Migratory Notes
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Migratory Notes

Migratory Notes 35

Sanctuary State California, DACA deadline, FOIA and CBP

Emails published in The Intercept that reveal a pattern of searching for “egregious” immigration cases.

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In the early days of Trump’s presidency, ICE agents in Austin were under strict orders to find “egregious cases” of immigrants who posed a risk to the public. They came up short. A heavily redacted cache of emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by students at Vanderbilt University Law School and published in The Intercept, reveals: “attempts to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. Instead, the emails detail the evolution of ICE’s public statements once it became obvious that the Trump administration’s narrative was not true.”

Call logs from VOICE — which the Trump administration introduced in April as a way to help victims of crimes perpetrated by undocumented immigrants — reveal a dark surveillance system where people call in neighbors, mothers-in-law and ex-wives, Splinter reports. “The logs — hundreds of which were available for download on the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement website despite containing extremely sensitive personal information — call to mind the efforts of closed societies like East Germany or Cuba to cultivate vast networks of informants and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.”

DACA Deadline
As the renewal deadline for DACA came and went on Thursday about 36,000 people who qualified did not apply to renew. Why not? Think Progress reports a trend in locations hit by natural disaster — in Texas and Florida — where pleas for a special extension were not heeded and more than a quarter of recipients eligible to renew did not do so. (Places hit by Hurricane Maria will be considered on a case-by-case basis.) PRI’s The World reports that a “tight deadline, lack of access to legal help and inability to pay the $495 renewal fee on short notice contributed to eligible DACA recipients not applying.”

And people are afraid because they don’t trust the government anymore, so they didn’t want to give their information by renewing,” an advocate told PRI. “Fear definitely has a huge role in it.”

The future of a DACA deal is looking increasingly precarious. Politico reported Thursday that Trump’s top aid Stephen Miller is determined any legislation would include cutting legal immigration in half over the next decade, which could be a non-starter for many Democrats and Republicans.

The Wall Street Journal reports that key Republicans in Congress want concessions that are more likely to be accepted by Democrats: “stepped up immigration enforcement inside the U.S., as well as border security.”

No DACA Deal?
If lawmakers don’t make a deal before the March 5 deadline, “DACA recipients’ work permits will expire at a rate of roughly 30,000 a month,” reports The Washington Post.

That could hit schools hard, with as many as 20,000 teachers DACA recipients nationwide, and many of those bilingual ones, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The L.A. Times would lose a web producer and writer.

“Work hard in school and God will provide,” Brian De Los Santos’ mother instructed him when she told him he was undocumented. He did as told and became a journalist at The Los Angeles Times. But now that DACA is rescinded, he writes about how he is waiting and hoping that old advice to “work hard and God will provide” will still serve him.

No FOIA for Border Patrol?
A border bill, which moved through the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, initially included a provision that would have allowed Customs and Border Patrol to evade Freedom of Information laws, according to the TucsonSentinel.com. The online news outlet reported a story about the measure Tuesday. The following day U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, proposed an amendment to remove it, saying, “Transparency is an important part of governance.”

The bill includes includes $10 billion in border wall funding, $5 billion to improve ports of entry and adds 5,000 agents to both the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.

California officially became a sanctuary state on Thursday, limiting who federal authorities can hold, question and transfer. In signing the bill, Governor Jerry Brown took an unusual step and outlined how local authorities would still allow federal authorities to go after undocumented immigrants convicted of certain crimes while protecting “hard-working families,” the LA Times reports. “In enshrining these new protections, it is important to note what the bill does not do,” Brown wrote. “This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way.”

Not everyone is happy about California being a sanctuary state. Reveal visits suburban Orange County which it calls an “Island of Support.”

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Justice Neil Gorsuch is set to break two ties in immigration cases that only eight justices heard during the last term. The first case, Sessions v. Dimaya, focuses on whether the definition of a violent crime under the the Immigration and Nationality Act is unconstitutionally vague. The second case, Jennings v. Rodriguez, deals with prolonged detention and whether immigrants fighting deportation should have a right to a bond hearing if they are incarcerated for more than six months. If the Supreme Court overturns a lower court ruling, thousands of detainees would lose their chance at a hearing.

Immigration is an International Issue
A Guatemalan newspaper highlights five apps to help immigrants including one that allows those getting arrested to send a quick message to a group of people letting them know, reports Prensa Libre.

In Canada, a new study finds increased immigration could improve the economy and offset an aging population and low birth rate, reports The Star.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
ICE officials failed to observe a detainee who hung himself in solitary confinement in South Georgia, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He had been deemed a “suicide risk” and the law required that he be watched. The man was one of 12 detainees who committed suicide in the most recent fiscal year.

Does a company that puts ankle monitors on undocumented immigrants provide a helpful service, or is it a debt trap for desperate people? The Texas Observer looks at the complicated business of for-profit ankle monitors, profiling a company that provides collateral to bondsmen, who pledge to pay the government if immigrants don’t show up. In return, the company requires its customers wear GPS ankle monitors. They charge a $420 monthly fee for that service. (Here’s an older Mother Jones investigation of the company).

Follow — Operation Safe City, Sheriff Joe
ICE’s big operation last week, dubbed Safe City, resulted in the arrest of 498 immigrants, most with criminal convictions. Rewire reports that nearly 200 of those were “collateral arrests,” of undocumented immigrants without criminal records who happen to be in the house or area of the targeted enforcement. These people are not considered priorities, but an ICE official said, that without cooperation from local law enforcement more collateral arrests will take place because officers must arrest everyone they encounter during such raids.

A federal judge determined that Arpaio’s pardon will stand. The ruling does not interfere with civil cases against him. (AP).


Have you participated in a collaboration involving ethnic media? Please take a moment to share your experiences here for a report Daniela is working on for American Press Institute. The first section was publishedWednesday: How can collaborations between ethnic and mainstream outlets serve communities in the digital age?

Selected Resources

Immigration Jobs and Opportunities

That’s all for Migratory Notes 35. 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. Daniel Kowalski, Audrey Singer, Michele Henry, Arun Venagopal, Jason Alcorn, Voice of San Diego Border Report, Global Nation Exchange FB group, 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 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 California lags in testing toddlers for lead exposure. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera



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Daniela Gerson

Daniela Gerson

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