the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development found. The survey showed 77 percent of business owners feel overburdened by their rent. This growing cost had driven business owners to raise prices and let go of staff the survey, found. The survey interviewed 90 immigrant business owners in Chinatown/Lower East Side, Manhattan; Jackson Heights, Queens; and Kingsbridge, Bronx. On average, they had been operating for 13 years and employed four workers. Forty percent reported being harassed by their landlords. This was higher in Kingsbridge, Bronx. City Limits
Taxi Drivers Say “Suicide Surcharge” is Already Killing Business
The newly introduced surcharge on taxi rides has already cost drivers at least a 15-20 percent loss in revenue, according to the Taxi Drivers Alliance, which vehemently opposed the surcharge’s introduction. The fee adds $2.50 to every yellow taxi or $2.75 to every Uber or car service for fares south of 96th street. The Taxi Drivers Alliance call it the “suicide surcharge” in reference to the spate of suicides last year by taxi drivers who were drowning in debt due to their devalued medallions. Officials argue the fee is needed to generate $400 million per year to fix the subway. CBS New York
Trump Administration Continues to Separate Families
The official zero tolerance policy was rescinded, but family separations have not stopped. In the latest data reported to Judge Dana M. Sabraw, who is monitoring the issue, an additional 245 children had been removed from their families with no clear documentation to track their whereabouts. On Friday, Sabraw ruled the class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over the “zero tolerance” policy would be expanded to include the potentially thousands of other families mentioned in government watchdog report from January. Sabraw stopped short of compelling the government to reunite them.
The separations are now happening when parents are flagged for fraud, a communicable disease or past criminal history. Customs and Border Protection argues these separations are necessary to protect the children, but under the Obama administration, separations like these occurred in rare circumstances. The New York Times reports that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for housing the children, has tried to resist receiving them. The New York Times
More Banks Considering Divesting from Immigration Detention
Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank are now looking to follow JPMorgan Chase’s recent announcement that it will no longer be bankrolling the private prison industry. In a January report, Wells Fargo said it was no longer “actively marketing” to the sector because its credit exposure has “significantly decreased and is expected to continue to decline.” Similarly, U.S. Bank say it expects to continue reducing its risk exposure to private prison companies. JPMorgan Chase’s decision to pull out came after repeated protests by immigrant rights groups, such as Make the Road New York, at shareholder meetings and outside CEO Jamie Dimon’s Manhattan apartment. The Washington Post
Arrests Continue at ICE’s Fake University
More students have been arrested at the University of Farmington, a fake university set up by ICE. The university made headlines in January when DHS announced it had lured students there by posing as a real university in an undercover operation. ICE has since said it has arrested 161 foreign students, and more could be arrested or removed in the future. The Michigan university’s student body was made up 600 enrolled students, mainly from the Telugu-speaking regions of India. Lcal Telugu groups have been trying to assist them. Detroit Free Press
Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Liberian DED Holders
The Trump administration faced another lawsuit on Friday, this time on behalf of 15 Liberian immigrants over President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate their Deferred Enforced Departure status. In March 2018, Trump ended the DED status for about 4,000 Liberian immigrants living in the U.S. The status had been in place since 2007 and is now set to expire at the end of this month. The Trump administration has ended Temporary Protected Status, a similar program, for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras and Nepal. A federal judge temporarily blocked the administration’s order for nationals from some of the countries. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) also called on the president to extend the status. Associated Press
Mumps Outbreaks Leading to More Detainees in Quarantine
An ICE official tells Reuters 2,287 immigration detainees are quarantined around the country due to contagious diseases. An outbreak of mumps, a largely preventable disease, at the privately run Pine Prairie detention center put hundreds of detainees on lockdown in January. Internal emails show there was confusion over how to handle the January outbreak. Against the advice of medics, one detainee was ordered transferred despite being quarantined for chicken pox and mumps, as he was considered a “high-profile removal,” according to the emails. Many detainees are put on lockdown for preventative reasons, but this can have a severe impact on their immigration case. Reuters
Washington — Trump to Ask for Wall Money, ICE Detention at All-Time High
Despite declaring a national emergency to get the necessary funding for his border wall, Trump is now preparing a new budget that will request $8.6 billion for the barrier while cutting domestic programs
This new proposal is for the 2020 budget year beginning Oct. 1. Other immigration-related spending items include increasing ICE and CBP manpower, along with policy changes aimed at hurting sanctuary cities.
Disputes over border wall funding have led to several government shutdowns during Trump’s first two years in office, including the longest in U.S. history earlier this year. Trump invoked an emergency declaration after Congress only approved $1.4 billion for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border to end the shutdown. It was less than the $5.7 billion he requested. The declaration gives Trump access to military funding, but it has already faced lawsuits challenging its legality. Associated Press
ICE was detaining 50,049 people as of March 6, an all-time high. This figure includes people in adult and family detention centers. Beyond being the highest number in history, it also exceeds the cap on detentions set by legislators last year at 40,520. The cap was raised again earlier this year to 45,724 in a deal to keep the government open. It’s unclear where ICE got the additional funds to house detainees. ICE is currently requesting a 52,000-bed capacity from Congress. The Daily Beast