Migratory Notes
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Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 214

Can Biden keep his refugee promise? ICE deportations lowest on record/ Border Patrol out of $$?

This 1924 headline is part of a recently developed New York Times immigration lesson plan built from the paper’s coverage going back to 1852.

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Last fall, a green bean facility in Wisconsin was the site of one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in the food processing industry, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Maria Perez found that officials at Seneca Foods, which owns the facility, “failed to take critical precautions to protect the employees.” Perez traces the path of the workers, many of whom stayed at the company’s barrack-style camp, to a Super 8 motel where infected employees were forced to isolate and a bus ride back to Texas where several people tested positive of Covid-19 and died. In an accompanying story, Perez writes about the backgrounds of nine of the 11 migrant workers who died.

The executive director of the nonprofit Border Angels, Dulce Garcia, dared not cross the border for three decades. But last week the DACA recipient and attorney was granted advanced parole for 60 days, allowing her return to Mexico to work with asylum seekers in Tijuana, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. Kate Morrissey follows Garcia as she visits packed migrant shelters, meets with desperate asylum seekers, and reconnects with her brother, who was deported in 2020 after his DACA protection lapsed.

On Saturday, the Biden administration granted Haitians in the U.S. a new 18-month Temporary Protected Status designation, citing Haiti’s deepening political and constitutional crises and a spike in Covid-19 cases, reports the Miami Herald. The designation can impact more than100,000 Haitians, including:

  • Haitians unlawfully in the U.S. as of May 21.
  • Haitians who were previously granted TPS who can apply to extend the designation.

On Tuesday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited South Florida to meet with Haitian community leaders to talk about the extension, reports CBS Miami. Immigration advocates and Haitian community leaders lauded the move, but say their focus now is on getting Congress to approve a path to citizenship for Haitians and other undocumented immigrants, and to end expulsions under the Title 42 policy, reports the Miami Herald.

Migrant Children
The Biden administration is scrapping a plan to house 5,000 migrant children under the age of 12 at the Fort Bliss Army base amid concerns of subpar conditions and prolonged stays, reports CBS News. The reversal followed media reports about children languishing at Fort Bliss, in some cases over 40 days. Some attorneys who visited the facility said it “feels like a warehouse” where children have little to do and sometimes don’t have access to fresh clothes, reports CNN. House Democrats who had publicly expressed outrage against Trump’s treatment of migrant children are taking a quieter approach with the Biden administration, reports The New York Times. Instead of indictments via Twitter or at congressional hearings, Democratic lawmakers are voicing concerns privately to administration officials and the staff at HHS.

Title 42
Border closures initiated under the Trump administration have pushed migrants into more remote and dangerous regions of the border, reports the Marshall Project in partnership with Mother Jones. Rescue rates at the Southern border doubled between fiscal year 2019 and 2020, and migrant deaths also nearly doubled. Between February and April, CBP has expelled nearly 290,000 migrants under Title 42, almost 40% of all expulsions enacted since the policy began.

The Biden administration is facing increasing pressure to repeal Title 42, including from within the administration itself and from human rights officials, reports The New York Times. Two physicians who consult for DHS sent a letter to Congress criticizing the policy for having a “perverse impact” of encouraging parents to send their children to the border alone since unaccompanied minors are not being expelled. The letter comes days after Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the policy has had “serious humanitarian consequences.” On Wednesday, DHS Secretary Mayorkas defended the administration’s continued use of the policy, saying it’s a necessary public health measure, reports The Hill. “We are watching the science, led by the CDC, and we will no longer rely upon Title 42 when there is no longer a public health imperative basis,” said Mayorkas.

Border Patrol
CBP is “unlikely” to have enough funds for the remainder of the fiscal year due to a shortfall in user fees after international travel and border crossings plummeted last year, reports Roll Call. Congress previously allocated $840 million in emergency funding to offset revenue losses, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the agency afloat through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

A CBP “crowd control exercise” planned for Election Day 2018 that was canceled due to public backlash faced criticism inside the agency, reports El Paso Matters. Emails show CBP officials planned the exercise to capture media on the migrant caravan that Trump was warning about ahead of the election, with one email’s subject line saying “Circus is coming to town.” “Not sure it’s going to deter anyone at this point in their journey but it sure will rile up the local advocacy groups,” said one email.

Enforcement & Detention
ICE carried out fewer than 3,000 deportations last month, the lowest level on record, as the Biden administration keeps the agency on a tight leash with deportation priorities that limit who officers can arrest, reports The Washington Post. While immigrant advocates and progressives pressure the administration to cut some funds to ICE, DHS Secretary Mayorkas has said he wants to reorient the agency, not shrink it. Some ICE officials feel frustrated with the changes, bemoaning a workplace environment where officers feel that the administration doesn’t “have [their] backs.”

Some immigrants who attempt to challenge their detention in court are quietly released by ICE while their case is pending, resulting in “shadow wins’’ that limit judicial accountability, reports ProPublica. A new study from Tulane University shows that in nearly 500 cases where immigrants petitioned against their indefinite detention, only five resulted in a release order from a judge, while 112 ended with ICE releasing the detainee while their petitions were pending, allowing the judge to dismiss the case. These “shadow wins” allow government officials to avoid testifying about conditions in their facilities and may be used to avoid negative court decisions “that make formal rulings regarding prolonged, indefinite and punitive detention.”

Alternative to Detention
A growing number of migrants are being placed in an ICE-run program, known as Alternative to Detention, that uses a phone app to track asylum seekers after they’re released into the United States, reports Border Report. The SmartLINK app uses facial recognition to confirm identity and GPS location monitoring, and is being used instead of ankle monitoring devices. Nearly 100,000 migrants have been enrolled in ICE ATD programs as of May 13, according to data from the Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University.

The Biden administration is unlikely to resettle the promised 62,500 refugees, reports Roll Call. Due to the low number of refugees the Trump administration allowed in each year, many organizations slashed their staff and resources, leaving them unprepared for the significantly larger number of refugees Biden promised to allow in. Fewer than 12,000 refugees were resettled in fiscal year 2020, compared to nearly 85,000 resettled during Obama’s last year in office.

Immigration is an International Issue
Vice President Kamala Harris is leaning on the president of Guatemala in her efforts to address the poverty, violence, corruption and other destabilizing factors that push migrants to migrate to the United States, reports Politico. Meanwhile, the administration is being cautious about dealing with the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador, due to the Honduran president’s ties organized crime and the Salvadoran president’s authoritarian streak, which includes dismissing five Supreme Court justices as well as the attorney general to seize control of the top court.

Anti-Asian Racism
Across the country, government officials and legislatures are taking steps to address anti-Asian racism:

Former permanent residents who were deported and returned later can still be charged with unlawful reentry even if their initial deportations were later deemed illegal, according to a new Supreme Court ruling, reports Bloomberg. Refugio Palomar-Santiago, a former permanent resident, was deported in 1998 after being convicted of a DUI, which the Supreme Court later ruled is not a deportable offense. Still, the Court found that immigrants can only challenge initial removal orders if three conditions are met: the removal was “fundamentally unfair,” they exhausted all available administrative remedies and showed that they were effectively denied judicial review.

Immigration Journalism
Netflix is launching a new series, “Somos,” based on a 2017 ProPublica story detailing the DEA’s role in a 2011 massacre in Northern Mexico, reports ProPublica. The original story, “How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico,” was an oral history reconstructing a 2010 DEA case that targeted leaders of a Mexican cartel, which later turned violent when it was compromised by corrupt members of a DEA-trained Mexican police unit. The story was previously adapted into a podcast by Audible, featuring well-known film actors, including Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo.

COVID-19 & Immigrant Communities
For Borderless Magazine, Brian Herrera interviewed members of Quinto Imperio, an all immigrant band from Chicago, about their music and the ways they support the immigrant community they come from. Herrera transformed their words into a comic about their relationship to their neighborhood and the challenges they’ve faced since the beginning of the pandemic.

Brian Herrera for Borderless Magazine/CatchLight Local


Jobs, Fellowships & Awards

Immigration Resources & Opportunities

Covid-related 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

  • Port of Entry is a podcast about cross-border stories that connect us. Border people often inhabit this in-between place. From KPBS and PRX, “Port of Entry” tells personal stories from this place.
  • 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.
  • 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

That’s all for Migratory Notes 214. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.

*Daniela Gerson is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge with a focus on community, ethnic, and participatory media. She is also a senior fellow at the Democracy Fund. Before that she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; founding 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 wrote How can collaborations between ethnic and mainstream outlets serve communities in the digital age? for American Press Institute. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera is a multimedia reporter for CALmatters covering health and social services, including immigration. Previously she 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 before that she covered a variety of beats and issues for the Denver Post including urban affairs and immigration. Her latest story is What ice cream flavors can teach us about the changing California Dream. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*Paco Alvarez is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. He is a writer based in Chicago. Previously, he was a Fall 2020 Civic Reporting Fellow for City Bureau where he covered the 2020 elections and political participation in immigrant communities. His work has appeared in the Chicago Reader, Block Club Chicago and South Side Weekly. You can find him on Twitter @pacvarez

*Yana Kunichoff is an independent journalist and documentary producer who covers immigration, policing, education and social movements. 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



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