Migratory Notes 143

Elizabeth Aguilera
Dec 12, 2019 · 12 min read

Child trauma, a video death, Biden’s plan

Despite the lush appearance of the mountains in Cubulco, Guatemala, the earth has become less and less productive in recent years, part of a complex set of factors leading many to migrate. Photo by Noah Lanard for Mother Jones/Courtesy of Noah Lanard

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Residents of Chivaquito, Cubulco in Guatemala have been migrating to the U.S. since at least the 1990s, but the exodus really began about a year ago, reports Mother Jones. But then all of a sudden, something changed. Residents heard that the border was closed. “For a city that’s become defined by migration, Cubulco is hard to reach — or to leave,” writes Noah Lanard in a piece that traces how immigration policy has affected one Guatemalan community. As more and more obstacles are placed in the path to the American Dream, the decision of whether to stay or leave has become more and more difficult.

Tantrums, vomiting and anxiety. These are some of the signs of trauma in kids who have been detained, reports The New York Times in a story that shows the human impact of increased child detention. These anecdotes are backed by extensive research on the mental health and developmental impact of detention. “It becomes extremely clear that it is detention which is the variable which is creating, literally, mental illness in these children,” said one child psychiatrist. But the Trump administration wants to expand family detention anyway. Whether it can carry this out depends on a November appeal of a judge’s decision to block an attempt to remove limits on family detention and it could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Migrant Deaths
A revealing and controversial video obtained by ProPublica shows CBP officers failed to check in on Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who was diagnosed with the flu and died in U.S. custody, reports ProPublica. The video shows the teenager slumped on the floor near the toilet. After four hours of deleted video, he remains in the same position when his cellmate discovers him, showing that officials did not check on him as they said. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have since accused CBP of lying to Congress and the public, reports ProPublica.

After the video was released, Carlos’ family said in a statement that they did not consent to having the video published and found it traumatic to watch, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. In response, ProPublica said that it consulted Carlos’ father prior to publishing the video and that they chose to publish based on the journalistic value of the video. ProPublica’s editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg issued a more detailed statement Wednesday. “In cases like this one, particularly when a child is involved, we need to do everything we can to understand and be sensitive to what is at stake for everyone involved. I regret that we did not do that,” Engelberg wrote.

To avoid more deaths in detention, doctors have recommended vaccinating for the flu, but CBP has refused to do so. This week, six people, including doctors, were arrested after CBP denied them entry to a facility in San Diego to administer free flu shots, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. They did not have prior authorization to enter the facility. CBP officials said a vaccination process is already in place at other long-term facilities and that it would be logistically complicated to implement another system at short-term CBP facilities, reports The New York Times.

Asylum
This week, a family of three and another parent and child from Honduras received notice they would be sent to Guatemala, despite a previous statement from the U.S. saying it would only send single adults to Guatemala under a safe third country agreement, reports The LA Times. Experts and advocates say Guatemala is not safe for migrants.

The U.S. has been giving fake follow-up court dates to asylum seekers who have been granted asylum when they attempt to enter the country in an effort to keep them out of the U.S., reports BuzzFeed News. The news outlet called to confirm at least one hearing and found it did not exist. The Acting CBP Commissioner said this “shouldn’t be happening,” but another CBP official told BuzzFeed News that migrants in the Remain in Mexico program could be sent there or kept there to await an appeal. In a tweet, DHS later accused the story of being “fake news” and many lawyers tweeted back examples of their clients receiving fake court dates.

Remain in Mexico
A Salvadoran father was murdered in Tijuana in November where he was awaiting his asylum hearing with his wife and children under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), reports NBC San Diego. It is the first known case of a migrant in MPP murdered in Mexico.

Nine Venezuelan asylum seekers became the first in Nogales, Arizona to be sent back to Mexico under MPP, reports the Arizona Daily Star. The program did not formally exist in Arizona until recently.

A group of acupuncturists has traveled to Mexican border cities to provide care to stressed migrants in the Remain in Mexico program, reports USA Today. “They’ve been through enormous levels of challenges. It’s a very powerful experience for people who are in such a state of trauma to experience such a simple healing treatment,” said the group’s founder.

Refugees
Burleigh County, North Dakota decided Monday to continue accepting refugees in a tight vote that could have made it the first county to ban refugees after the Trump administration gave local governments the option to decide if they want to receive refugees, reports The New York Times. Those opposed to taking refugees in said they are motivated by economics, not racism, but the state has an excess of 30,000 jobs, reports AP. Refugees like Reuben Panchol from Sudan arrived at the town hall Monday in the hopes that his story of contributing to the community would help convince voters to keep welcoming refugees. No known county has voted to refuse refugees to date.

Election 2020
Presidential candidate Joe Biden released his immigration plan this week. It includes reinstating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), repealing Remain in Mexico, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reports The New York Times. Biden apologized for his role in Obama-era deportations but did not endorse decriminalizing border crossings as some of his opponents have.

Detention
Detention of pregnant women has increased by more than 50% since 2016 after the Trump administration ended an Obama-era rule that recommended releasing most pregnant women for health concerns, reports The Washington Post.

When 18-year-old student Mario Aguilar was detained by ICE in Connecticut, teachers and classmates rushed to organize support for him, reports CNN. They brought his homework to detention so he wouldn’t fall behind and sent letters asking for his release. His detention shows the ripple effect that detentions can have on schools.

Border Wall
A judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot redirect funds designated for military projects to build the border wall because it lacks the authority to bypass Congress, reports The Washington Post. The border wall faces another obstacle along the border as government attorneys are beginning to file petitions to acquire private land because many owners don’t want to sell, reports The Washington Post.

The Defense Department’s internal watchdog will review a contract for border wall construction made with Fisher Sand and Gravel after The Washington Post revealed Trump personally advocated for the company to receive the contracts, reports NBC News. The same company was hired by a private group to build 3.5 miles of wall in south Texas. A judge ordered that the group cease construction, but construction has continued, reports The Guardian.

Border
CBP opened job postings for hundreds of non-law enforcement positions that would process and maintain the security and welfare of migrants, reports the El Paso Times. The positions aim to ease the workload of agents and to get a better handle on the volume of migrants waiting to be processed.

The inspector general for the Pentagon announced that he plans to launch an investigation into the military deployment at the border to ensure they followed the law and Pentagon policy, reports The Washington Post.

Enforcement
ICE arrests in the interior of the country decreased by 10 percent from January to September 2019 compared to the year before, reports Reuters. The agency attributed the drop to shifting resources to border areas.

Caravans
One year after caravans arrived in Tijuana in Nov. 2018, shelters are no longer bursting and fewer Central American migrants have made it there, reports The Nation. A photo essay shows the changes in this Mexican border city by placing photos of the same location side-by-side.

Citizenship
The process of becoming a U.S. citizen has become more difficult because of longer processing times, more vetting and the threat of a possible increase in fees, reports PRI’s The World. This could prevent some potential U.S. citizens from voting in the 2020 election.

Labor
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated one million farmworkers, reports The Wall Street Journal. The bill garnered 34 Republican votes in the House but is unlikely to pass the Republican-led Senate.

Munger Brothers, the largest blueberry producer in the U.S., was fined $3.5 million for paying unfair wages and providing unsanitary living conditions to migrants brought to work on H-2A foreign guest worker visas, reports the LA Times.

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Immigration Resources & Opportunities

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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

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.

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