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Early Arrival: NYC Makes Immigration Discrimination Punishable by $250,000 Fines

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Missing Girl Stirs Up Xenophobia in New Jersey Town — Sanctuary Ordinance Causes a Rift in Alabama —  Lawmakers Take Border Trips, McAleenan's Isolation

New York City has made it illegal last week to threaten to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on someone with a “discriminatory motive.” The city has also banned the phrase “illegal alien” when it’s used to “demean, humiliate, or harass.” People guilty of this infraction could face a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, the commission said it’s investigating four cases where tenants were threatened with a call to ICE.

The new guidance is part of the NYC Human Rights Law and was announced by the NYC Commission on Human Rights. It applies to housing and employment discrimination, but also private businesses, like restaurants, gyms, stores, nightclubs, parks, libraries, health care providers and cultural institutions. “In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias. Today’s guidance makes abundantly clear that there is no room for discrimination in NYC,” Chair and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis said in a statement.

In the 29-page directive, the commission provided examples of what the discrimination could look like. This would include a hotel prohibiting its housekeepers from speaking other languages for fearing it could “offend” guests, landlord threatening to call ICE on an immigrant family or a store owner telling customers to go back to their country and “speak English.” The enforcement guidelines reinterpret the city’s human rights law and serve as recommendations for individuals who enforce anti-discrimination laws. CBS New York, CNN


Missing Girl Stirs Up Xenophobia in New Jersey Town

Parents in Bridgeton, New Jersey, have been wracked with fear ever since 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez went missing. In Bridgeton, a tight-knit town of mostly Latino immigrants, the missing girl has thrust the community into the heated national discourse over immigration and xenophobia, as residents are seemingly afraid to speak out about the child’s disappearance for fear of attracting immigration authorities. “I haven’t seen racism here before — in our little town there’s nothing like that,” said Licho Ruiz, 37, a resident and mother of two young children, but she added that “It is really unbelievable. People are really afraid now.” Dulce has been missing since Sept. 16. The New York Times

Prison-to-Deportation Pipeline Ensnares Young Immigrants

Ousman Darboe arrived in the U.S. from Gambia when he was 6 years old, and his family settled in the Fordham Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. Darboe worked quickly to fit in with his peers, shedding his accent and learning English, but he still had numerous interactions with law enforcement as a teenager and young adult. Eventually he ended up in Bergen County Jail as an ICE detainee. Advocates call this the prison-to-deportation pipeline, a system that works to funnel black and Latinx immigrants to prison, then ICE custody and then finally their home countries. Reporter Shamira Ibrahim took an in-depth look at the issue. Vox 

New York Pledges $1 Million for Immigration Legal Representation

New York City and the state have invested $1 million for legal services for immigrants, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs announced last week. The investment will support the Rapid Response Legal Collaborative, which offers legal support to detained immigrants or people at imminent risk of deportation. It will also expand the ActionNYC hotline, which provides immigrants with legal help in over 200 languages and with free appointments with ActionNYC providers. “Immigration enforcement and threats have created widespread fear and concern among our immigrant communities and dramatically increased the need for community education, rapid response and more immediate, quality legal assistance,” said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Jackson Heights Post


Sanctuary Ordinance Causes a Rift in Alabama

Conflict is brewing in the small city of Decatur, Alabama after Mayor Tab Bowling posted on Facebook about his objection to a new policy the police chief introduced last week. The policy said Decatur police would refrain from entering “voluntary agreements” with ICE because they’re “not consistent with furthering DPD’s community policing philosophy.” Bowling shot back by declaring “Decatur will not be a sanctuary city,” and said he would ask the police chief to rescind the policy. After AL.com published a story about the spat, the mayor released another statement that said he’s working with the police department to “clarify the policy.” AL.com

Advocates Try To Block Michigan’s First Private Detention Facility 

A correctional facility in Michigan will become the state’s first and only private detention facility, but not if advocates in the state are successful in a campaign to prevent it from opening. Michigan’s governor blocked a deal to turn the GEO-Group owned prison into a private detention facility, but GEO Group skirted the issue and still announced a new 10-year contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons earlier this year. The detention center is set to house an all-male population of up to 1,800 foreign born prisoners serving federal sentences for low-level criminal offenses. They’ll face deportation after their sentences. Michigan Advance

Woman Gives Birth in Sanctuary Church to Avoid ICE

Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a 36-year-old Peruvian immigrant and mother of three, took sanctuary in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colorado in December 2017. She has stayed there ever since for fear of being detained by immigration authorities. Two weeks ago, Latorre gave birth to her daughter in the recreation room of the church. “I am excited to have my beautiful baby girl and my two sons, who I love very much. My life continues, and this broken system will not stop my fight to keep my family together,” she said. The Daily Beast

City Says Undocumented Man Wasn’t Protected by the Constitution, So the Family Isn’t Entitled to a Reward

Police in Southaven, Mississippi shot and killed an innocent man named Ismael Lopez in the summer of 2017. They are now saying he was not protected by the U.S. Constitution at the time he was killed because he was an undocumented immigrant — an argument the Lopez family’s lawyer Murray Wells called “chilling,” and “insane.” Lopez ran a small auto mechanic’s shop, and one day, police showed up at his home looking for a domestic violence suspect. They allege he showed up at the front door with a handgun, which his wife disputes. His family filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city in federal court. HuffPost

Every Major Financial Backer Distances Itself from GEO Group

Every banking partner of the private prison operator GEO Group has now stated it will end relations with the company. This includes JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC. These decisions come as advocates have mounted a relentless campaign to target banks that extend credit lines and loans to the companies. The shift means that 87.4 percent of all future funding to private prisons may dry up and poses an existential threat to the existence and long-term viability of the industry as a whole. Forbes

Lawmakers Take Border Trips, Kevin McAleenan’s Isolation, DHS is Treating White Supremacy as a Major Threat

Lawmakers have been visiting border facilities in an attempt to see the reality of how migrants are being held and treated by CBP and other agencies. Among those on a recent trip was Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), a former State Department official who listened to a woman’s story and told her “You should not have to go back to Venezuela. And you should not be stuck in Mexico.” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) meanwhile posted a video at another border patrol facility and defended its practices, adding a caption reading “The attacks from @HouseDemocrats that migrants don’t have access to basic supplies are flat-out wrong.”

These two disparate reactions from border visits reflect Washington, D.C.’s polarized views on how to deal with the thousands of migrants traveling to the United States. In the past six months, dozens of members of Congress and their aides have traveled to the southwestern border to see what is happening there. These fact-finding missions are sometimes sanitized for the people who take them, but they’ve often exposed the raw reality of the situation.

Every lawmaker makes the journey south agrees the system is broken, but few agree on solutions to fix it. Even the lists of who goes on the trips themselves are contentious. “There’s a tension here between Trump supporters and critics, Republicans and Democrats, about these detainees and the people who are in the process,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “This tension is going on between humane treatment and deterrence.” The New York Times

Nearly six months after taking over the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan is saying he has lost command of public messaging from his department and is finding himself increasingly isolated. McAleenan is overshadowed by others more willing to praise President Trump, but he retains “operational” control of DHS, he said in an interview with The Washington Post. He also acknowledged he’s losing the battle to keep DHS from turning into a tool for a partisan agenda. “What I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time,” he said. “That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure.” The Washington Post

DHS is beginning to address white supremacist terrorism as a national security threat, it announced last week. In a document published in September, the department said is trying to project a new awareness about the threat. “I would like to take this opportunity to be direct and unambiguous in addressing a major issue of our time. In our modern age, the continuation of racially based violent extremism, particularly violent white supremacy, is an abhorrent affront to the nation,” McAleenan said during an address last month. The new stance contrasts President Trump’s previous statements, where he downplayed the threat of white supremacism. The New York Times

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