Migratory Notes 79

The two lives of Southwest Key’s CEO, another chance at asylum, invasive customs searches

Fifteen-year-old Annie Moore was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York Harbor, according to the statue memorializing her journey in her native town of Cobh Ireland. She was accompanied by her younger brothers Phillip and Anthony on January 1, 1892. Today the trio would be considered unaccompanied minors and could face detention and separation. Source: WikiCommons

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#MustListens
Juan Sanchez served on the board of the National Council of La Raza (now known as UnidosUS) and he has been the recipient of multiple awards for his work with migrant children. He’s also the CEO of Southwest Keys, an NGO that operates 26 shelters for migrant children. In the second part of a radio series, Latino USA travels to Austin, Texas to interview Sanchez and unravel his moral dilemma. “I’m a Latino and I’ve been fighting for Latino causes all my life,” he tells Maria Hinojosa. (Part 1 looked at the consequences of family separation)

The New York Times’ The Daily podcast also takes on the question: What is the full picture of what happened during family separations? in a three-part audio series called ‘Divided,’ hosted by Annie Correal and Caitlin Dickerson. “The policy began in secret. The Trump administration denied such a policy existed. And when it finally acknowledged that migrant children were being separated from their parents at the border, chaos ensued,” the podcast begins.

Family Separation
A federal judge approved a U.S. government plan to assess the parenting abilities of the families of hundreds of children still in federal custody, reports Reuters. The government must also arrange travel for children and not stop them from seeking future asylum.

Whether deported parents should be reunited with their children in the U.S. is still at issue, reports Reveal. A second federal lawsuit argues that if children are seeking asylum in the U.S. their parents should be allowed to return. And a group of parents who failed their asylum interviews while separated from their children want another chance and they’re suing the Trump administration to get it, reports Vox.

A group of 16 immigrant fathers who threatened to go on hunger strike to demand an end to their limbo in a Texas detention center have been separated from their children a second time, reports Buzzfeed. Attorneys say they may have been split up to quell brewing plans for a second hunger strike.

Family Detention
Family detention was put forward as the more humane alternative to family separation. But one mother and son are still working through the lingering trauma of their time together in family detention, reports the Los Angeles Times. “A detention center is not a place for a child or a mother,” said the mother. “You’ve killed me little by little with punishments and lies in prison when I haven’t committed any crime.”

A new study shows that non-detained families seeking asylum have high compliance rates and almost always show up for court, a finding that differs from the numbers found by government experts, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Enforcement
In Southern California, ICE detained a man taking his pregnant wife to the hospitalfor a planned C-section, reports CBS News. Instead, she had to drive herself and give birth without her husband. ICE said he is wanted in Mexico for homicide; the family and its attorneys deny he has a criminal history. He is now in immigration custody and facing deportation. Snopes investigates whether he is actually accused of murder, and ICE’s decision to reveal that information: “San Diego-based immigration attorney Ginger Jacobs said ICE’s decision to make public criminal allegations stemming from information provided by Mexico is not only a break from the past but ‘character assassination.”

After an immigrant was arrested in connection with the presumed death of an Iowa college student, the case became a rallying point for Trump and Republican lawmakers, reports CNN. That politicization is against the wishes of her family, reports Vox. Whether the immigrant charged with the death of Mollie Tibbets is undocumented or not has created some confusion — he insists that he is in the U.S. legally, while the government insists he is not, reports Buzzfeed.

An immigration lawyer who alleges that her former employer mishandled her work visa is now in danger of losing her legal status in the U.S., reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Customs and Border Protection
At least 11 women have accused U.S. Customs officers of carrying out invasive body cavity searches, reports The Center for Public Integrity. Of the cases that went to court, most have ended in settlements or jury trials.

At a White House event honoring immigration enforcement agents, Trump noted that a border patrol agent and honoree “Speaks perfect English” and did not say the man’s last name — Anzaldua, reports Politico. The comment sparked criticism from the Latino community. Analysis from The Washington Post said that the statement was a de facto dog whistle to Trump’s supporters about the centrality of speaking English to being an American.

Despite promises to the contrary, two federal criminal cases allege that California’s National Guard troops are helping Border Patrol arrest undocumented immigrants,reports Voice of San Diego.

The border wall prototypes have a host of construction and design deficiencies,according to Government Accountability Office findings, reports the Arizona Republic.

Two border agents fired into Mexico from the U.S. and each killed a teenager, but only one of the agents will face a lawsuit from the victim’s family because of a difference in how a federal appeals court in Texas ruled compared to one in Arizona, reports The New York Times.

DACA
The administration won’t have to process new DACA applications while it appeals a federal judge’s reinstatement of the program, reports the AP. It will, however, have to continue moving through renewals for people already enrolled in the program.

Justice
In an effort to speed up deportations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told immigration judges they could only postpone deportations “for good cause,” meaning an immigrant would have to prove they had some chance of obtaining status in the U.S. through asylum or a work permit, reports Reuters. At the same time, immigration prosecutors are trying to reopen nearly 8,000 closed deportation cases, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In response, defense attorneys have been challenging immigration judges, reports The Guardian. Legal challenges against judges in San Diego, called writs of mandamus, are becoming more common as defense attorneys resist efforts to pressure their clients into being charged for low-level immigration offenses.

Justice Department lawyers are arguing that undocumented immigrants can’t take complaints of First Amendment violations to court, reports The Intercept. Advocates say the DOJ’s position, put forward in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by a group of activists who argue ICE is using deportation to silence them, could have long-term impacts on immigrants’ rights to speech. “If ICE is given free reign to silence their critics, we are creating an agency that is unaccountable and is permitted to disappear those who are in the best position to educate the public about what this agency is actually doing,” said one attorney. “That should be a scary prospect for anyone living in this country.”

In a wide-ranging commentary to a group of judges and lawyers, Sessions said that mistaken rulings by immigration judges have been expensive to taxpayers,and criticized judges who have opposed Trump’s immigration policies, reports the AP.

Labor
At the peak of the season, crab houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have about one-third fewer workers than they need to extract the meat that vacationers and residents may want to eat. The Washington Post takes a closer look at how the labor shortage is affecting one seafood processor.

Climate change means more heat exposure for migrant farm laborers, reports High Country News, along with uncomfortable working conditions and a risk of serious illness or even death.

Military & Citizenship
The army is taking back dozens of immigrant recruits who tried to get citizenship through military service after dismissing them. Now they’re back on track for expedited citizenship, reports Stars and Stripes. The concession came in response to a barrage of lawsuits contending unfair dismissals.

An undocumented woman from Mexico received a green card in part thanks to two of her children’s military service, reports the New York Daily News. In 2013, USCIS released a memo saying undocumented parents of active armed services members could apply for residency.

Community
Increasingly aggressive immigration enforcement is slowly tearing at the fabric of communities across the West, reports Sarah Tory for High Country News. Tory looks at one mixed-status family in one town in Colorado. “They live in places where the line between “legal” and “illegal” cuts not just through families, but also through entire neighborhoods, schools, churches, workplaces and communities,” writes Tory. “Now, as fear and uncertainty spread through Alamosa’s immigrants, a deeper threat is emerging: What happens to a community when its people’s sense of belonging begins to unravel?”

Elections
Immigration is a key issue in Nevada’s senate race, where Republican Sen. Dean Heller will fight to hold on to the Senate seat that may be slipping away, reports PBS News Hour in a video story.

Immigration is an International Issue
A former Nazi concentration camp guard was deported from the U.S. to Germany this week after more than a decade of legal negotiations to secure the hand-over, reports Deutsche Welle. He was stripped of his citizenship in 2003 after lying on his naturalization application about how he spent World War II and ordered deported in 2004, but the U.S. could not find a country to take him.

Scores of asylum seekers from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia who entered Russia with World Cup fan identity documents are seeking legal help in Moscow, in an attempt to escape war, political repression and homophobia, reports The Moscow Times.

Elderly North and South Korean relatives separated for decades by the world’s most militarized border will have a rare chance to meet in person, reports the AP. For many, it will be the last time they are able to see each other.

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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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