Migratory Notes 89

Jewish Latinos, Immigrants go to Washington, Sessions is out

“I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name: The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress. The first woman to wear a hijab. The first refugee ever elected to Congress. And one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.” Ilhan Omar listed how many firsts she brings to Congress in her Tuesday night acceptance speech. PRI’s The World profiled her journey from 8-year-old refugee in Kenya to Minnesota representative. Photo by Peter Majerle/ The World

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A growing number of Latinos with Jewish ancestry are taking advantage of a 2015 law that allows them to apply for Spanish citizenship if they can prove a relative fled religious persecution 500 years ago, reports the New York Times. “Our applications jump every time Trump says something scary,” said the director of a New Mexico-based organization that vets applications.

“Scholars who specialize in Sephardic migration say that people with such ancestry number in the hundreds of thousands in the United States, if not more,” Simon Romero writes. Albuquerque has emerged as a hub for applicants: “New Mexico, with its wealth of colonial-era archives and United States census data after the American conquest in 1848, stands out for its relative ease of delving into records compared with other places where so-called crypto-Jews settled.”

Sessions is Out — What’s Next?
Jeff Sessions may be out, but his draconian immigration legacy will remain in many of his policies, as well as at least one key person who trained under him: Stephen Miller, HuffPost reports.

Matthew Whitaker, the new acting attorney general who Trump named Wednesday, may take a different approach to the Russia investigation, but he is expected to act very similar in terms of the hard-line approach on immigration. He “took cues from Mr. Sessions, who has long understood where the department’s mission could align with Mr. Trump’s priorities,” The New York Times reported in September.

Midterm Results and Immigration
While some high-profile immigration hardliners lost, “pre-election fears by some Republicans that Trump’s inflammatory immigration message would sink GOP candidates in tight races proved overblown,” Ted Hesson writes in Politico. “In making immigration a major theme in the lead-up to the election, Trump succeeded at the very least in persuading voters it was a top issue, to judge from exit polls.” CNN reports that “about a quarter of voters said immigration was the most important issue, according to exit polls. Of those voters, 75% were Republicans. About half of voters (46%) said Trump’s immigration policies are too tough. A third said they’re just right, and another 17% said they’re not tough enough.”

The hard line on immigration also failed to deter Latino and Asian backers, who appeared to support Trump and Republicans at nearly the same rates as they did in the 2016 elections, reports USA Today.

Now that Democrats have taken control of the House, immigration experts expect Trump’s most controversial immigration policies to come under tighter scrutiny, likely led by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, reports USA Today.

Some of the results involving immigration:

Politics & Voting
Days before the election, Trump published the “most racially charged national political ad in 30 years,” reports CNN. The ad stoked fears of immigrants as criminals, focusing on the case of a Mexican deportee who returned to the U.S. and killed two police officers. But many facts in the ad were wrong or misleading, according to The Marshall Project. NBC and Fox News stopped airing the ad on Monday, but only after millions saw it, reports CNN.

A popular Evangelical Christian leader said that the community, and the Bible, support Trump’s immigration restrictions. Tony Perkins, president of the conservative nonprofit Family Research Council and a Trump ally told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour: “In almost every instance you read in the Old Testament about taking in the poor, immigrant and stranger, it is then that they have an obligation to operate by your customs and laws. It’s the assimilation, it’s the rule of law.”

Polling booths in a changing Georgia were ill-equipped to serve Spanish-speaking voters during elections, reports The Intercept. A section of the Voting Rights Act ensures “that citizens of substantial language minorities can access the polls in their native language.”

U.S. Border Patrol canceled a “crowd control” exercise scheduled for Election Day after members of Congress criticized it for its potential effect on voters in El Paso, reports Texas Monthly. ACLU is calling on DOJ to investigate Border Patrol voter intimidation, reports The Hill.

Caravan
The first caravan, comprised of 4,500-some Central Americans, made it to Mexico City this week after three weeks of walking and hitchhiking, their numbers dwindling from the peak of about 7,000 migrants, reports Reuters. Among them is a survivor of a 2010 massacre of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico at the hands of the Los Zetas cartel, reports Al Jazeera.

Caravans of Salvadorans that departed on Oct. 28 and Oct. 31 continue behind the previous groups, mainly walking and occasionally taking rides from passersby. A Salvadoran migrant died from exhaustion last week, reports El Diario de Hoy.

Border
When migrants arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, they’ll be greeted by 7,000 troops, but the soldiers won’t have the power to arrest or detain migrants, reports BuzzFeed News, even though Trump has suggested they can. In reality, the rules of engagement and use of lethal force are tightly governed, explains Military Times.

The deployment will cost between $42 million and $110 million, reports The Hill.

The Trump administration proposed using soldiers to build housing for detained migrants along the border, but military officials rejected the plan, preferring to limit their role in border enforcement to assisting U.S. personnel, according to Reuters.

The border has already become more militarized, reports the Washington Post. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents were seen training in full combat gear, even though there is no reason to believe that the migrants crossing the border pose a military threat.

Border Patrol agents have been instructed to ask everyone who comes to the border if they traveled with a caravan, despite them still being weeks away, reports Vox.

Asylum
Trump wants to prevent migrants from seeking asylum outside legal ports of entry, reports Reuters. Although the announcement is in response to the caravan, the Trump administration has been trying to restrict access to asylum since at least October, reports Vox.

Cubans heading to the U.S. are worried that Trump’s threats to change the asylum process in response to the caravans will hurt their own chances at asylum, reports the Miami Herald. Since the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Cubans have had to prove that they are personally facing persecution to receive asylum.

Enforcement South of the Border
The presidents of Guatemala and Honduras announced Monday that they want to investigate the organizers of the migrant caravans, reports AP. The announcement comes after Trump threatened to cut aid to Central American governments if they don’t stop the migrant caravans, which have continued forming after the initial one left Oct. 12.

Detention
ICE stopped allowing volunteers to enter detention centers because they would not sign a “Volunteer Code of Ethics,” which prohibits them from speaking with media about the conditions of the detention centers, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The group, called Souls Offering Loving and Compassionate Ears (SOLACE), says the code violates their First Amendment Rights.

Private prison company GEO Group donated more than $200,000 to the campaign of winning Republican candidate for Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, reports The Intercept. His opponent pledged to eliminate private prisons in Florida. The Geo Group CEO told the Sun Sentinel Wednesday that he did not believe the company would be affected by the switch to a Democratic majority in the House.

Immigration Journalism
LA Times immigration reporter Cindy Carcamo spotlighted the hate speech that immigration reporters face in a viral tweet this week. “You are a whore and hopefully get raped by one of these aliens so you can fully sow what you reap on the rest of us,” the reader wrote. Other journalists, particularly women, shared similar experiences.

Veteran immigration reporters Eileen Truax, Alice Driver, Oscar Martínez and Ginna Morelo advise journalists on how to go beyond stereotypes, choose words carefully, and explain context to tell better, more human stories about immigration in an interview with Bright Magazine.

Immigration is an International Issue
Immigrant rights organizations in Canada are challenging a treaty that does not allow border crossers to seek asylum in Canada if they have previously passed through the U.S. on the grounds that they could have applied for asylum there, reports The Intercept. Canadian organizations say worsening conditions in detention and a general crackdown on asylum seekers means the U.S. is no longer safe for immigrants.

The first World Summit of Mothers of Missing Migrants convened in Mexico City last weekend, reports Animal Politico. Central American mothers from the annual Caravan of Mothers of Missing Migrants, now in its fourteenth year, met with women from Senegal, Mauritania, Tunisia and Algeria to discuss the difficulties in finding their children. They have formed an alliance to support each other’s work, according to ReliefWeb.

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*Daniela Gerson is a co-founder and the editor of Migratory Notes. She 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 theDemocracy 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 The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany for Refugees Deeply. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

*Elizabeth Aguilera is a co-founder and the executive editor of Migratory Notes. She 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 How Gov-Elect Newsom could shape California’s future, issue by issue. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*Yana Kunichoff is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. She 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

*Anna-Cat Brigida is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. She is a freelance reporter covering immigration and human rights in Mexico and Central America. She began covering immigration as a journalism student at USC Annenberg and later moved to Central America to work as a reporter. She has covered the region since 2015 and has been based in El Salvador since January 2018. She has also worked as a Spanish-language writer for Fusion out of the Mexico City office. Her work has appeared in Washington Post, The Guardian, Univision, LA Times, and Al Jazeera, among others. You can find her on Twitter @AnnaCat_Brigida

*Migratory Notes Advisory Board: Daniel Connolly, Maria Kari, Dan Kowalski, Paola Marizán, Roberto Suro, Phuong Ly, Fernanda Santos

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