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Early Arrival: Lawmakers and Advocates Rejoice as Supreme Court Rebuffs Census Question

Friday’s Edition of Early Arrival: Rensselaer County Holds Annual Meeting with ICE — Journalists Tour Notorious Detention Center — House Approves Border Bill, Asylum Officers Slam Trump Admin

Mazin Sidahmed

Jun 28, 2019

Manhattan, New York - May 6, 2018: Views of City Hall in Manhattan. Photo: Christopher Lee for Documented.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson joined advocates at a celebratory rally Thursday at Foley Square after the Supreme Court halted the Trump administration’s efforts to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. James’ office was the main plaintiff against the Trump administration in the lawsuit. Census forms are supposed to be printed starting next week. 

The court said the Trump administration’s explanation for trying to add the question was “more of a distraction” than a reason for its addition. Papers discovered by the family of a deceased Republican strategist suggested the question could have been inspired by research it “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” according to documents filed in the case. 

Grassroots advocacy organizations have been rallying for months in New York City to persuade immigrants to participate in the 2020 Census. Still, New York State has been slow to allocate funding to these groups to help boost participation. The advocates worry a census undercount could lead to a deficit in federal funding and reduced representation in Washington. “This decision will help ensure each and every New Yorker will be counted and provided with the critical services they need and deserve, regardless of their immigration status,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Shame on the Trump Administration for its attempt to make the U.S. Census a political pawn in their continued anti-immigrant agenda.” ABC 7 NY

Hello, I’m Mazin Sidahmed with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at mazin.sidahmed@documentedny.com.

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Rensselaer County Holds Annual Meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office held its annual meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday. It is the only law enforcement organization in New York State that participates in the 287(g) program, which deputizes law enforcement officials to make immigration arrests. County Sheriff Patrick Russo said he officially renewed the agreement, which means the office will partner with ICE for another year. Advocates at the meeting said it was “a disgustingly proud cooperation.”  Spectrum Local News

Clerks Call on Trump to Examine Driver’s License Law 

Over 30 county clerks across New York state are asking President Trump to instruct the Justice Department to review recently passed state legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to be granted driver’s licenses. They are seeking a challenge of the law in federal court. Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner leads the clerks and sent a June 24 letter to Trump using official county letterhead. “For the past six months, I’ve asserted my belief that the New York state ‘Green Light Bill,’ recently signed into law by Gov. Cuomo, circumvents federal immigration law and forces department of motor vehicles’ employees and county clerks to break their oath of office,” Hayner said in a statement. The Times Union

De Blasio Visits Child Detention CenterOn Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio paid a visit to the Homestead detention center in Florida where 2,300 unaccompanied migrant children are being held. “It looks like a prison,” he said after peering over a fence. “You’ve got a bunch of kids being marched around. I’m looking at that and immediately I thought, that’s a prison camp.” First Lady Chirlane McCray also paid a visit to the facility. Still, de Blasio refused to call it a concentration camp, a term Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) used to describe facilities the federal government uses to detain children. “No, this is not that. Those were death camps,” de Blasio said. “This is a prison camp” The New York Post


Journalists Tour Notorious Detention Center

Border Patrol agents allowed a group of journalists on a controlled visit of a detention facility for unaccompanied migrant minors in Clint, Texas that had been subject of shocking report earlier this week. Lawyers who had visited the facility said there were no toothbrushes or soap for children being held there, and that the place was cloaked in a stench. Agents pointed to shelves with soap and toothbrushes to indicate they were providing those for the children, but did not allow the journalists into any of the cells. The agents conceded that the facility had been built to house children for 8-12 days, but that some had been detained for 30 days. The New York Times 

MIT President Says US-Chinese Foreign Policy is Corrosive to the School

In a Tuesday email, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the school that tension between the United States and China, as well as hostile immigration policies, could “have serious long-term costs.” L. Rafael Reif said American foreign policy toward China and its citizens in the country has bled onto the university’s campus, particularly affecting those of Chinese ethnicity. Fears of academic espionage, which the Trump administration has stoked, could create “a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion,” he wrote. “Faculty members, post-docs, research staff and students tell me that, in their dealings with government agencies, they now feel unfairly scrutinized, stigmatized and on edge — because of their Chinese ethnicity alone.” CNBC

Bank of America Divests from Private Prisons

Bank of America will no longer do business with private prison companies that detain immigrants and imprison citizens at both the state and federal levels, it announced Thursday. A representative for the bank said it appreciates the steps those companies “have taken to properly execute their contractual and humanitarian responsibilities,” but still opted to “exit the relationships.” The Miami Herald reported that Bank of America was a financier of Caliburn, the company that runs the Homestead, Florida detention center where over 2,000 migrant children are held. CNN

Border Patrol Refuses Donations

People across the country who are troubled by the reports of dire conditions in border detention facilities for children have been attempting to donate toothbrushes, soap and food to the facilities, but the Border Patrol refuses to accept any of it. “The agents were just choosing to ignore us,” a man in Texas said after trying to donate toiletries. Texas State Rep. Terry Canales (D) inquired about the issue, and said “we quickly received an email response saying, ‘We don’t accept donations.’” CBP’s Office of Chief Counsel said it is currently working on determining whether or not the agency can accept donations. NPR

Inspectors Find Horrible Conditions in Detention Centers

DHS inspectors found adults and minors with no access to showers and eating poor food, among a host of other things, according to a draft report obtained by BuzzFeed News. Severe overcrowding that left some adults in standing-room-only conditions for a week was also noted. At three of the facilities, detainees reportedly did not have access to showers, and at two, children and families did not have hot meals until the week inspectors arrived. Detainees apparently pressed notes to their cell windows that detailed how long they’d been in detention. The report has been sent to DHS officials for comments and requests for redactions. BuzzFeed

Washington — Supreme Court Blocks Citizenship Q, House Approves Border Bill, Asylum Officers Slam Trump Admin., Presidential Hopefuls Debate Immigration

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in a decision announced Thursday to reject the Trump administration’s reasoning for adding a citizenship question to the census. 

The decision in the hotly contested issue spells a major setback for the administration that had been adamant about its right to include the question, seeing as it had racked up a growing number of favorable decisions from the majority conservative SCOTUS bench. Yet Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices in striking down the question, said the justification for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had told Congress that the Department Justice had recommended that he added the question to allow for better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, but court filings later revealed that Ross had asked the DOJ to send him this request. Roberts wrote that the evidence showed “the V.R.A. played an insignificant role in the decision making process.” 

The ruling left the window open for the Trump administration to provide adequate rationale to add the question, but time is short, as the Census Bureau is set to begin printing the census next week. Trump tweeted that he had asked lawyers if he could delay the Census to give the additional info to the Supreme Court. The New York Times

The House cleared a $4.6 billion emergency aid package Thursday, spelling defeat for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The bill is aimed at addressing the need for humanitarian services at the border and funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement. But it also allocates money for enforcement agencies, something Pelosi was opposed to. The bill also did not include protections for migrant children that Pelosi had asked for. Politico

Asylum officers and members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924 filed a brief against the Trump administration’s policy of making asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their immigration cases play out. The officers said the police is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our nation” in an amicus brief for the ACLU’s case challenging the Migrant Protection Protocols program. The Washington Post

During the second night of the Democratic primary debates, all 10 candidates said they supported a path to citizenship and public health care for undocumented people. They also vowed to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies. The Washington Post

On the first night, Julián Castro reiterated his policy that “illegal entry” should no longer be a crime in the U.S., which would make unauthorized immigration a purely civil offense. Fellow candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has backed the proposal, but during Wednesday’s debate, Castro slammed Beto O’Rourke for not signing. Illegal entry posed a significant portion of federal criminal prosecutions in 2016. Vox

Mazin Sidahmed

Mazin Sidahmed is the co-executive director of Documented. He previously worked for the Guardian US in New York. He started his career writing for The Daily Star in Beirut and he also contributed to Politico New York.




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