Migratory Notes 62

Travel Ban takes the stand, DACA back? Latino Border Patrol

Asylum seekers have legal counsel in only 37 percent of cases that go through immigration courts, ProPublica reports in a package that includes an interactive news game about the lengthy process. Illustration by Sara Santini for ProPublica

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#MustPlay/#MustRead/ #MustListen
Playmatics, ProPublica and WNYC put readers to the test to see if they have the endurance to make it through the labyrinth of asylum bureaucracy in what they call an “interactive news game” based on actual cases. “For your safety, you decide that you must leave behind everything you know and head to the U.S. You aren’t certain you will be able to get there. You’re even less certain you’ll be allowed to stay. How long can you last before you give up?” asks The Waiting Game. Give up and you are told how you did against other readers, and how long it would actually take to get asylum. “Players on average last 47 days,” in the case of a Tibetan seeking asylum based on religious freedom, the game reports. “He waited a little over two years, or around 750 days, to get asylum.” The package also includes a detailed analysis of the asylum system and a radio story on the challenges that often come after receiving asylum.

Travel Ban 
The Supreme Court appeared to be leaning toward upholding Trump’s travel ban on Wednesday, as oral arguments began.

Observing was Karen Korematsu, who has been warning that there are dangerous parallels in the travel ban to a lawsuit her father lost at the Supreme Court challenging the order to send Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II, reports PRI’s The World. Among those who have submitted friends-of-the-court briefs are more than 55 former intelligence experts from both sides of the aisle who are taking a rare stand on the case and arguing that the ban must be stricken, reports NPR.

DACA & Dreamers
The prospect that DACA may be open again to new applicants has many Dreamers eager to get their paperwork in order, Fronteras reports. Not so fast, advocates and attorneys are telling their clients, The New York Times reports.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government must accept new DACA applicants, as well as continue renewals. In a case brought by a student at Princeton University, the school, and Microsoft, Judge John D. Bates labeled the move to end DACA “arbitrary and capricious.” He put a stay on his decision for 90 days, providing the government an opportunity to better explain its rationale.

The student who brought the case, Maria de la Cruz Perales Sanchez, told The Daily Princetonian she had mixed emotions: “The better opinion would have been to immediately restore all of the original DACA, as the current decision prolongs the uncertainty that has terrorized undocumented youth once again.”

Latinos now constitute more than half of Border Patrol agents, up from 36 percent in 1989, The Los Angeles Times reports. Border Patrol is looking to hire 5,000 more agents, potentially swinging the balance even more. At a training academy for agents in California that the LA Times visited, the recruits were all Latino.

CBP has alleged a dramatic rise in attacks against Border Patrol agents, but when The Intercept dug into the data, it found that the numbers were overblown. Instead, the significant spike in assault numbers came from one incident. In a statement, CBP described the occurrence: “an incident in the Rio Grande Valley Sector on February 14, 2017, involved seven U.S. Border Patrol Agents assaulted by six subjects utilizing three different types of projectiles (rocks, bottles, and tree branches), totaling 126 assaults.”

Citizenship & Bureaucracy
Getting married used to be one of the few clear ways, however long and bureaucratic, to prevent a deportation. That’s no longer the case under the Trump administration, as people with deportation orders that were never enforced, and now looking to get status through marriage, find themselves the focus of ICE enforcement, reports The New York Times.

Trump’s immigration rhetoric has made green card holders fear that their status in the country is not safe, and pushed hundreds of thousands of them to apply for citizenship. It’s a reaction that has worsened the backlog an already-overburdened system: since the election, pending applications at USCIS have grown by 40 percent, reports Reveal.

The New York Times reports on newly released data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement showing that more than 700 children have been taken from the adults they were travelling with; 100 of them under the age of four. Once the children are detained and enter a shelter system run by nonprofits, Border Patrol sources say “there is no firm process to determine whether they have been separated from someone who was legitimately their parent, or for reuniting parents and children who had been mistakenly separated.” Immigration advocates have accused ICE of using the tactic as a deterrence policy, an approach that Trump officials have also publicly advocated.

The White House announced the creation of its National Vetting Center (NVC) in February, but what the center will do, and whether it will replace the restrictions issued by the travel ban, remains troublingly vague, reports The Washington Post. Some critics from within federal agencies point out that the U.S. already has an information-sharing center in the National Targeting Center, which was created after Sept. 11 to additionally screen people entering the country.

The investigative hand of ICE is fighting to keep its manuals from being FOIA’d, using a loophole in open records law called “7E,” which allows law enforcement not to release any documents related to “techniques and procedures” for investigations or prosecutions, reports The Intercept.

The Trump administration is preparing to cancel TPS status for 9,000 Nepalese granted residence permits after a 2015 earthquake, reports The Washington Post. Hondurans may become the next group to lose TPS status, and decisions are still pending for Somalia and Yemen, reports The Dallas Morning News.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a decision to suspend a free legal assistance program for detained immigrants out of “deference” to concerns of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. While the program undergoes a review it will continue to be funded, the Dallas Morning News reports.

In one of the cases against CoreCivic for exploiting immigrant labor in its facilities, an immigrant detainee is accusing the private prison company of locking him in solitary over a dispute over two days pay, which amounts to $8, reports The Intercept.

Pennsylvania said it wouldn’t renew the license of a residential detention center housing immigrant families two years ago, but it’s doors have remained open since. WESA reports on immigration activists’ efforts to shut the facility down.

ICE does not appear to be following its own rules for how minors “aging out” of custody are supposed to be treated, reports Reveal.

Local Politics
In an effort to approach immigrant needs proactively, Minneapolis created a new city office aimed specifically at serving the immigrant and refugee communities with policies and programs, reports MinnPost. It’s one of several cities that have created positions for full-time immigrant advocates.

Which Citizenship Comes with the Most Benefits?
A study of which countries citizenships come with benefits, and which don’t, shows that destination matters more than numbers of countries. For example, on some passports you can travel to much of the world but are locked out of European and American political and economic centers like London or New York City, reports Quartz.


Follows: Caravan arrives at the border, Greyhound aligned with Border Patrol, Vietnamese deportees

Immigration-Related Resources


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


Reporting tools and tips

That’s all for Migratory Notes 62. 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. 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