Migratory Notes 183

Telemundo viewers: Trump won debate; New record low refugee cap

Elizabeth Aguilera
Migratory Notes
13 min readOct 1, 2020


A new migrant caravan set out Wednesday night from Honduras toward the Mexican border, reports CBS and AP. While some reports said hundreds of people were walking together, Jacobo García, a journalist with El País, tweeted that about 2,000 people were heading north. Gif from video García posted on Twitter.

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They voted for Trump. Now, their immigrant employees are dying of COVID. A Center for Public Integrity investigation found that in Hall County, Georgia, many poultry workers have died in obscurity, absent from lists of COVID victims or workplace safety records. A county-by-county national map overlays coronavirus cases with the number of front-line workers and the percentages that are immigrants. “Focusing on 10 industries, Public Integrity found 1.87 million workers in front-line farm and food processing jobs, 790,000 of whom are immigrants,” Susan Ferriss and Joe Yerardi report. “Latino immigrants are also the backbone of food-production businesses throughout the United States — including many counties that, like Hall County, voted heavily in 2016 for Trump.” Ferriss shared with Migratory Notes that in addition to providing the national map as a resource for local communities, “if you’re a good data nerd you can go deeper into the data repository and look at occupations more closely.”

Emmanuel Cheo Ngu fled Cameroon in June 2019 after his friend and fellow schoolteacher was beheaded. He didn’t realize he was traveling into the eye of the storm of the Trump administration’s immigration policy when he landed in Central America to begin his journey north. “Europe has closed its doors to African migrants and very few can now cross the Mediterranean, so more are trying to enter the US instead,” writes Carlos Dada in the London Review of Books. “Ngu wanted to request asylum there — his mother and two of his sisters live in the US — but migrant journeys seldom work out straightforwardly.” Instead, his odyssey ended with his death on the shores of Mexico. Dada concludes that if Mexican authorities had observed their own laws, Ngu and the two other African men who also died would still be alive.

Sterilization in Detention
Evidence continues to mount that detained women were subject to gynecological procedures without their consent in Georgia.

Elections 2020
During the debate Tuesday, Trump failed to deliver a clear message on immigration, in contrast to 2016 with his slogans “Make America Great Again” and “Build the Wall,” reports Politico. In fact, immigration was largely absent from the debate with Biden.

Meanwhile, construction crews are completing up to two miles of border wall a day in a rush to meet Trump’s campaign promise and ICE is planning to ramp up enforcement efforts in sanctuary cities, reports The Washington Post. The agency is also considering putting up billboards with pictures of immigration violators, a move that could blur the line between operational and political activity, reports CNN.

According to a Telemundo poll conducted via Twitter, about 66% of Spanish-speaking viewers believe Trump won the debate, reports Newsweek. In Arizona, some Latino Republicans say they support Trump based on his economic policy and antiabortion stance, reports The Washington Post. Latinos for Trump in Florida also back his stance on the economy. But a recent Univision poll showed that Trump trailed Biden by 16 points among Latino voters.

What is at stake on election day for the hundreds of thousands of immigrant families whose lives have been upended by Trump immigration policies? Reuters breaks it down with individual profiles depicting consequences of major policies: “A Venezuelan father waiting in Mexico to plead his U.S. asylum case who has yet to meet his newborn daughter. An Iraqi refugee stuck in Jordan despite his past helping U.S. soldiers. A mother sent back to Honduras after being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border from her two young children. A Malian package courier deported after three decades in the United States. And an Iranian couple kept apart for years under a U.S. travel ban,” write Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg.

Refugee New Voters
An estimated 860,000 immigrants who became citizens this year have gained the right to vote, and many are refugees from Iraq, Myanmar, and Eritrea excited about the possibility of participating in elections, which was impossible in the countries they fled, reports AP. Refugee resettlement during the Trump administration has reached the lowest since the 1980s, with only 9,000 refugees resettled this year, half of the 18,000 cap. On Tuesday, the administration set the cap at a historic low of 15,000 people this fiscal year, reports CNN.

After undergoing surgery, a 15-year-old girl who has lived in the U.S. since she was a baby was taken into CBP custody at a Texas hospital. Her adult family member, an aunt, who is also undocumented, was arrested before her niece’s surgery ended. They came to CBP’s attention after passing through a CBP checkpoint en route to the hospital last week in a case immigrant advocates are calling another form of family separation, reports CBS News. The girl was processed as an unaccompanied minor.

As data-mining firm Palantir prepares to go public, Amnesty International released a report criticizing the company for possibly contributing to human rights abuses related to its contracts with ICE, reports Forbes. The company is believed to be at least partially responsible for ICE’s expanded surveillance techniques that have led to increased enforcement operations, although the secrecy of the company makes it difficult even for tech insiders to understand the full reach of the software, reports Slate.

Visas & Immigration Fees
The Trump administration is trying to require foreign students to renew their visas more frequently, reports Inside Higher Ed. Some would have to reapply every two or four years, a change that would affect PhD students and students taking longer than four years to complete undergraduate programs. Students from 59 countries, including Iran, Syria, and Sudan, would have to reapply every two years, reports Vox. Previously, foreign students did not have to renew their visas as long as they were enrolled in a higher education program. Immigrant law experts say this is one of many ways the U.S. is sending the message to foreign students that they are not welcome, and students say they have felt this change, reports USA Today. The Trump administration defends the plan as necessary to combat fraud.

A judge blocked an increase in fees for asylum and naturalization this week, reports Voice of America. USCIS said the fee hikes — some as high as 80% higher — were necessary to make up for declining revenue, but immigrant advocates said increasing fees would harm low-income immigrants. It would have become the first time the U.S. charged for asylum applications.

Texas cities along the border have reported millions of dollars in losses in revenue this year because of prolonged restrictions on non-essential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border, reports The Texas Tribune. So local politicians and residents are asking the federal government to implement a plan to screen travelers so more people can cross.

How did a company whose border wall proposal was rejected based on design flaws end up building miles of faulty border wall that are now at the center of fraud allegations? 60 Minutes takes viewers to the Rio Grande Valley to figure out what went wrong with the We Build the Wall project, a privately funded border wall built by Fisher Construction. The project skirted environmental protections, is now falling apart and those involved face allegations of fraud.

A report by the House Oversight Committee found that inadequate medical care in ICE custody has created a crisis that has only gotten worse during the pandemic, reports BuzzFeed News. In some cases, this shoddy care led to unnecessary deaths, reports CNN. GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two private companies that run the detention centers that were investigated, said they provide quality care.


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

  • Immigrant & Democracy from Harvard University’s immigration initiative.
  • 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. A 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



Elizabeth Aguilera
Migratory Notes

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