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Driving PA Forward, a coalition in Pennsylvania, demonstrated at the state capitol on Tuesday in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses through House Bill 279. Advocates argue that three out of four undocumented immigrants work in essential sectors, and it’s more difficult for them to provide for their families without a drivers license. In addition, granting everyone — as opposed to only lawful citizens — the right to drive would increase public safety, and get more people to enroll in insurance coverage, the advocates say. Erie News Now
In other national immigration news…
Harris Secures Corporate Investments for Central America Strategy
Vice President Kamala Harris has announced new commitments as part of her administration’s strategy to reduce migration from Central America. The administration secured investments in Central America from companies including PepsiCo, CARE International, Cargill, Parkdale Mills, Grupo Mariposa, JDE Peet’s, and PriceSmart. Private sector investments in the region now total over $1.2 billion. As of May, companies including Mastercard and Microsoft had announced pledges worth $750 million. Harris had said she would focus on suppressing the root causes of migration by creating economic opportunity.
Immigration Advocates Raise Concerns for Liberian Refugees in Minnesota
Immigration advocates and lawmakers in Minnesota are trying to save a soon-to-expire program that offers Liberians living in the United States a pathway to citizenship. Liberians who fled conflict at home in the 1990s and 2000s qualify for permanent residency and protection from deportation with the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness provision passed in 2019. The Dec. 20 deadline to apply for the program is fast approaching, and advocates say many of those eligible have yet to apply or get feedback due to processing delays. Earlier this month, supporters sought to extend the deadline, to no avail. Axios
Judge Orders GEO Group to Pay $4.5M Following Minimum Wage Suit
U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan awarded Washington state close to $4.5 million in attorney fees following the state’s lawsuit forcing the private prison company GEO Group to pay detainees minimum wage for work they performed at GEO’s immigration jail in Tacoma. Back in October, a federal jury ruled that the detainees should be earning minimum wage for tasks including cooking and cleaning — far more than the $1 per day the prison was currently paying them. The company was ordered to pay $23 million to former detainees and the state in back pay and unfair profits earned, but halted its work program last month to appeal. Associated Press
Advocacy Groups Seek closure of Virginia Immigration Jail
Over 100 immigration advocacy groups signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to close a private Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail in Farmville, Virginia. In the letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, signers raised allegations of bad management and poor medical attention given to detainees at the Farmville jail, as well as a COVID-19 outbreak that led to 339 cases and one death in 2020. DCist