Federal judges in three states may have blocked the so-called public charge rule, but immigrants are still uncertain about which public benefits are safe to apply for. Advocates say it’s still going to be difficult to explain what the court rulings mean due to “a lot of damage that has been done,” said Abbey Sussell, of the New York Immigration Coalition. New Yorkers had already started dropping out of public assistance programs, she said.
Some people dropped out of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, others have pulled their children out of school lunch programs and more have avoided public hospitals. “The word that we want to get out there is ‘Continue your benefits,’” said Hasan Shafiqullah, attorney-in-charge at The Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit. “If you’re concerned if it’s safe for you to stay on them or to enroll … then speak with somebody first.”
Green card applicants were also targeted by the public charge, as it made it necessary for them to make at least 2.5 times the federal poverty level in income. Now, that restriction has been lifted. In order to fight misinformation, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office is teaming up with advocates to provide up-to-date information for the city’s immigrant communities. The City
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Tension Builds Over County Jail ICE Contracts
In 2011, lawmakers in Essex County, New Jersey agreed to house immigrant detainees at the county jail for a fee, which would eventually add up to $200 million for the county. Yet since then, as comprehensive bail reform emptied the jails, the county has relied on immigrant detention contracts to make up the cash shortfall. That has become a point of contention for immigrant advocate, with some calling for the complete severing of ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Others worry ending the contracts will force ICE to transfer the detainees far from New York City and their lawyers and families. The New York Times
Advocates Launch Bond Fund
In New York, immigration bond costs an average of seven times criminal bail. Detainees have to pay the full fee, as opposed to in criminal cases, where they can pay about ten percent of the bail amount. The few companies that do bail bonds for immigration detention have a history of predatory practices. That’s why a group of immigrant advocates banded together to form the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund. So far, the fund has bonded out more than 300 New Yorkers, paying $2.3 million in bonds from $500 to $35,000. Their goal is to bond out as many immigrant detainees as possible. The NY Daily News (opinion)
Nurses Association Announces Lawsuit Against Albany Hospital
The New York State Nurses Association announced it will file a federal lawsuit that alleges Albany Medical Center has forced hundreds of Filipino nurses to continue working there under threat of serious harm. The suit says the nurses, who are recruited from the Philippines, must pay the hospital up to $20,000 if they leave the job within their first three years of employment. “It just seemed patently objectionable,” said Steven Toff, general counsel at the New York State Nurses Association. “We thought, this can’t be permissible for them to do this.” Albany Times Union
British Family Detained After They Accidentally Drove into the U.S., They Say
A British family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border during a visit to Vancouver when they say they swerved to avoid an animal in the road. Soon, a police car appeared behind them. They had accidentally ventured into the United States, and the trip then turned into “the scariest experience of our lives.” The husband and wife were separated and he was taken to Tacoma, Washington, while she was taken to a hotel near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with their infant son, according to the complaint. They were later flown to the Berks Family Residential Center. “We will be traumatized for the rest of our lives by what the United States government has done to us,” Eileen Connors said. The couple has been held since October 3. BBC
ICE May Be Building a Case Against U.S. Citizen Teen Who Was Detained
Francisco Galicia, the teenaged U.S. citizen who was detained by ICE for almost a month, has received an immigration court date in 2020. His attorney fears the U.S. government may be building a case to question his citizenship based on the fact that his mother solicited a fake birth certificate for him in Mexico three years after he was born in Dallas. “The plan now is to file a motion to terminate deportation proceedings so we don’t have to wait until 2020. We’re going to attach all the evidence that has already been submitted to ICE and hope we get a positive ruling,” Claudia Galan, Galicia’s attorney, said. The Dallas Morning News
U.S. Immigration Policy Hurts Oil and Gas Sector
Even though the Trump administration has rolled back environmental protections, his immigration policy is still hurting the oil and gas industry. Oil field producers say they don’t have the workforce to operate machinery to drill for oil in New Mexico and Texas. Employers in the Permian Basin — the most productive oil field in the U.S — say their sector has been hit by the increased I-9 audits and difficulty in securing visas. In the past, guestworkers have filled the hardest, most dangerous jobs in the oil field. Reuters
Lawsuit: Border Patrol Turns Away Pregnant Mothers So They Give Birth in Mexico
Border patrol agents are turning away a “significant number” of pregnant asylum seekers, which has exposed them to “rape, kidnapping [and] assault,” according to the ACLU, a group of Democratic senators and the USCIS workers’ union National CIS Council 119. A spokesperson for the union said he believes the Trump administration is forcing pregnant asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in order to prevent them from giving birth in the U.S. “Those individuals are being returned to a situation where they have little to no access to health care in precarious circumstances,” Michael Knowles, the union representative said. Newsy
Detention Officers in Facebook Group with Violent, Anti-Muslim Posts
Several detention officers and other federal employees belong to a Facebook group started by a militia leader named Chris Hill, who started the III% Security Force. Posts in the group promote violence against undocumented immigrants, Muslims, Democratic politicians and others. At least three members work with detained immigrants at detention facilities. The group was started to organize support for an upcoming rally in Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia to promote the Second Amendment and Trump’s border wall. Folio Weekly
Washington — Census Information Gathering Continues, Ex-Immigration Judge Says Trump is Undermining Discretion, 1 Day, 4 Rulings Against Trump
The Trump administration was stymied in its attempt to include a citizenship question with the 2020 census, but it is not done trying to use the national survey to collect information about immigrants. The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking drivers’ license data to collect information about citizenship and has made requests for information on social safety program recipients, according to a report from the Associated Press.
After a Supreme Court ruling that forbade the question, Trump signed an executive order that requires the Commerce Department to collect records on citizenship from federal agencies and to increase efforts to “to obtain state administrative records concerning citizenship.” The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators said states have received requests for information including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. “Each state is making their own determination how to respond,” spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey said in an email. Motor vehicle records are inaccurate and “bad at determining when someone is not a citizen,” said Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Census Bureau is also seeking state records on individuals who receive public benefits. A request published in the federal register last month said they’re needed to “improve efficiency and accuracy in our data collections, and to improve measures of the population and economy,” though it could play into the recently blocked public charge rule. The Associated Press
MaryBeth Keller was the Chief Immigration Judge of the U.S. from September 2016 to July 2019. Before then, she worked for the Executive Office for Immigration Review for 28 years. She oversaw the immigration trial courts and how they function across the country. Currently, she says, there is a “fundamental distrust of people and organizations in the federal government” because the EOIR is losing its discretion and political appointees dictate decisions. “Operational decisions down to the smallest details are dictated from above. For example, even my emails and communications to staff were edited from above,” she told The Asylumist in an interview. “I believe that is compromising the effectiveness of EOIR as a whole.” The AsylumistFour federal judges ruled against the Trump administration on Friday. Three of the judges issued injunctions that temporarily block the public charge rule. A fourth judge said the declaration of a national border emergency, which was used to secure funding for the border wall, violated the law. The judge invited plaintiffs to submit a preliminary injunction. ABA Journal