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Early Arrival: Appeals Court Leans Against Trump in Public Charge Case

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Interest Waning in Missing 5-Year-Old, Family Says — People of Iranian Descent Detained After US Attacks — DHS Will Share Data With the Census

A panel of appeals court judges appeared to side against the Trump administration over its plan to restrict visas to people on public welfare programs. There is currently a nationwide pause on the so-called “public charge” rule because when, after a prolonged courtroom battle, a Manhattan Federal Judge Charles Daniels imposed a national preliminary injunction blocking the rule from going into effect last October. 

Through its rule, the Trump administration sought to curb immigration to the U.S. through effectively only allowing immigrants with a certain income bracket from entering the country. Judge Daniels called that idea “repugnant to the American Dream” in court documents. Lawyers for the Justice Department appealed Judge Daniels’ ruling, claiming the government would be “irreparably harmed” by a delay in the ruling. 

The three judge panel was skeptical of the government’s claims. “Has there been a declaration by the president or by anyone that this is an emergency?” Judge Guido Calabresi asked. “That this has to be done immediately?” Judge Susan Carney was also wary of the government’s claims that it would be harmed by the national injunction. New York Daily News

Local

Interest Waning in Missing 5-Year-Old, Family Says

Five-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez is still missing four months after she was kidnapped from a Southern New Jersey playground. The case stoked xenophobic sentiments in the town, which has seen an influx of immigrants from Latin American countries over the past few years. Dulce’s family and supporters say public interest in the case is waning, so they marched on City Hall on Monday to reinvigorate efforts to find her. “I want for people to keep helping us, sharing her photo so people know that she’s still missing,” said Dulce’s mother, Noema Alavez Perez. Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari is confident someone in the town saw something, but he worries some people and holding back due to immigration concerns. WHYY

Government Offers to Release Girl from Detention Without Father

Federal immigration authorities have offered to release a girl known as Maddie to her mother in New Jersey after she was held for a record 195 days at the Berks County Residential Center, a family detention center. ICE refuses to release her father, though, and the family’s lawyer says that will inflict more harm on the girl. Maddie and her father crossed the U.S.-Mexico border near Tecate, California last April, fleeing Guatemala City. They were caught at the border and transferred to Berks shortly after. Maddie’s demeanor changed significantly in detention, a trauma and torture specialist who has interviewed her said. Maddie is reluctant to bathe and eat, is monosyllabic and is so depressed it is difficult for her father to get her out of bed. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Census Workers in Queens Face Substantial Challenges

In 2010, only 62 percent of New York City residents self-responded to the Census, well below the national participation rate. In Queens, the situation was more dire. That’s why public and private organizations have funded local groups to conduct outreach ahead of the 2020 Census. Census responses will dictate how federal funding is disbursed inside New York City and play into determining congressional representation. Yet New York residents, especially immigrants, might be worried their information will be used for immigration enforcement after the Trump administration waged a public campaign to use the census to collect information about where noncitizens live. Census campaigners in Queens also have to contend with electronic literacy. City Limits

National

Up to 200 People of Iranian Descent Were Detained After US Attacks

As many as 200 people of Iranian descent, some of them US citizens, were detained at the U.S.-Canada border and questioned about their political views, family members and work histories after the U.S. attacked Iranian military leader Quassem Soleimani last week. About 60 people were held at the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington on Saturday, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They were questioned about their “political views and allegiances.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection held onto their passports and held some for up to 10 hours. By Monday, 140 more people had been detained. Vox

Mexican Asylum Seekers Can be Deported to Guatemala Now

Mexicans seeking asylum in the United States can now be deported to Guatemala under a new Trump administration plan to crack down on asylum seekers. Under U.S. rules made public on Monday, Mexicans requesting asylum at the U.S. border may be flown to Guatemala instead. It was unclear when this policy would begin. The Mexican government estimated 900 citizens could be affected. “I can’t go home, they’ve already kidnapped my brother and son,” said Carlos, a Mexican asylum seeker. “They’re after me. If I go back they’re sure to kill me. If I’m not safe in Mexico, I’ll be even less safe in Guatemala,” he said, Reuters

Right Wing Militia Leader Pleads Guilty to Gun Charge

The leader of a right-wing militia that drew national attention after detaining migrant families at gunpoint in southern New Mexico pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge, according to Justice Department officials. Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who sometimes goes by the name Johnny Horton Jr., faces up to 10 years in prison after he admitted to being in possession of several firearms and various caliber ammunition in November 2017, despite being a felon. He had previously been convicted in at least three states of multiple crimes, including illegal weapon possession and impersonating a peace officer. The New York Times

ICE Trial Attorneys Ordered to Justify Detention in Boston

For the first time in two decades, ICE immigration trial attorneys have to justify the detention of noncitizens awaiting court proceedings in New England. A November decision by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts reversed the burden of proof, instead calling on ICE to establish why someone should be detained. The ruling came from a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts last June. The ruling only applies to Boston’s court, so in nearly all other courts, the government still doesn’t have to prove anything to keep noncitizens in jail while their cases proceeded in the courts. The Intercept

Trump Administration Begins Collecting DNA From Detained Immigrants

The Trump administration has begun collecting DNA from detained immigrants as the first stage of a controversial plan to collect genetic material in bulk from the detention population. Border Patrol officers in the Detroit sector of the border with Canada and CBP personnel at the Eagle Pass, Texas point of entry have been instructed to collect cheek swabs from some migrants. The biometric information would be used to create profiles in the FBI’s national criminal database. This trial program is the first phase in a five-part, three-year DHS initiative to obtain DNA profiles from all migrants in federal custody. CBS News

Washington — DHS Will Share Data With Census, Democratic Rep.Pushes for CBP Electronic Healthcare Database

The Department of Homeland Security will share some federal records with the Census Bureau to create data points about the U.S. citizenship status of every person in the U.S. The agency announced the data-sharing agreement through a document posted on its website on Dec. 27. It marks another technique from the administration to use the census for its immigration agenda after facing defeat in federal court when it tried to include a citizenship question on the census. 

According to the document, which was first uncovered by Federal Computer Week, USCIS is sharing personal information about naturalized U.S. citizens and green card holders from as far back as 1973. More recent records dating to 2013 from CBP will provide the Census Bureau with data such as noncitizens’ full names, birth dates, addresses, and alien registration numbers.  

Federal law restricts the release of immigration records about survivors of human trafficking and other victims of crimes, yet USCIS has asked for permission to release data about refugees and asylum-seekers to the census bureau. The bureau plans to match that data with the data it collects to determine people’s immigration statuses. NPRFreshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) urged her house colleagues to vote for a measure she said would help with public health issues on the border. “The humanitarian and medical situation on our southern border has reached crisis levels,” Underwood said to her colleagues.

Yet the bill she was lobbying for would not necessarily lead to improvement in medical care. Instead, it would create a health and biometric database, accessible to federal law enforcement agencies. CBP would be ordered to create an electronic health record system accessible to all agencies working in immigration enforcement, as a part of the U.S. Border Patrol Medical Standards Screening Act. The act, according to a report from The Intercept, doesn’t specify much more than that. The Intercept

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