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Early Arrival: Hudson Yards Funded Through Questionable Visa Practices

Monday’s Edition of Early Arrival: Yemeni Advocates and Bodega Owners Boycott the NY Post — CBP Builds New Camp for Immigrants — Trump Pressures CBP Head to Close Border, Sanctuary Cities Release Plan, Stephen Miller Takes Center Stage

The much-maligned Hudson Yards real estate project was financed through the EB-5 visa program, which offers foreigners green cards if they invest $500,000 in economic projects in the U.S. Hudson Yards utilized $1.2 billion in EB-5 money, which is generally slated for investment in rural and distressed urban communities.

In the past, EB-5 money has gone toward Hurricane Sandy repairs and an affordable housing complex in Flushing, Queens. Midtown West’s Hudson Yards is more of a luxury building project, but developer The Related Companies skewed that fact by including Harlem public housing in the project’s economic zone despite the fact they were miles away.

The EB-5 program has a yearly cap of 10,000 visas, and Hudson Yards took funding from 3,200 of them. Seeing as EB-5 visas also go to the families of investors, Hudson Yards may have claimed a year’s worth of visas and a significant portion of annual EB-5 money.

In the past, people close to White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner have reportedly used his presidential ties to siphon EB-5 investor money for Kushner Companies projects in China. The former owner of the Florida spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was caught allegedly soliciting sex also has been found to claim she could sell access to EB-5 visas. Changes to EB-5 could be coming soon, though. Minimum investment levels may be dramatically raised, and the Department of Homeland Security may be put in charge of drawing investment zones. City Lab

Happy Monday. I’m Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

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Yemeni Advocates and Bodega Owners Boycott NY Post

A group of Yemeni advocates and business owners are boycotting the New York Post after a recent cover overlaid a quote from Rep. Illhan Omar (D-Minn.) with the burning Twin Towers. At a benefit for the Council on American Islamic Relations, Omar said “some people did something” in relation to the September 11 attacks. “Here’s your something. 2,977 people dead by terrorism,” the Post headline read. Yemeni bodega owners had already started to stop selling the papers by Saturday, and on Sunday, the Yemeni American Merchants Association announced a formal boycott. The New York Times

Immigrant Muslim Women Face Special Issues When Fleeing Domestic Violence

On night in Brooklyn, Carrie Ellman-Larsen came across a woman and her husband in the middle of a confrontation. The husband told her everything was fine and his wife is just mentally ill. But Ellman-Larsen stuck around until police arrived, and later found out the woman was part of a forced marriage and had recently arrived from Bangladesh. Ellman-Larsen helped connect her to Shahana Hanif, a staffer at city councilmember Brad Lander’s office. Hanif then pointed her to Asiyah Women’s Shelter, a facility for Muslim women who are domestic violence victims. The shelter formed after Muslim immigrant women began increasingly showing up to a Sunset Park mosque with abuse concerns. The New York Times

Support Grows for ICE Out of Courts Bill

Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity has ballooned 1700 percent in courthouses in recent years. That’s why Democrats recently introduced a state bill that would prevent ICE arrests while a person is attending or leaving court without a judicial warrant or court order. Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, an advocacy group in Hudson County, is drumming up support for the bill around Hudson County cities such as New Paltz, Woodstock, Poughkeepsie and Beacon.  ICE activity in the courts has made immigrants afraid of seeking legal help in various courts, including housing court. The Daily Freeman


CBP Builds New Camp for Immigrants

US Customs and Border Protection is at a “breaking point” and faces an “unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis,” Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations at CBP, said in a late March speech. The agency apprehended 76,000 people at the southern border in February, and is now spending up to $37 million building new facilities to house them, according to federal contracting documents. Some current detention centers along the border are operating at triple and even quadruple their capacity. The agency recently even housed waiting migrants under a bridge. Quartz

Trump’s Sanctuary City Release Plan Could Backfire

President Donald Trump’s plan to release immigrants to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions could backfire, researchers say. Trump has recently considered sending the migrant overflow to sanctuary cities as an attempt at retribution against pro-immigrant Democrats. Yet immigrants are actually 20 percent less likely to be arrested in these sanctuary cities than those without similar policies, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. That’s because these large jurisdictions have more resources devoted to helping these migrants rather than locking them up. The Associated Press

Mayors Push Back Against Trump’s Sanctuary City Release Plan

After Trump announced he would release immigrants onto the streets of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, mayors of those cities began firing back. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said her city “isn’t afraid of immigrants.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Trump “uses people like pawns,” adding that “New York City will always be the ultimate city of immigrants – the president’s empty threats won’t change that.” In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney said his city “would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades.” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said “These are people, not pawns, Mr. President.” Reuters

Hunger Strikes for Detainees May be Increasing

Asylum-seekers held hunger strikes in at least six U.S. detention centers in 2019 alone. The strikes are held in response to detention conditions and the fact that the Trump administration enacted policies to ensure asylum seekers remain in detention while their cases wind through the courts. Advocates say they have never seen hunger strikes happening at such a frequent pace. In El Paso, Texas, nine Indian asylum seekers held a strike that last 74 days before ICE officers  force fed them. The most recent documented hunger strike was at the River Correctional Facility in Ferriday, Louisiana. NPR

Federal Judge Reunites Central American Kids with U.S. Resident Parents

A federal court will allow almost 2,700 children living in Central America to join their parents in the states. The children had been conditionally approved for entry into the U.S. before Trump came into office, but the White House canceled the Central American Minors program in August 2017. The program began in 2014 and allowed the children of parents lawfully living in the country to apply for permanent residency in their home countries. Without it, they would have to make the perilous journey through Central America to make their claim at the border. The New York Times

Washington — Trump Pressures CBP Head to Close Border, Sanctuary Cities Release Plan, Stephen Miller Takes Center Stage

President Trump urged Kevin McAleenan, then the head of USCIS, to close the southwestern border to migrants last week, sources have told CNN and The New York Times. If McAleenan, now acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary, ran into legal issues with the decision, Trump reportedly said he would pardon him. Sources were unclear on whether that was a joke.

Trump has long floated the idea of closing the border. But just the day before he seemingly spoke with McAleenan, Trump told reporters he was issuing a “one-year warning” to Mexico instead of actually taking action. Former DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen refused a similar request to close the border, likely leading to her ouster.

Trump has reportedly grown increasingly agitated by the images of the border he sees on TV, leading him to ramp up his talk of illegal immigration and asylum seekers. “I’m going to have to call up more military,” Trump told reporters in San Antonio last week. “Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like they would normally act because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy.”  The New York Times

Trump has tossed around a plan to release migrants into so-called sanctuary cities in a political gambit against Democrats. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that by moving asylum seekers around the country, the administration wanted to “spread out some of that burden” border towns are facing regarding the influx of migrants. Yet with multiple high-level DHS vacancies sprouting recently, it will be difficult to act on any new policy proposal. Politico

Senior Adviser Stephen Miller has been behind much of the recent immigration turmoil emanating from the White House. He reportedly orchestrated ouster of ex-DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen, and has drummed up a network of supporters at the Justice and State Departments who are helping him turn his radical anti-immigrant ideas into reality. Miller is far more interested in pursuing his anti-immigrant agenda than following the letter of the law, people close to the White House also say. One of his latest proposals is to create a new policy, referred to as “binary choice,” where detained parents would have to choose if they want to remain detained but be with their children, or see those children released into government custody. Vanity Fair

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