ICE sends virus global, DACA purgatory, avoidable child deaths
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!
Latin American smuggling networks have grown in the past two decades to meet the rising demand from African and Asian migrants and now generate between $150 and $350 million a year, reports the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism. Most migrants arrive on a flight from Addis Ababa to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the network leaders are believed to be based, before making the treacherous journey north. “Often the smugglers exploit the divergent immigration policies across the continent to ply their trade,” writes Ronny Rojas. Corrupt officials enable their passage and criminal networks then often take advantage of the migrants they are paid to protect.
Over the past four months, the Marshall Project and The New York Times tracked more than 700 domestic ICE flights and more than 200 deportation flights, documenting how the agency became a global spreader of COVID-19. In a video featuring striking data visualization, they illustrate the movement of the disease, and also provide personal interviews with deportees to India, Haiti, Guatemala and El Salvador, who tested positive for the virus shortly after arriving from the U.S.
Congressional testimony revealed more than 900 privately contracted employees at ICE facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports Reuters. The revelation shows outbreaks at ICE facilities are far bigger than the public data ICE shares, which only includes cases of workers contracted directly. Farmville Detention Center in Virginia has been the site of the latest outbreak, with more than 90 percent of detainees testing positive for the virus, reports DCist.
Sex abuse of kids at the now closed Homestead detention center in Miami was revealed in a report from the overseeing agency a year following a local congresswoman’s inquiry, reports The Miami Herald.
A 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico who was being held in a Florida detention center, died Sunday of COVID-19 related symptoms, reports CBS News. Onoval Perez-Montufa, is the third reported case of an immigrant to die of the coronavirus in ICE custody.
A migrant died in Border Patrol custody last week after being found barely breathing in South Texas, reports KRGV. The Jane Doe, who had no ID on her, tested positive for COVID-19. This caused a dilemma for officials, who are required to take DNA for possible identification in the future, but can’t do so under current protocol for dealing with deaths of COVID-19 patients. Another Jane Doe was found dead on July 8 with a severe head injury just north of the border wall in New Mexico, but her death was not investigated, revealing how fatalities can slip through bureaucracy, reports El Paso Matters.
A pediatric physician and professor at Harvard Medical School said the deaths of two Guatemalan minors, Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, could have been prevented if officials took the appropriate measures to ensure care, reports NBC News. The letter was filed as part of a hearing before a congressional committee Wednesday. A government watchdog agency also found that CBP regularly violated its own policy for providing medical care to migrant children, reports The Wall Street Journal.
A Honduran woman who gave birth shortly after crossing the border was told she would have to return to Mexico under the policy of rapid expulsions during the coronavirus. But agents said that her newborn could stay in the U.S. if she turned him over to Child Services, reports NPR News. Both returned to Mexico.
More single adults from Mexico have crossed the border recently, shifting away from the trend in recent years of Central American minors and families. In the Arizona desert, the number of rescues this year has already surpassed rescues last year, foreboding a dangerous year for migrants as the warmest months are still to come, reports the Arizona Republic.
Trump said Tuesday that he is planning to unveil a merit-based immigration proposal that would include protections for DREAMers, after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the administration’s termination of DACA was illegal, reports Bloomberg. The plan could be based on Trump’s aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s previous bill to increase migration of highly skilled workers and reduce migration based on family ties, reports Politico. But the plan failed to gain support, even among Republicans, when Kushner presented it earlier this year. A White House spokesperson said Trump is also considering signing an executive order that would promote merit-based immigration.
Former acting secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, who signed the bill to end DACA, told The New York Times she did not include policy justifications because she did not agree with the Trump administration’s reasoning that characterized the program as an undeserved amnesty. She criticized the administration for prioritizing ideology over deliberation. The lifelong Republican says she is unsure she will vote for Trump in November.
The rationale behind the Trump administration’s decision to rescind a rule that would have forced international students to return to their home countries if their universities only offered online classes in the fall has not yet been revealed. But the back-room deal was likely influenced by the power universities wield to influence public policy and the economic importance of foreign students for these schools. The administration faced eight federal lawsuits after it tried to enact the rule in early July.
Overall, there will be an estimated 50 percent decrease in legal immigration under the Trump administration by the end of fiscal year 2021, reports Newsweek. Some experts recommend a restoration of pre-Trump legal migration to help the economy bounce back from COVID-19.
Temporary worker cutback repercussions include:
- Worker shortages at summer beach retreats like Cape Cod. (AP)
- Forestry firms and state and local governments failing to plant millions of trees lost to natural disasters or logging. (Politico)
ICE announced the launch of its inaugural six-week “Citizens Academy” that will provide scenario-based training on the responsibilities of ICE officers, including arresting undocumented immigrants, reports Newsweek. Critics worry the program will enable abuses and racial profiling by citizens who are not law enforcement. ICE said the course is not meant as law enforcement training, but rather to offer a glimpse inside a day in the life of an ICE agent.
The Trump administration recently sent DHS agents to guard statues at risk of being toppled or vandalized in relation to unrest over the death of George Floyd, reports The New York Times. It is the latest of many examples of the administration using the agency, which was created to fight terrorism after 9/11, to carry out its political goals.
Courts & Justice
A record-high number of immigration judges quit in 2019, meaning the courts are losing the most experienced judges while facing pressure to battle a colossal backlog of cases, according to new data released by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
Immigration is an International Issue
In Brazil, a campaign to grant residency to all immigrants is picking up steam as coronavirus cases surge, with a disproportionate impact on immigrants, reports The New Humanitarian. Proponents of the plan say it is necessary to ensure immigrants can access the services they need during the pandemic.
The CEO of Goya food’s praise of Trump this week has exposed the range of opinions of Hispanic voters when it comes to the Trump presidency, reports AP. Many called for a boycott of Goya products, such as beans, seasoning and salsas, that sometimes fill pantries in Latino households in protest of Trump’s policies. But some Latino voters, particularly Cubans and Venezuelans, agree with the CEO’s comments.
- The builder of a privately funded section of the border wall agreed to an engineering inspection after a report revealed signs of erosion. Trump said Sunday that the report aimed to make him look bad. (ProPublica and The Texas Tribune/Politico)
- Immigration courts in three more cities — Newark, Detroit, and Baltimore — opened this week despite continuing concerns that doing so will put judges, lawyers and immigrants at risk. (AP)
- In a congressional hearing Monday, private prison executives claimed to be unaware of more than a dozen cases since March of guards using pepper spray against immigrant detainees. (Mother Jones)
- Immigration lawyers and activists successfully pressured ICE to refrain from detaining a Cambodian immigrant who was released from prison in July. (PRI’s The World)
- The tech industry and immigration advocates are calling for an extension of the 60-day deadline for skilled workers on H-1B visas to find a new job after being fired or laid off. (The San Francisco Chronicle)
- Asylum officers are condemning ‘draconian’ plans by Trump. (The New York Times)
- More than 200 people approved for visas through the “diversity lottery” sued the Trump administration for suspending immigration during the pandemic. (The Miami Herald)
- The U.S. government argued last week that families should not be required to be released because allegations that ICE is unable to keep them safe are unfounded. The government’s argument set the stage for the potential separation of families if children are ordered released without their parents. (BuzzFeed News)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
- Database of more than 200 COVID relief funds that are accessible to refugees and other immigrants, including without legal status. (IRAP)
- Updates on immigration developments during COVID-19 (Center for Migration Studies)
- Map of detention centers tracking coronavirus outbreaks (Freedom for Immigrants)
- COVID-19 resources for undocumented immigrants (UndocuScholars)
- Database of likely deportation flights during the pandemic (Center for Economic and Policy Research)
- Informed Immigrant is an online resource that provides information for undocumented immigrant communities in the U.S. during the coronavirus.
Recently released immigration books and films(got one, send it over)
- Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas by Roberto Lavato. (September 2020)
- Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by NBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff tells the story of the long-term impact of the family separation policy on families. (July 2020)
- 14 Miles: Building the Border Wall by DW Gibson covers the repercussions of the wall in San Diego. (July 2020)
- “USA V Scott” a documentary that depicts the moral dilemma facing Arizona residents, who must decide whether or not to help desperate migrants they come across, using the case of activist Scott Warren as a case study.
- The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants by Adam Goodman. The book examines how public officials have used different forms of deportations and expulsion “to purge immigrants from the country and exert control over those who remain.” (June 2020)
- One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924–1965 by Jia Lynn Yang, chronicles the major changes in U.S. immigration policy in the 20th century and their profound impact on immigrant families including her own. (May 2020)
- The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum at the US-Mexican Border and Beyond by John Washington. The book takes an in-depth look at the Trump administration’s attack on asylum, told through the story of one Salvadoran dad, Arnovis. (May 2020)
- Migranthood: Youth in a New Era of Deportation, by anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink, chronicles deportation from the perspectives of Indigenous youth who migrate unaccompanied from Guatemala. (April 2020)
Reporting Initiatives about Immigrant Communities
- Borderless: a non-profit online magazine reimagining coverage of the immigration system.
- Documented: a non-profit news site covering immigrants in New York.
- Ethnic Media Services: organization that works with ethnic media organizations to improve coverage and reach.
- Feet In Two Worlds: project that tells immigrant stories and provides fellowships for immigrant journalists.
- Finding American: a collaboration between documentary photographer Colin Boyd Shafer and immigrants to feature their stories.
- The Immigrant Story: a project between journalists, photographers, graphic designers and developers to document and archive immigrants’ stories.
- ImmPrint: an online publication by and for people affected by immigrant detention.
- New Michigan Media: a network of ethnic and minority media across the state of Michigan.
- Newest Americans: a multimedia collaboration between journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students telling the stories of the immigrant and immigrant communities in Newark, NJ.
- Refugees (Santa Fe Dreamers Project): a collection of testimonies from asylum seekers in partnership with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center.
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
- 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
- Digital First Responders: A database, report, and case study of how immigrant news outlets are innovating to serve their communities. (Center for Community Media).
- 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.
- 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.
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