Immigrant advocacy organizations are intensifying their push to pass legislation that would allow the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented people as Albany’s fight over the issue continues to heat up. Support is growing in the state legislature, but there is still a ways to go in before dissenters — which include Democrats — are swayed. A poll in March showed 61 percent of New Yorkers opposed making undocumented immigrants eligible for licenses. Just 49 percent of Democrats were in favor of the proposal.
Immigrant advocates say letting undocumented people access licenses would make the roads safer and would allow them to receive vital services, get to work safely and generally be more free to get around. It would also cut down on the criminal charge of driving without a license, which introduces many immigrants into the deportation process. Opponents of the measure say they don’t want to help people in the country illegally break the law.
Some sheriffs have voiced opposition to the measure, but the state Sheriffs’ Association has refused to take sides as of now. Some county clerks have been particularly vocal in their opposition. The bill we surely be discussed June 19 when the legislative session resumes, and the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Luis Sepulveda (D-Bronx), is confident he has secured enough votes to pass it. CNHI
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Advocates Rally for Adult Literacy Classes
Adult literacy classes serve about 5,700 students in the City, including over 1,800 in Brooklyn alone. Yet about $12 million of their funding was cut from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget plan for fiscal year 2020. The move comes despite the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy calling for funding for more permanent “baseline” funding and increased funding for English classes, as there are at least 15,000 New Yorkers currently on waitlists. The 2020 budget will be finalized in June after negotiations with the City Council. The Brooklyn Eagle
New Jersey Counties Eye ICE Contract Renewal Under Challenges from New ‘Sanctuary’ Law
New Jersey passed a ‘sanctuary’ law two months ago that limits local law enforcement cooperation with federal authorities to detain immigrants. Three county sheriff’s offices still remain in ICE’s 287(g) program, and when their current programs expire in June, will have to decide whether to renew them. So far, Monmouth County says its four corrections officers in the program will continue. The county will have to seek Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s approval if it sticks with this plan. North Jersey Record
Rates of Unauthorized Immigration are Not Related to Crime
A study from The Marshall Project and The New York Times last year showed there is no correlation between immigration and crime rates. Yet detractors suggested that the study didn’t account for undocumented immigrants, who drive crime rates. That suggestion has been disproven with new data from the Pew Research Center. It allowed the outlets to compare local FBI crime rates with those published last year, showing that in many areas, crime went down regardless of whether the undocumented population rose or fell. Areas that had more undocumented people seemingly had a larger drop in crime, but it was harder for researchers to draw that conclusion. Overall, the study showed there was no strong link between the presence of undocumented immigrants and crime rates. The New York Times + The Marshall Project
Former Judges Say EOIR Memo is ‘Wildly Inaccurate’
The Executive Office of Immigration Review recently released a memo addressing the “myths” of immigration court, prompting a group of former immigration judges and members of the board of immigration appeals to release a letter calling the EOIR’s statements “wildly inaccurate and misleading.” The EOIR memo is “political pandering at the expense of public faith in the immigration courts you oversee,” the group of over 25 former judges continued, saying it was out of the agency’s purview to issue such a document. “American courts do not issue propaganda implying that those whose cases it rules on for the most part have invalid claims,” the former judges wrote. Read the letter.
Tech Workers Protest Palantir ICE Contract
The Tech Workers Coalition have mounted a protest against Palantir, the shadowy data-mining firm founded by President Trump ally Peter Thiel that has held contracts with the New York Police Department, the CIA and ICE. On Saturday, outside programmers flooded Palantir’s public Github page with reports that the US government uses the company’s technology to target immigrants and unaccompanied children, essentially posting their public presence with protesting flyers. “If Palantir’s going to profit from the work of the open-source community, then we’re going to make sure we, as a community, have a say in who they work with,” one of the organizers said. The Guardian
Washington AG Lawsuit Against GEO Group Advances
Washington state is currently trying to force private prison company GEO Group to compensate the detainees it has paid $1 per day for janitorial work, cooking and other tasks. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the lawsuit in 2017, and on Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan granted Ferguson’s motion to dismiss GEO Group’s attempt to block the suit. GEO Group had claimed the attorney general acted in bad faith and that it was not the most appropriate party to levy his claims against, calling the claims politically motivated. The suit involves the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, which has 1,575 beds. Seattle Times
Advocates Worry California City is Being Manipulated by GEO Group
Adelanto, California announced it was ending its contract with the Adelanto Detention Center, a privately run immigration detention facility with a documented history of medical neglect and excessive punishment. While advocates often push towns and localities to divest from ICE countracts, they found it worrisome how abruptly the city was ending its contract. They fear GEO Group is trying to directly contract with ICE to keep the facility open, letting them sidestep a current contact through the town. This would allow them a way out of a new state law that prohibits cities and counties from entering into new contracts with private prison companies or modifying existing ones. The Guardian
Washington — White House Planned Mass Raids, Asian Americans Leaning Democratic, GOP Skeptical of Kushner’s Immigration Plan
The Department of Homeland Security weighed a plan with the White House to arrest thousands of undocumented parents and their children in coordinated nationwide raids, according to reports from the Associated Press and The Washington Post. The plan was focused on deterring future migration, but they reportedly decided against it due to lack of resources.
Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former ICE chief Ron Vitiello both fought the plan, citing concerns with the amount of resources they would take, current and former DHS officials say. Both were ousted weeks later. Nielsen and Vitiello were also apparently concerned about the possibility of widespread public backlash, akin to the outcry after the zero-tolerance policy began.
The White House reportedly planned to arrest parents and children in10 U.S. cities with large immigrant communities, targeting those who had already received a final deportation order. “There was concern that it was being hastily put together, would be ineffective and might actually backfire by misdirecting resources away from critical border emergency response operations,” a DHS official told the Post. The Washington Post, The Associated Press
Between 2014 and 2018, the number of Asian American voters backing a Democrat has shot up 77 percent. As the Republican Party has moved to the right, Asian Americans are increasingly moving the other direction, and President Trump has only increased this trend. The administration’s attacks on undocumented immigrants, H-1B visas and its addition of the citizenship question to US census are a few of the administration’s policies that reportedly lost Republicans a chunk of their voter base, according to a Columbia University sociology professor. Researchers were sure to point out that the Asian American voting block is diverse. But on a whole, it is skewing away from the GOP. Vox
Trump’s son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner was grilled by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday about his comprehensive plan to overhaul the immigration system — and he came up short on several solutions. Republican officials privately said Kushner did not have clear answers for his audience, which prompted Stephen Miller to interrupt and overtake the conversation, The Washington Post reports. Kushner also apparently told Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that his plan would not address DACA, making it a tough bipartisan sell. GOP senators reportedly left the meeting wondering if Kushner understood immigration issues. The Washington Post