I hope you and your families are well.
Here are some items you may have missed.
> Rep Denise Garlick sent the following that is not related to immigration matters, but is worth being aware of:
• The nation’s first contact tracing initiative is now underway in Massachusetts. If you are contacted by someone working for the initiative through the organization Partners in Health, you are urged to take the call and provide relevant information. The program will help determine who infected patients have had close contact with and help craft isolation strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.
> BEV Freeman sent this item on pending legislation that would allow people with Individual Taxpayer Numbers to obtain some of the benefits for Unemployment Insurance and health care under the CARES Act. You might consider contacting your Federal Senators and Representative:
H.R. 6437. The Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act The bill would suspend the public charge rule, in-person U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) checks, and immigration detention and deportation for some vulnerable populations. It would also provide Medicaid coverage uncovered individuals, regardless of immigrations status, for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing and treatment. The bill would allow undocumented immigrant taxpayers who use an individual tax identification number (ITIN) to access cash relief benefits. It would also provide additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide critical public health information in multiple languages to vulnerable communities. Sponsored by Representative Judy Chu (D-California) (34 cosponsors – 34 Democrats, 0 Republicans) 4/3/2020 Introduced in the House by Representative Chu. 4/3/2020 Referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Ways and Means, and the Judiciary
> BILL Okerman sent this article from the 4/13 Boston Globe ( https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2020/04/12/millions-taxpaying-immigrants-who-lack-legal-status-won-get-stimulus-checks/8E6J2gHdF7Js3ve3Ej9PdK/story.html)
detailing that undocumented immigrants pay taxes, but are not eligible for benefits – the problem that Rep Chu seeks to solve with the legislation referred to above.
> Newsweek reports that after Guatemalan officials claimed that more than 70 people had tested positive for coronavirus shortly after arriving in the country on two recent deportation flights alone, an ICE spokesperson said that CDC officials were on the ground in Guatemala “to review and validate the claims.” According to NPR, ICE recently said it has released nearly 700 immigration detainees amid concerns that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly through some facilities. Arizona CIR reports that ICE is using the strategy of “cohorting” groups of detainees together who are at risk for developing symptoms after known contact with someone who tested positive, a practice that some medical experts say could lead to the virus spreading further.
> Roll Call reports that more than one-third of the 300 detainees ICE tested for COVID-19 tested positive. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, said that ICE only testing one percent of detainees in the three weeks since the first person in ICE detention tested positive “demonstrates a shocking level of negligence” and raised concern that “the real numbers are likely far higher.” According to BuzzFeed News, older ICE detainees fear the worst as the virus spreads in detention centers. Desert Sun reports that in California, ICE detainees have launched hunger strikes to call for COVID-19 protections. Join the Immigration Justice Campaign in calling on Congress to demand that ICE take steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 in detention facilities.
> President Trump has announced he will sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the US as the nation battles the medical and economic effects of Covid-19. Immigration procedures have already been effectively frozen during the crisis: Refugee resettlement has been put on hold, visa offices are largely closed and citizenship ceremonies aren’t happening. The President’s announcement came in a tweet, and it’s unclear what mechanism he will use to suspend immigration, how long it would last or what effect this will have on US border crossing operations and on current green card holders. So far, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have been silent on the details. A colleague’s law firm has prepared a paper regarding information about Trump’s latest Exec Order (April 22d) barring foreign nationals. The information will be updated as further information is received. See the attached “Exec Order”.
> CBS News reports that yesterday,Monday, April 20, a federal judge in California ordered ICE to actively and rapidly review the cases of all detained immigrants at increased risk of severe illness or death if they contract the coronavirus and determine whether they should be released. Coronavirus cases among the more than 31,000 immigrants held by ICE surged to 220 on Monday, with the agency reporting 96 new cases across the country. Join the Immigration Justice Campaign in calling on Congress to demand that ICE take steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 in detention facilities.
> ICE has access to DACA records: ProPublica reports that internal administration emails obtained through a FOIA lawsuit filed by Make the Road New York show that assurances that information provided in DACA applications would not be sent to ICE agents were incomplete or misleading. ICE already had access to databases containing detailed information about DACA recipients and millions of other immigrants, but DHS officials left that fact out of congressional testimony they provided on the matter.
> Our website has a list of organizations that are helping immigrants thru this Pandemic. You may wish to consider a donation to them, because they are desperate for funds.
> Once the Minutes from our Virtual Meeting are completed I will send them along to you.
Newsletter from the Chair – April 22, 2020
I hope you and your families are well.