Migratory Notes 140

Elizabeth Aguilera
Nov 14, 2019 · 13 min read

DACA on the line, 8 miles of fence, border cam

Yunuen Bonaparte, a DACA journalist, took this photo of the hearings at the Supreme Court for palabra, a new multimedia platform of National Association of Hispanic Journalists which launched November 5. In an exchange with a fellow DACA journalist, Brian de los Santos, Bonaparte wrote “I’m worn out by all the years that we have been fighting this. But being there also made me feel not so alone. It was good to be there. Now I’m sure that pase lo que pase we are going to continue with the fight!”

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!

In a moving essay for The Atlantic that blends the personal and the political, author and former Silicon Valley NPR correspondent Aarti Shahani traces the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including her father, to two laws President Bill Clinton signed in 1996. Shahani recounts that upon signing the second of the laws Clinton proclaimed, “It strengthens the rule of law by cracking down on illegal immigration at the border, in the workplace, and in the criminal justice system — without punishing those living in the United States legally.”

“But my father was a legal resident,” she writes. “I was 16 when Dad was first arrested, and 30 when the battle ended. At that point, I had lived nearly half my life in the shadow of that case.” Shahani, who recently published the memoir Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares, explores how the Democratic president created laws that deported legal residents for minor offenses, like her father selling electronics to the “wrong” people, and how that upended her family’s life.

Immigration hardliners in Arizona like former sheriff Joe Arpaio and former governor Jan Brewer never imagined the result of their anti-immigration policies: a surge in Latinos running for office. Politico Magazine profiles some of these local Arizona politicians who started as pro-immigrant organizers. “They’re building on their activism — protests, civil disobedience, grassroots organizing — to enter the halls of political power, and doing so largely without help from the Democratic Party,” writes Fernanda Santos (a Migratory Notes board member). Their rise has not come without challenges — anti-immigration Trump supporters maintain a strong base in the state. But they are having an important impact on local politics. “Now we have the numbers and the organization in place to be able to turn the tables in our favor exactly because we have a seat at the table,” said Phoenix Councilman Carlos Garcia. It’s a trend that mirrors how California’s anti-immigrant Prop. 187 in the early 1990’s inspired a generation of Latinos who are now leading the state.

The Supreme Court seems unlikely to rule against the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after hearing arguments Tuesday. The two main issues are whether the government followed the proper procedure to shut down the Obama-era program and whether it provided sufficient reasoning to do so. The government’s justification for ending the program was laid out in a memo written by Elaine Duke, acting secretary of Homeland Security at the time. She reluctantly signed the memo in September 2017 but refused to cite anti-immigrant policy rationale. The lack of depth of her justification for ending the program could now be a major weakness in the government’s case. The outcome of the case will likely be determined by Chief Justice John Roberts, the only conservative judge who has occasionally sided with his liberal colleagues. A decision in the case is not expected until next year.

The fate of an estimated 700,000 DACA recipients ages 25 to 37 is in limbo. So, who are these “dreamers”? News outlets focused on the success DACA enabled, as well as some of the ongoing challenges of an uncertain future. A few examples:

Asylum & Refugees
Border Patrol agents have approved fewer than half of the 2,000 credible fear screenings they have conducted since a controversial pilot program was implemented in June that allows them to carry out interviews normally done by a trained USCIS asylum officer, reports BuzzFeed News. At Dilley Detention Center in Texas, the approval rate for credible fear interviews for women and children is even lower, at 10 percent, reports The Guardian. It is unclear if this pilot program or another policy change is contributing to this drop but the Los Angeles Times reported in September that CBP agents were deployed to Dilley in September to conduct screenings. The national average for USCIS is typically around 80 percent and lawyers believe the decrease in approval rates is part of a coordinated effort by the Trump administration to end asylum. Other recent Trump administration attempts to restrict or streamline the asylum process include:

Remain in Mexico
More migrants are crossing illegally into Arizona after hearing that it improves their chances of being released into the U.S., reports The Wall Street Journal. DHS said in September that nearly all migrants would be quickly deported or sent to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), but shelters in Arizona report hundreds of migrants are released each week whereas in other border states migrants seem to be returned to Mexico quickly.

This week, a federal judge ruled that a Guatemalan family must be granted access to a lawyer before being returned to Mexico, reports AP. A hearing in December will determine if the ruling will apply to other migrants as well. A former asylum officer also joined those who criticize the Remain in Mexico program in a previously unpublished letter obtained by Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat of Oregon, and published by The Washington Post. “Implementation of a program for which there is no legal authority violates my oath to office,” the officer writes.

The U.S. government has expanded detention of migrant children even though it recognizes the psychological impacts of doing so, reports AP. Nearly 70,000 migrant children were detained in FY 2019, up 42 percent from the year before. Caliburn International announced Friday that a new child detention facility is under construction in El Paso, reports KFOX14. The increased detention of minors is a result of strategic Trump administration policies that make it more difficult for unaccompanied minors to be released to family members, reports The Washington Post. The administration has said the policies protect minors from being released to criminals but critics call the policies deterrence tactics.

Border Wall
Construction of the first new border wall under the Trump administration — eight miles long and costing $167 million — began in Donna, Texas in October, reports The New York Times. Trump continues to stick to his promise of building 500 miles of border barrier by the end of 2020, which construction executives say is difficult but possible. Senior Trump officials say they plan to set up a webcam to live-stream border wall construction even though CBP, construction contractors and The Army Corps disapprove of the idea, reports The Washington Post.

In Arizona, a border wall project to replace 19 miles of barrier threatens local water supplies including the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Enforcement & Surveillance
The ICE raids on Mississippi chicken processing plants cost $1.3 million from the start of the investigation to date, reports the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger. At least two single mothers have been prosecuted after the raids in a violation of ICE policy of making sure children are left with at least one parent, reports HuffPost.

An internal Pentagon document obtained by The Intercept and The Young Turks revealed that U.S. military at the southern border are monitoring peaceful protest groups. A lawyer called this new information “disturbing.” The Defense Department said law enforcement agencies along the border share information within the limits of the law. A federal judge in Boston ruled in favor of 11 plaintiffs who accused the government of violating their Fourth Amendment rights by conducting warrantless searches of their devices at airports and ports of entry, reports AP.

A September executive order that requires cities and states to agree in writing to refugee resettlement has left advocates lobbying for letters of support for resettlement by the Dec.25 deadline, reports PRI’s The World. The order gives unprecedented power to cities and states to decide if they will accept refugees and is causing an array of logistical problems.

Researchers at Syracuse University found “gross irregularities” in immigration court records published by the Trump administration, reports Bloomberg. A union representing immigration judges believes the records have been intentionally deleted or tampered with. A government spokesperson told the El Paso Times that the records have not been deleted but were withheld from the researchers under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption.

Trump administration
Chad Wolf was officially sworn in as the acting DHS secretary on Wednesday. Current USCIS head Ken Cuccinelli became second in command at DHS when he was named acting deputy secretary Wednesday. Inside sources told The Washington Post Cuccinelli was Trump’s first pick, but Senate Republicans have indicated they would not confirm him for the position.

Trump’s senior advisor and point person on immigration, Stephen Miller, promoted white nationalist rhetoric and anti-immigrant racist stories, feeding it to conservative website Breibart News in the lead up to the 2016 election, according to a report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Washington Post reports that Miller, who is Jewish, refused to comment on the accusations.

Elections 2020
Trump’s immigration campaign promises helped elevate him to the presidency, but infighting and an inability to carry out these promises could now spell his downfall in 2020, reports Politico.


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.

Curriculum & Campaigns

Reporting resources, tools and tips

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

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly…

Elizabeth Aguilera

Written by

Health/Social Services reporter @CALmatters, co-founder of #MigratoryNotes. I carry a mic & a pen. Prev: @KPCC @SDUT, @DenverPost. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

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

More From Medium

More from Migratory Notes

More from Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 88

More on Immigration from Migratory Notes

More on Immigration from Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 149

More on Immigration from Migratory Notes

More on Immigration from Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 145

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade