Migratory Notes 13

Bad bebés? Baltimore gets immigrant defenders

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Bad hombres or bad bebés?

Trump’s release of an online database of immigrants in detention, DHS-VINE, was intended to help the public search for criminals. But it mistakenly included kids in detention, and even some babies, Cindy Carcamo reports for the LA Times.

It was launched as part of the new office known as VOICE (Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement) dedicated to “the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.”

An element of VOICE is a hotline where victims of crimes and loved ones can learn “criminal or immigration history…about an alien.” Fusion reports that the line was inundated with prank calls, many of them reporting space aliens. An ICE official told Fusion “Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy.”

By the numbers

Roughly half of the immigrants arrested during roundups nationally had no criminal background or had traffic offenses, such as drunken driving, as their crime, the Washington Post reports. ICE maintains it will “no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”

Despite all the shouts of “keep them out,” undocumented immigrants have been coming in smaller numbers for a while now. For the eighth year the unauthorized population has remained flat and for first time in more than a decade, Mexicans may not be the majority of the unauthorized population in the U.S, according to a Pew Report.

What’s it take to secure the border?

It’s not a wall, Sonia Nazario writes in an opinion piece in the LA Times. It’s also not the solutions that leaders have been providing for three decades: temporary worker programs, border security and legalization. She writes that part of the solution is in programs to prevent the violence people are fleeing.

Trump’s immigration crackdown is working, even though he has not created any new laws, reports Politico. Since he was inaugurated the number of arrests along the border has plummeted to the lowest levels in 17 years and interior immigration enforcers were given carte blanche to arrest anyone they come across who might be undocumented. This is a clear shift from policies under President Obama which focused on the prioritization of those with serious criminal offenses.

That deportation force

While ICE is widely considered the “deportation force,” most deported immigrants actual go through the criminal courts. “Roughly one-quarter of immigrants expelled from the U.S. face criminal prosecution for crossing the border illegally and serve jail time before they are deported,” Roque Planas writes for HuffPost. “Immigration prosecutions topped 91,000 in 2013 ― 28 times the number of prosecutions in 1993.”

The Justice Department has set the groundwork for these prosecutions to increase under Trump, Julia Preston writes for the Marshall Project. Attorney General Sessions recently instructed federal prosecutors in all 94 districts in the country to give higher priority to immigration crimes to achieve “consistent and vigorous enforcement.” Preston notes that “based on prosecutions from border districts alone, immigration crimes are already the single biggest category of cases on the federal docket nationwide.” She traces the increase to 2005 when prosecutors teamed up with immigration agents in the border town of Del Rio, Texas.

The difference a lawyer makes

Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. has the highest deportation rate in the nation. “That’s in part because the detainees at Stewart are among the least likely to find an immigration attorney,” Christie Thomas reports for the Marshall Project.

Baltimore joined cities such as Chicago, New York and LA in launching a legal defense fund for undocumented immigrants. (Baltimore Sun)

Judicial rebuke

In Atlanta, GA, a federal judge found federal agents committed “egregious” racial profiling and government lawyers “willful misconduct” in an immigration detention case, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts took issue Wednesday with the Trump administration’s stance on an immigration case, expressing concern the government was asserting it could revoke citizenship through criminal prosecution for trivial lies or omissions.

Texas and California are representing opposite positions on sanctuary, details Fox News.

The Texas Observer chronicles how the Lone Star state has changed its perspective on undocumented immigration from one of practicality about cheap labor to passage of a new law that nearly deputizes local police as immigration enforcers. The Dallas Morning News also reports how the new sanctuary ban is going to impact worker safety in Texas.

In contrast, in California a bill would make the entire state a sanctuary and would prohibit local law enforcers from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Other sanctuary reports:

The Wall

The Intercept went to the Border Security Expo in Texas and found skeptics about Trump’s border wall, despite largely being backers of his immigration policies. “We already have about 650 miles of various types of wall. We’ll put the wall where it makes sense,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in his opening remarks, echoing comments by many former border officials.

Meanwhile, Trump maintains the people want the border wall. But polls have shown that a majority of Americans do not want a wall, according to the Washington Post.

Either way, it does not look like the wall will be built this year. Trump conceded to wait to secure funds for the wall in an effort to allow Congress to agree on a spending bill and keep the government from shutting down.

Remember AgJobs?

“U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday said President Trump may be open to creating a way for some undocumented immigrant workers to stay in the U.S. and Perdue is already working on a “blueprint” of policy guidelines to offer the president,” Harvest Public Media reports. “Refusing to call it a pathway to citizenship, Perdue says he would like to find a solution that would allow workers in the ag industry to remain in the U.S. legally.”

Agricultural groups have been lobbying Trump, AP reports, with the American Farm Bureau Federation enforcement could raise food prices 5 to 6 percent because of a drop in supply and because of the higher labor costs farmers could face.

A farmer in Wisconsin tells Marketplace how he ended up with Mexican workers and how he came to know their hometowns. Dairy farmer John Rosenow had a hard time finding workers in the late 1990s until he reached out to a staffing service in Texas that sent him a Mexican worker.

Following the deportees: Indianan Roberto Beristain and Ohioan Maribel Trujillo Diaz

The Indiana restaurateur who was deported after 20 years in the United States is struggling to adjust to his native town in Mexico, reports the Wall Street Journal. Roberto Beristain had built a “classic small-town American life” in Indiana where his wife, who voted for Trump, and children still live.

An Ohio woman who was deported to Mexico told the Washington Post she fears for her life in the cartel-heavy state of Michoacan, where her brother and father have experienced kidnapping and extortion, and she worries about the four American citizen children she left behind. Maribel Trujillo Diaz, who had no criminal record, had lived in the U.S. for about 15 years.

Coyotes on the rise, military officers, and a visa start up

The cost to be smuggled across the border is on the rise, as coyotes have raised smuggling rates from $5,000 to $12,000, according to the founder of a home for migrants in Mexicali. (EFE)

Thousands of immigrants who joined the military and were promised fast-track citizenship are left in limbo as vetting takes longer. (New York Times)

Amazon vets create startup to help immigrants navigate visa maze (Seattle Times)

Crowdsourcing immigration

Various news outlets did projects around the travel ban to tell immigrant stories collaboratively. KQED and California Sunday Magazine built on the initial stories received via a form and call out to create The Faces of California’s Immigrant Story.

Jobs and other immigration-related opportunities

With all the focus on immigration has come new opportunities in immigration reporting and policy. Got one you want to share, please send it on. (Also, we’ve now grown to have more lawyers reading — if you’ve got a great opportunity, send that one as well.) Here are a few:

That’s all for Migratory Notes 13. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. We realize this is in no way a complete list. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.

Thank yous to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here’s a few: Donna Lugo, Jason Alcorn, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Mash-Up Americans, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, and countless tweeters.

*Daniela Gerson is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge with a focus on community, ethnic, and participatory media. She is also a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund. Before that she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; founding 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. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera is a multimedia reporter for CALmatters covering health 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 before that she covered a variety of beats and issues for the Denver Post including urban affairs and immigration. Her latest story looked at Deportations Orphans: Who Cares for Children when Parents are Sent Away? You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

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