Migratory Notes
Published in

Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 27

Undocumented around Mar-a-Lago; immigration porn; private prison boom

A man works out on the Mexican border. Photo by Alberto Lau

#MustRead/ #MustTry
Would you qualify to immigrate under RAISE, the plan to lower legal immigration that the Trump administration is backing? Time created a straightforward quiz that shows just how hard it would be. Daniela definitely wouldn’t qualify. She only got 24 points out of 30. Elizabeth didn’t pass either. (Apparently they were not alone among journalists, at least.)

Near Trump’s “Winter White House” in Mar-a-Lago, undocumented immigrants, including one who waited on him in the past, are facing the prospect of deportation. The Intercept interviews Trump backer and undocumented immigrant Javier Gonzalez: “I thought that people would be happy and spend more money,” he said of his support for the president. But judicial discretion for sympathetic cases like Gonzalez’s, who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, has been “virtually eliminated” and he is facing possible deportation.

The Trump administration is finding resistance to sanctuary policies in unexpected places. Of about 140 cities and counties it said were not honoring ICE “detainer” requests, 41 percent voted for Trump. These communities, including Lehigh, PA., no longer hold people just because ICE requests it, the Wall Street Journal reports. That’s because Lehigh was sued after it held U.S. citizen for immigration authorities.

Avoid “immigration porn,” Hector Tobar warns in a column for The New York Times. “The humiliated and hunted people you see in coverage of the deported are not the whole person. Tenacity and stubbornness are the defining qualities of undocumented America,” Tobar writes. “This is precisely what is absent in the media’s depiction of the more than 11 million people.”

Detention & Deportation
Immigrant detentions may be up 38% this year, but so far the actual number of deportations are on track to be lower than Obama’s lowest year. Politico explains why: Border crossings are way down, and a huge backlog in the courts of 600,000+ cases that the Trump administration inherited and exacerbated by going after immigrants without criminal records.

The increased detentions are a boon for private prison companies. Business Insider reports that industry leaders, CoreCivic and GEO Group, expect to see significant business from the federal government due to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. While one CEO lamented that border apprehensions had plummeted, he said that loss was offset by interior arrests that are on the rise and where immigrants are detained for almost twice as long, at an average of 57 days.

The Hartford Courant reports that ICE is arresting undocumented parents by using their children as bait.

Dozens of immigrant women are being transferred to a private detention center in West Texas often referred to as “hell,” BuzzFeed reports. And a man found hanging with a bedsheet around his neck on July 11 marked the fifth attempted suicide since December at Adelanto detention center, in California’s remote desert, the Los Angeles Times reports. Government officials say it is subject to “rigorous operating requirements.” But detainees and advocates have long complained of medical neglect and poor treatment.

Immigration is an International Issue
In Honduras, the government is taking credit for the decrease in deportations, the Lowell Sun reports, as part of a special project on returned migrants. “I insist, and I defend, and I stress that this decrease is mostly due to the efforts of the government,” said Maria Andrea Matamoros Castillo, Honduras’ vice minister for foreign relations.

The Mexican asylum system is feeling the strains of receiving more Central Americans, many fleeing gang violence, due to the hardening of the southwest border, The New York Times reports.

Capitol Hill to the White House
In introducing RAISE, Trump said “new immigrants are not going to come in and just immediately collect welfare.” But Vox reports that even green card holders must wait years before they are eligible for government assistance and points to research that shows “poor, uneducated immigrants are the least likely group to use welfare.”

Proposals to decrease legal immigration like RAISE are not new. The last time a plan received this much attention was in 1996, when both chambers of Congress were controlled by Republicans. Back then, reports the New Yorker, Lamar Smith from Texas was the force behind efforts to cut legal and illegal immigration. He failed, thanks to a majority of Senate Republicans including current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., plans to revive a different type of immigration reform when he returns to Washington, which would increase immigration. He told the Arizona Republic that Trump’s plan to build the border wall could be a bargaining chip on the issue. He says he’s already spoken to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, one of McCain’s collaborators on the comprehensive immigration legislation that failed in 2013.

Border Patrol Challenges
Recently released documents reveal how Customs and Border Patrol had to react on the fly when the travel ban was implemented and thousands protested at airports nationwide, the Intercept reports. “Headquarters is currently working on instructions for the field,” wrote CBP’s acting deputy executive director of field operations in an email after the order began. “Please standby for guidance.”

John Oliver satirized the planned hiring of more Border Patrol agents, highlighting the current corruption of the agency. He proposes a new recruiting slogan: “Bad things happen. This is a story of not learning from your mistakes. For the sake of absolutely everybody…if we’re going to hire all these new people, the least we can do is be more careful this time around.”

Hate & Love Watch
Days after the bombing of a Minnesota mosque, law enforcement and local media had yet to use the word “terrorism” in describing the incident, Minnesota Public Radio reports. In contrast, less than 24 hours after a Somali man stabbed people at a local mall it was labeled terrorism, causing some in the Muslim community to say there is a double standard.

Afraid that arrests would stop Hispanic students from going to school in Memphis, Tenn., members of an African-American church lined the streets with signs declaring “We love our immigrants” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here,” the Commercial Appeal reports. This was one of various efforts throughout the city that apparently worked — students showed up to class.

Wisconsin was the state that swung the election for Trump. Its dairy farms also rely on undocumented labor, and many are now concerned that his election will be bad for business. Reveal and Wisconsin Public Radio visits these farmers, an immigrant worker who decided to return to Mexico, and a network of religious groups and other volunteers offering haven for those seeking safe passage to Canada where they plan to apply for asylum.

Some farmers are finding additional help in the fields through the expansion of a special temporary agricultural visa. In the first nine months of fiscal year 2017, the U.S. Labor Department certified 20% more temporary workers — the bulk of them from Mexico — to harvest berries, tobacco and other crops under the H-2A agricultural visa program. Hotel housekeepers from Mexico have also been able to take advantage of another temporary visa, which is tallying a similar increase.

Chicago is suing the U.S. charging it is unconstitutional for the Justice Department to withhold grant funds in its latest charge on sanctuary cities. The DOJ responded with a statement that the Windy City had a “culture of lawlessness.”

A New Mexico County has decided to keep its immigrant-friendly policies despite threats from the U.S. Department of Justice to pull grant funds, reports the Washington Times. Bernalillo County, which includes the city of Albuquerque, prohibits cooperation, unless required by law, with federal agents who are investigating immigration status or arresting someone based on their immigration status.

Books & History
Want to go deeper into immigration topics? The New York Times and Remezcla recently produced lists of books. The Times Book Review highlights a novel about an unnamed city that is “swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace,” a political philosophy of immigration, and a book about how Fairfax, Virginia’s immigrant population grew sevenfold since the passage of the 1965 immigration act. Remezcla picks up on a longer list from Queen Mob’s Teahouse with works such as poetry that spans New York to El Paso to Mexico to the Dominican Republic and a memoir of crossing unaccompanied from El Salvador as a child.

In the early 1990s Southern California became home to an army of street children, unaccompanied minors, who found shelter under freeways and in camps. To survive many committed crimes and were arrested. Officials in Los Angeles and Orange Counties made a deal to turn over the children to the Mexican government, to be housed in what seemed like jails there without a program in place to reunite them with their families, according to Timeline.

Follow — Deportation of man arrested on way to daughter’s school
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez’s was arrested in February en route to drop off his daughter at school in Los Angeles. An immigration appeals court has thrown out the final deportation order and his case will not be sent back to the local immigration court that first ordered his deportation, reports the Los Angeles Times.


Immigration Jobs and Funding

That’s all for Migratory Notes 27. We’re based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. 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 for creating our template. Maria Kari, Mirta Ojito, 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. 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 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 is San Diego welcomes more refugees than any other California county. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera




A weekly informed and concise guide to immigration news.

Recommended from Medium

AMFA Welcomes Alaska Airlines Maintenance Controllers

Bernie Sanders Endorsement (For Broke-Ass Stuart)

2020 Presidential Debate Recap Night 1

The 2001 Terrorist Attack on American Soil Wasn’t the Only ‘9/11’

COMMENTARY: Free speech includes the freedom to insult religious figures

Political Terrorism and Access to Guns

Let’s Go Joe (It’s Time for Bold Executive Action)

A black and white photo of President Joe Biden smiling with a paint splash and the words, “Let’s Go Joe” over his shoulder plus white text on a reddish pink background that says “What issue would you most like President Biden to use his power as president to address?”

My Statement on Mitch McConnell’s Coronavirus Response

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Daniela Gerson

Daniela Gerson

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

More from Medium

Time to ACT UP about the racist drug war

The Risk Perception Paradox

​​How to Get the APS (Autorisation Provisioire de Séjour) Visa in France

Are my expectations unrealistic?