Migratory Notes 3

“There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country” Stephen Miller’s yearbook page from Santa Monica High School. Photo from Univision.

And the frenzy continues: new executive orders on the horizon, the first DACA detention, a Day Without Immigrants, a plan to deploy the National Guard to round up immigrants…

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Crowdsourcing immigration

When news broke of large-scale ICE raids last week that appear connected to new administration policy, the blog site Latino Rebels noted “What has happened in the last 48 hours has happened before…but the news that immigration raids are back in the public eye is sending shock waves throughout the community.” To keep track of the raids, Latino Rebels announced it’s relaunching “migramap” a crowdsourced effort with the advocacy organization United We Dream. We’re interested to see the other ways news outlets try to do this in the weeks and months to come, and, of course, if it works.

A new national NPR show, 1A, asked listeners to submit immigration questions on its website. A BBC show took a similar approach about the wall. Both used the Hearken platform. (This Tow Center report also has an interesting reference to the evolution from call-in radio to crowdsourcing…)

Who’s in charge now?

After Stephen Miller made his rounds on the Sunday talk shows, it seemed like everyone wanted to know how a Jewish boy from crunchy Santa Monica High School could become a right-wing, restrictionist Trump advisor and speechwriter. Rob Eshman, editor of the L.A. Jewish Journal, discovered that his family came to the United States seeking refuge at a time when immigration policy was much more welcoming than it is today.

Univision’s Fernando Peinado located a former schoolmate who claimed they were friends until high school when the future political operative said: “I can’t be your friend any more because you are Latino.” Washington Post and Univision also found a video this week of Miller running for student government where he asks, “Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?!”

The LA Times’ Brian Bennett and Michael Memoli looked at the ongoing question of the end of the DACA program, and present approaches that two unnamed immigration policy advisors say may move forward: Attorney General Jeff Sessions may direct a review, or governors may challenge it on constitutional grounds.

And who knows power?

Dianne Solis of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Sarah Saldana, the former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who said that a “sweeping executive order signed by President Donald Trump that allows any unauthorized immigrant to be deported for even being suspected of a minor crime will impact many more people than Trump’s other immigration policies.

ProPublica’s Sebastian Rotella sat down with former “Border Czar” Alan Bersin who said that a wall is not enough: “ You need a strategy that involves layered defense: deployed patrols, sophisticated sensor equipment, and surveillance from the air.” And even if all of that is accomplished, Bersin maintains that unless poverty and lawlessness in Central America are better controlled, the influx will continue.

Understanding the numbers

Various outlets picked up on the Pew Research Center study identifying that the majority of undocumented immigrants live in 20 metropolitan areas. But many missed a critical point of the study: most unauthorized immigrants do not live in the actual cities, but the suburbs, small towns and exurbs that surround them. This builds on previous research by the Urban Institute’s Audrey Singer and others that most immigrants, regardless of status, are no longer settling in central cities. According to the Pew study, about 38% of undocumented immigrants in the Los Angeles area reside within the city’s limits, in the New York area about 47% do, and in the D.C. area only about 6% do. Yet, Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s headline was typical of coverage of the study: “Illegal immigrants flock to big cities”.

Seeking Sanctuary

The Denver Post and the Denverite reported last week that a second undocumented woman in Denver has sought sanctuary at a Unitarian Church in Denver to avoid deportation. Both women have U.S.-born children and have been ordered deported.

The sanctuary movement started in the 1980s with Central American refugees. It’s now mostly heard about and used in cities with policies about cooperating with federal enforcement. In 1985 The New York Times published a historical account of the movement’s U.S. origins, born in a Presbyterian church in Tucson that involved a Quaker, a pastor, two Catholic priests and a nun.

Follow the wires

Two of the big scoops of the week came from wire outlets. Reuters was the first to report that a 23-year-old DACA recipient had been detained. And the Associated Press got the story that DHS was considering a plan to call in the National Guard to control immigration.

Facing the Consequences

The recent immigration actions are affecting more than just immigrants. The Hechinger Report finds universities are worried tuition will go up for American students due to a loss of international students. The Verge chronicles the case of a U.S.-born NASA scientist detained in the Houston Airport until he unlocked his government issued phone.

And farmers, a group of voters that overwhelmingly backed Trump, are worried about how immigration policy will impact the already critical labor shortage in agriculture. NPR checked in on farmers the day after Trump was inaugurated and last week Bloomberg highlighted growing anxiety about not having sufficient workers due to enforcement which could lead to a 6 percent increase in food prices. Bloomberg also visited a meat packing house in Colorado that lost its undocumented workforce in 2006 and turned to refugees, mostly Muslims, that is now experiencing a shortage of workers because of the travel ban.

Trump supporters are also finding friends and relatives implicated with shifting immigration policies. Kate Linthicum reports from El Salvador on a young victim of gang violence who was all set to immigrate with refugee status under an Obama program. Then he received a letter that the program had been suspended, and his U.S. citizen siblings apologized for having voted for Trump. (Spoiler: he ultimately entered the U.S., captured in a beautiful photo.)

Job and internship opportunities

With all the focus on immigration has come new job opportunities in immigration reporting and policy. Here are a few:

That’s it for Migratory Notes #3. Let us know what you think. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. And what would you like to see here? We know we are missing lots of great stories. Even as we write this so many are being published.

Thank yous to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here’s a few: Global Nation FB group, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Minerva Canto and various members of the Media Consortium.

Photo credit: Stephen Miller’s Santa Monica High School Yearbook via Univision

*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 contributor to outlets including WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times and others. She wrote most recently for CNN on grandchildren of survivors, and what Kushner could teach Trump about the Holocaust. 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 looked at how California’s undocumented kids could be the first to lose medical care under Trump. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera