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Early Arrival: Advocates Rally for New Jersey Driver’s Licenses

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: New Immigration Court Opened with Little Notice — Immigration Judge Threatens 2-Year-Old Boy in Court — More Safe Third Country Agreements, Kochs’ Anti-Immigrant Ads

Local leaders, immigrant advocates, and DREAMers held a press conference Monday afternoon outside City Hall in New Brunswick, New jersey to pressure state legislators to vote on a bill that would allow the state to issue undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses. From the steps of City Hall, speakers spoke surrounded by supporters of the bill. “This is a win-win for drivers, working families, and our state’s finances,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill.

Cinthia Osario, a DACA recipient, spoke to share the excitement she felt when she was approved for a driver’s permit. “I remember walking into the MVC smiling from ear-to-ear with my little six points, walking in there like, ‘I’m here to get my permit!,” Osario said. “Something so insignificant to other people meant the world to me.”

In New York, the state Senate passed a Green Light NY bill in June designed to allow undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses. It was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will go into effect by December, but the bill is facing backlash and even a federal lawsuit from Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns

A similar bill was first introduced in the New Jersey General Assembly in December, 2018, which would expand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, among other groups. Current New Jersey law for obtaining a driver’s license requires six points of ID verification, but most undocumented immigrants do not have the required documents. If the bill in New Jersey is passed, it will become the 15th state to enact legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Oscar Montenegro for Documented


New Immigration Court Opened with Little Notice

The Justice Department opened a new immigration court in Manhattan on Monday with little notice. The action drew condemnation from the City’s legal groups. The new court is located at 290 Broadway, two blocks from City Hall. The three organizations that make up the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project condemned the lack of transparency and clarity coming from the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s regarding the new court. According to a spokesperson from The Bronx Defenders, the new court opening today was announced through a notice. A spokesperson from the Legal Aid Society said the court was actually operating last Thursday. All NYIFUP members said that due to the lack of transparency from the EOIR, they don’t have information regarding the types of cases the new court will take or which judges have been relocated. The Legal Aid Society also mentioned they received the small amount of information from ‘scattered signs and papers’ posted at the other NYC courts regarding the new court. Oscar Montenegro for Documented

NYCLU Joins Driver’s License Lawsuit

The New York Civil Liberties Union  is throwing its weight against legal challenges to the Green Light law. Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns filed a lawsuit saying the law violates federal statutes in July. He was joined by other clerks and government officials. The New York Immigration Coalition said those clerks are violating the constitution. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for later this month. Spectrum Local News

Undocumented Key Witness Against Drug Kingpin Faces Deportation

An undocumented man who served as a witness in a case against a Jamaican drug kingpin is fighting his deportation to what he says will be a death sentence. A man referred to as Sean B. was a cooperating witness in a case against Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2009. “If I return to Jamaica, I am dead as soon as I get off the plane. I testified against one of the most powerful men in Jamaica,” Sean B. said in a sworn statement. Sean was recently returned to Jamaica for three days, where his lawyer says he was almost attacked by a mob before a federal judge ordered he be returned to the U.S. He has a bond hearing in immigration court next week. NY Daily News


Immigration Judge Threatens 2-Year-Old Boy in Court

On March 30, 2016, a 2-year-old boy appeared before immigration judge V. Stuart Couch. “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!” Couch reportedly yelled. He continued: “Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?” he yelled at the boy when he made noise. Instead of being punished, the Trump administration promoted Couch to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals. Mother Jones

Hurricane Survivors Scramble to Get Paperwork to Leave the Country

Survivors of Hurricane Dorian streamed into a government office in the Bahamas on Monday. They were all seeking a document that would let them leave the ravaged island: a clean criminal record. The U.S. requires Bahamian citizens to present their criminal record to enter the country. But on Monday, dozens of people carrying their records were still kicked off a ferry headed to the United States after U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the boat’s crew no one without a visa would be allowed into the country. About 4,000 Bahamians have entered the country since the hurricane. The New York Times

Expert: Public Charge May Raise Child Poverty

Experts are concerned the new public charge rule will heighten the child poverty rate in the coming years. The new rule will allow the administration to deny people immigration status changes and green cards depending on the perceived likelihood they will depend on social welfare programs. Dr. Benard Dreyer, a professor of pediatrics at NYU and co-author of a National Academies of Science report on reducing child poverty, told Marketplace the rule would likely affect enrollment for food stamps and other programs. “We estimate in general that, without food stamps, the poverty rate for children would be 4% to 5% higher,” he said. Marketplace

Trump Administration Credits Mexico and Central America for Lowering Arrests

The Trump administration has credited Mexico and Central American countries with cutting border arrests by nearly 60 percent over the past three months. Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan said that 64,000 people were detained or turned back at the border in August, a 22% decrease from July and 56% from May. “Right now Mexico has been doing a great job for us, and, frankly, we’re very appreciative, but we’ve also been very, pretty rapidly changing the regulations, the rules,” Trump told reporters at the White House. Reuters

Federal Judge Restores Injunction Against Third Country Agreement

A federal judge in San Francisco restored a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s move to prevent asylum seekers who haven’t applied for asylum in Central American countries from doing so in the U.S. The decision to block the policy comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit narrowed an earlier injunction by Judge Jon Tigar, mandating that the policy block just affected Tigar’s region in California and Arizona. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said the order is “unprecedented judicial activism.” Politico

More Safe Third Country Agreements, Kochs’ Anti-Immigrant Ads

The White House has directed the Department of Homeland Security to create “safe third country” agreements with two more Central American countries by the end of the month, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. These documents were developed as briefing materials for a meeting between the new Honduran ambassador to the U.S. and acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan

DHS officials want to push Honduran leaders to establish a deal to stem the flow of asylum seekers attempting to reach the U.S., using a similar agreement with Guatemala as an example of success. A similar agreement with El Salvador is also being encouraged, per BuzzFeed News. The administration has tried to secure similar agreements with Mexico and Central American countries, but so far, only Guatemala has been convinced. 

In July, the Trump administration signed an agreement with current Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales. But the policy was so unpopular in Guatemala that it drew protests and led Morales to leave  office. President-elect Alejandro Giammattei has spoken out against the policy. “We continue to talk to not only the Northern Triangle countries, you know, obviously, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, but also Panama — you know, any country that really can step up and is part of the immigration crisis that really is a regional issue,” acting CBP director Mark Morgan said. BuzzFeed News

In recent years, Charles Koch has attempted to rebrand himself as a pro-immigrant opposer of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants. Yet Koch also still runs a technology company that has helped GOP candidates craft messaging depicting immigrants as criminals and potential terrorists. Dozens of GOP candidates for state and federal government have contracted with the company to target voter segments and push out ads on social media and television, and more than a dozen federal candidates running in 2020 list the firm as a contractor. The Intercept

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