Migratory Notes 58

Prototype construction of one of the options for a border wall. In the spending bill $1.6 billion will be allocated for the border barrier, but does not allow for the building of wall prototypes. / CBP (Flickr)

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Since the first travel ban went into effect ushering in new immigration restrictions, Bhutanese refugees in Columbus, Ohio were reunited with their families, while their Somali refugee neighbors are still waiting for loved ones to be granted permission to leave refugee camps. “For thousands of refugee families already building new lives in the U.S., the changes are playing out in decidedly unnerving and uneven ways,” Adam Geller writes for AP. “The restrictions have kept many families apart, while allowing some to reunite, sorting people by country, and effectively by religion.”

Outlets across the country took up an AP analysis of State Department documents on refugee admission:

Trump may have lost his chance, for now, to secure sufficient funding for his “big, beautiful” wall. Congress passed its last major spending bill of the year without the $25 billion Trump initially requested. The bill did allocate $1.6 billion for barriers on the border, though it included a caveat that does not allow for the building of Trump’s wall prototypes, Arizona Republic reports.

Trump is calling the $1.6 billion an “initial down payment” on the bigger border wall. The president also suggested in a tweet that money allocated for the military in the spending bill could be used to build the border wall, as they are both “all about national defense.”

But those in charge of securing the border may believe other measures would be a better use of the funds. Less than 0.5 percent of Border Patrol agents see a need for investment in a border wall, according to CBP documents released by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, reports The New York Times. Instead, agents want more personnel and more technology. CBP disputed the report, arguing its agents’ feedback was misread.

Even with increased funding, growing the ranks of Border Patrol will likely be challenging. Recruiters are travelling the country to find people willing to relocate to Arizona and take a job with the Border Patrol, reports Fronteras. It’s been a tough sell, so to help convince candidates, they’ve asked cities like Tucson to promote their amenities through ad campaigns. CBP is also offering a $10,000 hiring bonus.

California Crackdown
Orange County is breaking rank with the state and joining the federal government in a lawsuit over sanctuary policies. The board of supervisors voted unanimously “to join a lawsuit filed earlier this month by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that alleges three of California’s laws are unconstitutional,” the OC Register reports. Meanwhile, the OC Sheriff’s Department is finding other ways to sidestep the state laws and cooperate with federal authorities, the Washington Post reports. And two other small cities in Orange County, Los Alamitos and Yorba Linda, have also issued independent actions siding with the federal government, and other cities may soon follow, reports the LA Times.

Census & Citizenship 
The Trump administration’s plans to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census has triggered a flurry of lawsuits, with more than a dozen states joining one suit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the move “is going to determine the individuals in our country and provide information that allows us to provide with our own laws, our own procedures.” The move would bring back a question about citizenship that has not appeared on the census since the 1950s.Critics charge it will generate an undercount and disproportionately cut funding to blue states.

Young, undocumented immigrants who turn 15 become eligible for DACA, but if they didn’t apply before Trump ended the program they are now locked out of participating, even as the Supreme Court has pushed the administration to continue processing renewals, reports The Washington Post. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 12,000 people will become eligible for DACA in the next four years.

For young migrants deported to Mexico, ‘exile’ may be a more accurate word than ‘homecoming,’ reports The New York Times.

In its rush to arrest undocumented immigrants, ICE also ensnares U.S. citizen and, in many cases, places them into deportation proceedings. The New Yorker reports on one U.S. citizen’s false arrest, and his near miss from being deported to Barbados. “For decades, U.S. citizens have been deported repeatedly, in isolated cases and en masse, due to racism and bureaucratic indifference, as well as the complexity of federal immigration laws,” writes Steve Coll. “The federal government possesses no definitive list of U.S. citizens that could be checked… The closest thing to such a list, the federal database of Social Security numbers, encompasses a workforce combining both citizens and legally authorized noncitizens.”

A U.S. army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan was deported to Mexico this week after he was unable to get citizenship because of a drug-related felony conviction, setting off outrage among supporters that includes an Illinois legislator. Speaking from Mexico, he told reporters he was “very confused.”

Two Mexican nationals who have each been held more than six months at a Bay Area detention center filed a class-action lawsuit alleging they have unlawfully been denied bond hearings. Both are resisting deportation by filing asylum petitions.

Detainees at a private detention center run by LaSalle Corrections were verbally, physically and sexually assaulted by guards over the course of a single week,according to a report by a group of Texas-based advocates. The treatment of about 80 immigrant men, most from Somalia, Kenya and Sudan, is at the center of several complaints filed to DHS, the DOJ and local authorities, reports The Intercept.

GEO Group is suing Tacoma, Washington, in a federal district court following the city’s adoption of a zoning ordinance that would make the private prison company’s detention center improperly zoned for its location. Washington state has also pushed back against GEO Group’s reliance on inmate labor paid $1 a day.

Home care and health care work, two of America’s fastest-growing professions, are exhausting and low-paid. They are also essential, and primarily staffed by immigrant workers now the target of Trump’s crackdown against ‘chain migration,’reports The New York Times. Economists warn that restricting family-based migration would be a mistake, suggesting instead that the U.S. needs more low-skilled workers in the coming years. Of the 10 jobs expected to grow most in the next decade, BLS data shows only three require university degrees. Kaiser Health News reports on Haitian home health care workers with TPS status, whose departure could throw both individuals they care for, and health care agencies, into chaos.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would end another temporary visa program — this one for Liberians. On March 31, 2019 the program allowing 4,000 Liberians impacted by the country’s civil war to live in the U.S. will expire. Deferred Enforced Departure has been renewed by presidents from both parties for the past 18 years, reports PRI. It is not clear, however, if the move will impact all who benefit from the program. In The Twin Cities, home to one of the largest West African enclaves in the nation, Liberians launched a strong push to preserve the program, the Star Tribune reports.

Internal emails show ICE accesses Facebook’s library of personal data to locate people it’s tracking, reports The Intercept. That includes information such as the last time someone accessed their account, and the IP address of the log-in. Facebook denied that ICE has any special access to its data, and that they had assessed ICE had valid reason to request data in one particular case.

Some undocumented immigrants in Tampa Bay are preemptively retaining lawyersas part of a program offered by several immigration firms, in an effort to avoid spending days or weeks lost inside the detention system if they are arrested, reports the Tampa Bay Times. For an initial fee of $499 a month and then $59 a month while enrolled in the program, attorneys offer a 24-hour hotline and some important documents will already be filled in, and clients fill out a survey every 60 days to re-assess their needs.


Follows: Border wall fraud and rock throwers, Greyhound and ICE

Selected Resources

Podcasts to check out

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

Immigration-related curriculum