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Early Arrival: A Fifth of Frontline COVID-19 Workers are Non-Citizens

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Taxi Drivers Seek Help as Fares Dry Up — CBP Requests 1,500 Troops for Border Operations — Undocumented Immigrants Excluded from Stimulus

Nearly one in five workers most at risk for COVID-19 exposure are non-citizens, according to city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“Frontline workers are putting their safety on the line to keep our city running — nurses, janitors, grocery clerks, child care staff, EMS workers, bus and truck drivers and so many more,” Stringer said in a statement. “And yet, these same essential workers whom we trust with our health, our nourishment, our loved ones, and our lives are too often ignored, underpaid, and overworked.

Stringer’s office found that 19 percent of “frontline workers” are non-citizens. About 27 percent of employees of grocery, convenience and drug stores are non-citizens while 36 percent of building cleaners and 22 percent of social service providers are non-citizens as well. New York Daily News


Taxi Drivers Seek Help as Fares Dry Up

With New York grappling to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak,  the city’s taxi industry has ground to a halt. Drivers are now at a loss as to what to do with their days as bills pile up. The taxi industry was already in shambles when the coronavirus pandemic began due to rideshare vehicles’ rise and the plummeting value of taxi medallions. The coronavirus pandemic added fuel to this fire. As lawmakers work to provide aid to all New Yorkers who are ailing financially from the crisis, taxi drivers are calling on industry specific help, as their business has suffered considerably since the beginning of the crisis. One proposal from the Taxi Limousine Commission calls for yellow and green cab drivers to become delivery workers. Elected officials have called for financial support for the drivers but no concrete plans have been introduced yet. Read more at Documented.

Migrant Child Tests Positive for COVID-19 at Westchester Facility

A migrant child held at a facility in Westchester has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter from the New York Civil Liberties Union. “We urge ORR immediately to investigate and intervene in this situation to ensure adequate plans and resources are in place to respond to the outbreak at Children’s Village,” they stated in the letter. The Office of Refugee Resettlement issued a statement Thursday saying three children at one ORR care provider had tested positive for the virus as well. Children’s Village said it could neither confirm nor deny anyone in its custody had tested positive for the virus. Read more at Documented.

EOIR Reopens Varick St. Immigration Court After Staffer Tests Positive for COVID-19 a Day Earlier

Late Monday evening, the Executive Office of Immigration Review announced it was closing New York’s Varick Street immigration court as a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier that day, the National Association of Immigration Judges said a judge at Varick Street was diagnosed with pneumonia and was tested for COVID-19 as well. But by Wednesday, the court was reopened with little warning. ICE attorneys, immigration judges and private attorneys are all outraged. “It’s like insanity has taken over the agency,“ said Fanny Behar-Ostrow, an ICE prosecutor and president of AFGE Local 511. “With [New York] the epicenter of the virus, DOJ is failing to protect its employees and the public we serve.” Read more at Documented.

ICE Continues Operations in Staten Island

A day after Wuilver stopped working as a waiter, he awoke to ICE agents banging on the door of his Grymes Hill apartment in Staten Island. That raid was one of at least three that took place on Staten Island on March 18. One of the men who was arrested by ICE had been convicted of illegal entry into the U.S., while the other two have pending criminal charges in the local courts. Wuliver is now detained in a nearby facility. “They shouldn’t be doing this. It should be the least of their worries,” his wife Denise said. “There have been people who have tested positive inside the detention center and they’re not going to get the same treatment that they would get out here.” THE CITY


CBP Requests 1,500 Troops for Border Operations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has requested over 1,500 U.S. military personnel for border enforcement, citing immigrants’ “potential to spread infectious disease,” according to an internal memo obtained by The Nation. The memo asks for 1,000 personnel to support CBP operations at the northern border and 540 for the southwest border. The operation could last through September 30. The troops stationed there would “increase CBP’s capacity to protect public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” according to the document. The Nation

Fear of Detention Exposure Leads to Protest in ICE Detention Facility

Fear of COVID-19 led to detainees staging an “impromptu protest” at a detention center in Texas on Monday, which staff met by pepper spraying detainees. There were no serious injuries, but detainees say they’re all terrified of catching the virus because conditions inside the facility are conducive to its spreading. “Everyone is panicking,” an asylum seeker who has been detained at the facility for about three months said in a phone interview. “We don’t have anything. We don’t have disinfectants; they are not taking any precautions.” ICE says it identified “approximately nine detainees as instigators” who “are now in restricted housing pending disciplinary charges due to security violations.” The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

Domestic Workers Lose Work Due to COVID-19

Families who hire domestic workers to clean their houses have reevaluated in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, canceling work for many undocumented workers in the field. Families across the country have responded to the crisis differently, with some paying their domestic workers while asking them not to come, others continuing to ask them to come, and some suspending payments altogether. Some nannies who have worked with families for years have been let go without severance or any security at all. These workers cannot collect unemployment insurance or benefit from a government bailout. There are approximately 7.6 million undocumented immigrants in the workforce, according to Pew, who will suffer similar fates. The New York Times

Border Patrol Begins Deporting Migrants Immediately

Migrants crossing into the U.S. at the southern border are now being sent back to Mexico upon entry. Tamaulipas state in Mexico has said it is not ready to receive them. Migrants are typically detained at a Border Patrol station for several days after they’re apprehended crossing the border. Now, Border Patrol is returning migrants to Mexico within hours, in accordance with the March 21 border closure agreement between Mexico and the U.S. CBP argues this prevents a potential exposure to COVID-19 in detention. Shelters with recent deportees along the border are now packed with recent arrivals, and coordinators are struggling to practice proper hygiene. KRGV 

Mexican Protestors Call for Americans to be Banned Due to COVID-19

Mexican protestors are calling on the government to block U.S. citizens from coming into the country and potentially spreading the coronavirus. The U.S. now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. Residents of Sonora, which south of Arizona, blocked traffic coming in from the U.S. on Wednesday. They wore face masks telling Americans to “stay at home.” Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed cases. The U.S. and Mexico agreed to close the border to all nonessential travel, but protestors said this has not been enforced. They’re calling for a ban on border crossing for tourism, medical reasons and for those who cross to go to school. BBC

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