New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has filed a lawsuit against a number of immigration legal aid providers for “allegedly using a multi-part scheme to deceive immigrants.”
DCWP accused Angel G. Buitron of Buitron Offices & Associates of posing as a renowned lawyer with an expertise in complex immigration cases despite not having a license to practice law anywhere. Buitron allegedly charged immigrants up to $30,000 for legal help and then had Susana T. Abarca, of the Law Office of Susana Abarca, PLLC, appear in immigration court for him, often without the immigrant client’s knowledge.
Buitron previously entered into a settlement agreement to resolve similar allegations. Read DCWP’s press release.
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Oversight in Construction Industry Falls Short
This month, three construction workers were killed in one week on job sites around New York City. Their deaths are among six fatalities and several injuries in the industry in the last seven months. Authorities are now scrambling to crack down on unscrupulous contractors, but a Documented analysis found contractors with a history of worker fatalities continue to receive permits from the city’s Department of Buildings. The recent spate of deaths started in September, when Luis Amonte was crushed to death by a retaining wall that collapsed on him. The contractor on the worksite had been warned just hours earlier that the project was unsafe. Read more at Documented
City Files Lawsuit Against Immigration Legal Service Provider
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has filed a lawsuit against a number of immigration legal aid providers for “allegedly using a multi-part scheme to deceive immigrants.” DCWP accused Angel G. Buitron of Buitron Offices & Associates of posing as a renowned lawyer with an expertise in complex immigration cases despite not having a license to practice law anywhere. Buitron allegedly charged immigrants up to $30,000 for legal help and then had Susana T. Abarca, of the Law Office of Susana Abarca, PLLC, appear in immigration court for him, often without the immigrant client’s knowledge. Buitron previously entered into a settlement agreement to resolve similar allegations. Read DCWP’s press release.
Court Officers Rail Against ICE Out of Court Directive
Court officers are unhappy with a new directive that will require ICE agents to present judicial warrants before entering New York state courthouses to carry out arrests. Dennis Quirk, president of the New York State Court Officers Association, said court officers’ hands will be tied if ICE decides not to follow the directive and continues to use administrative warrants. In a private Facebook group, one state courts employee said the directive was “Anti-American.” Posting in that same Facebook group, Quirk said court officers have no legal grounds to stop any Law Enforcement Officer. An Office of Court Administration spokesperson dismissed the declaration. The City
Deportees Struggle to Readjust Back Home
An estimated 1 million undocumented people from the state of Puebla, Mexico live in the U.S., and half of those people live in New York City. Corona, Queens has earned the nickname Puebla York due to the high concentration of Poblanos living there. The state even has a New York office devoted to immigrants, and it offers state-sponsored reunions for families through three-week temporary visas. Poblanos in the U.S. also commonly send funds back to their families in Mexico, with the state capital, Puebla City, receiving the second highest amount of remittances in Mexico after Tijuana in 2018. Politico Magazine
Militia Leader Arrested After Detaining Migrants at the Border
The FBI arrested militia leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins in New Mexico on Saturday after his group set off a torrent of criticism for detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Hopkins’ group, The United Constitutional Patriots, uploaded videos of armed members detaining children and their parents in the New Mexico desert. The state’s political leaders were swift in denouncing the group. Hopkins, who was operating under the alias Johnny Horton Jr., was arrested on charges of firearms possession by a felon. The New York Times
Cannabis Jobs Could Bar Citizenship
On the day before 4/20, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced new guidelines that could bar citizenship rights from immigrants who work in the cannabis industry, even in states where it is legal. The new guidelines say immigrants involved in “marijuana-related activities” would not meet the standards of good moral character required to gain citizenship. 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, but it remains illegal at the federal level. CBS News
Drops in Bond and Parole Spark Hunger Strikes
In the first three months of 2019, there were six hunger strikes in ICE detention centers around the country. Most of these strikes usually came with the demand for a bond hearing or the right to parole, two things that the Trump administration has decreased for immigrants in detention. Bond denials have shot up since Trump came into office, and last week, Attorney General William Barr issued a decision that will prevent some asylum seekers with a credible fear being granted bond hearings. Attaining parole has become more difficult in recent years, as ICE has issued blanket denials to detained immigrants. NPR
ICE Keeps Transgender Woman Detained for Months After She Won Asylum
A Honduran transgender woman who was detained for seven months despite winning asylum has been released by ICE following a lawsuit. Nicole Garcia Aguilar was released from a detention facility in New Mexico on Wednesday after the ACLU sued ICE over her prolonged detention, which included stints in solitary confinement. She was granted asylum by an immigration judge Oct. 9 last year but remained in detention after ICE appealed. The government also transferred Garcia from the country’s only detention facility for transgender detainees to a male-only unit. The Guardian
Sheriff Arpaio’s Racial Profiling Case Costs County Over $100M
Maricopa County in Arizona is expected to pay nearly $150 million dollars by the summer of 2020 in settlements stemming from a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling of immigrants in Phoenix. The county has already paid $111.5 million in settlements, local officials say. The lawsuits originated from Arpaio’s traffic patrols, which a court found profiled Latinos. Much of the costs come from judge-mandated compliance procedures that require updates in internal procedures and legal fees for lawyers. Associated Press
Washington — Family Detention Centers Going Unused, Congressman Fails to Cross Border
Family detention centers that hold parents and children are sitting empty, despite reports of a surge in families crossing the border.
The administration stopped using one of three family detention centers and left almost 2,000 beds unused at the other two. The administration claims this is due to an inability to transfer migrants to the facilities, while advocates argue the administration is manufacturing a crisis by not utilizing these facilities and keeping people at the border.
According to Border Patrol, more than 50,000 parents and children were apprehended in March. Advocates argue the space is going unused for political reasons, to allow ICE to argue that it has inadequate facilities to deal with people crossing the border. Associated Press
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) attempted to prove how easy it is to come into the U.S. illegally in a video last week, but he failed. Hunter posted a Facebook video of himself crossing what he thought was the border in Yuma, Arizona. A Border Patrol spokesperson said the border was actually 100 feet away at the Colorado River. Times of San Diego
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case of the inclusion of the citizenship question in the 2020 census on Tuesday, with a decision expected in late June. Associated Press