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Early Arrival: NJ County Defies Attorney General’s ‘Immigration Trust Directive’

Wednesday’s Edition of Early Arrival: Supporters of Detained Somali Asylum Seeker Gather Outside NJ Detention Center — Juror Deadlock in Immigration Advocate Trial Leads to a Mistrial — Immigration Hardliner Named Acting USCIS Director

Max Siegelbaum

Jun 12, 2019

Bergen County Jail

Last year, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal moved to restrict local law enforcement from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement by enacting the Immigration Trust Directive. Under it, local police could no longer stop, search or detain anyone in the state over their immigration status or honor federal ICE detainers. The directive has received considerable pushback, causing some counties to hold symbolic votes specifically against it.

Now, one county might be mounting the most direct challenge to Grewal yet. Sussex County’s Freeholders have voted to place a question on the November ballot that would allow voters to decide whether their sheriff should follow Grewal’s directive. The attorney general responded by saying any instructions to ignore his directive would violate New Jersey law, and he gave county officials a July 8 deadline to respond to his request to refrain from including the question on the ballot.

“Officials and residents are free to express their disagreement with state laws and law enforcement directives, including the Immigration Trust Directive, and I welcome the chance to continue those conversations. But officials and residents may not instruct their law enforcement officers to ignore a law enforcement directive,” Grewal wrote to Sussex County Clerk Jeffrey M. Parrott in a letter in May. Parrott said it was too early to comment on the question. One Freeholder, who is a former border patrol agent, said Grewal doesn’t have the right to direct law enforcement, but whether he has jurisdiction over sheriff’s departments is up for debate.  North Jersey Record

Hello, I’m Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

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Supporters of Detained Somali Asylum Seeker Gather Outside NJ Detention Center

Dozens of supporters gathered outside a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey in support of a Abdikadir Mohamed, a Somali asylum seeker who has been detained since December 13, 2017. That day, Mohamed flew into New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to join his wife and two daughters in Ohio on a green card. Immigration agents detained and questioned him, and found two questionable emails on his phone, one forwarded to him and another a press release about Ogaden National Liberation Front, a separatist movement in Eastern Ethiopia. DHS argued Mohamed committed fraud by not telling the US consulate he was linked to the group. North Jersey Record

New Poll Shows New Yorkers Oppose Driver’s License Measure

A new Siena College poll released Monday shows 53 percent of New Yorkers are opposed to granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants under the Green Light NY bill. Another 41 percent were in favor of the bill, the survey of 812 New Yorkers showed. The legislative session will end June 19, but lawmakers are still debating the contentious legislation. It is expected to pass the Assembly, but with recent opposition voiced by two Long Island Democrats, stands on shakier ground in the Senate. Democrat & Chronicle

Jail Holding Immigrants Hit with Mumps Outbreak

Bergen County jail in New Jersey is currently experiencing an outbreak of mumps among its immigrant detainee population. Five cases of mumps have been diagnosed, a spokesperson for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department said. At least four units in the jail, which hold about 50 detainees each, have been affected. Kitchen staff have been exposed as well. The jail will not take more ICE detainees and is under “an umbrella quarantine,” according to the sheriff. There have been outbreaks of mumps in other immigrant detention centers elsewhere in the country. NY Daily News


Juror Deadlock in Immigration Advocate Trial Leads to a Mistrial

Jurors in the trial of Scott Warren, a humanitarian aid volunteer in Arizona charged with “harboring two undocumented immigrants,” were unable to reach a verdict Tuesday, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial in the case. U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins dismissed the jury after each member told him additional time deliberating would not result in a verdict. The judge scheduled a July 2 conference for prosecutors to decide whether to try him again before another jury. Warren faces up to 20 years in federal prison for allegedly conspiring to transport two undocumented immigrants and harboring them for several days in January 2018. Arizona Republic

Low-Income Undocumented Immigrants in California Receive Health Care

Some low-income undocumented immigrants in California could soon gain access to state-provided health care. Democrats in the state legislature agreed to allow adults aged 19 to 25  become eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. State officials estimate the program will cover 90,000 people and will cost $98 million. In order to pay for the program, which includes a benefits increase for other Californians as well, the state will begin taxing people who don’t have health insurance. Republican state lawmakers voted against the proposal. Associated Press

GoFundMe Border Wall Gate Ordered to Remain Open

The half-mile wall constructed along the US-Mexico border in New Mexico with over $23 million from a GoFundMe campaign was finally finished this month. However, the organizers of the effort, We Build the Wall, failed to obtain authorization to build on federal land, which cut off access to waterways and a public monument. They were ordered to prop open a large gate installed in the wall. The city of Sunland Park, New Mexico had previously issued a cease-and-desist to the organizers, saying proper permits had not been issued. BuzzFeed News

Growing Number of Undocumented High School Graduates Have Nowhere to go After DACA Cancellation

A growing number of undocumented teenagers are hitting a wall after graduating from high school. In previous years, they would have had access to federal student aid and work permits offered to recipients of the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which President Trump has cancelled. Now the roughly 100,000 undocumented students who graduate from US high schools each year are navigating unknown territory, seeing as they often can’t afford to go to college but also don’t have authorization to work. DACA was a powerful driver for pushing undocumented youth towards higher education. PRI

Border Patrol and ICE Treat Immigrants in Hospitals Like Prisoners

When a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman was brought into a Tucson-area hospital late last year, she was dehydrated, pregnant and already in labor months before her due date. Rom Rahimian, a medical student, tried to help the woman but says he was unsettled by the Border Patrol agents lingering in the room. They stayed stayed the night as doctors tried to stop her labor, listened in on conversations with doctors and kept the television loud. Soon, they began pressuring doctors to release the woman to detention. Medical providers say Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents shadow immigrants in medical custody and treat them like prisoners, which has interfered with their abilities to provide care. The New York Times

Washington — Immigration Hardliner Named Acting USCIS Director, DHS Secretary Defends Trump’s Border Decisions, House Passes Pro-Immigration Bill

Ken Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner, has been named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A former head of the Senate Conservatives Fund, Cuccinelli was highly critical of the Senate’s GOP leadership, at one point advocating for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) ouster. The group backed conservative candidates for the Senate and primary challengers for Republicans.

USCIS’s top position was left open after Trump forced out Lee Francis Cissna, believing Cissna wasn’t working hard enough to force a hardline agenda. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, has a record of espousing extreme ideas like denying citizenship to American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally.

Cuccinelli hasn’t been nominated for the full post, but if he is, would likely have a hard time even passing the GOP-run Senate. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Cuccinelli has “made a career of attacking other Republicans and frankly attacking President Trump, so I doubt he’ll have the support to get confirmed.” Associated Press, HuffPost

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan defended the Trump administration’s actions on the US-Mexico border while also putting the onus on Congress to fix the issues. During the over two hour hearing, Democratic senators placed blame on the Trump administration for not passing legislation to help ease the border crisis and grilled McAleenan on tariff negotiations with Mexico and children separated from their families. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), meanwhile, said that without resources, “there will come a point where we’ll have complete, absolute failure to control, our border, and we are getting there daily.” CNN

The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would bar the Trump administration from returning asylum seekers to Mexico for the duration of their immigration hearings, would ban the deportation of DACA recipients, and end Trump’s asylum ban, among other issues. The measure has little chance of becoming a law given the GOP-run Senate and presidential signature that stand in its way. “While not an exhaustive list, this amendment still marks a significant step in reversing some of the administration’s cruelest immigration policies while protecting tens of thousands of individuals who are pursuing the American Dream,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), the sponsor of the bill. CNN

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