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Trump Admin Weighs in Against Driver’s License Law

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Trump’s Undocumented Employees Speak Out — Border Patrol Neglect in Child's Death — House Investigates Border Wall Contract

Part of New York state’s driver’s license law may conflict with federal law, the Department of Justice said in a court filing in the lawsuit against the New York state’s law. 

The law, known as Green Light, allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses by permitting the use of foreign-issued documents to prove their identity. The DOJ took issue with the portion of the law that prevents collaboration between federal immigration officials and state and county officials, which they argue is in violation of laws that make it illegal to prohibit state or local officials from sending information on citizenship or immigration status to the federal government. 

The intervention had been long anticipated by county clerks from Erie, Monroe and Rensselaer counties who filed separate lawsuits claiming the Green Light Law is illegal and would force them to violate federal law. A federal judge in Western New York dismissed the case of Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns last month. He and other clerks maintain they will not issue licenses to anyone they believe to be undocumented, Kearns even said he would post ICE’s tip line in the auto bureaus he runs. 

The DOJ intervened in the case of Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, who is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the law taking effect Dec. 14. At that time, people will be able to apply for a license with an unexpired passport, an unexpired form of ID provided by a consulate or a foreign driver’s license. Democrat & Chronicle

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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Why Trump’s Undocumented Employees Spoke Out

The Washington Post interviewed 48 undocumented people who worked for the Trump organization in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Virginia. Many had spent years, in some cases nearly two decades, working for the now first family in their homes and resorts. Trump’s presidential campaign, which took aim at immigrants, stirred anger among the workers. Wealthy members of Trump’s clubs made jokes about the staff once he became president, “You’re still here?” one apparently quipped at waiter Gabriel Juarez. The treatment led Sandra Diaz and Victorina Morales to take their stories to the press last year to highlight what they saw as hypocrisy. The Washington Post

The Rise and Fall of the Taxi King

Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who earned the title Taxi King by building the biggest fleet of yellow cabs in New York City, experienced a dramatic fall from grace this year as the bubble that upheld the medallion industry burst. The collapse of the taxi medallion industry has left thousands of cab drivers, mainly immigrants, mired in debt. Freidman accumulated $525 million worth of assets by building some of the predatory lending schemes that destroyed the lives of many. He eventually managed to avoid jail for tax fraud by cooperating with law enforcement against his friend Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump. The New York Times


Video Shows Neglect By Border Patrol in Child’s Death

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year old migrant, was found dead in quarantine at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas, in May. At the time CBP called his death “tragic” and reiterated its commitment to health and safety. However, a new video obtained by ProPublica shows his death was the result of a lack of oversight by Border Patrol officials on guard. The video shows Carlos’s last hours, in which a nurse said he had the flu and a temperature of 103 degrees and that he should be checked on in a few hours. That never happened. The video shows Vasquez writhing on the floor and staggering to the toilet before collapsing. ProPublica

Report on Remain in Mexico Published

U.S. border officials pressured asylum officers to deny immigrants entry, according to a draft Department of Homeland Security report published by BuzzFeed News. The report details issues with the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program, which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated. More than 60,000 immigrants are currently in the program. The report said there were complaints of CBP officials pressuring asylum officers to “arrive at negative outcomes” in credible fear interviews. It also stated pregnant women were being sent back to Mexico and people with children who are Mexican citizens were being returned to Mexico, a violation of their rights. BuzzFeed News

Poor Medical Care Continually Reported in Detention

The government is systematically failing to provide adequate medical care to people in immigration detention, advocates say. The case of Mohamed Gordon, a legal resident from Sierra Leone, who lost his eyesight while in immigration detention, is allegedly illustrative of that. Gordon was detained in Conroe, Texas, where he complained to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at least 17 times about pain and pressure from a prior head injury. Complaints about the quality of medical care in detention has reached a boiling point as lawmakers, watchdog outfits and advocacy groups have accused the government of knowing about the problems but willfully ignoring them. The Houston Chronicle

Number of Pregnant Women in Detention Spikes Under Trump

The number of pregnant women in immigration detention soared 52% under the Trump administration. In 2018, about 2,100 pregnant women were held for weeks or longer, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. Early in the Trump administration, officials terminated an Obama administration order to release most expectant mothers. It is seen by the administration as a deterrent from making the trip. Access to abortion services has been cut and pregnant women have been forced to wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico under the government’s Remain in Mexico program. Most pregnant detainees had no prior criminal record and most were also apprehended at the border. The Washington Post

Filmmakers File Lawsuit Against Social Media Vetting Rule

Documentary film organizations have sued the Trump administration over its social media vetting requirements. The lawsuit is aimed at a rule the State Department implemented this year, which came from President Trump’s promise of “extreme vetting.” The rule requires foreigners to disclose their social media accounts when entering the U.S. The lawsuit argues forcing people from authoritarian countries to disclose their private social media accounts could place them at risk and create a chilling effect. The rule requires visa applicants to disclose all identifiers they have used on any of 20 social media platforms in the past five years. Twitter expressed its opposition to the rule. The New York Times

Washington — House Investigates Border Wall Contract, Hispanic Caucus Calls For Review of DHS Appointments, ICE Increases Worksite Enforcement

The Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the Defense Department’s inspector general to look into a contract awarded for the construction of the wall on the southern border. 

The contract was awarded to Fisher Sand and Gravel, a company that is run by a GOP donor and has been favored by President Trump, despite its history of environmental and tax violations. The North Dakota company was awarded a contract to build a part of the border in Arizona by the end of 2020. 

The company is also building the wall with funding from We Build the Wall, a Stephen Bannon-led group of private wall supporters. A judge in Texas halted their plans Tuesday when he issued an injunction against the group in favor of the butterfly conservancy National Butterfly Center that sued over the environmental impact of the project. A three-mile stretch of the wall is being built along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County. CNNThe New York Times

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus called for an emergency review of the newly appointed DHS leadership. They argue that the appointments of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli may have violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the Homeland Security Act. DailyKos

ICE’s workplace enforcement maintained its increase under the Trump administration, according to new figures from obtained by The Wall Street Journal. A total of 6,812 cases were opened in the fiscal year 2019, almost exactly the same as the 6,848 cases that were opened in the fiscal year 2018. Last year represents a 400% rise from the last year of the Obama administration. The Wall Street Journal

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