Migratory Notes
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Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 199

Border crossings +; Pangas on the move; Nursing in the icebox

Coachella became the first city in the nation to provide “hero pay” to farmworkers on Wednesday night, according to city leaders. Photo by Omar Ornelas for the Desert Sun

Migratory Notes is hosting tonight a Town Hall for Journalists on Covering Central America at a Crossroads.
Feb. 11 at 5:30 PT/ 7:30 CT/ 8:30 ET

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As U.S. immigration enforcement has escalated, open water crossings are up as human smugglers, turned to pangas ferrying migrants from around the world, reports The New York Times Magazine. “The smuggling rings now carry residents from far beyond Mexico, including people from China and Yemen as well as multiple South and Central American countries,” C.J. Chivers writes in a deep dive. “Agents say the arrival of migrants from distant countries is readily explicable: Intensified screening to board commercial airliners overseas and at passport control at American airports has led people from other hemispheres to try the Baja-to-San Diego small-boat run.”

U.S. border agents detained Nailet, an immigrant from Cuba, one day after she gave birth, reports AP. She was kept with her infant in the “hielera” holding cell for six days, double the time federal rules generally allow. “Warning signs are emerging of the border crises that marked former President Donald Trump’s term: Hundreds of newly released immigrants are getting dropped off with nonprofit groups, sometimes unexpectedly, and accounts like Nailet’s of prolonged detention in short-term facilities are growing,” Nooman Merchant writes.

Migrants intercepted crossing the southern border have increased, pointing to a potential looming crisis, reports The New York Times. Border agents in south Texas say they have noticed an uptick, but the increase has not yet overcome their capacity to process migrants, reports McAllen’s The Monitor. The White House responded with a clear message: “The vast majority of people will be turned away. Asylum processes at the border will not occur immediately,” reports the Dallas Morning News. But misinformation from smuggling networks may be telling migrants they can cross at certain points or on certain days, reports CNN.

Expulsions & Remain in Mexico
Some migrants crossing the border in Texas are being released into the U.S. by border officials, marking a shift away from the policy of rapidly expelling most migrants to Mexico during the pandemic, reports Bloomberg. The policy of rapid expulsions under Title 42 has not been officially revoked by the Biden administration, so it’s unclear how widespread the practice is along the border. Groups in south Texas, the busiest area for border crossings, report receiving migrants in recent days, but the same does not appear to be happening in El Paso or San Diego, reports Reuters.

Since March, at least 11 migrant women who gave birth in the U.S. were sent to Mexico without their children’s birth certificates under the expulsion policy, reports The Guardian and The Fuller Project.

A mental health crisis is growing in the tent camps in the Remain in Mexico program, which has gone on for more than two years and is now under “review” from the Biden administration. It “could reverberate long after the policy expires,” Emily Green reports in Vice. “At the beginning we saw a lot more acute stress,” a psychologist tells her. “Now, the depression is almost structural. Infinite waiting, constant changes, the lack of a stable process.”

Asylum & Refugees
The State Department announced Saturday that it was ending agreements with Central American nations that allowed the U.S. to send certain asylum seekers to ask for protection there. The U.S. began sending asylum seekers to Guatemala under the agreements in 2019, but had not started sending people to El Salvador or Honduras when the pandemic hit and put the agreements on hold. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration believes there are better ways to work with Central American nations to manage migration, reports AP. One alternative it is considering is a program that would allow asylum seekers to be processed in their home countries before coming to the U.S. upon approval, reports Reuters. The details of the plan and how many people it would help remains unclear.

As the Biden administration changes the refugee policy, it is planning on offering additional humanitarian refugee status to children from around the world, reports CBS.

A federal judge extended a two-week ban on Biden’s deportation moratorium for two more weeks, reports The Texas Tribune. The judge said it was necessary to fully develop the case brought by the Texas Attorney General against the policy. Immigrant advocates say the moratorium did not have the intended effect of protecting migrants because the court case has caused confusion as to who is protected, and the directive may have caused ICE to rush to deport some immigrants, reports PBS Newshour.

More than 70 Haitian immigrants, including 22 children as young as two months, were deported Monday to Haiti amidst mounting political turmoil there as the president refused to step down at the end of his term, reports The Guardian. The deportations have led immigrant advocates to wonder what the difference between Trump and Biden will be in practice for immigrants.

ICE is preparing new guidelines for its officers that would curb arrests and deportations, reports The Washington Post. Officers will no longer seek the deportation of immigrants for certain drug-based crimes, simple assault, DUI, tax crimes, and other non-violent crimes. But some ICE agents say the new guidelines will infringe on their ability to do their job.

The Biden administration is also reviewing the agency’s policy toward veterans:

One of the only ICE facilities that house minors, the Cowlitz County Youth Services Center in Longview, Oregon, notified ICE that it plans to terminate its contract, reports OPB. Most minors stay in shelters through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, but ICE occasionally contracts bed space for minors with a criminal history. Immigrant advocates say the practice is illegal and outside of ICE’s authority.

Three ICE detainees allege that guards used the threat of catching COVID and being put in an isolation cell to convince them to agree to a transfer that would then lead to their deportation, reports The Intercept. The men who fled Cameroon gave in and agreed to be transferred.

Border Wall
The Trump administration filed more than 200 eminent-domain cases to seize private land for border wall construction, including at least 60 cases filed between Biden’s election and inauguration, reports The Wall Street Journal. Government lawyers have withdrawn some requests, but others remain pending and the future of these cases is unclear.

COVID & Immigrant Communities
Eight Senate Democrats voted in favor of an amendment that would exclude undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks, reports Politico. Their votes gave a majority to the Republicans who proposed it and caused a rift between Democrats who want to push more progressive immigration policies under Biden. Most Democrats opposed the amendment because they said it could prevent some spouses and children of undocumented immigrants from receiving aid, as was the case with the first package. The White House said Tuesday that it wants the children of undocumented immigrants to be able to receive stimulus checks, reports Newsweek.

TPS & Visas
The Biden administration killed a plan to ban tens of thousands of spouses of highly skilled visa holders from U.S. employment, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

President Biden issued an executive order last week that requires a review of the Special Immigrant Visa program for Iraqi and Afghan allies, which could speed up the processing backlog for the estimated 120,000 translators who have applied for visas, reports the Military Times.

Business leaders and immigrant advocacy groups sent a letter to the Biden administration asking him to suspend restrictions on work visas that Trump enacted during the pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal. The ban is set to expire at the end of March, but businesses say that is too long to wait because the ban is preventing their economic recovery.

Immigration is an International Issue
Colombian President Iván Duque announced a historic plan to provide temporary legal status to the estimated 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia who fled the humanitarian crisis, reports The New York Times. Venezuelans who entered before Jan. 31 and register with the government will be able to stay for 10 years and gain work permits. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Colombia on its decision to support refugees in the country.


Immigration Resources & Opportunities

For four years, we tracked Trump’s attack on immigration. Here’s a look back at the biggest stories of the administration.

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, Previously she was a senior fellow at the Center for Community Media (CCM); community engagement editor at the LA Times; editor of the trilingual Alhambra Source; and immigration reporter for the New York Sun. She has reported for WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, CNN, The New York Times, among other outlets. 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




A weekly informed and concise guide to immigration news.

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Daniela Gerson

Daniela Gerson

Ass’t Prof @CSUNJournalism and Co-creator #MigratoryNotes. Subscribe for free: https://bit.ly/2tkethJ @dhgerson

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