Concentration camps, 4-month-old baby, Africans arrive
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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.
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.
- The State Department announced Monday that it will restore more than $400 million in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, but it will not issue more funding until the countries stop migrants from leaving. (AP)
- A judge Friday maintained a ban against a Trump administration policy that denied abortions to pregnant immigrant teens in U.S. custody. (AP)
- Landlords spoke out against a plan to evict undocumented immigrants and their families from public housing on the grounds that it would lead to the evictions of reliable tenants. (The New York Times)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- Cruz: A Cross-border Memoir by Jean Guerrero, about a daughter’s journey to understand her father
- 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 immigration to 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. 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