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Early Arrival: Undocumented Immigrants Eligible for Driver’s Licenses in NY

Wednesday’s Edition of Early Arrival: E-Bikes Expected to be Legalized — Most Immigrant Families Return for Court Hearings — ICE Prepares for Mass Arrests

Max Siegelbaum

Jun 19, 2019

The New York State Capitol. Mazin Sidahmed for Documented.

Undocumented immigrants are now eligible for New York state driver’s licenses after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the Green Light NY bill into law on Monday. Immigrant advocacy organizations have been fighting for licenses for over a decade, since the days of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. More than 265,000 people will now be eligible for licenses, supporters of the legislation say.

Before 2001, undocumented residents of New York were able to get driver’s licenses if they passed certain required tests. But Spitzer abandoned an executive order that supplied undocumented people with licenses in 2007. Cuomo also went back and forth on whether or not he supported the bill, reportedly withdrawing support over alleged concerns that data collected by the state could be shared with the federal government for immigration enforcement purposes.

Advocates said the bill was crafted with these issues in mind. “The ‘Green Light’ New York bill has some of the strongest data protections in the nation,” said Murad Awawdeh, the vice president of advocacy with the New York Immigrant Coalition. License holders must be notified within three days if any requests for their personal data are made, Awawdeh continued. The licenses will have a stamp on them saying they’re not eligible for federal identification and will not enable holders to vote. The New York Daily News

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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E-Bikes Expected to be Legalized

E-Bikes are likely to be legalized in New York state after a vote on Wednesday, relieving pressure for thousands of delivery workers who depend on the currently illegal bikes for work. Senator Jessica Ramos is sponsoring the bill, which would “authorize electric bicycles and electric scooters under New York law,” and make them subject to local regulation. Delivery workers have long complained of New York Police Department officers aggressively ticketing them for using the bikes to ferry food and packages around the city. The City Council recently passed a measure that ordered the NYPD to ticket restaurants, not their workers, but delivery workers said they still consistently received tickets. Streetsblog

Minors Who Speak Indigenous Languages Struggle in School

Many unaccompanied minors who make the perilous trek north from Central America arrive in New York and struggle to acclimate, The Guardian reports. Some get by with Spanish, but others only speak indgenous languages like Mixteco or K’iche’. Those people have little support in high schools and elsewhere, where there are few translation resources. Those who fail to learn English often get placed in special education classrooms regardless if they have learning disabilities, and generally fall behind academically. The Guardian

NY Bar Urges State to Ensure Right to Counsel for Immigrants

The New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates is urging the state to establish a right to counsel for all respondents in immigration court. “If passed into law, New York would become the first state in the nation to grant such a right,” the bar association said in a statement. Hank Greenberg, the president of the state bar, said the measure would ensure due process and fairness, as well as provide equal access to justice for immigrants residing in the state. The bar association said it will also prepare an in-depth report on the challenges of providing immigration legal services and make specific recommendations for universal representation. Daily Messenger


Most Immigrant Families Return for their Court Hearings

The vast majority of families return for their immigration court hearings, according to new data analyzed by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. As of the end of May, 47,000 families seeking refuge in the U.S. had received one or more hearings. Nearly six out of every seven families released from federal custody had shown up for their initial court hearing, while 99 percent of those with representation appeared. This directly contradicts Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, who testified last week that 90 percent of families caught crossing the border tracked under a recent program skipped their court hearings. TRAC, National Review

Students Left Stranded by Slow Visa Processing

Increasing visa processing times have left hundreds of international students at universities in the U.S. stranded, and schools’ administrations are struggling to deal with the fallout. Recent graduates are pushing back start dates for internships and scrounging for cash to afford daily expenses. Some students have even seen job offers rescinded, and others are losing money they spent on housing and flights to take new jobs. “Every morning I wake up with anxiety, wondering what am I going to do today when I’m supposed to be working,” a graduate from Columbia’s journalism school said. The New York Times

Fewer Undocumented People Participating in Progams Mean Less Federal Dollars for Some Schools

In recent years, more undocumented immigrant children and their families have turned away from public services that serve children enrolled in elementary and middle school. When schools saw an influx of immigrant families in years past, their poverty rates went up, and so they gained federal resources such as after-school programs and interpreters. But immigrant families are avoiding these services, in some cases because they fear their effect on their eligibility for visas. In turn, funding for the programs is drying up and stranding those who still depend on them. The New York Times

First Step Acts Releases Hundreds of Immigrants to ICE Custody

President Trump held a press conference last week to announce the release of 3,000 federal prisoners as part of the First Step Act. Almost a third of them will be held for transfer for immigration detention, according to the Bureau of Prisons. Both sides of the political spectrum worry about the First Step Act’s effects on non-citizens, with some fearing it will be too harsh on drug offenders and others asserting non-citizens should not be set free. Lawmakers did not address this issue directly in the bill. About 35,000 foreign-born people are being held in Bureau of Prisons custody, and most of them are Mexican. Half of those prisoners are incarcerated on drug trafficking or similar offenses, while about a third are convicted of immigration offenses. The Marshall Project

People Around the World Agree: Immigration Means Better Food

Most people can agree on one thing when it comes to immigration: It brings better food. In a YouGov survey of people in seven European countries and the United States, most people polled largely said food has “benefited from immigration.” Only France credited sports as the biggest benefit from an influx of immigrants. The respondents mostly felt that crime was the biggest harm of immigration, except for the U.S., where most people said it was “welfare provision.” The Takeout

Washington — ICE Prepares for Mass Arrests, USCIS Shifts Workload to Reduce Backlog, Ocasio-Cortez Calls Migrant Facilities “Concentration Camps”

Trump on Monday tweeted that ICE would begin deporting “millions” of undocumented migrants “next week.” Senior ICE officials confirmed the agency would conduct raids targeting thousands of migrant families, though not until at least July. The operation would reportedly target noncitizens in the interior of the country who missed court dates or have been issued a removal order. ICE has requested that Homeland Security investigators assist in its operation, which is likely to create mass panic in immigrant communities across the country.

Mark Morgan, the acting director of ICE, didn’t respond to Trump’s claims the agency would carry out mass arrests next week. “The president is very clear with what he’s tweeting out is that he wants to maintain the integrity of the system and he wants to make sure that we’re supporting and enforcing the rule of law,” he said. The New York Times

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to shift workloads between offices to slash the processing time for citizenship and green card applications. The agency reports a backlog of more than 700,000 citizenship applications. USCIS will transfer cases out of the most overburdened offices to less busy branches. About 25 percent of the 5.6 million-case backlog involves pending green card or naturalization applications. The Washington Post

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) drew the ire of conservatives on Tuesday after referring to the border facilities where immigrants are kept as “concentration camps.” “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are,” she said on an Instagram live video. “I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is,” she said. Immigrant children are being held in the same installments where people of Japanese descent were held during WWII. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) said Ocasio-Cortez was doing the border patrol a ‘disservice’ by comparing them to “concentration camp guards,”  while House Minority Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) responded with similar remarks. CBS News

Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




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