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Migratory Notes 169

Elizabeth Aguilera
Jun 25 · 14 min read

Ag worker visas up, other worker visas down, immigrant media innovators

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In agricultural communities, many migrant students went to work in the fields when schools closed and classes went online, leaving many with little opportunity to focus on learning, writes Elizabeth for CalMatters. California sisters Maria and Jennifer “missed out on live digital meetings with their teachers and small group meetings that took place while they were curved over strawberry plants, sifting for the ripest berries.” Photo: Elizabeth Aguilera for CalMatters

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What are the actual costs of deportation to a community? With more than 6 million U.S. citizen children living in mixed-status families, how do you measure the loss when a breadwinner and loved one is forced to leave? The Marshall Project’s Julia Preston investigated this question by analyzing data and going deep into the stories of three families in an Ohio community feeling the impact of ramped up deportations. “While the benefits to communities from these removals are unclear, the costs — to devastated American families and to the public purse — are coming into focus. The hardships for the families have only deepened with the economic strains of the coronavirus,” writes Preston in a story also published in The Guardian. Mariceu Erthal García and Michael McElroy provide stunning, intimate photography.

Visa Restrictions & Expansions
One group of visas is growing: the rate of approval for temporary agricultural visas is 15% faster this year, reports The Washington Post. “Why simultaneously accelerate immigration in agriculture while restricting it in other industries?” Julie Weise, a historian at University of Oregon, writes in an opinion piece. “Because U.S. farmers have long found a way to access cheap, foreign-born labor in times of depression and prosperity, xenophobia and openness alike.” (The US is not alone: The Mexican government announced Sunday that it will resume sending temporary agricultural workers to Canada, reports Reuters.)

Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced Monday the suspension of skilled worker visas through the end of this year, saying the move is intended to protect American workers as the economy recovers. Some immigrants will be allowed to apply for an exception, and the rule will not affect immigrants already in the U.S. The order also extended a temporary ban on green cards.

Critics of the plan say that it will hurt the U.S. economy long-term and stymie innovation in science and technology as the U.S. competes with China, reports Foreign Policy. Critics also say it could push companies to hire remote workers outside the U.S., a decision that would limit tax revenue, reports The New York Times.

On Tuesday, Trump told DACA recipients to “put your chin up,” because good things would be happening for the program. But just days before he said that he intends to end DACA, reports AP. Acting DHS head Chad Wolf echoed the sentiment Sunday when he said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the program is unlawful and the agency is looking to end it.

Regardless of next steps, for some young immigrants the Supreme Court ruling was not enough. It was too little, too late for former DACA recipients like Raul Martinez Lopez, one of thousands who have chosen to return to Mexico rather than risk being stripped of their status, reports the Arizona Republic. He does not regret his decision, because the ruling does not provide a permanent legal status for DACA recipients. The ruling also left out an estimated 66,000 young immigrants who became eligible for DACA after Trump ended the program in 2017, reports The Marshall Project. Some lawyers believe the Trump administration is now obligated to process new applications.

Some of the 700,000 DACA participants wrote about what it means to them:

Strict isolation measures are starting to take a toll on the children at the family detention center in Dilley, Texas, including an 8-year-old boy from El Salvador who often asks his mother if they are going to die. At least three employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports AP.

Even after the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced a policy to stop transfers during the pandemic, hundreds of immigrant detainees were transferred from Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons, a special subset of facilities under the Bureau of Prisons that sit in a gray area between immigration and criminal detention, reports The Intercept.

Deportations & Expulsions
The Guatemalan Health Ministry confirmed that six Guatemalans deported on June 9 tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to the list of nearly 200 deportees who have tested positive even after additional health measures were put in place, reports AP.

The U.S. announced Friday it will stop issuing travel visas to people from Burundi because the country has refused to accept deportees, reports AP. Five Burundi citizens in ICE custody are awaiting deportation and another 500 have been ordered deported.

A hotel in Ciudad Juarez has become a quarantine center for migrants turned back to Mexico during the pandemic, reports KERA News. Officials hope quarantining migrants will prevent the virus from further spreading to shelters, which have already reported outbreaks. Deportees are not tested before being sent to Mexico, exacerbating an already dire situation for tens of thousands of migrants waiting in Mexican border cities, reports The New Humanitarian.

Border Wall
Trump traveled to Yuma, Arizona Tuesday to celebrate the 200th mile of border wall constructed under his administration, calling it “powerful and comprehensive.” But that number is misleading. Most of Trump’s border wall has been built in places that already had a barrier or fence. Only three miles of border wall have been constructed where there was none before, a detail Trump neglects to share when campaigning, reports the LA Times. A strong message in Arizona is crucial to the Trump campaign as some Democratic officials believe the state could turn blue in part by the increase of young Latino voters, reports The New York Times.

Courts & Justice
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that migrants whose initial requests for asylum were rejected by immigration officials have no right to a federal court hearing. The decision will affect thousands of asylum seekers.

A federal appeals court reversed an injunction that prevented the Trump administration from expanding expedited removal, the process of deporting immigrants without passing through an immigration court, reports Politico. Previously, it was only applied to immigrants within 100 miles of the border but the Trump administration expanded the practice of deportation without court to the whole country in July. The court ruled that DHS has discretion to apply the policy. The Trump administration has said the move will help decrease a backlog in immigration courts, reports The Wall Street Journal. Immigrant advocates say it violates due process.

The Trump administration wants to decertify the immigration judges union, reports The American Prospect. But the National Association of Immigration Judges, and their supporters, believe they should continue to be an independent body within the executive branch. A decision in the case is expected before elections in November. This isn’t the first time the union has faced decertification, it happened once before under President Bill Clinton. The union prevailed last time.

After the Trump administration announced a plan to bar asylum seekers from getting work permits, DHS advised asylum seekers to familiarize themselves with homelessness resources in the state where they live, reports Mother Jones.

Migrant Workers
The UN called for governments to develop support programs for the millions of migrant workers that will likely return to their countries because of the coronavirus, reports Reuters. The Migration Policy Institute research director also called for more research on immigrant gig economy workers during the pandemic. These informal platforms often allow immigrants to skirt barriers to entering the labor force, but lack support for workers, which has been further exposed during the coronavirus.

Immigrant Media Innovators

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The Center for Community Media released a report Tuesday on innovation and growth in immigrant-serving news outlets, and how they are serving their communities during the coronavirus crisis and informing them about civil rights and BLM. The report, Digital First Responders, includes 50 outlets in 23 states publishing in more than 30 languages. “Immigrant outlets are vital sources of information for people from indigenous farmworkers to Chinese engineers to Somali Uber drivers,” Daniela writes in the introduction. “On the Chinese social media app WeChat, Houston Online documented empty Chinese-owned businesses well before most U.S. outlets were paying attention to the pandemic’s reach. Punjabi Radio USA in Northern California reported on dangerous rest stop conditions for truckers, one of their main listener groups. And as Queens emerged as an epicenter of coronavirus in the U.S., TBN24, a Bangladeshi digital television outlet with more than 2.7 million followers on Facebook alone, informed viewers about everything from how to get a stimulus check to how to connect with funeral homes.” On Tuesday, June 30 at 12 pm PT, Daniela will be hosting a forum that will review findings, and feature leaders of The Haitian Times, Chicago in Arabic, Jambalaya News, Punjabi Radio USA and many of the other outlets featured in the report.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Coronavirus Resources

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

Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups

  • In The Thick podcast covers the coronavirus impact on immigrant communities from Chelsea, MA to the Bronx, New York.
  • Only Here is a podcast about the “subcultures, creativity and struggles” at the US-Mexico border from KPBS
  • 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.
  • ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? Podcast tells stories of Latino life “from the homeland to the heartland.”
  • Frontera Dispatch is a weekly newsletter by the Hope Border Institute on news and analysis from the border.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Politico’s Morning Shift newsletter: a daily read on employment and immigration.
  • 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 Media (CCM) 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 published Digital First Responders: How innovative news outlets are meeting the needs of immigrant communities, a report for the Center for Community Media. 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 where she covers the health and welfare of California’s next generation after covering health care and social services, including immigration, for several years for the digital outlet. 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 For some California teens, school closures led to work in the fields. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*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

*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

*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.

Migratory Notes

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

Elizabeth Aguilera

Written by

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

Migratory Notes

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

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