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Early Arrival: DOJ Sues New Jersey Over Immigrant Trust Directive

Wednesday's edition of Early Arrival: City Comptroller Seeks to Expand Interpretation Services — Illinois Immigrants Accidentally Registered to Vote — Trump Prioritizes Border Enforcement in 2021 Budget

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is facing his biggest challenge yet as U.S. Attorney General William Barr has announced the Justice Department is suing New Jersey, its Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Grewal for preventing state officials from sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Justice Department is challenging New Jersey’s Immigrant Trust Directive, which blocks local authorities from entering into 287(g) contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcements. The contracts deputize local law enforcement to detain immigrants. 

Grewal has faced opposition from state elected officials since his directive first went into effect in 2018. Two county officials have sued Grewel, but this is the first time he will face Justice Department lawyers in federal court. “Once again, the Trump Administration is sacrificing public safety for political expedience,” Grewal said. “It’s no surprise that the president, facing re-election, has suddenly decided to challenge a policy we first announced in 2018. What’s disappointing is that my former colleagues at the Justice Department have agreed to go along with this election year stunt.

When Grewal announced the directive in November 2018, he said it did not make the state a “sanctuary” and did not prevent police, prosecutors and jail officials from helping ICE agents. It instead only directs local authorities to abstain from the 287(g) program and to not detain immigrants without a warrant signed by a judge. The state’s top law enforcement officer said that immigrants are more likely to report crimes and cooperate with police if there’s no fear they’ll be reported to law enforcement. The Justice Department will also be suing Washington state over a similar policy. NJ Spotlight


City Comptroller Seeks to Expand Interpretation Services

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to fund a Community Legal Interpreter Bank “to recruit, train and dispatch legal interpreters to legal services organizations across the city.” He’s hoping to help address the roadblocks a deficit of translators has created for immigrants seeking to engage with city services. “New Yorkers who speak languages of limited diffusion are underserved and deprived of basic services due to a lack of quality frontline interpreters,” Stringer said in a statement. The proposal was brought forth by African Communities Together, Mexican American Students’ Alliance, the Asian American Foundation and the New York Immigration Coalition, Stringer said. amNY

Attorney General James Challenges Traveller Program Cancellation

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Trump administration’s move to block New Yorkers from enrolling or re-enrolling in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs. James argued the move is unconstitutional political retribution for New York’s Green Light Law and asked the court to block it. “No one should ever use our national security as a political weapon, let alone the commander in chief,” James told reporters after filing the suit. James says the decision violates the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, a federal law which requires the establishment of a registered traveler program. Politico

Document Reveals Trump Administration’s Revenge Plan for States That Don’t Share Data

The Trump administration once considered using “friendly” states to collect information for immigration authorities to circumvent so-called sanctuary policies, according to DHS documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The documents also include ways the agency can retaliate against states who limit access to records, including shutting down DHS offices, refusing to accept a state’s ID, cutting TSA PreCheck and subpoenaing for driver’s licenses provided to undocumented immigrants. The memo echoes the agency’s actions against New York, where it recently suspended traveler programs over the state’s data sharing policy. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called the document a “smoking gun” in the state’s case over trusted traveller programs. BuzzFeed News


Illinois Immigrants Accidentally Get Registered to Vote at DMV

As more states continue to look at providing driver’s licenses to immigrants, some may find themselves in the same position as Margarita Del Pilar Fitzpatrick. In 2005, she went to a DMV in her home state of Illinois to apply for a driver’s license. A clerk offered to register her to vote and Fitzpatrick accepted. But Fitzpatrick wasn’t a citizen, and a mistake in Illinois’ automatic voter registration system led to long legal battles and her eventual deportation. The mistake let hundreds of people who identified themselves as non-U.S. citizens to register. Now 52, Fitzpatrick struggles to find work in her home country and hasn’t seen two of her three American citizen daughters in years. The Associated Press

ICE to Phase Out Use of Controversial Louisiana Jail

ICE has begun phasing out the use of Louisiana’s Bossier Parish Corrections Center to house immigrant detainees, according to Lt. Bill Davis of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office. The facility came under fire after a report indicated guards pepper-sprayed and beat people protesting their indefinite detention. “ICE had been decreasing the number of detainees they were sending us for the last couple of months,” Davis said. “So they’ve decided they don’t need the facilities anymore.” A report from the private contractor ICE uses for compliance inspections showed that “force was utilized on this detainee while he was unconscious … and a review of the video evidence revealed that it was a clearly inappropriate application of force.” Mother Jones

Three Federal Lawsuits Target Immigrant-Friendly Policies

In addition to the lawsuit announced by Attorney General Barr on Monday against New Jersey, the Justice Department also said it would be targeting California and King County, Washington because of measures in those areas that attempt to distance each state’s involvement in the deportation system. “Today is a significant escalation in the federal government’s effort to confront the resistance of sanctuary cities,” Barr said. The agency is seeking to have a federal court toss out the California law that bans for-profit immigration detention centers. It’s also targeting a ban on deportation flights leaving from an airport in King County, Washington.  KCBS 

Oklahoma Makes Fulfilling Detainer Requests Mandatory

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation directing sheriffs, jailers and deputies to comply with all immigration-related detainer requests made by federal authorities. State Rep. John Pfeiffer (R), who sponsored the bill, said the idea came through requests from law enforcement to help define their role in immigration enforcement. Authorities named in the bill would have to detain undocumented immigrants who enter into their custody. The bill passed by 78-21 in the state House of Representatives and will now be considered by the Senate. Skiatook Journal

Trump Seeks to Deport Hmong Immigrants

The Trump administration is seeking to deport Lao and Hmong immigrants to Laos. The administration is in talks with Laos to accept any people the U.S. deports, which includes close to 3,500 people nationwide. Minnesota has about 88,000 people of Hmong ancestry, the largest concentration in the U.S., prompting Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) to write a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voicing her opposition to the plan. The Trump administration is putting pressure on Laos to sign a repatriation agreement, which would streamline the deportation process. MRP News

Washington — Trump Prioritizes Border Enforcement in 2021 Budget, Group of Border Patrol Agents Climb the Ranks Together

In his 2021 budget request, Trump is proposing trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the next decade, — but not to any of the county’s immigration enforcement agencies. Instead, he’s seeking billions to help pay for the construction of the border wall, as well funds for as expanding immigration detention and hiring more federal agents to enforce immigration law. 

Trump is seeking to construct an additional 82 miles of steel barrier along the southern border wall, which will likely face pushback from the House’s Democratic majority. The wall could cost an estimated $18.4 billion, which would make it the most expensive wall in the world. He is also asking for $3.1 billion to increase the capacity of immigration detention centers to house 60,000 people at any given time. The budget would include $4 billion to care for unaccompanied minors in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Also in the budget, Trump is seeking to hire 1,050 Border Patrol officials, 4,600 ICE officers and 100 new immigration judges who would work to reduce the more than 1 million cases backlogged in the court system. Trump is also seeking to allocate a total of $126 million to support the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Meanwhile, Trump’s budget could also drive more people to come to the U.S. as it’s proposing a 21 percent cut of foreign aid, which would likely worsen the economies of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. VoxA group of Border Patrol agents who started off their careers together at the same outpost in Douglas, Arizona rose through the ranks to become leaders in the agency. “The Douglas Mafia,” as they were called by some agents, climbed to the top of the agency after the 9/11 attacks as it tripled in size afterwards. Now, members of The Douglas Mafia have begun to leave the agency for retirement. They leave behind an agency wracked with allegations of corruption, as well as the abuse and deaths of people held in its custody. Some senior agents say the Douglas Mafia is to blame for the current state of CBP. ProPublica

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