Alligator moats, DNA swabs, address: Facebook
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!
It’s a complicated love story woven together with Trump, immigrants, and saving lives. John Hunter comes from a long line of conservative politicians. His wife, Laura Hunter, is a Mexican immigrant who finds Trump despicable. They came together volunteering to ensure migrants have access to water, Cindy Carcamo reports in the Los Angeles Times. “On this one topic — saving lives in the desert — you could say we are all liberals,” said John, who plans to vote for Trump in 2020. “I just consider it being normal. When temps hit 115, people focus on the basics of survival, and petty differences are ignored.” But at home, they both voice their opinions. “This Trump stuff has been negative on our marriage, big time,” Laura said. But she also recognizes that differences of opinion are part of their connection. “I’m not an extension of him.… We have to agree to disagree. We have to agree to get along.”
Alligator snake moats, shooting migrants, an electrified wall with skin-piercing spikes: Trump has proposed extreme and violent ideas as he has grown more frustrated by his inability to stop migrants from crossing the border, reports The New York Times. Interviews with more than a dozen administration officials about one week in March reveal details of his thinking. For example, after advisers counseled him against shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump suggested shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down. His staff had to tell him that is illegal. Now, many worry that there are no longer any advisers willing to challenge Trump when he proposes these extreme, violent, and illegal actions. Trump disputed the reports on Wednesday.
The Justice Department plans to give immigration officials the authority to collect DNA from migrants in facilities holding more than 40,000 people, which would be a major expansion of the FBI database and raises serious concerns about privacy, reports the New York Times. A Homeland Security official told journalists that the rule against collection is outdated while an ACLU lawyer said mass collection on this scale “alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society.”
New Mexico farmer James Johnson “embodies the complexity of the border for those who want both security and immigration reform,” writes Angela Kocherga in the Albuquerque Journal. He wants a border to prevent crossings or theft of his crops, but he also wants to hire more legal migrants to help on his farm. It’s these people along the border who are often most affected when politicians fail to pass immigration reform. Meanwhile, despite the increase in congressional visits to the border, lawmakers have not reached a consensus on how to tackle the problem, reports The New York Times. “The bigger question of how to avoid having the immigration crisis once again languish remains unanswered,” writes Emily Cochrane.
Through analyzing government cables about Guantánamo Bay post 9/11 Michelle García draws parallels to the separation and detention of immigrant families in an essay for Adi Magazine. “As with the War on Terror memoranda, this one revealed a government apparatus mobilized to address a threat,” García writes. “Immigration didn’t provide the justification for subjecting people at Guantánamo to cruel and inhumane treatment and depriving them of liberty and access to courts. War did. When stripped of its immigration veneer, the hieleras and the perreras at the border — iceboxes and dog kennels — find an analogy in the American-made war strategy named GTMO.”
Remain in Mexico
A judge questioned the Justice Department Tuesday about the “Remain in Mexico” program, which does not ask asylum seekers if they fear persecution in Mexico before sending them back there, a potential violation of international refugee law, reports CBS News. The DOJ lawyer said migrants, who are from various countries, can inform the government of fear without being asked in order to be considered to stay in the U.S. But this is not happening in practice, reports The Texas Observer. Recounting stories of stabbings, kidnapping and other attacks, Gus Bova writes, “cases like these, where the U.S. government returns refugees into the hands of their attackers before the blood is even dry, are why critics of MPP call the policy a ‘farce’ or a ‘sham.’”
Border Patrol has started to write “Facebook” as the address for migrants returned to Mexico that lack a permanent address, reports BuzzFeed News. This is one of the many reasons why migrants don’t always receive their notices to show up in court.
The ACLU and Texas Civil Rights Project filed a complaint with Homeland Security’s inspector general for an investigation into the practice of sending pregnant women back to Mexico while they seek asylum where they receive inadequate care, reports AP.
Mexican migrants are not subject to the “Remain in Mexico” program or other recent asylum restrictions, but many are now waiting months for a chance to seek asylum at the port of entry, reports the LA Times. Groups such as the ACLU say the practice of metering Mexican asylum seekers is illegal because it means they must stay in the country they are fleeing. U.S. officials say they are processing the requests as quickly as possible.
There are additional reports of:
- Lack of deterrence due to the “Return to Mexico” program. (World Politics Review)
- Risks to migrants due to the program. (The New Yorker)
- Migrants giving up asylum claims due to kidnapping and attacks. (San Antonio Express-News)
- African migrants feeling stranded in Mexico. (The Guardian)
- More migrants trying riskier tactics to get into the U.S. (The New York Times)
Asylum and Refugees
The Trump administration lowered the refugee cap to 18,000 for 2020, the lowest since the program began in 1980. With fewer refugees arriving, resettlement agencies receive less federal funds, causing many of them to shut down and give away tens of thousands of dollars worth of in-kind donations intended to help refugees set up homes, reports PRI’s The World.
The U.S. net increase in immigrants slowed to its lowest in a decade with 200,000 more people entering than leaving in 2018, reports The New York Times. The biggest decline is from noncitizens from Latin America. Experts believe this is — at least in part — a result of Trump’s immigration restrictions on asylum seekers and other legal forms of immigration.
A Justice Department draft rule could make it more difficult for unaccompanied minors to seek asylum by requiring them to apply for asylum within the first two months of entering the U.S., reports BuzzFeed News. Adults have up to a year to file for asylum after entering the country.
A man from Cameroon died in ICE custody on Tuesday after experiencing a brain hemorrhage, becoming the first detention death of the new fiscal year which started Oct 1, reports Buzzfeed News. The man was being held at Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego. In the previous 12-months, eight migrants died in custody, including several children and 24 migrants have died in ICE custody under Trump’s watch.
- In Texas, women in ICE detention at the Karnes County Residential Center are being denied medical care, in some cases even for cancer treatment. Texas legal aid group RAICES detailed the systematic denial through interviews with 800 women. (HuffPost)
- In Michigan, a new private prison detention center is set to open. GEO Group is running the prison. Some believe it will bring local growth, but immigrant groups are protesting. (MLive.com)
For black immigrants in highly policed communities, one misstep can lead to deportation in what activists call the “prison-to-deportation pipeline,” reports Vox. “As many immigrant justice advocates will tell you, if being black makes you a police target, then being black and undocumented in a poor neighborhood will make you vulnerable to surveillance, punishment, and exile,” writes Shamira Ibrahim. This has been the case for Ousman Darboe, a 25-year-old immigrant from Gambia who grew up in the Bronx and now faces deportation after being found guilty of disorderly conduct.
Federal judges issued three major rulings this week that set back the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
- A federal judge determined last week that the Trump administration cannot change regulations to detain migrant children indefinitely in violation of the Flores agreement. The judge said only Congress could change rules set out in the agreement. (The New York Times)
- A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against a DHS plan to expand expedited removal to anyone who cannot prove they have been in the country for two years. (BuzzFeed News)
- A U.S. district judge issued a permanent injunction that prevents ICE from issuing detainers solely based on information from databases. (LA Times)
The Trump administration introduced videoconferencing to speed up immigration cases, but activists say inefficiencies in the process are slowing down the backlog even more, reports The Dallas Morning News.
Lawyers representing the city of Southaven, Mississippi are arguing against a civil rights lawsuit filed by the widow of an undocumented immigrant for his death on the grounds that he does not have civil rights because of his immigration status even though the courts have previously found that people have certain protections despite immigration status in the U.S., reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The man was killed when police officers went to the wrong house and shot into the house. Lawyers for the widow argue that this logic goes against previous Supreme Court rulings.
Baltimore City and the town of Gaithersburg filed a lawsuit to block the public charge rule on the grounds that it limits legal migration for poor immigrants and immigrants of color, reports The Baltimore Sun. The lawsuit says the rule, which goes into effect October 15, will have a “chilling effect” on the immigrant community and damage the economy.
The immigration court system operates with two separate clocks, reports The Chicago Reporter. Some cases are sent to the so-called “rocket docket” for immigrants who arrived within the past year. These cases take priority and judges are pressured to wrap up these cases in a year as part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on recent border crossers. Other cases are moving exceptionally slow. In Chicago, cases not on this “rocket docket” took an average of 799 days to resolve.
Immigration is an International Issue
Britain is expected to introduce a “points-based” immigration system that favors skilled, highly educated migrants after it officially leaves the European Union, reports Reuters. All around the world, countries are closing their doors to asylum seekers, reports Vice News. This is leading many experts to question if the right to seek asylum is slowly disappearing. A series from Atlas Obscura explores the changing understanding of borders in the 21st century from West Africa to Maine to Colombia. “Borders don’t really exist until we call them into the world. Then signs and pillars and fences go up, landscapes change, and people are drawn in for commerce, or for adventure, or out of desperation,” the editors write.
As the U.S. has restricted asylum, more asylum seekers are now crossing the border into Canada to seek protection, reports CBC News. An unofficial border crossing has now seen 50,000 people cross in two years. In response, the Canadian government has agents on the ground to try to direct the border crossers to an official entry point or to arrest them and process them as asylum seekers in a nearby building, set up explicitly to address the rising flow.
Acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan has succeeded in what Trump considers most important: reducing the number of apprehensions at the border. But he has failed in his attempt to keep DHS a politically neutral agency, reports The Washington Post. “It doesn’t matter who is in the White House — Bush, or Obama, or Trump — you guys all know that our job remains the same,” he told a group of Border Patrol, CBP and Coast Guard personnel last month. But his message may be falling on deaf ears. During his time as acting head of DHS, Trump hardliners have begun to rise in the ranks because of their loyalty to the president and his agenda.
- DHS issued a 25-page set of corrections to the “public charge” rule, including typographical errors but also substantive changes to the policy seemingly in response to reporting by ProPublica. It had previously reported that the rule would treat immigrants married to citizen military members more harshly than those married to non-citizens military. (ProPublica)
- Nearly two months after immigration raids took place at chicken processing plants in Mississippi, some families are still separated. And even those who have been reunited live with the trauma from the raids. (Real America with Jorge Ramos)
- Florida’s ban on sanctuary cities that requires police to cooperate with ICE went into effect Tuesday. Advocates are waiting to determine the impact on immigrant communities. (CNN)
- A Fairfax County police officer was suspended after he violated the department’s policy against carrying out immigration enforcement. The officer turned over a driver to ICE after a traffic violation. (The Washington Post)
- The National Association of Immigration Judges filed a complaint against the Justice Department last week which could slow down the administration’s attempt to disband the union. The complaint was based on two incidents, one in which the Executive Office of Immigration Review included a link to a white nationalist website in an email to all employees and another regarding judges’ employment status as regular employees or managers. (The Wall Street Journal)
- In California, the decision to end private prisons may have unintended consequences, writes former ICE official Gary E. Mead in an op-ed for CalMatters. Instead of ending immigrant detention, it will just move it outside the state. This is another form of family separation, Mead argues. Instead, Mead suggests more oversight for private prison companies. (CalMatters)
- The U.S. reduced El Salvador’s travel advisory to a level 2 threat this week, just days after the two countries signed an agreement to send some asylum seekers to the Central American country. (The Wall Street Journal)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani. The NPR Correspondent and co-founder of Families for Freedom’s memoir of growing up and her family’s struggles with the immigration system.
- A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Immigration in the 21st Century by Jason DeParle. A chronicle of the age of global migration told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family
- This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta. A timely argument for why the United States and the West would benefit from accepting more immigrants
- 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
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).
- The Global Nation newsletter and Facebook group from PRI’s The World.
- Center for Migration Studies Migration Update is a weekly digest of news, faith reflections, and analysis of international migration and refugee protection.
- 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 and nationally.
- 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 updates 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 the 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 senior fellow at 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 reported A Japanese American newspaper chronicles the ‘searing’ history of immigrant incarceration for PRI’s The World. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson
*Elizabeth Aguilera is co-founder and 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 Democrats try again to provide health care to needy undocumented seniors. 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