Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Daniel Daugherty has ordered New York state immigration judges to complete deportation cases involving families within 365 days, according to documents obtained by Reveal. The order came days after the Department of Justice filed a petition to disband the immigration judges’ union. The expedited timeline puts pressure on immigrants to find a lawyer, gather complex evidence and wrangle witnesses in order to defend their right to remain in the United States. Lawyers have raised questions that the directive violates due process for immigrants in the court.
In mid-November, James R. McHenry III, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, issued a memo stating that cases involving families in 10 cities would start being tracked as a backlog continued to pile up. Two weeks after McHenry sent out the memo, Daugherty wrote in an email saying they’d have to be completed in 365 days. McHenry then said in his memo that completing cases in the one year timeframe was an expectation, not a requirement.
Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said the directive and McHenry’s memo are binding as labor law, seeing as supervising judges can issue mandates immigration judges have to follow. “It could be anything from putting judges on a performance improvement plan, or finding that they have not satisfactorily met their job,” Tabaddor said. “And it could possibly mean the termination of their job.” Several lawyers said imposing a one-year timeline for immigration cases was illegal and would put undue pressure on their work. Reveal
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NY Attorney General Files Public Charge Challenge
New York Attorney General Letitia James is challenging the Trump administration’s newly enacted public charge rule in federal court. James joins the states of Connecticut and Vermont and the City of New York to fight what they say is the Trump administration’s attempt to specifically target and reject immigrants of color. The suit argues that the rule, which limits immigrants who might end up using or do use social welfare programs from legally remaining in the U.S., disregards centuries of case law holding that immigrants who use basic, non-cash benefits are not public charges because they are not dependent on the government. ABC 7 NY
New Jersey Undocumented Students Receive $3.8 Million
More than 700 undocumented students received over $3.8 million in college financial aid from the state of New Jersey during the first year it offered aid to people without legal status. The figures showed that 749 students were awarded aid in the fall and spring semesters. Most of the aid was awarded under a program called the New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant. Students at Rutgers University received most of the aid, totaling $1.3 million. The state legislature had previously estimated the program would cost about $5 million per year. North Jersey Record
State: Undocumented Driver’s Licenses Don’t Violate Law
Issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants would not make county clerks liable to federal prosecution, attorneys representing the state of New York argue in a new court motion. The state is also arguing that Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns can’t represent his office in the case because “under New York’s law of capacity, political subdivisions and their officials cannot challenge state laws.” Last month, Kearns sued the state over the Green Light NY law that lets undocumented immigrants receive New York state drivers’ licenses, saying it leaves him vulnerable to federal criminal charges. New York Law Journal
Detainees File Class Action Lawsuit Over Lack of Health Care
Immigrants in federal custody are deliberately being denied proper mental and medical health care, a class-action lawsuit filed Monday argues. The Southern Poverty Law Center and other advocacy groups filed the suit in California on behalf of 15 immigrants detained across the country. The suit lays out examples of guards denying medical care and supplies to detainees, including insulin for diabetic immigrants. One detainee with cerebral palsy spend five months in a correctional facility without leg and knee braces. Another detainee did not receive any treatment despite being given a tentative diagnosis for a brain parasite. The lawsuit seeks to force ICE to improve conditions. VICE News
Border Patrol Will Not Address Shooting
Angel Mendivil Perez was driving a pickup truck when he was stopped at a border crossing by Customs and Border Protection officers. When officers approached the truck and questioned him, Mendivil Perez accelerated toward the border and a CBP officer fired his gun into the car, striking Mendivil Perez in the head and killing him. Yet more than six months later, CBP won’t name the officer who fired his gun, explain why the incident happened or acknowledge that a bullet fired from the officer’s gun struck Mendivil Perez. HuffPost
Federal Government Refuses to Vaccinate Detained Families
The U.S. won’t vaccinate migrant families ahead of the flu season despite doctors calling on the federal government to do so after the flu killed three children at detention facilities in the past year. “In general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody,” a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. The U.S. death rate for children with the flu is about 1 in 600,000. Yet so far, three children have died out of the around 200,000 people held at detention facilities along the border. CNBC
Wrong Guidance Sent to Asylum Seekers After Court Ruling
Incorrect guidance was sent to asylum officers across the country after an appeals court allowed a policy to be applied to some southern border states. The policy being enacted is related to the Trump administration’s attempt to force asylum seekers to apply for asylum in another country and be denied before trying in the U.S. An official at US Citizenship and Immigration Services emailed asylum officers to tell them that the policy applied to all individuals who filed asylum applications on or after July 16, the date the policy was implemented. But in reality, anyone who enters the U.S. has a year to apply for asylum. BuzzFeed News
Advocates Call on Board Members of Foundation to Stop Funding Anti-Immigration Groups
An immigration advocacy group is lobbying executives on the board of a North Carolina-based foundation to stop steering millions of dollars to groups dedicated to reducing immigration to the U.S. The Foundation of the Carolinas has provided more than $11 million to efforts to curb immigration from 2014 to 2017. The board includes executives from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, McKinsey & Company and others. The president of the foundation said it disburses money according to the wishes of the donors. Organizations that received money from the foundation include the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies. Politico
Washington — VA Officials Didn’t Fight for Immigrant Veterans, Harry Reid Dismisses Decriminalizing Border Crossings, CBP Press Secretary Out
Top officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs decided against trying to exempt veterans from the Trump administration’s public charge rule. In contrast, the Department of Defense worked throughout 2018 to mitigate the potential fallout of the policy on military families. The regulation, which will go into effect in October, will apply to veterans and their families as harshly it does the general public, while active duty military and reserves will face a less stringent version.
The rule will make it harder for immigrants who have used or may use public welfare benefits to become citizens or get green cards. The White House started seeking for comment on the rule in March of last year, and got a “no comment” response from the VA. Yet aSeptember, 2018 email from the White House suggested the rule would include exemptions for active duty service members “following consultation with DOD.”
The revelation received condemnation from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who said “it’s despicable that the Trump Administration is punishing veterans who sacrificed for our country simply for using the support services they’ve earned.” The Department of Homeland Security meanwhile argued that veterans aren’t afforded the same exemption as active-duty service members because they have special access to VA Benefits, which don’t count against them under the public charge rule. But not every veteran receives veterans’ benefits, and they are not a substitute for food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers. ProPublica
Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blasted two common stances among Democrats running for president: Medicare for All and decriminalizing border crossings. “Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list. It should be way, way down at the bottom of the list,” Reid said. “People want a fair immigration system. They don’t want an open-door invitation for everybody to come at once.” Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has called to eliminate the misdemeanor penalty associated with crossing into the U.S. without authorization, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have joined him. VICE News
Katharine Gorka is leaving her spot as press secretary of U.S. Customs and Border Protection just two months after she began the job. Gorka, who is married to the former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, has a history of criticizing Islam and embracing Muslim-focused conspiracy theories. She credits her departure to a need to spend more time with her family.