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Early Arrival: No Help For Undocumented Restaurant Workers on the Horizon

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: Another Year of Struggle to Fund Immigrant Legal Services — ICE Pledges to Release Vulnerable Detainees — Foreign-Born Doctors Blocked From Coronavirus Relief Efforts

Most of New York City’s 26,000 restaurants were shut down — or at least had their operations greatly reduced — two weeks ago to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs overnight.

Many of those unemployed workers are undocumented — more than 20 percent of the country’s cooks are estimated to be. But unlike their citizen counterparts, they’re ineligible for relief efforts from federal, state, and city governments. Some estimates show that over 20 percent of the country’s cooks are undocumented.

Undocumented workers have few allies or advocates in the restaurant industry. And with very few specific organizations dedicated to helping those workers even now, advocates have turned to GoFundMe just to help undocumented people get by. Eater

Local

No Help For Undocumented Restaurant Workers on the Horizon

Most of New York City’s 26,000 restaurants were shut down — or at least had their operations greatly reduced — two weeks ago to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs overnight. Many of those unemployed workers are undocumented, but unlike their citizen counterparts, they’re ineligible for relief efforts from federal, state, and city governments. Undocumented workers have few allies or advocates in the restaurant industry, so advocates have turned to GoFundMe just to help undocumented people get by. Eater

Lawsuit Against ICE Allowed to Proceed

A New York federal judge said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must face claims it created unnecessary fears when it arrested an HIV-positive man in his city-provided housing. In a case Documented reported on previously, Jesus Prado, a 60-year-old immigrant from Latin America, said he woke to a loud noise outside his front door in October 2015. When Prado opened the door, agents allegedly barged into the apartment and shoved him to his bed, and he started crying, according to the complaint. Judge J. Paul Oetken determined Prado’s case could move forward, as he had reason to fear for his safety during his arrest. Prado has also alleged medical neglect and abuse while in Bergen County Jail. Law 360

Undocumented Workers in New Jersey Fear for Their Futures

Lorena Duarte hasn’t cleaned houses in more than two weeks. She’s afraid of catching the new coronavirus and bringing it home to her daughter in Palisades Park, New Jersey, who had a lung operation a few years ago. Javier Martinez of Kearny says all his landscaping jobs were cancelled. “The clients that give us work, they have closed their businesses and stopped their projects, and they left us up in the air,” said Martinez, who works in Montclair, Verona and West Orange. But Duarte and Martinez are undocumented, and so they’re ineligible for the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at easing COVID-19’s financial burden. The Record

National

ICE Pledges to Release Vulnerable Detainees

ICE said it has directed officials across the country to consider releasing detainees at risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. The agency said the pandemic is “unprecedented” and that it is evaluating whether to release immigrants over the age of 60, as well as pregnant women. The agency also said it is reviewing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to determine whether it should consider releasing immigrants in other at-risk categories. As of March 30, ICE has identified 600 people in its custody it may release and has already released over 160, according to a statement. CBS News

Border Patrol Can’t Provide Data on Automatic Deportation Policy

Since March 21, the Border Patrol has been quickly removing migrants apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border, assuming they could be bringing COVID-19 into the United States. Under the recent policy change, when agents encounter migrants, they take them to field processing stations near ports of entry, take their fingerprints and then drive them to ports of entry where migrants walk back to Mexico. But the agency has been unable to provide more detailed information or data on the impact of the new policy, including how many migrants had been turned back or whether any agents or migrants have tested positive for COVID-19. Tucson Star

Deportation Flights to Guatemala Halted for a Week

All deportation flights from the U.S. to Guatemala have been halted this week due to the coronavirus pandemic, Guatemala’s foreign ministry announced Monday. A foreign ministry spokesperson said the suspension is only in effect this week as Christians celebrate Holy Week. But shortly before making the announcement, the Guatemalan government asked the U.S. to limit the number of people it puts on deportation flights to 25, down from the usual 60 to 90. Two people have been taken to the hospital and have tested positive for the coronavirus after being deported. Guatemala has had 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Reuters, BBC

Over 60 Detained Women Begin Hunger Strike in Washington

Over 60 immigrant women detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, have gone on hunger strike. They’re demanding the release of vulnerable people amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as humanitarian visas and the halt of all deportations and transfers. On Friday, dozens of advocates held a socially distanced protest outside the facility in their cars, honking their horns at the facility. “When guards come in or out, they’re also bringing the virus either in or they’re taking it out. As governments have asked us, stay home, save lives, we ask them: Get people out of cages, save lives,” said Maru Mora-Villalpando, an activist with the immigrant rights group La Resistencia. Democracy Now

ICE Detainee in Florida Tests Positive for COVID-19

ICE has finally acknowledged a detainee tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida, and seemed to have previously been relying on a technicality to claim otherwise. “While that is true that no detainee currently at the detention center tested positive for COVID-19, it’s also not completely accurate, as testing is not conducted on site and detainees are sent to an off-site hospital to be tested,” a federal official inside Florida’s Krome Detention Center told The Miami Herald. “It is believed one of the officers contracted the illness, as that officer guarded a detainee who has since tested positive for COVID-19. That information is not being shared with any employees,” the official said. The Miami Herald

Judge Orders Release of 22 Detainees in Pennsylvania

A federal district court judge in Pennsylvania has granted the release of 22 people in immigration detention from two county jails in York County and Pike Count. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and a law firm had filed a federal lawsuit saying the civil plaintiffs were at high risk of dying or getting seriously ill because of their age or underlying health conditions. In late March, detainees in York County staged a hunger strike to protest a lack of extra care amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Two detainees with underlying medical conditions were released from the facility in Pike County in late March. WHYY

Washington — Bureaucracy Stands Between 10,000 Foreign-Born Doctors and Coronavirus Relief Efforts

Shantanu Singh is an experienced critical care physician who also has training in pulmonology, which deals with lungs. He’s a perfect candidate to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in hotspots like New York. But Singh is still in West Virginia and has been free for two weeks because his visa only allows him to work or volunteer in the hospital that sponsored him. Singh is just likeapproximately 10,000 physicians who were trained in the U.S. but are unable to work for any hospital other than their current employer because of visa restrictions.

Statistics make it even more clear how much help the U.S. is losing out on with these visa restrictions. More than a quarter of physicians in the U.S. are foreign-born, and more than 40 percent of trainees in pulmonology and critical care medicine were born outside the U.S. But many of these doctors have either exchange visitor visas or other types of visas for temporary workers, like the H-1B visas, that limit their ability to work. “We’re watching as people trained as urologists or orthopedic surgeons are stepping up” while those more qualified stay stuck on the sidelines, said Ramakrishna Yalamanchili, an internist practicing at Logan Regional Medical Center in Logan, West Virginia. 

The bureaucratic obstacles standing between foreign-born doctors and the virus response effort could be quickly eliminated, according to the Society of Hospital Medicine. The organization wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other congressional leaders asking them to “act now” to allow the 10,000 immigrant doctors trained in the U.S. to work in hospitals responding to the pandemic. The move would “give these providers and their families peace of mind while putting themselves at risk in caring for our nation’s populace.” The Intercept

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