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Early Arrival: Latinos Make Up Majority of NYC Construction Deaths

Wednesday's edition of Early Arrival: Northeast Economy's Exodus — U.S. Accepts Father and Rejects Daughter Asylum Seekers — Hostile Immigration Judges Elevated

Segundo Huerta, a construction worker in the Bronx, once complained to his wife that his boss was pressuring him for working too slowly. He said he would look for a new job soon. But the next, he was crushed under hundreds of pounds of rubble and died.

Huerta, along with nearly all of the people who died in construction-related accidents last year were Latino, according to data from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Buildings. Construction workforces as a whole are also growing increasingly more Hispanic and Latino, according to Lawrence Mishel, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. These groups likely account for over half construction workers on all non-union sites in the city. 

Despite the city’s attempts to regulate the construction industry, accidents persist and disproportionately hurt Hispanic and Latino families. Relatives of those killed in construction accidents struggle to find financial compensation because employers may exploit people’s undocumented status, union leaders say. “Oftentimes, workers who are not documented are afraid to speak up because of their status,” said Rubén Colón, a representative of the New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters union. “Employers, unscrupulous contractors, take advantage of this and push the envelope.” The New York Times

Local

Northeast Economy Could Suffer from Exodus

New research from Rutgers University details how a slowdown in immigration, lower birth rates and people leaving the expensive northeast may threaten the economic future of the New York and New Jersey metro region. The Rutgers Regional Report shows how the population of the 35-county metropolitan region, including large portions of New York and New Jersey, remained stable until 2016. But now, “There is a dramatic shift in population to the South and West away from the Northeastern states and there is no indication… that this is going to stop,” said James W. Hughes, a Rutgers professor. The Daily Targum

New Asylum Shelter Opens in Jersey City

Church World Service is opening a new house in Jersey City for asylum seekers and asylees. It is renting a house in Journal Square with space for eight residents. “I think this is just going to fill a need for people who are seeking safety here in New Jersey, giving them the space to breathe after going through a really traumatizing experience coming to the United States,” said Courtney Madsen, the director of Church World Service New Jersey. The building was previously used as a children’s emergency shelter. The Jersey Journal

Newark Mayor Pushes Back Against ICE Dispatch

Newark, New Jersey, residents are pushing back against the Trump administration after it announced it would be sending specially trained agents from U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s BORTAC unit to New Jersey as part of its crackdown on cities with policies that hamper ICE from detaining immigrants. Mayor Ras Baraka defended Newark as a “fair and welcoming city,” and said it will continue to act as such regardless of the agents’ presence. Baraka signed an executive order three years ago to declare Newark a “sanctuary city,” and said since then, “we in Newark have been witnessing more ICE activity in our community.” Patch

National

U.S. Government Accepts Father and Rejects Daughter Asylum Seekers

The U.S. government forced a Venezuelan teenager back to Mexico and denied her claims that she was fleeing political repression, even as they accepted the same claims from her father. The teenager, named Branyerly, has been sent back to Matamoros, Mexico, to wait for her asylum hearing alone, but U.S. officials allowed Branyerly’s father to stay in America by granting a withholding of removal. “I already lived one nightmare in Venezuela and another here,” Branyerly said. The Associated Press

Canada’s Immigration Grows While U.S. Rates Plummet 

Legal immigration fell 7 percent in the U.S. from FY 2016 to FY 2018, and it’s expected to shrink further due to Trump administration policies. Meanwhile, recently released Canadian government data show that the number of people immigrating to Canada grew 26 percent between 2015 and 2019. Canada has announced plans to increase that number even more “to further ease the challenges of a shrinking labor force and an aging population,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen. The new policy “sets out the highest levels of permanent residents that Canada will welcome in recent history,” Hussen continued. Forbes

Census Bureau to Spend $500 Million to Counteract Fears

The Trump administration spent years drumming up fears that census efforts are a guise for collecting data for immigration enforcement purposes, and the Census Bureau must counter that narrative nationwide. To combat misinformation, the bureau will invest in an ad campaign that will emphasize it is not sharing participants’ information with local or federal authorities. The campaign is budgeted at $500 million and will be rolled out over the next five months. The bureau plans to spend $50 million on ads targeting Latinos, $40 million on ads directed at black people and $20 million targeting Asian American census participation. Politico

Champion Rowing Coach Rejected for Visa

Henrique “Hicu” Motta has spent three years taken high school girls from working-class families to national championships for crew. Several of his trainees went on to Division I colleges on athletic scholarships, and others, including fellow immigrants, praise the “sense of community” Motta has created with rowing. But Motta is from Brazil and is in the U.S. on a work visa, and was recently notified that his petition to remain in the country was denied. He now has to prove he has an “extraordinary ability” to do his job, which might go to an American otherwise. The New York Times

First Families Reunited After Monumental Legal Decision

The American Civil Liberties Union believes a court decision may allow hundreds of deported parents return to the U.S., reunite with their children, and pursue their asylum cases. Judge Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court in San Diego ruled last year that 11 people were wrongfully deported and could return to the U.S., leading the ACLU to think hundreds of other deported people could achieve the same result. “If we find out they were misled or coerced into giving up their asylum rights, we will ask the judge to have them be brought back as well,” Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s top immigration litigator, said. CBS News

Washington — Trump Appointed Hostile Immigration Judges, Mijente Endorses Sanders, Immigrants Place Hopes on Farmworker Bill

Immigration Judge V. Stuart Couch has long been famous for his low asylum acceptance rate, his clash with the Board of Immigration Appeals and an incident where he threatened a child in his courtroom with an unseen “very big dog.” These incidents didn’t stop Attorney General William Barr from promoting Couch to the BIA’s board, giving him a spot on the nation’s highest immigration court.

Couch joins several other judges Barr appointed to the BIA who had similarly low asylum grant rates when they were working in the lower courts. According to data compiled by Amoachi and Johnson, the six Barr appointees have an average asylum grant rate of 2.4 percent, in comparison to the average grant rate for non-BIA immigration judges of 29 percent in FY 2019.

These judges join a larger trend involving plucking immigration court prosecutors and staff from the Department of Homeland Security. A total of 88 percent of immigration judges appointed in 2018 were former DHS employees or attorneys for the agency, according to Human Rights First. “These attacks on judicial independence have increasingly turned the supposedly neutral immigration courts into another battalion marching in the Trump administration’s war on asylum,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the nonprofit American Immigration Council. Gen

Mijente, a grassroots organization that mobilizes Latinx and Chicanx voters decided to make its first-ever presidential endorsement. The organization will call on its 1,000 dues-paying members and 300,000-person email list to mobilize Latinos to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in Nevada and other states. Marisa Franco, director and cofounder of Mijente, said the group picked Sanders after a long process that involved sit-down interviews with multiple candidates. PoliticoImmigrant advocates and migrant workers are placing their hopes on a national bill that may provide a path to legal status for some farmworkers by allowing them to apply to 5-year renewable visas. The bill would also dedicate an extra 40,000 green cards per year to farmworkers and streamline the H2-A visa program, which allows farmers to fill temporary positions with foreign employees. The bill has drawn bipartisan support, though some say it is too forgiving for people living in the U.S. illegally. KEYT

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