Migratory Notes 61
Philly, ICE capital; 11 Syrian refugees; guilty in Kansas
When the Trump administration took the “shackles” off ICE, the Philadelphia office went on an arresting spree: It was first in the country in 2017 for apprehending undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions. An investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer probes the actions of the Philadelphia office of ICE, which covers Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia and beat out 23 other ICE offices in the country. “This is especially striking given that Pennsylvania’s undocumented population ranks 16th in the country, with West Virginia’s and Delaware’s far behind that,” write Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff. “As deportation officers increasingly venture outside jails and prisons — where the majority of their arrests still occur — they are making choices that can seem random, unfair, or sometimes unlawful, not only to immigrants but also to some officials inside the immigration system.”
After approving a limited deployment of troops to the border, California has rejected the federal government’s initial plans for the tasks its National Guard will do at the border because it would hew too closely to immigration enforcement, reports the AP.
In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Trump’s ideal border enforcement is taking shape,reports the AP. National Guard troops have been enthusiastically deployed by Texas’ governor, border wall construction contracts are being finalized, and efforts to take over private land for border expansion are well underway.
Despite recent efforts by the Trump administration to end the practice of releasing immigrants while they await their court dates, around 100,000 immigrants have been released from detention at the U.S.-Mexico border because of rules that limit the amount of time minors can be detained and a shortage of detention beds, reports The Washington Post.
Border Patrol detained an undocumented mother taking her sick son to the hospital at a Texas checkpoint, and then then followed the ambulance to the hospital over the weekend, reports the San Antonio Express-News. She was released after being detained for 18 hours.
Detention & Deportation
The U.S. is moving to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants protected by a bilateral agreement that shields most from deportation, with some already deported to a country now ruled by their political opponents, reports Reuters.
The DHS inspector general will investigate the legality of separating families of asylum seekers in immigration custody, reports CNN. The investigation was requested by several Democratic members of Congress.
A clause in federal immigration law allowing for the deportation of any immigrants, including legal permanent residents, convicted of a “crime of violence” is unconstitutionally vague, ruled the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch was the deciding vote in the ruling, which is seen as a litmus test of how the country’s highest court sees the Trump administration’s immigration efforts. In this opinion, Gorsuch chided the leeway the law gave for interpretation: “The implacable fact is that this isn’t your everyday ambiguous statute. It leaves the people to guess about what the law demands — and leaves judges to make it up.” (While a “crime of violence” is a type of “aggravated felony,” other crimes that fall into this category remain grounds for deportation. Dara Lind breaks down this key point in an explainer for Vox.)
A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department can no longer threaten to withhold federal funding from local police departments that choose not to comply with immigration enforcement. The ruling is from one of a handful of lawsuits between California and the federal government.
Asylees and Refugees
Right-wing extremists were found guilty Wednesday in a terror plot in against Muslim refugees, reports the Wichita Eagle. The three white militiamen from rural Kansas were found guilty of plotting to set off a bomb in 2016 at a Garden City, Kansas apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshipped.
Should domestic violence or sexual abuse persecution be grounds for refuge in the US? This is a question the Attorney General Sessions is reconsidering with broad implications for asylum seekers. “While the #MeToo movement has swept the country, bringing new legitimacy to women’s stories and consequences for men who abused, on immigration President Trump is going the other way,” Julia Preston writes for the Marshall Project and Politico in an analysis of recent measures to limit immigration and how they would impact women.
Despite bombing Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people, the US has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees this year, NPR reports. “In 2016, near the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. resettled 15,479 Syrian refugees, according to State Department figures,” Deborah Amos writes. r “In 2017, the country let in 3,024.” By comparison, in the first 3.5 months in 2016, the U.S. accepted 790 Syrian refugees.
In an unannounced policy reversal, young migrants who have been abandoned, abused or neglected by their parents will no longer be able to receive a green card under the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status program, reports The New York Times. Attorneys noticed the change over the last several weeks, as the administration has no longer allowed young people over age 18, but under 21, the original cut-off age, to qualify for the status. More than 1,000 young people across New York could be impacted.
Some Republicans and Democrats in the House are joining forces to push for a vote this year on immigration, reports The Washington Post. In a letter signed by 240 House members (with virtually all of the Democratic representatives on board), legislators are asking House Speaker Paul Ryan to let them debate four distinct immigration bills and move forward with the most popular option, reports Bloomberg. The bills could include a bipartisan compromise and a plan to limit immigration at large, reports The Washington Post. A DACA component will likely be included in most of the proposals, reports Reuters.
Koch-backed groups, meanwhile, have put seven figures behind an ad campaign they hope will pressure Congress to take up DACA again, reports Business Insider. The ads will also call for any DACA solution to come with a border security plan.
The Other Coachella
Longread’s Gabriel Thompson reports on the way fear has invaded the lives of farm workers and high school students in California’s Coachella Valley, but also the way they use activism and education to beat it back. “If you call for fear, fear will come,” one activist told Thompson. “But if you call for faith, faith will also come.”
How did Thomas Homan go from an Obama-era ICE director who helped craft narrowed deportation priorities to a combative Trump-era immigration hawk overseeing an unprecedented expansion of enforcement? Mother Jones takes a dive into the background and ideology of the acting director of ICE.
In an effort to prevent graduate workers from going on strike, the administration at Penn State put out a statement warning that a labor action could affect the visas status of international students, reports The Inquirer. “If a union called a strike of graduate student assistants, it is possible that international student visas could be affected,” the school wrote on its website.
- Vox breaks down how undocumented immigrants (still) pay billions of dollars in federal taxes each year.
- For the first time, DHS hired an overseas company, London-based cyber-security firm iProov, to work on border security issues, reports Quartz.
- Miami-Dade, FL saw the largest percent increase from international migration in 2016–2017, followed closely, and perhaps unexpectedly, by Jefferson County, IA, reports Business Insider.
Follows: CA sanctuary backlash, Caravan continues, journalist in detention
- San Diego joined the backlash against sanctuary policies in California, with County supervisors voting 3–1 to support the Trump lawsuit reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Some Central American migrants in the caravan are still heading to the US via train, reports CNN.
- Attorneys representing a journalist in detention say their client was arrested for his critical coverage of ICE, reports The Commercial Appeal.
Resources, Job Postings & Opportunities
- Podcasts to check out
- How the US triggered a massacre in Mexico, Longform podcast by ProPublica’s Ginger Thompson.
- Pod Save the People, a podcast hosted by DeRay McKesson, speaks to two attorneys who defend kids facing deportation.
- Alhambra Source, a multilingual community news website, launched a podcast with the first story about a local DACA recipient.
- Only in America: National Immigration Forum launched a new podcast about the people behind immigration issues.
- The New American Songbook from Groundtruth Project looks at the stories behind the songs of immigrants.
- Voices in America
- Mash-Up American
- ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? is a bilingual podcast to help encourage a Midwestern Latinx community
- For a more complete list Radio Public curates podcasts about immigration and migration
- Recently released immigration books and reports (got one, send it over)
- Bringing Evidence to the Refugee Integration Debate, from the Urban Institute
- Up Against the Wall, by Edward S. Casey and Mary Watkins, uses the U.S.-Mexico border to look at the many walls, both literal and metaphorical, being built to police divisions. It won the Ethnic Studies (NAES) Outstanding Book of the Year award in 2017.
- The Making of a Dream: How a group of young undocumented immigrants helped change what it means to be American by Laura Wides-Muñoz covers the growth of the Dreamer movement.
- The Book of Isaias: A child of Hispanic immigrants seeks his own America by Daniel Connolly is a nonfiction narrative about the children of Mexican immigrants coming of age in Tennessee.
- The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe tells the story of a Denver high school.
- Special report on the Politics of Immigration and Education from the journal Education Policy.
- Immigration-related curriculum
- Re-imagining immigration has resources and lessons to teach about migration, immigration, refugees, and civic empowerment through history, literature, and the sciences
- The Advocates for Human Rights and the Immigration History Research Center at UMN free curriculum that helps students learn about U.S. immigration through personal narratives: Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project
- Imm-print published an Immigration Detention Syllabus
- Immigration reporting tools and tips
- Check out our special issue of standout immigration stories that defined Migratory Notes’ first year.
- Immigration Data Resources: An extensive, and growing, list of immigration resources curated by PRI’s Angilee Shah and shared as part of her presentation on finding immigration stories at NICAR 2018.
- How to cover local refugee communities (American Press Institute)
- Tips on covering immigration when you do not live near the border(Daniel Connolly, from IRE 2017)
- Resources for investigating visas (Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)
- Reporting on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants (90 Days, 90 Voices)
- Fellowships, Scholarships, & Jobs
- LA Times is hiring a Southwest and Mexican border correspondent
- ProPublica is offering student scholarships to a host of conferences, including NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA, and others
- Diversity Fellowship, Reveal
- ICJF is launching a Truthbuzz Fellowship sending journalists to Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the United States
That’s all for Migratory Notes 61. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email.
Thank yous to Jacque Boltik and Angie Quintero for creating our template. Fernanda Santos, Roberto Suro, 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 Single-payer health care: what Californians need to know. 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