Migratory Notes 120

Elizabeth Aguilera
Jun 20 · 12 min read

Concentration camps, 4-month-old baby, Africans arrive

Mealtime at the Manzanar internment camp after people of Japanese ancestry living in the U.S. were required to live in these centers during WWII. Today, internment survivors are protesting the current treatment of immigrants along the border, who are being kept in detention camps, and this week Rep. Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez was in the spotlight for calling those immigrant camps “concentration camps.” Caption Source: National Archives

Know someone who might like Migratory Notes? Please help us spread the word: Here’s the subscribe form and here’s an archive on Medium. Got a story or an immigration-related resource or opportunity we should know about? Send it on!

Four-month-old Constantin Mutu became the youngest known child separated from his parents at the border when he was wrested from his father’s arms, reports The New York Times. Reporter Caitlin Dickerson takes readers on the family’s journey from Romania, where they faced persecution as part of the Roma minority, to the U.S. border, where Constantin was taken and his father eventually deported.After five months with a Michigan foster family, baby Constantin was finally returned to his parents in Romania but the adjustment has been difficult for him. His parents say the life he had in the U.S. has impacted their family and Constanin’s ability to fit in. “The Mutus, who are pursuing a claim for damages against the United States, are back in the village where they grew up, crammed temporarily into a small house they share with another family — one bathroom with no shower shared among 11 people,” writes Dickerson.

Family separations under Trump have ramped up over the last year and have been in the spotlight for the number of children taken from their parents without a paper trail or intent to reunite them but separations are not new. A Honduran mother recently reached a settlement with the U.S. government for damages related to the abuse and family separation she and her young son endured while in a detention center two years before news broke of mass separations of families at the border, reports The New Yorker. Her experience, which occurred during the Obama administration, and the case sets an important precedent for other families who have gone through the same mistreatment. “Just because something is becoming common doesn’t mean it’s not illegal,” a law student who worked on the case said.

Migrant Deaths
CBP found the body of a 7-year-old girl believed to be from India in the desert last week, reports the Arizona Republic. They believe she was traveling with a woman and another child, who have yet to be found.

Trump revealed a plan in a tweet to deport millions of immigrants living across the U.S. who have final deportation orders on Monday night. But reporting by The Wall Street Journal finds that doing so is implausible given ICE’s current capacity as an agency. Detaining immigrants who are not already in custody is one of the most resource-intensive parts of ICE’s job. Deporting even close to one million people is unlikely, even with the additional agents from Homeland Security Investigations that ICE recently requested for help with enforcement, reports The New York Times. In 2017, ICE only arrested 14,000 immigrants at large. Despite the challenges, the threat of raids like these are often used to instill fear in immigrant communities.

An estimated 750 inmates whose sentences were reduced under the federal prison reform First Step Act, which eases sentences for drug convictions, will likely face deportation after being released from prison, reports The Marshall Project. Turning over former prisoners to ICE after they served their sentences is not a new practice even though advocates would like to see it changed.

The Trump administration has scouted locations along the border to build temporary immigration courts to hear the asylum cases of migrants required to “Remain in Mexico”, reports CNN. The courts are intended to speed up the asylum process and make it easier for migrants to reach their hearings.

The huge increase in asylum seekers along the border has resulted in federal agencies informally outsourcing caring for migrants to church shelters, like one run by Reverend Guy Wilson in Coachella, California, reports KCRW.

More than 700 African migrants, mainly from Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, were apprehended at Del Rio sector of the border since October 2018, reports The New York Times. It’s still a much smaller number compared to Central Americans, but it’s a significant increase from the 25 migrants from the two countries that were apprehended between 2007 and September 2018. One of the families made it to Portland, Maine, where they are in a makeshift shelter, reports NPR. The father describes their current situation staying in a converted minor-league sports arena filled with cots, as “paradise.”

Concentration vs Summer Camp
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparked controversy Tuesday when she called the mass detention of immigrants along the border institutionalized concentration camps. An expert on the history of concentration camps defined the term as “a place for mass detention of civilians without trial, usually on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, or political affiliation,” in an interview with Quartz last year analyzing such comparisons. “Concentration camps do not necessarily intend to inflict violence or death on the people held there, she explained. Based on this definition, detention centers for migrants can be considered concentration camps. Conservative commentators reject the use of the phrase and instead refer to detention centers as “summer camps.”

US-Mexico Migration Deal
A side agreement of the US-Mexico tariff deal could result in Mexico being forced to review more asylum claims. After 45 days the deal allows the U.S. to determine if Mexico is sufficiently preventing Central American migrants from reaching the U.S. border, reports The Wall Street Journal. If not, Mexico would have to consider taking more asylees.

The Mexican government is already touting their border enforcement actions as successful, saying that border crossings into the U.S. halved in 10 days, reports Politico. Critics say the official used one day as an example but a trend has yet to be established. Still, Mexico has ramped up enforcement and on Friday president Lopez Obrador requested the resignation of the head of the country’s migration institute. On Saturday, nearly 800 undocumented migrants were apprehended in one of the country’s biggest raids to date, reports Reuters. In the midst of the crackdown, a 19-year-old Salvadoran woman was killed, reports The Washington Post. Mexican officials are investigating if police are responsible for her death.

Safe Third Country?
A Guatemalan official said Tuesday that Guatemala has not agreed to be a “safe third country” despite Trump’s Monday night tweet announcing Guatemala’s willingness to do so. Taking that position would require Salvadoran and Honduran migrants to request asylum in Guatemala before traveling on to the U.S., reports AP. Guatemalan officials have been skeptical of signing this type of agreementsince talks began last week, reports Voice of America.

Citizenship and Special Visas
The Trump administration has argued that adding a citizenship question to the census is not politically motivated but previously unreleased documents show otherwise. The documents show communication about the question, from the hard drive of the late Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, between Hofeller and an official or officials at the Census Bureau establish a direct connection.

USCIS plans to transfer green card applications from cities with the longest waitlists to smaller field offices to cut down wait times, which can be up to two years, reports The Washington Post. The switch could make wait times longer for those who originally apply at the smaller offices and could create transportation and time challenges for those whose cases are moved. Longer wait times for visa processing has also affected international students who have not been able to start their jobs or internships because their visa applications have not been approved in time, reports The New York Times.

Immigration is an international issue
The babies of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia are facing their own citizenship question, reports the LA Times. Since Colombia does not recognize birthright citizenship and it is unsafe to return to Venezuela to claim citizenship, an estimated 25,000 babies so far are stateless.

As of 2018, more than 70 million people were displaced by violence, the most since World War II, according to a UNHCR report. Two-thirds of refugees come from five countries: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. More than half of these people are displaced in their own countries and those who do leave are more likely to go to neighboring countries.

The fear that immigrant families have of using public services under the Trump administration is leading schools that use public services as a measure of poverty to lose much-needed funding that is tied to those numbers, reports The New York Times.

Teachers in New York City are learning indigenous languages so that they can understand their students from communities in Latin America who speak neither English nor Spanish, reports The Guardian. But the breadth of indigenous languages and dialects makes doing so more difficult.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)

Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups

Curriculum & Campaigns

Reporting resources, tools and tips

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. Her most recent story was California 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.

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 publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade