Migratory Notes 195

Who’s in charge at DHS? Feminization of migration; Trump’s final wall visit

Daniela Gerson
Jan 14 · 13 min read
“True to form, America still wants it both ways. Just yards from workers picking crops, #trump boasts about his wall,” Dallas Morning News reporter Alfredo Corchado tweeted Tuesday.

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Some call it the “feminization of migration,” as women seeking job opportunities move in greater numbers around the globe. “In recent decades women increasingly have migrated to wealthy countries to become breadwinners themselves, rather than to join family members,” writes Aurora Almendral in National Geographic Magazine. The photographers of The Everyday Projects tracked women’s journeys from Somaliland to Vietnam.

Trump’s Border Legacy
Trump, trying to shift the focus from Washington and highlight his immigration legacy, visited the border wall in southern Texas Tuesday where he made many false statements. Among them, an inflated number of immigration arrests during his tenure and made-up conversations with Central American leaders.

The wall — 453 miles completed by Trump as of Jan 8 — may be the most visible sign of Trump’s impact on immigration, but he can’t really claim it all. Many miles already existed in a less substantial form, and the wall is far short of the nearly 1,000 miles Trump promised in 2015, reports BuzzFeed News.

The ACLU filed a brief with the Supreme Court Tuesday, the day of the visit, for the removal of the wall, a move that Biden has not committed to, reports TIME. He may fear tearing down the wall would invite a “political firestorm,” according to one policy analyst.

DHS Shakeup — Again
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, after rebuking Trump but stating last week he would remain in his post through the transition, resigned Monday. In his final significant move, Wolf sped up security operations for the inauguration from Jan. 19 to Jan. 13, BuzzFeed News reports. While Wolf worked to carry out the president’s immigration agenda such as limits to DACA applications and asylum restrictions, doing so became more difficult after an August 2020 Government Accountability Office report deemed his appointment unlawful.

Just two weeks into the job, the acting ICE director resigned Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reports. The agency has seen six leaders since 2017.

Transfer of Power
President-elect Biden said last week that he will immediately introduce immigration legislation, although he didn’t specify what it would include, reports Bloomberg. He also said the Justice Department, led by his attorney general pick Merrick Garland, will investigate who was responsible for the family separation crisis. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris provided some insight into the administration’s priorities in an interview with Univision: Granting green cards to DACA and TPS recipients and decreasing wait times for citizenship.

Turning campaign promises into concrete legislative changes has become more likely after Democrats secured two more Senate seats during the Georgia run-off, giving Harris the deciding vote in a split Senate, reports NBC News. The administration will also have the support of tech giant Google, which announced its support of immigration reform Wednesday and offered to pay the fees for 500 immigrants applying to DACA, reports Reuters. Still, undoing Trump’s policies is going to be difficult as he continues to push through as many last-minute regulations as possible, reports US News & World Report.

Administration members named working on immigration include:

In a series, Capital & Main goes deep into the challenges facing a Biden administration in broadening opportunities to citizenship, among them “Juan Crow” laws and demanding advocates.

The Trump administration has finalized a series of regulations to limit asylum that will take effect in his last days in office or the first days of Biden’s presidency, reports CBS News. They will:

  • Bar non-Mexican asylum seekers from seeking protection at the border.
  • Make asylum seekers ineligible for protection if they come from a country where COVID is prevalent or if they show symptoms.

A third rule would have disqualified anyone fleeing gang violence, domestic violence or “rogue” government torture, but was blocked by a federal judge who determined Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf did not have the authority to make the rule.

Officials in the U.S., Mexico and Central America have already spoken out to say they will not allow the advance of a migrant caravan scheduled to leave Honduras Friday, reports Reuters. Guatemala said it will send up to 4,000 soldiers to stop the migrants and Honduras said it would send military as well. Hondurans are struggling from the economic downturn from the pandemic and the aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes. An estimated 5,500 people have joined the Facebook group coordinating the caravan and hundreds of Hondurans are trekking toward the border, reports AP.

Migrant Children
Mexican government officials along with UNICEF inaugurated a Juárez shelter for unaccompanied minors on Tuesday, reports the Border Report. The shelter is meant to improve care for minors who may be traumatized by their journeys, as was the case of the shelter’s namesake, 12-year-old Noemi Alvarez, who died by suicide in a Juárez shelter in 2014.

COVID & Immigrant Communities
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said last week that he would provide vaccinations for undocumented Mexican immigrants in the U.S. after the governor of Nebraska said the state might not provide them, reports Reuters. Since Mexico cannot actually send vaccines to the U.S., it is trying to work with NGOs and government agencies to ensure this “basic human right,” reports NBC4 Washington. Biden has previously said he supports vaccinations for everyone in the U.S., including undocumented immigrants.

In Texas, officials have supported the right of all residents to be vaccinated regardless, but immigrant rights groups fear the amount of information individuals must share with officials could deter some undocumented immigrants, reports KHOU 11.

The stock prices of two of the largest prison companies with ICE contracts, Geo Group and CoreCivic, drastically fell when Biden won the presidency, reports Marketplace. This could indicate what is to come if Biden takes office and follows through on his promise of ending for-profit detention centers.

Student & Work Visas
An increase in USCIS applications has led to delays for approvals for work permits for foreign students, making it more difficult for some to accept job offers they would otherwise be able to legally accept, reports Voice of America.

A Trump administration rule that will go into effect in March will change the H-1B visa system from a randomized lottery to a system based on wages and skills instead, reports Quartz. Officials say this will ensure foreigners don’t take jobs from qualified U.S. citizens. Biden could suspend or revoke the rule once in office.

Lawmakers sent a letter to Biden Wednesday asking him to extend work permits that expired during the pandemic for spouses of H-1B visas holders, reports NBC News. Many spouses, who are mainly women from India, have lost their jobs and can’t get a new one because of long wait times caused by the pandemic.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Borderless Magazine released a report this week “The State of Immigration News in Chicago” based on interviews with immigrant-serving organizations and readers to outline steps journalists can take to improve their coverage and better serve communities. The Borderless team is open to sharing their methodology with people who want to do this in their communities. If you are interested, write info@borderlessmag.org.

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

  • Routed Magazine curates a bi-monthly newsletter on news in migration and mobility.
  • 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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