Migratory Notes 9
Removing tattoos to evade ICE, refugee chocolates in Nova Scotia, and Houston neurologists ordered to pack their bags.
The Fear Factor
The phenomenon of parents being deported is not new: ICE deported nearly 15,500 parents of U.S.-born children in the second half of 2015, Texas Monthly reports. But the current state of fear appears to be ramping up interest in protecting children with caregiver affidavits and power of attorney agreements.
Other reports of fear spreading in immigrant communities:
- ICE officers arrested three green card applicants in the Boston area at their immigration appointments. This is creating a “Catch 22” said one of their lawyers, where immigrants are afraid to show up at appointments to legalize their status. (WBUR)
- Some immigrants are removing their tattoos. (Mitú)
- Non-profit groups say undocumented immigrants are canceling the food stamps they receive for their U.S.-born children. Legal permanent residents are also afraid that that if they receive any benefits they may not be able to apply for citizenship in the future. (NPR)
- Undocumented immigrants are refusing to cooperate with U.S. Department of Labor investigations. (The Guardian)
Facing the Consequences
The day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was going to make sanctuary cities pay, the acting director of ICE hosted a community forum in Sacramento alongside the county sheriff. The pair were booed But one person was applauded: Bernard Marks, a Holocaust survivor. “History is not on your side,” the 90-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau told Sheriff Scott Jones, whose department has an agreement with ICE. Independent journalist Gabriel Thompson captured the exchange on video which went viral.
Despite, in many cases, taking a public stance against sanctuary status, sheriffs in California and across the country are refusing ICE requests to hold suspected undocumented immigrants. The LA Times reports they are concerned about legal violations. Most departments have stopped honoring ICE hold requests, according to the National Sheriffs’ Assn. These refusals have raised the ire of the Trump administration, and last week DHS began sending out a weekly report identifying law enforcement agencies that do not honor ICE detainers.
The big, beautiful wall may take longer than planned to build. The funding request will likely be put on hold because introducing it now to the budget discussions could cause problems, The Hill reports.
When the money is secured, the question of who is going to build it is making international headlines. The Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico said Sunday that Mexicans who help do so would be acting immorally and should be deemed traitors. That is not stopping everyone. The World looks at one Mexican firm that is bidding to build the wall.
German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that two German firms were among the 700 plus that had signed up, causing dismay in a country which has focused on breaking down walls in recent decades. Turns out those reports were misleading. One firm maintains they added their name for informational purposes only, while Wyly Brown, a partner at Leupold Brown Goldbach Architects told Architectural Record, “I put my name on the list to stay informed, I am against the wall.” He contributes to #Alt-Wall which is calling on architects and other builders “to submit design ideas that UNITE rather than divide! Let’s flood the system with as many ideas as we can!”
Another element of this quiet pushback of subversive artists are two women who attempted to intentionally clog the system, reports Reveal. They are federal employees who understand how to delay a bidding process and submitted wall designs that include a wall of cacti, affordable housing and solar.
A Couple Sweet Stories
Seven months after fleeing to Canada, a Syrian refugee, Assam Hadhad, opened a craft chocolate shop in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Once a leading chocolatier in Damascus, his family’s new company “Peace by Chocolate” sells handmade treats from a backyard shed in this tiny town of 4,000 residents. It’s become one of the country’s hottest new businesses, Saveur reports.
In Maine, the state with the oldest population, refugees are becoming much-needed EMTs. “This program is a win-win-win,” David Zahn, who was a founder of the program at Southern Maine Community College, told the NY Times. “Surveys showed Portland needed more E.M.T.s; other surveys showed that many immigrants in the area are underemployed and have medical backgrounds.”
Two immigration-related podcasts joined forces this week: Mash-Up Americans and Maeve in America. The hosts of the “guide to hyphen-America” talked to Irish comedian Maeve Higgins about how she highlights the human side of immigrants — as well as critical questions such as what actually is a bog and why are so many Irish in the Trump administration?
Targeting a different audience, a Border Patrol union podcast is booming, the New York Times reports. The Green Line got its big break when it interviewed Trump around the time when he unofficially got the Republican nomination. That interview, Fernanda Santos reports, “amplified the podcast’s reach and profile, turning it into an influential, unfiltered and entirely one-sided political megaphone.”
This American Life transports the listener to an insider’s perspective of patrolling the U.S. Mexico border with an excerpt of Francisco Cantu’s upcoming memoir of being an agent.
Travel Ban to the Supreme Court?
The travel ban on visitors from six majority-Muslim countries and all refugee resettlement may be heading to the highest court, the LA Times reports. “The Department of Justice’s appeal on Thursday of a Hawaii court order halting the latest iteration of the ban means the federal government is now fighting to implement it in two federal appeals courts on opposite ends of the country: the 9th Circuit in San Francisco and the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va,” writes Jaweed Kaleem. “If the courts issue rulings that conflict with each other, legal experts said, there is a high chance that the Supreme Court would take up the case.”
- In Houston, two prominent neurologists, a husband and wife who are legal immigrants from India, were told Wednesday they had to pack their bags. “Somebody up there has decided you have to leave the country in the next 24 hours,” an agent told the couple, Lomi Kriel reported for the Houston Chronicle. After the couple’s case received a flurry of attention, they were provided 90 days to resolve a paperwork glitch.
- In Kentucky, a U.S. citizen who was detained for weeks in March is suing ICE, alleging a violation of his Constitutional rights. (Daily Beast)
- In Portland, an Iranian woman who entered the U.S. on a tourist visa to visit her family was detained in an Oregon jail upon arrival. She is now petitioning for asylum with her sister saying she is fearful to return to Iran after being jailed. (KXL)
Immigrants and $$
An Arizona State University student took a public stance in a Facebook video that undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. Belen Sisa said, “I, an undocumented immigrant, just filed my taxes and PAID $300 to the state of Arizona.” She went on to say she does not qualify for financial aid or other assistance and points out she is just one of millions in her position. The video went viral and she experienced a backlash of criticism: “You’re disgusting and I hope that you and your family will be sent back to the lesser country that your ancestors built.”
Five Apps that Can Save You from “La Migra”
Various advocacy, tech and media outlets have attempted to create responses to the Trump administration for immigrants. La Opinión breaks down five of them including an “I’m getting arrested” app now available in 10 languages and Tarjimly which works with volunteer translators.
Follow up on separating families at the border, Dreamers, detentions
Parents and their kids are not going to be separated at the border after all, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly assured Senate Democrats. (CNN). The Seattle Dreamer who was detained when his father was picked up, was released after six weeks in detention. (BuzzFeed) Afghans who cooperated with the U.S. and are entering the country with Special Immigrant Visas are continuing to be detained at airports. (NPR)
Jobs and other immigration-related opportunities
With all the focus on immigration has come new opportunities in immigration reporting and policy. Got one you want to share, send it on. Here are a few:
- PRI’s Global Nation is accepting pitches for stories about immigration and diversity
- International Reporting Fellowship for Minority Journalists ICFJ travel fellowship (not specifically migration, but good opportunity to do so)
- Latino USA Reporting Fellowship A year-long fellowships funded by California Endowment
- Professor of Practice, Cronkite Borderlands Initiative (2 positions) — Arizona State University
- Immigration Reporter — Marshall Project
- Race/ Related Editor — New York Times
- Senior Radio Editor — Reveal (not specifically immigration, but they do a lot on the topic).
- Social media editor ACLU
That’s it for Migratory Notes #9. We’re both based in LA, so help us out by letting us know what’s going on elsewhere. We realize this is in no way a complete list. If there’s a story you think we should consider, please send us an email, or you can add one on this form.
Thank you to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here’s a few: Stacey Alvarado, Kenan Jackson, Shirin Parsavand, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Mash-Up Americans, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, Refugees Deeply and countless tweeters.
*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. 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 looked at how California’s undocumented kids could be the first to lose medical care under Trump. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera