Migratory Notes 15

A screenshot of a photo of Lola, from The Atlantic story “My Family’s Slave”

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#MustRead/ #MustListen

The Atlantic published an extraordinary and provocative personal account by the late Alex Tizon about owning a slave, Lola, as part of his Filipino immigrant family. Jia Tolentino tweeted this is the latest of “some phenomenal writing about the impossibly complicated situations of Filipino migrants & immigrants” such as “transparent and indispensable” Israeli caregivers (NYT Mag) and cruiseship workers “it’s like you’re in a jail but earning money” (California Sunday). And the Seattle Times obituary writer who penned Lola’s obit weighed in about learning the truth. (Photo above is a screenshot of Lola from The Atlantic story)

For the new United States of Anxiety podcast, Arun Venugopal traveled to Kansas to try and understand not just why an Indian immigrant was recently killed, but why Indians come to Kansas in the first place. He weaves personal stories of discrimination, a deep history that explains why everyone seems to know a doctor named Patel, and a casual visit to a tennis club to talk about serious problems. You can also listen to a shorter cut on NPR. (Bloomberg Business also has a feature story that looks into Olathe, Kansas the site where the murder occurred and a global magnet for tech talent.)

Between Capitol Hill and the White House

Four immigration-related bills that would enable mass deportations and give immigration agents access to M-4 rifles are moving through Congress, reports Huff Post. The bills are before the Judiciary Committee and two are regarding ICE, one is about U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the last one is about human trafficking.

Two Republican Congressman from Texas are developing an immigration and border security bill “in what could be the first credible effort to deliver a legislative win on immigration policy under President Donald Trump,” according to CNN.

Even though about half of U.S. crop workers are in the country illegally, farmers are again being promised that their workers will be protected, Reuters reports. “[Trump] assured us we would have plenty of access to workers,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, one of 14 participants at an April 25 meeting with Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Enforcement Watch
ICE arrests of non-criminals have doubled under Trump, the Washington Post reports.

Some of the reports of people facing deportation:

Not all of the people facing deportation lack criminal records. An extreme case from San Diego: A 6-year-old was critically injured when an alleged drunk driver smashed his truck into the family car. The driver of the truck had been previously deported 15 times. ICE confirmed and acknowledged that “indicates an egregious immigration violation,” reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And not everyone detained is deported: 
The Dallas Morning News’ Dianne Solis and Ana Azpurua narrate the tale of a woman who faced deportation 16 months ago but who was given the rare chance to stay when a judge granted her and her two sons asylum.

Customs and Border Patrol

A New York City police officer and combat veteran in the United States Army Reserve named Syed Ali was threatened and held for hours upon returning to JFK airport, reports the New York Times. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist?” Ali asks.

Atlanta’s airport is tracking visa departures in an effort to better understand how many people overstay visitor and other types of visas. According to the Washington Times the Department of Homeland Security has a backlog of more than 1.2 million people it believes have overstayed their permission to be in the U.S. It has only arrested about 3,400 of those folks.


Texas Governor Greg Abbott told Hispanic Texans not to “fall for all the fear mongering” about the sanctuary ban in his state. Meanwhile, the number of municipalities challenging it is growing.

Want to keep track of where other states fall on sanctuary issues? AP compiled a list that shows, for example, that in Illinois a sanctuary bill is advancing while an anti bill is moving forward in Louisiana.

Efforts to proclaim Howard County, MD a sanctuary ran into unexpected opposition. From legal immigrants. They argued that offering sanctuary devalued their own struggles for citizenship and could possibly undermine their American Dream. Democrats who supported the effort were shocked and the arguments killed the effort, explains The New York Times. A state proposal also died after many of the same immigrant citizens protested it.


A journalist from Guerrero, who fled after receiving death threats, has been in detention since Feb. 5 in West Texas, according to Reporters without Borders. Martin Mendez Pineda described his situation: “In this place, I experienced the worst days of my life. It is known by the detainees as “el gallinero” (the henhouse) since the barracks resemble a stable for livestock or chickens, designed for approximately 60 people but currently housing more than 100 individuals, who are exposed to all kinds of diseases and who don’t have access to adequate medical attention.”

High Country News explores the making of Adelanto, a prison in the desert, and also touches on the journeys of Ghanaians seeking political asylum for being gay who are currently held there.

Family Separation

Mother Jones’s Laurie Smith looks at families that are separated and the consequences for kids that are left behind due to deportation, focusing on the case of a San Leandro father who was recently detained.

For PRI’s The World, Deepa Fernandes traveled to El Salvador and looked at the other perspective: Mothers that are left behind when children travel on their own north.

Moving South

Firms are leaving Silicon Valley for south of the border so that they can more easily hire foreign workers, Financial Times reports.

Meanwhile, Mexican immigrants who return to Mexico, willingly or not, are finding that the matricula consular identification cards their government issued them in the United States have little value in Mexico since banks and local agencies do not recognize it, El Financiero reports.


Twin Falls, in rural Idaho, successfully incorporated waves of refugees. Then conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said they ravaged the town with disease and crime. David Montero, with gorgeous photos and video by Robert Gauthier, tells a story of integration, fake news, and the Chobani yogurt plant. After the article published Jones retracted his comments about refugees and settled a lawsuit with the yogurt giant.

Could schools that segregate refugees lead to better integration? Hechinger Report visits Bowling Green, Kentucky, which opened a new high school dedicated solely to immigrants and refugees. It follows a model that is popular in New York where there is an Internationals Network which focuses on often traumatized, immigrants, and at boosting their emotional and social well-being, as well.

Minnesota is facing its worst measles outbreak in decades after anti-vaxers conned the Somali community, Fusion reports.


The U.S. Census director resigned amid turmoil about funding of the 2020 count, the Washington Post reports. A former Capitol Hill staffer told the Post that the government needs to increase funds in order to get an accurate population count:“They’re not accounting for inflation; they’re not accounting for the 30 million more Americans, for the fact that people don’t have hard [telephone] lines anymore. And you’re going to do the census for the same amount of money? That’s not possible.”

Among those cities with increasing populations of new Americans is Houston, which for the past few years has been considered the most diverse city in the nation. The LA Times pays a visit.

Travel Ban follow

In Seattle, the 9th Circuit Court began a discussion this week about the appeal of Trump’s Travel Ban, which prohibits entry of people from seven majority-Muslim countries. A judge in Hawaii issued a preliminary injunction because he said there was evidence the ban was anti-Muslim. When a federal lawyer argued that Trump’s order did not mention religion, a member of the three-judge panel responded that the order that led to Japanese internment did not name the Japanese as the target, reports the LA Times.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, the 4th Circuit Court heard similar arguments in another challenge on the ban. Experts predict the issue will eventually go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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. Here are a few:

That’s all for Migratory Notes 15. 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: Sloane Davison, Anna-Cat Brigada, Shirin Parsavand, Jason Alcorn, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Voice of San Diego Border Report, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, Migration Information Source, 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 California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, once opposed sanctuary status. Have time — and Trump — changed his mind? You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

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