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Early Arrival: Immigrants Rack Up Medicaid Bills After Shoddy City Investigations

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that New York City was targeting recipients of NYC Care, Bill de Blasio’s flagship health care program. Legal Aid attorneys are representing people accused of falsely receiving Medicaid benefits.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is bringing low-income residents and immigrants to its Human Resources Administration and alleging they’ve received improper benefits based on income or residency discrepancies. These accusations are leading recipients of Medicaid to rack up insurmountable debts, according to legal advocates and recipients of the program.

Interviews with recipients and lawyers show that the city’s efforts to hold on to Medicaid funding has put low income New Yorkers on the hook for paying for programs they can’t afford. “We certainly see a lot of cases where the person is eligible or eligible for part of the time, where it seems like it’s a very uninformed investigation,”said Rebecca Novick, an attorney for The Legal Aid Society.

The city is obligated to recover Medicaid spending for ineligible people and return it to the state and federal government. The overpayments range at around $12,050 per person. But advocates say the investigations could be avoided if there was more due diligence used when issuing the benefits. Politico

Hello, this is Max Siegelbaum and Mazin Sidahmed with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email us at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com mazin.sidahmed@documentedny.com.

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Local 

Documents Show ICE Uses Controversial Surveillance Equipment

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used a Stingray surveillance device that spies on cell phones to track an undocumented immigrant, the second time agents have been caught using the tool during the Trump administration. They were tracking Valente Palacios Tellez, whose alleged crime was crossing the border after being previously deported. A federal judge authorized ICE to obtain Tellez’s phone records from Sprint and ordered the company to send out a signal to allow ICE to track the phone. Agents used the Stingray to pinpoint his location further. “I think it’s too much, because my brother isn’t a murderer. He’s not a terrorist,” Tellez’s older sister says. Univision

AG James Joins Lawsuit Against Safe Third Country Agreement

New York Attorney General Letitia James is now part of a lawsuit against the Trump administration rule that requires asylum seekers to have applied for asylum in other countries before the United States. She, along with 18 other attorneys general, are suing the Trump administration over its agreements with Central American countries. “America has always stood as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge from war and terror at home, and, under our watch, we will fight to ensure that we stay true to who we are as a nation,” James said in a statement. NY State of Politics

Cape May County Sheriff Sues Attorney General Over Sanctuary Directive

Cape May County Sheriff Robert Nolan of New Jersey and the county filed a lawsuit against the state’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal over his directive that limits New Jersey law enforcement from collaborating with ICE to detain immigrants. The sheriff claims Grewal endangered public safety in the county by restricting ICE’s ability to communicate with law enforcement. “The purpose of the Immigrant Trust Directive was clear: to draw a bright, clear line between federal immigration authorities, who enforce federal civil immigration law, and state and local law enforcement officers, who don’t,” Grewal spokesperson Lee Moore said. Patch

National

Cuban Man Dies from Suicide in Detention

A Cuban man has died from suicide while being detained in Louisiana. ICE said that 43-year-old Roylan Hernandez Diaz was found unresponsive in his cell at the Richwood Correctional Center. People with family members inside the facility allege he was in solitary confinement when he died. ICE did not comment on these allegations. Hernandez entered the U.S. in May at an official point of entry in El Paso and was sent to immigration detention after. Ridgewood is one of eight jails in the state that detains immigrants. PBS

British Family Who Accidentally Crossed the Border is Deported

The British family who crossed the U.S.-Canada border without authorization has been deported after spending almost two weeks in federal detention. Attorneys for the family said four adults and three children were heading back to the U.K. David and Eileen Connors were driving near the U.S. border near Vancouver when they said they accidentally crossed into the U.S., but border patrol said it was intentional. The mother and son were sent to a facility in Pennsylvania and the father was held in Washington state. Eileen Connors said she complained about the facility conditions and ICE offered to separate her from her 3-month-old son and send him to another facility. NPR

Document Trove Details Abuse of Minors by Border Patrol

The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained thousands of documents that detail the abuse of children by Border Patrol agents along the U.S.–Mexico border between 2009 and 2014. Children say they were beaten while handcuffed, run over by ATVs and bitten by Border Patrol dogs. The documents, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, came along with audio and video interviews of agents and children who were held in Border Patrol custody after crossing the border. In one video, a teenage girl describes having to fully undress after her arrest by a Border Patrol agent. KPBS

Mexico Deports 311 Indian Migrants

In one of India’s largest repatriations ever, 311 Indian citizens were deported from Mexico. The country’s National Immigration Institute announced the move on Wednesday as the Mexican government has stepped up its immigration enforcement efforts in recent months. Trump threatened to place tariffs on all goods coming from Mexico if migration on the southern border did not decrease. Since then, thousands of National Guard agents have been stationed along major migration routes. The Indian migrants, 310 men and one woman, were detained across the country before being transferred to the state of Veracruz and then deported. Associated Press

CBP Considers Using Facial Recognition

Customs and Border Protection are considering giving Border Patrol agents body cameras with facial recognition technology. A new Request for Information issued by the agency for body cameras included a request for real-time facial recognition technology that could compare faces against existing databases and also verify an identification document against someone’s face. A February bill now requires Border Patrol agents wear body cameras, which they had not been forced to previously. Government use of facial recognition technology has been banned by many cities across the country due to civil liberties concerns, but CBP uses it extensively in airports and border checkpoints. The Daily Beast

Washington — Cuccinelli Says Ending Birthright Citizenship is Possible, Trump Releases Central American Aid, Senate Allows Wall Funding

Birthright citizenship could be revoked without amending the Constitution, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said during an event on Wednesday. His comments revived an issue President Trump surfaced last year when he said during an interview with Axios that he could revoke the right for anyone born on U.S. soil to become a citizen enshrined in the 14th amendment with an executive order. Cuccinelli stopped short of saying it could be done via executive action but said it was a “question” of whether it required congressional action. 

Cuccinelli has been angling for the job of Homeland Security Secretary for some time, and the resignation of Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan has opened the door for him. Cuccinelli reportedly met with senators this week, although he has a frosty relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Christian Science Monitor, CNN

President Trump has agreed to release $143 million in foreign aid to Central America and praised Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for signing agreements with the U.S. that could allow the U.S. to deport asylum seekers to the region. The president had previously frozen aid to the countries and threatened to implement trade tariffs if migration did not decrease. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said targeted aid would resume, including counternarcotics operations, military aid, assistance with the resettlement of deportees and programs to prevent young people from joining gangs. The Washington Post

The Senate has allowed the president to continue using military funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Trump’s veto of Democratic legislation to block the reappropriation of funds was not overturned in the Senate. In February Trump declared a national emergency on the border which allowed him to take up $3.6 billion from military projects. Associated Press

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