As immigrants and immigration advocates rejoice over the passage of the Green Light NY bill, which will allow the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, some aren’t celebrating. For months before the vote, county clerks and law enforcement across the state were up in arms about the prospect of allowing people who live in the state unlawfully to drive legally. Some county clerks have already pledged to refuse to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Erie County Clerk Michael Kerns says he will go to federal court over his concerns with his law. He pledged that Buffalo-area motor vehicle offices won’t issue licenses to undocumented people and he will send anyone applying for a license to the Syracuse-area office. Clerks in Rensselaer, Niagara, Oneida and Allegany counties have pledged not to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants as well.
Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus has already asked President Trump to order the Justice Department to review the law, saying that it “circumvents federal immigration laws and should be reviewed at the highest levels of the government.” It is unclear if the state has any means of recourse against clerks who refuse to obey the law. CBS New York, Associated Press, syracuse.com
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New Jersey Advocates Start License Push
After New York became the 13th state to provide licenses to undocumented immigrants, advocates in New Jersey rallied to get their state government to do the same. “This fight has been waged for more than a decade in New Jersey, and it has never been more urgent,” said Olga Armas, a leader of immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road New Jersey. A bill introduced last year would allow the state to issue licenses, but its still being reviewed. North Jersey Record
New Jersey Family Suffers After Deportation
Evana Akter lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey and studied nursing while holding a part-time job at a pharmacy to provide for her family. She had hopes of becoming a medical doctor. But that was before her father and, weeks later, her mother, were deported to Bangladesh. Now Akter, along with her 16- and 12-year-old brothers, is with her family in Bangladesh, where they’re struggling to adapt and dismayed at the bleak job prospects. “We’re all just very lost here and don’t know what to do with our lives, especially my brothers and I,’ Akter told the North Jersey Record. The fate of her family is similar to other families who suffer deportations of family members, experts say. Kids feel stuck, sometimes rebel and have depression or anxiety. North Jersey Record
Census Citizenship Question Case Advances
A federal judge said he believes new evidence presented in the 2020 census citizenship question case “raises a substantial issue,” which could reopen one of the three federal trials into the question and the motivations behind it. The evidence centers around Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller, who a conservative publication hired to study the political implications of redistricting. He found using citizen voting age for district maps would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,” and later pushed for the Trump administration to add citizenship question to the census. The Trump administration has claimed the question will help enforce federal voting rights law. CNN
Trump Administration Lawyers Argue Crammed Border Detention Facilities are “Safe and Sanitary”
Lawyers for the Trump administration said the government is not required to provide soap or toothbrushes for people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, and that it can have them sleep on concrete floors in freezing cells, despite federal mandates for quality of care laid out in a federal lawsuit. “You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?’” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s representative Sarah Fabian. The Flores settlement established guidelines for detention treatment and the release of minors taken into federal custody to make sure the facilities were “safe and sanitary.” Courthouse News
Number of Refugees is the Highest Since WWII
The number of refugees is the highest recorded since World War II, according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. About 70.8 million people were displaced by conflict in 2018, a figure the agency considers conservative despite it being up from 43 million a decade ago. Almost 80 percent of those people have been in limbo for at least five years. Around 41 million refugees are within their own countries, 26 million fled to neighboring countries and 3.5 million were seeking asylum in third countries. Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria produced most of the world’s refugees, while Turkey was the biggest recipient, having taken in 3.7 million Syrians since 2014. The New York Times
Immigration Law Studies Surge Under Trump
Studying immigration law has become more popular in response to its prominence in the current federal administration, WBUR reports. Local law school instructors say the interest piqued with the president’s travel ban, which blocked citizens of seven Muslim majority countries from coming to the U.S., sparking chaos around the world. Northeastern University even launched its immigrant justice clinic the night the order went into effect. Meanwhile, a quarter of the students at Boston University now want to enroll in its Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Clinic, up from a fifth in 2013. WBUR
America Threatens Cap on H-1Bs in Trade War with India
Indian officials were told that the U.S. was considering a cap on H-1B visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally, and India is one of them. Indian nationals are the largest recipient of H-1Bs, which are heavily used in the technology industry. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit New Delhi in a few days in the midst of this ongoing dispute, as well as one over tariffs. India imposed higher tariffs on some American goods shortly after the U.S. rescinded some of India’s trade privileges. Reuters
Washington — Emergency Aid for the Border, Mexican Officials Feared Tariffs, Groups Call for Decriminalizing ‘Illegal Entry’
A bill providing $4.6 billion in additional aid to agencies working on the southwestern border was approved by Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday in a bipartisan agreement. $2.9 billion of that funding will go toward child care in the Office of Refugee Resettlement and $1.3 billion will go to improve facilities at the border.
A similar funding bill is currently working its way through the House, but it is unclear how the two will come together. House Democrats have already expressed reservations about the Senate bill. Both Houses are set to vote on their respective bills next week. ORR said earlier this month that it would begin cancelling legal, education and playground recreation for children in its custody due to financial constraints. The New York Times
The threat of tariffs forced Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to consider a safe third country agreement with the U.S. A source “familiar with the negotiations” between the U.S. and Mexico told the New Yorker that the upper echelons of the Mexican government were terrified of the prospect of tariffs because the Mexican economy faltered in early 2019, meaning tariffs could plunge the country into a financial crisis. The fear seem to overshadow the possibility that Trump may have been bluffing with his threat to install tariffs unless immigration was reduced. The New Yorker
250 immigrant defense and civil rights groups wrote a letter to congressional leaders on Wednesday requesting that crossing the border without authorization be decriminalized. The letter demands a rollback of former President Bill Clinton’s 1996 immigration bill, which is often referenced as a major cause for the buildup of the detention and deportation system. HuffPost