Migratory Notes 83

Limiting refugees, intended family separation, generations of migration

In an effort to put faces to the immigration debate, The San Diego Union-Tribune profiled 60 immigrants in their community, explored where newcomers are from and highlighted their contributions. The project will be on exhibit at the New Americans Museum. Credit: San Diego Union-Tribune

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Zero tolerance is far from gone. You can see it at a routine mass hearing with 80 defendants in federal court in Texas, as asylum seekers at the border are prosecuted as criminals and as refugee resettlement agencies are shut down in response to falling refugee admittance. The Marshall Project, in collaboration with This American Life, take a look at zero tolerance on the border and the quiet bureaucratic war targeting immigrants, including those with legal status. “There are dozens of ways the Trump administration is cracking down on immigration across many agencies, sometimes in ways so small and technical it doesnʼt make headlines,” writes This American Life.

Police officers in Long Island have left the killings of immigrant teens by MS-13 essentially uninvestigated, reports Hannah Dreier for ProPublica (with versions of the story published in Newsday and broadcast on This American Life). “You get the sense that the police here have this attitude that we Latinos are just killing each other, and this is their country,” one mother told Dreier. “If Miguel was an American, they might have found him right away. If they’d investigated then and there, maybe all these other children wouldn’t have had to die.”

Unaccompanied minors
The number of migrant children detained in federally contracted shelters has reached its highest level ever, increasing fivefold since last summer, reports The New York Times. The figures are so high because fewer minors are being released to family or sponsors.

Guardians who lack status are also facing greater risks. ICE arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants who came forward as sponsors for unaccompanied minors in government custody, justifying advocates’ concerns about Trump administration efforts to collect the information of sponsors, ostensibly to vet them, reports CNN. “An ICE official confirmed that 70% of those arrests were for straightforward immigration violations — meaning they were arrested because ICE discovered they were here illegally.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. has lost track of another 1,500 migrant children who were placed with sponsors this year, reports The New York Times.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Refugee resettlement in the U.S. will be capped at 30,000 people a year, a record low since the program was first created in 1980, reports The New York Times. Administration officials said they need to focus on people who arrive at the borders seeking asylum over refugees overseas. Organizations that serve refugees have already experienced a drop in funds and expect further budget cuts as the number of arrivals decreases, reports KPBS.

Citizenship and Green Cards
Additional details on the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict immigrants who receive public aid from getting green cards show the administration will target people who received food stamps, housing aid or some Medicaid benefits, reports The New York Times. The regulation, quietly proposed on Saturday night, could give the government the power to reshape the U.S. population without legislation. “The rule would mean many green card and visa applicants could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education because they’d be deemed more likely to need government assistance — such as Medicaid or food stamps — in the future,” Tami Lubhi and Tal Kopan write in CNN.

The army is scrutinizing the records of immigrant recruits applying for expedited citizenship to find criminal histories, reports The Washington Post.

Family Separation and Reunification
Some migrant parents separated from their children may get a second chance at applying for asylum following a settlement with the Trump administration, reports Reuters. But it’s still likely to be an uphill battle, reports The Texas Tribune.

The Desert Sun reviewed the medical records of a teenager who was separated from his father at the border and kept in custody for 11 months in San Diego and New York. Now reunited, the teen’s father told the Sun his boy is not the same and that his son’s mental health has spiraled after spending so much time in custody and being given antianxiety and antidepressant medications without parental consent.

A young girl who became an involuntary celebrity when audio of her cries in an immigration detention center was made public by ProPublica is now adjusting to life with her mother in the United States, reports The Daily Dot. If she could send a message to the president, she said, “I would tell him to stop the separation because a lot is happening with hard cases and he makes it even harder…and the lawyers can’t do anything.”

Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry has no count of people deported under family separation, according to a report from Newsweek and Plaza Pública. The cover feature follows one woman deported without her 8-year-old son to Guatemala and her hellish journey to get him back with the help of the high-profile attorney famous for representing Stormy Daniels.

For months, DHS officials denied that zero tolerance and family separation was being used to deter migration, but documents show that the administration did intend for the aggressive policies to deter migrants, reports The Intercept. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made contradictory statements at the height of the family separation crisis compared to what the documents show, reports Buzzfeed.

In a Senate hearing on family separation, ICE and CBP officials denied knowing that family separations could traumatize children, reports ThinkProgress.

Some immigrants are being offered an unsavory option to avoid deportation: become ICE informants and snitch on other undocumented immigrants, reports The Intercept. “Do I turn in other members of my community, or abandon my two young kids and wife, pregnant with a third child?” asked one eventual informant.

Trump has ramped up 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, but he’s done it with little planning and a poor allocation of resources, according to a DHS inspector general report reviewed by Government Executive.

A mass workplace raid at a trailer manufacturer in Paris, Texas has continued to reverberate in the town and other nearby communities. It’s put the communities and their social bonds to the test as they deal with the aftermath of the life-changing an immigration enforcement operation, reports The Houston Chronicle.

ICE is ordering immigrants to appear for court hearings on dates that had never been coordinated with immigration courts. Neither ICE nor the court could explain the discrepancy but the “fake court dates” are causing more chaos in an already confusing system and have been happening in major cities across the country, reports The Dallas Morning News.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has referred another case to himself that would decide whether asylum seekers who pass credible fear interviews have a right to a bond hearing. If he rules they don’t, it could open the door for mandatory detention for asylum seekers, reports Axios.

The immigration court backlog is set to double by the end of Trump’s first term, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, reports ThinkProgress.

The president of the immigration judges union wants judges to be independent of the Justice Department, reports The Washington Post. “Let it be a real court. Let it be real judges, so that we can do what we’re supposed to do,” said the union head.

At least 40 immigrant children in New York City missed the first day of school this fall and it’s unclear where or when they will get their education, reports El Diario/ La Prensa (English translation in Voices of NY). The children, who were separated from their parents along the border, can’t be enrolled in public schools while in temporary housing.

The Southwest Keys shelters accused of abusing migrant children in Arizona may keep their federal funding because there are no other options for housing the tens of thousands of migrant children in government custody, reports Pacific Standard.

Immigrants on hunger strike against conditions at a detention center in Tacoma, WA are suing to keep officials from force-feeding them to break their protest, reports The News Tribune.

ICE allowed doctors with histories of diluting vaccines and hiring hit men against patients to perform medical examinations on immigrants applying for permanent resident status, reports NPR.

The U.S. foreign-born population has reached its highest level since 1910, spurred in part by visa-based migration from Asia. The New York Times reports on families like the Patels, who have used family-based migration laws to build a four-generation community in America.

In the U.S., 26 percent of children have at least one immigrant parent. That means immigrant children are our future, write Marcelo and Carola Suárez-Orozco in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “There are real and growing threats to integration that imperil the fabric of our communities both in the United States and other countries of immigration across the globe,” write the Suárez-Orozcos, immigration and education scholars based at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Educating young people… to learn to live with, work with and respect human differences is essential to the fabric of society and critical to the survival of democracy.”

White House
USCIS director Lee Francis Cissna is the latest Trump official with a personal immigration background — he is the son of a Peruvian immigrant and the son-in-law of a Palestinian refugee — credited for slowing down citizenship awards and minimizing refugee admittance, reports Politico Magazine. Cissna has said his singular focus is to enforce the law.

Disaster Impact
ICE agents were in areas hard hit by Hurricane Florence because FEMA called them in to help with relief efforts, a move advocates warn could scare people in migrant areas, reports The News & Observer.

A new report shows that immigrants were the group hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, suffering more economic damage and receiving less aid, reports CityLab.

Immigration Journalism
A Washington Post story alleging that Latino US citizens along the border were being denied passports was fact-checked by a reporter with HuffPost. Roque Planas found that the newspaper misreported, distorted key facts and didn’t do their reporting due diligence. In a note on their original story, the Post added a series of comments and corrections it made to the piece.

Immigration is an International Issue
Two Cubans tried to reach Alaska via northern Russia before being turned in to Russian immigration authorities by a local, reports The Moscow Times. They were each handed a one-year jail sentence.


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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 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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