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Early Arrival: COVID-19 Wreaks Havoc in Central Queens

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Batavia Grapples With Coronavirus Pandemic — Miami Detention Center Puts 238 Detainees in Quarantine — Coronavirus Doesn’t Stop Trump from Pushing Immigration Agenda

Central Queens is at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, and it is upending life there. People are going hungry because they’re afraid to leave their apartments or have lost their jobs. Entire apartments full of people are catching the virus. People who seem healthy are dying.

The virus has hit immigrant neighborhoods particularly hard in Queens, where Elmhurst Hospital has been overwhelmed and an immigrant-heavy population lives close together. As of Wednesday, four Central Queens neighborhoods had recorded more than 7,260 coronavirus cases among their population of 600,000. Manhattan, by comparison, had 10,860 cases for nearly three times the population. The New York Times

Local

Four ICE Detainees Test Positive for COVID-19 in Batavia Detention Facility

Four detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, a lawyer representing the federal government told a court Thursday. Prisoners’ Legal Services, which represents detainees at the facility, had previously filed a lawsuit requesting the release of immunocompromised detainees who would be particularly vulnerable to the virus. U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo rejected that request, and instead ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to implement CDC guidelines to prevent coronavirus spread. Read more at Documented

COVID-19 Wreaks Havoc in Central Queens

Central Queens is at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, and it is upending life there. People are going hungry because they’re afraid to leave their apartments or have lost their jobs. Entire apartments full of people are catching the virus. People who seem healthy are dying. The virus has hit immigrant neighborhoods particularly hard in Queens, where Elmhurst Hospital has been overwhelmed and an immigrant-heavy population lives close together. As of Wednesday, four Central Queens neighborhoods had recorded more than 7,260 coronavirus cases among their population of 600,000. Manhattan, by comparison, had 10,860 cases for nearly three times the population. The New York Times

More Hispanic New Yorkers Have Died From Coronavirus Than Any Other Group

The Hispanic community has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, data shared by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday revealed. About a third of the people who have died from the coronavirus are of Hispanic origin, though Hispanic people make up 29 percent of the city’s population, data from the New York Department of Health revealed. African Americans have been the most disproportionately impacted in the city, as they make up 28 percent of coronavirus deaths but 22 percent of the population. New Yorkers of Asian descent are least likely to die from the virus, with a 4 percent mortality rate. NBC New York

ICE Continues to Arrest Unaccompanied Minors When They Turn 18

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are continuing to arrest children in shelters in New York and transfer them to immigration detention, even during the coronavirus pandemic, Documented has learned. On March 18, Jorge’s 18th birthday, he was arrested by ICE from a shelter in Westchester, New York and transferred to the Orange County Jail, according to attorneys at the Brooklyn Defender Services. Jorge was then placed in a cell for 23 hours a day for 14 days, following an ICE procedure for all new arrivals aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 within the jail. Read more at Documented

National

Miami Detention Center Places 238 Detainees in Quarantine

The Krome detention center in Miami has placed 238 immigration detainees in quarantine after they were exposed to the coronavirus, the head of the facility told a federal judge Wednesday. In a sworn statement, Liana J. Castano, the acting director in charge of the Krome facility, said at least one detainee on the premises was confirmed to have COVID-19 and has been placed in medical isolation. Castano said the 238 detainees had been together in an isolated area for 14 days. Each of the detainees had been near someone who had tested positive for the virus. The Miami Herald

Nearly 10,000 Migrants Quickly Deported Due to New Pandemic Rules

Customs and Border Protections deported nearly 10,000 people shortly after they crossed the border in the past three weeks using new powers offered to them during the coronavirus health emergency, the agency announced on Thursday. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the agency to quickly deport migrants crossing the U.S.–Mexico border between ports of entry. The agency said it’s in order to avoid holding them in detention, which could spark an outbreak of the virus. Asylum seekers are also barred from entry, even if they arrive at a port of entry. Migration levels have since fallen to nearly their lowest point in decades. The Washington Post

Naturalization Ceremonies Delayed Due to COVID-19

In March, naturalization ceremonies across the country were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving thousands of immigrants stuck within grasping distance of citizenship. The ceremonies, organized by USCIS, are typically held in American theaters, convention centers, and courthouses. They will be rescheduled, but the immigrants who were planning to take their oath in March have been left in limbo after waiting years for this moment. The agency typically naturalizes 66,000 immigrants per month, according to the Migration Policy Institute. An excess of 100,000 have already had their ceremonies delayed because of the crisis. BuzzFeed News

Rural Counties Have Higher Rates of Residents in Removal Proceedings Than Some Urban Counties

Many rural counties have higher rates of residents in removal proceedings than urban counties, a new data analysis from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Of the top 100 U.S. counties with the highest rates of residents in removal proceedings, nearly six in ten are rural. In those communities, residents facing deportation might find themselves in “legal deserts” where qualified immigration attorneys are harder to find. “In these rural counties, residents may have a heightened sense that immigration enforcement is impacting their community. This, in fact, would be an entirely rational perception since the odds are indeed greater,” TRAC wrote in the report. TRAC

Washington — Coronavirus Doesn’t Stop Trump from Pushing Immigration Agenda, Lawmakers Call on ICE to Release Detainees

The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped President Trump from advancing his border agenda during this election year. Trump has used the crisis to block all migration along the southern border, which includes children and asylum seekers — something he had toyed with long before the crisis. But Trump’s previous attempts to block all migrants who cross between courts of entry were rejected by federal courts. Trump has also referenced the border wall during his televised coronavirus briefings. 

Immigration is just one of the issues Trump has pushed during the pandemic. He’s also used this time to lift environmental protections, change federal gas mileage standards and fire inspectors general, among other measures. 

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security to get answers on the new policy of deporting migrants quickly. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and nine colleagues gave DHS until April 15 to explain why it could use the public health situation to contravene the country’s obligations under the Refugee Act to offer asylum seekers protection. The Washington Post, ProPublicaAcademics who study contagious diseases wrote a letter to federal lawmakers warning that ICE  could be contributing to the spread of the coronavirus by holding migrants in detention and transferring them between facilities. Several members of Congress, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), also have called for the release of some immigration detainees. The Washington Post

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