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Early Arrival: Noncitizen Voting Bill Hits City Council

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Separated Family to Reunite in New York — Central Americans Arrested in Mexico — Birth Tourism Rules

A bill to grant green card holders and immigrants with work visas the right to vote in elections in New York City was introduced in the City Council on Thursday. The bills is co-sponsored by multiple council members and led by Upper Manhattan’s Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who led a similar push for noncitizen voting a decade ago. That bill died on the floor. 

Under this legislation, between 500,000 and nearly 1 million noncitizen New York City residents who pay taxes in the city but are not citizens would be granted the right to vote. They will be categorized as “municipal voters” must be a resident for at least 30 days to be allowed to vote. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said council leadership would examine the legality of the bill. 

San Francisco has passed legislation to allow noncitizens to vote in school board elections. A similar push for noncitizen voting failed in College Park, Maryland. Critics argue that voting is a right that should be reserved for citizens and allowing immigrants to vote would devalue those rights. Gothamist, The Wall Street Journal

Local

Separated Family to Reunite in New York

A Guatemalan mother who was separated from her child due to Trump’s zero-tolerance policy will be reunited with her son in New York.  The mother, Leticia, is one of nine parents who were allowed back into the U.S. to be reunited with their children after they were separated due to the Trump administration’s family separation policy. She among many parents who were deported without their children due to the policy. Hundreds, potentially thousands, of parents are still apart from their children due to the policy. Leticia’s son is 17 and was sent to live with a foster family in Texas. Gothamist/WNYC

Public Charge Legal Battle Reaches SCOTUS

New York, two other states and a group of immigration organizations have asked the Supreme Court to not intervene in a lawsuit over the public charge rule. Lawsuits against the rule led to a nationwide injunction in October, but the Trump administration recently petitioned the Supreme Court to lift the injunction. So New York, Connecticut, and Vermont along with Make the Road and other organizations asked the Supreme Court in a Wednesday amicus brief to keep the injunction in place as there was no reason for the rule to take effect. The rule would expand the definition of what the government would consider a public charge and restrict immigrants who use public benefits from green cards and visas.  The Epoch Times

National

Hundreds of Central Americans Arrested in Mexico

Around 800 Central American migrants who were traveling with a migrant caravan were rounded up and put on buses Thursday by Mexican law enforcement. Immigration agents  and troops with riot shields and confronted the migrants on a rural highway and shepherded them into 20 buses using pepper spray at batons. Mexico’s hardline approach to migrants began when Trump threatened the country with tariffs if it did not prevent migrants from reaching the U.S. border. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador bragged about his government’s strategy on Wednesday and also received praise from Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. Associated Press

Watch this New York Times Video for a Background on the Situation at the Mexico–Guatemala Border. 

Brazilian Asylum Seekers Will Also be Forced to Wait in Mexico

The Trump administration will add Brazilian asylum-seekers to the Remain in Mexico program that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated. More than 55,000 non-Mexican asylum seekers have been turned away at the border and made to wait in Mexico for their court hearings. The program was previously limited to Spanish speakers but, according to BuzzFeed, the program will be expanded to Brazilians. Multiple asylum officers opposed the move as the program has been met with widespread opposition by the people responsible for processing asylum claims. BuzzFeed News

Ohio Judge Calls ICE if Defendant Needs Interpreter

A judge in Cincinnati, Ohio has said that he will call Immigration and Customs Enforcement himself if he suspects a defendant in his court is undocumented. “They’re committing a crime by being here illegally, and then if they’re in front of me, they’ve allegedly committed a felony,” Judge Robert Ruehlman, a Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. He added he would identify someone as undocumented if they need an interpreter, are accused of drug smuggling or have international connections. He said he calls ICE about a dozen times a year and has a good relationship with the agency. Columbia Dispatch

Iranians Blocked from Obtaining Investment Visas

Iranians were been blocked from entering the U.S. on trade and investment visas beginning on Thursday. The move is part of the escalating feud between Iran and the U.S., which has also levied increased sanctions against Iran. Iranians will not be eligible for E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to be admitted into the U.S. for international trade or large investment. ICE said the move was due to the termination of a treaty between the two states in Oct. 2018. The timing is suspect as the assignation of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike has created tension between the two states. Reuters

District Attorneys Weigh in on Lawsuit Against Juvenile Center

District Attorneys have filed a brief over concerns about the conditions of the treatment of immigrant teenagers at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia. Staffers allegedly restrained children by tying them to chairs and hitting them, sometimes placing a bag over their heads to deter biting and spitting. A lawsuit against the center was first filed in 2017 by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and argued the children required different types of care. Dozens of elected prosecutors and criminal justice reform advocates filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, including prominent Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and other reform-minded DAs. Mother Jones

Washington — Trump Announces Birth Tourism Rules, Guatemala Pledges to Continue with Asylum Agreement

The Trump administration announced its new rule Thursday aimed at limiting ‘birth tourism.’ The rule will take effect on Friday and will require pregnant women applying for visitor visas to prove they have a specific reason for travel beyond giving birth, such as a medical necessity. 

Critics argued the rule was quite vague and may be toothless in practice. The rule says consular officials must scrutinize female travelers to determine whether they might be pregnant, but does not explain how officers will make those determinations. The language has led to fears that the rule could lead to discrimination

Trump has voiced his dislike for birthright citizenship, which allows anyone born on U.S. soil the right to citizenship, but is unable to end it without changing the constitution. According to the Center for Disease Control, around 9,300 children were born in the U.S. to mothers who live overseas in 2017. Reuters

Despite indicating its discontent, Guatemala’s new government said it will not cancel its asylum deal with the U.S. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had pledged before coming into office that he would review the agreement which forces migrants from Honduras and El Salvador seek asylum in Guatemala or be sent back there once they reach the U.S.–Mexico border. Migrants of other nationalities may now also be added to the deal. Reuters

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