Migratory Notes
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Migratory Notes

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Frigid tent camps; What’s in the immigration reform bill? Remain in Mexico no more?

“After a year and a half, this month might be the last one for Nidia and her mom, Imelda, to sleep in a pup tent in Matamoros, across from Texas. Forced to wait out their U.S. asylum claim there.
Freezing, no heat,”
Monica Campbell tweets. Check out The World for more on Nidia and Imelda’s story Friday.

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Climate change and xenophobia are on a collision course,” Columbia’s Global Migration Project reports in an investigative feature based on 150 interviews published in The New Yorker. “Forced migration is increasing around the world, with global warming playing an alarming role in new displacement patterns; last year, the number of displaced people surpassed eighty million, according to the U.N. Meanwhile, anti-immigrant sentiment is rising in the United States, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.”

Jenn Budd began to doubt if she was truly protecting anyone, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune in a profile of the former Customs and Border Patrol agent turned activist. “Budd, 49, has become one of Border Patrol’s sharpest public critics, using her personal experience and insider expertise to call out an agency plagued by allegations of misogyny, xenophobia, corruption and human rights abuses,” writes Kristina Davis.

Frozen Border
The freezing temperatures have made crossing the border more dangerous and a Venezuelan woman drowned while trying to swim across the Rio Grande this week, reports Reuters. CBP has had to carry out multiple rescues, reports KXAN. Asylum seekers at the Matamoros tent camp hope the frigid temperatures will be their final hardship before the Biden administration begins processing their cases, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Remain In Mexico No More?
DHS will begin Friday to process the estimated 25,000 active Remain in Mexico cases.

In Mexican border cities, uncertainty over changes to the program has caused confusion and local organizations have struggled to explain these changes to migrants, reports USA Today.

Immigration Reform
Democrats introduced a sweeping immigration reform bill Thursday. Elements include:

  • Eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
  • Permanent legal status for DACA recipients
  • Right to counsel for vulnerable populations such as children
  • Increase on legal immigration per country

→ For more details: a handy Reuters factbox; the White House fact sheet on its proposal that the legislation is largely based upon.

The prospects of passage appear dim, with a razor thin Democratic majority and Republicans already blasting the bill as an “amnesty.” Meanwhile proponents question how much political capital the Biden administration will expend on the bill, NBC News reports. The small number of Republican votes to convict Trump show how his influence will continue to dominate the party, reports The New York Times.

The lives of immigrants like Carlos Ruvalcaba were changed when the last comprehensive immigration reform bill passed in 1986 under President Reagan, reports El Paso Times. If a similar bill passes, it could drastically shift the dynamic in places like Doraville, Georgia, where 8 in 10 Latinos are not citizens and fear getting involved in their communities because of their immigration status, reports The Washington Post.

Language of Immigration
DHS sent a memo instructing officials to stop using the word “alien” or “illegal alien” in official communication, in an effort to use more inclusive language and reflect the tone of this administration’s stance towards immigrants, reports Axios.

Southern Border
Nearly 6,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border in January, the most since the start of the pandemic, reports The Guardian. Crossings are still not as high as in past years, but resources are stretched because shelter capacity has been reduced because of the pandemic. The Biden administration has begun processing some asylum seekers, including families, at ports of entry, but immigrant rights advocates say the process is moving too slowly, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. And Biden has yet to revoke a rule that allows the U.S. government to expel migrants on public health grounds during the pandemic.

Two migrants who fell while trying to scale the border wall say U.S. immigration officials sent them across the border to Mexico, rather than provide them medical care when they found them, reports The Dallas Morning News. Border Patrol says they provide migrants with medical care if they need it. The men are now recovering from their broken bones at a shelter in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Biden received more than three times more in campaign contributions than Trump from the border security industry, according to a new report by the research group Transnational Institute. The report highlights the bipartisan ties to the immigrant detention and border security companies that have led to a boom in this industry in the past three decades. Author Harsha Walia traces the Democratic party’s fundamental role in current border policy in The Intercepted podcast.

Northern Border
Canadian human rights groups say their government should end a policy of sending asylum seekers back to the U.S. after entering through Canada’s land border during the pandemic because they could be deported to dangerous situations, reports NPR. Meanwhile, some Canadians with U.S. license plates are getting harassed, “and have even braved assaults by fellow Canadians who mistook them for Americans who had crossed the border illegally,” Dan Bilefsky writes in The New York Times.

Immigration is an International Issue
The Guatemalan military, which receives training and support from the U.S., has become a new tool to stop migration from the region. This type of Central American involvement in deterring migration represents a shift in U.S. policy that began under the Obama administration, reports The Nation. Sources with knowledge of diplomatic discussions told Reuters this policy will likely continue under Biden, reports Reuters.

Increased regional enforcement coupled with worsening country conditions in Honduras has led to a cycle of failed attempts to migrate, reports AP. Low-wage work, violence and devastation from the recent hurricanes push hundreds of thousands to flee. Violence and intimidation related to controversial mining projects is another factor, reports Sierra Magazine. During the past four years of the Trump administration, Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is implicated in drug trafficking, has done little to rid the country of corruption that has caused these conditions, and is now struggling to change his strategy to deal with the new administration that promises to crack down on corruption, reports The Washington Post.

A federal lawsuit is asking the Biden administration to cancel fines issued during the Trump administration to immigrants in sanctuary, reports the LA Times. An estimated 40 to 60 families across the U.S. took sanctuary in churches to avoid immigration enforcement. Some have started to leave their sanctuary, such as Michigan resident Saheeda Nadeem who was given a supervision order that will shield her from immediate deportation, reports ABC 13. The Justice Department and DHS have not commented on the lawsuit.

Lawmakers and immigrant advocates called on the Biden administration to immediately end the deportations of Black immigrants to Haiti and other countries in the midst of political turmoil, reports The Washington Post. They worry ICE is targeting Black asylum seekers — and are doing so during Black History Month.

DHS will stop using a version of the test that immigrants must pass to become naturalized citizens that was revised under the Trump administration to add more than 20 questions, reports BuzzFeed News. Immigrant advocates said the test was more difficult to pass and some of the language was politically charged.


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

  • 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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