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Early Arrival: Driver’s License Law Takes Effect Saturday

Monday's Edition of Early Arrival: New York Man Acquitted of Threatening ICE Agents — Family of Teen Who Died in Custody Criticizes Video Release — Trump Admin. Scores Public Charge Victory

Mazin Sidahmed

Dec 09, 2019

Patrol cars in the parking lot of the Town of Hempstead's police headquarters. With resources to deal with serious crimes and over a hundred officers, the Hempstead police department is one of Long Island's largest. Credit: Brittany Kriegstein for Documented.

Starting on Saturday, as many as 80,000 New Yorkers will be newly eligible to receive a driver’s license as the Green Light Law goes into effect. 

The long-anticipated law is currently subject to litigation from county clerks across the state and was the root of a divisive, decades-long debate. A Democratic majority in both houses in Albany passed the law this year and it will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a standard driver’s license. 

Things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing since the law passed. New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles was scrambling to provide guidance and necessary equipment to validate documents even last week. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s Justice Department has called the law “legally suspect” as it weighed in one of the cases against the law. 

Still, starting Dec. 14, Social Security numbers will no longer be required as proof of identification to obtain a driver’s license in New York State. If an applicant does not have one, they will need to sign an affidavit that affirms they haven’t ever been issued one. An unexpired passport from another country, an unexpired identification number from a consulate, and a foreign driver’s license that is valid or expired for less than 24 months will then be eligible for use as identification. 

Due to fears that immigration enforcement may be able to obtain this information, the law stipulates that the federal government would need a court order to obtain these records. Most of the records used to obtain the license will also be destroyed to prevent the Trump administration from using state records to identify and deport undocumented immigrants. Newsday

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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New York Man Acquitted of Threatening ICE Agents

Brandon Ziobrowski, a New Yorker who tweeted that he would give $500 to anyone who would kill an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, was acquitted on free speech grounds. A federal jury in Boston cleared him of all charges as he was facing up to five years in prison. Ziobrowski said he was glad the case was over after dragging on for a year. He made the tweet to his roughly 400 followers along with other tweets threatening law enforcement officers. Prosecutors tried to prove his tweet was a “true threat” that was not protected by the First Amendment, but were unsuccessful. Associated Press


Family of Teen Who Died in Custody Criticizes Video Release

The family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez released a statement on Friday criticizing the release of a video showing the death of their son. ProPublica published surveillance footage of Vasquez dying in Border Patrol custody after negligent treatment from agents. According to a statement published by the Texas Civil Rights Project, the family first saw the video when it was released to the public. “Having all these people watching him die on the internet is something we couldn’t have imagined in a movie or a nightmare,” the family wrote. ProPublica released a statement responding to the criticism, apologizing to the family but maintaining that it was important for the public to see. Texas Civil Rights Project 

Private Border Wall Construction Continues, Despite Court Order

Despite a court order, construction of a privately-funded border wall continues in South Texas. The wall was funded by the Stephen Bannon-led We Build the Wall group, and is continuing to be built, according to a Guardian reporter who witnessed construction crews at the site on Thursday and Friday. The group are hoping to construct 3.5 miles of concrete barrier along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo county. A judge sided with a butterfly conservatory who sued the group, arguing it was violating environmental laws. The private group’s founder Brian Kolfage seemed unphased by the order as he tweeted a video shortly after saying the wall would be finished by mid-January. The Guardian

Land Owners Oppose Wall Construction on their Property

Almost all of the president’s planned border wall construction in Texas will happen on private land, which the federal government will have to acquire — and many owners are not happy. Last week, U.S. attorneys began filing initial petitions in court and making cash offers to property owners. Owners in Brownsville, Texas, received letters a year ago asking for permission to enter and survey their land. The wall would split their properties. On Friday, the government filed its first land acquisition to condemn nearly 13 acres of private property, offering the owner $93,449. The Washington Post

Rise in Mexicans Crossing Border

While the number of Central Americans apprehended at the border has dropped dramatically in recent months due to a myriad of new policies implemented at the border, there has been a rise in the number of Mexicans applying attempting to seek asylum in the U.S. However, they have been forced to wait in Ciudad Juárez and other border cities while waiting for permission to cross. International rights groups argue this is a violation of international law as they are being made to wait in the country where they have a fear of reprisal. The New York Times

North Dakota County Could Be First to Bar Refugees

Burleigh County in North Dakota may become the first county in the U.S. to stop accepting refugees under President Trump’s new executive order giving counties that option. A local commission in the county, which has a population of about 95,000 and includes state capital Bismarck, will vote on whether to continue allowing refugees. A previous vote was delayed when the local commission’s meeting overflowed with locals wanting to weigh in. Public interest in the issue is intense, according to the commission’s Chairman Brian Bitner, who said he would vote against accepting refugees as he felt that was what the overwhelming public opinion. Associated Press

Washington — Trump Scores Public Charge Court Victory, House Calls for Internal Report on Teen’s Death, Groups Call on Buttigieg to Return McKinsey Money

The Trump administration received a slight victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals court as it lifted several injunctions blocking the Trump administration from implementing its public charge rule. The court stayed an injunction on the policy issued by judges in California and Washington state. But due to other injunctions placed on the rule by judges in Maryland and New York City, the policy will remain on hold. The administration’s public charge rule was set to go into effect in October and would have broadened the scope of the public charge rule that determines how public benefit usage weighs in on green card applications. Politico

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called for the swift completion of an internal investigation into the death of 16-year old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez in Border Patrol custody on May 20 (see above). Surveillance video showing his death and negligence by Border Patrol agents was published by ProPublica last week. Numerous missteps by agents and health care workers were also identified in the report. ProPublica

Immigrant rights are calling on presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to return $53,000 he received from McKinsey & Co. where he previously worked, following reporting on brutal advice the consultancy company offered to ICE after Trump came into office. According to a ProPublica and New York Times report, the agency recommended cutting food and medical costs in detention centers to save money. Center for Popular Democracy Action, Make the Road Action, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action and United We Dream Action penned a letter requesting that he return their donations to his campaign. HuffPost

Mazin Sidahmed

Mazin Sidahmed is the co-executive director of Documented. He previously worked for the Guardian US in New York. He started his career writing for The Daily Star in Beirut and he also contributed to Politico New York.




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