Migratory Notes 75

Reunification deadline looms, signing away rights, Postville revisited

Colectivo Liminal, a network of journalists and documentary photographers who “work in the liminal spaces created by borders” is hosting a flash sale of photography to support two migrant organizations. This photo is one of various for sale until July 27. In this image, by Víctor Peña, a group of migrants attempts to illegally cross the border between Guatemala and México over the Suchiate River.

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While deportations were actually much higher in 2010 under Obama, fear appears to be higher now. The Marshall Project and New York magazine contacted more than 100 undocumented people in New York City to find out how they live in the age of Trump. The article, as well as The Intercept, feature a new interactive mapping project of detentions called ICEwatch, by the Immigrant Defense Project and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

In a Twitter exchange responding to the article, Migration Policy Institute Senior Analyst Julia Gelatt posits that the change for immigrants in New York may not be increased enforcement, but the type: “In addition to changes in rhetoric, a larger share of ICE arrests are now at-large arrests (at homes, workplaces, streets) rather than arrests through the criminal justice system (31% in early FY17 vs. 15% in FY08–11). At-large arrests are more-visible & can seem random.” USC Professor and Migratory Notes advisory board member Roberto Suro responded that with the absolute number down so much, he questioned whether the type of arrest actually makes the difference: “Seems logical that at-large arrests have greater impact on public perceptions. But, share of arrests might not be right measure. In absolute numbers, at peak Obama [had] at least 2x as many at-large arrests as now. Fewer arrests, more fear. I give portrayals/rhetoric much credit.”

Family separation
Immigrant parents unknowingly signed away the right to reunify with their children, according to affidavits filed in federal court.

With a reunification deadline looming, the process has been “incredibly chaotic.” Parents being moved from detention center to detention center not knowing if they are heading for a reunion with their child or the terror of deportation, reports The Intersection. “There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason on who gets released and who doesn’t,” a lawyer told NBC. “It’s mind-boggling.” The places where attorneys meet with their clients before court aren’t much better. The Guardian reports on a windowless parking garage under one San Diego courthouse where there is little privacy and many attorneys only have three hours to get to know their clients.

The administration now admits that 463 parents have been deported without their children, a figure far higher than they initially admitted. CNN obtained audio of anguished parents in court pleading to be reunited with their children before being ordered deported by a judge.

Some of the deported parents are making an agonizing choice, reports The Washington Post — bring their children home to violence and poverty, or give them a chance at a life in the United States at the cost of losing them for years or longer.

Even amidst the pain and chaos of family reunification, some companies are making a quick buck, reports Buzzfeed. A group of 150 Democrats wrote a stern letter calling out exorbitantly high rates for phone calls from immigration detention centers, some as high as $8 a minute, for parents to speak to their detained children.

The federal judge overseeing the family reunification effort, Judge Dana Sabraw may have issued some tough demands for the Trump administration but he speaks softly in person reports the Los Angeles Times, while The Wall Street Journal notes the unusual role he now inhabits as “watchdog, enforcer and motivational coach.”

Univision used a crowdsourcing project run by ProPublica in cooperation with several other news outlets to find the story of a young girl who believed her mother had abandoned her, until they were reunited last week.

Immigration bonds have risen by 50 percent in the last five years, reports The Dallas Morning News, to a median of $5,700. It’s only the latest way in which courts put an extra burden on people who are already struggling.

Ten years later, Univision explores the aftermath of a large immigration raid on a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, in a documentary, including the demographic changes in the town.

Democrats Act
High profile Dems are acting out against Trump’s immigration policy in a variety of ways:

Africans and South Asians on the Border
African asylum seekers face unique challenges in the U.S., including difficulty communicating with other migrants while in detention and the feeling that their experiences are missing from the broader narrative around migration in the U.S., reports The Texas Tribune. “We become frustrated with the single story pushed out,” said an activist with the UndocuBlack Network.

Two men’s respective journeys across the U.S.-Mexico border, from Bangladesh to the Southwest border went via South Africa in one case, the Ecuador jungle and Central American in the other, ended tragically. Both perished in the desert. DocumentedNY covers the struggle to recoup their bodies.

Government-funded migrant shelters aren’t getting informed consent before they give drugs to minors, reports ProPublica. In some cases, those drugs can have dangerous consequences, such as increasing suicidal behavior.

At least 60 detainees went on hunger strike against the conditions, food and health care access at a Massachusetts immigration detention center last week, reports The Standard-Times.

The Trump administration chose to prosecute thousands of parents under zero tolerance rather than target adults traveling without children, reports Mother Jones in an analysis of Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse data.

Undocumented immigrants are being detained when they apply for a special visa which is provided to victims of violent crimes that cooperate with authorities, AP reports. It appears the Trump administration is stepping up enforcement of this group which was previously protected as a public safety measure.

New ICE statistics show a five-fold rise in workplace raids and I-9 audits under the Trump administration, reports Buzzfeed.

This American Life takes a look at ICE, “a government agency in its tumultuous teenage years,” featuring an unlikely alliance between a group of undocumented immigrants and an ICE agent.

A new study shows that family separation won’t deter migrants — the last two big border crackdowns in 2014 and 2017 had little impact on apprehensions at the border, reports Vox.

The human smuggling operation on the U.S-Canada border may be smaller than the one on the southern border, but it’s no less sophisticated, reports the AP.

Denaturalization through History
The history of stripping foreign-born Americans of their citizenship in the U.S. spans more than a century, reports Smithsonian.com.

Compassionate Immigration Reporting 
Immigration reporters don’t have to choose between objectivity and compassion, argues The New York Times reporter Miriam Jordan in a first-person account onhow she reports on family separation without foregoing her human response to occasionally using her resources or language skills to help desperate migrants. “It’s not something journalists often talk about: We have to be careful, of course, not to cast ourselves as advocates or problem-solvers to the people we interview and the readers we serve, but we should not forgo compassion,” writes Jordan.

Jobs, Fellowships & Awards

Immigration Resources & Opportunities

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

Podcasts & Immigration News


Reporting resources, tools and tips

That’s all for Migratory Notes 75. 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