Migratory Notes 23

A win for grandparents; a transparent, solar wall; DACA under threat

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Politico reveals that Trump soldiers Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon and two members of Congress have been working on a plan to slash legal immigration to the U.S., a more controversial effort than going after illegal immigration. Their plan would halve the annual number of legal immigrants provided entry from 1 million to about 500,000 within the next ten years.

It’s an iconic symbol in Southern California of migrants running as if being chased. And now it’s almost extinct. LA Times writer Cindy Carcamo profiles the man who created the yellow highway caution sign of a father, mother, and pigtails flying little girl and links it to California’s declining role as a center for undocumented migrants: “For all the often vitriolic talk about illegal immigration, debates about sanctuary cities and President Trump’s promise to build a massive — and “beautiful” — wall along the southern border, few places have seen the generational decline in illegal crossings like California.”

Travel Ban — A win for grandparents
Grandparents should not be barred from entering the U.S. under Trump’s temporary travel ban involving six Muslim-majority countries, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday, Reuters reports. Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu harshly criticized the government’s definition of close family relations as “the antithesis of common sense,” writing, “Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”

Another part of the Trump travel ban went into effect this week, effectively barring any refugees who do not have a “bona fide relationship” with someone in the U.S. from entering the country for the next four months. About 60 percent of refugees have family ties, but among refugees coming from Congo and Syria only about a quarter have those ties, reports the New York Times.

DACA under Threat
Special protections for undocumented youth appeared poised for extinction this week due to a threat in the courts. CNN reports that Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, who previously had told supporters to “rest easy,” told Hispanic lawmakers Wednesday the DACA program could be in serious jeopardy. Trump who has shifted his position since insisting on repealing it during the campaign, said “I understand the situation very well. What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

Some analysts predict Trump will never make the decision. “It’s too popular for the president to cancel outright,” Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, told Foreign Policy. “The biggest challenge seems to be the Department of Justice will not defend the program in court.”

Democratic leaders are strategizing with immigration advocates over if and how to fight for DACA. McClatchy reports that this all must be done within the next 50–90 days because DACA is set to expire soon.

A Transparent, Solar Wall?
In comments aboard Air Force One, the president confirmed to reporters that no, he was not joking about a solar wall and, in fact, “major companies are looking into it.” What’s more, it should be transparent. “You have to be able to see through it,” he said, noting that he was talking about 700–900 miles of the border not the entire 2,000 he had initially proposed to cover. “You have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall. And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.” It’s worth noting that much of the existing 600 miles of border barriers allows agents to see the other side.

The Profiteers
Bail bond businesses are trying to tap into growth created by immigration detention, The New York Times reports. In New Jersey many of the 800 licensed bail agents are “looking to shift from a business under threat, because its services are no longer needed by the state’s courts, to a related one they see as a growth area under a new administration.”

European Deportees
The number of European deportees looks poised to surpass those of last fiscal year, AP reports. Increased enforcement is creating shock waves and disbelief in European communities, reports PRI, in a story about the first high-profile Irish deportee since Trump took office.

Still, overall the numbers remain relatively small — 1,300 since October. Europeans represent about 4% of undocumented immigrants nationwide, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and are deported at disproportionately lower rates. “It’s the Latino immigrants from Mexico and Central America that are overrepresented in terms of arrests and deportations,” Randy Capps of MPI told reporter Kenya Downs. “The numbers of Europeans, white people, are very, very small.”

Crowdsourcing Hate
ProPublica reports on findings from its Documenting Hate collaborative project which involves more than 100 newsrooms across the country. Of the thousands of reports that have been collected so far, Rachel Glickhouse writes, Univision, HuffPost, and The New York Times opinion section identified a common thread: People of color are being told to “Go back to your country” — including those who are U.S. citizens.

Immigration is an International Issue
Walls between nations have multiplied in the 21st century, according to Folha de São Paulo. Physical barriers have increased from 17 in 2001 to 70 today. Their reporters are traveling to four continents to document them for the project “A World of Walls/ Um Mundo de Muros.”

Sweden is the best place to be an immigrant, followed by Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Germany. The U.S. is down at #7, according to a U.S. News and World Report list that considers immigration policy rationale and global perception.

New York, Cologne, Paris all have museums dedicated to immigration. Now London has one too. (Pacific Standard)

It’s the Economy…
This week the Trump administration delayed, and announced it intends to eliminate, a rule that would allow foreigners to temporarily come to the U.S. to launch start-ups, reports the New York Times. Business leaders, led by those in the tech industry, swiftly criticized the delay and said the administration does not understand the “critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies.”

Across industries immigrants tend to work more unusual hours than natives, according to a new report from New American Economy. The Washington Post shows how both low- and high-skilled immigrant workers — from meat-packers to emergency room doctors — are clocking in overnight and on weekends. But as unemployment has dropped and the Trump administration works to curtail immigration some employers are having a hard time staffing those hard-to-fill shifts.

Visas for Foreign Students
DHS officials are considering requiring foreign students to reapply for their student visas every year. Critics worry this will be expensive and create a mountain of paperwork for students from China, India and other countries who arrive in the U.S. each year to attend higher-education institution, outlines the Washington Post. Currently students are allowed to stay as long as they are in a university program.

National Council of La Raza announced this week that it’s rebranding as UnidosUS. While President Janet Murguía said the change was in the works before Trump came into office, USA Today reports this move is part of a larger trend of collective resistance to his crackdown which is fueling an opposition with millions in donations and volunteers.

Border Stops
In Boston, an Iranian cancer researcher, and his family, were held for more than 24 hours and denied entry into the U.S. despite his travel visa and invitation to conduct postdoctoral research at the prestigious Boston Children’s Hospital, reports the Washington Post. U.S. Customs and Border Protection would not say why the family were sent back to Iran without ever leaving the airport.

Border CBP agents are illegally intimidating and turning away asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges. BuzzFeed reports that a “federal class-action lawsuit filed in US District Court in California by immigrant rights groups alleges that US Customs and Border Protection agents have told migrants that ‘Donald Trump just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone.’ They have also allegedly coerced asylum seekers into signing forms abandoning their claims by threatening to take their children away.” The Intercept reports that lawyers said there has been “a drastic increase in illegal turn-backs since Trump was elected.”

A growing number of district attorneys are offering plea deals to avoid deportation of noncitizens, the Wall Street Journal reports. Proponents say the policy protects immigrants from harsher consequences than others for minor convictions, but critics, including the Attorney General, call it unethical because it treats citizens and noncitizens differently.

A Salvadoran woman detained in a private detention center in Texas withdrew her petition for asylum so she could be deported more quickly after her Type 1 Diabetes meds were trashed by officers and she started to experience severe symptoms that could lead to diabetic coma. Rewire reports that advocates say she is the first detainee to try to get deported quickly because of the lack of medical care. And a report by Human Rights Watch this year found that one-third of deaths of those in ICE custody died from substandard health care.

In Georgia, a detainee’s suicide in solitary confinement was found to come after a long history of mental illness that the government should have known about, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The detention center is making changes to isolation cells, saying they were planned prior to the death.

Follow — Iraqi deportees
Deportation was stayed, for now, for 200 Iraqi immigrants arrested last month, many of whom are Christians. The U.S. judge in Michigan ruled they could face death or torture. On Thursday he ordered federal immigration officials to provide the names, locations and other information to attorneys working to stop them from getting deported, the Detroit News reports.

A robotics team from Western Afghanistan is coming to the U.S. to participate in an international competition after all, the New York Times reports. The group of six girls had been denied visas but after intervention from officials in Washington, and Trump himself, the team is set to compete under a humanitarian parole status that allows them to visit the U.S. Another team from Gambia was also denied before that decision was reversed and they were granted visas too.




Have an immigration related opportunity we should know about? Please send it on!
That’s all for Migratory Notes 23. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. We realize this is in no way a complete list. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.

Special thanks to intern Dalia Espinosa. Other thank you to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Jacque Boltik, Sara Catania, Daniel Connolly, Tobi Inlender, Sue Cross, Jason Alcorn, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Voice of San Diego Border Report, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, Migration Information Source, and countless tweeters.

*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. Previously 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 about Five lessons from a bilingual, bicultural newsroom in Southern Indiana for Local News Lab. 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 explores the fate of deported veterans in Discharged. Deported. Why California may cover vets’ legal bid to return. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

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