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Early Arrival: Cleaning Company Fined $1.1 Million for Immigration Violations

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: 9-Year-Long Wage Theft Suit Ends — Study: Immigration Enforcement Has No Correlation with Crime — Congress Meets Over Muslim Ban, Trump Ends “Catch and Release,” Details of El Salvador Agreement Released

A New York cleaning company has been fined $1.1 million for violating federal employment law and hiring undocumented workers.

Imacuclean Cleaning Services LLC either failed to complete an I-9 form or didn’t complete one for 665 of its employees, a federal administrative law judge found. The form verifies U.S. immigration status, and U.S. employers are mandated to complete I-9 forms for all employees within three days of their hiring.

The decision is notable for the size of the fine, as ICE usually suggests high costs but the Justice Department usually reduces them. In this case, ICE recommended a $1.2 million payment. Bloomberg Law (paywall)

Local

Car Wash Workers Cash Final Paychecks in Wage Theft Suit

Former employees of J.V. Car Wash have received their final paychecks after first alleging in 2011 that owner Jose Vazquez underpaid them and forced them to work long hours in difficult conditions. The 88 workers received one of the largest wage theft payouts in history from the business, totaling $9.4 million, but have been trying to collect that whole payout for years. After coming to lawyer Steve Arensen with their complaints in 2010, the workers and Arenson filed a civil suit and eventually settled with the car wash company for $1.65 million. Yet after the settlement, other workers from the car wash came forward to join the lawsuit against Vasquez. A bankruptcy judge sent out a notice to all the workers saying they had an opportunity to resubmit their claims, and 88 did. Now the ordeal is finally finished, and the undocumented workers finally got to receive their portion of the settlement. Read more at Documented

Police Relations Tested After Girl Goes Missing and Relative is Detained

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal introduced his Immigrant Trust Directive knowing “that individuals are far less likely to report a crime to the local police if they fear that the responding officer will turn them over to federal immigration authorities.” The recent search for missing 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alvarez. is testing this idea. Days after the girl went missing in  in Bridgeton, Dulce’s mother’s boyfriend Edgar Martinez-Santiago was detained by ICE. Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari says under his department’s policy, officers wouldn’t have known if Martinez-Santiago was undocumented, but he also did not give information on why he was detained. Regardless, the arrest has local law enforcement expecting a dropoff in neighborhood cooperation in the case because residents may fear they’ll be picked up by ICE as well. NJ Advance

Rapper’s Driver Collaborates with Prosecution to Avoid Deportation

Prosecutors used rapper Tekashi69’s driver Jorge Rivera as a key witness against him in a gang case because Rivera was under ICE’s watch, he testified Monday. Rivera began informing on the rapper, also known as Daniel Hernandez, after he was detained and released in May 2018. Rivera was in the car when Hernandez was kidnapped at gunpoint and was able to follow the kidnappers as they drove away, but days later, he secretly recorded Hernandez and his manager discussing the incident and gave the audio to investigators. From the stand, Rivera said he hoped his cooperation would prevent his deportation. New York Daily News

Washington– Congress Meets Over Muslim Ban, Trump Ends ‘Catch and Release,’ Details of El Salvador Agreement Released

For the first time since the Trump administration enacted its ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, Congress held a hearing about its effects on the country. In its current iteration, travel restrictions have been placed on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea, leading to more than 31,000 visa denials.

Edward Ramotowski, deputy assistant secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said during the hearing that there have been “approximately 31,334 refusals up to September 14, 2019. He did note that some visa applicants are eligible for State Department waivers, and said more than 7,600 had been issued. That’s only about a tenth of the 72,000 people who have applied for waivers, and roughly 15,000 are still going through security clearance. CNN

The Trump administration has announced it’s ending the policy known as “catch and release,” which allows migrant families caught at the border to stay in the U.S. until their court hearings. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced the decision Monday, saying there would only be  “some humanitarian and medical exceptions” to the change. The families will be returned to their country of origin in collaboration with Central American countries, McAleenan said. But “If they do claim fear, they will generally be returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols,” per a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. NPREl Salvador agreed to take back asylum seekers rejected from the U.S. under an agreement announced Friday, which mandates asylum seekers who travel through El Salvador must be rejected there before applying in the U.S. But after viewing the agreement, experts say there may be more to it. “This agreement is so potentially sweeping that it could be used to send an asylum-seeker who never transited El Salvador to El Salvador,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First. DHS officials are currently seeking a similar arrangement with Honduras, and a deal struck with Guatemala has yet to pass through that country’s congress. The Intercept

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