Migratory Notes 93

Elizabeth Aguilera
Dec 13, 2018 · 12 min read

Deporting Vietnamese, government shutdown, Trump’s undoc housekeeper

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U.S. veteran Carlos Jaime Torres was deported to Mexico in 2010. At last, he will return to the U.S. — to be buried, reports the Austin-American Statesman. As of 2016, there were 100,000 non-citizen veterans and it is believed that at least 240 have been deported in recent years. Torres, 64, was part of a growing movement of deported veterans organizing for an opportunity to return to the U.S. “Hector Barajas, who founded the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana and had befriended Torres, was helping him with his VA claims around the time of his death,” Jeremy Schwartz writes. “Funerals of deported veterans at VA cemeteries, which often feature flag ceremonies and other military honors, are bittersweet,” Barajas told Schwartz. ‘It’s as if their service is finally being acknowledged.”

Santos Chirino was sure MS-13 gang members would kill him if he returned to Honduras. And six months after being deported from Virginia he was murdered, reports Maria Sacchetti for the Washington Post. Now, his teenage children are awaiting trial to see if they too will be deported.

Most immigration judges are aware that their decisions can mean life or death. But deciding asylum cases has become increasingly difficult with skyrocketing numbers of asylee applications and added pressure of quotas from the Trump administration. “This is not a decision we want to get wrong,” wrote the judge who ruled on his case in an essay published in USA Today before Chirino’s death. “I’ve probably been fooled and granted asylum to some who didn’t deserve it. I hope and pray I have not denied asylum to some who did.”

Trump Administration
As a government shutdown looms, Ezra Klein argues in Vox that is exactly what Trump wants: Not a wall, but a fight about a wall. “The $5 billion in funding Trump is demanding isn’t actually enough to build the wall,” he writes. “Estimates of the total cost range from about $20 billion to $70 billion. Securing funding at either level would require a much bigger deal, with much more significant concessions from Trump.” The Washington Post fact-checked the bizarre exchange with Senators Pelosi and Schumer. Bloomberg breaks down how if there is a shutdown it will be smaller than in previous years, but it would impact DHS.

Trump’s pick to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general, William Barr, was AG under George H.W. Bush and led an immigration crackdown in the 1990s that included housing Haitian migrants in Guantanamo Bay, reports Quartz. He has also supported most Trump immigration policies, like the travel ban, reports NPR.

While some consider outgoing Trump Chief of Staff John F. Kelly as a voice of reason in the White House, on immigration he supported some of Trump’s “most egregious instincts,” writes Matthew Yglesias for Vox, such as the child separation policy and opposition to DACA.

How do 6,000 people walk all together across Mexico? By forming a proto-government, reports Politico. The caravan’s organizational tactics show a stark contrast to Trump’s portrait of the group as “lawless.”

Asylees & Refugees
Trump’s proposal to keep migrants in Mexico while they wait for asylum rests on one key misconception: Mexico is a safe place for migrants, reports Foreign Affairs (paywall). But migrants, particularly from Central America, are often frequently kidnapped and extorted by cartels that operate along the border.

Recent data shows that Trump is incorrect to blame the immigration backlog on illegal immigration, reports Vox. The biggest hold-up is at ports of entry where migrants are seeking asylum legally at a 121 percent increase since last year.

About half of Los Angeles’ refugee agencies have shut down since Trump took office, mirroring a national trend given the sharp reduction in refugees accepted to the U.S., reports PRI’s The World. But many see this as an opportunity for refugee agencies to reinvent their role in helping newly-arrived immigrants adjust to life in the U.S.

The Trump administration decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Vietnam are now eligible for deportation, The Atlantic Reports. Often called war refugees, they are part of a group of long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries that the government is now pursuing as deportable “criminal aliens.” AFP reported last spring on the struggles of Vietnamese who were deported under Trump to resettle, some removals at the time suspected to be done in violation.

More than 62,000 border-crossers were apprehended or denied entry into the U.S. in November, the most ever in one month, reports Washington Post.

ICE has disproportionately targeted workers and not employers in the past year, reports USA Today. Workers charged with criminal violations increased by 812 percent, compared to an 82 percent increase for members of management charged. The U.S. is likely to continue relying on the estimated 8 million undocumented workers who fuel the construction, childcare and agriculture industries, reports the New York Times.

Immigration is an International Issue
A majority of UN states on Monday signed the first global pact to promote cross-border cooperation to “ensure that people making cross-border journeys can do so in a legal, orderly and safe way,” reports The Guardian. The U.S. and 10 other countries rejected the pact including Australia, Chile and the Dominican Republic.

Worldwide, there is little support for welcoming migrants, according to a new Pew Research Center Report that surveyed citizens in a sample of countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America. On average, only 14 percent of the population of the countries surveyed supported an increase of migrants in their country.

The U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help El Salvador improve its justice system, in an effort to curb migration, but the results are hard to quantify, reports the New York Times.

Workers at the U.S. Digital Service, an agency created under the Obama administration, tasked with improving government technology, walk a fine line when trying to deal with immigration issues like the asylum backlog, streamlining green-card renewals and the citizen naturalization process while working under the Trump administration, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

College students with Temporary Protected Status like El Salvadoran-born Jose are racing against the clock to earn their degrees before their legal status in the country is set to expire, reports APM Reports.

Public Charge
Trump’s “public charge” proposal to limit access to citizenship for immigrants who use government benefits received an unusually high number of public comments — about 210,000 — which DHS will have to consider before publishing the final proposal, reports Vox. Many of the comments came from immigrants rights groups that are “already seeing the fear and confusion.”

A recent report shows that immigrants are actually a very low burden on the U.S. healthcare system because they pay more towards healthcare than they withdraw, reports HuffPost. But restricting their access to healthcare through regulations like the public charge proposal undermines public health overall.

Immigration Journalism
Diversity in immigration coverage is key to pushing back against the “crisis” narrative Trump has established at the border, reports Columbia Journalism Review. Adding context, avoiding trauma porn, and giving sources the power to tell their own stories are some ways reporters can improve their coverage.

A Missouri State University professor and a documentary team were briefly detained in Texas after capturing footage of the Tornillo tent camp, reports Ozarks First. They were released when the sheriff determined they had done nothing wrong.

Perhaps nobody was surprised that an undocumented immigrant had made Trump’s bed, but The New York Times story profiling two women who had worked at Trump National Golf Club without legal status made headlines around the world. The story got more than 2 million page views, making it one of the most-read National stories at The Times all year. Last Friday, two more undocumented women who worked at the golf course came forward. In the Times Insider, reporter Miriam Jordan explained how she verified the women were, in fact, undocumented and why she needed to reveal their first and last names.

Daniela asked Miriam Jordan about the reporting process and aftermath:

Q: How are the women in the story responding to the attention? How did you balance concern for their fate and reporting the story?
A: After a week in NY and in Miami doing press, they are back home in NJ. They handled the attention well. They are strong women.
I felt that the women were in the hands of a very good lawyer. Ms Morales has an asylum application filed, which protects her from deportation. If her asylum request is denied, her lawyer will appeal. That would takes years to unfold in the courts. Ms. Diaz has a green card.

Q: Anything that surprised you about the public reaction to this story?
A: Perhaps not surprising, but Trump supporters, who deemed my story fake news, dissed an immigration hardline group that wrote an open letter to Trump saying he must lead by example. Their support for him is unwavering.

Q: I appreciate the way you look at the role of economics driving immigration, which I think has been overlooked in a lot of recent coverage of the border.
A: Perhaps it is all my years at the WSJ, I think the economics of immigration must never be overlooked. It is, even in this era of family migrants, the biggest factor pushing people out — poverty — and pull factor — jobs in the US.


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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 California AG labels Trump’s draft “public charge” crackdown on immigrants reckless — and unconstitutional. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera

*Yana Kunichoff is a special projects editor 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

Copyright © 2018
Sent from a roaming newsroom
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we synthesize exceptional immigration journalism.

Elizabeth Aguilera

Written by

Health/Social Services reporter @CALmatters, co-founder of #MigratoryNotes. I carry a mic & a pen. Prev: @KPCC @SDUT, @DenverPost. elizabeth@calmatters.org

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we synthesize exceptional immigration journalism.