Things That Matter

Some New York County Clerks Plan To Break New Law, Won’t Issue Drivers Licenses To Undocumented Migrants

The “Green Light Law” passed in New York last June, making it one of 14 states to allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. The passage was believed to be a landmark victory as the measure was stalled for over two decades. However, some county clerks who reside in the more conservative areas of New York have resisted the policy. Some even say they will refuse to give undocumented immigrants their licenses in protest. 

The stance seems similar to one Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis made in 2015 when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis was ordered to issue the licenses by a U.S. District Court and when she defied them, she was jailed for contempt of court. 

New York County Clerks rebel against a new law allowing undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses.

Some county clerks have threatened to even call Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on undocumented immigrants who try to obtain licenses. 

“If you come into my facility and you have done something illegal, it is my obligation to report you to the appropriate authorities, whether you’re a citizen or not,” Robert L. Christman, the Allegany County clerk, told the New York Times.

A federal judge threw out one of three lawsuits filed by the dissident clerks on Friday, claiming Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns did not prove any suffering due to the law. 

“It is apparent Plaintiff disagrees with the Green Light Law,” Judge Elizabeth Wolford wrote in her decision. “But the mere disagreement with a duly-enacted state statute does not entitle anyone — even an elected official — to seek intervention from a federal court.”

Attorney General Letitia James argued that the “Green Light Law” is a benefit to public safety. 

“The law aims to make our roads safer, our economy stronger, and allows immigrants to come out of the shadows to sign up as legal drivers in our state,” she said in a statement. “That’s why the claims made in this lawsuit not only disregarded these simple truths but were misinformed and disregarded the privacy rights of New Yorkers.”

Immigrant advocates believe the rebellion is a scare tactic to thwart immigrants away from the service. 

“This is a scare tactic,” said Jackie Vimo, a policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center, told the Times. “They are mirroring the politics of fear we’ve seen nationally with the Trump administration.”

Clerks claim the influx of immigrants will overburden the system.

The clerks claimed that the law would overburden the system which would incur new costs like hiring additional workers and training staff to understand and process foreign paperwork. Mostly, they were outspoken about not wanting to serve immigrants. 

“You are asking me to give a government document to somebody who is in our country breaking federal law. That is 100 percent wrong,’’ said Joseph A. Jastrzemski, the Niagara County clerk. “It compromises my oath of office to defend the Constitution.”

However, proponents of the law say the revenue from the new applications would pay for the additional costs.

“The Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning research institute, estimated that the state would earn$57 million in annual revenue and $26 million in one-time revenue from driver’s licenses, new car purchases, registrations and sales and gas taxes,” according to the New York Times. 

A law over two decades in the making has immigrant advocates stunned. 

“I grew up poor and undocumented and never imagined that one day I could help change the history of our state. Gracias mami for your sacrifice. We got Drivers Licenses for all!” NY State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz tweeted. “After today, no child will have to know the fear of emergency planning in case mom or dad are picked up by ICE.”

In 2007, Governor Elliot Spitzer issued an executive order that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses. After opposition from Senator Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand along with bipartisan lawmakers and clerks, Spitzer rescinded the order just two months later. 

“For a long time, driver’s licenses had been the third rail of New York state politics,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “[This] put to rest the notion that you couldn’t do anything controversial around immigration.”

A driver’s license can help shield immigrants from deportation by allowing them to provide identification during things like routine traffic stops. It can also give them better access to housing, jobs, and public services. Oregon and New Jersey have begun to consider similar measures and discussions have initiated in six other states as well. 

“We are seeing momentum growing right now, especially following New York where it has been such a long and hard-fought struggle,” Vimo said. “This really changes political calculations and removes a lot of the excuses other states had not to pass similar legislation.”

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It’s Like “A War Zone” At The Border Wall As Injured Migrants Are Being Sent Back Without Medical Treatment

Things That Matter

It’s Like “A War Zone” At The Border Wall As Injured Migrants Are Being Sent Back Without Medical Treatment

For years we’ve heard of horrific stories from the U.S.-Mexico border, and things only seemed to get worse under the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policies.

Now, with new segments of border wall finished – including 15-feet-tall segments with barbed wire – many people who attempt to cross the border wall are falling victim to severe injuries as they fall to the ground or are torn up by razor wire. Although many are falling into the U.S. side of the border, where they should be receiving medical care once apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol, many are being immediately returned to Mexico.

U.S. Border Patrol is returning severely injured migrants to Mexico without medical care.

Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful wall,” which has torn apart communities along the border region and done nothing to curb migrants and refugees from attempting to reach the U.S., is leading to crippling injuries to people attempting to cross the border amid worsening situations in their home countries.

According to one Texas pastor, Rosalio Sosa, who runs a network of migrant shelters known as Red de Albergues Para Migrantes (RAM), told Dallas News a shelter in Palomas gets about seven injured migrants per week and the situation there looks like that of a “war zone,” with the number of injured piling up.

“This has become a war zone, with war injuries and no resources,” he said. “But governments need to know that deserts, rivers, walls are no match for hunger.”

According to Sosa, Border Patrol routinely sends migrants to Palomas with a range of injuries from minor to serious including those who have fallen off the Border Wall. 

“They just pick them up and send them over here. No wheelchair, nothing. Not even a Tylenol,” Sosa said.  The shelter works to get the men medical care in Mexico.

Many migrants confirm what the pastor is alleging, saying they’re being dumped like garbage.

Many of those who have attempted to enter the U.S. are fleeing political unrest and economic uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They allege that they are being “dumped” back in “Mexico like garbage” without any help or medical aide from Border Patrol.

Pedro Gomez, who attempted to flee Guatemala in January, said his ankles were broken after falling from the wall and he had to crawl to the US border agent’s vehicle.

“I couldn’t even get up, so I crawled inside the migra [US Border patrol] vehicle”, Mr. Gomez said, adding: “they dumped us in Mexico like garbage, a piece of trash. They said ‘stand up, stand up.’ I don’t know where I found the strength.”

For their part, the Border Patrol denies any allegations of mistreatment.

The U.S. Border Patrol has routinely denied any wrongdoing. In fact, in response to multiple allegations from the pastor and several migrants who claim mistreatment, the agency released a statement rejecting the claims. It said the agents regularly encountered injured migrants and administered medical aid to those hurt.

“We routinely encounter injured people on the border, most of which are individuals that have entered the country illegally. When it is apparent that someone is hurt we will administer first aid and request assistance as needed,” El Paso sector border patrol chief, Gloria Chavez, said in the statement.

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Handcuffed And Pepper-Sprayed By New York Police Officers

Things That Matter

A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Handcuffed And Pepper-Sprayed By New York Police Officers

Police brutality is a civil rights violation that has long affected the Black community as well as other minority groups. While the issue has been highlighted extensively by these communities it seems that it’s only been very recently that the general public has developed concern over the issue. This is despite the fact that in so many ways police brutality has not only deeply harmed communities but also sparked major political and social movements such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s and anti-war demonstrations. So much so in fact, the United States has developed an ill-famed reputation for cases of police brutality. Particularly when it comes to the police’s mistreatments and murders of minors like Nolan Davis, Cameron Tillman, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Over the weekend, an incident in Rochester, New York brought attention to the issue once again after body camera showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.

The incident which took place last Friday showed officers brutally restraining a little girl after responding to a call for “family trouble.”

The Rochester Police Department in New York released body camera footage Sunday showing officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl while responding to a call for “family trouble.”

In two disturbing videos, the little girl can be screaming for her father as officers attempt to restrain her. “You’re acting like a child,” a male officer yells at her in the video. “I am a child,” she screams in reply.

“I’m gonna pepper-spray you, and I don’t want to,” a woman officer warns the girl while attempting to put her feet inside of the police car.

“This is your last chance. Otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs,” the officer adds.

The girl begged the officers not to spray her before they did.

Once pepper-sprayed, she cried, “It went in my eyes, it went in my eyes.” The child and her family, nor any of the officers involved in the incident have yet to be identified.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK,” Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan of Rochester said at a press conference Sunday. “It’s not. I don’t see that is who we are as a department.”

This incident isn’t the first for the Rochester Police.

The police department’s top officials resigned last September after protests broke out over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester officers put a hood over his head. Prude’s face had been pinned to the ground by police.

Speaking about the incident Rochester’s Mayor Lovely Warren said that the pepper spray incident was “not something any of us should want to justify.”

Warren said watching the video of the young girl reminded her of her own daughter. “I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she’s a child. She’s a baby,” Warren explained. “And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. I saw my baby’s face in her face.”

According to Warren, she has asked for the police chief to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation in relation to the incident. She also noted that she welcomed a review from the police accountability board.

The incident reportedly occurred after officers responding to a report of “family trouble” around 3:21 p.m last Friday. Police reported to the area and were alerted that the 9-year-old girl was “upset” and “suicidal” and had indicated that she “wanted to kill herself and that she wanted to kill her mom.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.

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