Migratory Notes 78

Migrant children choose their fate, T. Don Hutto may remain open, adoptees facing deportation

Naturalized citizens are being put on check as the federal government begins investigating thousands of records to make sure applications were legitimate. Any cases found to be lacking will be referred to DOJ for denaturalization. In January 200 people became citizens at a ceremony in Biscayne National Park.Credit: National Park Service

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Mauricio Oviedo Soto thought he was an American — until he was in his late 30s and deported to his native Costa Rica. In 2000, the U.S. government granted automatic citizenship to children adopted from overseas. But it left out adoptees like Soto who were over the age of 18 at the time. The Intercept interviewed more than 25 of the 25,000 to 49,000 adult adoptees left in immigration limbo.

“Adoptees were unaware that they were not U.S. citizens until well after 18 years of age — the legal cutoff point for adoptive parents to naturalize their children,” Daniel Medina writes. “A staggering number were denied citizenship due to their adoptive parents failing to file just one document — a certificate of citizenship known as the N-600 form — before they became legal adults.”

Deportation and Enforcement
Advocates are suing the federal government for a “bait and switch” arrest strategy that has swept up immigrants after interviews for visas and other legal status applications, reports the Associated Press. The ACLU charges USCIS was scheduling interviews in New England with immigrants when ICE agents could be there to make arrests. The government denies the charges.

An immigration raid in Chicago conducted with cooperation between the Chicago Police Department and DHS has advocates questioning the city’s sanctuary status, reports Block Club Chicago.

The Trump administration tried to deport a mother and her daughter while they were in the process of appealing a deportation order as part of a lawsuit on asylum restrictions. In response, a federal judge in Washington halted the deportation (and that of any plaintiffs involved in the case) and threatened to hold Sessions in contempt.

A 16-year-old whose father was deported asks “why people in this country hate us so much,” in a New York Times op-ed.

Federal arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal background havetripled under Trump and could still be growing, reports NBC News. The spike comes from large-scale sweeps and what are referred to as “collateral arrests,” when immigration authorities target someone they have identified as out of status and also arrest any other undocumented people present.

The Economist reports on two new papers that look at the effect of the Secure Communities program from 2008 to 2014. They find the program succeeded in deporting undocumented immigrants, but it also cut job opportunities and access to healthcare for citizens and migrants. Last year, Trump revived the controversial program that allows federal authorities to check the legal status of anyone arrested by local law enforcers.

After the death of a toddler who had been held at an immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas, reporters were given a tour of the facility, which primarily houses mothers and children. CBS News shared footage from the tour, including shots of the dozens of strollers parked outside the building; the AP described the mundane scene in the cafeteria and classroom trailers. Advocacy groups have critiqued the center for not having a full-time pediatrician on staff 24 hours.

A state probe of a detention center in Virginia found that staff strapped children into chairs or placed mesh bags over their heads. Investigators said the treatment did not meet the legal definition for abuse or neglect, but they may not have considered whether past allegations of abuse were true, reports the AP.

Commissioners in a conservative Texas county voted to end an agreement with ICE to house detainees at the T. Don Hutto detention center. But ICE has posted a new request for operators to run a detention center that sounds suspiciously like the Hutto center, leading some to worry that ICE may be planning to keep the facility open anyway, reports Mother Jones.

White House Backlash
Melania Trump’s immigration lawyer said Trump’s hostility towards family migration was “unconscionable,” particularly in light of the lawyer’s work securing citizenship last week for the first lady’s parents, reports The Washington Post.

Stephen Miller’s uncle called his nephew an “immigration hypocrite” in an op-ed in Politico magazine for his views on chain migration. “I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country,” writes David S. Glosser.

Miller has influenced much of the harshest immigration legislation coming out of the White House, but there is nary a clear fingerprint to be found, reports Vanity Fair. The policy advisor has been working fervently behind the scenes, and his effort is changing the system as we know it. “He has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process,” said one former official.

Indian Influx
An increasing number of immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into California are Indians fleeing the rise of Hindu nationalism at home, reports the Los Angeles Times. At a detention center in Victorville, CA., more than half of the detainees were asylum seekers from India, who have about a 50/50 chance that their asylum claims will be rejected.

The center in Victorville is also at the center of a lawsuit against poor conditionsand has come under criticism. It was built on a toxic Superfund site that used to make its former residents, Air Force personnel, sick before it was repurposed as a prison, reports the Orange County Register.

A USCIS team in Los Angeles is pouring over more than 2,500 naturalization files to consider them for denaturalization, reports the Los Angeles Times, with more than 100 cases already referred to the DOJ with the goal of stripping Americans of their citizenship.

One family in Colorado is struggling to keep their 4-year-old adopted daughter in the U.S. Their daughter was legally adopted in Peru, and arrived on a tourist visa while her case was processing. But now, her visa is set to expire and her immigration case has been denied, meaning she will become undocumented at the end of the month.

New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead shares why she is choosing to go back to the U.K. after three decades in the U.S. and recently becoming a citizen.

Border agents confiscated the tourist visa of a Mexican businesswoman they say was an “intending immigrant” likely to overstay, and barred her from the U.S. for five years. She says she has entered the U.S. multiple times on a tourist visa to see her parents and never stayed longer than legally allowed, reports the Washington Post

Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, is suing to repeal DACA because he believes President Obama overstepped his presidential authority when he put the program in place. In an op-ed for USA Today, Paxton writes that, ultimately, his lawsuit is less about DACA and more about the nature of power itself. “This lawsuit is not about a particular policy, economic or otherwise, but about our very polity itself,” he writes. “Should all the power of the federal government be concentrated in one person?”

The New York Times analyzes whether DACA can survive the test in Texas. This is the fourth such court hearing for the policy and the judge presiding over this issue is the same one who ruled against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which effectively ended efforts to get that program off the ground.

Family Separation
The 600-some children still in immigration custody, many whose parents were deported, will be forced to decide to return to their home countries or try to stay in the U.S. and risk never seeing their parents again. Many will be making the life-changing decision without their parents’ help, reports The Huffington Post.

For parents who have been reunited with their children and released from custody another challenge has arisen, reports The Texas Tribune. The ankle monitors they must wear as a condition of release. While immigrants say the clunky technology is preferable to detention, they say it causes a host of difficulties in daily life, including when sleeping, buying groceries or trying to get a job. “At least for me, it’s humiliating to carry it — really like some prisoners, on house arrest,” said one father. But supporters say it’s a way to encourage people to follow the law and show up for their court hearings.

Family separation is not new when it comes to U.S. immigration policy. It’s happened in the form of mass deportation, which has been around since at least the Great Depression, and because of programs that have allowed immigrants to work solo in the U.S., reports The Atlantic.

The American carnival has a new face: Latino workers on H-2B visas, reports the AP. For one carnival company, many of the workers on non-agricultural visas for 10-month stretches happen to be from the Veracruz region in Mexico.

A new study shows that immigrants cost the healthcare system less than citizens, and may even subsidize healthcare for Americans, reports ABC News.

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*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

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