A roller-coaster week of news came to a grinding halt Saturday afternoon after the city had braced itself for “mass raids” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — only for President Donald Trump to call them off.
Last week, the president tweeted that ICE would arrest millions of immigrants — something that is logistically impossible — starting next week. The announcement, which came a day before he officially launched his reelection campaign, caught officials at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security off guard.
News reports later emerged that, starting on Sunday, ICE was planning to arrest 2,000 immigrant families nationwide who had been issued final deportation orders and lived in one of ten cities, including New York. Officials said the raids would target families who recently arrived in the U.S. and many who had failed to appear for their immigration hearings.
This level of enforcement is not unusual for ICE: In fiscal year 2018, ICE arrested over 158,000 people nationwide, averaging around 3,000 arrests per week. In New York, the agency has carried out a number of self-proclaimed operations. In January, 118 people were arrested in “Operation Cross-check” over a five-day period and just last month, the agency arrested 31 people in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley over a five day period. ICE’s New York City field office arrested 3,476 people in fiscal year 2018, according to the agency’s own numbers.
Despite this sustained presence, the announcement of this particular operation led to a fierce rebuke from local politicians. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James all vowed to not cooperate with ICE and extended services to immigrants living in the state.
Following a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the president said he decided to call off the operation to allow time for Republicans and Democrats to negotiate a broader immigration deal. ICE, however, was active in New York prior to this announcement and will remain so. The Washington Post, The Daily News
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Pregnant Mother Faces Deportation Amid Poor Conditions
A pregnant mother arrested by ICE at Queens Family Court is set to be deported to Guatemala on Tuesday. Alma Centeno-Santiago is reportedly experiencing severe stomach problems in the Bergen County Detention Facility, where at least six people have been diagnosed with mumps. She has been placed in isolation on several occasions and was hospitalized with a medical condition for some time. A letter from advocates argued that she is not receiving consistent medication. Bergen County denies providing lackluster medical treatment. Centeno-Santiago is one of many immigrants who have been arrested by ICE in New York courthouses. Queens Daily Eagle
Comptroller to use Hotline to Report Undocumented Immigrants to ICE
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw announced last week that his office will allow local county clerks to call a hotline, used to report other instances of fraud and abuse of county resources, when an undocumented immigrant applies for a driver’s license. The hotline will then forward that information to ICE. The decision comes shortly after a New York state bill was signed into law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Many clerks are refusing to comply with the law. Mychajliw wanted to give clerks a mechanism to report suspected undocumented immigrants to ICE without risking their jobs. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz opposed Mychajliw’s move, but directed the county attorney’s office to file an action to determine the constitutionality of the new law. NY1
Shocking Conditions in Child Detention Facility
Children as young as 7 and 8 are caring for infants they’ve just met and toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants; This is how lawyers described a Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Clint, Texas. Facilities along the border have long been over capacity, but advocates described some of the worst conditions heard of yet in the Clint facility, where more than 350 children were detained at one point, including three infants with teenage mothers. The children have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap and the majority have not bathed since they crossed the border, leaving a stench that’s overwhelming the place. Some children have been held there for a month. A Department of Justice lawyer argued in court that it was not obligated to provide children with toothbrushes and soap. The New York Times
Family Separations Continue
Parents continue to be separated from their children at the U.S.–Mexico border under a broad guideline left in place by a federal judge that says CBP can separate a parent from a child if that parent posed a danger to the child. There are no guidelines as to how agents should assess this danger. Recent government data shows 700 children were separated from their parents between June 2018 and May 2019. The American Civil Liberties Union claims many of these cases involve parents who were convicted of crimes, namely traffic violations, as minors. They are often separated from children as young as toddlers. Houston Chronicle
Journalist Faces Warrantless Search at the Border
CBP’s record of warrantless searches on journalists entering the U.S. came under fresh scrutiny on Sunday after war correspondent Seth Harp recounted his recent experience returning from Mexico into the Austin, Texas airport. He was detained by CBP agents for three hours while they searched his belongings, including everything stored on his cell phone and laptop. In February, a database of journalists, activists and lawyers whom CBP was targeting was leaked after people listed said they’d been interrogated while crossing the border. The Intercept
African Migrants Arrive in Maine
The arrival of 250 migrants from Africa in Portland, Maine in the span of a week has overwhelmed the city’s shelters and forced it to repurpose a local basketball court. Their arrival has sparked a debate in the city, seeing as Portland’s residents are aging and it is in desperate need of young people to revitalize the economy. Still, the city manager is concerned about the cost of providing aid to everyone. The city and the state provide assistance to asylum seekers and there is already an African community in the predominantly white city. The New York Times
Armed Border Civilian IndictedJames Christopher Benviehe, the spokesman for armed border group Guardian Patriots, was charged with impersonating a U.S. officer or employee in New Mexico last week. Benvie made headlines after he posted Facebook live videos of his encounters with immigrants crossing the border, including one titled, “Detained a man with a baby!” The videos led to his arrest by the FBI. His group is part of a sporadic contingent of armed civilian groups that have patrolled the border and presented themselves as auxiliaries to the Border Patrol, often operating in areas where there are no agents. Associated Press
Washington — House Dems Finalize Border Funding, Warren Vows to End Private Prisons
House Democrats are finalizing a bill to provide funding to the southern border and anticipate they will vote on it next week. Few details of the bill are public, but it will reportedly will not include money for enforcement and will be limited to humanitarian assistance. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus have indicated support for the measure.
The bill will likely not have support from Republicans, meaning Democrats can spare just 18 votes from within their own party. Democrats are hoping to vote on the measure before the Senate votes on its own $4.6 billion bipartisan agreement that does include money for enforcement. Politico
Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said on Friday that she would eliminate privately run prisons and detention centers at the federal and state level. She also pledged to ban private contractors from charging inmates for phone calls, bank transfers and health care, and to reducing the markup on commissary items. Reuters