Migratory Notes 189

Biden’s immigration moves; GOP multiethnic coalition, smuggling boom

Daniela Gerson
Nov 12, 2020 · 13 min read
Immigrants mourned the death of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who was “another uncle,” introducing U.S. culture and history as they learned English and watched TV as a family, reports LAist. Though for some, Jeopardy! could also be a reminder of the gap to becoming American, writes Fernanda Santos in The Washington Post. (Photo via CTV News)

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Trump effectively shut down borders, but he failed to stop the growth of immigration’s impact on the U.S. population, reports The New York Times. “All the attention on the border ignored the much more significant growth in immigration that was happening elsewhere in the country,” Miriam Jordan writes in a deep dive into national shifts. “Even with one of the most severe declines in immigration since the 1920s, the country is on an irreversible course to becoming ever more diverse, and more dependent on immigrants and their children.”

Biden Administration
Biden made big immigration promises, notably to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, but carrying many of them out will depend upon the Senate, reports NPR. If blocked in Congress, Biden can still use executive powers to bypass Congress as Trump did. Here is where to expect some initial changes:

Biden plans to sign a series of executive orders when he takes office in January, revoking some of the 400+ that Trump signed. Among them:

  • A reversal of the “Muslim” travel ban
  • The reinstatement/ extension of DACA

Additional likely initial policy moves:

Other changes, like ending the Remain in Mexico program could result in an influx at the border, and Biden is not likely to change the policy quickly, at least during the pandemic.

For more details, check out Reuters’ handy guide to what to expect on immigration.

Latino Vote
The Biden campaign said they haven’t yet identified any key mistakes in their strategy for reaching Latino voters, reports Politico. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Dems are scapegoating Latinos instead of analyzing why the party is losing white voters. Meanwhile, Republicans see the election pointing toward more voters of color for their party: “The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working class coalition,” Sen. Marco Rubio told Axios.

One of the most significant shifts in Latino voters were Mexican Americans in the Rio Grande Valley, where Democrats fell behind in places they had previously made gains, reports The Washington Post. In Zapata County, for example, Trump won by 5 percentage points after losing it by 33 to Hillary Clinton in 2016, reports The New York Times. Latino South Texas voters cited Trump’s economic policy and anti-abortion stance as reasons they voted for him, reports The Dallas Morning News. The economic toll of the pandemic and the loss of jobs in the oil industry also may have swayed them, reports The Wall Street Journal.

More than a week after elections, journalists and analysts continue to debate the “Latino vote” — and whether it actually exists. Migratory Notes board member Roberto Suro, who back in 1999 wrote Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America, argues it is time to embrace power in the diversity of this broad group. “Latinos have many voices,” Suro writes in the LA Times. “They exercise power by different means, in many venues, with a variety of objectives. In post-Trump America, that can be a great source of strength.”

Election Reactions

Immigration is an International Issue
The Guatemalan president said Monday that he would ask the U.S. to give temporary protected status to Guatemalans in the U.S. after Tropical Storm Eta killed at least 44 and damaged more than 20,000 homes, reports AP. The country’s foreign minister submitted a formal request to U.S. ambassador William Popp Wednesday, citing 700,000 people affected, reports Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre. In neighboring Honduras, the hurricane has led to widespread flooding and an estimated 400,000 people displaced, reports Vice News. It is unknown if Honduras will make the same request.

Family Separation
Lawyers working to reunite parents separated from their children at the border said they are still looking for 666 parents, more than the previously reported estimate of 545 parents they tried and failed to contact, reports NBC News. The number now includes parents without a phone number provided by the government. Lawyers said they hope the government provides more information to help with the searches. President-elect Biden has pledged to create a task force on his first day in office to reunite the children with their families, reports Reuters.

With Biden elected, stocks in private prison companies fell last week, reports Crimmigation/ Telemundo.

Allegations are growing that ICE is trying to deport women who came forward about nonconsensual gynecological procedures at a Georgia detention center, reports Vice News. At least six witnesses told Vice that ICE deported them or tried to deport them to prevent them from providing their full testimony. At least two women say they were nearly deported to Mexico despite having little ties there after leaving as toddlers. Six other women have already been deported, reports AP. ICE denies the allegations and says it is cooperating with an ongoing investigation.

During the pandemic, churches have stepped up to provide their address to immigrants seeking release from ICE detention, reports the LA Times. Some activists are calling this a new sanctuary movement, which started in the 1980s as a way to help Central Americans fleeing conflicts.

The shutting of the border has had an unintended consequence: fortifying smugglers, reports Reuters. “It’s led to an increase in repeated border crossing attempts, data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows,” write Laura Gottesdiener and Sarah Kinosian. “And it’s benefiting the illegal networks that move people from Central America to the United States.”

A Border Patrol agent shot and injured an immigrant in Texas after the man allegedly tried to resist arrest. This is the second Border Patrol shooting in the area in two weeks, reports The Monitor.

An ICE billboard campaign in North Carolina has caused controversy between immigration officials and the local sheriff. The billboards show photos of immigrants released from local law enforcement custody, who ICE claims are dangerous and threaten public safety, reports Fox 46 Charlotte. The local sheriff says the billboards are misleading because they give the impression he is releasing dangerous criminals, when in fact these people go through a process to determine if it is safe to release them on bond, reports The Charlotte Observer. ICE launched a similar anti-sanctuary policy campaign in Pennsylvania before the elections.

Harris County in Texas approved a $2.5 million taxpayer-funded deportation defense fund for immigrants facing deportation who can’t pay for counsel, joining a number of other cities in Texas, New York, California that have similar public defender-style programs, reports the Houston Chronicle. An OpEd in Bloomberg reports this is part of a growing movement: “Prior to 2017, locally funded programs to provide public defenders to those facing deportation existed in only two states. Today, there are nearly 40 jurisdictions across 18 states that provide lawyers to as many immigrants as possible facing deportation.”

Recent Trump Admin Immigration Moves
The Trump administration is planning to lengthen the naturalization test to add more questions, a move that could make it more difficult for immigrants to pass the citizenship exam, reports CNN.

Farmworkers on temporary visas say the Trump administration is trying to cut their wages, reports NPR.


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 co-hosts the new political podcast California State of Mind and covers the health and welfare of California’s next generation. Previously she covered health care and social services, including immigration for the digital outlet. Before joining CalMatters Aguilera 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. 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.

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