Carmen Cruz, the mother of a man shot by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, testified during a City Council hearing on Friday. She demanded justice for her son Erick Diaz Cruz and boyfriend Gaspar Avendaño Hernandez. Hernandez was the target of an ICE arrest.
When plainclothes agents showed up at Cruz’s door attempting to arrest Hernandez, Diaz Cruz intervened and was shot in the face. Cruz told city councilmembers from the immigration and hospital committees that ICE impersonated police who were investigating a car theft when they were in fact looking for Hernandez. ICE said Hernandez had been twice deported in 2011 after a felony conviction and was put on ICE’s radar for being accused of using a “forged document.
“What happened to my family was abuse and an injustice,” Cruz said in Spanish through an interpreter at Friday’s hearing. “Even though we have a president that wants to paint us as criminals, I am here to say that we have been victims of a crime that occurred here in the City of New York. A crime that was a result of the federal government.”
The hearing was held due to allegations that ICE had blocked Cruz from seeing her son and boyfriend when they were taken to the Maimonides Medical Center. Gothamist
ICE Continues Criticism of Green Light Law
ICE’s Acting Director Matthew Albence continued his criticism of New York’s light law this week. The law, which went into effect in December, grants undocumented immigrants the right to get driver’s licenses and also bans the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing data with federal immigration authorities. ICE says the latter portion hampers its ability to carry out arrests. In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Albence said it was hypocritical that New York continued to share information with Canada. Niagara County’s Acting Sheriff Michael Filicetti also spoke to Fox News about his opposition to the ban on information sharing. Fox News
Lawsuit: USCIS Worker Told to Work Despite Coronavirus Quarantine Protocol
A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employee in Newark was ordered to come to work in early February despite having returned from travel to China, in an apparent violation of a mandatory 14-day coronavirus quarantine period, according to a complaint filed by the union. The unnamed employee called to ask if she should remain at home under quarantine when she returned from China but was told to report for work on Feb. 10, according to the American Federation of Government Employees. Neither the woman nor her co-workers have exhibited symptoms of coronavirus. The Washington Post
Remain in Mexico Blocked, then Reinstated
In a whiplashing at the border Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found the Migrant Protection Protocol policy, also known as Remain in Mexico, legally invalid — only to stay its own decision hours later to allow the government time to respond. The Remain in Mexico policy forces migrants to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated in U.S. immigration courts. Around 59,000 people have been made to wait in Mexico because of the policy.
In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court upheld an injunction blocking the policy on Friday, finding that the policy was “invalid in its entirety.” This triggered widespread celebration among immigration advocates who opposed the rule. It also brought on hours of confusion as to how the reversal would be implemented, with thousands of people already in the program and more arriving daily. Migrants who had been stranded at border cities in Mexico seized the moment as a green light to cross and began gathering at points of entry. But by the end of the day, the court temporarily allowed the program to go back into effect after the government argued it would create chaos at the border and overwhelm the nation’s immigration system. The New York Times
Asylum Seekers Face Different Hurdles at the Border
The Trump administration has begun ramping up the use of a number of tools to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers at the southern border. Prompt Asylum Claim Review is among them. It was launched in October in El Paso and has been expanding across the border. Advocates and lawyers say it prevents asylum seekers from having access to counsel. Another policy change was introduced in July that made it more difficult for migrants to pass an initial credible fear interview, slashing the pass rate for asylum seekers down to 38% from 86% before the change. The Wall Street Journal
Asylum Seekers Continually Flown to Guatemala
The Trump administration has continued to fly asylum seekers arriving at the southern border to Guatemala to seek asylum there under the countries’ bilateral agreement. So far, more than 700 Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers — 75 percent of whom are women and children — have been sent to Guatemala. The policy has come under criticism due to Guatemala’s barebones asylum infrastructures and the fact that the country itself is the source of thousands of asylum seekers. Charanya Krishnaswami, the advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA, said migrants were kept in Border Patrol custody for 10-15 days before being transferred. Mother Jones
Another Bus Line Will Not Permit Warrantless Border Patrol Searches
Concord Coach Lines announced Friday that it would no longer allow immigration officers onto its buses unless they had a warrant. The company joined Greyhound in blocking immigration enforcement from its buses. The announcements come after the Associated Press revealed a Customs and Border Protection memo that stated private buses had the right to block warrantless searches by agents, contrary to what the company’s had stated previously. Concord Coach Lines said it would equip employees with cards to give agents if they requested to board. Immigration advocates have long argued that Border Patrol profiles people of color onboard commercial buses. The Associated Press
Washington — Cuccinelli’s Appointment Deemed Unlawful, Trump Considers Closing Border Over Coronavirus, SCOTUS to Hear Expedited Removal Case
A judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Sunday that the appointment of Ken Cuccinelli as acting USCIS director violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The decision meant that the policies Cuccinelli implemented while leading the agency were voided.
Cuccinelli was sworn in as director of USCIS in June before becoming the “senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary” at DHS in November. Cuccinelli was officially appointed by Trump as the principal deputy director, which the administration believed could make him acting director as the department had no one officially in charge.
U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss disagreed. He found that Cuccinelli was ineligible to become acting director because he never served in a subordinate role — he was “assigned the role of principal on day-one.” In his decision, Moss cited the dispute from the NBC sitcom The Office about whether Dwight Schrute was assistant regional manager or assistant to the regional manager. In both cases the assistant is a subordinate, while Cuccinelli never was.
Cuccinelli’s policy of speeding up credible fear interviews for asylum seekers was suspended by Moss on the grounds that he did not have the authority to implement them. Asylum officers already began implementing the ruling by Sunday night. Politico, BuzzFeed News
The U.S. is considering implementing travel restrictions on the Mexican border over coronavirus, President Trump said on Saturday. Travel restrictions have already been placed on Iran and parts of Italy and South Korea. Mexico announced it had detected three cases of coronavirus in three men who had recently traveled to Italy. Reuters first reported that the administration was considering imposing entry restrictions at the U.S.–Mexico border, and Trump confirmed the government was considering it but downplayed the immediate likelihood. “We have to think about that border, but … this is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now. We hope we won’t have to do that,” he said. ReutersThe Supreme Court will hear a case on the expedited removal program, which allows migrants to be deported without the chance to see a judge. Immigration officials are authorized to expedite the deportation of undocumented immigrants arrested within 100 miles of the U.S. border within 14 days of entering the country if they fail credible fear interviews. Oral arguments will be heard in a case about expedited removal on Monday. The Trump administration would like to expand expedited removal to anywhere in the country, and success in this case could help their cause. A federal judge put that policy on hold, and an appeal will be heard on Friday. The Associated Press