A bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers announced a bill that could lead to legal status for workers at more than 4,000 New York dairy farms. It could offer a more stable workforce for the state’s agriculture industry, which has been unsettled by attacks to seasonal worker visa programs and I-9 audits from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The bill has been a rare bipartisan measure in a highly polarized time for the federal legislature. It’s co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), Tom Reed (R-Corning) and Anthony Brindisi (D-Utice), among others. “We are fortunate to have a wide range of agriculture operations in the North Country that create jobs and drive our economy, and we are one of the top dairy-producing districts in the country,” Stefanik said. “Securing a reliable and skilled workforce is essential to maintain the success of those operations.”
New York farms employ about 55,000 people. Nationally, half of agricultural workers are likely undocumented. If the bill passes, it will make H-2A visas available to dairy workers for the first time. The bill would also streamline the application process for seasonal worker visas and raise wages, as well as allow agriculture workers access to many more green cards. Albany Times-Union
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Trump Administration Seeks to Dismiss Courthouse Arrests Lawsuit
The Trump administration is attempting to dismiss the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit which challenges ICE’s practice of arresting immigrants outside New York courthouses. The Trump administration filed a motion to dismiss the suit Oct. 23, saying “Congress established a comprehensive system of immigration laws which dictates when and where immigration arrests are lawful, including at courthouses,” according to the motion. The controversial practice has drawn criticism from law enforcement and immigrant advocates alike. Hudson Valley 360
Mother Wins Asylum, Can Bring Daughter to U.S.
In the summer of 2018, Ana Batiz crossed the U.S. border with her two daughters, seeking asylum on the grounds they’d been persecuted for having HIV. Batiz was separated from her daughter Susan at the Texas border because she was 18 years old. The mother and daughter saw two separate asylum officers, and Batiz passed her credible fear test and made her way to New York City. But Susan failed and was eventually deported to Honduras. Batiz has since received asylum, so now she has a way to legally bring her daughter to the U.S. Gothamist
City Council Interrogates Mayor on Census Prep
With the 2020 Census nearing, the New York City Council is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to deliver a report on the city’s preparations for the count. City Council members held a joint hearing of the Committees on Governmental Operations, Immigration and State and Federal Legislation and interrogated the administration on how it’s spending $40 million to ensure a full count. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of countless state and city programs, political representation, and even our democracy rely on a complete and accurate census count,” Carlina Rivera said in her opening remarks. Gotham Gazette
Immigrants and Companies are Scrambling to Figure Out Health Insurance Visa Policy
A recent Trump administration proclamation that requires all immigrants to prove they will have U.S. health insurance within 30 days of their arrival is causing prospective immigrants to scramble to figure out how to get coverage. But they’re struggling to parse the American healthcare system, which is not set up to serve people who haven’t arrived in the country yet. The administration has only explained that consular officers will ask visa applicants to say their health insurance plan, when their coverage will begin and “other information related to the insurance plan as the consular officer deems necessary.” Thomson Reuters
Documents Show GEO Group Workers Punished Detainees for Not Cleaning Facility
Immigrant detainees have long argued that since they’re not being held on criminal charges, they can’t be forced to work like prisoners are. In December 2017, Raul Novoa, a Mexican man living in Los Angeles, sued the private prison corporation GEO Group, alleging the low wages immigrants were paid were illegal. An email surfaced during the lawsuit showed a GEO Group staffer complained that detainees were not cleaning the facility, and that guards should take away privileges because of it. Miami New Times
U.S. Detained Record Number of Unaccompanied Minors Last Fiscal Year
The U.S. detained more unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the southwest border over the last year than any other period in the nation’s history. Federal authorities apprehended 76,020 minors traveling alone in the most recent fiscal year, 52 percent more than the previous fiscal year, according to United States Customs and Border Protection. Mexico is also experiencing a similar surge in underage children traveling north, detaining about 40,500 minors in the same time period. The New York Times
Mexico Steps Up Immigration Enforcement After Trump’s Pressure
The Trump administration pressured Mexico to step up its immigration enforcement — and it has. Mexico has stationed dozens of national guard troops and immigration officials along its border with Guatemala. The country has also set up checkpoints along the highway. Authorities there deported nearly 118,000 migrants, mostly to Central America, in the first nine months of this year. Advocates say this crackdown has not dissuaded migrants, but rather made their journey more perilous. NPR
Report: Border Officials Investigate 4 of 10 Claims Before Returning Migrants to Mexico
A new report based on 600 interviews with asylum seekers in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, showed the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” greatly endanger migrants who expressly relay the grave danger they face in Mexico. Almost 90 percent of the migrants interviewed by immigration officials said they feared returning to Mexico. Yet only about 40 percent of them were given a secondary interview by an asylum officer and nearly 60 percent were not, according to the report from the Immigration Policy Center. Immigration Prof Blog
Washington — White House Looks to Loophole to Promote Current Acting Officials to DHS Secretary Job
The White House has found a way to circumvent a statue that dictates who can fill a secretary position, which could allow President Trump to choose who he wants to lead the Department of Homeland Security, an administration official tells The New York Times. Officials who share Trump’s hardline stance, including Acting Customs and Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan and Acting U.S. Customs and Border Patrol head Ken Cuccinelli, were initially found ineligible for a Senate-approval free appointment based on the federal Vacancies Act.
The act dictates acting officials must be next in the line of succession, have the approval of the Senate or have served 90 days under the previous secretary to be elevated to a secretary position. The White Hose is exploring a loophole in the law where it could choose someone to act as the assistant secretary of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, then elevate them to acting secretary of homeland security. The New York Times