Migratory Notes 154
Coronavirus, thrice deported, Louisiana detention
Social distancing is not always an option. In an LAist investigation, Yingjie Wang uncovers an epidemic of overcrowding in Chinese “boarding houses” with “toothless oversight.” Workers living in these conditions faced serious health risks long before coronavirus. (Dan Carino for LAist)
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In 2017, the U.S. selected the town of San Juan Atitán in Guatemala’s western highlands for funding to incentivize residents to stay in Central America. But the money never arrived. This helps explain why 22-year-old Griselda Domingo-Godínez desperately tried to cross the border three times between 2018 and 2019. Independent Guatemalan media outlet El Intercambio reported over many months on her failed journeys from Central America and through the U.S. criminal justice and immigration systems. Domingo’s “chatty” younger sister explained to writers Ximena Villagrán and Elsa Cabria why Griselda was so persistent: “She didn’t want to marry, because the men here are machistas. She doesn’t want anyone to hurt or cheat on her, or for anyone to say she lives off a man’s efforts.” The piece, which was produced in collaboration with Documented NY and supported by the Seattle International Foundation, also features stunning photography from Oliver de Ros of Griselda’s life in Guatemala and the smugglers who facilitate journeys like hers.
Coronavirus and Immigration
While President Trump declared Wednesday he will be “suspending all travel” for 30 days from continental Europe, there are various exemptions in addition to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, reports The Washington Post. These include:
- Parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens and green-card holders under age 21.
- Children in the process of being adopted.
- Family members of U.S. service members.
Immigration lawyer Greg Siskind has updated his app to help people determine how the travel ban impacts them.
Trump has repeatedly used coronavirus to rally his supporters around his immigration agenda, but the U.S. actually has more cases of coronavirus than Mexico, reports The Guardian. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield contradicted Trump’s statement that a border wall would stop the spread of coronavirus in a hearing before lawmakers. Instead, Redfield pointed to increased funding and resources for prevention, testing and treatment as the way to fight the virus.
An increasing death toll could soon challenge attitudes towards immigrants, reports The Hill in an opinion piece. Some signs show they already are: many Asian American seniors are facing isolation, while Asian American kids are confronting discrimination, reports the L.A. Times and Chalkbeat.
The disease has already started to have an impact on immigration detention and enforcement:
- In Honduras, the government has stopped accepting deportation flights from Mexico for fear that the country’s public health system will be unable to stop the spread of the disease. (Reuters)
- In Washington state, where many coronavirus cases have been concentrated, immigrant rights groups have called on ICE to release vulnerable detainees who could be at risk, including elderly and pregnant migrants. ICE said it will not release any detainees unless ordered by a judge. (AP)
- In Florida, an ICE jail has placed detainees under quarantine after some showed flu-like symptoms. The case is raising questions about the agency’s ability to respond to the spread of the disease. (Miami New Times)
- In Florida, activists are asking ICE to suspend mandatory check ins, charging they put elderly immigrants at risk. (Miami New Times)
Remain in Mexico
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration can continue to carry out the Remain in Mexico program while a legal challenge continues. Ahead of the decision, the U.S. sent 160 troops to San Ysidro, California and El Paso, Texas in case large groups of migrants showed up seeking entry. Thousands of soldiers are already stationed along the border.
A Guatemalan woman who was kidnapped, raped and chemically burned in Ciudad Juarez was returned there under Remain in Mexico in a case that shows how the U.S. is failing to meet its international obligation to avoid sending migrants to danger, reports BuzzFeed News.
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele met with Trump officials last week to finalize an agreement that will allow the U.S. to send asylum seekers to El Salvador, reports BuzzFeed News. The small Central American nation is expected to accept 2,000 asylum seekers this year despite a practically non-existent infrastructure for asylum seekers. Neighboring Guatemala, which has received nearly 800 people since November under a similar agreement, now seeks to limit how many asylum seekers it receives, citing an overburdened asylum system, reports Reuters.
Migrant Deaths & Injuries
A 22-year-old Guatemalan woman died in ICE custody from “autoimmune hepatitis, complicated by septic shock and acute liver failure” about a month after undergoing gallbladder surgery, reports BuzzFeed News. Eight people have died in ICE custody since October, the same number of ICE in-custody deaths during all of fiscal year 2019.
The death of Camila Díaz Cordova, a trans woman deported to El Salvador and one of 138 deportees murdered in the country since 2013, could now represent the first hate crime conviction in the country, reports Foreign Policy.
A lawyer for a man paralyzed in ICE detention because of an apparent medical mistake is seeking his release from custody while his asylum case is decided, reports The Dallas Morning News. ICE denies any responsibility for his inability to walk. The man’s lawyer says the case is unprecedented and the number of mistakes “insane.”
Louisiana Detention Boom
Since Trump took office, at least eight Louisiana prisons have been converted to detention centers. Among them is Richwood in the northeastern corner of the state where one immigrant wrote in a letter last year: “We only want our liberty to pursue our cases freely and to leave this hell, because Louisiana is a cemetery of living men.” Surveillance footage shows a Cuban asylum seeker died there by suicide in October and no one opened the door of his cell where he was held in solitary confinement for at least an hour before he died, reports AP. ICE requires a visual check-in every 30 minutes for migrants in solitary confinement.
Immigrant advocates believe a group of women who were moved to another Louisiana detention center, Taylor, after protesting detention conditions in Texas will actually have a tougher time winning their cases there because of barriers to access to legal counsel and a higher asylum denial rate, reports The Texas Observer. The women, mainly from Cameroon, denounced medical neglect, extended detention without parole, and forced signatures for deportation orders before they were transferred, reports Prism. ICE denied the accusations that it has forced anyone to sign a deportation order and said it could not comment on cases of medical neglect without specifics on the cases.
Trump’s son-in-law and aide Jared Kushner is pushing a new immigration plan that might signal a softer stance on DACA recipients leading up to the 2020 election, reports The New York Times. After a recent meeting, Republican senator Lindsey Graham said the Trump administration may consider shielding DREAMers from deportation even if the Supreme Court rules in June that the administration’s decision to end DACA was legal, reports Fox News. The rest of the plan is similar to a previous proposal by Kushner to increase legal immigration.
A single mother of two who worked as a U.S. interpreter in Afghanistan will likely be relieved of her citizenship after a court found she lied on her asylum application in 2001, reports The Dallas Morning News. The woman is part of a growing number of naturalized citizens being investigated for fraud dating back to the Obama administration. Her defense lawyers said the lies on her application, including a false name, were necessary to leave the country as an unmarried woman.
A blind man who failed his citizenship test because it was not offered in Braille as he requested will be offered another chance to take the test after he went public with his case, reports The New York Times. His lawyer worries countless other people with unknown cases will never get a second chance. USCIS says it offers tests in Braille to anyone who asks for it but has also admitted deficiencies in accommodating these requests.
- A detainee from Nepal who protested detention center conditions through a hunger strike could be released this week after immigration officials agreed to release him if he began eating again. (El Paso Matters)
- The Trump administration will start taking DNA samples of migrants in U.S. custody in April in a controversial decision contested by immigrant rights advocates on grounds of privacy violations. (The Wall Street Journal)
- An appeals court upheld a lower court decision to exempt migrants from a partial asylum ban if they arrived in July before it was announced but were not allowed to enter the U.S. because of metering. (AP)
- A family living in California who traveled to China to renew the parents’ work visas was finally able to leave their tiny apartment in China when a coronavirus quarantine was lifted, but now they worry about their long-term health from being sedentary for weeks. (PRI’s The World)
- Four sheriffs in Illinois filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block a state law that prohibits local enforcement agencies from working with ICE in the latest pushback against a state sanctuary law. (The Daily Herald)
Jobs, Fellowships & Awards
- The Vera Institute of Justice is hiring a senior writer to focus on immigration issues.
- The Center for Migration Studies of New York is hiring an editorial and research professional to conduct research and write reports.
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee. The University of Minnesota professor provides a timely history of the roots and ongoing threats of hatred of immigrants. (Pub date 11/19)
- Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid by William D. Lopez. The University of Michigan professor follows the story of the lasting damage of a raid in Michigan in 2013. (Pub date 9/19)
- Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández. The law professor and crimmigration.com blog author explores how the U.S. came to lock up almost half a million migrants annually.
- Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfield Davis and Michael Shear. The New York Times reporters probe Trump’s rise and its connection to the country’s attitudes toward foreigners.
- Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani. The NPR correspondent and co-founder of Families for Freedom’s memoir of her family’s battles 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. An 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.
Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups
- Only Here is a podcast about the “subcultures, creativity and struggles” at the US-Mexico border from KPBS
- Frontera Dispatch is a weekly newsletter by the Hope Border Institute on news and analysis from the border.
- Nuestro South is a podcast exploring the experiences of Latinx people in the U.S. south.
- Salvadoran investigative media outlet El Faro has launched an English-language newsletter with reporting from Central America.
- 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
- Doctors for Immigrants released a toolkit to welcome and protect immigrants within the healthcare system.
- 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 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 Troubling audit reveals state failure to test millions of babies for toxic lead. 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