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Months after the city and the Open Society Foundation announced a $20 million fund for undocumented immigrants affected by the pandemic, immigrants have finally started receiving prepaid debit cards with the disbursements on them. Undocumented immigrants were barred from receiving money in the federal government’s stimulus packages. Thirty community-based organizations were selected by the city to screen applicants and disburse the funds. Documented found that this process was opaque with no clarity on how undocumented immigrants could apply. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs told WNYC/Gothamist he expects the $20 million to be spent by the end of July, reaching about 20,000 families. WNYC/Gothamist
In other local immigration news…
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Sex Workers at Risk Under New Prosecution Strategy, Advocates Say
Documented Original In May, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced her war on human trafficking with the creation of the Human Trafficking Bureau. Advocates believe the new bureau will continue the cycle of criminalizing sex workers, particularly immigrant and trans sex workers, increase policing in predominantly immigrant communities as well as pushing the sex industry further into the shadows. State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) is co-sponsor of a bill that would decriminalize sex work in New York State by allowing the selling of sex between consenting adults while making clear that sex work involving minors, force, intimidation, coercion, and trafficking all remain illegal. Ramos opposes Katz’s new task force out of fear it will increase her constituents’ encounters with law enforcement as well as further harm sex workers. Read more Documented
Buffalo Sabres Drop USCIS Lawsuit
The Buffalo Sabres have dropped a case alleging that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services improperly denied a green card for Dr. Edward Anthony Gannon, the team’s head strength and conditioning coach. The team said in a statement that Gannon, who is British, had his petition for an EB-1 visa approved. “The matter has been resolved amicably between both parties, resulting in the complaint being withdrawn,” the team said. The Sabres initially alleged that USCIS had made an “unlawful, arbitrary” decision to deny Gannon’s application and his case warranted further consideration due to his extraordinary ability. Buffalo News
Mexicans Struggle to Send Home Remains of Loved Ones
Hundreds of New York families have struggled to send the remains of their loved ones back to Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America after losing them to COVID-19. According to the Mexican Consulate, 728 Mexican citizens in the U.S. have died due to COVID-19 as of the end of June, while some speculate the number could be higher. The largest portion came from the state of Puebla, where the largest portion of Mexican expatriates in the tri-state area are from. The consulate typically helps with repatriating embalmed remains, but was overwhelmed at the height of the outbreak in New York. THE CITY
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