Restrictionist road, human barriers vs raids, asylum switch
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A collaboration of Mexican journalists investigates stepped-up U.S. immigration enforcement’s impacts on the country’s northern and southern borders since 1993, long before Trump took office. The multimedia project, called El Gueto Mexicano: Migrantes Atrapados Entre Muros or The Mexican Ghetto: Migrants Trapped between Walls, covers the violent border city where the Mexican National Guard has not been deployed, the role of drug traffickers in admitting migrants, and rampant xenophobia in Tijuana. Journalists from Pie de Página, Chiapas Paralelo, and La Verdad worked together is to illuminate “the effects of a devastating policy implemented and directed by the U.S. and of which all countries have been silent accomplices.”
In an inside story of immigration under Trump based on interviews with more than 20 administration officials, Jason Zengerle in The New York Times Magazine comes to an extreme restrictionist conclusion: “The game of musical chairs at DHS has given Stephen Miller what only two years ago seemed impossible: a department staffed with Stephen Millers.” Former DHS heads John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, who, Zengerle reports, behind the scenes pushed back on some of the most extreme impulses of the administration, provided “a speed bump on the road to the harshest immigration policy in America’s recent history.” Now, he writes, “that obstacle is gone.”
The Trump administration expanded the number of migrants the government can rapidly deport. Any immigrant who has been in the U.S. for less than two consecutive years can be put into expedited removal proceedings. Lawyers and activists say the rule violates due process and will cause more citizens to get caught up wrongly in the dragnet.
ICYMI: The father of a Honduran teen who committed suicide likely because of the distress caused by being separated from her father was granted temporary, humanitarian parole to attend her funeral, reports CNN. The New York Times first reported the story last week about the father who had tried to enter the U.S. to reunite with his daughter, who he had sent ahead of himself to join family members multiple times. The family’s story shows how increased immigration enforcement, and consequential family separation, takes a toll on the mental health of immigrants and their families.
Of the more than 2,100 immigrants who were targeted in the most recent ICE raids, only 35 were detained, reports The New York Times. The limited arrests in the raids were partially due to community action to protect friends and neighbors from arrest.
Live videos shared on social media are becoming more common as a way to prevent ICE from detaining immigrants and document their aggressive tactics in doing so.
- In Tennessee, neighbors formed a human barrier around a man and his son Monday so that they could exit their car and enter their home without ICE arresting them. (WTVF/ Nashville Noticias).
- In Kansas, a woman took a video of ICE agents breaking the window of her boyfriend’s car Monday to arrest him when he wouldn’t come out. (KCUR)
- In California, a local organizer and her son unsuccessfully tried to stop an ICE arrest Sunday by asking for a signed warrant from a judge, but the agents quickly drove off with the woman. (CBS Los Angeles).
The raids put pressure on many hotel chains to take a stand in the immigration debate, partially because of the thousands of immigrant workers in their unions, reports NBC Los Angeles. At least eight hotel companies, including Hilton, Best Western, and Marriott, said they didn’t want their hotels used as overflow locations by ICE to detain migrants.
A San Francisco-based federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration decision to ban migrants from receiving asylum if they traveled through another country after immigrants rights groups sued to stop it. Another D.C.-based federal judge ruled the same day to maintain the ban.
The new regulation, if allowed to move forward, would also apply to migrants who followed Trump’s other rules and waited in Mexico for their turn to seek asylum, showing the hypocrisy of the program, reports ProPublica.
Some Central Americans who have had to wait in Mexico under Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as Remain in Mexico, are now deciding to give up and return home, either through special flight deals offered by the Mexican government, buses sponsored by the government and NGOs, or by tracing the same route they traveled back to their homes, reports the Desert Sun. Of the nearly 20,000 migrants who have been sent to Mexico to await their asylum cases, it is nearly impossible to determine just how many have left.
Meanwhile, the MPP program expanded last week to Matamoros, a Mexican city across from Brownsville, Texas and one of the most dangerous in the country, reports AP. And Mexican shelters report that the number of pregnant women along the border is rising as more migrants have to wait in Mexico for their chance to seek asylum, reports California Healthline. They often have to rely on volunteer healthcare providers since they often don’t meet the requirements to access the Mexican healthcare system.
Border Patrol agents report that they gave pre-signed medical forms to migrants to speed up the process of releasing them per orders from their superiors, reports The Dallas Morning News. The practice of allowing migrants to bypass medical checks stopped in El Paso after complaints from the Border Patrol Union, but is unclear how many received these forms and were freed in the four weeks that the practice was implemented.
Three immigration activists sued the U.S. government for being targeted for surveillance because of their work, which is protected speech, reports NBC News. The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, says that ICE, CBP, and the FBI violated the First Amendment and that their actions should be declared unlawful.
The price of bail bonds for immigrants has surged since 2006, leading more immigrants to remain in detention while awaiting the outcome of their cases, reports Axios. In 2006, all bonds were less than $2,000. In FY 2018, only 5 percent of bonds were less than $2,000 and 40 percent were more than $10,000. The increase in bond prices has led to a grassroots movement of people who spend their own savings or pool money among friends to bail out these immigrants, reports The Guardian.
The government is shutting down a temporary shelter for unaccompanied minors in Carrizo Springs, Texas, less than a month after opening it, reports Vice News. The shelter was opened to address the increase in unaccompanied minors that peaked in May. During that time, the Office of Refugee Resettlement never contracted a legal aid provider as is legally required, reports HuffPost. An estimated 4,000 minors are currently in U.S. care without any identifiable sponsor, meaning that they could spend years in detention, reports CBS. This number has grown during the Trump administration and experts believe it is partly due to sponsors becoming more fearful about coming forward.
Medical organizations have criticized a GEO Group job posting for a doctor to work at a Louisiana facility that can hold 1,000 detainees because it offered an above-market salary for someone with limited qualifications, reports NPR. The job would pay $400,000 a year and the posting asked for a doctor with at least two years of experience who is “philosophically committed to the objectives of this facility.”
An 18-year-old U.S. citizen was released from ICE detention Tuesday after being detained for three weeks because of a mixup regarding a visa that his mother requested for him after traveling to Mexico when he was a child, reports The Dallas Morning News.
Between 3,000 and 6,000 immigrant detainees are estimated to require mental health services, but only 21 out of 230 ICE detention facilities have in-person mental health providers, reports Politico.
Immigration is an International Issue
In his meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, which some have credited for the 28 percent drop in border crossings from May to June, reports AP. Ebrard said the decrease in crossings meant it would not be necessary to sign a “safe third country” agreement. Pompeo then traveled to El Salvador to meet new president Nayib Bukele, who renewed an agreement to cooperate on counternarcotics and emphasized his commitment to curbing migration from his country, reports The Washington Post.
Citizenship and Special Visas
House Republicans voted against Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans Tuesday on the grounds that too many Venezuelans rely on welfare and that it will give Venezuelans legal status for years, not just temporarily, reports The Miami Herald.
The Trump administration plans to publish a new citizenship test by the end of his term, reports The Washington Post. Critics say it could be manipulated to deny citizenship to more people, but acting USCIS director says it will be a regular, just slightly modified, civics test.
The Trump administration will increase the required investment for the EB-5 visa program, a controversial visa that allows investors to receive a green card if they invest at least $500,000 in an area with high rates of unemployment and $1 million in other areas, reports The Washington Post. The minimum investments will increase to $900,000 and $1.8 million.
About 43 percent of immigration judges were appointed by the Trump administration, just one of the many ways that the president has sought to carry out his immigration agenda, reports AP.
An immigration think tank warns that Republicans focus on increased enforcement and Democrats’ focus on abolition has entered the country into a “cycle of extremes” when it comes to immigration policy, ruining any chance of passing immigration reform with a humanitarian focus, reports The Daily Beast.
Immigration Stat of the Week
Americans noting immigration as the most important problem in the U.S. have hit a record high since Gallup started recording in 1993.
- On Tuesday, Trump complained that Guatemala had dropped out of a safe third country agreement and threatened to raise tariffs in retaliation. (Politico)
- A Salvadoran-born reporter for Spanish-language media Memphis Noticias was released from ICE detention on bond after lawyers argued that he was targeted because of his work. (Commercial Appeal)
- An autopsy report of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, the fifth Guatemalan child to die in U.S. custody since December, revealed new details about the squalid conditions he was kept in at a Border Patrol station. (Texas Monthly)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die by Charles Kamasaki. An insider’s history and memoir of the battle for The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: its evolution, passage, impact, and its legacies for the future of immigration reform
- Migration as a (Geo-)Political Challenge in the Post-Soviet Space by Olga R. Gulina, about how migration policy in post-USSR states can be used to gain geopolitical power or destabilize an area
- 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
*Migratory Notes Advisory Board: Daniel Connolly, Maria Kari, Dan Kowalski, Paola Marizán, Mirta Ojito, Roberto Suro, Phuong Ly, Fernanda Santos