Migratory Notes 117
On the bus, more kids in custody, blocked border wall
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Central American migrants are “a source of substantial new revenue for Greyhound” as the company struggles with competition from Megabus, Miriam Jordan writes for The New York Times in an intimate portrait of journeys across America from the border. Where are they going? Just about everywhere across the U.S. according to a map showing where more than 7,000 migrants who passed through Casa Alitas shelters in Tucson, Arizona, were headed. “While President Trump has made a point of threatening to send migrants from the border to inland sanctuary cities that oppose his immigration policies, it is an empty threat,” Jordan writes. “Migrants are already traveling by the thousands every day to cities across the country — to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Orlando, Richmond, as well as to sanctuary cities, like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.” (Jordan also offered an inside perspective of her trip, and the retirees supporting migrants along the way, at Times Insider.)
“When Trump unveiled his plans for an immigration crackdown, kids were 24% of border crossings,” Washington Post reporter Maria Sacchetti tweets. “Now they’re 37% — and climbing. In Yuma — they’re half.” She reports from Yuma, which has seen an unprecedented influx of families and where local Latinos, who make up the majority of the population, are divided politically. “Families are increasingly heading to the desert dunes of Arizona’s southwest corner because they sense the U.S. government’s focus is on the Texas border along the Rio Grande and because Arizona has less space for detention beds, meaning they are more likely to be released quickly,” Sacchetti writes.
In Texas, the newborns of some migrant women who give birth in custody are being taken away and put into state foster care if a relative can’t be found, reports Rewire in the third in a series of stories about the treatment of pregnant migrants at the border under the zero-tolerance policy. Reuniting with their babies has been tough unless the moms get help from advocates. Doctors and other medical personnel talked to Rewire on the condition of anonymity. “I don’t know if they lose their babies for good,” one doctor told Rewire. “But I do know the process is torturous for them.”
A Guatemalan father and son in Texas are believed to be the first separated family to win permanent protection against deportation. They also were apart among the longest: 378 days — over a year. While it’s a victory for the family, Robert Moore writes in Texas Observer, it did not come without costs: the 6-year-old boy’s “time in federal custody stripped him of the ability to speak with his mother, who stayed behind in Guatemala and only speaks a rare Mayan dialect.”
A federal judge blocked Trump’s border wall plans last week in the first ruling on the issue, determining the administration’s plan to divert funding from other agencies for construction exceeded the authority of the executive branch.“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures — even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important — is not a bug in our constitutional system,” wrote the judge.
Military and DHS officials report that Trump has repeatedly pushed for a North Dakota construction firm to receive a contract to build part of the border wall,reports The Washington Post. The company’s executive is a GOP donor who frequently appears on Fox News saying he can build the wall in less than a year. The same company, Fisher Industries, has constructed a half-mile of the wall on private property in New Mexico, reports CNN. A crowdfunding project paid for the wall, estimated to cost between $6 and $8 million.
In the latest purge of top DHS administrators, USCIS director L. Francis Cissna announced his resignation, which will be effective June 1, reports The Washington Post. Why? Despite Cissna’s record as an immigration hawk the Trump administration grew frustrated with his lack of action, reports BuzzFeed News. During his tenure, Cissna got rid of DACA and TPS protections, restricted access to asylum, and increased denials of immigration applications.
Cissna’s expected replacement, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has similar views on immigration but is much less adept at navigating the immigration system, reports Vox. The USCIS union criticized the move as an attempt to end legal immigration altogether “by appointing as the leader of USCIS someone who knows nothing about immigration,” reports CNN. Cuccinelli may not pass a Senate confirmation hearing because of critics in Congress, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Immigration is an International Issue
The United Nations is asking Canada to step up and take more asylum seekers from Central America to ease Mexico’s burden, Canadian Press reports.
Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, the fifth Guatemalan minor to die in U.S. custody, left his Maya Achi community to help his family support his brother with special needs, reports Al Jazeera. “I saw other families on the news, but I never thought it would happen to me,” his father said. The family of Wilmer Josué Ramirez, the youngest of the six children who died in U.S. custody, mourned his death at a funeral service this week, reports BBC. His mother is still in detention in the U.S. and could not attend the service.
Visas & Citizenship
The Trump administration is planning on enforcing a law that would require U.S. citizen families who sponsor relatives to take on financial responsibility for them if they claim welfare benefits, and pay the government if they use programs such as food stamps or Medicaid, reports Bloomberg. The law has been on the books since former President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform legislation in 1996 but it was rarely enforced.
Religion Across Borders
For teens living transnational lives, an expanding “church youth groups and national networks like Young Life offer a home that transcends the border — a rare place to feel like they belong and sort out what it means to live for Christ in a culture of ‘the middle,’” Bekah McNeel writes in Christianity Today.
Visas for religious workers, while sometimes complex to file, are not seeing cutbacks reports Catholic News Service.
Being an American Jew working in the Palestinian West Bank on human rights prepared Marty Rosenbluth for the often lonely job in rural Georgia of being the only private immigration attorney in the nation’s strictest court, reports Jewish Telegraphic Agency. JTA is the latest news organization, including WUNC, to focus on Rosenbluth’s work in the shadow of Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center.
Who are the immigrant groups that make the most money and are the most highly educated? Axios charts them. Some of the results are predictable: Indians have the highest levels of education; Mexicans have the lowest levels. But one finding is that Asian immigrants have incredible income inequality. And European immigrants also display a vast range of educational attainment.
Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants are becoming increasingly educated in the U.S., Quartz reports. The share with college degrees are rising, while those without high school degrees are falling. Why the shift? Overall levels are down, particularly from Mexico with increasing numbers from Asia. And despite the focus on the visa, the majority are now visa overstayers.
- Trump is now using E-Verify in his golf courses after the company promised to start using the program because of news stories that revealed an undocumented workforce at Trump properties. The result: More firings of undocumented workers (Washington Post)
- For the first time, the U.S. is transporting immigrants to other locations because officials can’t process them where they enter. (Politico)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
- Refuge Beyond Reach, by David Scott FitzGerald, details how wealthy countries in the Global North systematically deny asylum seekers.
- A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, by Tom Gjelten, reports on how the US has changed since the 1965 immigration laws.
- Humanitarianism and Mass Migration Confronting the World Crisis, by Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, reveals how in this young century more than 65 million people have already been forced to leave their homes.
- Origins and Destinations: The Making of the Second Generation, by Renee Reichl Luthra, Thomas Soehl, and Roger Waldinger, investigates children of immigrants in Los Angeles and New York
- Deportation in the Americas, edited by Kenyon Zimmer and Cristina Salinas, explores deportation policy and its global impact
- We Built the Wall: How the US Keeps Out Asylum Seekers from Mexico, Central America and Beyond by Eileen Truax
- Vanishing Frontiers: the Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together, by Andrew Selee, explores the two countries intertwined histories.
- Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration by Dallas Morning News border correspondent Alfredo Corchado
- My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope by Diane Guerrero with Erica Moroz
- From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration, and Social Rights Beyond Borders, by Alexandra Délano Alonso, is the first book-length guide about consular services.
- Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration, about the Mexican government’s support for migration. PRI profiled the book’s author.
- The Making of a Dream: How a group of young undocumented immigrants helped change what it means to be American, by Laura Wides-Muñoz, covers the growth of the Dreamer movement.
Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups
- BIB Daily Edition is a free aggregation of “inside immigration news” (court cases, new regulations and the like) and “outside news” (culled from the mainstream and not-so-mainstream media).
- Kids on the Line is Reveal’s immigration newsletter.
- The New York Times launched the “limited-run” newsletter Crossing the Border.
- The Global Nation newsletter and Facebook group from PRI’s The World.
- Refugees Deeply: a thrice-weekly newsletter on migration and displacement.
- Migration Information Source from the Migration Policy Institute offers a series of newsletters.
- Documented NY’s Early Arrival newsletter aggregates information on immigration in New York City. They are also launching a Spanish-language newsletter on WhatsApp.
- The Marshall Project newsletter: criminal justice news that regularly intersects with immigration.
- Politico’s Morning Shift newsletter: a daily read on employment and immigration.
- Give Me Your Tired, an (Im)migration Newsletter offers a weekly update on global migration.
- Radio Public curates a list of podcasts about immigration and migration.
- Only Here is a KPBS podcast about the place where San Diego and Tijuana meet.
- ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? Podcast tells stories of Latino life “from the homeland to the heartland.”
- Tempest Tossed, a podcast with “conversations on immigration and refugees that go beyond the predictable soundbites.”
- Displaced, a podcast from the International Rescue Committee.
- A is for America America’s Voice discusses immigrant politics and organizing.
- Only in America: National Immigration Forum’s podcast about the people behind immigration issues.
Curriculum & Campaigns
- We Have Rights is a campaign to educate immigrants about rights in encounters with ICE
- Ecologies of Migrant Care has collected nearly 100 interviews with migrants, activists, academics and other immigration experts to shed light on the reasons why Central Americans flee and detail the networks that have developed to help them along their journey.
- Moving Stories is an app and curriculum to capture and share immigrant stories.
- Re-imagining Migration has resources and lessons to teach about migration, immigration, refugees, and civic empowerment through history, literature, and the sciences
- The Advocates for Human Rights and the Immigration History Research Center at UMN free curriculum that helps students learn about U.S. immigration through personal narratives: Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project
- Freedom for Immigrants publishes an Immigration Detention Syllabus
Reporting resources, tools and tips
- Journalists who have been targeted for their work can send incident reports through the online platform of Press Freedom Tracker.
- No Refuge from Council on Foreign Relations’ InfoGuide series, includes an interactive map of origin and destination countries for refugees, and policy options that can help refugees and support host states.
- Covering Immigration Enforcement webinar from Poynter with Marshall Project contributing writer Julia Preston.
- The Pew Research Center offers a mini email course on immigrationto the U.S.
- Tools for covering ICE from the Columbia Journalism Review
- Migration Reporting Resources (Global Investigative Journalism Network)
- Resources for Investigating Visas (Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)
- Reporting on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants (90 Days, 90 Voices)
- Immigration Data Resources: An extensive, and growing, list of immigration resources curated by PRI’s Angilee Shah and shared as part of her presentation on finding immigration stories at NICAR 2018.
If there’s a story or immigration-related opportunity 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 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 was “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