Migratory Notes 190

Betting on sick pork workers; running the clock; immigration fashion

Daniela Gerson
Nov 19, 2020 · 13 min read
Fashion activism has taken on immigrant rights, reports Glossy. Among the newcomers is Visa Issues.

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While family migration from Central America to the U.S. has made headlines in recent years, children have a long history of crossing borders throughout the hemisphere, NACLA reports in a special series. After 1965, youth migration from Mexico to the U.S. jumped and subsequent well-meaning policies led to a school-to-deportation pipeline. In the early 1980s, Guatemalan children fled to Mexico after a genocidal campaign from the U.S.-backed government targeted indigenous Mayan communities. The Infancias y Migración Working Group, consisting of 10 members in five countries from a variety of disciplines, authored the series.

How are immigrants to the U.S. responding to the nation’s failed effort to control COVID-19? A Better Life podcast from Feet in 2 Worlds features work from immigrant journalists from across the country. Stories include the precarious state of an undocumented and uninsured housekeeper in Arizona and a conversation between Black immigrants in Maine, which has the widest racial disparity in the country when it comes to coronavirus infections. Join a conversation about the making of the podcast on December 3.

Biden Administration
Here are some predictions on what to expect on the immigration policy and enforcement front:

→ More details on where Biden stands on key issues — and which policies are still under review from Dallas Morning News.

Immigration is an International Issue
A second hurricane landed in Central America this week at a time when the region is already reeling from the effects of the pandemic. The unusually active season has hit indigenous communities in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua the hardest, although they contribute little to the pollution that causes extreme weather, reports The Intercept. This will likely lead to more migration, as was the case after Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Hurricane-driven migration could create a challenge for an incoming Biden administration, reports Americas Quarterly. In response, the president of the Migration Policy Institute, Andrew Selee, recommends seasonal work visas, regional partnerships and humane enforcement policies.

The Mexican government enacted a reform to stop holding children and families in detention centers in a decision hailed by the UN as a “historic advance in the area of human rights,” reports Vice News. Mexico’s immigration agency criticized the move because they said it would incentivize more families, usually from Central America, to seek protection in Mexico.

Rapid Expulsions & Deportations
A district judge blocked the Trump administration from expelling unaccompanied minors under a pandemic era rule because he determined doing so could expose them to harm, striking a blow to a controversial policy Trump has said is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, reports Reuters. More than 200,000 migrants, including 9,000 unaccompanied minors, have been expelled under the rule, reports CBS News. Biden has not specified if he would revoke the policy.

Luz Vanegas, a Colombian immigrant who has spent two decades in the U.S., applied for a green card two years ago and was waiting to hear back when an unexpected tragedy struck, reports NorthJersey.com. Her daughter suffered brain damage when giving birth this summer. Vanegas is now helping raise her 4-month-old granddaughter while her daughter is in a coma. The family lives in limbo as Vanegas hopes she is not one of the last immigrants deported under a Trump administration.

Three sheriffs in Georgia and South Carolina who promised to end agreements with ICE will soon take office after ousting their Republican predecessors, reports Vox. In San Diego, advocates accuse the sheriff of skirting state-wide sanctuary laws to limit cooperation with ICE by posting the names and release dates of people in custody for ICE to easily find, reports KPBS.

DHS proposed a new rule Tuesday to prevent undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation from getting work permits, which it says makes it more difficult for the agency to carry out enforcement efforts, reports the Washington Times.

LGBT detainees at La Palma detention center in Arizona say the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to report sexual harassment and violence, long-standing issues for LGBT migrants in ICE custody, reports The Guardian.

Border Wall
CBP reported last week that it acquired a South Texas birding reserve just feet from the Rio Grande for border wall construction, reports the Border Report. The caretakers of the land were unaware of the sale, which appeared to be decided by the board of directors for the nonprofit Valley Land Fund. Construction projects are unlikely to continue under a Biden administration, but that has not stopped the Trump administration from barreling forward with its plans, reports NPR. U.S. taxpayers are left holding a multi-billion dollar bill for the wall, including $4.4 billion allocated by Congress and $7 billion diverted from military funds, reports the Arizona Republic.

Immigrant advocates worry USCIS is discriminating against asylum seekers from central African countries who file their cases in Boston, after the approval rating dropped from 40% in 2016 to 8% by the end of 2019, reports the Press Herald. The ACLU of Maine asked USCIS to hand over case files for asylum cases in the Boston court to assess the cause for the drop.

More than 840,000 green-card holders became naturalized citizens last year, the highest number in 11 years, reports The Wall Street Journal. Elections and the threat of fee hikes may have contributed to the uptick.

In Tyson’s largest pork plant in Iowa, supervisors bet on how many workers would contract COVID-19, according to a lawsuit, reports the Iowa Capital Dispatcher.

In Michigan, a community came together to provide a free learning pod for the children of undocumented workers, who need to continue to go to work but who do not have the resources to hire a teacher to help with virtual learning, reports MPR News.

Immigrant Achievement
At a time when many countries are closing their borders to immigrants, Turkish immigrants to Germany and Lebanese and Canadian ones to the U.S. have been key to developing two COVID-19 vaccines, demonstrating the potential of more humane and accepting immigration policies, reports Foreign Policy.

“It’s been like death by a thousand paper cuts: Little by little, people around the world have begun to wonder whether America is still a land of freedom and opportunity for everyone,” the founder of DropBox and a child of immigrants from Iran, Arash Ferdowsi, writes in The Kansas City Star. “Kansas welcomed my family and gave me the confidence to succeed in ways my parents could never have dreamed of. I want future generations of immigrant families to get the same opportunity — so that they can build bright futures here and lift us all up along the way.”


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

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