Starting today, Voices of NY, a unique and invaluable news organization, will cease publication.
The website was founded in the days following the September 11th attacks as “Voices That Must Be Heard” by Muslim communities who felt their voices were neglected. A coalition of independent and ethnic press gathered to bring their unique perspectives to a wider audience, according to the website. It was the only publication in the New York region dedicated to bridging the gap between immigrant communities and the wider culture of the city.
In the spring of 2011, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism took over the organization from the New York Community Media Alliance and relaunched it as Voices of NY. It served as the only clearinghouse for news from non-English language press and often caught stories most mainstream media reporters missed, like the shadowy networks that own Chinatown bus companies or bike delivery workers being ticketed despite changes to a local law.
Voices of NY was a valuable resource for Documented and New York City and one we will miss.
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On Long Island, Undocumented Drivers Risk Their Freedom From Town to Town
In May 2018, police officers pulled over Felipe Iñiguez in the Long Island town of Lloyd Harbor and found he had a 17-year-old outstanding deportation order. The officers let Iñiguez go, but reported him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Weeks later, he was in detention. Meanwhile, Imelda and Antonio, two undocumented farmworkers from Mexico, had several run-ins with the Riverhead Police Department. Each time, they were convinced the officers would report them to federal authorities, but it never happened. The dozens of police departments across Long Island all have different policies when it comes to reporting immigrants to ICE, creating an uneven geography for undocumented drivers. Proponents of the pending state bill that would provide all New Yorkers with driver’s licenses say the measure would prevent some of these encounters from escalating. Read more at Documented.
Business Council Announces Support of Driver’s Licenses Bill
One of the most influential business lobbying groups in New York State has come out in support of the pending bill that would grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The Business Council of New York State represents companies that employ 1.2 million people in the state, and says its interest in the issue is not about employment. “It’s that we think it’s a good idea for people to have a driving test before they drive and the license itself provides an opportunity to have insurance and their cars properly registered,” Business Council President Heather Briccetti told The Buffalo News, adding that it a “relatively modest proposal.” The Buffalo News
DACA Recipient Detained By ICE Because of a Quirk in Immigration Law
In March of 2018, Omar Helalat was arrested in his dorm at SUNY Albany after being accused of trying to strangle his ex-girlfriend. He denied the charges, but as a deferred action for childhood arrivals recipient, the arrest caught the attention of ICE. They brought him to a detention center in Batavia, near Buffalo, where he remains in mandatory detention because of abnormalities in immigration law pertaining to DACA recipients. Usually, DACA recipients remain in detention until a judge grants them bond, which Helalat has received. But because he is in mandatory detention however, only a federal judge can release him. The mandatory detention clause was triggered because Helalat is classified as an “arriving alien.” Long-term residents don’t usually receive that designation, but Helelat got it after returning from a trip to Jordan to visit a sick relative. WNYC
Immigrants Transferred to NYC from Southern Border
This month, 230 immigrants were transferred from near the Mexico border to the Bergen and Hudson County jails in New Jersey, and the Orange County jail in upstate New York. Per the Legal Aid Society, there are 80 female and 50 male recent border crossers at Bergen County. ICE says it’s using the New York area jails to address the recent uptick in immigrants apprehended at the border. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, which provides free counsel to detained immigrants in New York immigration courts, called on the city government to support it in ensuring the new arrivals have representation. The Daily News
A Republican Political Operative May Have Been Responsible for the Census Citizenship Question
The New York Immigration Coalition said in a court filing to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman that it has new evidence that redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller “played a significant role” in the addition of the question to the 2020 census. After being hired to assess Hofeller concluded that the citizenship question would help “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites” at the polls, he wrote in files his daughter unearthed after his death. The Thursday filing also claims Hofeller helped draft a letter to the Justice Department in August 2017 asking for the question to be added “and providing the Voting Rights Act enforcement rationale for doing so.” Bloomberg
Police Chiefs Call for Dialogue with DHS
Police chiefs of America’s largest cities are calling for meetings with the Department of Homeland Security as the agency scatters migrants apprehended on the southern border across the country. The Major Cities Chiefs Association met in Houston to discuss immigration issues in policing, and demanded information on how federal authorities will relocate migrants to their cities. Many chiefs said they don’t take immigration status into account when performing their duties, except when people are committing crimes or are victims of a crime. They also want to discuss civil detainers and the process of notifying ICE before releasing immigrants who have detainers with the agency. Houston Chronicle
ICE to Expand DNA Testing at the Border
ICE would like to expand its DNA testing of migrants who cross the border, as the agency is hoping to check if migrants are falsely claiming to be family in order to avoid being detained. The agency put out a solicitation on Tuesday for a company to administer 100,000 DNA tests on the southern border over the next year. A pilot program started earlier this month had migrants voluntarily take DNA tests to check if they were related. Contracting documents indicate families are more likely to be temporarily separated if they refuse to submit to the test. The DNA data will reportedly be destroyed after it is collected. Mother Jones
Montana Sheriff’s Immigration Arrest Ruled Unconstitutional
A Montana sheriff violated the Fourth Amendment when he arrested Miguel Reynaga at a state courthouse for being undocumented, a federal court ruled on Wednesday. Deputy Derrek Skinner of Billings, Montana arrested Reynaga when he was appearing at a courthouse to serve as a witness in support of his wife, who was seeking a protection order against a third party. The opposing party in the case said Reynaga was undocumented, so Justice Pedro Hernandez called the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office to request Reynada be “picked up.” Skinner then arrived and arrested Reynaga. A federal judge ruled the arrest was clearly prohibited by the constitution. LexisNexis
First Separated Family to Win Right to Stay in USA Guatemalan man in El Paso became the first parent separated from a child under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy to win the right to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, Texas Monthly reports. Juan fled Guatemala after gangs threatened to kill his whole family. But Juan soon received a six-month sentence in federal prison for illegal reentry, as he had been caught crossing the border before, and was later transferred to an immigration detention facility while his case was heard in immigration court. He and his son Edwin were then separated for 378 days, during which Edwin stopped calling his father “papa” and lost the ability to speak his native Mayan dialect. Texas Monthly
Washington — Trump Implements Mexico Tariffs & Considers Asylum Overhaul, O’Rourke’s Immigration Plan
President Trump on Thursday announced a plan to raise tariffs on Mexico due to its perceived failure to stop Central American migrants coming to the U.S.
Starting June 10, there will be a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming to the U.S. from Mexico. The tariffs would also increase until the “immigration problem is remedied,” Trump said in a tweet. In a White House statement, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10 percent on July 1, 15 percent on Aug. 1, 20 percent on Sept. 1 and to 25 percent on Oct. 1.
The move will likely cause the price of a vast number of goods imported from Mexico to go up as importers pass the cost on to consumers. It could also threaten Trump’s updated North American Free Trade Agreement, which he sent to Congress to consider on Thursday. The Washington Post
President Trump is reportedly considering restricting asylum claimants to effectively block Central American migrants from coming to the U.S. According to Politico, several of Trump’s top Homeland Security advisers are circulating a draft proposal that would prohibit migrants from seeking asylum if they have resided in any other country beside their own before coming to the U.S. This would disqualify anyone who came to the U.S. after traveling from Central America through Mexico to the border. It is questionable whether or not the proposal would hold up in court, as U.S. and international law allows refugees to request asylum on U.S. soil. Politico
Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke released a broad immigration plan on Wednesday he hoped would dismantle a lot of the Trump administration’s work. O’Rourke’s plan would require only immigrants with criminal backgrounds be detained, eliminate funding for private for-profit detention centers, make the immigration courts independent of the Justice Department and provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and TPS holders. The New York Times
The Associated Press notes that O’Rourke is only the second of the 24 candidates competing in the Democratic primary to announce an immigration plan. He follows Julian Castro, likely because other candidates fear the complexity and polarizing nature of the issue.
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