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American Civil Liberties Union lawyers have accused the federal government of refusing to provide information on what and how it is using sensitive cell phone tracking data. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had used data from Venntel, a company that uses data from apps to locate individuals, to make an arrest. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also used the information to look for cell phone activity along the Mexican border. The ACLU filed information requests in February 2020 for agency records around purchasing cell phone information. Nine months later, none of the agencies have produced responsive records. Courthouse News
In other national immigration news…
Last-Minute Border Wall Rush Angers Border Landowners
Construction crews are racing to build as much of President Trump’s border wall as possible before he leaves office, and border landowners aren’t thrilled. An Arizona rancher said construction crews sent “car-sized boulders” flying onto his property after setting off detonation charges for the wall. Municipal water officials in El Paso said they had to block wall builders from cutting off a road to an important canal along the Rio Grande. Landowners in Texas are pressuring elected officials to lobby the Biden administration to save their property from construction crews. Federal officials say Trump has built 415 miles of his new barrier, and they estimate it’ll reach 450 by the end of the year. The Washington Post
Trump Administration Hands Over Crucial Data on Separated Families
Legal advocates who have been trying to reunite migrant families separated by the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy received crucial new data from the government after months of pleas. According to a Wednesday court filing in a court case in California, the Justice Department handed over information that included phone numbers that could be critical in locating parents of children who are still in the country. Last year, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered a steering committee of legal groups and nonprofits locate missing family members. According to the most recent filing, 628 family members are still missing. NBC News
Trump Administration Sues Facebook
The Trump administration sued Facebook on Thursday, accusing them of reserving high-paying jobs for immigrants workers rather than adequately searching for available U.S. workers. The DOJ’s Civil Rights division filed the lawsuit alleging Facebook inadequately advertised at least 2,600 positions between 2018 and 2019 that were later filled by H-1B visa holders the company was looking to sponsor for permanent residency permits. Employers sponsoring people for employment-based green cards must show they couldn’t find an American to fill the job. The Trump administration has maintained an antagonistic stance against social media companies and the H-1B visa system. The Wall Street Journal
Groups Call on Biden to Aid Immigration of Health Care Workers
Thousands of foreign doctors and nurses could be brought into coronavirus hotspots to address staff shortages if health industry advocacy groups win over the Biden administration. Around 10,000 physicians on H-1B visas in the U.S. are restricted on where they can work in the country, and could face deportation if they fall ill and are unable to do their jobs. An additional 15,000 foreign nurses have applied to come to the U.S. but are unable to because of consulate closures and backlogs. A range of groups are calling on Biden to issue an executive order that would loosen these restrictions and make it easier for immigrant health care workers to work in the U.S. Politico
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