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Early Arrival: New Street Vendor Bill Would Double Permits

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: New Street Vendor Bill - 21 Savage's Immigration Saga Continues - Supreme Court Hears Immigration Case

Jessica Ramos Introduces a Bill That Would Double Street Vendor Permits

State Senator Jessica Ramos is sponsoring legislation that would lift the limits on the number of street food vendors, which could greatly change New York City’s street food landscape and could inflame tensions between vendors and brick-and-mortar businesses. New York City currently only has permits for about 5,100 street vendors according to the Department of Health. This has created a shadow industry, where permit holders rent out their food carts for exorbitant rates or sell them on the black market for as much as $25,000. Ramos’s bill would remove the cap. 

Currently, sidewalk vendors have to follow an opaque and complicated set of lawsthat regulate where they can park their carts, but generally, they’re free to roam the city. The bill would determine which areas  they can operate in, which would allow some neighborhoods to their activity in some zones. “The idea is to decriminalize street vending and do away with caps so that every vendor goes through the appropriate inspections,” Ramos told Gothamist.

Ramos also said the City could reap considerable tax and permitting revenue with her bill. A survey from 2012 said that 10,000 street vendors could generate $71.2 million in local, state and federal taxes. Previous attempts within the City Council to increase the number of permits have been unsuccessful. In 2016, then Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was stymied in her attempt to pass legislation that would double the number of food permits. She was defeated by business improvement districts and the real estate industry. Gothamist


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Brooklyn Leads the City in ICE Arrests

There were 112 ICE arrests and sightings in and around New York courthouses in 2019, according to a new report from the Immigrant Defense Project. In 2018, the organization recorded 219 arrests and sightings. Most of the incidents happened in New York City, with the majority – 23 – happening in Brooklyn. About 75 percent of ICE’s 2018 arrests and sightings at New York courthouses happened in the five boroughs. New York Attorney General Letitia James and public defender organizations are currently suing ICE over its courthouse arrest practice. The Brooklyn Eagle

Brooklyn District Attorney Launches New Initiative 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced an initiative that is aimed at reducing the eligibility for immigrants who have non-violent criminal convictions to be deportable. Some non-violent offenses can count as crimes of moral turpitude, which makes them potentially deportable. The district attorney announced his office would consider lessening the charges if they filed an application under the new program. Jamaica Observer


Rapper 21 Savage Still Doesn’t Have a Court Date

Rapper 21 Savage – whose legal name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph – drew national attention after Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced they arrested him, during the Super Bowl earlier this year. He had entered the U.S. legally in 2005 but stayed in the country long after his visa expired. Last month he got a work permit, but can’t leave the United States. Because of the substantial backlog in the Atlanta immigration courts, peoples cases are being scheduled over two years into the future. He has yet to receive his court date. TMZ

Cops Say Fake Robbery in Washington State Was an Elaborate Case of Visa Fraud 

In a scheme worthy of a Coen brothers movie, 10 people in SeaTac, Washington, are under suspicion of staging a fake robbery in order to get special visas designated for victims of crimes who cooperate in police investigations, according to law enforcement there. Deputies and officers from SeaTac’s police department responded to a call at a restaurant called Bob’s Burgers & Teriyaki on the night of Oct. 19. Officers were told that two robbers tied up the restaurant manager and six customers, stole their belongings and sexually assaulted two women. “It was all a lie,” Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said at a Monday press conference. “Every employee present that evening, every customer, participated in a deliberate hoax.” None of the people involved have been arrested yet. The Seattle Times

CVS Apologizes for Demanding Immigration Documents from a Student from Puerto Rico

CVS has apologized for refusing to sell cough medicine to a 20-year-old Puerto Rican student, saying his driver’s license was not a valid form of identification. José A. Guzmán-Payano, a junior at Purdue University, went to a CVS near his dorm in West Lafayette, Ind. in late October to buy Mucinex for a cold, according to his mother. When the cashier saw his Puerto Rican license, she asked for a visa and “started confronting him about his immigration status.”  Guzmán-Payano tried to explain that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, but she refused to accept his ID and a manager also refused to sell him the medication. The family filed a formal complaint against CVS last month and a representative of CVS later apologized. The New York Times

Man in Milwaukee Throws Acid on an American Citizen and tells him “Go Back to your Country”

A U.S. citizen who came to the country from Peru almost 20 years ago, had acid thrown at his face by a white man who told him to “go back to your country.” The victim, Mahud Villalaz was attacked outside a Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee on Friday. He said the man who attacked him hurled racist insults at him and accused him of being an “illegal” before throwing a “corrosive substance,” which might be battery acid, at his face. Villalaz suffered second-degree burns to his face from the attack. The Milwaukee police currently have a suspect in custody. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Hotel Chains Still Holding Immigrant Detainees Despite Promises Not To

Some of the country’s largest hotel chains are continuing to house immigrant detainees, despite promising to cease doing so. At least seven companies issued statements in July opposing the practice after protests. “We do not believe hotels should be used in this way and will decline any requests to do so,” Choice Hotels, said in its statement at the time. Despite this, immigration attorney Carlos Holguín says the Department of Homeland Security continues to use Choice Hotels properties to house unaccompanied immigrant youth. The hotels used by ICE include Comfort Suites and Sleep Inn & Suites, which fall under the Choice Hotels umbrella. The agency also used a Best Western in Los Angeles. CNN

Washington – Supreme Court Hears Case on Prior Criminal Convictions and Deportation – USCIS Director Says Trump Will Increase Employment Based Visas – Farmers Mostly Support Farmworker Reform Bill

U.S. Supreme Court justices deliberated on a case that may make it easier for the federal government to deport immigrants with old criminal convictions. The case involves Andre Martello Barton, a lawful permanent resident from Jamaica who challenged his deportation of drug and gun convictions in Georgia since 1996. Barton appealed a lower court ruling that said he was ineligible for his removal order to be cancelled under a law that prevents people with criminal convictions from remaining in the country

The court’s liberal justices appeared sympathetic to Barton, while the conservative justices appeared to side with the government’s efforts to deport him. The ruling – due at the end of June – could make it easier to deport thousands of immigrants with criminal convictions. Currently, permanent residents who face deportation may have their removal canceled if they have lived in the U.S. for at least seven years, except if they’ve committed major felonies. 

Barton’s case revolves around a 1996 change in law called the “stop-time rule” which stops the clock on their continuous residency, making him ineligible for the seven year limit. Barton came to the U.S. as a teenager with his mother in 1989. His charges stem from an incident in which his friend shot at a house from a car he was driving. He was also convicted of drug possession in 2007 and 2008. Barton’s lawyers argued he couldn’t be declared inadmissible because he was already admitted to the countryReuters

At a immigration conference on Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said that President Trump intends to raise the number of employment visas granted and lower the number of visas awarded for humanitarian and family-based reasons. Changing that is “something that the president is looking forward to,” he said. Trump’s hope of changing the visa system into a more merit-based program will not prevent companies from bringing skilled employees into the country, he assured. Bloomberg LawA new bipartisan bill could be the first major piece of immigration legislation with a chance of passing in years. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would raise wages for farm workers, provide a path to obtaining green cards for undocumented workers, and increase the number of seasonal laborers for the bill. Farmers have been supportive of increasing the number of visas and green cards, but are balking at the raised wages. “You would see a lot more ag production moving out of country, and that’s never a good thing,” Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse said. KTAR News

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