It seems that, once again, there will be a dispute over the financing of Freedom Defense Project, which in turn funds nonprofits across the state to providing immigrants with legal services.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) recently released its proposed budget for 2021, and the $10 million allocated to the program each year since 2017 was not included. Legal service providers were actually asking $15.3 million this year, as they say previous funding was not enough to cope with an increasing workload.
Not funding the program could mean a loss of resources for immigrants statewide, especially in upstate New York. This is because a large part of the funding is used to provide free legal representation for detained immigrants in upstate immigration courts. The Liberty Defense Project represented 1,000 people this fiscal year, and another 1,400 are planned for next year.
A similar dispute the overfunding of the project emerged last year when nonprofits were only told that the project would be funded the day before the vote on the budget. The uncertain nature makes it difficult for nonprofits to plan ahead. Albany Time Union
We provide essential news and information for and about New York’s immigrant community. Your support will allow this work to continue.
Farm worker bill does not result in overtime pay
Recently enacted state legislation containing regulations for agricultural workers has led some farm owners to cut hours for undocumented workers to avoid incurring overtime costs. Under the Farm Workers Bill, which came into effect in January, employers must pay overtime – twice the normal wage – to anyone who works more than 60 hours a week. Undocumented farmworkers say that as a result of this new regulation, farmers simply hired more people to avoid paying overtime. Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), the bill’s sponsor, acknowledged that there may be some issues to resolve regarding the law. city limits
Increase in Taxi Medallion Seizures
There were 510 foreclosures of loans secured by taxi medallions in 2019, according to an analysis by the Daily News. That’s up from just five foreclosures in 2012, the year Uber came to New York. Predatory medallion lending programs have led to increased foreclosures, as a New York Times series revealed last year. This particularly hit new immigrants, who had no assets but racked up seven-figure debts, leading to a bubble that ride-sharing apps only made worse. Daily yellow cab ridership has increased from 500,000 rides per day in 2012 to 230,000 in 2019. New York Daily News
ICE deports man to war-torn Yemen
Hazaea Alomaisi, a 42-year-old Yemeni New Yorker, was deported to war-torn Yemen on Tuesday, much to the surprise of his family. He had been registering with ICE for 22 years, but last Friday he was arrested while registering and held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility. He was then put on a plane for Yemen. His family was not notified quickly enough to make an appeal. Yemen has been embroiled in war since 2015, when Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes in the country with US backing. It has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Alomaisi has overstayed a tourist visa he received in 1998, according to ICE. HuffPost
MPP expanded to include Brazilians
The United States has officially extended the Migrant Protection Protocols program to Brazilian citizens seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border. The program, also known as Stay in Mexico, requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their case is heard in immigration court. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed Wednesday that Brazilians will now be sent to Mexico, a situation that was previously limited to non-Mexican Spanish-speaking migrants. The agency cited the growing number of Brazilians being apprehended at the border as the reason for its decision. Around 57,000 migrants were returned to Mexico under this program. Reuters
Report: 80% of migrants in MPP are victims of violence
In other news related to the Migrant Protection Protocols program, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) released a report on Wednesday that found 80% of asylum seekers in the program said they had experienced violence during the program. In October alone, three-quarters of asylum seekers seen by MSF doctors said they had been kidnapped for ransom. In total, 44% of patients said they had been victims of violence during the week preceding their appointment. Kidnappings of migrants on Mexico’s northern border have become commonplace, where migrants are held until their families transfer money. The Guardian
San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Kate Morrissey reflects on the MPP’s first year
Document shows CBP ordered screening of Iranians
The Northern Light, a community newspaper in Blaine, Washington, obtained a directive from the Seattle Field Office of Customs and Border Protection directing its officers to conduct increased screening of all Iranian nationals or persons who are returned to Iran. Dozens of people of Iranian descent were arrested and interrogated at the Canada-US border earlier this month. CBP has vehemently denied that these shutdowns were due to an agency directive, but this document appears to contradict that. The directive came in response to the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and ordered officers to conduct screening of all adults in Iran, Lebanon and Palestine. The northern light
Increase in the number of Ukrainian refugees
Ukraine has become a top source of refugees to the United States as the Trump administration dramatically reduced the number of refugees admitted from other countries, 2019 resettlement figures reveal. Ukrainians make up now the third largest group of refugees, behind Congo and Myanmar. Experts say the change stems from the Trump administration’s resistance to accepting refugees from predominantly Muslim countries. Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia are responsible for two-thirds of the international refugee crisis, yet Ukrainian arrivals to the United States outnumbered many these nationals. The Washington Post
Trump’s border wall will require gates
The border wall, which is central to Trump’s re-election campaign, will likely require the installation of hundreds of storm gates to prevent flash flooding. These gates will need to be left open during the monsoon season in the Arizona desert to prevent the wall from being toppled, meaning there will be unmanned open gates in remote areas. Some doors are already in service and have been drilled. The gates cannot be operated electrically and are opened using forklifts in early summer. The extreme topography of the Southwest makes construction difficult. The Washington Post
Washington – Travel ban extension to be announced, anti-immigration hardliner gets watchdog job, Trump brags about ‘swinging’ ICE agents
President Trump is expected to unveil the extension of his controversial travel ban Friday, according to Politico. The government’s response to the coronavirus delayed the announcement scheduled for Monday, which would have coincided with the third anniversary of the original ban. The countries considered for addition to the list are Sudan, Belarus, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and Tanzania. It remains unclear which countries will be added on Friday, but Politico reports that Sudanese nationals will be excluded from the U.S. diversity visa program with possible waivers. The travel ban is currently in place after being upheld by the Supreme Court and restricts citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea. Politics
An anti-immigration extremist has been named Immigration Detention Ombudsman, a new role created by Congress to oversee civil rights complaints in immigration detention centers, according to a memo obtained by BuzzFeed. Controversial Acting Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli Appointed Julie Kirchner, former leader of FAIR, an anti-immigration group that advocated for restricting the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States. He also appointed Tracy Short, a former ICE official, to work in the office. The office received $10 million from Congress to get started to provide oversight and recommend changes to federal detention centers. BuzzFeed News
At a rally in New Jersey, Trump bragged that ICE agents were known to “start swinging” when arresting members of the MS-13 gang. The gang was mentioned in connection with Democrats’ support for “sanctuary cities,” which Trump called a betrayal of the American people. Newsweek