Uber, Lyft and other ride-share app drivers will strike for two hours on Wednesday to call for higher wages and working conditions. Drivers will turn off their apps from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., with some planning to rally at 11 a.m. outside Uber’s driver hub in Long Island City.
Uber is planning to unveil its initial public offering later this week, with a valuation expected to hit up to $90 billion. Some riders say Uber has been reducing bonus payments and increasing the fees the company takes from drivers to demonstrate its profitability ahead of its IPO. Drivers will likely not benefit from the opening’s potential cash windfall with the offering.
There are currently 65,000 rideshare drivers in New York City, and their introduction has deeply destabilized the local taxi industry, contributing to 8 cab driver and owner suicides. On Tuesday, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and the Independent Drivers Guild introduce a mental health program aimed to helping for-hire vehicle drivers.
Uber and Lyft have also suffered recent losses to city and state policies. New York passed a cap on the number of possible rideshare vehicles last summer and a judge recently rejected a lawsuit filed by Lyft against the city’s newly enacted minimum wage rules for drivers. Gothamist
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Unions Gather to Call for Farmworker Overtime Pay and Other Rights
Labor unions and advocates gathered in Albany this week to call for collective bargaining and overtime pay for New York farmworkers, who are exempt from those protections. The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act has stalled for years, but State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D) of Queens recently reintroduced it. The act guarantees workers one day off per week and requires employers to pay overtime. “There is no reason that in 2019, in a $5 billion dollar industry — that is, the agricultural industry — that if you work 60-70 hours a week, you should be living in poverty,” she said. The bill currently has majority support from both chambers and is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Albany Times-Union
This Bill Would Allow the Firing of Clerks Who Don’t Issue Undocumented Immigrants Driver’s Licenses
Immigrant advocates have recently intensified the push to create a statewide driver’s license for undocumented immigrants, and now, a new bill would let Gov. Andrew Cuomo fire county clerks if they refuse to provide those licenses. Sen. Luis Sepulveda (D) introduced the bill, which is currently in the Committee on Investigations and Government Operations. One county clerk, Michael Kearns of Erie County, said “I told the people of Erie County what I was going to do, and I told them right then and there, that I would never, and I repeated, ever, issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.” WKBW Buffalo
New Comedy Will Examine City Council and NYC Immigrants
NBC has ordered a new show from the producer of The Office and Parks and Recreation, which will follow a disgraced former New York City councilmember hired by immigrants to help them become naturalized citizens. Kal Penn, who worked in the Obama administration and starred in the “Harold and Kumar” series, will play ex-councilmember Garrett Modi alongside a cast of mostly immigrant actors playing residents of Sunnyside, Queens. The show is produced by Mike Schur, whose recent work includes producing New York-based comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. Vulture
ICE Unveils New Program to Skirt Sanctuary Policies
A new program revealed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday is aimed at creating a workaround for law enforcement agencies in ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions who want to detain immigrants. Under the Warrant Service Officer program, law enforcement officers and whole offices would go to a local ICE field office, where ICE would evaluate if their participation would violate any local laws. Offices can also sign a memorandum of agreement with the agency and nominate officers to participate, giving them the power to make immigration arrests in jails and other correctional facilities on ICE’s behalf. Florida’s Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has already signed up for the program. CBS News
Documentary Follows a Local Reporter Recording the Toll of Immigration Enforcement in Atlanta
Mario Guevara is a reporter for Mundo Hispanico in Atlanta, who spends his time documenting the toll of immigration enforcement on the city’s immigrant community. As enforcement increased in 2016, he started noticing ICE was targeting work vans with ladders on their roofs or company signs plastered to their sides. He recorded these arrests on his cell phone and narrated the eerie scenes of vans abandoned in parking lots, their drivers plucked away en route to work. Filmmaker Jesse Moss followed Guevara as he worked, documenting ICE raids and arrests and the families of people who entered “the mouth of the wolf,” as one woman told Guevara. The New York Times Op Docs
Border Militia Member Wants to Put Migrants “In a Gas Chamber”
A member of the private militia that detained 200 immigrants along the New Mexico border in April called for migrants to be put “in a gas chamber,” among other threats. One night in April, Armando Gonzalez and fellow — now former — militia member Steven Brant saw a group of migrants crossing the border. Gonzalez handed Brant a handgun and ran to his truck to grab an AR-15. “Why are we just apprending them and not lining them up and shooting them?” he told Brant, according to a police report. Brant later reported the threats. “We have to go back to Hitler days and put them all in a gas chamber,” Gonzalez also reportedly said. The Young Turks
Border Trade Slowdown Could Damage Texas Economy
Texas could lose $33 billion if trade with Mexico continues to drag along at its current slow rate. The entire U.S. economy would lose $69 billion at that rate as well, the Perryman Group economic research firm found. The border slowdown could also cost the state the equivalent of 293,000 years of work. In 2016, Houston exported more goods to Mexico than to anywhere else in the world, and is the second largest exporting city in the U.S. The slowdown’s effects also pile up as goods move across the border multiple times during their production. Houston Public Media
Shareholders Vote to Force GEO Group to Produce a Human Rights Report
Shareholders with GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private prison corporations, passed a resolution demanding the company report human rights violations and policies to investors. The shareholders are working with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group involved in the divestment of companies tied to apartheid in South Africa and convinced GEO to develop a human rights policy in 2013. The group wants the company to release another report in September. GEO Group released a statement against proposal, saying they “believe the timing of the report requested of September 2019 is arbitrary and does not give us sufficient time to develop a meaningful report.” Miami New Times
Washington — Asylum Officers Ordered to Be More Aggressive, Trump Nominates New ICE Chief, Students Win Legal Ruling Against USCIS
The Trump administration has directed asylum officers to be more skeptical of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. According to internal documents shared with The Washington Post, the officers will challenge applicants whose persecution claims contain discrepancies more closely. The officers will ask immigrants to provide detailed justifications before finding they have a credible fear of being deported to certain harm in their home country.
“Officers conducting credible fear interviews should also be addressing any more detailed inconsistencies between the applicant’s testimony during the credible fear interview and other testimony in sworn statement,” John Lafferty, the head of the asylum division at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wrote in an email to members of the agency. The new guidelines signal that the Trump administration wants to turn away asylum seekers early in the legal process.
One asylum officer told the Post that the changes are “huge” and would lengthen the screening process, as officers would have to write detailed reports about each applicant. Rejected asylum applicants are often sent to the immigration courts, and with more likely rejections stemming from this policy, the already colossal court backlog would only get worse. The Washington Post
President Trump has nominated Mark Morgan to head ICE. The former U.S. Border Patrol chief has spoken publicly in favor of the border wall and Trump’s agenda. Morgen is a former FBI special agent and Marine, and he oversaw a task force that focused on MS-13 in Los Angeles during his tenure at the FBI. After Trump became president, Morgan, who served under former President Barack Obama, was asked to resign from the Border Patrol. But he then began appearing on cable news, often speaking in favor of the president. Morgan has had little experience with immigration enforcement despite briefly working for CBP . PBS Newshour
A federal district court has blocked USCIS from changing a rule that would harm foreign students’ and exchange visitors’ abilities to stay in the country. Guilford College joined three other schools, as well as education-related groups, in suing the agency and the Department of Homeland Security in federal court in North Carolina. They claim a policy memorandum would lead more international students and employees to receive 3- and 10-year bars on entering the country. In the new policy, USCIS proposed counting unlawful presence in the country from the date a student overstayed their visa, even if it was accidental. The plaintiffs cited multiple examples where students overstayed their visas by no fault of their own, and the court ruled in their favor. Immigration Impact