At least eight immigrants were recently arrested by ICE at the John F. Kennedy International Airport while they were dropping off friends for a flight to Central America, according to Gothamist/WNYC. The arrests appear to be part of ICE Operation Noble Guardian, which targets adults who allegedly crossed the border with children that aren’t their own in order to be released from ICE detention faster. Families who are apprehended at the border are released faster due to federal guidelines. The children are then allegedly flown back to Central America to partner with another adult. Lawyers say that immigrants who were arrested were not dropping off children but friends and family. Gothamist/WNYC
Immigration Detention Center Staffer Self-Quarantined Due to COVID-19 Scare
A staffer at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey has self-quarantined and was tested for the coronavirus, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Documented.
The facility houses detained immigrants and it has the capacity to hold 304 detainees, according to the National immigrant Justice Center. It is run by the CoreCivic, a private company that contracts with the government to detain thousands of immigrants nationwide.
Advocates have raised the alarm about the potential for an outbreak of the coronavirus in immigration detention centers for weeks now. The tightly packed facilities are ill-equipped to contain the virus, advocates say, and have been beset with medical issues as the number of detained immigrants has skyrocketed under the Trump administration.
All county jails in New Jersey, some of which hold immigrants under contracts with ICE, have banned all contact visits in response to the coronavirus. However, ICE said that it will continue to arrest immigrants despite the increasingly stark warnings form politicians that human contact should be limited.
Upstate Town Declares Opposition to Green Light Law
The town board of Brasher Falls, in upstate New York near the Canadian border, passed a resolution during its monthly meeting to state its opposition to the Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to get access to driver’s licenses. “The Green Light Law stands as a dangerous and unnecessary roadblock to ongoing federal investigations,” the resolution read. The Green Light Law also prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing information with ICE. Town Supervisor Mark A. Peets listed ICE arrests in New York state and said the law tied their hands. NNY360
Naturalizations Proceedings Halted
The Western District of New York has halted all naturalization proceedings in its courthouses for 60 days, as part of a broader suspension on activity in the federal courts in response to the coronavirus. The Western District of New York includes Buffalo and Rochester. A general order filed by Chief Judge Frank Geraci suspended grand jury and civil jury trials and gave judges the ability to suspend criminal proceedings for 60 days. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been allowed to perform naturalization ceremonies for the next 60 days if they would like to. The Buffalo News
ICE Attorneys Join Judges, Lawyers in Calling for Closure
In an unprecedented move, a union of ICE attorneys joined immigration judges and immigration lawyers in calling for the immediate shutdown of courts across the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 511 joined the immigration judges union and American Immigration Lawyers Association in calling for all courts to be shut. The Justice Department previously closed the Seattle Immigration Court and suspended master calendar hearings in other courts. The group said these measures did not go far enough, citing fears for their safety as the virus spreads across the country. BuzzFeed News
Visits Banned at all Detention Centers
ICE announced on Friday that all social visits to detention facilities will be banned across the U.S in response to the coronavirus. The agency said that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any of the detention centers but it was canceling visits as a precautionary measure. There are currently 37,888 immigrants detained at 38 facilities across the country, including local jails that contract with ICE. Unlike federal prisons, which also banned visits, detainees can be released from ICE custody while their cases are being heard in court. Advocates have called for the release of vulnerable populations, such as old people or those with underlying conditions. Associated Press
US to Continue Deportations to El Salvador
The U.S. said it will continue deportation flights to El Salvador despite the national quarantine put in place by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele to combat the coronavirus. Acting Director of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan said during a press on Thursday that the threat of an outbreak of the virus at the southern border was very real and said that they were in negotiations with countries about the coronavirus. The Salvadoran government is checking all deportees for the virus when they arrive, and also placed in quarantine for 30 days. El Faro
Travelers Stuck in Long Lines at Airports Across the US
Thousands of travelers entering the U.S. from abroad were confronted with significant waits as screening aimed at the prevention of the coronavirus caused logjams at major airports. Passengers complained about mingling with people who appeared to be sick in the customs line. DHS is screening passengers returning from restricted countries at 13 airports. The screening involves a temperature check and questioning. The Trump administration banned most travel form Europe on Wednesday. DHS had to quickly staff up on medical screeners to meet the demand as no screenings had taken place previously. The Wall Street Journal
Conservative Judges Help Trump Push his Agenda
The Trump administration has appointed 51 judges to the appellate courts that reflect his worldview and have shifted the courts rightward. Trump’s appointees are more openly engaged in issues important to Republicans than appointees of previous presidents. They are more likely to disagree with peers selected by Democratic presidents. They have already ruled on a number of immigration cases. The appeals court is the last stop before cases reach the Supreme Court. Eight of his appointments had openly fought for immigration positions now embraced by the president. Trump has also appointed a number of judges to the Ninth Circuit, which has blocked a number of Trump’s immigration initiatives.
Washington – Trump Expands Travel Ban to the UK & Ireland, Biden Commits to Deportations Moratorium, ORR Director
President Trump extended his ban on travel to the United Kingdom and Ireland on Saturday, as they previously exempt from the ban on European countries coming to the U.S. to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It was unclear why they had been exempt from the original ban which went into effect on Friday. The administration said public health advisers had suggested including the two nations in the ban, which will go into effect Monday at midnight. Vox
During a debate on Sunday with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Former Vice President Joe Biden committed to halting the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of felonies for 100 days if he is elected president. The two are vying to become the Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in this year’s election and Sunday’s debate marked the first time they faced each other head-to-head, however, the event was largely overshadowed by the coronavirus. Biden has faced criticism for the deportation of 3 million people during the Obama administration. Sanders had previously committed to putting a moratorium on deportations until an audit of current and past practices was complete. The debate was the first in which immigration has featured during the primary contest. The Los Angeles Times
Jonathan Hayes, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, that oversees the care of unaccompanied minors living in shelters across the country, has been replaced. He assumed the role in February 2019. According to an internal memo on Friday, it was announced that he promoted within the Department of Health and Human Services to serve as senior advisor to the assistant secretary. ORR is a department within HHS. Hayes was reportedly pushed out of his role by the White House who had been unhappy with pushback about having ICE agents placed within shelters for children. The agency instead allowed ICE to collect fingerprints of unaccompanied immigrant children. BuzzFeed News