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Early Arrival: Rensselaer County Clerk Sues State Over Driver’s License Law

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: New York House Democrats Demand Taxi Bailout — El Paso Border Patrol Supervisor Transferred — Asylum Ban Blocked, Venezuelans Granted TPS

Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola is mounting a challenge to New York state’s law that lets undocumented immigrants be issued driver’s licenses. Merola filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albany on Wednesday with the aim of getting the law deemed unconstitutional. He is the second New York State clerk to challenge the law in federal court. “Every part of the law is off the mark,” Merola said. “Everything is against the federal regulations.” 

Merola seeks preliminary and permanent injunction to halt administration of the law and make it unconstitutional. The suit was filed against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James and DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, who are confident the state will prevail. “The Green Light law is well crafted and the Office of the Attorney General has concluded that it is constitutional. As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, my office will vigorously defend it,” Attorney General Letitia James said.

Rensselaer County has been one of the most proactive county governments in assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s the only participant in the state in the 287(g) program, which allows law enforcement officials to hold prisoners who have immigration detainers against them. The lawsuit claims the law undercuts national security measures put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Albany Times-Union

Hello, this is Mazin Sidahmed and Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email us at mazin.sidahmed@documentedny.com and max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

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New York House Democrats Demand Taxi Bailout

A group of House Democrats from New York are demanding a bailout of New York City taxi medallion holders saddled with large debts. “We strongly encourage you to explore ways to provide much-needed monetary assistance to relieve the thousands of medallion holders stuck in high interest loans with tremendous balances,” the letter says. The Democrats say the problems were created by the city. Brooklyn Rep. Nydia Velázquez, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, and other representatives have signed the letter. The New York Daily News

Special Commission May Finally Release Census Preparation Report

A special commission may release a long-awaited report that would shape New York’s Census outreach effort. The state’s Complete Count Commission was formed months late and has become unwieldy and unclear. But representatives for Cuomo say the commission has been fact-finding this whole time and will release a report in the next few months. Critics of the governor say Cuomo does not put enough weight into the census and is trying to make up for lost time. Albany Times Union

Father of Long Island Teen Allowed to Remain in New York Longer

The father of Heydi Gámez Garcia, the 13-year-old girl on Long Island who attempted suicide while her father was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was granted a 30-day exension by immigration officials to remain in the New York area. Manuel Gámez was in a Houston detention center when his daughter was found unconscious in her room, seemingly after a suicide attempt. ICE granted him a 14-day humanitarian parole to see his daughter in the hospital. Gámez’s lawyer says it may buy them more time to find a way for him to stay in the country. Pix 11


El Paso Border Patrol Supervisor Transferred

A high-ranking Border Patrol official for the El Paso area was reassigned after conditions for detained migrant children in his area drew wide condemnation from lawmakers and citizens worldwide. Aaron Hull will be moved from his current post to Detroit, where he will oversee operations along the Candian border. Officials for the agency say it was a routine transfer, but others privately say it was in response to his management of El Paso. The New York Times

Border Patrol Chief Confirms She Was Part of Controversial Facebook Group

The head of the Border Patrol told members of Congress she was part of a Facebook group filled with racist and sexist posts, but wasn’t aware of that content until recently. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” Carla Provost told members of the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday. “I’m on Facebook very, very rarely.” The group, called “I’m 10-15,” contained scores of current and former Border Patrol agents posting racist and misogynistic comments. “Let me be clear, July 1 was the first time that I saw those highly offensive and highly unacceptable posts when I saw them in the ProPublica report,” she told lawmakers. BuzzFeed News

ACLU Sues CBP and FBI Over Advocate Surveillance

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Customs and Border Protection and the FBI over alleged surveillance of three immigration advocates who say the surveillance hampered their ability to do their work. Erika Pinheiro, an attorney for Al Otro Lado, Nathaniel Dennison, a documentary filmmaker, and Nora Phillips, co-founder of Al Otro Lado are all named in the complaint. The lawsuit builds off the documents leaked to NBC 7 in San Diego which revealed the CBP effort to track journalists and advocates working along the border. The Guardian

Mexican Man Dies in ICE Custody

Pedro Arriago-Santoya, a 44-year old Mexican man, died in ICE custody in Georgia on Wednesday. He is the seventh person to die in ICE custody since October. Arriago-Santoya died at the Piedmont Midtown Medical Center in Columbus primarily from cardio-pulmonary arrest. According to BuzzFeed News, he was ordered deported on June 6 and was transferred to the Steward Detention Center in Georgia, which has been subject of criticism for poor conditions. He was transferred to a hospital on July 20 after complaining about abdominal pain. An ICE spokesperson said the agency “is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody.” BuzzFeed News

Accusation of Abuse by CBP Agent Investigated

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating a female child migrant’s allegation of abuse against an agent while in custody in Clint, Texas. According to documents obtained by NBC News, the girl reported in March that she was “beaten and abused” while in custody. CBP officers have been under intense scrutiny as a torrent of alleged abuse has surfaced in recent weeks, including a 15-year old girl reporting that she was sexually assaulted and the mother of a child at the Clint, Texas facility reporting that she was forced to watch sexual acts by an agent. NBC News

Washington — Asylum Ban Blocked in Court, Venezuelans Granted TPS, Trump Threatens Guatemala

The Trump administration’s asylum ban suffered another setback in the federal courts on Wednesday as Judge Jon S. Tigar ordered the Trump administration to lift its ban on asylum claims on the southern border

The San Francisco federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the rule that barred almost all asylum claims for Central Americans. He found the rule was “inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.” A separate judge in Washington had sided with the government only hours prior on Wednesday and let the rules remain in place. 

The rule requires migrants to apply and be rejected for asylum in the first safe country they reach in order to apply in the U.S. This means anyone coming through Mexico to the U.S. from another country — mainly Central Americans — will have to seek asylum there. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the ban in San Francisco and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and RAICEs sued in Washington, D.C. The New York Times

The House passed a bipartisan bill to grant Venezuelans Temporary Protected Status on Thursday. 158 Republicans in the House voted against the measure while 39 voted in favor. The Congressional Budget Office estimates there are 200,000 Venezuelans living in the U.S. that could be eligible for TPS. Associated Press

Trump said Wednesday that he would enact a severe punishment on Guatemala after the country pulled out of talks to enact a safe third country agreement. He threatened tariffs over the country’s refusal to agree to force Central American migrants to claim asylum there before going to the U.S. Associated Press

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