Arranged marriages and ICE, Trump in El Paso, Enforcement Backlash

Daniela Gerson
Feb 14 · 12 min read
“With borders hardening around the world, more people than ever are taking on the slippery, often tortuous challenge of proving their relationships to the authorities, which often boils down to having their love recognised as legitimate by the state,” Niki Seth-Smith writes for openDemocracy. “I’m one of them, or fear I soon will be”. Photo credit: Flickr/Ludalmg90.

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#MustListen/ #MustRead
Many stories of family separation and the Central American caravans have been reported, but the podcast “The Boy in the Caravan” stands out in its intimate and gripping portrayal of one boy’s journey and his mother’s quest to bring him to safety. After gangs in El Salvador tried to recruit 15-year-old Vladi he joined a caravan at his mother’s urging, Monica Campbell reports for PBS Frontline and PRI’s The World. Campbell travels between Vladi’s mother in Northern California and his place in limbo at a shelter in Tijuana at a moment when young asylum seekers are facing more obstacles to enter the U.S. (The piece also covers legal efforts to provide representation to kids in immigration hearings.)

Matchmaking has been a Chinese tradition for thousands of years, and in the US it has sometimes also been used to help overcome immigration obstacles. But fears of government scrutiny of arranged marriages has some Chinese immigrants resisting the practice, reports City Limits. “Some might say having a preference for green card holders or U.S. citizens is not a relationship purely about love. But who is to say what love is?” writes Theodora Yu.

The Washington Post tracked the network of undocumented workers from Trump’s summer retreat to Costa Rica. The Post interviewed six people from Santa Teresa de Cajon, Costa Rica, a town that has provided a pipeline of undocumented immigrants to the golf course. Workers now back in Costa Rica who helped build the course remember it as grueling work. But the hours they put in constructing Trump National Golf Club helped them buy homes and start businesses. And their hard work supported Trump in building his empire. “Many of us helped him get what he has today,” one former worker said. A total of 16 people throughout Latin America told the Post they had worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster and management knew they were undocumented.

Budget Negotiations
On Monday night, lawmakers reached a tentative deal on immigration to avoid another shutdown that includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing rather than the $5.7 billion Trump demanded.

During negotiations the number of ICE detention beds emerged as a key issue. Democrats pushed for ICE to detain fewer people, reports Vox. But the proposal only limits detentions of people apprehended inside the country, meaning that DHS could still detain immigrants at the border and airports without restriction, leading to more people in detention instead of less as the proposal intends, reports The Daily Beast.

El Paso Rally
In response to Trump’s visit to El Paso this week, residents split into clearly demarcated groups those cheering the president and the counter protest led by Texas Democrat and possible presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, reports the Washington Post. El Paso Times fact checked the president’s speech: The number of people at his rally was inflated, crime stats from Ciudad Juarez were correct.

Miles away from the protest, more than 300 Central American migrants walked around the border wall into the U.S. and turned themselves into authorities, El Paso Times reports. Border Patrol said it was the first mass crossing in the area, following similar actions in New Mexico.

Smugglers are offering migrants the option of crossing the border and turning themselves in to Border Patrol in remote areas to avoid “metering” where U.S. authorities would make them wait in cities like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana for an opportunity to apply for asylum, reports The Dallas Morning News. “This is the newest market, if you will, of desperate people who will try to get to the United States, and they [smugglers] are sophisticated in terms of how they are marketing themselves and using what they hear and see from the U.S. government,” said one immigration expert from a Washington-based think tank.

Last week the U.S. secretary of defense authorized 250 troops move to Eagle Pass, Texas where a caravan is believed to be approaching, reports Voice of America. Then on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom called border troops “political theater” and ordered the withdrawal of 360 National Guard members from the border, reports LA Times.

A border barrier has been used to inflict pain on migrants since at least 1978, when the Carter administration was criticized for building a “razor-sharp wall” that could sever body parts, reports The Intercept. Since then, the border fence has grown, each time with different measures meant to deter migrants through stories of harm caused by trying to pass. The Trump administration will add another 150 miles of razor wire to the border by March 31, border residents oppose the plan, reports Quartz. Border enforcement uses a wide range of technology, from cargo scanners to surveillance towers to ground sensors, that go far beyond a barrier constructed along the border, reports the Washington Post.

Two organizers of a migrant caravan making its way through Mexico were deported to Honduras last week in what group members say is a pattern of members being targeted by Mexican authorities, reports Arizona Republic.

Three months after a caravan of an estimated 6,000 Central Americans reached Tijuana, few are still waiting at the border. Most of the estimated 3,000 people who sought asylum have seen an immigration officer and others have decided to stay in Tijuana, return home or go to other parts of Mexico, reports Arizona Republic. Meanwhile, members of a separate caravan have been growing restless at the process of metering as they wait for asylum claims to be processed in Piedras Negras, a Mexican border town across from Texas, reports AP.

Asylees & Refugees
Two transgender women, Roxsana and Charlotte (pseudonym), became friends when traveling in the caravan, but only Charlotte survived, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Roxsana died in ICE custody in May 2018 and Charlotte now faces the long process of applying for asylum, showing how LGBT migrants are vulnerable in all parts of the migration process.

The Trump administration plans to send asylum seekers to Ciudad Juarez under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, but a recent attack against the police station there has migrants worried that the city is not safe for them, reports Texas Monthly.

Mexican authorities have begun detaining minors who are escorted by lawyers to U.S. ports of entry to seek asylum, in what lawyers are calling a political move that puts them at risk in the moment when they almost reach safety, reports BuzzFeed News.

TPS & Special Visas
Migrants from Honduras and Nepal filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. government for ending Temporary Protected Status on racist grounds. The two countries were not included in a previous lawsuit that blocked TPS termination for people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Haiti. Hundreds protested in front of the White House on Tuesday to call for legislation that would allow TPS holders to apply for permanent residency, reports the Washington Post.

To address an overloaded immigration court system, special one-time legal pathways to immigration could be provided for Central Americans, such as family or limited-time humanitarian visas to ease the current crunch, Roberto Suro and T. Alexander Aleinikoff recommend in an opinion piece in the LA Times. Suro is a Migratory Notes board member.

Local law enforcement in Davie, Floria believe that a criminal group has been targeting undocumented immigrants for kidnapping and robbery because they are unlikely to report criminal activity to police because of their immigration status, reports South Florida Sun Sentinel.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday asks the government to end the practice of video conferences for immigrants’ hearings, arguing they infringe on an immigrants’ constitutional rights, reports The New York Times. The lawsuit cites cases of immigrants unable to communicate with their lawyers, uncomfortable sharing private details of their cases while in detention, and facing technical glitches that prevented their access to a fair trial. Almost 126,000 hearings were conducted by video conference in FY2018, 14 percent more than the year before, reports WNYC.

Worn down by immigration quotas and anti-immigrant policies laid out by DOJ, some immigration judges have decided to leave the profession altogether, reports BuzzFeed News.

A month after the Tornillo tent camp for minors was closed, activists and lawmakers want to close another temporary shelter for minors in Homestead, Florida, where they say children are being locked up for long periods of time because of a legislative loophole, reports Miami Herald.

Letters from San Diego residents to immigrant detainees, which have helped immigrants find friendship and comfort in difficult circumstances, were made public last week, reports The New York Times. The letters show the personal side of immigration at a moment of intense political debate in the country. (It’s not the first time a San Diego resident has written to young detainees: Clara Breed wrote hundreds of letters to students in Japanese incarceration camps.)

Trump is not the first president to expand the detention system. Immigrant detention has grown under every administration since Clinton, reports The Marshall Project.

ICE has ramped up raids in parts of North Carolina where sheriffs have refused to cooperate with immigration enforcement, reports the Charlotte Observer. “The agency said it’s been forced to adopt a ‘new normal’: one that resulted in the arrest of hundreds of immigrants living here illegally this week,” writes Teo Armus. In response, immigrant activists have organized an “ICE Watch” made up of volunteers who approach suspected ICE agents to ask them to identify themselves, reports Winston-Salem Journal.


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That’s all for Migratory Notes 102. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.

*Daniela Gerson is a co-founder and the editor of Migratory Notes. She is an assistant professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and West Coast Director of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media (CCEM) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York (CUNY). Previously she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; editor of a trilingual hyperlocal publication, Alhambra Source; staff immigration reporter for the New York Sun; and a contributor to outlets including WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, CNN, and The New York Times. She recently wrote The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany for Refugees Deeply. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera is a co-founder and the executive editor of Migratory Notes. She is a multimedia reporter for CALmatters covering health and social services, including immigration. Previously she reported on community health, for Southern California Public Radio. She’s also reported on immigration for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she won a Best of the West award for her work on sex trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico; and before that she covered a variety of beats and issues for the Denver Post including urban affairs and immigration. This week, she moderated a panel for Zocalo Public Square about How Immigrants are Influencing Health. You can find her on Twitter@1eaguilera

*Yana Kunichoff is a special projects editor for Migratory Notes. She currently covers public education for Chalkbeat Chicago. She was project manager for Migrahack 2016 in Chicago. She has also produced feature-length documentaries and a pop-culture web series for Scrappers Film Group; worked as a fellow with City Bureau, where she won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award for an investigation into fatal police shootings; and covered race and poverty issues for the Chicago Reporter. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Chicago magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter @yanazure

*Anna-Cat Brigida is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. She is a freelance reporter covering immigration and human rights in Mexico and Central America. She began covering immigration as a journalism student at USC Annenberg and later moved to Central America to work as a reporter. She has covered the region since 2015 and has been based in El Salvador since January 2018. She has also worked as a Spanish-language writer for Fusion out of the Mexico City office. Her work has appeared in Washington Post, The Guardian, Univision, LA Times, and Al Jazeera, among others. You can find her on Twitter @AnnaCat_Brigida

*Migratory Notes Advisory Board: Daniel Connolly, Maria Kari, Dan Kowalski,Paola Marizán, Mirta Ojito, Roberto Suro, Phuong Ly, Fernanda Santos

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

Daniela Gerson

Written by

Ass’t Prof @CSUNJournalism and Senior Fellow @CCEMNewmarkJ. Co-creator #MigratoryNotes. Subscribe for free: @dhgerson

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

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