Immigration

9 years into the program, DACA recipients continue to face challenges

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

It's been nearly a decade since temporary status was granted for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children in the United States. And they say the uncertainty hasn't changed.

Nine years ago, President Barack Obama approved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that gave some legal protections for undocumented immigrants like Astou Thiane.

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Bill would end ICE detention contracts with local jails

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

In the final weeks of the legislative session, progressive legal groups are calling for the passage of a bill that would end contracts between local governments and federal immigration enforcement officials to incarcerate immigrants.

The bill is part of the latest effort to block coordination between the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and New York law enforcement.

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Excluded Workers Fund Contains Echoes of Prior Debates

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

An early test for the new Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2019 was a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive driver's licenses. Long a third rail in New York politics, the measure squeaked through the chamber, but with Democrats from key swing districts voting against it.

Rather than punishing the party in power, voters handed Democrats a supermajority two years later.

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Activists: State Lawmakers Must Deliver More to Excluded Workers

BY Ben Nandy Newburgh

The family of newborn Quiera has not been receiving federal or state assistance during the pandemic.

Quiera rested calmly in her baby carrier, which was placed in a laundry cart here at a Newburgh laundromat while her grandfather, Nehemias Reyes, folded clothes and shared with Spectrum News his family’s struggles over the past year.

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Report Finds $3.5B Needed for Aiding Excluded Workers During Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As state lawmakers this month consider the creation of a fund to aid workers who do have not qualified for federal stimulus aid and other benefits during the pandemic, a progressive think tank in a new report found $3.5 billion is needed to provide support.

The report by the Fiscal Policy Institute to be released on Thursday comes as state lawmakers have proposed $2.1 billion in benefits for undocumented workers and people who have left incarceration during the pandemic.

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Reaching Undocumented Immigrants a Concern Amid Pandemic

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Undocumented immigrant communities are hard to reach during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York has a sizeable immigrant community as well as a population of people who are undocumented and may not be able to access to the same kind of benefits as the rest of the state's population.

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AG James Cheers DACA Ruling

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A federal court's ruling last week that reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was cheered by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who had pushed back against a legal challenge from President Trump's administration in the effort to restart it.

The program, known as DACA, provides legal protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

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Undocumented, Excluded Workers Need Pandemic Relief, Report Says

BY Nick Reisman New York State

Undocumented immigrants and excluded workers who do not currently qualify for unemployment aid should receive assistance through a special state fund, a progressive group found in a report to be released later Thursday.

The report from the Fiscal Policy Institute outlines the argument for the fund, which would affect about 5 percent of the state's workers and the 40,000 people who are being released from incarceration.

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Bill Shielding Undocumented Immigrants in Courts Passes Assembly

BY Morgan McKay New York State

The State Assembly passed two bills on Monday, as state lawmakers return to pass an unknown number of bills this week.

The Protect Our Courts Act ensures that undcoumented immigrants can participate in the justice system without fear of being deported. It would prohibit immigration related civil arrests against anyone traveling to or from a court proceeding.

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New York Reacts to Court Upholding DACA

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

Democratic elected officials and immigration advocates in New York on Thursday cheered the U.S. Supreme Court decision that for now preserves the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and prevents the deportation of 700,000 people with Dreamer status in the United States.

“The Court’s decision today is a major victory for DACA recipients, their families and communities, and basic standards of justice, fairness and what our country can be in its best moments," said FWD.us President Todd Schulte. "This ruling was only possible because of the courage and resiliency of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who bravely stood up and refused to be ignored. It is a decision we will fight to protect."

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Federal Judge Blocks ICE Arrests In NY Courthouses

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A federal judge on Wednesday barred the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from making arrests in New York courthouses, a victory for immigration advocates who had opposed the actions.

The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff blocked ICE from making arrests of anyone on the grounds of state courthouses or of anyone who is required to travel to a courthouse due to being a party or witness to a suit.

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Under Scrutiny, Some Lawmakers Want Green Light Law Changes

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

As expected on Monday, New York officials filed a lawsuit to reverse the federal government's freeze on trusted traveler programs for residents who are registering or must renew.

Not so expected? The criticism by James P. Kennedy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, who knocked the measure that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses, known as the Green Light Law.

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Immigration Advocates Decry Supreme Court's 'Public Charge' Ruling

BY Nick Reisman Albany/Capital Region

Immigration advocates in New York decried the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that will likely pave the way for President Donald Trump's administration to broaden the ability of the federal government to restrict low-income immigrants by denying them visas and green cards when seeking social services.

The Supreme Court on Monday, in a 5-4 decision, lifted the injunction for the rule change, which would broaden the number of benefit programs that qualify under the so-called "public charge" rule and make it more difficult for poorer immigrants to come to and stay in the United States.

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Immigration Laws Accomplished, Group Turns To Enactment

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

As the new legislative session dawns in Albany on Wednesday, FWD.us, a progressive organization backed by business groups, touted the accomplishments of the prior year.

But at the same time, the group in a statement said it wants to ensure those accomplishments -- the passage of a measure allowing undocumented immigrants to access driver's licenses, will be fully enacted.

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CPB Says Green Light Law Hurts Public Safety

BY Ryan Whalen City of Albany

The United States Customs and Border Protection agency is voicing concerns about New York State’s new Green Light Law.

The law, which went into effect Monday, allows for undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses but it also greatly restricts information the Department of Motor Vehicles can share with federal law enforcement. CBP said it relies heavily on cooperation from its state and local partners to protect the public.

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Federal Court Upholds Green Light Law

BY Nick Reisman City of Albany

A federal court on Friday upheld New York’s law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses — paving the way for the measure to take effect on Saturday.

The court rejected a challenge to the law from Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola, who had challenged the measure’s constitutionality.

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Judge Hears Niagara County Greenlight Lawsuit

BY Ryan Whalen City of Albany

The Niagara County Clerk left a state Supreme Court hearing Thursday with more questions than he had at the outset with regards to enforcement of the state’s Green Light Law.

With the law, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, set to go into effect Saturday, Clerk Joe Jastrzemski and the judge appeared to believe they had an agreement with the state Attorney General’s office. Jastrzemski’s staff would refer anybody applying for a license who they suspected was in the country illegally, to the state Department of Motor Vehicles until the Niagara County challenge was fully litigated.

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DMV Workers Caught In Middle Of Green Light Battle

BY Ryan Whalen Erie County

Erie County employees have been thrust in the middle of a political and legal battle over New York’s new “Green Light Law.”

County Clerk Mickey Kearns, D, has maintained the auto bureaus under his management will not process driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, despite the new law. A source familiar with the situation said employees are “concerned, frightened and frustrated” about their position.

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MTA Orders Cease And Desist Over ICE Sign

BY Ryan Whalen Buffalo

A plan to post signs featuring the Immigration and Customs Enforcement tipline at Erie County Auto Bureau are running into issues – but not for the reasons you might think.

Last week, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, D, said he would post signs with the I.C.E. tipline at every auto bureau customer service window. The move, in response to the state’s soon-to-be-effective Green Light Law granting driver’s license to undocumented immigrants, caused a stir on its own with elected officials and the general public coming out on both sides.

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