WXXI AM News

undocumented immigrants

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Last Thursday, in Wayne County, Everardo Donoteo-Reyes was sentenced to 20 years in state prison and five years probation for the murder of his girlfriend Selena Hidalogo-Calderon and her infant son, Owen. Both Calderon and Reyes were undocumented immigrants. While their families and communy continue to grieve, soon a contested new law could help undocumented domestic violence victims get to safety.

 

The Monroe County Legislature on Tuesday night voted 17 – 10 authorizing County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to sue New York State over the new ‘Green Light Law’ which allows driver's licenses to be issued to undocumented immigrants.

Dinolfo says the county’s pending lawsuit will assert, among other claims, that the new law violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by putting citizens and non-citizens on unequal footing under the law.

The first lawsuit has been filed against New York's new law to permit undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses as Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the new law.

The lawsuit filed by Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns seeks court action to prevent the state from forcing county clerks who are against the new law to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Kearns. speaking a few days before the suit was filed, said he believes the New York law is unconstitutional.

New York's county clerks are meeting in Syracuse on Monday to discuss a new law that requires county departments of motor vehicles to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, some county clerks who are opposed to the law are pressing forward on a federal lawsuit.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

A leading business group has come out in favor of granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, increasing the chances of the bill’s passage in the state Legislature this year.

Heather Briccetti, president of The Business Council, said reinstituting the policy of issuing New York state driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants will make the roads safer and help businesses that are seeking workers during a labor shortage.

Democrats in the State Assembly say they plan to move ahead with a bill to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in New York. But the Assembly speaker said he wants to educate people about the benefits of the measure first.

Speaker Carl Heastie said Democrats, who are in the majority in his house, have the votes to pass what’s known as the Green Light Bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a standard driver’s license.

“We are supportive of moving the driver’s licenses for all (legislation),” Heastie said.

ICE.gov

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials without a judicial warrant may no longer enter New York courthouses in order to observe or arrest immigrants, according to new rules from the Chief Administrative Judge of the New York Unified Court System.

Immigration advocates have pushed for the change for two years, after ICE began aggressively pursuing immigrants for arrest in and around state courts.

What are conditions like for people who have migrated to the U.S.-Mexican border? That’s the question a group of local community members had as they traveled down to meet migrants, DREAMers, and deported veterans. They join us to share what they observed, and we discuss the broader issues related to the situation at the border.

In studio:

  • Rev. Ray Schellinger, American Baptist Churches Global Consultant for Immigrants and Refugees
  • Hannah Vickner Hough, immigration program director at the Legal Aid Society
  • Kirt Schutt, retired senior probation officer with the Monroe County Office of Probation/Community Corrections

Workers rights advocates are planning rallies across the state for a bill that would give farmworkers access to labor protections they don't have.

Right now, in the U.S., federal law states that all workers have the same basic rights -- including overtime pay, the right to unionize, and a day of rest -- except for farmworkers.

West Crosgrove is with Rural and Migrant Ministries. They’re advocating for a state bill that would extend those protections to farmworkers.

With stricter immigration policies in the United States, children of undocumented immigrants are worried about their families being separated due to deportation.

"You wake up every morning with that thought in your head: Maybe today's the day that our family could get split, or today's the day my parents or I could go to jail, or whatever. It’s pretty scary."