Migratory Notes 201

Climate migration myths; Kids in Cages again? Immigration reform support on the rise

Daniela Gerson
Feb 25 · 13 min read
A birthday party inside the migrant camp at Matamoros. The camp is one of dozens along the border where El Migrante weekly newspaper is distributed as a resource for migrants. There is also a WhatsApp group and this month El Migrante is launching a radio program on Mexico’s IMER network. (Note, El Migrante is a project of Internews, which also provides programming support for Migratory Notes) Photo part of a series for Capital & Main by Lexie Harrison-Cripps.

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#MustReads
Edgar López was devoted to two things: family and church. But life revolved around chicken plants.” Then he was arrested in 2019 when the Mississippi plant where he worked was raided and he was deported. When he tried to return illegally to the U.S. he was murdered as part of a massacre of Guatemalan migrants near the Mexican border. For Vice News, David Mora and Emily Green create an intimate portrait of his life, the policies that controlled it, and what he left behind.

The vast majority of people that climate change forces to move never leave their home countries, reports Devex. “Amid proclamations that a new, great international migration — sparked mainly by climate change and its varied impacts — has begun, the reality of climate-induced displacement remains largely invisible, contained within countries,” writes Amy Lieberman. In addition, “myths” around the scale of international migration induced by climate can deter resettlement efforts.

Kids in Cages?
The Biden administration is getting slammed for putting “kids in cages” just like Trump after opening a new facility for migrant children last week. The emergency Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas can hold up to 700 teens. Even Stephen Miller weighed in on Fox News calling the action “cruel” and “inhumane.”

But officials say this is a better option than keeping migrant youth in CBP facilities, where children have died in the past and that it was needed to comply with COVID protocols, reports The Washington Post. The opening comes after an increase of crossings by unaccompanied minors that nearly filled ORR’s capacity, reports CBS News. DHS also announced it will be reopening a Florida detention center for teens known as the Biscayne Influx Care Facility, reports the Miami Herald.

Conservative media outlets and pundits criticized the media for “taking it easy” on Biden. The Washington Post defended its coverage. “Whatever one thinks about how these children are handled once they’re taken into custody — and there are valid debates about both the speed and efficacy of that process — it bears little resemblance to what happened under Trump,” writes senior political reporter Aaron Blake.

Legal Immigration Ban Partially Lifted
Biden Wednesday lifted a Trump COVID freeze on green cards which will open doors again to people with family, employment, and lottery visas. The Migration Policy Institute estimates about 26,000 people monthly were prevented from getting green cards since the ban was implemented in April. But the backlog is immense, and lawyers urge additional action to alleviate it. In addition, many foreign workers still cannot get visas, Vox reports in an explainer.

Remain In Mexico No More?
The first group of asylum seekers in the Remain in Mexico program were let into the U.S. last week. But the slow process has caused confusion as migrants have tried to navigate the online registration system, reports the LA Times. The UNHCR will work with asylum seekers to help them fill out the paperwork and meet the COVID testing requirement, reports Voice of America. Processing of asylum seekers in Matamoros and Ciudad Juarez was scheduled for Monday, but was unexpectedly canceled, reports Reuters. Officials said processing at ports of entry in Texas could be delayed because of “operational considerations,” reports Vox.

The Biden administration is also considering funding flights to bring back asylum seekers in the program who had left the border, reports Reuters.

Detention
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit Monday against a company that allegedly tricks immigrants into paying high fees for ankle bracelets in exchange for the company getting them out of detention on bond, reports CNBC. The complaint details how the company, Libre by Nexus, coerces migrants into signing paperwork in English and charges them up to $420 a month, reports CBS News.

Immigrant detainees in Texas said toilets overflowed with excrement and they went days without showering or having enough water to drink during a storm that led to water and energy shortages throughout the state, reports BuzzFeed News.

A group of relatives with family members at the ICE Adelanto detention center have banded together to demand the release of their loved ones, a demand that only grew more pressing during the pandemic, reports Palabra.

Islamophobia and Immigration
Muhammad, an asylum seeker from Tajikistan, is one of many Muslim immigrants who alleges systematic discrimination by ICE and U.S. immigration authorities, reports HuffPost. Muhammad was detained after crossing the border, even though his pregnant wife and children were released.

Immigration is an International Issue
Democratic Senators presented a bill that would cut off aid to Honduran security forces and sanction the Honduran president, who has been accused of drug trafficking, until the country improves its human rights record, reports The Guardian. The bill highlights the steep challenges the White House faces if it truly wants to curb migration from Honduras, where widespread corruption has gone unchallenged in recent years. Biden’s current plans in Honduras include increased cooperation with the administration of president Juan Orlando Hernández. It’s unclear how he plans to deal with allegations of corruption and drug trafficking by Hernandez and other high-level politicians, reports Americas Quarterly.

International Students
First-year international student-athletes are suing ICE and DHS for the chance to travel to the U.S. to start their studies. They argue they should be let in based on the outcome of another lawsuit that led DHS to change its policy and allow returning international students, but not first-years, to enter, reports USA Today.

Immigration Reform
Many polls show that passing major legislation to legalize immigrants is popular right now among voters, reports The New York Times. Sixty percent of Americans back a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a Politico/ Morning Consult survey released Wednesday. If Biden doesn’t take swift action on immigration reform, he risks losing the support of voters, which explains why he chose it as one of his first issues to tackle.

Asylum
“The odds were against Tendo. He had survived torture and traveled across continents to save his life. But now having reached his ultimate destination, he faced his biggest trial: to be believed by an asylum system seemingly designed to doubt almost everyone — and punish them in the process,” writes Isabela Dias in Mother Jones in a profile that describes the hoops asylum seekers must jump through to prove their cases. It all came down to whether or not the judge found him trustworthy. Prosecutors argued his claims seemed exaggerated and rehearsed, and a judge agreed.

COVID & Immigrant Communities
Like many places across the country, in New York City, immigrant communities have some of the lowest rates of vaccination, reports The New York Times. In interviews with 115 people, residents described technology failures, mistrust of the government and fears of the side effects as the major reasons they didn’t get vaccinated.

In contrast, the island of Nantucket, where immigrants are estimated to be up to 20% of the population, finds “minimal vaccine hesitancy,” reports The Inquirer and Mirror.

In Texas, a man was turned away for COVID-19 vaccinations because of his immigration status. The site later apologized, The State reports

Follows

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

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