Migratory Notes 176

Potato slaves, Kamala, GW Bush paints 43 immigrants

Elizabeth Aguilera
Aug 13, 2020 · 12 min read
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President George W. Bush has completed a new book featuring his own paintings of 43 immigrants and their stories: Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants. “While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue,” the former president, who created the Department of Homeland Security and unsuccessfully advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, said in a statement. “It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us.” Source: George W. Bush Presidential Center

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Thousands of Mexican and Central American immigrants on temporary visas are coerced annually into working as modern slaves, reports Univision. The creative multimedia investigative project — featuring illustration, graphics and animation — centers on the small Texan city of Dalhart, home to one of the country’s largest potato producers. Some of the workers on H-2A visas reported supervisors illegally forcing them to pay fees for their visas or confiscating their passports to make them work longer hours. But most “suffer in silence, afraid of being turned over to authorities who could mount a case against them and order their return to the poverty and danger of their home countries,” write Patricia Clarembaux and Almudena Toral. The investigation has led to the arrests of at least two supervisors.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants and their families are at risk of becoming homeless during the pandemic, and Honduran mother Norma is one of them, report The Marshall Project and PBS Frontline in a gripping documentary. When Norma’s husband Jesus was taken into ICE custody it became nearly impossible for her to provide for her five children. Then, her mother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19 and Norma could not find a place to stay with her kids because she had been exposed. COVID-19 then began spreading through the detention center. It became too much for the kids to handle. “I believe that nobody deserves to live what we are living,” said 17-year-old Andrea.

Election 2020
As Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, would be the first major candidate in recently history with two immigrant parents, reports Slate. Her positions on immigration have included a forceful push to expand DACA to be a path to citizenship and more oversight of detention centers, reports Politico.

Other promises of the Biden-Harris ticket on immigration include:

Biden also committed to stopping border wall construction if elected in an interview with the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists last week. Instead, he said he favored high-tech solutions to border security. Trump has allocated $15 billion for 738 miles of border wall which has almost entirely paid for replacement fencing or secondary fencing, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

While Republicans tend to maintain support for the border wall, a new poll showed many disagree with the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies, such as ending DACA and restricting refugee admissions, reports USA Today. This shift had led Florida Republicans to urge the party to rethink its hardline immigration stance for fear that the state could turn blue, reports Newsweek.

Still, to win in November, Democrats need Latinos to show up to vote, particularly in states such as Florida and Arizona. But job losses and fear of the pandemic has hindered voter registration, reports AP. One group in Arizona has only collected 7,000 voter registration forms compared to 30,000 in 2018.

Migrant apprehensions along the border increased 137 percent from April to July. The jump, which came after an initial decrease in crossings after rapid expulsions began during the pandemic, is still much lower than a peak last year. Rapid expulsions have led to an increase in repeat border crossers, reports The Washington Post. More than 30% of apprehended migrants are repeat crossers, compared to 7% the year before. Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan chastised migrants for disregarding social distancing guidelines.

The Trump administration has defended rapid expulsions, including of children, as necessary to stop coronavirus from entering the country. “But by the time the children are boarded on planes home, they’ve already been tested for the virus — and proven not to have it,” Dara Lind and Lomi Kriel report for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

The U.S. is considering extending COVID-based restrictions at the southern border to include citizens and legal residents, reports CNN.

Migrant Deaths
Three ICE detainees died last week, increasing the number of ICE deaths to 18 this fiscal year, the most since 2006, reports BuzzFeed News. Two of them died of COVID: a 70-year-old Costa Rican man detained at Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, and a 72-year-old Canadian man detained in Farmville, Virginia, the site of one of the largest outbreaks in an ICE center, reports AP. The third, a 51-year-old Taiwanese man, died in a Florida hospital of an intracranial hemorrhage.

Detention & COVID
ICE officials at a detention center in Bakersfield, California deliberately restricted testing during a COVID-19 outbreak because they lacked housing facilities to isolate sick patients, reports The LA Times.

Attorneys submitted new legal filings that allege an immigrant from Jamaica who was held for 7 days in a cell with no bed was treated “like an animal,” reports 23ABC. Advocacy groups for Black immigrants wrote a letter to lawmakers urging them to take more action to protect Black detainees in ICE custody.

One year after immigration raids at Mississippi poultry plants resulted in the arrest of nearly 700 immigrants, four executives from two plants were indicted for charges related to hiring undocumented workers, reports AP. Many of the immigrants rounded up during the raids were indigenous Guatemalans like Federica who formed deep community ties in Mississippi over 20 years, reports Latino USA. She has been released but continues to fight to stay in the U.S. along with many others arrested that day.

A federal lawsuit alleges that Border Patrol checkpoints nearly 100 miles from the Canadian border in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont have been used to carry out illegal searches and seizures, reports AP.

More than 21,000 immigrants have been handed over to ICE from the sheriff of Gwinnett County, Georgia in the past decade because of the close relationship between ICE and the sheriff’s office, reports Type Investigations and Mother Jones. This is part of a nationwide trend. Seventy percent of ICE arrests originate in the criminal justice system.

Refugee resettlement to the U.S. has resumed after a five-month hiatus during the coronavirus that disrupted the lives of thousands, reports CNN. Officials said refugees must go through additional health screening but did not specify the requirements.

Trump Admin & Census
The Census Bureau’s reduction of the door-to-door counting period from 10 weeks to six will make it more difficult to get an accurate count of immigrants who might fear sharing their information, reports The New York Times. Daniela wrote in an Op-Ed for the LA Times that many immigrant communities that have the lowest response rates also tend to be hit hardest by coronavirus.

Officials within DHS say Trump-appointed leaders are sidelining their concerns about the use-of-force policy for CBP agents and other policies and keeping them in the dark about plans and policies in order to speed up the White House’s agenda, reports NBC News.

Coronavirus Stimulus Package
House Democrats signed a letter to Congressional leaders demanding tax-paying immigrants with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, but not a Social Security number, be included in the next stimulus package, reports the New York Daily News. The bill remains at a standstill, and will likely lead to furloughs for USCIS, the agency that oversees asylum and other immigration applications, reports CNN.

Immigration is an International Issue
Government officials in Mexico held a ceremony for nearly 250 Mexican migrants who died from Covid-19 in the U.S. after their ashes were returned home, reports The Guardian. More than 100 were from Puebla, a state in Central Mexico which has long sent migrants north to the New York area, earning it the nickname Puebla York, reports NBC and Telemundo. At least 1,800 Mexicans in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus.

LA County opened a free coronavirus testing site at the Mexican consulate in an attempt to decrease cases in the Latino community.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Coronavirus Resources

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

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

  • Detention Dispatches by Capital & Main follows the conditions in ICE detention centers during the pandemic.
  • 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

A weekly informed and concise 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. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

A weekly informed and concise 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. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

A weekly informed and concise guide to immigration news.

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