A 26-year-old man was shot by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent during an attempted arrest of another man in Gravesend. Eric Diaz-Cruz was shot in the head by an ICE agent who had come to arrest his mother’s boyfriend Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, who had been previously deported. During the fracas, an ICE agent also tasered Avendano-Hernandez. The agent who shot Diaz-Cruz pointed his gun “straight to the face” before pulling the trigger, said Kevin Yanez-Cruz, the victim’s brother.
Diaz-Cruz’s family says he was unarmed and that the agent “didn’t even think twice,” before shooting him. ICE said the pair of agents was “physically attacked while attempting to arrest” Avendano-Hernandez. Diaz-Cruz was listed in critical but stable condition at Maimonides Hospital on Thursday. Advocates from the New Sanctuary Coalition and other organizations gathered outside the hospital Wednesday, and said there was a heavy ICE and NYPD presence as well.
Avendano-Hernandez was pulled over by the NYPD for driving with a forged Connecticut license plate earlier this week. ICE found out about him through the arrest and then went to look for him at his girlfriend’s house. The agency took the opportunity to blame New York’s sanctuary policies for the incident. In a statement, ICE said its agents were “forced to locate [Avendano-Hernandez] on the streets of New York rather than in the safe confines of a jail.” The New York Daily News
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DHS Blocks Expedited Traveler Programs Over Green Light Law
In a direct escalation in ICE’s battle against New York City’s handful of immigrant friendly policies, the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily banned New Yorkers from enrolling in and renewing Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs such as NEXUS and SENTRI. Acting Homeland Security Chad Wolf said in a letter to the New York State government that residents would no longer be able to apply to those programs because of the Green Light Law, which allows the state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The law also prevents ICE and CBP from gaining access to state DMV data without a court order. The New York Times
Police Pursuing Tips from Psychics in Search for Missing Girl
After months of searching for 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez with no luck, police in New Jersey are turning to some less conventional measures. Bridgeton Chief of Police Michael Gaimari said investigators have followed up on several “tips” provided by psychics through personal contact or on social media. “Law enforcement understands that the lack of information on the whereabouts of Dulce or the definite circumstances surrounding her disappearance causes apprehension in the community and among those close to her and the family,” Gaimari said. “But we have to remain focused on the task at hand and rely on a factual-based investigation to attain an eventual conclusion.” CBS Philadelphia
ICE Arrests More Than 100 in New Jersey Sweep
ICE agents arrested more than 100 foreign nationals across New Jersey during the week of Jan. 27. The agency said the majority of the people arrested had prior criminal convictions or charges, violent and nonviolent, but advocates were skeptical. “We’ve seen this publicity tactic before from ICE, one of the most untransparent and unaccountable federal agencies, and we expect to see more in the future,” said Johanna Calle, the director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “This is nothing more than a campaign of optics in an attempt to legitimize the Trump administration’s inhumane family separation policies and attacks on our communities.” The majority of the people were arrested were from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Bergen Record
Report: Over a Hundred Salvadorans Deported to Death
At least 138 Salvadorans were killed in the past seven years after being deported by U.S. authorities, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. Most of the victims were deported by the Obama administration, the report found. It also detailed a further 70 individuals who disappeared after their return or were victims of sexual violence, torture or other abuse. Many of the deportees highlighted in the report were killed or targeted by gangs, including those who had fled the country trying to escape gangs and violence in the first place. The number of Salvadoran asylum seekers has gone up dramatically as gang violence has increased, rising from 5,600 cases in 2012 to more than 60,000 in 2017. The Washington Post
US Citizen Dies in Border Patrol Custody
James Paul Markowitz, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen, died while in Border Patrol custody, according to BuzzFeed News. He was reportedly arrested in an illegal “smuggling incident” on Tuesday and died later that evening. U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a statement to congressional officials about the incident on Wednesday. They reportedly said they arrested Markowitz on Tuesday in Texas after identifying him as a suspect in an “alien smuggling incident.” He was processed at the Brackettville, Texas, station where his health deteriorated, CBP said. He was then transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead by medical personnel. BuzzFeed News
Judge in Tucson Vacates Border Humanitarian Volunteer Convictions
A federal judge in Tucson, Arizona, has reversed the conviction of four humanitarian volunteers, saying the government had adopted a “gruesome logic” and was punishing “interfering with a border enforcement strategy of deterrence by death.” The defendants in the case — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick — were fined and given probation for entering a wildlife refuge in 2017 without a permit, driving on a restricted access road and leaving food, water and other aid supplies for migrants passing by. They were one of the first groups of volunteers with No More Deaths, a faith-based humanitarian group. The Intercept
Customs Officers Break Malian Man’s Custom Instrument
A Malian musician says U.S. border officials broke his “impossible to replace ” musical instrument after he checked it on a flight from New York to his home in Paris. Ballaké Sissoko plays the kora, a West African instrument with 21 strings that sounds similar to a harp. “Would U.S. customs have dared to dismantle a Stradivarius?” asked a statement posted on Sissoko’s Facebook page. After he got home, he found his kora – which was custom made – had the neck removed and the strings, bridge and amplification system had been taken apart. “Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this caliber can return to its previous state of resonance,” the statement said. The Guardian
DHS Refuses to Say How Much Wall Upkeep Will Cost
The $18 billion barriers President Trump is building along the Mexico border make up one of the largest federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history. Far more than a wall, the barrier includes roads, lighting, sensors, and advanced technology. But in addition to the expensive building process, maintaining the wall will be pricey and the federal government won’t say how much it will cost. The wall passes through harsh and unforgiving terrain. It will also likely be attacked by smugglers and migrants. Taxpayers could be on the book for billions, but the DHS won’t provide lawmakers requested estimates for how much upkeep should cost. The Washington Post
Washington — Nigeria Blindsided by Travel Ban, El Salvador Not Ready to Receive Asylum Seekers
Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said he was caught “somewhat blindsided” by the administration’s ban on Nigerian immigrants, but added government officials had assured him the restrictions could soon be lifted.
Nigeria was among six nations added to the administration’s travel ban list, along with Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Tanzania and Sudan. The countries face varying restrictions, but citizens of Nigeria will no longer be eligible for immigrant visas. The ban will begin on Feb. 22 but will not affect Nigerians seeking tourist visas.
In a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Onyeama said he learned of the ban on his way to an annual meeting between the U.S. and Nigeria during which he hoped to expand their cooperation. He said reinstating the country’s access to visas would require them to share personal data — including immigrants’ criminal histories, stolen passport information and suspected links to terrorism — with the United States and Interpol member countries.
During the conference, Pompeo did announce therelease of $308 million in frozen assets to Nigeria that were stolen and laundered through the U.S. financial system during the 1990s by the country’s military dictator, Sani Abacha. The New York Times
El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco said on Wednesday that the country was not ready to receive asylum seekers. It is one of three Central American countries to sign a bilateral agreement with the U.S. to accept asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.–Mexico border. Guatemala started receiving asylum seekers in November and Honduras and El Salvador are expected to follow. Hill Tinoco said the country would not accept asylum seekers until it is ready to do so. Associated PressA U.S. federal judge placed on a nationwide injunction on a USCIS policy on Thursday, making it harder to for foreigners to remain in the U.S. after their status runs out. Politico
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