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Early Arrival: Living Underground in Queens

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Green Light Lawsuit Stalls — Additional Children Separated — Guatemala Asylum Agreement Progresses

In Queens, many of New York’s immigrants occupy basements with little sunlight but very low rents. Owners of one- and two-family homes made their basements into illegal dorm rooms often shared by a group of immigrants. 

The New York Times profiled immigrants living underground in Queens in an immersive piece. Thousands of restaurant workers, delivery bike riders, construction workers and others occupy the tiny rooms with little to no light. While there is no doubt the dorms are dangerous, immigrants also find a sense of peace in them. 

Eight areas in Queens are consistently among the 10 places in the city with the most complaints about illegal home conversions. The New York Times

Hello, I’m Mazin Sidahmed with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at mazin.sidahmed@documentedny.com.

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Local

Green Light Lawsuit Stalls

A federal judge has reserved a decision on whether to issue an injunction on the Green Light Law in an ongoing lawsuit over the bill. The law, which grants undocumented New Yorkers access to driver’s licenses, faces a lawsuit from Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns, who is hoping to stop it taking effect in December. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford listened to arguments in the case on Wednesday and said she would issue a decision in the middle of next month. Kearns argues that issuing driver’s licenses would force him to violate federal law. The Buffalo News

Taco Truck Serves Detention Center

Lloyd Taco Truck found itself embroiled in the immigration debate Wednesday when it served lunch at a federal detention center in Batavia. The popular taco truck faced a swift backlash, causing it to issue an apology, calling the decision an “honest mistake.” It promised to donate the sales from Wednesday’s event to the Justice for Migrant Families WNY. They had apparently received the request via their standard intake procedure. Their apology drew further criticisms from others who argued it should not be apologizing for serving federal law enforcement officers, including from Republican State Senator Rob Ortt. NY State of Politics

National

Additional Children Revealed to be Separated

An additional 1,556 immigrant children were separated from their parents by the Trump administration, the ACLU said on Thursday. The majority of the children were 12 years old and younger, including 200 who were under the age of 5, known as “tender age.” The tally was disclosed by the Justice Department in the ongoing federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s policy of separating families. The children were separated sometime between July 1, 2017 and June 2018. They’re currently in the process of trying to reunite the families while Justice Department lawyers said many children had been released to parents already. The Washington Post

Trump Administration Tests Accelerated Deportations

The Trump administration has begun testing Prompt Asylum Claim Review, a program aimed at speeding up deportations in El Paso. Under the program, asylum seekers receive a decision in 10 days or less, rather than the months or years they usually take, according to Customs and Border Protection. Migrants requesting asylum near El Paso are taken to a Border Patrol facility and given one day to call family or a lawyer before having a credible fear interview with an asylum officer. These interviews have become difficult for non-Mexican migrants to pass due to a litany of new policies from the Trump administration. The Washington Post

Border Patrol Criminality Soars

Criminal misconduct among Border Patrol has reached a five year high, according to an internal report obtained by Quartz. The report examines disciplinary actions within the agency and found arrests of CBP officers had been on the decline for half a decade before jumping 11 percent between fiscal year 2017 and 2018, which ended Oct. 1 2019. A total of 268 officers were arrested in fiscal year 2018, 11 were arrested twice, one was arrested four times and another was arrested five times. Officers are arrested for drug- and alcohol-related misconduct, domestic abuse, assault and corruption, among other things. Quartz

ICE Deleted Footage of Transgender Detainee Who Died in Custody

ICE deleted surveillance footage of Roxsana Hernández, a transgender asylum seeker who died while in custody last year, according to internal emails. Attorneys representing Hernández’s family in a lawsuit against ICE say the video would’ve been valuable evidence in the 33-year-old’s death. in Aug. 2018 email, ICE agents said they were unable to locate videos of Hernández, which are often held up to 90 days. Hernández was being held at a private prison operated by CoreCivic when she died in 2018. The family argues iCE should’ve been aware litigation was likely and held on to the video. BuzzFeed News

Immigrants in Church Sanctuary Fined

Immigrants seeking sanctuary in local churches have started receiving fines from ICE. A migrant received a letter saying they owed $303,620, while six other undocumetned immigrants across the country received similar fines ranging from $300,000 to $500,000. The fines are based on a $799 per day rate because they have allegedly not adhered to an order of removal. After pushback from attorneys, ICE relented and dropped its notice of intent to collect the fines. A spokesperson said ICE still reserved the right to reassess the fines. Texas Tribune

Washington — Guatemala Asylum Agreement Progresses

The Trump administration is close to finalizing an asylum agreement with Guatemala that would limit who is eligible for asylum in the U.S., sources told CNN. The agreement was one of multiple signed this year by the Trump administration that would force migrants to seek asylum in other countries before arriving in the U.S. Once the plan is finalized, the U.S. will begin sending migrants to Guatemala to seek asylum there instead. CNN

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