In November of last year, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced he was issuing new directives for state law enforcement’s interactions and ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The move was greeted with immediate condemnation and increased in-state operations by ICE. Nevertheless, the new rules went into effect this week, essentially barring any state, county and local law enforcement officials from performing any stops, searches or detentions of immigrants on behalf of immigration agents unless there are serious or violent crimes or final orders of deportation involved.
Before the rules, which are known as the Immigrant Trust Directive, the state had no uniform policies specifically limiting police’s cooperation with immigration authorities. The policy now says local police cannot question any individual based solely on suspicions about immigration status; local law enforcement cannot enter into or renew agreements with ICE that allow local officials to perform immigration enforcement; and prosecutors can’t use immigration status to attack a witness’ credibility at trial.
Several local law enforcement officials have thrown their support behind the measure, saying cooperation with ICE undermines trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities and makes their jobs more difficult.
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New York Dairy Threatened by Aggressive Immigration Enforcement
Farmers around New York, particularly those who own dairy farms upstate, are finding it increasingly difficult to find and maintain laborers, the vast majority of whom are immigrants.
Dairy farms, vegetable farms, orchards, and vineyards could once draw on a ready supply of both local, long-term resident immigrants and temporary migrants who would cross the border back and forth seasonally. But longtime workers are aging, and President Trump’s focus on immigration enforcement has meant that stock is decreasing, especially thanks to upstate’s border with Canada. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers representing districts with affected farms are looking for a solution, but Congress remains deadlocked. The New York Times
Poll Shows Majority of NY Voters Oppose Driver’s Licenses for the Undocumented
A poll of 700 registered voters in New York conducted by Siena College between March 10 and March 14 found 61 percent of voters did not believe the state should make driver’s licenses available to undocumented residents. These licenses have seen a full-court push by immigration advocates in recent weeks as they pressure lawmakers to pass the measure during this legislative session. The licenses have Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lukewarm support — he has said he would sign a bill but has reportedly discouraged some senators from voting for it. Activists claim the lack of public support stems from misinformation. New York Daily News
Hudson City Police Will Receive Training on Warrants Following ICE Incident
Earlier this month, Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack was stopped by ICE agents, who tried to arrest two undocumented immigrants McCormack was driving home from Hudson City Court. MacCormack refused, so the agents called Hudson City police, who watched the altercation from a distance. The agents eventually gave up and left. MacCormack accused the police of violating local sanctuary policies by responding to the ICE call, which the local police chief denied. He did concede, though, that the police weren’t properly trained to distinguish between an administrative warrant and a full judicial warrant, and said that they would receive further guidance on confirming ICE’s legal authority. HudsonValley360
Unaccompanied Minors Held in Off-the-Books Shelter Facilities
Most unaccompanied migrant children under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement are held in a publicly-disclosed shelter facility. But an investigation by Reveal found several facilities not previously disclosed by the agency are holding multiple children with apparent mental health or behavioral challenges — the government later acknowledged this as true. Under the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which governs how the federal government treats unaccompanied minors, ORR is supposed to provide detailed counts and locations for every minor held in its care. These off-the-books agreements with at least five unacknowledged facilities to house at least 16 children appear to violate Flores. At least two are owned by a large, publicly-traded health and residential care company with a history of mismanagement. Reveal
Asylum Seekers Returned to Tijuana Have First U.S. Court Hearings
About 240 migrants at the San Ysidro port of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico have so far been returned to Tijuana under the Migrant Protection Protocols, which forces asylum seekers to wait outside the country as their cases progress. Some of the original batch of migrants forced back in January are having their first court hearings, but many were unable to find legal representation while waiting. Mexico has said affected migrants are welcome to apply for humanitarian visas and work permits in Tijuana, but migrants and their representatives say they’re not given much guidance. The U.S. is now seeking to expand the policy to other ports of entry. Reuters
Tiny Town Becomes Latest Flashpoint in Effort to Build Detention Center Near Chicago
For years, ICE has tried to get a private prison provider to build a large immigration detention facility that could house about 1,000 immigrants within 80 miles of Chicago’s immigration court, with easy access to cities like Milwaukee and Indianapolis. The Immigration Centers of America’s attempt to do so earlier this year was shot down by the governor. Now, the same company has reached an agreement with the Illinois town of Dwight, two hours southwest of Chicago, whose trustees agreed to annex 88 acres of land where the immigration prison could be built. Local opposition is brewing, but the president of the village board insists it’s coming from people largely outside Dwight. The Chicago Tribune
Influx of Migrants Speaking Indigenous Languages Stymies Courts
Though the immigration court system is largely set up to deal with people who speak common languages like Spanish, Creole or Mandarin, it has been overwhelmed in recent years by the Mexican and Central American migrants who only speak indigenous languages. In the past few years, Mam, K’iche’ and Q’anjob’al — all languages indigenous to Guatemala — have each become one of the 25 most common languages spoken in immigration court. The issue has only added to the enormous court backlog as judges must postpone hearings with respondents they can’t communicate with. Attorneys are similarly unable to properly communicate with their clients. The New York Times
Another Migrant Dies in Border Patrol CustodyA 40-year-old man from Mexico died on Monday after being apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol early on Sunday near the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso. He had been previously deported and was arrested by Border Patrol agents under suspicion of illegal reentry. In a statement, CBP said the man had been taken to Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, after being diagnosed with flulike symptoms, liver failure and renal failure. The unidentified man is the fourth person who recently died under the agency’s care, after another adult and two children. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has opened up an official review into his death. BuzzFeed News
Washington — SCOTUS Ruling, Venezuela TPS Fight, Beto’s Border Record
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 along ideological lines that ICE is permitted to take immigrants who have received certain criminal convictions into indefinite custody without the possibility of bond, no matter how much time has passed since they were released from criminal custody. In Preap v. Nielsen, SCOTUS struck down a Ninth Circuit Court decision that set limitations for which immigrants could be held in mandatory detention, which is a provision in a 1996 immigration law. The court, however, declined to rule on the underlying constitutionality of the provision, which essentially allows the government to hold people without justification as a result of criminal convictions for which they have already served their sentences or paid their fines. In doing so, the court practically invited a challenge to the law’s constitutional standing. Vox
Officials within the Trump administration are torn over the issue of providing Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan nationals as the U.S. seeks to put pressure on the Maduro government and provide support to the Venezuelan opposition. State Department Special Envoy Elliott Abrams has been a strong advocate for providing such protections to over 70,000 Venezuelans in the country. Members of the National Security Council, however, including Western Hemisphere Affairs Director Mauricio Claver-Carone, have pushed back, saying that such a move would indicate that the U.S. sees no solution to the crisis in the short term. The Wall Street Journal
Before he was jumping on counters all over primary states, Democratic primary contender Beto O’Rourke was a Texas Congressman representing El Paso, where he developed and exhibited a deep knowledge of the border and the U.S. immigration system. However, his rhetorical style so far on the campaign trail has belied this expertise, as he’s focused more on a unifying message than on specific policy prescriptions, especially those as radioactive as immigration reform. Vox
Included in the president’s proposed budget is a head-scratching eight percent cut to the federal E-Verify program, the system which allows employers to check their potential employees’ work eligibility against federal databases. A USCIS spokesman confirmed that technological modernization had made the program cheaper to run. Politico
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