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Early Arrival: Judge Dismisses Challenge to Green Light Law

Monday's edition of Early Arrival: Lawsuit Against Green Light Bill Dismissed – Border Wall Construction Begins – US to Start Charging for Asylum

A federal judge dismissed Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns’s lawsuit on Friday in a win for New York’s Green Light Bill. 

Kearns had challenged the new law that allows undocumented immigrants in New York to obtain driver’s licenses. He argued that the law is unconstitutional and would force him to break federal law. Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford disagreed. She found that Kearns had no legal standing to challenge the law as he was unable to demonstrate an injury. 

Kearns, a conservative-leaning Democrat, was defiant and said the lawsuit was only “round one.” The case was widely expected to go to appeal, regardless of the judge’s ruling. The Justice Department also said it intended to weigh in on the suit but did not do so before the judge’s ruling. 

“If folks who are present in the country illegally want to come to Erie County for a driver’s license, let me save them a trip,” Kearns said, according to The Buffalo News. “ I will not be issuing a driver’s license to any illegal immigrants.”  

Immigrant rights advocates celebrated the judge’s ruling. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who defended the Green Light Bill, also claimed victory. Similar laws are currently in place in 12 other states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

The law faces other legal challenges from the Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. It is set to go into effect on Dec. 14. The Buffalo News

Read more about county clerks threatening to call ICE on undocumented New Yorkers on Documented.

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

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Upstate Road at Center of Canadian Lawsuit

Roxham Road in upstate New York will be at the center of a federal case in Canada this week, challenging the “safe third country” agreement between the two nations. A lawsuit brought by immigration advocates calls on Canada to withdraw from its agreement, arguing that migrants will not be safe if they are returned to the U.S due to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing family separation and immigration detention among the reasons. Most of the nearly 50,000 asylum seekers who crossed illegally from the U.S. since 2017 came through Roxham Road. Associated Press

New Jersey’s Conservatives Hit Back Over Immigration Directive

In a nonbinding referendum in Sussex County, NJ residents resoundingly rejected the state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directive that bars local sheriffs from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The referendum result came as several sheriffs are in the midst of lawsuits against the attorney over the Immigrant Trust Directive. County freeholders had placed a question of the directive on the ballot at the request of the sheriff in Sussex County. The question asked whether voters were in favor of the county government providing support to ICE agents. The result of the election was 2 to 1, rejecting the directive. The New York Times

National

New Construction on Border Wall Begins

The first new sections of President Trump’s long-awaited border wall have been erected in Texas. Twin panels of 18-foot tall steel sit a mile north of the Rio Grande, just south of Donna, Texas. Up until now, the work has consisted of replacing existing border barriers. It is projected to cost around $167 million to build this eight-mile stretch of border wall. The president has promised to build 500 miles by the end of 2020. According to Customs and Border Protection, $9.8 billion has been appropriated to fund construction from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and a Treasury Department asset-forfeiture fund to meet that. The New York Times

Border Patrol Apprehensions Drop

Border Patrol apprehended about 36,300 people crossing the U.S.–Mexico border in October, a 10% drop from the previous month, according to the Wall Street Journal. The number is also a 75% drop from May when the number of apprehensions stood at 132,856. Several new policies at the border appear to have contributed to the fall in the number of people crossing the border, including barring people who passed through a third country applying for asylum. Mexico has also stepped up immigration enforcement, detaining and deporting people before they reach the U.S. border. The Wall Street Journal

Mississipi Raid Leaves Single Mothers Facing Deportation

Single mother Magdalena Mateo was arrested in one of the largest worksite raids in history at a poultry plant in Mississipi. Mateo, who is Guatemalan and has lived in the U.S. for almost a decade, now faces deportation despite having three American born children. More than 100 migrants arrested in the raid are now facing multiple criminal and civil penalties, in a move that may contradict Justice Department guidelines. Two single mothers are amongst the defendants, which may violate ICE’s policy of not leaving children without a parent. Local prosecutors seem to be ignoring DOJ guidance to target employers, not employees. HuffPost

Government Accused of Deleting Immigration Records

Nearly 1 million immigration court records went missing in September, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The organization consistently files freedom of information requests in order to obtain up to date records on the courts. The agency public alleged that the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration courts, deleted records on nearly 1 million applications for immigration relief in its September 2019 figures. It accused EOIR of “silently but systematically deleting records.” TRAC said it notified EOIR about the September problems but has since received three subsequent data batches with similar or new problems. El Paso Times

ICE Attempts to Circumvent California’s Private Prison Ban

Despite California passing legislation banning private prisons in the state, ICE posted a solicitation for at least four detention facilities around the state. The agency appears to be planning to rush through new facilities before the law takes place on Jan. 1. The law prohibits any new contracts or updates to existing ones starting in January, and a plan to phase out existing ones by 2028. The ICE request for proposals was for three facilities that would have could house around 6,750 detainees. Its requesting facilities that are “turnkey ready” and will not accept proposals for new construction. The Los Angeles Times

Washington – Trump Aims to Start Charging For Asylum, DACA Goes Before SCOTUS, Top DHS Officials Defend “Invasion” Rhetoric

The Trump administration is seeking to make the United States one of only four countries that charge people to seek asylum. 

A new rule will be published to the federal register on Thursday that will begin charging asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. Citizenship application fees will also rise by more than 60% to $1,170. Renewal fees for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will also go up to $765 from $495. 

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said the fee hike will help address budget deficits within the agency. According to the proposal, the increases will help fill in a hole in the budget created after Trump transferred more than $207 million of its funding to ICE to investigate immigration fraud. Fee waivers granted to people with financial hardships would also be eliminated. If enacted, this bill is almost certain to face legal challenges. Immigrant advocates balked at the measures and the notion that they were done for budgeting purposes. The New York Times

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday over the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA and remove protections for its 660,000 recipients. Onlookers assume that Chief Justice John Roberts will likely be the swing vote in the ideologically divided bench, where he is the conservative judge closest to the center. The president has had some success in the Supreme Court with immigration policies, as many have faced legal challenges. The president’s travel ban on people from several Muslim majority countries was upheld by the court but it did block him from including a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the bench in the census case. Trump announced he was ending the Obama-era program in 2017. The Supreme Court will decide whether the way in which the administration wound down DACA is legal. The previous immigration cases that came before the court give both parties a reason for hope. A decision isn’t expected until 2020 and could have political consequences also. Associated PressThe New Yorker

In an interview with “Axios on HBO,” Acting Commission of CBP Mark Morgan and Acting USCIS Director Cuccinelli defended referring to the situation at the southern border as an “invasion.” Morgan said it was a worthy term for “a crisis problem” and Cuccinelli said there was a large number of people attempting to “overwhelm” the immigration system. Both men are auditioning to become Trump’s new DHS secretary, which is widely expected to be Chad Wolf. Axios

Immigration helped Trump win in 2016. It could help spell his demise in 2020, Politico 

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