Thomas Decker, the director of the New York city area’s field office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took aim at the city’s policy of not honoring requests made by the agency. In two sit-down interviews with WNYC/Gothamist and NY1, Decker called out the local law that blocks local police from holding immigrants after their release date to facilitate the transfer of custody.
The law does not apply if the person has been convicted of one of 177 offenses in the past five years. But Decker said the New York Police Department did not honor 2,900 detainer requests from the agency in the last year. The law also requires ICE to have a warrant signed by a judge, which Decker criticized as well. “What’s put out there is just the advocate groups, the politicians saying ‘Oh get a judge’s warrant, get a judge’s warrant.’”
Decker went on to defend the agency’s policy of arresting people outside of courthouses, which was the subject of two lawsuits filed last week, including one filed by the New York Attorney General and Brooklyn District Attorney. Decker told NY1 that the prosecutors’ claims that ICE was arresting witnesses outside courthouses was “a lie.” Speaking to WNYC, Decker dismissed an arrest of a Chinese woman at a courthouse for victims of human trafficking as a mistake. WNYC/Gothamist, NY1
Hello, I’m Mazin Sidahmed with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at email@example.com.
Your help lets us keep reporting on immigrant communities. Support our work today.
We are local, independent, and not-for-profit. Please support our work.
New Jersey AG Ends Sheriff’s ICE Agreements
New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal further prohibited cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE on Friday. Grewal issued a new rule that blocks authorities from enrolling in the 287(g) program, which grants local law enforcement the ability to determine the immigration status of inmates and forward that information to ICE. Sheriffs in Monmouth and Cape May counties have 287(g) agreements with ICE, and Grewal ordered them to shut those programs down in seven days. Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said he would pursue legal remedies. The directive is the latest in an ongoing battle between Grewal and local sheriffs over their treatment of immigrants. North Jersey Record
Roxham Road Border Crossing Rise Again
Close to 50,000 people have migrated to Canada in the past two years via Roxham Road, a country road in Plattsburgh, New York that crosses the U.S.–Canada border. Authorities say 5,083 people crossed via Roxham Road over three months this summer compared to 4,397 last year, though that was which was lower than the peak of 9,000 arrivals in 2017. Many travelers are from Colombia seeking political asylum. The route has become so well-trodden taxis that shuttle people from Plattsburgh to the crosspoint write “Refugee Border” on their vans. Border crossers are arrested for illegal entry when they enter Canada, and they then claim asylum. The Canadian government has tried to dissuade people from crossing at this irregular entry point. CBC News
Upstate Officials Concerned About Refugee Slash
Officials in upstate New York are concerned about the cut to refugee admissions in 2020. The Trump administration announced it would only be accepting 18,000 refugees next year, the lowest number since the program began. A total of 90 percent of refugees who come to New York are resettled upstate, leading cities such as Buffalo, Albany and Syracuse to rely on resettlement programs to offset dramatic population decline. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants resettled just over 200 refugees in Albany in the fiscal year 2019, half the number resettled in 2018. The number of refugees resettled in Buffalo fell from 2,500 four years ago to 600 last year. Columbia-Greene Media
Immigration Judges File Complaint Against DOJ
The National Association of Immigration Judges filed two labor complaints against the Justice Department on Friday after the Trump administration sought to decertify the union. The NAIJ represents the country’s 420 immigration judges and its leadership has repeatedly criticized the administration for its policies in the immigration courts. The first complaint was in response to the DOJ’s attempt to decertify the union, claiming it was “a direct attack on federal employees,” and the second is based on an email sent to court staff that contained a link to a blog post from a white nationalist website that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges. The New York Times
Detained Immigrant Women Suffer Poor Medical Conditions
Immigrant women being held at Karnes County Residential Center, a detention center in Texas, say they are being denied cancer treatment and have become suicidal after prolonged detention, according to interviews conducted by advocacy organization Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. The organization said women were being held up to four months even if they had serious physical or psychological illnesses. Karnes can hold roughly 1,300 people on its 29-acre property. RAICES said it spoke with 800 women who experienced some medical issues. A Congolese woman with cancer in her uterus said she had not been taken to a specialist for treatment since she was detained at the end of July. HuffPost
Border Patrol Write “Facebook” as a Street Address
A Border Patrol agent allegedly wrote “Facebook” as the address for an asylum seeker who was turned back to Mexico in order to await their immigration court dates. The agent reportedly told a Honduran man that Border Patrol would contact him via Facebook to give him information about his court date. His notice to appear in court listed Facebook as his address, which will be used to notify him of any changes to his hearing. Missing his court hearing could result in him being ordered deported. The man was returned to Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program, and attorneys report that other asylum seekers in the program have had Facebook listed as their address. BuzzFeed News
ACLU Files Lawsuit Over Pregnant Women Returned to Mexico
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security over its policy of sending pregnant women back to Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program. Under MPP, Border Patrol agents return asylum seekers to wait for their hearings in Mexico. Pregnant women were forced to sleep on the floor and provided inadequate food before being returned to Mexico, according to the complaint. Women who were eight months pregnant were also allegedly returned to Mexico where they stay in shelters in dangerous parts of the country. More than 45,000 migrants have been forced to wait in Mexican since the program began. Associated Press
El Salvador Ramps Up Border Security
El Salvador is ramping up security at its borders to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. The Salvadoran government has given immigration agents on its border increased powers to stop and interrogate migrants. The country’s new President Nayib Bukele signed a deal with Trump last week to accept asylum seekers who passed through El Salvador on their way to the U.S.–Mexico border. It’s unclear what the country is receiving in return. Guatemala and Honduras signed similar agreements. Analysts say the White House bullied the countries into signing these deals due to their reliance on U.S. aid. NPR
Washington — Trump’s 3 Court Defeats in 1 Day, Senate Dems Plead on Refugee Cap, Border Wall Money Comes from Guam
After a series of decisions in the Supreme Court in the Trump administration’s favor, federal judges handed the it three defeats on major immigration policy initiatives in less than one day. Federal judges blocked the following Trump administration policies:
- A plan to reverse a long-standing policy and allow the government to detain immigrant families indefinitely
- A rule that would have allowed immigration officers to deport people before they see a judge
- ICE’s sole reliance on databases when issuing detainer requests
The first decision stemmed from the long-running Flores settlement, the 1997 landmark class-action lawsuit that said the government must release children as quickly as possible and that they cannot be detained more than 20 days. The White House sought to overturn that policy, as there is an increase in families crossing the border, seeking the ability to detain them indefinitely and indicating that it would begin doing so quickly. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee oversees the Flores Settlement ruled the Trump move was in violation of the settlement. The New York Times
A decision late on Friday from a federal judge in Washington found that the government’s attempt to fast-track deportations and allow immigration officers to deport people before they see a judge violated procedural requirements. The policy was announced in July and had yet to be enacted, but it would have allowed deportations of anyone who had been in the country for less than two years without authorizations. Expedited removals are currently limited to people within a few miles of the border, but the administration sought to expand it nationwide. The judge’s decision prevents the policy from going into place while the lawsuit continues. Associated Press
Finally, a federal judge in California blocked the administration from relying on a flawed database to issue detainer requests and blocked the agency from issuing requests in states that do not have a statute authorizing civil immigration arrests. Detainer requests are requests that ICE makes to local law enforcement to hold people in jail for up to two days beyond their release date. The lawsuit argued that the databases are incomplete and have significant errors, and therefore should not be used to hold people in detention. The Los Angeles Times
A group of Senate Democrats led by Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) urged the president to reconsider his position on the slashing the refugee cap to 18,000 next year, the lowest in the program’s history. CNN
The president is raising money for his border by deferring military construction projects slated for Guam, a key spot in the U.S. military’s effort to deter North Korea and counter China’s growing military. Associated Press
Support our work
Documented is the only NYC newsroom that creates journalism with and for immigrant communities. Help fuel this mission for $10/month.