A recording of Immigration and Customs Enforcement releasing pepper spray at a Brooklyn restaurant during an arrest was surfaced on Saturday. The video shows agents barging into La Cabana, a Spanish restaurant on Flatbush Avenue, on March 1.
Maria De Los Sanaz Pimentel, a Dominican immigrant who worked there, was arrested in the video. Her sister alleges she was sprayed with pepper spray by the agents and thrown to the floor. Brooklyn Democratic State Senator Zellnor Myrie posted the video on Twitter on Saturday.
“They came here to work and be a productive part of this community … It’s so incredibly painful this is where we are at,” Myrie said. “We have arrived at a point where if we as a society do not condemn these sorts of actions we will be in trouble.”
ICE said that Pimentel had overstayed her visa by 6 months and was put on their radar following an arrest for a fight with a friend at a bar on Feb. 25. ICE justified the use of pepper spray as she was resisting arrest. She’s now in immigration detention in Hudson County. New York Daily News
ICE Director Slams Green Light Law & Bail Reform
Acting head of ICE Matthew Albence spoke with WAMC on Friday to further his criticisms of the Green Light Law. The agency has waged a campaign against New York state in response to the law, which grants undocumented immigrants the right to get driver’s licenses and also blocks the DMV from sharing information with federal immigration enforcement. Albence recently traveled to Troy to criticize the law with local sheriffs. He reiterated his critiques in his interview, while also slamming new bail reform laws for releasing people charged with crimes. He said ICE arrested 112 people who were released due to bail reform in the past three weeks. WAMC
Prisons Prepare for Coronavirus
State officials are preparing for a COVID-19 outbreak in New York state prisons and immigration detention centers. The head of New York corrections officers union Mike Powers said staff aren’t confident that strong enough safeguards against disease spread are in place. About 55,000 inmates are detained in New York state prisons and Powers said he is concerned about visitations and prison-to-prison travel. The state said it would begin a new screening protocol for families visiting New York state prisons. The Nation Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers urged for more planning to protect inmates. NCPR
Military Deployed to Southern Border
The Trump administration has ordered 160 military troops to be sent to the U.S.–Mexico border before the Supreme Court rules on the Migrant Protection Protocols policy. Two teams of 80 military police will be sent to San Ysidro, California, and El Paso, Texas. This will occur as the Supreme Court mulls the policy that allows Border Patrol to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated in U.S. immigration courts. The administration said it fears a rush on the border if the policy is abruptly ended, seeing as hundreds of people gathered at points of entry when an injunction was placed on it previously. The New York Times
Eighth Person Dies in ICE Custody this Fiscal Year
A 22-year-old Guatemalan woman became the eighth person to die in immigration detention this fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, equalling the total number of deaths in the previous year. The woman had been in ICE custody for several months after passing her credible fear interview. She’d been arrested by Border Patrol officials in early September after crossing into Texas. She had her gallbladder surgically removed at a hospital in Oklahoma in early February and then moved to another detention facility in Texas. She was taken to hospital due to abdominal pain in mid-February and pronounced dead on Sunday. BuzzFeed News
Ranchers Oppose Border Wall
The construction crews and heavy equipment being used to build Trump’s wall on the U.S.–Mexico border has stoked resentment and division among border residents. Founders of the Malpai Borderlands Group, a mix of ranchers and environmentalists who work together to fight for the conservation of land in the southwest, support strong border enforcement but oppose the large steel barrier, which they say is unnecessary, wasteful and destructive. They argue the new border wall covers territory which does not have a high volume of crossings. They say their concerns have been pushed aside by Border Patrol, who they previously had a working relationship with. The Washington Post
Trump Admin. Expands DNA Collection of Immigrants
The Trump administration is expanding a program to collect the DNA of immigrant detainees following a rule published by the Justice Department on Friday. The administration argues that it needs to enforce a 2005 law mandating DNA collection of all federal inmates, and that it is necessary to prove if migrants crossing together are truly family when they claim to be, The reliability of the DNA tests has been called into question by immigrant rights activists, as has the violation of immigrants’ privacy rights. The rule will mean immigrants in CBP and ICE custody will need to have their DNA collected and sent to an FBI lab for analysis. Vox
Blind Man Fails Citizenship Test with no Braille Option
When Lucio Delgado took his citizenship test in May, the reading section had not been available in Braille. Delgado, who is blind, received a letter in the mail last month from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services telling him he had failed the reading portion of the citizenship test and was ineligible for naturalization. He had requested a Braille reading test months ahead of his important test. Delgado said he aced the civic and English parts, but when he requested a Braille reading test he was offered a version in large print instead. He went public with his story and USCIS gave him a new test. The New York Times
Washington — Guatemala May Seek to Limit Asylum Deal, Trump’s Immigration Policy May Impact Coronavirus
The Guatemalan government is seeking to limit the number of migrants sent to the country by the U.S. under the terms of a bilateral agreement it signed.
The agreement allows the U.S. to send Salvadorans and Hondurans to Guatemala if they have not sought asylum there on their way to the U.S. Since the program began in November, 789 people, including 311 children, have been sent back upon arrival at the U.S.–Mexico border, according to data released by the Guatemalan Immigration Institute on March 3.
Guatemala is still in talks with U.S. officials to ensure the number of migrants does not exceed the country’s “very limited” capacity to process new arrivals, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Eduardo Hernandez told Reuters. All flights are coming to one runway and migrants are accepted at a single reception center, Hernandez said. He added that the government was working on providing clearer implementation rules. They are considering whether to expand the program to other nationalities and set limits on the number of daily arrivals.
Also on Friday, a union representing federal asylum officers filed an amicus brief in a federal court case opposing the policy of sending migrants to Guatemala. The union said the policy was unlawful and sends vulnerable people to a country “in which their lives and freedom are directly threatened.” Reuters, The New York Times
Public health advocates worry undocumented immigrants will not seek help if they have coronavirus conditions due to fears of deportation. Increased ICE enforcement in sanctuary cities may deter immigrants from accessing health care facilities, the advocates warned. The expansion of the public charge rule, which targets immigrants for using public benefits, could also lead immigrants to refrain from seeking help if they believe they’ve caught the virus, advocates worry. The Guardian