Migratory Notes 65

Border zone mission creep, DACA fears, TPS hopes

This map shows the high minority share of the population within the designated border zone — which reaches 100 miles inside of the actual national boundaries. Source: CityLab / ESRI

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It’s called the border zone, but the area where Border Patrol has expanded search and seizure rights reaches 100-miles beyond national boundaries to include dense urban areas such as New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia. In a story and series of maps documenting the demographics of the area based on data from location intelligence company ESRI, CityLab explores the unique legal standards that define enforcement of the border zone and their implications for residents. “The border zone is home to 65.3 percent of the entire U.S. population, and around 75 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population,” Tanvi Misra writes. “Agents can enter private property, set up highway checkpoints, have wide discretion to stop, question, and detain individuals they suspect to have committed immigration violations — and can even use race and ethnicity as factors to do so.”

Border Patrol has failed to accurately track migrant deaths, reports CNN in a two-part investigative series. More than 500 people died over the past 16 years who never made it into the official figures. An agency representative admitted their tally of deaths is lacking. “The effective erasure,” writes Bob Ortega, “has helped minimize the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis associated with illegal crossings. Downplaying the death toll also makes it harder for the United States to assess the full impact of a border policy, in place since the mid-1990s, that uses barriers and other enforcement tools to push migrants to more remote, deadlier crossing points.” The CNN review builds on an Arizona Republic investigation that revealed the undercounting of deaths along the border between 2012 and 2016. It was part of a USA Today border package which won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting.

Many DACA recipients have yet to renew their protected status, out of concern that ongoing court cases may impact the future of the program and fear of being a target for the Trump administration’s expanding enforcement efforts, reports the Los Angeles Times. “We’re telling people, ‘You need to renew.’ The problem is, they don’t trust that anymore,” said one student activist and DACA recipient. “It’s real fragile right now.”

Schools in Miami-Dade have steered, and sometimes pushed, hundreds of recently-arrived immigrant teenagers each year into adult education programs rather than regular high school classes, reports the Miami Herald/ El Nuevo Herald in a years-long joint investigation. The result, write Lena Jackson, Brenda Medina and Kyra Gurney, is “the path to college and a well-paying job will become even more difficult.” The investigation found graduation rates and test scores determine a school’s rating, creating an incentive to funnel these newly arrived young people into continuing education. The schools counter that they are providing opportunities to immigrant students who may not be able to earn credits quickly enough to graduate or pass exams and that students have a choice in the matter.

In an extensive and candid interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said long-term TPS recipients deserve a path to citizenship. “You take the Central Americans that have been here 20-plus years,” he said. “I mean if you really start looking at them and saying, ‘OK you know you’ve been here 20 years. What have you done with your life?’ Well, I’ve met an American guy and I have three children and I’ve worked and gotten a degree or I’m a brick mason or something like that.” For TPS recipients who have been here a shorter amount of time he still thinks they should be deported.

Data disproves another assertion Kelly made during the discussion, and that the Trump administration frequently uses, that many migrants are too uneducated and poor to assimilate, reports Quartz. A Cato Institute study finds Central American migrants hit a few of the main markers associated with assimilation: they tend to pick up English, get jobs relatively quickly after arriving to the U.S., and have a higher rate of military enlistment than native-born Americans.

DHS has drafted a proposal to replace current rules about how immigrant children are detained at the border. The likely impact, reports The Washington Post, is that families could be detained for longer, they could be separated if necessary and it could become easier to deport unaccompanied minors. The draft regulations would, for example, remove a five-day limit on how long migrant children can be detained at DHS facilities and instead suggest they be moved “as expeditiously as possible.” Immigrant advocates fear the proposals will abuse child-welfare rights in an effort to discourage migration.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is taking initial steps to house unaccompanied minors or immigrant children separated from their parents on military bases, reports The Washington Post: “The use of military bases to hold immigrant children is not without precedent. At the peak of the 2014 child-immigration crisis, the Obama administration used bases in Oklahoma, Texas and California to house more than 7,000 children over a period of several months.”

A slew of plans for new detention centers, many of them to be run by for-profit companies, are on the table in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, reports the AP.

The Intercept takes a deep dive into the way one man’s efforts to resist his deportation have left him facing an indefinite limbo in immigration custody.

DHS released data this week touting its increased enforcement: doubling the number of business raids and quadrupling arrests from the same period last year, reports The Washington Times.

A month since the largest workplace raid in a decade hit a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee, The Intercept reports on community members who have settled into a “quiet but painful” period as court dates and deportation orders decide the future of people caught in the raid, and what the town can expect based on the aftermath of a 2008 immigration raid on a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.

Jeff Sessions has given himself, and his office, unprecedented control over immigration cases, reports Vox. By rerouting cases from the Board of Immigration Appeals and referring them to the Attorney General to make a decision, he has taken over “the ability to review, and rewrite, cases that could set precedents for a large share of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants with pending immigration court cases, not to mention all those who are arrested and put into the deportation process in future,” writes Dara Lind.

A zero-tolerance approach to border security is already overloading the immigration system: there are not enough detention beds, courthouses are packed and judges are even speaking publicly about their overwhelming dockets. That pressure is being felt most acutely in California, where prosecution of border crossers this year could triple last year’s total, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Labor & Visas
The tourism industry in Cape Cod can’t find enough workers to staff its restaurants and hotels because the government isn’t issuing enough temporary, seasonal H-2B visas, reports PRI. And when they are issued they often come late, leaving some businesses in the lurch.

Likewise, in Maryland’s Eastern Shore, there are not enough seasonal migrant workers, generally women from Mexico, to staff the crab processing plants, reports The Baltimore Sun.

But the problem isn’t just the shortage of H-2B visas, writes Rachel Micah-Jones, the executive director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc, in an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun. She argues the problem government should address is the working conditions of these seasonal laborers, many of whom are regularly mistreated by employers and have little recourse for relief because their visas are tied to employers.

First-person immigration



Come meet us in person! We will be at the Education Writers Association today, May 17. Elizabeth is on a panel today on schools and immigration — Los Angeles, California


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



Curriculum and Special Projects

Reporting tools and tips

Jobs, Fellowships & Scholarships

That’s all for Migratory Notes 65. 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. Thanks this week to Monica Campbell, Fernanda Santos, 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 What ice cream flavors can teach us about the changing California Dream. 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