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New York City Board Immigration Dispute Devolves into Nazi-Calling

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(ESPAÑOL) An illegal immigration dispute has turned ugly in Westchester, New York when a legislator accused another of acting like a Nazi.

Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) took issue with comments that County Executive Rob Astorino made while vetoing a bill that would have protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Astorino decried the bill as a “Sanctuary County” plan.

“It’s the classic `Big Lie’ technique. All clever Nazis use it,” Borgia said in an Aug. 16 email obtained by The Post.

In the email, Borgia was looking for votes to override Astorino’s veto.

The legislation would have blocked county police and other local officials from communicating with federal authorities solely on civil immigration matters.

Supporters insist the measure complies with federal law and argue that county law enforcement officials should not act as immigration officials.

But Astorino, a Republican, said such a law would hinder law enforcement and jeopardize the county’s federal funding.

Astorino said the bill “endangers public safety, violates federal law, infringes upon long-established principles of law enforcement cooperation and jeopardizes millions in federal public safety grants.”

While he said he’s working on an executive order to ease fears of undocumented immigrants that they will be deported if they report crimes or seek medical assistance, all bets are off for those who are arrested for crimes.

“If you end up in jail for committing a crime, and you’re not here legally, we’re not providing a sanctuary for you,” Astorino said.

Borgia defended her comments when contacted by The Post.

“Perhaps I should have been more clear: the `big lie’ was a classic propaganda technique used very successfully by the Nazis,” she said. “This is in no way a sanctuary county bill, as it fully complies with federal law. You can call something by the wrong name again and again and again but that does not make it more accurate.”

Remittances to Mexico Under Threat By Trump

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(ESPAÑOL) During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would stop allowing wire transfers of money out of the United States from Mexican nationals unless Mexico agreed to fund a border wall. Migrants in the United States are expected to have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, according to BBVA Bancomer, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.

Remittances jumped nearly 25 percent to almost $2.4 billion in November from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase for any month since March 2006, Mexican central bank data released on Monday showed.

In recent months, Trump has not elaborated on his threat to block money transfers, and a 10-point immigration plan on his transition website makes no mention of the subject. But the possibility is affecting migrants’ remittance decisions.

Remittances have become a huge prop for the Mexican economy, compared to the $18.5 billion in revenue from oil exports in 2015 or nearly $340 billion in manufactured goods, according to the national statistics agency.

In 2015, the area around Ixmiquilpan, home to about 94,000 people, received about $100 million in remittances from abroad, according to data from Mexico’s central bank, more than 10 times the municipal government’s annual budget.

Maria de la Luz Pioquinto, an immigrant from Ixmiquilpan who runs a money transfer business in Clearwater, said her Mexican customers doubled their average transfers right after the Nov. 8 election but are now waiting to see what happens.

“They are worried about still having work, and they are worried about providing for their families back home,” she said.

Michael Clemens, who studies remittances and migration at the Center for Global Development, says that “for countless towns like Ixmiquilpan, remittances are an economic lifeline.” The money sent back usually gets reinvested locally, he said, “in better schooling for kids, better care for the elderly, and better housing.”

Blocking the funds, he said, would mean “that more people close to the edge fall over the edge.”

Falmouth, Massachusetts Offering Free Immigration Services

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(ESPAÑOL) Free immigration services and citizenship courses are to be offered at Falmouth Human Services, Massachusetts, every Friday, beginning January 13, by the Immigration Resource Center.

“We were told a need exists,” said Collin Mickle, director of the resource center part of the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and Islands, Inc., based in Hyannis. “We are filling in the gaps.”

The Falmouth satellite office will offer the full range of services offered at the Hyannis office, which includes citizenship courses, green card and work permit renewals, help filling out paperwork and legal representation. The Immigration Resource Center, which is a nonprofit organization, is certified by the Department of Homeland Security to offer these programs.

In October and November of last year the center served 51 clients, and they served another 54 December, Mr. Mickle said.

Reports show that the immigrant populations on the Cape and islands have grown in recent years.

The total population of the Cape and islands has increased 18.74 percent from 1990 to 2014, while the total immigrant population has increased 96.9 percent, as reported by the Department of Homeland Security, said Richard Vengroff, an accredited immigration representative with the organization.

On the Cape and islands there are about 3,500 immigrants eligible for naturalization, according to data collected by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

Mr. Vengroff, who lives in Mashpee, helped start the resource center in Hyannis about a year ago.

Previously, he worked with refugees and asylum seekers through Lowell’s International Institute. Now Mr. Vengroff is focused on starting operations in Falmouth. Services there are primarily for those who need help financially and to navigate through the system. Filling out paperwork can be a challenge.

“People try to rip them off,” Mr. Vengroff said. “They are charged services they don’t need.”

He said that a change in presidential administration may result in more clients seeking help from the agency, depending on how the new administration acts on recent actions taken by the Obama administration, such as deferred action for childhood arrivals.

How Jeff Sessions Can Affect the Immigration System

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(ESPAÑOL) For attorney general, President-Elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Jeff Sessions, a Republican Senator from Alabama who has made a name for himself as one of the most anti-immigrant voices in Washington.

The National Review, a conservative news magazine, credited Sessions with single-handedly destroying immigration reform attempts in 2004 and 2014. He is strongly opposed to illegal immigration and is also in favor of limiting legal immigration because he believes it harms domestic workers.

Sessions, or whoever the head of the Department of Justice is, can hire judges who will decide deportation, asylum and all immigration cases over the next four years.

During 2016’s hiring spree, immigration judges were hired at courts throughout the country. However, since January 2015, the court in Imperial County has not had a sitting judge. It is the only immigration court in the country to have a vacant bench.

The case backlog in Imperial County is so large that hearings are being scheduled for 2019 and 2020.

Sessions could push current immigration judges, who do not share his politics, into early retirement by transferring them to undesirable locations like the Imperial courthouse.

“Short of firing, life can be made difficult or unpleasant for employees,” Garcia Hernandez said. “Superiors can increase workloads or transfer them to unattractive locations. These are highly qualified professionals with deep ties to a particular community so the prospect of being transferred may be enough for them to say, ‘You know what, I might just do something else.’”

If confirmed by Congress, Sessions will play a key role in realizing Trump’s campaign promises of deporting millions of immigrants and securing the U.S. borders.

As attorney general, he would not only be in charge of who he hires but also how immigration judges are trained. One way he could influence what kind of judges are hired is by prioritizing those with previous experience as prosecutors for the Department of Homeland Security who work deportation cases, Garcia Hernandez said.

“Immigration judges are employees of the justice department,” Garcia Hernandez said. “Just like any other employee of the Justice Department, they answer to the AG.”

Immigration Caseload Swamps Court System

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Copyright:EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER

(ESPAÑOL) The immigration caseload has grown so large in New Mexico – with apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants more than doubling in two years after several years of decline – that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez in June capped the number of nonviolent border crossers his office will prosecute at 150 a month.

There are hundreds more who could be prosecuted each month but aren’t, according to law enforcement sources. Immigrant advocates question whether nonviolent offenders should be prosecuted at all.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico, which has about 75 attorneys, most of them in Albuquerque, has a stunning array of cases under its purview beyond the immigration offenses that can dominate attorney and staff time in southern New Mexico.

Just recently, it has been tasked with prosecuting cases from an operation that nabbed 104 Bernalillo County residents on firearms and narcotics trafficking charges; dozens of defendants allegedly belonging to the violent Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico prison gang; and the arsons that recently scorched nine Albuquerque businesses, which could lead to domestic terrorism charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office cap applies to a specific offense known as a “1326a,” illegal re-entry, without complicating factors like drug trafficking or extensive criminal histories. Those nonviolent offenders typically receive “time served” at sentencing, which in New Mexico amounts to 30 to 45 days on average, thanks to a fast-track system that moves these offenders quickly from arrest to deportation.

The lead investigative agency on illegal entry and re-entry is U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Spokesman Ramiro Cordero confirmed that apprehensions at the New Mexico border, including immigrants who could be charged with felony illegal re-entry, are far outpacing prosecutions.

Before the U.S. Attorney’s Office scaled back, the Las Cruces court was on track to surpass its caseload records; the new limit only puts the court back on track to meet its usual numbers this year, according to U.S. District Judge Robert Brack.

Brack sentences an average of 1,800 immigration-related cases each year. U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales sees a similar number of cases as Brack, while judges from Albuquerque regularly cycle in to help them work through the caseload.

Deportation and Economic Growth at Odds

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(ESPAÑOL) President-elect Donald Trump says he will double the nation’s economic growth rate to 4 percent during his time in office. That promise will be difficult to keep.

Most economists think America’s potential growth is only about 2 percent, and most agree the best way to make it higher is to get more people working and make those workers more productive. Stimulating the economy with government spending or tax cuts will only boost short-term growth and cause inflation.

But right now, getting more people into the labor force is a challenge. For one, it means fighting a demographic tide.

“We have a huge wave of baby-boom era people retiring,” says Robert J. Gordon, an economist at Northwestern University and author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth. “Right now, we’ve got a shortage of construction workers. We’ve got a shortage of long-distance truck drivers. We’ve got a shortage of many kinds of skilled workers needed to work in manufacturing.”

Gordon says bringing immigrants into the workforce is the best way to deal with this mass retirement of baby boomers.

In the past couple of decades, half the growth in the labor force has come from immigration. But, Gordon points out, Trump has said he will deport millions of immigrants.

“They’re called illegal immigrants, and they’re here illegally,” Trump said in an interview with CNN. “They’re going to have to go, and they’re going to have to come back in legally, and otherwise, we don’t have a country.”

Stephen Moore, who has advised Trump on his economic growth policy, says Trump isn’t against immigration, just illegal immigration. Personally, Moore says he believes even some of those workers who are in the country illegally shouldn’t be deported.

“People who are in this country, are working, and productive Americans who are contributing, I personally would not like to see those people deported,” says Moore, who is also an economic consultant with FreedomWorks, the grass-roots organization that helped launch the Tea Party.

He also argues that a faster growing economy will not only provide jobs for the unemployed but will attract others back into the labor force, including some retirees. Most economists are skeptical that could provide enough workers to get to a 4 percent growth rate.

Immigrants Apply for Asylum in Hopes to Remain

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(ESPAÑOL) Immigrants have been rushing to apply for asylum—with cases many are unlikely to win—in order to remain in the country legally for a time.

The controversial tactic temporarily lifts the threat of deportation from undocumented immigrants. The asylum claims also enable applicants to obtain work permits and driver’s licenses while their cases crawl through the adjudication process.

“We are doing more and more of these cases,” said Jerome Lee, an immigration attorney in Norcross, Ga. “It’s an aggressive technique.”

The strategy is hotly debated in the legal community, with some attorneys saying that applicants with bona fide claims are disadvantaged by a backlog exacerbated by those whose cases lack merit. Critics also say many immigrants don’t understand the risks. Other attorneys say they employ the strategy only under certain circumstances.

The U.S. grants asylum to individuals who can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin. Several steps, which generally take many years, follow before the government issues a decision. And, if denied asylum, an applicant is placed in removal proceedings, which buys them another several years in the U.S. because they are entitled to due process.

That could backfire, critics say. “You are intentionally putting in deportation proceedings people who’d been flying under the radar,” said attorney Marty Rosenbluth in Hillsborough, N.C. who deems unethical the strategy of filing for asylum with the intent of landing in removal proceedings. “Under Trump, they could be easily deported.”

On a recent Tuesday, some immigrants in the waiting area of Taylor, Lee & Associates in Norcross, outside Atlanta, clutched forms on which they had scrawled “asilo” in Spanish, to describe their case.

Mr. Lee said his firm doesn’t submit frivolous applications, conducts background checks of clients and ensures applicants understand the process.

“Most of these cases probably won’t be granted,” said the attorney. Meanwhile, “at least you get a work permit during a waiting period. And you’re hoping there will be a change of immigration policy and priorities.”

Attorneys charge $3,000 to $10,000 per asylum case, which immigrants often pay in installments.

Las Cruces School Board to Create Countywide Sanctuary for Immigrants

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(ESPAÑOL) On Tuesday, members of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution calling for the creation of a task force to “study and recommend consistent policy language that can be used by the City, County, and public schools in the creation of ‘sanctuary status’ for residents and students.”

The resolution praises outgoing President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, which allows some immigrants without legal status who came to the United States as children to remain in the country and work here. DACA “will enable our qualifying students to attend college, work, and pursue a career and thus encourage them to do well in school and to graduate,” the resolution states.

The task force would create “sanctuary” policies which all area governments could enact and report back to the government agencies’ policymaking bodies in a joint session by May 2017.

Whether the school board will find the other government agencies open to the effort isn’t clear. Doña Ana County already has a policy that prohibits the county from requesting or sharing the immigration status of people, making county services or benefits dependent on immigration status, or “cooperating, in one’s official capacity, with any (U.S.) Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection investigation, detention or arrest procedures, public or clandestine, relating to alleged violations of the civil provisions of federal immigration law.”

But the policy was implemented by the current commissioners. Come January, three of five will leave office and be replaced by new commissioners who won election in November.

As for Las Cruces, Mayor Ken Miyagishima was quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News last month in opposition to sanctuary status.

“The city of Las Cruces is not a sanctuary city, nor do I support becoming one,” Miyagishima was quoted as saying. “The Las Cruces Police Department does not enforce federal regulation or immigration laws. … If a person is pulled over they will not be asked for their citizenship.”

Technology Companies Not to Support Trump’s Deportations

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(ESPAÑOL) More than 200 employees of technology companies including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Twitter Inc and Salesforce pledged on Tuesday to not help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations.

Drawing comparisons to the Holocaust and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the employees signed an open letter at neveragain.tech rebuking ideas floated by Trump during the campaign trail. The protest, which began with about 60 signatures but had more than tripled within hours of publication, comes a day before several technology company executives are due to meet with the real-estate developer in New York City.

“We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies,” reads the letter, signed by a mix of engineers, designers and business executives.

It continues: “We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.”

The letter vows to not participate in creating databases of identifying information for the U.S. government on the basis of race, religion or national origin, to minimize the collection or retention of data that could facilitate such targeting and to oppose any misuse of data at their respective organizations considered illegal or unethical.

Trump clashed with Silicon Valley on several issues during the campaign, including immigration, government surveillance and encryption, and his victory last month alarmed many companies who feared he might follow through on his pledges.

Those concerns have not been assuaged in recent weeks, as Trump has said he intends to nominate individuals to senior posts in his administration who favor expanding surveillance programs.

Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook, Facebook Inc Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos and Oracle Corp CEO Safra Catz are among those expected to attend the summit with Trump’s transition team, according to two technology industry sources.

Sanctuary Churches for Undocumented Immigrants

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(ESPAÑOL) Hundreds of sanctuary churches are offering protection to people who could face deportation if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on his campaign pledge to remove millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

In Brockton, a poor city of about 95,000 people south of Boston, four churches have pledged to take in immigrants fearful of being deported.

“If you need a safe place, once you enter the doors of this building, you are safe,” said the Rev. Abraham Waya, pastor of Central United Methodist Church, who said his church can shelter as many as 100 people. “We will host you and take care of you for as long as it takes.”

During the campaign, Trump pledged to “immediately terminate” President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has extended work permits and temporary deportation relief to more than 700,000 immigrants brought here illegally as youths.

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency follows a 2011 policy to generally avoid entering “sensitive locations” such as schools, places of worship and hospitals to take custody of undocumented immigrants. The policy says enforcement actions can be conducted in those locations in cases of terrorism or when there are “exigent circumstances.”

About 450 houses of worship of various denominations nationwide have offered to provide some form of sanctuary, including living space, financial assistance or rides for schoolchildren, said Alison Harrington, pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, with more than 140 congregations, has adopted a resolution calling for “holy resistance” to Trump’s immigration proposals and declaring itself a “sanctuary diocese.”

Some churches have already made good on their promises.

The University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley, in California, held a ceremony in July to officially declare itself a sanctuary for people facing deportation, CBS San Francisco reported. In the basement, a one-bedroom apartment was created for an undocumented immigrant.