fbpx Early Arrival: Public Charge Rule Could Hit 1.7 Million in NY and NJ - Documented

Early Arrival: Public Charge Rule Could Hit 1.7 Million in NY and NJ

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Advocates Target Owner of the Building With ICE Offices — Border Patrol Agent Pleads Guilty To Intentionally Hitting Guatemalan Migrant With Truck — Trump Rule Favors Wealthy Immigrants

Max Siegelbaum

Aug 14, 2019

Rally in Brooklyn protesting the government's zero tolerance policy.

Over 1 million New Yorkers and 709,000 New Jersey residents could be affected by the codification of a public charge rule, according to The Migration Policy Institute. This figure includes recipients of public benefits who are noncitizens and the American citizens who live with them. Nationwide, the total number of affected people could be 22.7 million, according to the institute. On Monday, the Trump administration announced a so-called public charge rule would take effect Oct. 15 and would make it harder for immigrants who receive Medicaid, food stamps or housing subsidies to get green cards. Those who may require government aid, or pose a “public charge,” may not be allowed to enter the country. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to sue the Trump administration after it announced the rollout of the rule. “Under this rule, children will go hungry; families will go without medical care,” she said. “I am committed to defending all of New York’s communities, which is why I intend to sue the Trump Administration over this egregious rule.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also pledged to sue the Trump administration. “To our immigrant New Yorkers: We stand with you now and always. To our president: We’ll see you in court,” he said in a statement. 

Experts say the rule will discourage noncitizens and their citizen relatives who live in their households from seeking benefits. Beyond the public charge designation, many are afraid that information could be later weaponized against their families in mass coordinated immigration raids, said Erika Nava, a policy analyst with  progressive research group New Jersey Policy Perspective. About 200,000 of 1.6 million New York City residents using SNAP benefits are immigrants, according to city data. HuffPost, Washington Examiner, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, NJ Advance Media

Documented co-founder Mazin Sidahmed wrote about the New York Family Immigrant Unity Project, an innovative program that provides detained immigrants with lawyers for The New York Times’s fixes column. Most immigrants appear in court without a lawyer and the New York project sparked a national movement to provide free counsel. Read more here.

Hello, I’m Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

We are local, independent, and not-for-profit. Please support our work.

Find us on Facebook and on Twitter.


Advocates Target Owner of the Building Where ICE Has its Offices

Advocates have begun a new campaign to target Scott Rechler, a close ally and donor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose real estate company RXR Realty leases office space to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On Monday, members of Evict ICE NYC began a flyering campaign outside the Starrett-Lehigh building on West 26th Street to inform local residents that the building is home to the general ICE field office. Rechler is the CEO and Chairman of RXR Realty, the chair of the Regional Planning Association, a former appointee to the Port Authority, and has served on the MTA board. The General Services Administration has leased the office space since the early 2003s for ICE and has the option of renewing the lease until 2023. Gothamist

Car Wash Workers Sue Former Employer for Wage Theft

Eight former workers of the Caribbean Car Wash in Elizabeth, New Jersey are suing their former employer for allegedly paying them less than $5 per hour and denying them overtime despite them working 11-hour days, six or seven days a week. “The law protects workers who have been paid illegally, regardless of their immigration status, and New Jersey’s new law is designed to protect precisely the kind of low-wage, vulnerable workforce exploited in this case,” immigrant workers attorney Steven Arenson said. Last year, 106 car wash workers in New Jersey split an $8.5 million settlement. NJ Advance Media

Guyana Newspaper Article Draws Condemnation From New York Lawmakers

An article in a state-owned newspaper from Guyana drew outrage from New York legislators after it implied an influx of Haitians to Guyana could spread HIV, cholera and other diseases. “Through interaction with Guyanese, it is expected that any communicable and non-communicable diseases will spread, raising questions as to the stability of the health sector to cushion increased cases of these illnesses,” the unauthored article said. “The migration of people should never be viewed as a threat to society but an opportunity for cultural exchange and global dialogue,” said Haitian American New York City Councilmember Farah Louis. Brian Benjamin, a representative for the 30th District in the New York state Senate, said it was “completely unacceptable to stereotype Haitians in this way.” Caribbean Life


Border Patrol Agent Pleads Guilty To Intentionally Hitting Guatemalan Migrant With Truck 

A former Border Patrol agent who hit a Guatemalan migrant with a truck and had referred to immigrants as “subhuman” and “murdering savages” has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. Matthew Bowen will face up to one year in prison and could be fined $100,000. On Dec. 3, 2017, Bowen hit Antolin Rolando Lopez-Aguilar with his truck and nearly ran him over as it appeared Lopez-Aguilar was attempting to cross into the United States illegally. “I intentionally struck him with an unreasonable amount of force,” Bowen said in the plea agreement. He will be sentenced on October 15 The New York Times 

Recently Elected Guatemalan President Casts Doubt on the Future of Trump Administration Agreement

The former head of Guatemala’s prisons and a conservative law-and-order hardliner was elected president of Guatemala, which casts the safe third country deal President Trump signed with former president Jimmy Morales into an uncertain future. More than 250,000 Guatemalans have been apprehended at the U.S. border since October 2018, and Alejandro Giammattei says he will slow this activity through anti-corruption efforts, employment and security. He also said he’ll try to modify the country’s deal with Trump. “We’ve still not seen any documents, only what’s been in the press, so it’s an agreement which right now cannot be actioned. Trump will keep insisting, so Giammattei and his transition team must get involved now,” congresswoman Sandra Morán said. The Guardian

Poll: Americans Want Safety for Asylum Seekers 

Most Americans want safe and sanitary conditions for asylum-seekers at the southern border, according to a new national survey from the Pew Research Center. The center spoke with 4,175 adults from July 22 through Aug. 4, finding that 65 percent of respondents feel the federal government is doing a somewhat or very bad job of handling the influx of asylum seekers at the southern border. About 33 percent of the respondents said it was doing a good job. Most of the poll respondents felt it was important to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers. Most – 74 percent – also felt it was at least somewhat important to reduce the number of people coming to the U.S. to seek asylum. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Attorneys General Oppose Alabama Plan to Challenge Census Counting

A coalition of attorneys general led by New York Attorney General Letitia James will oppose Alabama’s plans to challenge the U.S. Census Bureau’s policy of counting all individuals living in the country. The state seeks to refrain from counting undocumented people and non-citizens as residents. James says the attorneys are intervening because they don’t trust the Trump administration will provide an adequate defense against Alabama. “We are intervening in this case and taking on the role of defendant because the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution deserve better than a halfhearted and inadequate defense,” James said in a statement. Times Union

Clergy in Alabama Create Dozens of Immigrant Sanctuary Spaces

More than 30 clergy and religious activists in Birmingham, Alabama signed a letter to declare they would offer sanctuary to immigrants. “The raid over in Mississippi last week was a pivotal moment for us to begin talking about what we would do here if faced with similar things,” said Rev. Paul Ecknes-Tucker, pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Birmingham. “We talked about helping with kids, giving them a safe place to be.” A total of 680 people were arrested in the Mississippi raids. al.com

President Trump on Monday issued a new “public charge” rule that targets legal immigrants who want to remain in the United States but use public welfare programs. The government will decide who can remain in the country or be granted a green card through a wealth test to determine if they have a means to support themselves. Poor immigrants who don’t pass the test will be denied green cards. 

The policy stems back to the early 20th century, when a deaf Russian blacksmith named Moische Fischmann was labeled a “public charge” and denied entry to the U.S. Authorities found he would have “considerable difficulty in acquiring or retaining employment.” Analysts say the prospective tests will skew toward granting green cards to people who come from Europe over those who come from Latin America

The program will not apply to current green card holders, some members of the military, refugees, asylum-seekers, and pregnant women and children, but advocates warn it will push immigrants away from benefits programs due to their fear of federal authorities. “It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forgo critical lifesaving health care and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come,” said Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. The New York Times, Documented

Acting Customs and Border Protection Chief Mark Morgan dodged questions about why there haven’t been any ICE raids at Trump Organization properties in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. ICE’s workplace raids have drawn increased scrutiny, especially after agents arrested 680 immigrants at multiple sites across Mississippi but avoided targeting the owners of those facilities. Reports from The Washington Post and other outlets revealed Trump golf courses and hotels often use undocumented workers. When asked why there haven’t been any raids on these properties, Morgan stumbled through a response: “You really can’t say that for sure,” he said. “There are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. … Of course it’s going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that’s going on.” Vox

The New Colossus, a poem from the poet Emma Lazarus, is etched into the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. One line in particular has come to represent the basis for the sentiment that America is a nation of immigrants: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli in a Tuesday interview suggested the poem could be modified to “give me your tired and poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.” He also noted the poem was written around the first time the public charge claim was used. CNN

Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




PO Box 924
New York, NY 10272

General Inquiries:
+1 (917) 409-6022
Sales Inquiries:
Documented Advertising Solutions
+1 (917) 409-6022
Pitches & Story Ideas: