Migratory Notes 118

Elizabeth Aguilera
Jun 6 · 12 min read

More children could die, DHS in Guatemala, 2.2 million diapers

The number of Japanese Americans with memories of incarceration are dwindling to fewer than 20,000, almost all of whom were children when they were forced to live in detention camps. Increased child detention in the U.S. is creating a special urgency for Japanese American institutions like The Rafu Shimpo newspaper to preserve their stories, Daniela reports for PRI’s The World.

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ICE has a mumps problem. The agency reported more than 200 cases from March 2018 to March 2019, compared to zero the year before. A Quartz investigation revealed the problem to be even bigger, with at least 300 cases in Texas alone since October 2018. Though mumps is not fatal it can result in serious complications like hearing loss. “But the spread of the disease through ICE facilities suggests the overburdened US immigration system is under-prepared in the event of a more serious health problem, like measles or another deadly communicable disease,” Heather Timmons and Justin Rohrlich write.

In 2018, applications for U visas — available to immigrant victims of crime who suffer “substantial mental and physical abuse” in the U.S. and are willing to cooperate with law enforcement — fell. Lauren Villagran investigates what happened for Searchlight New Mexico. She finds “a massive backlog of U visa applications has stretched wait times up to a decade — curbing victims’ ability to escape abuse and hampering law enforcement’s capacity to investigate and prosecute violent crime,” as well as growing fear of cooperating with authorities.

As negotiations between U.S. and Mexico officials over Trump’s proposed new import tax continue Thursday, Republicans are “at war with each other,” reports Politico.

Vox breaks down why the China tariffs did not trigger the same response. (Hint, American business interests.) Which states would be hit the hardest? The New York Times maps them and finds the answer is the battleground state of Michigan, as share of overall GDP due to the auto industry.

Mexico has been cooperating with the U.S. in recent months to crack down on unauthorized migrants and deportations from Mexico mainly to Central America have actually increased, reports The New York Times. Economic experts say raising tariffs could push the Mexican economy into recession and cause more migrants to leave, reports Time.

Migration at Border Hits 7-Year High
Migrant apprehensions in May jumped 32 percent from April, as Customs and Border Patrol arrested more than 144,000 people, The Washington Post reports. “We are in a full-blown emergency, and I cannot say this stronger: the system is broken,” said acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders, noting the number apprehended in the past eight months is greater than the population of Miami. More than 63% of migrants apprehended in May were children and families, mainly from Central America, Reuters reports. In addition, since March 19 more than 75,000 families were released due to lack of capacity. “As word of mouth and social media continues to spread about the news of a quick release into the United States, more migrants are emboldened to make this dangerous journey,” Sanders said.

Detained Children
The government announced Wednesday it is canceling English classes, legal aid, and recreational opportunities for kids in detention due to budget pressures. Critics slammed the move as inhumane and in violation of the Flores Agreement.

Meanwhile, DHS is preparing for more babies by buying 2.2 million diapers for its new tent detention center in Texas, Quartz reports. They are also getting 20,000 baby bottles and 3,000 baby wipes.

About 1,000 migrant children have been in Border Patrol facilities for longer than the legally allowed 72 hours, reports The Washington Post. Government agencies blame an increase in minors crossing and inefficient bureaucracy to address the influx for the increased detention time.

Court documents show “prison-like” conditions that can inflict psychological harmin a Florida shelter holding more than 2,000 minors, reports The Miami Herald. Lawyers are fighting to make public the names of DHS employees accused of abuse and mistreatment of minors in detention because of a lack of action taken by DHS, reports ProPublica. Of more than 200 complaints filed for abuse of migrant children in detention from 2009 to 2014, only one DHS officer was disciplined.

Family Separations
“Tender age” children were left in vans for up to 39 hours last July as they waited to be reunited with their parents, reports NBC News. The new details about family reunifications show just how chaotic the process has been.

Central American migrants, including those with kids, are increasingly riding the dangerous freight train known as La Bestia as the Mexican government cracks down on caravans and other safer routes to the U.S. border, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In a visit to Guatemala last week, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan signed a two-year bilateral agreement to curb migration that included sending 80 DHS and Border Patrol agents to Guatemala, reports The New York Times.

Migrant Deaths
A Honduran woman collapsed at a Border Patrol station and died on Monday, making her the seventh adult migrant death to occur in U.S. custody since October. The day before, a Salvadoran man had a seizure in CBP custody and died shortly after, reports USA Today. A transgender woman from El Salvador, Johana Medina Leon, died in ICE custody on Saturday, the second trans woman to die in U.S. custody in a year, reports The Washington Post. She had recently tested HIV positive. Human rights organizations allege that ICE routinely withholds medication from inmates, which can put transgender inmates or those who are HIV-positive at higher risk, reports Pacific Standard.

The situation for children stuck at overcrowded Border Patrol stations is growing more dire. DHS officials say that more migrant children could die in U.S. custody if Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for housing children, does not increase its capacity, reports NBC News. HHS is currently at 97 percent, way beyond the red flag mark of 90 percent. Most of the overcrowding is in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, Texas and Yuma, Arizona where officials say kids have slept on concrete slabs or outside while they wait to be processed. A doctor who has been volunteering at the border said that Border Patrol has been confiscating medication from migrants, including children, reports Yahoo News.

Overcrowded Detention Centers
Migrants had to stand on toilets in order to breathe in an El Paso processing center where the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General found “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions. The capacity was 125 detainees; up to 900 people were crammed in it one day in May, reports CNN.

In the second story in their migration series, Marie Claire visits the border to explore what it takes to get asylum as a victim of domestic abuse.

The Interior Department has sent 22 park law enforcement officers to public land along the border as part of a deployment pilot launched about a year ago as part of a “surge operation,” reports High Country News. It’s the first time the Interior Department has sent park officers there for an open-ended period of time, writes Jessica Kutz.

In November 2017, a Border Patrol official in Maine told CPB agents they were ready to begin boarding Greyhound buses and wished them “Happy hunting” That’s according to emails obtained exclusively by the ACLU of Maine through a public records lawsuit and provided to NBC News. Recently, bus searches have increased across the country.

Acting ICE director Mark Morgan announced Tuesday a plan to increase deportations of families living in the interior of the U.S. without permission, reports The Washington Post. The plan stalled under previous ICE leadership. Trump has repeatedly criticized immigration officials for failing to carry out harsh enforcement policies.

Human smuggling charges are up 25% along the border since Trump took office. The LA Times follows the case of one naturalized U.S. citizen and Marine Corps vet, who embodied the American Dream until he was arrested at a border checkpoint.

Visas & Citizenship
As of last week, the State Department now requires visa applicants to provide all social media accounts that they have used in the past five years, reports The New York Times. Under the Obama administration, submitting social media accounts was voluntary.

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would offer a path to citizenship to “dreamers” and immigrants with temporary protected status, reports The Washington Post. Similar bills have been presented in Congress in previous years, but have never passed. The bill is not expected to pass a vote in the Republican-led Senate. While it may not move forward, DACA and TPS recipients celebrated as they rang the Nasdaq opening bell on Wednesday, The Hill reports.


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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. Her most recent story wasCalifornia poised to go further than any state to insure the undocumented — too pricey, or about time? 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 the 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.

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