Migratory Notes 74
Closing the doors to asylum, reunifications moving ahead, a peek into child detention
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From $429 DNA tests to finding employment that better fits with a case worker’s requirements, one undocumented parent is doing everything she can to be reunited with her 1-year-old daughter, currently in U.S. custody. The mother’s trials “shed light on the bureaucratic maze that families encounter when trying to retrieve a child from the immigrant foster system run by the Department of Health and Human Services — a place where the rights of foreign parents collide with U.S. officials’ stated desire to protect the interests of children whose backgrounds are unknown to them,” Kavitha Surana writes for ProPublica.
At least 70 babies have been ordered to appear in court without their parents since October 1, reports Kaiser Health News. “The number of infants under age 1 involved has been rising — up threefold from 24 infants in the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, and 46 infants the year before,” Christina Jewett and Shefali Luthra write.
Serious concerns are being voiced about what children have experienced while detained. One father from Guatemala said his son returned to him covered in bruises and rashes, reports the Los Angeles Times. And a federal judge ruled that two immigrant children must be treated for PTSD sustained when the government separated them from their parents, reports Mother Jones.
Detention facilities for migrant children separated from their parents are “a rough blend of boarding school, daycare center, and medium security lockup.” For many, the first holding centers were cold and cramped, and lights kept on all night prevented them from sleeping. Some children were then sent to shelters with sports fields and an outdoor pool, while others encountered recreation areas of asphalt in full view of the Texas sun. The rules, however, are similar in each facility: don’t touch other children, don’t sit on the floor, don’t use nicknames. And try not to cry.
Child detention has become a $1 billion dollar industry, 10 times larger than it was a decade ago, reports the AP.
With the next family reunification deadline approaching, officials say they plan to process the cases of 200 children a day. To do so, they’ve been moving families around the country. But some attorneys are sounding an alarm, saying they haven’t been told where their child clients are being moved, reports The New York Times.
The Department of Health and Human Services has introduced a truncated process to connect children with their families, while warning that the move could endanger children.
Judge Dana Sabraw, who is overseeing the family reunification process, questioned whether HHS was really worried about the welfare of children or just trying to cover its own complicity in the separations, reports Bloomberg.
Sabraw also ordered that reunited families can’t be deported for at least a week.
Plaintiffs in the Flores case filed papers this week alleging that detention conditions violate the humane treatment standards set out in the settlement, including limiting the holding of children, Reuters reports. Hundreds of sworn statements about life in detention from children and parents detail challenging conditions.
A private prison company from the UK with a history of alleged abuses is the leading candidate to turn a shuttered nursing home outside of San Diego, Texas into a privately run family detention center, reports The Texas Observer.
A Mexican man died of an apparent suicide at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, reports the AP. For another man, being denied health care multiple times in a New Jersey immigration detention center nearly cost him his life, reports Documented.
Polling Attitudes on Immigration
Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed in an NPR/Ipsos poll feel that refugees and asylum seekers are taking unfair advantage of the system. Among Republicans, that number jumps to 65 percent. The biggest attitude divide across parties is in the allocation of $25 billion for border security. The poll found that the clearest indicator of attitudes about immigration came not from party affiliation, but where people got their TV news.
Eighty-five percent of Trump voters see MS-13 as a national threat, with 50 percent worried they or a family member will fall prey to the gang, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey, even though those numbers in no way correspond to the actual threat.
A new USCIS asylum policy would immediately disqualify anyone with domestic violence or gang-based claims from receiving protection in the U.S., reports CNN. It would also allow immigration officers to disqualify someone from asylum because they entered the country without permission. Advocates fear the policy could permanently reshape immigration law.
Sessions’ harsher approach to asylum is already apparent in some immigration courts, said attorneys on the border. CNN reports judges are telling asylum seekers that they no longer qualify under the new policy.
With the threat of family separation at the border and new policies aimed at cutting the number of people eligible for asylum in the U.S., many Central Americans are setting their sights on asylum in Mexico instead, reports The Dallas Morning News.
USC Professor Roberto Suro argues, “we need to do more than offer asylum,” in The New York Times. “Enforcement alone won’t stop them, certainly not enforcement consistent with our laws,” he writes of asylum seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. “Congressional Democrats need to propose a long-term legislative solution, making a commitment to address root causes and creating an orderly legal channel for the migration in the meantime.” (note: Suro is on the Migratory Notes advisory board).
The expansion of the U.S. border wall will demolish backyard patios, trees, and perhaps even homes in Tijuana, reports the Los Angeles Times.
A federal judge in Illinois shut down a Trump administration effort to strip citizenship from a Pakistani-born man accused of hatching a terrorist plot with Al Qaeda, reports Politico.
Intelligence analysts warned the Trump administration that ending Temporary Protected Status for Central Americans living in the US would likely increase illegal immigration, CNN reports. Now hundreds of thousands are in limbo as their TPS is set to expire, as well as 200,000 U.S. citizen children.
The U.S. government must reconsider the asylum cases of almost 90 Iranians after issuing them a blanket denial, a California court has ruled, reports NPR.
Immigration and the World Cup
The greatness of the French soccer team, and it’s recent World Cup win, comes in large part from its immigrant talent, writes The New Yorker. Players on the French team have roots in Algeria, Cameroon, Mali and Guinea.
Some 200 Nigerians are stranded in Moscow after falling victim to scammers who sold them round-trip tickets to Russia using FIFA Fan IDs and then canceled their return ticket, reports The Moscow Times. Activists say they are victims of traffickers who took advantage of Russia’s relaxed visa requirements introduced to encourage foreign fans to attend the World Cup.
The Texas Tribune is crowdfunding for a bureau in the Rio Grande Valley to ramp up its coverage of family separation.
- After Reveal published a report about a defense contractor housing children overnight in a Phoenix office building, the company “acknowledged that it also houses minors overnight in a second office building nearby.” (Reveal)
- A federal judge ruled the Trump administration may have violated the free speech rights of a Mexican journalist in detention. (Democracy Now!)
- Two brothers deported from Maryland have made a new life for themselves in Nicaragua as soccer players for a local university. (NBC News)
- Republicans backed off on a proposal to force progressive Democrats to vote to abolish ICE. (Vox)
Jobs, Fellowships & Awards
- The Atlantic is seeking an immigration reporter. (LA, Texas, DC or NY)
- Cascade Public Media in Seattle is hiring a race/immigration producer.
- A donor is looking for the right book project to support with free publication and marketing services. If you’re working on a project with the intention of using it to raise awareness and raise funds for a nonprofit helping families, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a few sentences about your project and your contact info.
- Freedom for Immigrants is hiring for several California-based positions, including development director and immigration bond fund coordinator.
- ProBar Immigrant Children’s Assistance Project is hiring various positions: an unaccompanied children legal service specialist, legal assistant, legal director, and staff attorney.
- Immigrant Justice Corps is hiring for several attorneys and a social worker.
- Define American is hiring a development manager for fundraising and strategic growth.
- The League of Kitchens is hiring a fellow for recipe writing and testingas part of a program where immigrants teach cooking classes.
- FWD.us is hiring for several positions, including press and campaign manager positions
- WBEZ is hiring a radio reporter to cover race, class and communities
- ProPublica is offering student scholarships to a host of conferences, including NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA, and others
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- Deportation in the Americas edited by Kenyon Zimmer and Cristina Salinas explores deportation policy and its global impact
- We Built the Wall: How the US Keeps Out Asylum Seekers from Mexico, Central America and Beyond by Eileen Truax
- Vanishing Frontiers: the Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together by Andrew Selee explores the two countries intertwined histories.
- Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration by Dallas Morning News border correspondent Alfredo Corchado
- From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration, and Social Rights Beyond Borders, by Alexandra Délano Alonso, is the first book-length guide about consular services.
- Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration, about the Mexican government’s support for migration. PRI profiled the book’s author.
- 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.
Podcasts & Immigration News
- Radio Public curates a list of podcasts about immigration and migration
- A is for America America’s Voice discusses immigrant politics and organizing.
- Only in America: National Immigration Forum’s podcast about the people behind immigration issues.
- The New American Songbook from Groundtruth Project looks at the stories behind the songs of immigrants.
- ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? is a bilingual podcast to help connect a Midwestern Latinx community.
- Moving Stories is an app and curriculum to capture and share immigrant stories.
- 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 publishes an Immigration Detention Syllabus.
Reporting resources, tools and tips
- Tools for covering ICE from the Columbia Journalism Review
- Documented covers New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives
- Migration Reporting Resources (Global Investigative Journalism Network)
- Resources for Investigating Visas (Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)
- Reporting on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants (90 Days, 90 Voices)
- 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.
- Tips on covering immigration when you do not live near the border(Daniel Connolly, from IRE 2017)
That’s all for Migratory Notes 74. If there’s a story or immigration-related opportunity you think we should consider, please send us an email.
*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