Migratory Notes 135

Elizabeth Aguilera
Oct 11 · 13 min read

Big data deportations, hurricane workers, health insurance required

Heydi Lizbeth García Girón, a 34-year-old mother of two, plans on seeking asylum in the U.S. after her partner of nine years tried to kill her in their home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “Being here seems like a time bomb,” she said. She is one of many Honduran women who intend to flee the violence despite the Trump administration’s asylum crackdown. Photo courtesy of Valentina Pereda for The Intercept

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They come from Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil and many other countries to help rebuild communities destroyed from natural disasters. “Like the migrant farmworkers of yesteryear who followed the crops, the hurricane workers move from disaster to disaster. They descended on New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; Houston after Harvey; North Carolina after Florence; Florida after Irma and Michael,” writes Miriam Jordan in The New York Times. The U.S. relies on these workers, but they are often exploited by employers because they are undocumented. So a nonprofit is helping them organize for fair pay. “Wage theft is a tremendous hindrance to the rebuilding of this part of the country,” one organizer said.

In a small town along Washington state’s southern coast, local activists now counted more than 100 missing, taken quietly one-by-one by ICE agents who used social media, license plate scans and other data-mining to find undocumented immigrants. An investigation by journalist McKenzie Funk for New York Times Magazine found that ICE is increasingly relying on data compiled from social media, private data companies, and federal and state agencies to aid its immigration enforcement operations. And it turns out states that sell data are unwitting partners, including Washington despite considering itself a sanctuary for immigrants. These practices are only loosely regulated, calling into question whether ICE should use software designed after 9/11 to monitor terrorists and how this will impact all Americans.

Citizenship and Special Visas
On Friday, the Trump administration announced that foreign nationals applying for a visa would have to prove they have health insurance or enough money to cover health care expenses before entering the U.S. An estimated 500,000 people could be affected by the rule and immigrant advocates say it will discriminate against migrants from countries with less wealth, reports CNN. The USCIS director said it encourages “self-sufficiency.” The new rule will go into effect November 3 and it is likely to face legal challenges.

Escort: Presidential Candidate
Twelve asylum seekers who were escorted to the border with presidential candidate Julián Castro were returned just hours later under Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The group included eight LGBT migrants and a deaf woman from Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Vulnerable populations can be exempt from MPP but Customs and Border Protection decides on a case-by-case basis. The Texas Civil Rights Project called the decision to return the migrants a blow to due process. Castro’s presence on the border symbolizes his growing voice on immigration and how he is following in his activist mother’s footsteps, reports The New York Times. “There’s an urgency we need to respond with,” Castro said. “We have a president attacking Latinos and immigrants. There’s a real sense of going back, so of course I need to address that.”

Remain in Mexico
Mexican asylum seekers report being deported to Mexico after telling Border Patrol agents they feared being returned to their country, reports BuzzFeed News. This is a violation of federal law and CBP policy that requires these migrants have the chance to seek asylum.

A representative from the union of asylum officers said that the Trump administration is sending pregnant women back to Mexico so that they can’t give birth to their children in the U.S., reports Newsy.

Asylum and Refugees
Thousands of African migrants said they would leave southern Mexico in a group Tuesday to reach the U.S. border where they plan to seek asylum, reports NPR. They have been waiting for Mexican travel documents for nearly two months as the Trump administration has pressured Mexico to stop migrants from reaching the border.

The U.S. has removed key information about gender violence from State Department reports on human rights in Honduras, making it harder for Honduran women to seek asylum, reports Anna-Cat for The Intercept. Despite the asylum crackdown, Honduran women still flee.

Family Separation
Parents and children who were separated at the border struggle to move forward after the trauma, reports CBS News in a 50-minute documentary following up on the impacts of the policy.

First Person
Pediatricians who treat detained minors often have to rush through X-rays, family medical history, and vaccines all while trying to be considerate of the trauma the young migrants have lived through. “In these visits, my colleagues and I engage in what I have come to think of as small acts of humane resistance: we try to be patient and kind with the kids, to treat them as fully human and deeply valuable, even as violence in their home countries, conditions in our detention centers, and border policies align to insist that their lives are worthless,” writes Doctor Rachel Pearson in The New Yorker.

Border
Nearly one million migrants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, marking a 12-year high. September recorded the fewest apprehensions all year, with just under 40,000, reports CNN. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said he hopes apprehensions will drop to 500 a day.

Construction of the border wall appeared to be knocking down cacti protected at a national park in Arizona, reports Newsweek. The government has said that the cacti will be “relocated” but activists question whether this is true.

U.S pharmaceutical companies are luring Mexican plasma donors across the border on temporary visas with special deals despite the potential risks of donating frequently, reports ARD German TV and ProPublica.

Thousands of Cubans have decided to settle in Juarez along the Mexican border as it has become more difficult to win asylum in the U.S., challenging the city that has been known to accept migrants from other parts of Mexico, reports El Paso Times.

Border Patrol
A sexual assault case within Border Patrol ranks is shining a light on the agency’s gender problem, where only 5 percent of agents are women, reports The New York Times. Senior agent Gus Zamora is accused of sexually assaulting a junior agent who considered him a mentor. In July he was indicted by a grand jury and a pretrial hearing took place this week. Zamora is married to one of the highest-ranking female agents within the agency, Interim El Paso sector chief Gloria Chavez.

Chavez took over as Interim Border Patrol chief for the El Paso sector in July with a large task: restoring morale after the sector received backlash for its treatment of an influx of migrants in early 2019, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Her colleagues believe she is fit for the task but the story does not mention the turmoil in her personal life.

A 44-year-old Border Patrol agent died Sunday in Arizona. He was found unconscious after responding to a triggered sensor and he may have fallen and hit his head, reports the Arizona Republic. The agency originally ruled out potential foul play, but the FBI is now investigating further.

Enforcement
Protesters interrupted Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan’s speech at an event at Georgetown Law Monday, causing him to leave the stage. The immigrant rights groups said Trump administration officials should not be given a platform to defend racist policies. DHS and the event organizers called it a missed opportunity for dialogue. A recent study showed ICE, an agency that is part of DHS, is the only law enforcement agency in the U.S. that citizens view more negatively than positively, reports Newsweek.

Immigration advocacy group Never Again Action is calling for a “mass exodus” of ICE agents and promises to provide support to anyone looking to leave their job at the agency, reports Newsweek. So far, only one person has contacted the group about its offer.

Thousands of immigrants suspect that their applications for permanent residency, citizenship or asylum have been held up by a little-known national security program CARRP (Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program) throwing their lives into limbo for years. Now, a class-action lawsuit alleging the secret program was used illegally against them is moving forward, reports CNN. The government reveals little about the program, but the ACLU believes it is discriminatory because it mainly targets Muslim immigrants.

Six families filed a lawsuit accusing federal agents of using marriage interviews as a setup to detain an undocumented spouse, reports AP. In at least seven states, the ACLU has documented cases of spouses of citizens who have tried to legalize their status, only to be detained.

Detention
-Louisiana has become an unlikely hub for immigrant detention under the Trump administration and 8,000 of the 51,000 immigrants detained in ICE facilities are now in the southern state, reports AP. The locations are remote, making it difficult for lawyers and immigrant rights groups to contact these immigrants.
-In Wyoming, ICE doubled the proposed size of an immigration jail for immigrants awaiting court proceedings in Salt Lake City, reports WyoFile. The jail was first proposed to hold 500 people but now is expected to hold up to 1,000.
-In Texas, ICE moved 700 women out of Karnes County Residential Center without providing any way for their lawyers to find them, reports HuffPost. Two weeks later, lawyers are still looking for them and worry about their health.

Courts
The Supreme Court will hear a case that will determine if it is illegal to encourage foreigners to enter the U.S. illegally, reports Politico. An appeals court previously found that the law violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

Labor
The company Uline Inc., whose founders have donated millions to Republican anti-immigrant campaigns, has sued the government to ensure that one of its workers can obtain a special work visa, reports ProPublica. The case highlights the contradictions of many Trump supporters when it comes to immigration, who often vote for “America First” but rely on immigrants to run their businesses.

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Immigration Resources & Opportunities

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

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.

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*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

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

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