Migratory Notes 11

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Targeting the mothers
 The Trump administration has scored its first immigration win: stopping mothers from crossing the border, Reuters reports. Official numbers show a 93% drop since December of parents and children apprehended at the Mexican border. DHS officials told Reuters they were not surprised since women with children, the fastest growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, had been a top priority since the day after the election.
 
 DHS Secretary Kelly threatened to separate mothers from their children when apprehended. In a detailed look at the development of this policy, Reuters’ Julia Ainsley writes that “When Kelly and his advisers saw the numbers dropping, they announced they were shelving the idea of separating women and children — at least for now.”

Deportations up or down?
Despite widespread reports of stepped up enforcement, deportations in the first three months of 2017 are officially down 20% over the same period of time last year, The New York Times reports in a story about Mexico’s changing attitudes toward deportees. Elizabeth Malkin notes, “The number of deportations often fluctuates considerably from month to month, for a variety of reasons, and an official with the American immigration enforcement agency cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions from the recent decline.”

Those who are being deported via raids, however, appear to be following a trend. Fusion reports that of 367 who were detained in raids last week, it appears that “ICE is making the move in these raids to going after not hardened criminals, but anyone with a DUI.”

$$ and immigrants
Being a millionaire does not guarantee legal status, or save you from deportation. Voice of San Diego profiles a man they call Jose who has been living in the US for 23 years, and who with his U.S. citizen wife has a combined net worth of $5 million and four American-born children.

Honduran immigrants are sending more money back to family members than usual, El Heraldo reports. In the first three months of the year remittances were up 16.3% over the previous year. Anxiety over Trump appears to have caused more than a million Hondurans to send additional money. Before the “panorama of uncertainty” remittances only increased by about 2% a year.

The milk lobby is saying that immigration raids on American dairy farms could send milk prices soaring to $8 a gallon of milk, according to Hoosier Ag Today. Jaime Castaneda, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Trade Policy for the National Milk Producers Federation, estimated that 80 percent of the nation’s milk supply comes from dairy farms that employ foreign labor.

Sanctuary
In San Francisco, hearings began challenging Trump’s executive sanctuary order on the grounds that the president cannot enforce federal immigration law by threatening to withdraw funds. The government’s lawyer responded Friday that the executive order applies to a small pot of grant money, not the hundreds of millions of dollars that cities and counties around the country say is at stake, AP reports.
 
For now, the list of cities not complying with federal immigration authorities is on hold. ICE said it needs time to “analyze and refine its reporting methodologies” after widespread criticism.

Who’s in charge?
Hard-line restrictionist advocates, one previously of FAIR the other from Center for Immigration Studies, have been hired for two immigration agencies, CNN reports.

Take a stand against the filth. Those were the words in the prepared remarks of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to border patrol agents in Tuscon. He toned them down in his actual speech saying: “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.” he said. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first … we first take our stand,” Vice reports. 
 
Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue harsher charges against undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, or repeatedly cross into the U.S. illegally, and he promised to add 125 immigration judges in the next two years to address a backlog of immigration cases
 
Despite all the enforcement initiatives, George W. Bush believes that a pathway to citizenship will eventually become policy. “I laid out what I thought was a comprehensive plan that would work in an Oval Office address when I was the president. I still think that’s going to be the plan that ends up being adopted at some point in time,” he said in an interview with NPR. “There needs to be a way for somebody to be able to get in line to become a citizen so long as they meet certain criteria.”

A deportation force
The Washington Post reported the Trump Administration is moving quickly on its deportation force having secured 33,000 more detention beds and is considering ways to speed up the hiring of hundreds of new Customs and Border Patrol officers, including ending polygraph and physical fitness tests in some cases” Note, CBP prospective officers have likely the highest rates of failure on the lie detector test of any government agency, with only ⅓ passing.

With plans to increase enforcement, the potential for abuses against immigrants also looks likely to rise, ThinkProgress reports. Less than 1% of cases against DHS agencies were investigated between 2010 and July 2016, according to data from the advocacy organization CIVIC via a FOIA request. There were also more than 1,000 complaints of sexual assault or sexual abuse from people in custody in a little more than two years.

The protections on the books for detained immigrants may also be curtailed and the office that develops regulations will be closed. New jail contracts for immigrant detainees will relax regulations, similar to those for criminals, two Homeland Security officials told The New York Times.

Border Patrol
An Afghan family of five, including an 8-month-old baby, was held in March for more than 40 hours at LAX even though they had arrived with special visas for those threatened as a result of their work with the U.S. government abroad. Weeks later, and after lawyers intervened, they received permanent legal status on Thursday. “We are gravely concerned about the actions of the government in this case,” Talia Inlender, an attorney with Public Counsel said. “There is little oversight of CBP, who appear emboldened to act with disregard for people’s rights.” (Transparency note: Talia is Daniela’s wife.)

At the Mexican border, another attorney alleges a CBP agent illegally turned away an asylum seeker and her children. “Legal groups who represent asylum-seekers say the woman’s case illustrates an increasingly common pattern under the Trump administration of CBP agents turning away asylum-seekers at the border,” Huffington Post reports.

Refugee culture
In Sacramento, which has one of the largest communities of Afghan refugees, “a gaping cultural disconnect has emerged between their understanding of what is permitted between husbands and wives in Afghanistan and what U.S. laws allow,” marriage and family therapist Homeyra Ghaffari told the Sacramento Bee.

Kansas City has become a hub for African refugees due to its affordability. But now the leaders of a growing church are concerned about the future for other refugees, KALW reports.

Sriracha, birth control, theory of relativity: all made by refugees. Copywriter Quan Tran created a public project to try and highlight refugees contributions with downloadable stamps (see image above.)

Deported vets pardoned
California Gov. Brown pardoned three deported veterans, setting up an opportunity for them to receive an immediate path to naturalization since they served in the military during wartime. This may be the first time that a military officer who was deported will have the opportunity to return to the United States. (Undocumented immigrants cannot serve in the military, but legal permanent residents can).

Planning a trip?
Tourism to the U.S. appears to be down from just about everywhere. The Washington Post cites data that shows searches for U.S. flights from China have dropped 40 percent since Trump’s inauguration, while demand in Ireland and New Zealand is down about 35 percent. But there is one exception: In Russia searches are surging 60 percent.

LA Times reports a potential loss of billions of dollars from Mexicans alone choosing to travel elsewhere.

Other people’s babies
Overseas adoptions are down to the lowest numbers in 35 years, the New York Times reports.

Talking about immigration
A new initiative is being launched in California to create a conversation that brings together diverse perspectives from sanctuary communities across the state.

And in Italy journalists from across Europe considered ways to change the narrative on immigration.

Jobs and other immigration-related opportunities

With all the focus on immigration has come new opportunities in immigration reporting and policy. Got one you want to share, please send it on. (Also, we’ve now grown to have more lawyers and policy people reading — if you’ve got a great opportunity, send that one as well.) Here are a few:

That’s all for Migratory Notes 11. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. We realize this is in no way a complete list. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email, or you can add one on this form.

Thank yous to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here are a few: Jason Alcorn, Miriam Jordan, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Mash-Up Americans, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, and countless tweeters.

*Daniela Gerson is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge with a focus on community, ethnic, and participatory media. She is also a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund. Before that she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; founding 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. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera 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. Her latest story looked at how California’s undocumented kids could be the first to lose medical care under Trump. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera