Things That Matter

Troubling Videos Show ICE Agents Arresting A Man In A Denver Courthouse

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recently wrote a letter pleading with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respect the courts and schools of Denver. The move comes after ICE agents detained people at Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse and after a raid conducted near Colorado High School Charter in March, according to The Denver Post.

This week, videos have surfaced on YouTube which show ICE agents arresting an undocumented man at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse as people plea for police officers to intervene.

CREDIT: Julie Gonzales / YouTube

On April 6, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock wrote a letter that was endorsed by Denver County officials asking for ICE agents to stop the practice of arresting people at courthouses and schools. Part of the complaint in the letter is that ICE agents were referring to themselves as police officers instead of ICE agents. Hancock believes ICE strategy erodes the trust a community is supposed to have in local law enforcement.

“Identifying yourselves as ‘police’ confuses and erodes the trust between our local police and the immigrant community endangering the community at large,” the letter reads. “Again, Denver’s concerns in this regard are being increasingly expressed by city leaders and local law enforcement officials elsewhere in the United States.”

ABC7 Denver reports that the videos were posted on YouTube under the direction of Meyer Law Office, which represents several undocumented immigrants.

CREDIT: Julie Gonzales / YouTube

According to ABC 7 Denver, Meyer Law Office posted the videos to prove that ICE has no interest or intent of cooperating with local law enforcement. Attorney Hans Meyer argues ICE is showing a complete disregard for the requests made by local officials.

“We have reached a major crossroads here,” Meyer told ABC7 Denver.

CREDIT: Julie Gonzales / YouTube

Meyer added: “The mayor, the city council, they need to step up and pass substantive sanctuary policy and do it now.”

The arrest shown below was conducted at the very courthouse the Denver mayor mentioned in his letter to ICE.

CREDIT: Julie Gonzales / YouTube

According to The Denver Post, another video of a man being arrested on May 5 is raising more questions. Matthew Keller, who is an attorney for Meyer Law Office, was with the man and told The Denver Post that the ICE agents involved did not produce a warrant. Instead, they handed him a piece of paper with the contact information for their public information officer.

An ICE spokesman has defended the move to start arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses, saying that ICE doesn’t consider them to be sensitive locations — despite what the mayor of Denver says.

CREDIT: Julie Gonzales / YouTube

“We asked them to respect sensitive locations and take measures around these sensitive areas so as not to potentially put bystanders at risk, hinder the prosecution of crimes, or compromise our police-community relationships vital to public safety,” the mayor’s spokeswoman Jenna Espinoza told The Denver Post, while confirming that ICE has not responded to the mayor yet. “We will continue to drive a clear and unwavering message to ICE that this is not the right approach and they must find another route to enforcing immigration laws.”

You can watch the videos of the arrests below: the arrest made on April 28.

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The arrest made on May 5.


READ: His Wife Had To Stop Him From Going Back To Work Since He Only Has 30 Days Before ICE Takes Him Back

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Colorado Organization Raises Money To Offer Relief Checks To Undocumented People In The State

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Colorado Organization Raises Money To Offer Relief Checks To Undocumented People In The State

Carlos Ebert / Flickr / Unsplash

Undocumented people are being left out of relief funds provided by the U.S. government. A lack of a Social Security number is why so many people have been denied relief assistance as the country grapples with an evergrowing number of COVID-19 cases. Organizations and states are stepping up to bridge that gap and give undocumented people a chance to make it through this crisis.

The Village Exchange Center in northern Aurora, Colorado is raising money to help undocumented families in Colorado.

The U.S. Congress passed an initial relief package of $2.2 trillion that came with $1,200 checks for all eligible Americans. One community left out is the undocumented community because they do not have Social Security numbers. This leaves millions of peoples without any financial safety net exacerbating the problems imposed by this pandemic.

The Village Exchange Center has sent 250 undocumented residents $1,000 checks.

According to Sentinel, the Village Exchange Center teamed received funds from the Denver Foundation, the Rose Community Foundation in Glendale, a third anonymous donor, and 30 individual donors. The $250,000 was already dispatched to the recipients chosen by the Village Exchange Center through money transfers or checks, depending on whether or not the recipient had a bank account.

This was the Village Exchange Center’s first round of COVID-19 relief payments to Colorado’s undocumented community.

The organization chose those who would receive the payments based on those who were laid off from jobs at restaurants, hotels, and other service industry jobs.

“They have no access to unemployment, they will not be getting a stimulus check or any other form of assistance, even though most of them pay taxes,” Mark Newhouse, a trustee at the Denver Foundation, told Sentinel. which helped build the fund. “And so, we quickly raised a quarter of a million dollars to run a pilot across the state.”

The organization is basing its work on the actions of California.

On April 15, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state fund created to offer undocumented people relief funds. Gov. Newsom allocated $75 million in taxpayer money to give to undocumented people living in California. There are an estimated 2.2 million undocumented immigrants who live in California. Undocumented people contribute more than $10 billion in taxes to the federal government when they file each year. Gov. Newsom’s administration has been sending undocumented people $500 checks to help ease their COVID-19 economic impact.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” Gov. Newsom said according to The Associated Press. The governor continued by acknowledging that 10 percent of California’s workforce is undocumented. Gov. Newsom also highlighted that undocumented workers in California paid $2.5 billion in local and state taxes last year.

The Village Exchange Center is currently raising more money to offer to more undocumented people living in Colorado.

The first round of money was already distributed but the application for the next round of money will be available when the funds are secured. According to Sentinel, there were 180,000 undocumented people who lived in Colorado. The Village Exchange Center’s goal is to raise enough money to give each undocumented people in Colorado a $1,000 check to ease the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ:

Undocumented Immigrants In California Can Now Apply For COVID-19 Financial Assistance

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Undocumented Immigrants In California Can Now Apply For COVID-19 Financial Assistance

Rich Pedroncelli / Getty

Update May 20, 2020, 9:16 p.m. PST: Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have been left in the dark when it comes to government assistance to weather the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, California has set aside $75 million to offer aid to undocumented immigrants living in the state.

Undocumented Californians can apply for a one-time relief payment from the state government.

California Governor Gavin Newsom created a fund to help ease the financial burden of the health crisis on 150,000 undocumented people living in the state. Those who qualify are eligible for one-time payments of $500 and up to $1,000 total per household. The fund was created to help undocumented people who are being left out of federal relief payments.

“We know that money is limited and doesn’t reflect the amount of taxes that the undocumented pay in California,” Olimpia Blanco, a coordinator at Carecen, told The New York Times. “We believe we owe it to the community to make the process as equitable as possible and uphold the first-come, first-served nature of it.”

The relief payments will help millions of children living with undocumented parents.

The children, while U.S. citizens, are not eligible for federal funds because of their age. California’s plans are a way to bridge that gap created by the federal government to relieve as many people living in the U.S. as possible. Undocumented people contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. in taxes every year. These tax dollars are what is being used to fund the federal $2.2 trillion stimulus package that has bailed out major corporations.

California is one of a handful of states that are implementing programs to help their undocumented communities stay afloat during the pandemic. In other states, cities and organizations have picked up the responsibility of helping their undocumented community.

Original: In March, the federal government passed a record $2.2 trillion stimulus plan meant to help dampen the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Part of the stimulus bill included $1,200 cash payments to all eligible U.S. residents – however, the bill left out millions of tax-paying migrants.

Since the bill passed, Democratic lawmakers in Congress have tried to introduce additional legislation that would provide relief to vulernable undocumented populations – many of whom are working in jobs deemed “essential” by state and local governments. But so far they’ve come up short.

California becomes the first state in the country to introduce Coronavirus relief funds to undocumented residents.

During his daily press briefing, Newsom said the state is committing $125 million to undocumented workers through a public-private partnership, that will include $75 million in state funds for disaster relief assistance and additional $50 million pledged by a group of philanthropic partners.

“Even if there’s gaps, we can help begin to fill them,” Newsom said. “I’m not here to suggest that $125 million is enough. But I am here to suggest that it’s a good start and I’m very proud it’s starting here in the state of California.”

Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 from the state fund, with a cap of $1,000 per household, to deal with “specific needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

Undocumented residents pay billions in taxes but up until have been ineligible for any financial aid.

In announcing the move, Newsom stressed that undocumented workers are essential and overrepresented in many sectors keeping the state afloat, including health care, agriculture and food, manufacturing and logistics and construction.

It’s estimated that about 10% of California’s workforce is undocumented. And though they paid over $2.5 billion in local and state taxes last year, they benefit from neither unemployment insurance nor the $2.2 trillion stimulus signed by President Trump. Private donors to the $50 million philanthropy effort include the Emerson Collective, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, James Irvine Foundation, California Endowment and Blue Shield Foundation, Newsom said. 

Since the pandemic hit California, other grassroots financial assistance programs for undocumented workers affected by COVID-19-related job losses have been created in San Francisco and Sonoma CountyA relief fund for local migrant youth was launched in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and Alameda counties and recently reopened its application process.

Immigrant advocate groups quickly applauded the state’s efforts.

Credit: @NILC / Twitter

“This virus doesn’t discriminate — it doesn’t care about race, class, or wealth. Our response to this crisis shouldn’t either. California is leading at a time when Congress should be doing more for immigrants in #COVID19 relief efforts,” the National Immigration Law Center said on Facebook.

“Today’s announcement is a necessary first step to close the widening gap between immigrants and vital assistance that could mean the difference between life and death for millions of Californians,” the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) said in a statement Wednesday.

Gov. Newsom also announced measures meant to support the growing population of unemployed residents.

Credit: Thomas Ellington / Flickr

The state Employment Development Department has received a record 2.7 million new claims for regular jobless benefits since March 12. When you put that into comparison against the Great Recession in 2008, there were a total of 2.5 million unemployment claims.

The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program approved by Congress will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits retroactive to Feb. 2 for those who have lost income between that date and the week ending Dec.31. The program also will provide an additional $600 per week in benefits until July 31.

The efforts to more quickly distribute benefits to struggling Californians come after criticism that the state is lagging behind.

Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Getty

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) said Wednesday that other states, including Michigan and New York, had already begun sending out benefits to independent contractors and the self-employed. California, he said, has acted “way too slowly. They are behind a lot of other states.”

Newsom’s comments came a day after state Labor Secretary Julie Su announced that a new online portal would be created in the next two weeks allowing independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed to file documents to obtain benefits.