Migratory Notes 53

Immigration deadlock; ICE vs. California; keeping mum on abortion

Olympian Chloe Kim, daughter of Korean immigrants, won a gold medal in the Snowboard Half-pipe in PyeongChang. Her father has been highlighted for his devotion to helping her achieve her American dream. Credit: Andy Miah (Flickr)

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In a web series for Frontline Marcela Gaviria explores MS-13’s impact on immigrant communities. In light of 25 gruesome killings attributed to MS-13 on Long Island, law enforcement is waging a war against the gang. But the crackdown impacts even the unaffiliated, and has “led to many immigrant teens being accused of gang affiliation and unlawfully detained.”

Dianne Solis profiles one family from a community hit particularly hard by the impact of Trump’s travel ban: refugee Iraqis. “This fiscal year, fewer than 100 Iraqis have arrived in the U.S through January — a trickle compared to the nearly 5,000 who arrived in the same period a year earlier,” writes Solis for the Dallas Morning News.


Some states across the country are considering various efforts to protect DACA and TPS recipients who will soon lose immigration protections, reports The Washington Post. The efforts include passing local versions of the DREAM Act to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, which some states already do, or state-funded Medicaid benefits for TPS recipients.

Sen. Jeff Flake will take a running start at a DACA compromise with a bill next week to extend DACA protections for the next three years and offer a three-year, $7.6 billion investment in Trump’s border wall, reports Politico. From there, he’ll push for an up-or-down vote on the legislation, which is being pitched as a temporary ‘fall-back plan.’ That bill could also be attached to an omnibus spending bill due on March 23. Sen. Flake called the spending bill “the best vehicle” to pass a bill, and a former Obama Justice Department attorney called it the “only hope” for Dreamers.

The Supreme Court is considering whether to take up DACA after Trump appealed a lower court’s decision to end the program, but as of Tuesday, it had taken no action.

Journalists, meanwhile, are trying to make sense of the months of mixed messages coming from the administration. The AP fact-checked a few of Trump’s claims on immigration and found many of them to be false. Buzzfeed asked whether Trump would still step in if Congress didn’t come to an agreement on DACA, as he promised in the past. The White House did not respond to Buzzfeed’s requests for comment.

The New Yorker reports that last week’s open-ended debate allowed hard-liners in Trump’s cabinet to place their most extreme measures on the table, a move that will shift the immigration debate to the right for the months to come.

Undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children but who do not qualify for the protections of DACA say the focus on helping young recipients through a reform bill, at the expense of considering relief for a broader group, is breeding resentment, reports the Los Angeles Times.

One reason America needs fewer immigrants, according to a GOP senator, is because the country is prepping for a wave of automation anyway. That’s the argument made by Sen. Tom Cotton, who The Washington Post reports helped kill recent attempts to pass immigration reform.

Family Reunification

Trump has heavily maligned family migration, but it may be the path that brought his in-laws to the United States, reports The Washington Post. Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, but how or when they obtained their green cards remains a mystery.

Until Trump pushes through his restrictions on family-based migration, immigrants are scrambling to apply for family members to join them in the U.S., reports NPR.

Reproductive Rights

Immigration lawyers with one non-profit were told that mentioning abortion access to minors in custody could threaten a multi-million dollar contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, reports The Washington Post. The restriction, which holds even if minors specifically ask for help understanding their reproductive rights, says government-funded lawyers are strictly confined to speaking about immigration. In response, some Democrats are calling for Scott Lloyd, director of refugee resettlement, to resign for showing an “ongoing, blatant disregard for women’s constitutional rights,” reports Rewire.


A migrant mother is being held in Texas while her teenage son has been taken to Illinois. It’s the latest example of the Trump administration’s efforts to discourage parents from migrating with their children. Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the Los Angeles Times: “The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.”

The Trump administration is keeping immigrant children locked up without cause and for prolonged periods, alleges a suit targeting the Office of Refugee Resettlement, reports Reuters. It was filed this week by a New York civil rights group.

Activists rallied outside a Texas detention center last week in support of a woman allegedly assaulted by a guard and then placed in solitary confinement to pressure her to withdraw the complaint, reports The Guardian. ICE denied the allegations.

Border Wall

Among the millions spent by San Diego police to protect Trump’s border wall were $50,000 on supplies for protests that didn’t materialize, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.


Border Patrol agents around the country are using an obscure federal law to expand their reach by looking for immigrants on private property without permission of the owner and patrolling further than 100 miles from the border, reports The New York Times.

California Crackdown

In a five-day ICE sweep, authorities arrested more than 200 immigrants and issued audit notices to 122 businesses in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reports that it’s the latest volley in a standoff between the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown and California’s defiant stance against it. Activists in Southern California responded with action. One group held a protest at a detention center and in Los Angeles, where they blocked a DHS van trying to enter the center, and another coordinated a rapid response network that helped family members check whether their relatives had been detained in the raids, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.

Despite the raids, California remains the most secure sanctuary state in the country, according to activists. Maps that the Immigrant Legal Resource Center created demonstrate the strength of sanctuary areas vis a vis county policies assisting federal immigration enforcement. CityLab took these and two other maps that illustrate the impact of the Trump administration on immigration policy in local communities.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the minute details that make up an ICE roundup in Los Angeles, from the first knock on a target’s door to the crying families watching their loved ones taken away. The New York Times did a similar ridealong piece in LA in July; a couple of weeks later Hector Tobar wrote about coverage of ICE raids in the paper’s opinion pages, warning that journalists should avoid “the trap of immigration porn.”


ICE officers who arrest immigrants with administrative, rather than judicial, warrants, could be violating the Fourth Amendment, reports Newsweek.

Immigration is an International Issue

How do other countries regulate their immigration system: family-based versus temporary visas, work-related versus humanitarian permits? The New York Times put together a handy visualization to show how many immigrants different countries take in, on which visas they arrive, and how our immigration system would change if we shifted to a model more like Canada or France.

The EU says all of its migration policy priorities are equal, but a data analysis by Deutsche Welle shows that the money doesn’t flow to all EU initiatives equally. For example, a fund meant to invest in the home countries of many migrants to alleviate some of the root causes of migration actually goes to tightening border controls to keep migrants in their home countries. And what funding the EU does give as financial aid will do little to stop waves of migrants, reports Deutsche Welle.

The border wall has become a rallying cry in the Mexican presidential campaign, with two candidates promising tough action on the issue, reports The Hill.

Immigration & The Olympics

American snowboarder Chloe Kim’s parents have been celebrated as model immigrants who gave up their careers and drove hours to get her to training sessions, all to invest in their daughter’s dreams. New York Magazine profiled Kim’s father and his “classic Dad Moves,” like his laminated handmade signs at the Olympics. But critics say the ‘model immigrant’ is a problematic narrative that reduces immigrants to little more than what they can offer their host country, reports PRI.

Reports about the family of American figure skater Mirai Nagasu have also focused on her parents’ hardworking nature. The Los Angeles Times reports that Nagasu “basically grew up” in her family’s restaurant. And NBC reports that her parents missed seeing her become the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics because of the dinner rush at the restaurant. However, they said they would close their restaurant for the first time in years to watch her compete for an individual medal.

Follows: Black Panther, Border activist facing prison, kids in court alone


Selected Resources

Podcasts to check out

Recently released immigration books and reports (got one, send it over)

Immigration-related curriculum

Immigration reporting tools and tips

That’s all for Migratory Notes 53. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.

Special thanks to intern Dalia Espinosa. And thank you to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Jacque Boltik for creating our template. Daniel Kowalski, Audrey Singer, Michele Henry, Jason Alcorn, Voice of San Diego Border Report, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Migration Information Source, Politico’s Morning Shift, 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 Caught in the middle: California businesses face conflicting immigration laws. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*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