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Early Arrival: Buffalo Sabres Sue USCIS for Denying Doctor’s Visa

Wednesday's Edition of Early Arrival: They Survived the AIDS Epidemic. Now They’re Living Through COVID-19. — Man Dies by Suicide at Mesa Verde Detention Center — Firm Close to Trump Awarded $1.3 Billion Border Wall Contract

Max Siegelbaum

May 20, 2020

Buffalo's KeyBank Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo’s hockey team, is suing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services after it denied the team’s request to sponsor a team physician for a green card based on his “extraordinary ability.”

The complaint was filed by Hockey Western New York LLC, the team’s parent company. They say the agency arbitrarily denied its request for an EB-1 visa on behalf of British doctor Edward Anthony Gannon. USCIS, in its denial, said the team failed to demonstrate that Gannon had risen to the top of his field.

Gannon’s “groundbreaking and impactful research” has been published in peer reviewed journals and he cares after elite athletes, the team said. Bloomberg Law


They Survived the AIDS Epidemic. Now They’re Living Through COVID-19.

Before the coronavirus, New York City was once an epicenter for another fatal virus that took decades to control: AIDS. Advocates fear immigrants living with HIV — especially the undocumented — are more vulnerable than ever to succumb to this new danger. Many are afraid of seeking medical care because of their status, and the organizations they relied on to provide testing and counseling no longer have money to offer their services. Some staff members even predict an influx in HIV cases and deaths, as they are forced to cut services to their clients. Read more at Documented.


Civil Liberties Groups Sue Over Buffalo Detention Center’s Failure to Socially Isolate Detainees

The New York Civil Liberties Union and Prisoners Legal Services of New York sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Monday, saying the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility is failing to impose social distancing rules in the facility. The lawsuit demands ICE officials comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as they treat medically at-risk people in the facility. At least 49 of 319 people detained at the Batavia, New York, facility had tested positive for COVID-19. The lawsuit estimates over 100 individuals detained there are medically vulnerable to the coronavirus. The Associated Press

Federal Judge Asks for Answers from DHS Over Public Charge

A Manhattan federal judge pushed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for more answers on its public charge rule, which puts immigrants who accept federal benefits at a disadvantage when seeking visas and green cards. U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels asked government attorneys how the pandemic had changed harms facing immigrants as he examined guidance from DHS that said immigrants wouldn’t be penalized for seeking COVID-19 related medical care. Daniels previously ordered the rule halted, calling it “repugnant,” but the U.S. Supreme Court overruled it. “Now, we are living in the worst-case scenario,” Judge Daniels said. “We don’t have to guess about what the possible consequences are. … One of the consequences could be death from coronavirus.” Law360


Man Dies by Suicide at Mesa Verde Detention Center

A 74-year-old man held at the Mesa Verde detention facility in Bakersfield, California, died by suicide on Sunday, according to ICE. Choung Won Ahn, a South Korean man who had diabetes, hypertension and several heart-related issues was found dead in his cell. He had been in ICE custody since Feb. 21 this year after being convicted of attempted murder. “We are processing, and we are very emotionally upset,” said Ahn’s brother, Young Ahn. “We are angry. He did not deserve to be treated this way. He’s a human being, but to them, he’s just a number. There are other people in the same situation. It shouldn’t be happening again.” KGET NBC 17

Fears Spread Over COVID Data Being Passed to Immigration Authorities

At least two-thirds of states are sharing the addresses of people who tested positive for COVID-19 with first responders, including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs. At least 10 of those states also share patients’ names. First responders argue the information will help them take extra precautions that will help fight the spread of the virus. Others worry it will be used to profile black and Hispanic communities or even be sent to immigration officials. Advocates across the country are calling for local law enforcement to pledge the information will not be shared with federal immigration authorities. The New York Times

U.S. Set to Deport Indian Nationals

The U.S. is set to deport 161 Indian nationals this week after most entered the country illegally via the U.S.-Mexico border. Of the 161 people deported to India, three are women. Most of the detainees came to the U.S. to claim asylum, but judges didn’t find they fit the criteria. The U.S. has seen a major influx of Indian nationals claiming asylum here, from 611 people in 2018 to 1,616 in 2019. There are 1,739 detained Indians nationwide, according to Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director of the North American Punjabi Association. The Hindu

Call Centers Flooded After California Grants to Undocumented Residents Open Up

On Monday, California opened up a one-time $500 grant program for undocumented immigrants in the state. But many people reported they couldn’t get through within minutes of phone lines opening, and by 10 a.m. lines were crashing across the state. The $75 million cash assistance program is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis and will be distributed to about 150,000 immigrants. The state designated 12 nonprofit groups to vet the applications. In the first 90 minutes after the fund was opened, 630,000 calls were placed to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles’s phone line. The New York Times

Chaos in the Immigration Courts Continue Under COVID

Immigration courts have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but those who work in the system say the way they were shut down has increased stress on judges and attorneys while also making it harder for them to bounce back. “There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t mass chaos behind this veil of business as usual,” said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. Courts in San Francisco frequently change status, with announcements being issued through social media, making it hard for immigrants and attorneys to prepare for hearings when they’re held. It also took weeks for judges to simply get laptops so they could work remotely. The San Francisco Chronicle

North Dakota Firm Close to Trump Awarded $1.3 Billion Border Wall Contract, Biden Works to Attract Latinx Voters, Asylum Ban Extended Indefinitely

A North Dakota construction firm that has made personal pleas to President Trump and the supporters of his border wall project has been awarded a $1.3 billion contract to build 42 miles of fencing through a complex stretch of mountains of southern Arizona. Fisher Sand and Gravel, the company that won the contract, has been repeatedly praised by Trump in White House meetings with military and border officials. 

After Fisher lost the first round bids for the border contract, the company’s CEO Tommy Fisher began praising Trump on cable news, and cultivating ties to former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, GOP Senate candidate Kris Kobach and other figures close to the president. Fisher’s only other major border contract is currently under review by the Defense Department inspector general after Democratic lawmakers began questioning White House meddling in the procurement process. 

The Arizona Daily Star first reported the Fisher contract, which has not been announced by the Defense Department or Customs and Border Protection. The Washington Post

Former Vice President Joe Biden is working to distance himself from the immigration legacy of the Obama administration in a private conversation with Latino members of Congress. “He basically, respectfully, said that was the Obama administration’s decision, as a whole. He didn’t run point for that,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), who helped arrange the meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Congress last year and endorsed Biden in December. “And Joe Biden, on top of that, mentioned that under his presidency, we wouldn’t see the need nor would we see those numbers of deportations. That’s just not what his path is going to be.”

Biden is shaping up his campaign to win the Latinx vote after largely losing it to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primaries. The Washington Post

An order issued by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorizes Customs and Border Protection to immediately remove migrants and asylum seekers as means to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. Trump initially issued the 30-day order in March and it was extended for another month in April. This new version has no fixed end date, though the CDC says it will review public health data every 30 days if it needs to justify further extensions. The Associated Press

Max Siegelbaum

Co-executive Director of Documented




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