Boston-area advocates rejoiced earlier this month when the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Sheriff Steve Tompkins announced he was ending his contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to make more room in the county jail for female prisoners. But some were wary ending the ICE contract would lead the agency to scatter immigrant detainees to far flung facilities; Suffolk County includes Boston, which has a robust immigration legal community.
Those fears turned out to be valid. A nonprofit in Boston said most of the male detainees were moved to jails with ICE contracts in Plymouth and Franklin counties in Massachusetts and in Rhode Island. Yet about 20 of the women were sent to the federal detention center in Batavia, New York, near Buffalo. The New York State Immigrant Family Unity Project represents immigrants held in Batavia, but it’s unclear whether their cases will continue to be heard in Boston’s immigration court or upstate. Either way, the women are now likely a long drive from their families.
In New Jersey, advocacy groups are similarly divided on whether or not to call for county jails to cease holding immigrant detainees. The county jails rake in considerable profits from the day rate they’re paid by the federal government and many people say they don’t want their tax dollars contributing to immigration detention. Others are wary of what ICE will do if the contracts are cancelled, saying the detainees may be transferred to a jurisdiction far away where they don’t have legal representation or access to their families. WGBH
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Worker Dies After Wall Collapse
A worker died after a wall in a construction site collapsed on two people. Stanislaw Supinski, an immigrant from Poland who lived in Queens, was standing on a windowsill when the wall collapsed. He was working to turn a Lower East Side synagogue damaged in a fire two years ago into a mixed-use building. The Buildings Department is investigating the site for hazardous conditions, but has so far not seen any imminent danger for another collapse. New York Daily News
Credit Bureau Trade Association Sues N.J. Over Translation Law
A trade association representing several of the largest credit bureaus is suing to block a New Jersey law that will require them to make credit reports available in Spanish and 10 other languages. The new law requires bureaus produce reports “upon the consumer’s request in Spanish or any other language that the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs determines is the first language of a significant number of consumers in the State.” Advocates say understanding credit reports is essential for non-English speakers so they can address errors and combat low credit scores. NJ Advance Media
Americans Illegally Migrated to Mexico and Stole Land 200 Years Ago
Fear of Mexican citizens migrating the U.S. has been a trope for several decades now, and yet 200 ago, that fear was reversed. In the late 1820s, Mexican officials were growing increasingly alarmed over the rate at which U.S. citizens were crossing the border illegally and claiming land in what is now Texas. The Mexican government originally authorized hundreds of Americans to settle the land, but soon thousands of Americans began pouring into Texas illegally and seizing land, becoming forced occupants and refusing to leave. Smithsonian Magazine
Trump Administration Withdraws Sanctuary Fines
The Trump administration is withdrawing fines of anywhere from $300,000 to almost $500,000 against five immigrants living in sanctuary nationwide.Edith Espinal Moreno, who is living in a church in Ohio to avoid detention, received a notice in June that she owed $497,000 for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” Last week, she received another note from ICE that said the agency was withdrawing the fine. Espinal says she’ll still remain in the church despite the fine being rescinded. “We don’t have any other option than to remain in sanctuary, or I’ll be deported,” she said. “We have to keep fighting.” NPR
Thousands of Migrants Stuck Between Two Trump Administration Policies
Thousands of migrants who are waiting in Mexico for their asylum hearings in the U.S. are finding out they may not be eligible for asylum at all. Many of the migrants were given court dates but were forced to wait in Mexico for their hearings. While they were waiting, the Trump administration issued a regulation that banned asylum for non-Mexican migrants who entered the U.S. from Mexico. The Trump administration has claimed people caught by the “remain in Mexico” policy wouldn’t be affected by the ban, but at least one court is seeing confusion. ProPublica
California Pension Plan Divests from Private Prisons
The largest public pension fund in the United States is divesting from GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two largest for-profit prison companies that detain most of the immigrants in the country. The California Faculty Association announced Friday the California Public Employees Retirement System will be pulling $10.8 million out of the two companies’ stock. “Our union was not going to stand by and watch our pension dollars support these terrible corporations, and we’re pleased to see that CalPERS investment analysts have come to the conclusion,” the faculty association said in a statement. NBC News
Justice Department Will Collect DNA From Migrants
The Justice Department announced this week it plans to collect DNA from migrants crossing the border. Attorney General William Barr announced the proposal, which will be published in the Federal Register. The rule will allow federal authorities to build a database of about 748,000 DNA samples from immigrants who annually present themselves at legal ports of entries. Legal permanent residents won’t be affected by the new regulation, which is subject to a 20-day comment period. Immigrant advocates denounced the proposal, saying it is an invasion of privacy on behalf of the immigrants it affects. NPR
Washington — DHS Secretary Duels, Nielsen Defends Family Separation, Family Separation Architect for DHS Chief
Immigration hardliners are fighting to keep the current heads of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the running for the head of the Department of Homeland Security after questions about their eligibility were raised. White House staffers reportedly told President Trump that Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of USCIS, and Mark Morgan, acting head of CBP, are both ineligible to become acting DHS secretary because of the intricacies of federal vacancy laws.
Sean Doocey, the White House director of presidential personnel, was reportedly the one who told Trump he had to pick from a smaller pool of candidates. But the hardliners disagree, saying there are ways of working around the Department of Justice opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel that might bar Cuccinelli and Morgan. A White House official told NPR it was like “giving the boss bad advice.”
Trump announced two weeks ago that acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan was leaving his post and that he would announce his successor a week later. Cuccinelli has overseen major efforts to make it harder to obtain permanent residency by restricting access to green cards by financial means. Morgan has meanwhile supervised the efforts to crack down on immigration at the border. NPR
Beyond those top two candidates, the White House is strongly considering current DHS undersecretary for strategy Chad Wolf to lead the Department of Homeland Security, according to multiple officials. Wolf was an early architect of the family separation policy, emails obtained by NBC News reveal. In December 2017, he sent a list of 16 options to curb the number of undocumented immigrants to Gene Hamilton, a counselor to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for review. One of the ideas on the list was to “separate family units.” Wolf has also worked as a lobbyist on H-1B visas, so hardliners worry he would combat Trump’s extreme restrictions on visas. NBC News
When asked if she regretted signing a memo that led to the separation of thousands of parents from their children, former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she did not “regret enforcing the law, because I took an oath to do that.” Nielsen made the comment at Tuesday at a conference hosted by Fortune Magazine. She also said she left the administration because “saying no” to some things the administration wanted to do was “not going to be enough, so it was time for me to offer my resignation.” CNN