Despite the fact that the New York State DREAM Act — a bill that would give undocumented New York students access to state tuition assistance and other financial aid programs — passed in both the state Assembly and the state Senate over two months ago, it still has not been sent toGov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for a signature. The holdup is largely chalked up to the fact that negotiations over the bill’s implementation, which are happening at the same time as broader negotiations over the state budget, have stuck on the point of the program’s eligibility.
While many of the bill’s supporters had understood it to make young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers eligible for state aid, some skeptics have pointed out that the statute could theoretically allow for tuition assistance to go to international students on temporary student visas.
Some legislative sponsors, including lead sponsor Sen. Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx), have said that they are comfortable with a broad reading of the law, and characterized tuition access broadly as a public investment and economic boon. Still, Sepúlveda said that if the relatively expansive eligibility criteria would cause further delay, he was willing to tighten them and explore an expansion at a later time.
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New York Sees Decrease in Applications for Crime Victims Visas
The U visa allows victims or witnesses of crimes who have collaborated with law enforcement to receive legal status and work authorization, and a path to eventual citizenship. Applicants must get a local district attorney, police department, or other agency to certify they fit the criteria. Data reviewed by WNYC shows last year, the number of these certifications sought by people in New York City fell to 2,282, a 14 percent drop from the 2,664 sought in 2017. The number requested from the NYPD dipped slightly in 2018, but the number requested from district attorneys plummeted from 1,427 to 1,063. Attorneys and Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance attributed the drop to immigrants’ fear of going to court, where ICE arrests have increased dramatically in the past two years. WNYC
New York Farmworkers Want Driver’s Licenses, with Built-in Privacy Protections
Upstate farmworkers see some of the worst effects from being unable to obtain driver’s licenses in New York. They often live and work near isolated farms and have no consistent methods for travel. The few off-the-books drivers charge exorbitant rates, and driving without a license comes with the risk of being pulled over and brought to the attention of immigration authorities. This month, thousands of farmworkers traveled from all over the state to lobby lawmakers in Albany over a proposed measure to grant driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. New York activists specifically want the state’s potential law to have built-in protections prohibiting data-sharing. Civil Eats
Controversy Over CBP Presence in Ithaca Airport Project
Ithaca’s Tompkins County has accepted a multi-phase state grant to renovate and upgrade its local airport. The last phase of the project calls for building a small CBP facility to accommodate international chartered flights and, potentially, commercial flights to Canada. Local immigration advocates fear the permanent CBP presence will increase risk to local immigrants, and accuse the county of turning its back on them in favor of commercial interests. Some local officials counter that the state grants funding the project require it to include the CBP facility, and that CBP’s sole mission at the airport would be processing international arrivals. Ithaca Voice
USCIS Coordinated with ICE on the Detention of Sanctuary Movement Leader
When Samuel Oliver-Bruno, a North Carolina-based immigrant rights activist who had been staying in sanctuary at a Durham church, was detained by ICE at a check-in with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in November and eventually deported, his legal defense team suspected USCIS had coordinated with ICE behind the scenes. Now, emails obtained by Rewire.News prove that happened. The emails show someone from ICE contacted the the local USCIS director to ask whether a social media post from a local immigrant rights organization about Oliver-Bruno’s appointment was accurate. Legal providers and lawmakers have had growing concerns that USCIS’ impartial processing mission has shifted to enforcement support. Rewire.News
Volunteer ‘Underground Railroad’ Forms to Deal With Mass Migrant Releases
Border authorities have been mass-releasing hundreds of families — many of whom are trying to claim asylum — on the streets of cities in Arizona, Texas, and California. A 1997 federal settlement prevents the federal government from holding children in immigration custody for longer than 20 days, and a federal judge ruled that the government can no longer separate most asylum-seeking families, so officials are forced to release them. Those families and children are often released sick and hungry, and local humanitarian providers typically have no idea when they’ll arrive. Around Phoenix, this situation has prompted the creation of an ad hoc group of volunteers who provide food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, and travel assistance to dozens of migrant families per day. PRI
ICE Head Says Agency Trained 1,500 Local Law Enforcement Officers Around the Country
A number local law enforcement agencies recently announced they would cease existing cooperation with ICE. Yet Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello told a crowd at the 2019 Border Security Expo this week that ICE’s arrest and deportation force, Enforcement and Removal Operations, has trained and certified over 1,500 state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law. Vitiello said ERO signed 78 agreements with law enforcement agencies in 20 states, and had developed a new program to allow state or local officers to serve and execute ICE administrative warrants even in jurisdictions where honoring ICE detainers was prohibited. Newsweek
This Border Security Expo will see 125 exhibitors present “the latest technology in the border security arena, including mobile surveillance structures, all-terrain combat vehicles, long-range thermal cameras, license plate scanners and handguns,” to dozens of law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP. The Monitor
Gay and Transgender Detainees at New Mexico ICE Facility Complain of Harassment, Abuse
According to a complaint filed by several civil rights organizations, several gay and transgender detainees held at ICE’s Otero County Processing Center have faced sexual abuse and harassment from other detainees at the facility. They also document verbal abuse by guards, a denial of hormone therapy in violation of ICE’s own regulations, and how they faced solitary confinement when they complained. ICE policies allow detainees vulnerable to sexual assault to be placed in solitary if they’re in imminent danger. In these cases, though, ICE appeared to be using solitary confinement punitively. A 2018 letter sent by several Congressional Democrats to ICE said 13 percent of the 300 transgender people detained by ICE in fiscal year 2017 were placed in solitary confinement. The Washington Post
Florida Lawmakers Reach Secret Deal to Ban ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Instead of E-Verify Measures
Lawmakers in the Florida state legislature have apparently reached a deal to advance bills banning ‘sanctuary’ provisions in exchange for failing to mandate E-Verify. The deal was described by politically connected billionaire health magnate named Mike Fernandez, who said lawmakers had agreed to move the sanctuary bills through the legislative process while allowing E-Verify — a federal work eligibility verification program — to die again. The E-Verify program has had a fraught history in Florida, where it superficially aligns with a more conservative political establishment but is vehemently opposed by business and agricultural interests that rely on undocumented labor. The Tampa Bay Times
Meanwhile, it’s not clear that Florida even has any sanctuary jurisdictions to ban. WJCT
Washington — Sticking Point with Medicare for All, Failed Veto Override, Pentagon Takes $1 Billion for Border Wall
One of the most contentious issues likely to arise during conversations about a Medicare for All program, which has seen widespread adoption by Democratic 2020 candidates and enjoys growing support among the electorate, is how it would deal with medical insurance for the undocumented. Currently, people without legal status are barred from purchasing government health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and are ineligible for services like Medicare and Medicaid. Both the House and Senate versions of Medicare for All bills, though, would establish eligibility for any U.S. resident without specifying citizenship or legal residence requirements, opening up another front over for political factions to spar over the already controversial proposal. Associated Press
The House predictably failed to override President Trump’s veto of its resolution to end his national emergency declaration over a supposed border crisis. Trump has attempted to use the so-called emergency to seize funds for his border wall. Trump used his veto power for the first time to shoot down the rebuke, which both the Democrat-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate easily passed. Multiple ongoing lawsuits over the declaration claim Trump’s declaration is an effort to sidestep Congress’ constitutional appropriations power. The Washington Post
The Pentagon announced it was diverting up to $1 billion in already-appropriated funding, putting it toward construction of 57 miles of a border wall. Despite Congressional Democrats’ objections, there is little they can do to prevent the Pentagon from moving around money it already has. Vox
The administration is using an obscure, post-9/11-era regulation to indefinitely detain a Palestinian man it has failed to deport, saying he is a security risk. Adham Hassoun, 56, had already served a prison sentence on terrorism charges, but no other government would take him as a deportee. So the U.S. is instead holding him under a provision allowing the detention of “active threats.” Hassoun has sued, and the outcome of the case could have broad implications for the federal government’s ability to indefinitely detain people on these grounds. The New York Times