Cai Shuang Chen is a father of two in Brooklyn. Five years ago, Chen, a Chinese immigrant, won a settlement in federal court for $328,000 in stolen wages. He’s yet to see a penny from the lawsuit. Chen worked 80 hours per week for five years as a deliveryman at a Chinatown takeout restaurant.
At the end of each 12-hour day, seven days per week, he earned $40 for his labor. In 2017, a judge sided with Chen and ordered that he be paid $327,738 in stolen wages. His case illustrates the limitations of wage theft lawsuits in New York State.
Chen won the lawsuit against Canton Kitchen, owned by Chiu Chun Fung. But following the settlement, Chen alleged that Canton Kitchen changed its name to House Special to avoid paying. There are no legal mechanisms in the state for compelling employers to pay out in wage theft lawsuits, as many dissolve the entity involved in the lawsuit and create new ones under different names.
The restaurant is now officially owned by a waiter, but Fung allegedly still runs it. A bill in the state legislature, the SWEAT Act, would prohibit these forms of avoidance. NY Daily News
Hello, this is Mazin Sidahmed with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are local, independent, and not-for-profit. Please support our work.
Lawsuit Alleges Wrongful Death in ICE Custody
Joanna Bonilla, the daughter of Carlos Bonilla, filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Hudson County for the wrongful death of her father. Carlos Bonilla died in immigration detention after his liver problems were not addressed, the suit alleges. Prior to being detained, he had been treated several times for cirrhosis of the liver. He had lived in the U.S. for 25 years before he was detained in April 2017 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He collapsed in June 2017 on his way out of his cell to immigration court and died days later. CFG Health Systems are also named as defendants on the suit as the medical provider at the time of Bonilla’s death. Hudson County canceled the contract with them after six inmates died at the facility in the space of 9 months. North Jersey Record
Brooklyn Library to Offer Immigrant-Taught Classes
Brooklyn Public Library’s will be hosting University Open Air, which features free courses taught outdoors by immigrants, on June 11. Teachers will include a Tunisian actress, a Nigerian construction engineer and a poet from Taiwan, among many more. The teachers are all using training for their native countries despite the fact many work in other industries in the U.S., including waiting tables. The program is targeted at people interested in the subject matter as well as the lives of the instructors. Gothamist
Overcrowding in Texas Detention Facility
An immigration detention facility in El Paso Del Norte is severely overcrowded and health and safety hazard for the detainees, a new report from the Homeland Security Inspector General said on Thursday. Some of the detainees have to stand on toilets in crowded rooms just to find room to breathe, the report said. 155 people are in a cell intended to hold 35, 41 people were in a cell supposed to hold 8. The report stems from a surprise visit by inspectors in May. DHS argues that it is not equipped to deal with the current spike of families crossing the border. The New York Times
Transgender Woman Dies in Immigration Detention
Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman from El Salvador who was in immigration detention center in New Mexico, died on Saturday, ICE officials said. Leon was detained in New Mexico and fell ill, she was transferred to a medical center in El Paso, Texas where she died. Her death has caused criticism of the treatment of transgender detainees by ICE. She was detained in April after presenting herself at the border and passed a credible fear interview. She was found to be HIV positive after she requested a test shortly before she died. Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman from Honduras, died in ICE custody last year. The Washington Post
DHS Disciplinary Record Under Scrutiny
DHS’s disciplinary record has come under scrutiny as records released in a lawsuit show a lack of action taken following allegations of abusing minors. Between 2009 and 2014, at least 214 complaints were lodged against DHS agents for abusing or mistreating migrant children but only one employee was disciplined following a complaint. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014 to find information on mistreatment of minors in Customs and Border Protection custody. The agency is now fighting to keep the names of the agents concealed. ProPublica
CBP Requesting Diapers and Baby Wipes for New Detention Facilty
CBP is hoping to purchase 20,000 baby bottles, 3,000 boxes of baby wipes, 36,000 pairs of extra small shower shoes and 2,224,000 baby diapers according to new solicitation order put out on Thursday. The order is for the new tent city being built in Donna, Texas to house migrant families who are coming into the U.S. in larger numbers. The tent city is one of two being built, with the other in El Paso, Texas. It’s set to cost $37 million and each facility will house around 500 people. Quartz
Visa Applicants Required to Share Social Media Info
The State Department is now requiring that visa applicants submit any information about social media accounts they have used in the past. The new policy, which started on Friday, has long been feared by privacy advocates. It was included in an executive order from Trump in March 2017. The State Department argues it will improve its screening processes. It began asking visa applicants to voluntarily submit their social media information during the Obama administration. In September 2017, DHS proposed and enacted a regulation that called for the surveillance of social media of all immigrants and naturalized citizens. The New York Times
Washington — Trump Aides Divided on Tariffs, Harris to End Private Immigration Detention
Trump reportedly moved forward on tariffs on Mexico despite objections from top aides, including his son-in law Jared Kushner.
Last week, the president announced a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico which will incrementally rise to 25 percent unless the country stops the flow of immigrants coming through its country from Central America.
The policy reportedly divided his team between the hard-line officials who were advocating for it and the likes of Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer. Stephen Miller, a top advisor and immigration hardliner, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Peter Navarro, a trade adviser, backed the move on the grounds that economic pressure would force Mexico to act.
The move has sparked fear as many worry it will have a catastrophic effect on the U.S. economy. It sent markets into a disarray and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued that it will likely trigger a recession. It has also put the new version of the USMCA trade deal at risk. Mexico’s Foreign Minister is set to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the tariffs. The New York Times
Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pledged Friday to defund private immigration detention centers during an interview with Telemundo. She said that she would end the funding for-profit detention facilities, as they are unlivable and immoral for the people in their custody, citing the six children who recently died in CBP custody. Telemundo
Support the work of Documented
Documented was founded with the goal of making sure the people affected by our stories were also the people reading them. Immigration reporting is often extractive and isn’t produced or published with the main protagonists as the intended audience. Through our reporting and out outreach via WhatsApp, we’ve created award-winning journalism that is created with and for New York’s immigrant communities. This work is not easy and it is not cheap. Consider becoming a member today to help fuel this work. By joining the Documented Community, you can not help only provide us with the financial freedom needed to fulfill our mission but also meet others who are passionate about immigration in the New York area. Become a member today.