Hello again.

IT’S ONLY MY OPINION:  As the pandemic works its way until a vaccine can be developed, we are all learning to appreciate how much we have.  Life after the pandemic will never be the same.  We are also learning the   meaning of “essential worker”  who is doing so much to keep us safe: truck drivers delivering food to the super market; the employees filling the shelves; the check out clerk, nurses, health care workers, first  responders – the list is almost endless.  Yet we never seem to have appreciated how much these invisible people do to make our lives so much easier.  Many of them have no discretionary income, and live paycheck   to paycheck. Many are undocumented.  Many do not have the luxury of being able to work at home.  If you have a domestic worker, who you have stopped coming to your home, you may wish to continue paying them.  As you go about your daily routines, you may wish to donate to groups seeking to help them thru this treacherous time.  Our web site will contain a list (shortly) of organizations members of the Task Force have   sent me.

The Minutes from the March meeting are attached, most of which is now moot.

Our NEXT MEETING will be held Thursday evening, APRIL 16 at 7:00pm via ZOOM.  Instructions will be sent on April 14th or 15th, along with the meeting agenda.

And now for some news

CNN reports on March 31:  CBP said children who arrive alone at the border could be returned to their country of origin instead of turned over to the Health and Human Services Department, which is typically charged     with their care. The Trump administration has previously tried to deport unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries shortly after their arrest, but those attempts have been unsuccessful because the  Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act dictates how migrant children who arrive alone are to be handled. But against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, the administration has moved forward with the    quick expulsion of unaccompanied children. (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/30/politics/migrant-children-coronavirus/index.html)

APRIL 1st is Census Day in the US, when local leaders encourage people to complete and return their census forms. That part’s not optional — participation in the census is required by law — but there are plenty of reasons to comply. Census numbers determine how many representatives each state gets in Congress and how billions of dollars in federal funding get spent. Schools, roads and other crucial community components will gain — or   lose — money over the next 10 years depending on this official population tally. This is also the first time the census can be completed online. If you don’t complete the forms, expect a visit from a census taker later  in the year who may interview you to make sure everyone is counted.

I received the following from Progressive MA:
Some people have been describing the coronavirus outbreak as a “great equalizer.” But pandemics are not equalizers: they underscore and exacerbate all of the inequalities that were already present.  That’s why  Progressive Massachusetts spearheaded a letter with more than two dozen other organizations demanding that the Legislature pass urgent expansions to the SAFETY NET by April 10, one month after   Governor Baker’s original declaration of emergency. Can you email your state legislators to demand urgent action to protect the most vulnerable populations?

Many proposals have been floated for how to address different facets of this flood of need, and to keep circulation flowing in our local economies: a one-time supplemental payment to TAFDC and EAEDC cash   assistance beneficiaries; a universal basic income intervention; closing holes in healthcare coverage for the underinsured; expansion of the UI benefit beyond 50%; supplementing the federal LifeLine program   to ensure people have adequate  minutes on their phone to enroll in these programs and to realistically practice social distancing; an infusion of dollars into the shelter system and RAFT program to help people   be/stay safely housed.   These are all great ideas. They need to become great realities.  And the Legislature has the money to do this. A modest draw of 6% from the Rainy Day Fund would provide $200 million.  Can you email your state legislators?

CNN reports that EOIR announced yesterday that it is postponing all HEARINGS related to the administration’s controversial Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the Remain in Mexico Program.  Hearings set through April 22 will be rescheduled; however, the MPP will not be canceled. EOIR said that any individual with a hearing date through April 22 should still present themselves at their designated port  of entry on their previously scheduled date “to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates.”

ProPublica reports on a leaked internal memo that orders Border Patrol agents to push the overwhelming majority of migrants back to Mexico, citing little-known power given to the CDC to ban entry of people who     might spread disease. ProPublica’s Dara Lind writes, “For the first time since the enactment of the Refugee Act in 1980, people who come to the United States saying they fear persecution in their home countries are being turned away by Border Patrol agents with no chance to make a legal case for asylum.”  (https://www.propublica.org/article/leaked-border-patrol-memo-tells-agents-to-send-migrants-back-immediately-ignoring-asylum-law)

TRAC released a report on April3, 2020, examining criminal convictions among ICE detainees to understand ICE’s potential use of discretion during the COVID-19 pandemic. TRAC found that just one out of ten   ICE detainees have a serious criminal conviction, and more than six out of ten ICE detainees have never been convicted of a crime. SEE:( https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/601/?utm)

BILL OKERMAN sent me the following:   An encouraging development. Many (if not all?) of the workers who were cheated out of their wages in this case are members of Metrowest Worker Center. I’ve attached the   ruling. It illustrates just how brazen some employers can be in refusing to pay.   The full judgement of contempt is attached and brings home facts that may shock you.

More from Bill:        Disturbing news about CBP turning away asylum seekers at the southern border.     https://apnews.com/7e9426532434bdda47f270a57d091c91
Also see:  Susan Church’s interview on WGBH about EOIR keeping the Immigration Courts open.

AILA also reports on the closure of the Immigration Court as follows:  Cronkite News reports that nearly a month into a seemingly worldwide shutdown that has upended the daily routines of hundreds of millions      of Americans, most immigration courts remain open. AILA, the Immigration Justice Campaign, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and several detained immigrants filed a     complaint calling on ICE and the EOIR to indefinitely suspend all in-person immigration court hearings, as well as provide remote communication opportunities and personal protective equipment for legal    representatives to wear. Tell your member of Congress that immigration agencies must close the detained courts, ensure access to counsel for detainees, and protect people from falling out of status during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Lawyers are required to provide their own gowns, masks and gloves.

Carolyn Lynes sent the following re: Metro West:
What I’d like to report is that Metrowest Workers’ Center has been working hard to feed immigrants in the Framingham and Milford areas. There have been and will again be chances to help (via signups) if anyone   would like to do that. Or you can make a donation which is always greatly appreciated. The website is Metrowest Workers’ Center, and Liz Garrigan-Byerley who coordinates it all can be reached at  484-772-5472  if you have questions. One of the things that we made sure to happen at the last two food distributions was a demonstration of how we can all stay safe during this pandemic. Some of our neighbors do not have access   to quality information in Spanish about the precautions we should all be taking…… Areas were marked off to make sure that each person was 6 ft from the next person, and masks and gloves  were worn. Everyone’s    safety was emphasized in a friendly and positive way.

The Hill reports that hundreds of thousands of people may be UNABLE to complete the process to BECOME AMERICAN CITIZENS in time for the November election due to the coronavirus pandemic. USCIS  has been shut down since March 18 and is scheduled to remain closed until at least May 3. The agency has not provided a remote option for citizenship interviews or oath ceremonies

On April 7th, The Congressional Research Service has published a 4 page report that reviews the immigration-related eligibility requirements for benefits under the CARES Act .  SEE.     https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10442

That’s it for now.  Hope to see you on Thursday evening.

Please stay safe,
Gerry Rovner