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Early Arrival: Federal Judge Halts Rensselaer County Clerk’s Attack on Green Light Law

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: — New York’s Non-Citizen Seniors Retreat from Benefits — Towns Profited from Immigration Detention for a Century — Supreme Court Deliberates DACA

A federal judge has put a stop to Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola’s efforts to attack the state law that will let undocumented immigrants apply for driver’s licenses. The order from U.S District Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe will stay the case until a similar complaint filed in Erie County is resolved. The law is scheduled to take effect in December and the state estimates it will attract 265,000 undocumented immigrants. 

Since the Green Light NY law was passed, it has been met with resistance from county clerks, local law enforcement and other elected officials. In addition to Merola’s challenge, another complaint against the law was filed by Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns. Merola and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the defendant in the case, asked the judge to provide an update on Nov. 1 if the case in Buffalo hasn’t been resolved. 

Merola contends the law “places him in the impossible position of either violating federal immigration laws or being removed from office for refusing to administer it,” Sharpe wrote in his ruling last week. “It is not readily apparent what claim(s) he alleges, but Merola seeks a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.” Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., a Trump appointee, asked the judge overseeing the case if he could file a motion to intervene. His filing is expected to be found illegitimate. Albany Times-Union

Hello, I’m Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

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New York’s Non-Citizen Seniors Retreat from Benefits Under Trump

New York City’s non-citizen seniors will likely be less willing to use public benefits after several rule changes from the Trump administration, advocates and city officials say. The public charge rule, which links visa applicants’ likelihood of getting visas to their chances of relying public benefits, and a new decree that makes it mandatory for immigrants to prove they can afford healthcare, could push seniors away from public welfare programs. “People think they need to withdraw from benefits, or that of their families,” said Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer with the Chinese-American Planning Council. “And many believe that the use of benefits by family members could impact their own status, which isn’t true.” City Limits

Bangladeshi Tenant Union Launches in Queens

Queens residents are launching the city’s first Bangladeshi tenant union, which is guided by Chhaya, a Queens-based social services organization that advocates for South Asians. So far, the union has 30 members across five buildings in the borough. Tenants say their grievances include harassment of rent-stabilized tenants, inconsistent heat and hot water and excessive broker’s fees. The union will also serve to promote awareness of tenants’ rights in the City’s Bangladeshi community. The City

NJ Sheriff Searching for “Legal Remedies” to AG Sanctuary Directive 

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said he is looking for “legal remedies” in response to the Immigrant Trust Directive, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directive that seeks to prevent  collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement. Monmouth is one of two counties that participates with ICE’s 287(g) agreement program, which deputizes local law enforcement to perform “limited immigration law enforcement functions.” Golden seeks to continue the county’s participation in the agreement and to continue detaining immigrants on behalf of ICE. Two River Times


Towns Made Money from Immigration Detention Starting in the 1900s

Since around the year 1900, towns have made money off of detaining immigrants, according to Brianna Nofil, a doctoral candidate in U.S. History at Columbia University. “(Local governments) started viewing undocumented immigrants as a commodity … a way to access federal money,” she said. Nofil’s research includes examining the policies behind incarcerating Chinesse immigrants who crossed the U.S.-Canadian border en route to New York in the early 20th century when Chinese immigration was outlawed. The federal government paid county sheriffs a nightly rate for each immigrant they held. But there was a moral crisis around the issue back then as well. “It never felt totally natural to people,” Nofil said. “There’s always been … real ethical and religious questions about what this means.” Duke Today 

Border Apprehensions Fall in September

The number of migrants apprehended at the southern border dropped 65 percent in five months according to Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan. Last month, CBP apprehended 52,000 migrants. In May, it apprehended 144,000. The total number of people apprehended on the southern border in fiscal year 2019 is likely to be nearly 1 million. Apprehensions tend to slow in the hot summer months, but Morgan insisted it was due to the administration’s policies. The Seattle Times 

ICE Quietly Doubles the Size of Wyoming Detention Center

ICE doubled the size of a proposed detention center outside Evanston, Wyoming in an amended document last week, changing the number of beds from 500 to 1,000. The agency hopes to detain immigrants awaiting hearings in Salt Lake City. The private prison company Management Training Corporation brought the proposal to the area, but abruptly withdrew from it soon after. The facility “was sold as a way to bring jobs to the area and diversify the economy. Very little was said about the lives that would be held inside,” WyoSayNo organizer Antonio Serrano, who is against the facility, wrote. County commissioners have strongly backed the jail, but had no explanation of why it quickly doubled in size. WyoFile

Thousands of African Migrants Pledge to March to the U.S.

Thousands of African migrants stuck in Mexico said they will march toward the U.S. on Tuesday and will not seek asylum before doing so — something the U.S. is currently requiring migrants to do before seeking asylum in the U.S. Mexico is currently holding the migrants, as they don’t have travel documents to pass through as the Trump administration continues to pressure Mexico to crack down on migration. For months, an estimated 4,000 African migrants have been living in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula. They are unable to find work and regularly experience racism, they say. NPR

Couples Allegedly Lured to Marriage Interviews to be Detained

Mixed immigration status couples are being lured to marriage interviews as a ruse to detain one of the hopeful spouses, according to a class action lawsuit filed in Baltimore. Elmer Sanchez was invited to a green card interview at the local offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and was detained at the office that day. Five other couples say they had similar experiences. The American Civil Liberties Union is pursuing a similar complaint in Massachusetts,  and similar detentions have reportedly happened in New York, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and California. The Associated Press

Washington — Supreme Court Deliberates DACA, Protestors Chase DHS Head, BLM Anti-Immigrant Claims

The Supreme Court began its new term this week, likely beginning a more politically charged session as it decides whether to let the Trump administration wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Court plans to hear three cases – Trump v. NAACP, McAleenan v. Vidal, and Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California – on November 12. They will determine the future of DACA. 

As of last year, the federal government found that over 700,000 undocumented immigrants rely on DACA, which Trump announced he would end early on in his presidency. One of the court opinions in those cases being reviewed by the Supreme Court says the administration “indisputably can end the DACA program.” Lower courts blocked Trump’s efforts to end DACA essentially due to paperwork error. 

The judiciary will not, however, review the executive branch’s policy-based decision to wind down DACA, according to the courts. Trump can undeniably end the program for policy reasons, but since his current justification for ending the policy relies on declaring it illegal, the court may review its legitimacy. Analysts expect the court will side with Trump, ending DACA. Vox

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan left a panel at an immigration policy conference after protestors confronted him from the crowd. McAleenan was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the conference hosted by the Migration Policy Institute and was expected to take questions from the audience. As he took the stage, law school students and activists stood up and held a banner that said “Hate is Not Normal,” and shouted that children were under attack. McAleenan left shortly after. The New York TimesThe acting director of Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley referred to undocumented immigrants as “a cancer” and said they’re responsible for “violent crime,” “crowded schools,” and other social ails in a 2007 fundraising mailer for his legal fund and other mailings for the organization. He went on to blame undocumented immigrants for violent crimes, disease and other issues proven demonstrably false by academic studies in a blog post from 2006. Pendley also denied the existence of climate change and denied the existence of a hole in the ozone layer. CNN

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