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Early Arrival: New Jersey Driver’s License Bill Passes Assembly Panel

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Former ICE Detainee Claims Guards Let Other Detainees Beat Him — Connecticut High School Rallies Behind Detained Teenager — Judge Blocks Border Wall Money

Undocumented New Jersey residents are inching closer to being able to be issued driver’s licenses from the state. On Monday, the state’s Assembly Judiciary agreed in a 4-2 vote to pass the bill to a full Assembly vote after hearing testimony from advocates and immigrants. “What is important to note is that not only is this a policy that will have a great positive impact for our whole state, but it will also change the lives of people for the better,” said Johanna Calle, director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. 

After state lawmakers introduced the latest version of the bill last year, activists pressured lawmakers to move it forward and staged protests in its favor across the state. The bill allows for two types of licenses, one compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which would allow users to board flights, and one that would be issued to immigrants without legal status and others who lack documentation. 

Sue Fulton, chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission, told lawmakers that the bill would help hundreds of thousands of NJ residents. The bill will grant permissions to undocumented residents to obtain commercial licenses. The bill does not indicate what the necessary documentation required to get a license will be. Bergen Record

Hello, I’m Max Siegelbaum with today’s edition of Early Arrival. You can email me at max.siegelbaum@documentedny.com.

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Former ICE Detainee Claims Guards Let Other Detainees Beat Him

A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee claims he was beaten by his cellmate at the Essex County jail and guards allowed two other inmates to join in on the attack, according to a lawsuit filed by the detainee. Two years ago, Marcus Moreno, who was held at the jail, became a “runner,” whose job was to report illegal activity to corrections officers. In Dec. 2017, Moreno reported his cellmate for selling drugs out of their cell, according to the lawsuit. Jail guards told the cellmate, according to the lawsuit, and allowed two detainees into his cell to beat Moreno and break his ankle. NJ Advance Media

Erie County Employees Fear for Jobs in License Fight

Erie County employees have been thrust into the middle of a battle over New York’s green light law, a law that would allow New York  immigrant residents to be issued licenses. A source told Spectrum News employees are “concerned, frightened and frustrated” about what to do. They have also been notified that they won’t be disciplined if they choose to ignore the clerk’s directive and follow the state law. A spokesperson for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he has been “pretty clear” all employees should follow the law. Spectrum Local News

County Clerk Ordered to Take Down ICE Hotline Signs

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns recently announced he posted signs in county motor vehicle offices that displays a tip line of the Department of Homeland Security, as he’s opposed to the Green Light Law. Now, the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority is telling Kearns to take the sign down over copyright issues, as “if you see something, say something” is trademarked and he does not have their permission to use it. “MTA registered this trademark in 2010 specifically to limit its use to communicating messages about counterterrorism programs,” MTA Marketing and Advertising Director Mark R. Heavey said in a letter to Kearns. “Your unauthorized use of the mark is in support of encouraging people to report suspected undocumented immigrants; this is both abhorrent and unrelated to counterterrorism.” The Buffalo News


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After over a month of incredible support from you, our readers, we’re more than halfway to our goal of raising $20,000. With just $7,000 left, you can help us reach our goal with a donation today. Until December 31, every dollar you donate will be matched by NewsMatch, up to $1,000. All of it will go towards producing immigration journalism. Our reporting has led to the divestment of over $10,000,000 in private prison stock and many other real-life impacts. Help us continue this work today with a donation here

Connecticut High School Rallies Behind Detained Teenager

At a high school in Connecticut, the principal’s voice piped through the PA system, announcing ICE had detained a student. Others soon learned that it was Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old who enrolled in the school last year. Everyday people like Aguilar are often detained and disappear into the system, eventually being deported. But that wasn’t the case with Aguilar. Teachers packed up Mario’s homework and sent it to him in detention, writing him letters of support and even showing up in court for him. Students designed “Free Mario” protest posters, put his face on a sticker and sold it to raise money for his commissary. They’re now getting ready for another rally, though their efforts haven’t swayed authorities. Pix 11

People Who Have Won Asylum Are Still Being Kept in Mexico

U.S. Border Officials are issuing fake court notices to immigrants who have won asylum, according to a report from BuzzFeed News. At least four migrants who have won asylum have been sent to Mexico under the Trump administration’s so-called Migrant Protection Policies. Francisco, who is from Cuba, was granted asylum on November 21. With a court order in his hand proving his asylum status, he went to a port of entry, but border officials took him aside and give him a notice of a nonexistent court hearing in January. The DHS court hotline had no record of the hearing. BuzzFeed News

Trump Administration Continues to Separate Families Despite End of Policy

Dennis, an undocumented man, was separated from his daughter Sonia after they crossed into the U.S. and turned themselves in to the Border Patrol to ask for asylum. Dennis was deported from Texas and Sonia was sent to a shelter in New York. “You can’t imagine the pain,” Dennis said. “If you’re not a dad, you don’t know what it’s like.” The government has separated at least 1,100 children from their parents since family separation officially ended, according to federal data. An ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union says the current policy still violates the rights of children and families, even though the government claims all separations happen because of crimes committed by the parents. The Intercept

Judge Blocks Border Wall Money, Friend of the Court Appearances Hobbled

A federal judge blocked President Trump’s attempt to transfer $3.6 billion in military dollars to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday. El Paso, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge David Briones issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the administration from using the funds for the wall. The administration has vowed to build at least 450 miles of wall by November 2020. 

The wall was one of Trump’s major campaign promises and he has continually claimed he’ll build it despite barely delivering on that promise so far. Democrats in Congress have criticized the project as a wasteful and ineffective means to provide border security. Much of the wall will have to be built on private property and the administration has found it difficult to convince border residents to part with their land.

In July, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration could access a separate pot of $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counter-narcotics fund to pay for construction. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said last month that 83 miles of border wall had been built under Trump and another 153 were under construction. Recent video showed two men scaling the existing wall with a ladder, and previous reports said that it can be sawed through with a power tool. NBC NewsImmigration lawyers can provide some legal representation as a “friend of the court” attorney, where they can speak to the judge on behalf of the person undergoing the legal proceedings even without officially representing them. In New York, attorneys often do this for detained or minor clients who don’t have lawyers otherwise. Now, a memo released by the Executive Office for Immigration Review appears to target these programs. The agency says these attorneys can provide information to the court but cannot take part in legal advocacy on behalf of individuals facing deportation, including filing documents helping individuals admit to certain facts or legal charges, telling the court they intend to exercise certain rights and other functions. Immigration Impact

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