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Early Arrival: Bill Calls for Legal Representation for Immigrant New Yorkers Facing Deportation

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Deported Immigration Advocate Files First Amendment Lawsuit — Airline Forces U.S.-Bound Passenger to Take Pregnancy Test — House Committee Calls for MPP Investigation

Legislation introduced to the State Senate this week would create a statutory right to legal representation for any New Yorker facing deportation who can’t already afford it. The bill calls for the state to fund and appoint a program that will grant lawyers to anyone in deportation proceedings or who have the basis to file an appeal within a certain income bracket. The bill builds on the Liberty Defense Project and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, two existing programs that provide lawyers to immigrants, and would codify the right to an attorney while also solidifying funding from the program, which is tied to the state budget. 

Advocates say that the nonprofits that provide legal support are stretched thin and need more resources to better represent immigrants who are cast into the system by the Trump administration’s policies — something this bill would help. “We’re at a moment where the Trump administration’s deportation machine is targeting many more New Yorkers than ever and we need the state to mount a last line of defense for those facing deportation,” said Steven Choi, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) are introducing the bill. “Without legal help these are the people who are left to basically twist in the wind and be subject to what can be a very byzantine and complex legal process,” Hoylman told the Daily News. Unlike criminal defendants, immigrants in deportation proceedings are not entitled to a lawyer. Most go unrepresented for their court proceedings. A study by the American Immigration Council showed there is a 78 percent success rate for never-detained respondents with a lawyer, as opposed to just 15 percent without. The New York Daily News


Deported Immigration Advocate Files First Amendment Lawsuit

Jean Montrevil, a New York City immigration rights activist who was deported by ICE in 2018, filed a lawsuit in a Brooklyn federal court on Thursday morning. He alleged he was targeted for deportation because of his political speech and that his removal from the United States was a violation of his First Amendment rights. Last spring, lawyers for Ravi Ragbir, another New York immigrant activist, were successfully able to argue his arrest and projected deportation violated his first amendment rights. Montrevil says he was the victim of a campaign to remove him from the country after he started speaking out about ICE detention. The Intercept

New York State Officials Block DMV Database Access for Police Agencies

State officials have blocked 59 police departments across the state from accessing a database of DMV information because they have yet to certify they will not share the information with federal immigration enforcement. Those New York police agencies were given a deadline of last Saturday to sign a document called a DMV Photo System agreement. As of Monday night, according to Janine Kava, a Division of Criminal Justice Services spokesperson, 446 agencies signed the agreement. “If any of those agencies opt to sign the new agreement, DMV will restore access,” Kava said. Losing access to the DMV data could make it harder for those agencies to enforce traffic violations or pursue criminal investigations. A representative from the Sheriff’s Association said it’s likely the non-signing agencies did not pass the form to the correct person. Adirondack Daily Enterprise


Airline Forces U.S.-Bound Passenger to Take Pregnancy Test

Midori Nishida, a Japanese citizen, was boarding a flight to the U.S. territorial island of Saipan in the Pacific when she was pulled to the side by airline staff. The Hong Kong Express Airways staff told her she needed to take a pregnancy test if she wanted to board. The test was in response to the island’s reputation as a destination for women who want to give birth on U.S. territory, making them eligible for American citizenship. Pregnant foreigners aren’t barred from the U.S., but immigration authorities can turn away visitors if they’re found to be lying or come to the U.S. planning to have a medical procedure.  The Wall Street Journal

New Migrant Caravan Heading North

Hundreds of Hondurans are walking toward the Guatemalan border in a caravan similar to the large groups of migrants who traveled north and caught the country’s attention last year and in 2018. The group started in San Pedro Sula and has been traveling by foot and hitchhiking. The migrants were met with resistance at the Guatemalan border when Honduran forces fired tear gas at them. President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala said his government would permit Hondurans to enter Guatemala if they had proper identification. The New York Times

Migrants Getting Sick from CBP Burritos

Doctors say migrants released from Border Patrol custody are getting sick from burritos they are served while detained. “I would say within every family there’s at least one person who either says they feel sick after eating the burrito, or they couldn’t eat because the food’s so bad,” said Dr. Timothy Domer, who attends to recently released migrants at a shelter in Phoenix. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it’s investigating the situation after the Phoenix New Times notified them of the situation. “We want to take care of people,” said Meredith Mingledorff, spokesperson for CBP. ”We always want people who experience inappropriate behavior from our personnel to address it, and we take every allegation seriously.” The Phoenix New Times

“DEPORTM” License Plate Causes Controversy in Utah

State officials are changing their system for reviewing personalized license plates after receiving complaints about a plate emblazoned “DEPORTM.” “That was a weakness in our system,” said Scott Smith, executive director of the Utah Tax Commission, which oversees the Division of Motor Vehicles. Multiple complaints have been lodged with the state’s DMV since the plate surfaced in 2015, with one person saying the DMV told them the plate would be recalled. “If someone in that decision ladder decides that it’s not offensive, then it doesn’t matter how many times a citizen complains — it just hits that point,” Smith explained of the faulty process. The Salt Lake Tribune

ICE Expands Detention Contract Despite Scathing Expert Report

Despite repeated scathing reports about the ‘negligent care’ detainees receive in the Adelanto Detention Center in California, ICE decided to renew and expand the contract it holds with the facility. NPR uncovered a previously confidential report that showed the facility had held a schizophrenic man in segregation, where he was experiencing “active auditory hallucinations.” This is not uncommon with the facility, according to attorneys and advocates. Other findings in the report included staff used pepper spray on immigrants in detention but did not remove the spray from the detainees using proper procedure, and that problems with medical care “contributed to medical injuries, including bone deformities and detainee deaths.” NPR

Washington — House Committee Calls for MPP Investigation, Make the Road Endorses Bernie Sanders, New Book Sheds Light on Trump’s Relationship with Kirstjen Nielsen

The House Judiciary Committee has opened an investigation into the Trump administration’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Mexico to wait for their court hearings, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” initiative. Committee Democrats requested documents, data and communications by the end of January. They called the initiative a “dangerously flawed policy that threatens the health and safety of legitimate asylum seekers” and warrants “a comprehensive review of the policy, its implementation and its impact on vulnerable populations.” They cited the fact that there are 31 active travel warnings for Mexico and that it’s “difficult to understand why this administration is sending children and families to areas where they will face certain harm.” The New York Times

One of New York’s most influential immigration advocacy groups has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. Make the Road Action announced it would support the Vermont senator because of his immigration plan, which includes placing a moratorium on deportations and pledges to break up ICE and CBP, as well as other non-immigration related policies. The organization operates in Connecticut, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Javier H. Valdés, the co-executive director of Make the Road Action, said the organization would help propel Sanders in Nevada, an influential battleground state. PoliticoA new book reveals President Trump’s erratic and ‘at times dangerously uninformed’ behavior during his first three years as president. The book describes how Trump was “verbally and emotionally abusive” toward former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who he said was not doing enough about the border. He allegedly pushed her to implement policies Lou Dobbs suggested on Fox Business even if they were illegal, as well as bullied her for her short stature, according to the book. Nielsen left her position without arranging a security detail, despite being receiving threats on her life for being the face of Trump’s immigration crackdown. When colleagues from other governments visited the city, they allegedly offered to hire personal security for her.The Washington Post

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