Migratory Notes 110

Trans asylum court, DHS shakeup, Miller’s next plans

Daniela Gerson
Apr 11 · 14 min read
California Governor Gavin Newsom visited El Salvador this week, , reports Elizabeth for CALMatters. Accompanying him was State Senator Wendy Carrillo, who . Photo courtesy of Carrillo.

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Reveal goes deep into the . Out of 627 asylum cases heard in six years, a California immigration judge rejected 600 of them. Her record had a huge impact on one specific community: transgender people who came to the United States because they were afraid for their lives. Patrick Michels interviews the judge, who is now retired, and looks at how she, ironically, opened up more opportunities for trans people across the country to seek asylum. Alice Driver, two years ago, left at dawn from an El Salvador bus station with a sex worker on the beginning of her journey to seek asylum in the U.S. They parted ways in Mexico, but she caught back up with her recently in San Diego.

“Unlike in much of the world, where most murdered women are killed by their husbands, partners or family members, half in Honduras are killed by drug cartels and gangs,” Sonia Nazario writes in The New York Times. “And the ways they are being killed — shot in the vagina, cut to bits with their parts distributed among various public places, strangled in front of their children, skinned alive — .” The Honduran state often fails to protect these women, and sometimes “is the predator,” writes Nazario. And U.S.-backed support for social changes in Honduras, as well as victims’ chances of receiving asylum in the U.S., are diminishing.

The New York Times also provides a broad analysis of the situation at the border: . “The very nature of immigration to America changed after 2014, when families first began showing up in large numbers. The resulting crisis has overwhelmed a system unable to detain, care for and quickly decide the fate of tens of thousands of people who claim to be fleeing for their lives,” write Michael D. Shear, Miriam Jordan and Manny Fernandez. “For years, both political parties have tried — and failed — to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, mindful that someday the government would reach a breaking point.”

A couple points that came out of Twitter threads responding to the story:

Shake Up at DHS
The , who resigned Sunday, looks the part of enforcer. That fits with his last role — as CBP commissioner. But Kevin McAleenan also supports aid to Central America as a deterrent to migration and is liked on both sides of the aisle, reports The Washington Post. The question is, how long will he last? McAleenan will be the ninth top level DHS official, as , reports CNN. “,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post.

Other recent staffing changes:

Trump and Miller “ — or illegal,” Dara Lind writs in Vox. The shake up appears , in part to help motivate Trump’s base ahead of midterm elections, reports Politico. Plans from the Trump administration, many created by Miller, include:

Yet, ultimately, Trump’s actual . “While Trump recently told senior aides that White House adviser Stephen Miller is his unofficial immigration czar, he told reporters on Wednesday that his son-in-law Jared Kushner would be out with an ‘exciting’ immigration plan ‘soon,’” Politico reports.

We’re Full
Trump has used the line recently that the country is “” and “can’t handle any more” immigrants. But the federal government the number of guest workers, The New York Times reports. And there is, indeed, room. A Times analysis and visualization breaks down that there are .

Meanwhile, the . “Alongside the foreign guest workers and the sizable American staff is another category of employees, mostly those who work on the pair of lush golf courses near Mar-a-Lago,” write Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal and Patricia Mazzei in The New York Times. “Not offered apartments, they have been picked up by Trump contractors from groups of undocumented laborers at the side of the road; hired through staffing companies that assume responsibility for checking their immigration status; or brought onto the payroll with little apparent scrutiny of their Social Security cards and green cards, some of which are fake…an embarrassing reality for a president who has railed against undocumented immigrants, one his company is scrambling to erase.” But if for its hiring practices remains a mystery, reports The Washington Post.

Smuggling Business
The business of smuggling continues to push migrants toward the option of traveling as a family. Traveling north from Guatemala for an adult migrant could cost up to $11,700, but , reports The Guardian. “It’s never been easier for us to get families in,” said one coyote. As smugglers have capitalized on lax border controls between Mexico and Central America, and the comprehensive Mexican bus system, of Gracias a Dios, reports NPR.

Asylum
Monday, based on plaintiffs who argued that the program did not provide sufficient protections to migrants sent back to Mexico. The order will go into effect on Friday, but the . The while their cases are decided, reports The Texas Tribune.

Family Separation
, reports NBC News. And when they are reunited, , reports HuffPost investigating impacts one year after zero tolerance went into effect.“Once affable sons and daughters are now angry, withdrawn and unable to sleep. Some don’t want to go to school or leave the house, for fear of being separated once again, and constantly burst into tears,” writes Angelina Chapin.

Despite a judge’s ruling to halt separations, , reports Slate. The administration considers illegal reentry as a “serious criminal history,” which can be ground for separation under last year’s ruling against separations.

Border
Although Trump has not yet followed through on his threats to close the border, the reassignment of 750 Border Patrol agents away from border work has, reports Supply Chain Dive. There are an estimated 23,000 trips a day, by foot, between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, and , reports The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t want to jeopardize all I have worked for because of one person’s stubbornness,” said college student Luis Garcia, who recently moved to El Paso to ensure he will not miss classes if the border shuts down.

About 5,000 troops are still stationed at the border. On top of an uncertain mission, they , reports The New York Times.

Detention
The federal government is considering as facilities near the border have been become too full to house the increase in families, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Late last month the Southern California city of , the Orange County Register reports. But instead of closing, the troubled detention center could actually expand, and still under GEO Group, just without the city as an intermediary. This is part of a trend in California, and elsewhere in the country, of consequences, reports AP. The changes happen weeks after a , the latest of various health issues reported at the detention center.

Climate Change
In the Georgia city known as the Ellis Island of the South, immigrants from countries including Syria, Somalia, Rwanda have arrived, reporting fleeing the effects of climate change — droughts, intense storms, and floods — but , reports PRI’s The World.

In Guatemala, that is already prone to droughts, reports Reuters.

Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
Advocates in favor of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants see a chance to including Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York, reports NBC.

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* is a co-founder and the editor of Migratory Notes. She is an assistant professor of Journalism at and West Coast Director of the (CCEM) at the 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 for Refugees Deeply. You can find her on Twitter

* is a co-founder and the executive editor of Migratory Notes. She is a multimedia reporter for covering health care policy 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 worked for the Denver Post covering urban affairs and immigration. Her latest story was . You can find her on Twitter

* 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 and for Scrappers Film Group; worked as a fellow with City Bureau, where she won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award for; 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

* 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

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Daniela Gerson

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Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we synthesize exceptional immigration journalism.