The Rensselaer County Board of Elections will share voter registration information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to see if voting registrants are undocumented, county Republicans announced Thursday. Democrats in the county say they weren’t informed of the decision. Rensselaer is one of the more cooperative New York counties when it comes to enforcing federal immigration law and is home to the only sheriff’s department in the state that participates in ICE’s 287(g) program.
The decision to share information is likely due to a push to make Troy a sanctuary city, as well as the Green Light law that recently passed, which would let immigrants be issued driver’s licenses Each month, counties receive a list of people who have registered to vote in their county from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The voter registration list is public information, but Rensselaer County will now automatically share it with ICE.
“We are serious about following federal immigration laws in Rensselaer County and are happy to be of any assistance that we can provide federal authorities,” said County Legislature Chair Mike Stammel, a Republican. The county’s Democratic Elections Commissioner said he never spoke to his Republican counterpart about the decision. Immigration attorneys worry the new rule could penalize undocumented people who accidentally check a box on a license form to register to vote. Albany Times Union
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Know Your Rights Trainings Thwart Brooklyn ICE Arrests
ICE agents attempted to arrest immigrants in six different incidents throughout Brooklyn as part of the much lauded mass raids announced by President Trump, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. Agents attempted to gain access to a home in Bay Ridge on Wednesday morning, after also attempting to enter homes in Sunset Park and Midwood in prior days. The arrests were unsuccessful likely due to the fact that politicians had been holding know your rights trainings throughout the borough informing immigrants about when ICE can enter a home. Brooklyn Paper
Woman Sentenced for Immigration Smuggling and Bond Scheme
A Texas woman who helped hundreds of Indian nationals cross into the United States illegally was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison in a Long Island court. Hema Patel operated a company that gave immigrants money to pay for bond so they’d be released from detention. Patel, who was born in India, arranged to smuggle people over either the Mexican or Canadian border for $28,000 to $60,000. Patel received a $4,000 to $6,000 cut and the rest went toward a $7.2 million bond fund. After paying bond, Patel helped the migrants duck their next court appearance and disappear into the U.S. Newsday
Father’s Detention Leads to Daughter’s Death
Heydi Gámez García was growing increasingly distraught. Her father had been held in detention since he was caught crossing the southern border in early June. It was his third attempt to reach the U.S. in four years to be with his daughter. After over a month in detention, the 13-year-old girl began to lose hope. Then, one night, Heydi shut herself in her room where she was staying at her aunt’s house in Brentwood, New York. Her aunt opened the door to offer her a snack and found her hanging in a closet, near death. ICE granted Heydi’s father release from detention in Texas long enough for him to make it to the hospital to say goodbye, before the family took Heydi off life support. The New York Times
California Lawmakers Seek More Information on ICE License Plate Scanners
Lawmakers in California want to find out whether police departments are abusing Californians’ privacy rights by using license plate readers. State senators asked California State Auditor Elaine Howle to open an investigation into how law enforcement agencies are using the technology in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties. Howe will conduct a seven month review which will cost roughly $370,000. Lawmakers stressed the investigation was not an indictment of policing practices, but rather an examination of how information is used by the federal government. Sacramento Bee
Advocates Say Vulnerable Migrants are Wrongfully Sent to Mexico
More than 15,000 migrants have been returned to Juarez, Mexico — a city plagued with violence in Northern Mexico — as part of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols. The migrants are awaiting resolution of their court hearings. When implementing the MPP, the Department of Homeland Security said it would make except some “vulnerable” migrants from being sent to Northern Mexico, but advocates say that isn’t happening. NPR spoke with the family of Jonathan, an 8-year-old boy who is missing an eye and needs medicine to keep the eye clean, but who was sent to Jaurez anyway. NPR
Children Traveling with Relatives Considered Unaccompanied Minors
The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border in May was exacerbated by a policy that separates children from caregivers that are not their biological parents, advocates say. The policy marks an extension of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated families last year and has led to the overcrowding of detention facilities with children. Primary caregivers, sometimes extended family, are often the main guardians of the children they are traveling with due to family dynamics in Central America. Yet CBP policies state any child travelling without a parent or legal guardian, even if they’re related to the adult they’re with, are considered unaccompanied and treated as such. El Paso Times
CBP Agent Under Investigation for Harassing Mother of Detained Child
A CBP agent sought out an undocumented Guatemalan woman living in California and asked her to watch a live video of him masturbating while her son was being held in a detention facility in Clint, Texas where he worked, according to a complaint filed in April. In an interview with The Washington Post, the mother said the CBP agent began speaking with her after her son called from the Clint detention facility. He called her via live video on Facebook messenger and masturbated in front of her. She’s since been reunited with her son and the agent is currently under investigation by CBP. The Washington Post
New Asylum Rule Causes Confusion at the Border
A new rule from the Trump administration that all but bans asylum claims at the southern border caused confusion this week. The rule denies asylum to anyone who arrives at a U.S. border after traveling through another country, but asylum agents said they had very little time to prepare for the rule. That’s a common theme when it comes to the Trump administration’s immigration rules, with the head of asylum at USCIS John Lafferty said the agency was once again being asked to adapt with very little time to prepare. According to KPBS, few migrants were aware of the rule at the San Ysidro port of entry. Associated Press, NPR
Washington — Refugee Cap Down to 0, CBP ‘Pilots’ Asylum Rule, Family Separation, More Troops at the Border
The Trump administration is considering cutting down the refugee admissions number to nearly zero, Politico reports. The administration has consistently cut the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. each year, with this year’s cap set at 30,000. Allies of White House adviser Stephen Miller have reportedly suggested the drastic cut, though DHS officials reportedly countered with a cap of 3,000 to 10,000. Politico
Acting Head of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan said Thursday that Trump’s new rule banning people who traveled through another country from claiming asylum will be rolled as a small “pilot” and only be applied at two border stations on the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Morgan added that he expects the rule to be blocked in court. The government is currently facing a lawsuit from the ACLU over the rule. NPR
During a House oversight hearing, Acting DHS Head Kevin McAleenan said fewer than 1,000 children had been separated from families while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since October. He argued the separations that persist were only happening due to health and safety concerns, among other reasons. This number does not include children who are separated from relatives. Associated Press
A total of 2,100 troops will be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon announced on Thursday, adding to the 4,500 troops already there. They are a mix of active duty and National Guard troops. The active duty troops will provide “aerial surveillance, operational, logistical, and administrative support,” a Pentagon spokesperson said. Politico
U.S. Customs and Immigration Services employees are being asked to volunteer to do administrative work for ICE in field offices around the country, including processing files that are part of the Remain in Mexico program and supporting Freedom of Information Act requests. The agency itself is drowning in a particularly large backlog, leading customs processing times have soared in the past two years. USCIS’s new acting head Ken Cuccinelli is an immigration hardliner. BuzzFeed News
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) has introduced the Correcting Alienating Names in Government Act, which would remove the words “illegal” and “alien” from the federal government’s lexicon. This would change the terms to “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national” instead. ThinkProgress
How America Got to ‘Zero Tolerance’ on Immigration: The Inside Story, The New York Times Magazine [In-Depth]