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On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged six people as part of an investigation into a birth tourism ring on Long Island. The people allegedly helped Turkish women give birth to 119 babies on Long Island to give them American citizenship. All of the women were Turkish, as were four of the people who were charged. The Trump administration gave visa officers more leeway to stop pregnant women from entering the United States if they were suspected of traveling to give birth. The New York Times
In other local immigration news…
Excluded from Rent Relief, Immigrant Renters Struggle to Stay Afloat
After over a decade in her Queens apartment, Ana Reyes found herself pleading with a furious landlord. The citywide COVID-19 shutdown in March left her and her husband without work, and her family of five was soon out of savings to pay rent. As an undocumented New Yorker, Reyes doesn’t have access to government assistance like unemployment benefits or food stamps that have kept many residents afloat after pandemic job losses. The statewide COVID Rent Relief Program was meant to help people like her. But four months after putting in her application, Reyes is among many New Yorkers who haven’t received help. Months after the emergency rent relief program passed, the state still has $60 million of $100 million to distribute to struggling renters. A private coalition that formed to help has meanwhile sent out just $500,000. Read more at Documented.
First COVID Vaccines in NY Will Go to Health Care Workers, Including Immigrants
The first 170,000 doses of a COVID vaccine will arrive in New York on Dec. 15. Those vaccines will go to nursing home facilities and then frontline health care workers, many of whom are immigrants. It will likely take until the end of the first quarter of 2021 for the vaccines to be distributed to all of those facilities. “It’s going to be more critical than ever the state and federal government have a more robust plan. Part of that is ensuring information is available in all languages,” said Anu Joshi of the New York Immigration Coalition. NY1
Advocates and Elected Officials Still Fighting Over Hudson County ICE Contract After it Passed
Tensions are still high in New Jersey after the Hudson County Freeholders voted to renew the county’s contract to allow ICE to hold immigrant detainees in the local jail. On Tuesday last week, advocates opposed to the contract held a protest outside a Hoboken diner where a political fundraiser was being held, where a small scuffle broke out. “I used every ‘proper’ channel I could think of. I engaged electeds on both sides of the Hudson. I’ve written letters, signed petitions, asked for meetings, testified at hearings. In all this engagement I, and too many others, were ignored,” a protestor who filed assault charges against a county freeholder wrote. Patch