New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said on Friday that there would be no additional COVID-19 assistance for undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for emergency aid, drawing criticism from immigrant rights advocates.
“The federal government has a number of programs to address that,” Cuomo said at the end of his daily coronavirus press briefing. “If we get some state funding through the federal government, we’ll do whatever we can.”
It was unclear what federal government programs the governor was referencing. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for the stimulus packages that the federal government released earlier this year in response to the economic wreckage caused by COVID-19. The measures included an unemployment insurance boost and stimulus checks.
Advocates have called on New York state to follow the example of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), with the help of philanthropists, established a $125 million fund to provide aid for immigrants in the state. In New York City, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will be distributing $20 million in assistance to undocumented immigrants following a gift from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation.
“It’s not on top of their list of priorities,” said Ignacio Acevedo, an immigrant rights activist in Hudson Valley. “I guess because we’re the easiest ones to get sacrificed.” Spectrum News
Eviction Ban Loophole Makes Immigrants Vulnerable
Cuomo announced the state’s eviction moratorium will be extended until August, but there will be key changes in the additional two months. Tenants will now have to prove they are “eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” as opposed to the blanket ban that was in place originally. Advocates argue the new language makes undocumented immigrants especially vunerable as landlords often weaponize their immigration status to force them out of their houses. Going to housing court to prove they’re impacted by the crisis may reveal their immigration status. Real Deal
Yemeni Photographer Deported to Warzone Longs For Return
Hazaea “Anwar” Alomaisi, a photographer from the Hudson Valley, was deported to war-torn Yemen in late January. Due to his activism in the U.S. protesting the human rights abuses in Yemen, he said he has become a target in the country and his life is in danger. His lawyer argues he is eligible for political asylum and his hoping to reopen his case with the Board of Immigration Appeals, a difficult task. He lived in Westchester for 20 years prior to his deportation and attended Westchester County Community College. PBS
Census Outreach Stalled by Coronavirus
The state was intending to spend $70 million on the 2020 Census this year, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, the plans seem to have stalled. Cuomo has done little to personally encourage people to fill out the census. On-the-ground efforts by city and state partners have been canceled. And as of May 9, the state’s response rate was 52.7% compared with 58.3% nationally. Agency-by-agency plans to ensure a full count of New Yorkers have not been released. Grants for community-based organizations have also been withheld due to the cancelation of in person outreach. Immigrants have been historically difficult to count in the census. Gotham Gazette
Haiti Presidential Advisors Call For Halt on Deportation
A Haiti presidential panel made up mostly of doctors is calling for the suspension of deportations of Haitians from the U.S until the spread of COVID-19 is under control. The group advises Haiti’s president on how to control the spread of the virus in the country. “Transporting people potentially infected with SARS COV2 in an aircraft represents a high risk of contamination for all passengers including the crew,” the group said in a letter. They called on the president to engage the Trump administration to reach an agreement. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation flight was set to depart early Monday with Haitian deportees, and at least five had tested positive for the virus. The Miami Herald
ICE Detainees Push for Release
The number of coronavirus cases in ICE detention continues to grow. As of Friday, ICE confirmed 788 detainees had tested positive for the virus. An immigrant who previously tested positive was transferred to the Northwest detention center in Tacoma, Washington, where they tested positive again. Immigrant rights advocates were suing ICE to release people from the center. Another 65 medically vulnerable ICE detainees were released from the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego where the first known death of an ICE detainee from COVID-19 occurred last week. The agency identified 131 detainees who are medically vulnerable but would not release 35 of them because of their criminal histories. Associated Press, San Diego Tribune
Immigrants Working in Meatpacking Plants at Severe Risk
Meatpacking plants that are mainly staffed by immigrants remain epicenters for the coronavirus outbreak. At least 40 workers at the Brakebush Bros. Inc in Irving, Texas, have been diagnosed with the virus. Many of the workers are vulnerable Spanish-speaking immigrants, a local advocacy group said. They have to take unpaid time off if they believe they are sick. Immigrants were working elbow-to-elbow at the Tyson Food pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa in early April. As of Thursday, the county health department recorded 1,031 coronavirus infections among the plant’s employees. Three have died. The facility has since closed. Dallas Morning News, The New York Times
Salvadoran Government Demands Investigation into Detainee Death
The government of El Salvador has requested an investigation into the death of Carlos Ernesto Escobar-Mejia, a Salvadoran man who died in ICE detention at the Otay Mesa detention facility in San Diego after contracting COVID-19. “The Salvadoran consulate in Los Angeles has provided the required accompaniment to the family of the deceased and has sent a formal note to ICE requesting the evidence related to this case,” the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The consulate also requested to know if there are more Salvadorans at the detention center who are at risk of contagion. Explica
ICE Set to Deport More Than 100 Indians Despite Pandemic
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 161 Indian immigrants will be deported from the U.S. in the coming few days, The Hindustan Times reports. India’s Ministry of External Affairs will place the deportees under 14-day quarantine when they arrive in India, and then each state that receives the deportees will determine how to handle them. The detainees are currently spread out across detention centers nationwide and are from multiple states across India. Deportations have accounted for a large number of coronavirus cases in the countries where immigrants are sent. Almost a third of the coronavirus cases in Guatemala are from nationals who were recently deported from the U.S. The Hindustan Times
Hardliners Want More Visa Restrictions, New Rules for Chinese Journalists
Immigration hardliners are lobbying the White House in the hopes that another executive order will be issued on immigration that will target temporary visas during the pandemic.
President Trump has hoped strict immigration measures will rally his base in the election year after the economy that he had hoped to run on has collapsed. This was a motivating factor behind the release of an immigration executive order that bars green card applicants from outside the U.S. coming into the country, among other things. White House aide Stephen Miller recently told a group of immigration restrictionists who support the president that it was important to “turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor.” Recent polling indicates 65% of the public backs blocking nearly all immigration into the U.S. during the pandemic.
Immigration hardliners have since been lobbying for new measures to restrict a number of visas, such as H-2B guest worker visas. Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ak.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), and Josh Hawley (Mo.) sent a letter to Trump calling for new guest worker visas to be put on hold for 60 days. The Wall Street Journal reports that student visas and the work authorization that accompanies them will also be targeted.
CDC officials were also reportedly concerned that a push for a public health recommendation to close the southern border to non-essential travel was driven by political concerns, not public health issues. A senior CDC official told CNN the decision had already been made before the CDC recommendation was made. The president is hoping to extend the border restrictions beyond the current 60-day limit potentially until there is a vaccine widely available in the U.S. and in Latin America — a process which could take more than a year. CNN, The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. issued a new rule on Friday that tightened visa guidelines for Chinese journalists in response to the treatment of U.S. journalists in China. Journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post were previously expelled from China after the U.S. said it would treat five Chinese state-run media entities with U.S. operations the same as foreign embassies. Reuters