A New York federal judge decided Friday that the Trump administration broke the law by denying immigrants Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said only Congress and not immigration authorities can deny the status, which can provide a path to a green card, to immigrant adults under 21 years old.
Early last year, the administration began systematically denying the status, which was created for children who were abused, neglected or abandoned by a parent to obtain green cards. Latham & Watkins and the Legal Aid Society filed a class action lawsuit challenging the apparent policy change last June on behalf of a plaintiff who had been beaten by relatives in Haiti. Another plaintiff said they fled to the US from El Salvador after receiving gang threats there.
On Friday, the judge instructed lawyers to begin implementing his decision and granted class status to the plaintiffs. Legal Aid lawyers estimated that 3,000 people were affected by the policy change. The Wall Street Journal
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Ulster County Sheriff Endorses Immigrant Driver’s Licenses
Immigration advocates are still pushing New York to provide driver’s licenses to the state’s undocumented population, and the campaign is receiving mounting support from local law enforcement officials. The latest supporter is Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa, who said in places like Ulster County, “driving is hardly a luxury.” “Providing access to driver’s licenses for all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status, is common-sense policy that’s been endorsed by public safety officials from around the country,” he added. A rally last week drew nearly 1,000 people to Albany to call on lawmakers to support the idea. Daily Freeman
Gambian Immigrant Pardoned by Cuomo
A Gambian immigrant, Baba Sillah, was released on Friday from the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pardoned him for a past crime. He was detained during a routine ICE check-in in January and had convictions for selling unlicensed clothing over a decade ago. Sillah has lived in the U.S. since 1993 and was nearly deported when his lawyers filed a stay of deportation. He came to the U.S. at 22, fleeing his abusive father. Eventually he got a work permit and found a job at a building on the Upper East Side. Associated Press, New York Daily News
New Bill Would Give 115,000 People in NJ Legal Status
About 115,000 people in New Jersey would be granted legal status if a bill introduced by Democrats came to fruition. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would create a path to legal residency for immigrants granted Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, as well as let youth deported under the Trump administration to return. ESara Cullinane, executive director of Make the Road New Jersey, said 13,900 TPS holders and 101,000 DACA recipients in New Jersey would potentially benefit from the bill. Eight of New Jersey’s 12 Democratic congressmembers co-sponsor the bill. The Bergen Record
Southwest Key Runs Dilapidated Charter Schools
Southwest Key, the nonprofit that made nearly $1.8 billion to run migrant shelters, runs a series of dilapidated charter schools in Texas that is churning out profit while providing substandard care, according to a new report from the New York Times. The nonprofit first came into the public eye during the family separation crisis, when migrant children were reportedly sent to Southwest Key facilities. Like with its migrant shelters, advocates accuse Southwest Key of stockpiling public money while neglecting the people it is supposed to be caring for. The New York Times
ICE Retaliates After North Carolina Jurisdictions Cease Cooperation
After a number of areas of North Carolina began refusing to cooperate with ICE, the agency carried out a series of raids across the state, resulting in hundreds of arrests. In November, newly elected sheriffs in four counties abruptly stopped honoring ICE detainer requests. This was immediately followed by an uptick in ICE arrests. “The uptick that you’ve seen — again, direct result of some of the dangerous policies that some of our county sheriffs have put into place,” Sean Gallagher, regional director of ICE for Georgia and the Carolinas, said. NPR
Spreadsheet Shows How ORR Tracks Pregnant Minors
The Rachel Maddow Show exclusively obtained a spreadsheet kept by the Office of Refugee Resettlement used to track the pregnancies of unaccompanied minor girls. After Scott Lloyd was appointed head of ORR, he moved to prevent unaccompanied minors from getting abortions in detention, so he requested a spreadsheet containing details of unaccompanied minors’ pregnancies. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show received the spreadsheet from a group called American Bridge. It includes where the girls — all aged 12 to 17 — are held, the results of their pregnancy tests, how far along the pregnancies are, whether the pregnancy is the result of consensual sex and other information. MSNBC
Filipino Teachers Return to Baltimore After Immigration Scare
At the end of last school year, two dozen Filipino teachers in Baltimore left the U.S. for what they thought would be their last time. The teachers largely came to Baltimore in the 2000s during a recruitment effort and stayed on H1-B visas, but left amid rising denials of visa renewals. While they were gone, school officials held their spot in math, science and special education positions. Nearly all of the teachers have returned this semester on visa extensions. “It was mission impossible,” said Miles Aguas, a leader of Filipino Educators in Maryland, “but it was made possible.” The Washington Post
Oregon Courts May Face Devastating Budget Cuts Over DOJ Immigration Funding Fight
The Justice Department threatened last year to withhold funding from so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, prompting a lawsuit from 29 different cities. All but one of the jurisdictions ended up receiving their funding, and it’s having devastating effects on the holdout. Oregon continues to fight the Trump administration in federal court, but 40 of its specialty courts, including the Veterans Treatment Court, mental health courts and some drug programs, are at risk of losing all or part of their budgets. The state has managed to keep the courts funded through July, but will be forced to make “horrible, tough decisions” soon, the state criminal justice head says. Stars and Stripes
Washington — National Emergency Persists, Human Rights Irony, Citizenship Question Scope Expands
President Trump issued his first veto last week, rejecting Congress’ rejection of his national emergency declaration to fund his southwest border wall. Congress’ rebuke to the national emergency drew rare bipartisan support, but has not gathered enough votes to override the president’s veto.
Republicans against the national emergency have argued it sets a troubling precedent for executive powers and government spending. “Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said after the vote. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) said he thought Mr. Trump’s declaration was unconstitutional. A dozen Senate Republicans ended up siding with Democrats.
While Congress likely won’t override Trump’s veto, the emergency declaration is still being challenged in courts across the country. A coalition of 20 states have sued the government over Trump’s use of emergency powers, arguing that Congress has the true authority over how money is spent, not the president. The New York Times
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out two countries for human rights violations. South Sudan and Nicaragua, he explained, carried out government-sanctioned violence against their own people. Yet to this day, the Department of Homeland Security has actively worked to prevent people from those countries from entering the U.S.
This contradiction “perfectly illustrates the unfairness inherent in this administration’s approach to temporary protected status,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, the senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. While the U.S. calls out human rights abusers abroad, it actively prevents victims of those abuses from pursuing safety in America. The New York Times
The U.S. Supreme Court will expand the scope of the case against the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the census and decide whether the move violated the Constitution. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the addition last year, prompting a lawsuit arguing that the 2020 Census will greatly undercount immigrant-heavy jurisdictions.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in California ruled Ross violated the Constitution Enumeration Clause because the citizenship question prevents the government from conducting an accurate count of every person in the U.S. The Supreme Court originally agreed to take up the case to see if it violated federal law, but will expand that question to include constitutional law. NBC News
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