Migratory Notes 113

Elizabeth Aguilera
May 2 · 10 min read

Bodies in the desert, military lawyers, fees for asylum

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#MustListen
An anthropologist made a grisly discovery in the Sonoran desert: a human arm. A three-part Radiolab series explores why border deaths jumped during the 1990s with a new policy: “Prevention through Deterrence.” The anthropologist traced the origins of these human remains to 30-year-old Maricela, an immigrant for whom deterrence tactics were a death sentence. Her brother-in-law tried to dissuade her with stories from his own journey. “Any sacrifice made is worth it for your kids,” she told him. That was the last he heard from her.

The Trump administration has sworn that deterrence measures are the way to decrease the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Limiting Asylum
On Monday, Trump gave DHS 90 days to come up with new regulations that would charge migrants a fee to apply for asylum and work permits and expedite existing cases in the immigration system. Charging asylum seekers who flee in fear is generally considered inhumane and the U.S. would be one of the few countries in the world to do so. Sources close to the administration say that the decision was driven by Stephen Miller, who has taken on a more active role in immigration enforcement recently, reports The Washington Post. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests implementing the restrictions will not be popular among the American public, of which only 30 percent approve of making it more difficult to seek asylum. The proposal will likely be challenged in court.

Detention
On Tuesday, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant died while in the care of Health and Human Services, the third Guatemalan minor to die in U.S. custody since December, reports BuzzFeed News. The boy was transferred to a hospital from a shelter run by Southwest Key, which has previously received criticism for its treatment of migrant children. The official cause of death has not been determined, but he had a “severe infection” in his brain, reports The Washington Post.

More than $200 million in bond money posted to ICE for immigrants’ temporary release has not been returned because of a confusing system that often requires the help of a lawyer to navigate, reports The Washington Post.

A Vice News investigation revealed that the Office of Refugee Resettlement used suspect methods like dental exams to wrongly push young Bangladeshi migrants into adult detention.

Surveillance
More than 600 demonstrations against family separation were monitored by a private intelligence company that then shared the information with DHS and state law enforcement, reports The Intercept. On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren asked DHS to investigate who ordered the information and whether DHS was legally allowed to do so, reports The Hill.

In 2018, CBP searched more than 33,000 devices without a warrant, reports NBC News. A motion filed this week by the ACLU and a digital rights group aims to require immigration to obtain a warrant before searching devices.

Border Funzone?
Trump said this week that the border is like “Disneyland” for migrants, even as enforcement and detention have expanded. Two tents expected to hold 500 migrants were put up in El Paso last week for a shelter scheduled to open this week, reports The Guardian. Construction of 53 miles of border wall in New Mexico and Arizona will begin next month after DHS issued waivers for dozens of laws, such as environmental regulations and historic preservation laws, reports the Albuquerque Journal. On Monday, the Department of Defense approved sending another 320 troops to the border, reports Military Times. DHS also asked the Pentagon to loosen restrictions on military interaction with migrants so that troops at the border can have a more active role, including having military lawyers assist in deportation hearings, reports The Washington Post.

On Wednesday, the White House requested an additional $4.5 billion in emergency spending — $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion for border assistance — for the “humanitarian and security crisis” at the border. But advocates in Yuma, Arizona suspect the Trump administration is intentionally creating chaos, reports the Arizona Republic. The town of 100,000 had to declare a state of emergency because of an increase in migrants released there, even though there is free bedspace in migrant shelters in nearby Phoenix.

Fake Families
Next week, DHS will run a pilot program to conduct Rapid DNA testing of minors allegedly traveling with family members to confirm they are related, reports CNN. Border Patrol has also started to take the fingerprints and other biometrical data of minors under the age of 13 with the consent of the adult accompanying them, another measure to crack down on alleged “fake families,” reports AP.

Migration through Mexico
The most recent caravan, with 330 people, was smaller than past caravans, possibly because of fear-generating from an immigration raid targeting caravans in Mexico last week. As the Mexican government cracks down on migration, religious organizations are stepping up. Catholic shelters and organizations in Mexico will receive more funding to assist migrants after Pope Francis announced a $500,000 donation, reports Catholic News Service.

It’s not just Central American migrants who are passing through Mexico. Migrants have traveled from Haiti, Nigeria, Bangladesh and many other countries in response to Mexico’s recent message of openness towards migrants, reports NBC News. Now, the Mexican government is considering limiting transit visas, partly because of U.S. pressure.

TPS & Special Visas
Migrants who were denied Special Immigrant Juvenile Status because they were over 18 are still waiting to see if the Trump administration will comply with a ruling by a federal judge to reprocess their applications, reports Documented. More than 3,000 applications were denied just in New York because the Trump administration decided to deny the status to migrants between 18 and 21 without notice.

Two Florida lawmakers introduced legislation to extend TPS to Nicaraguans living in the U.S. because of the ongoing political crisis, reports CBS News.

Trump’s Undocumented Workers
New York’s attorney general has opened an investigation into allegations of undocumented employees at Trump’s country club working extra hours without pay, based on interviews with more than two dozen former employees, reports The Washington Post.

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*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 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. One of her recent stories is “Because we punch above our weight:” Gov. Newsom says California deserves bigger say in U.S. immigration policy. 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

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Copyright © 2019
Sent from a roaming newsroom
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Migratory Notes

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

Elizabeth Aguilera

Written by

Health/Social Services reporter @CALmatters, co-founder of #MigratoryNotes. I carry a mic & a pen. Prev: @KPCC @SDUT, @DenverPost. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

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