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Central Americans Struggle for Asylum Under Trump

Most Central American asylum seekers who arrived in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019 are still waiting for hearings.

Deanna Garcia

Nov 02, 2020

Central American migrants crossing the Suchiate River between the Guatemalan and Mexican border. Photo: Oliver de Ros

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Most Central Americans who arrived in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019 are dispersed throughout the country without asylum and are still waiting for hearings. The immigration court backlog has forced people to wait months or years to have a hearing, and with courts closed due to the pandemic, the wait has gotten even longer. And when a judge finally sees an immigrant’s case, they usually decline to grant asylum. More than 223,000 Central American immigrants were arrested crossing the border in 2018, according to federal data. That number increased by 36 percent to more than 607,000 people the following year. More than 703,000 Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans have cases pending while asylum denial rates soar. Associated Press

In other local immigration news…

99% of Chinese Restaurants Refuse Surcharge 

The New York City Council passed a legislation last month permitting restaurants to charge an extra 10 percent to dine-in customers to help the restaurants during the pandemic. But the Chinatown Business Improvement District revealed through a survey that 99 percent of Chinatown restaurants do not want to include the surcharge. Wellington Chen, executive director of Chinatown BID, mentioned that when 300 Chinatown restaurants were surveyed, only one considered the surcharge if they were about to lose business. They worry of potentially losing customers. Some believe that avoiding this additional charge will hopefully encourage more people to visit Chinatown. City Limits

How the Pandemic Hurt Staten Island’s Immigrants

Communities United For Respect and Trust gathered more than 35 people to their recent virtual “Immigrant Issues During COVID” event, where they shared the difficulties Staten Island immigrants are facing during the pandemic and information about resources to help those in need. According to the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 12.5 percent of Staten Island’s population is undocumented and 21 percent hold green cards. Euna Park, executive director of the Immigrant Affairs Unit in the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, provided examples of possible scams that have been used to exploit immigrants, such as asking for personal information over the phone. SILive

ICE Tracking Immigration Activists

The Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University Law School’s new database map shows more than 1,000 incidents of the Trump administration allegedly targeting activists. This map serves as an all-inclusive effort to document all known occurrences of official retaliation against immigrant rights advocates. Sejal Zota, legal director of Just Futures Law, gave an example of the Department of Homeland Security agents at the Black Lives Matter protest in Oregon. “We’ve now seen the machinery of DHS go after non-immigrants, as part of the uprising,” said Zota. New York City’s highlighted cases included retaliation against the New Sanctuary Coalition’s Ravi Ragbir and Jean Montrevil. The Intercept

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