Elizabeth Aguilera
Jan 31 · 11 min read

DACA, court backlog, more soldiers

Return of the first Central American migrant asylum seeker from the United States to Mexico. Video by Jorge Nieto

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Immigration advocates say that family separation exists in “quieter, more insidious forms,” Sarah Stillman writes in The New Yorker. Children are still separated from their guardians if they travel with non-biological parents or if their parents have been deported in the past. The U.S. immigration system often puts up barriers to uniting parents and children, including what advocates call “separation for ransom,” charging parents or sponsors already in the U.S. to pay for the cost of transporting the child to wherever they may be located. “These families get contacted by some random number with a person telling them they have to give them their credit card information in order to get reunited with their own child,” Blake Vera the bond coordinated at RAICES told Stillman. “That’s just completely inappropriate.”

Other reports of ongoing family separation six months after the policy was officially suspended include:

The superintendent of a Texas school district is taking a hands-on approach to helping families and students deal with ICE arrests, in a moment when more school administrators have to make the decision to help or look the other way, reports The Hechinger Report in the first story of a larger series about how schools are coping with immigration challenges. The superintendent has increased access to school counselors, encouraged teachers to write letters of support for parents and students, and launched fundraising campaigns. He does so with the understanding that ICE raids and deportation of a parent are traumatizing events for children that can impact their ability to study.

Border Wall Negotiations
Democratic lawmakers say they will not include protections for DACA recipients in negotiations for a border security bill, but will instead propose separate legislation in the near future, reports Reuters. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are already skeptical that a bipartisan committee of 17 legislators will be able to reach an agreement by the Feb.15 deadline, which means Trump would not get the full $5.7 billion for a border wall, reports Politico. Trump could declare a national emergency to get the funds, but 64 percent of Americans would disapprove, reports The Hill. Support for the border wall has also slightly declined in the past two weeks.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government returned the first asylum-seeker to Mexico as part of a controversial plan that would require migrants to wait for the result of their case from Mexico, reports the Washington Post. The Honduran man had traveled with the caravan to reach the U.S. and was surprised by his return. “I have not advanced at all. Instead, I seem to have gone backward,” he said. The Mexican government said last week that it did not support the plan, but that it would take some migrants anyway, reports The New York Times. The country has put some limitations on the program, and refuses to accept minors or anyone over the age of 60, reports AP.

Trump’s Undocumented Workers
About a dozen undocumented employees at Trump National Golf Club were fired because of their immigration status, although workers claim that hiring managers knew all along, reports the Washington Post. The former workers traveled to Washington D.C. this week to ask lawmakers for protections, reports CNN. A lawyer representing the workers announced Tuesday that he will seek protection from deportation for his 20 clients so that they can freely share allegations of abuse and immigration fraud, reports North Jersey Record.

On Tuesday, the Trump Organization announced it will use E-Verify at all properties, even if state law does not require it, to check the immigration status of all potential new hires, reports The New York Times.

Immigration lawyers report that ICE is more frequently using Interpol red notices, which can be issued without proof, to arrest undocumented immigrants, such as Aida Carolina Andrade-Amaya, who was separated from her newborn in November, reports BuzzFeed News.

A new report details the aggressive tactics used in courthouse arrests, which have increased by 1700 percent in New York under the Trump administration and include “dragging suspected undocumented immigrants from cars, slamming their family members against walls,” reports The Daily Beast. Many of the targets are not perpetrators, but rather victims, of crimes including domestic violence and human trafficking.

A sheriff in a California county that voted for Trump proposes a compromise between law enforcement and ICE, which would include cooperation on serious cases while still protecting undocumented immigrants who do not break the law, reports LA Times.

A pregnant woman arrested and detained by ICE was denied medication essential for her and her baby’s health for more than two days, reports The Daily Beast. The Obama administration previously instructed ICE to only detain pregnant women in “extreme cases,” but detentions have increased under Trump.

The Defense Department announced this week it will send 2,000 more active-duty troops to the border to join the 2,400 already there, reports The New York Times. The Pentagon estimates the deployment of troops will cost more than $600 million before the end of the fiscal year.

A top Border Patrol official sent an internal memo to agents asking for evidence to back up Trump’s claim that traffickers tape and gag women while crossing the border, reports Vox. So far, no one has come forward with evidence, leading to questions about where Trump is getting his intelligence if it is not from official sources.

Immigration is an International Issue
More Central American migrants are taking advantage of Mexico’s new policy to speed up the process of obtaining a humanitarian visa, attracting more to stay in Mexico at least temporarily, reports The New York Times. But the move could put more pressure on the U.S-Mexico border if the migrants eventually decide to go to the U.S. About 73 percent of the migrants who have requested the visas are from Honduras, where thousands took to the streets over the weekend to protest the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez, whose 2017 reelection was mired with accusations of electoral fraud.

Immigration courts began hearing cases again on Monday, but the effects of the shutdown will affect the courts for years as immigrants wait years for their rescheduled hearings, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The backlog in immigration courts has increased by nearly 50 percent since Trump took office and most of these cases are civil cases. The New York Times created a handy interactive visualization of how this is playing out. “Current United States law says that those who can demonstrate a fear of persecution have the right to petition for asylum — if they can stand the wait,” writes Denise Lu and Derek Watkins.

The Texas secretary of state office flagged 95,000 registered voters for an inquiry into their citizenship last week to see if they are legally allowed to vote, reports The Texas Tribune. Trump tweeted the figures as proof of voter fraud in Texas, but the numbers would need to be further investigated to reach that conclusion because it’s possible these people have become naturalized citizens, reports The New York Times. “Because we have consistently seen Texas politicians conjure the specter of voter fraud as pretext to suppress legitimate votes, we are naturally skeptical,” a Democratic representative told The New York Times.

“Chilling Effect”
The Trump’s administration’s public charge rule has young citizens worried about applying for federal financial aid since they fear it could endanger their immigrant parents, writes Conor P. Williams in an opinion piece for The Guardian. Even though student loans are not on the list of public benefits that would be considered by the rule to the rule the fear illustrates how immigrants are affected not just by a proposed policy, but by the underlying message of Trump’s policies: immigrants are not welcome.

Immigration Data
The United States is approaching a historic high share of immigrants, nearing the record from more than a century ago, a new Pew Research Center reports finds. But while the U.S has the largest number of immigrants, other countries have a larger share, including twice as high in Canada.

Almost a quarter of college and university professors are immigrants, according to a new study from the Institute for Immigration Research. The top sending countries are from China, India, and Korea.

A wave of resistance against tech companies’ role in carrying out immigration enforcement and other anti-immigrant policies has grown in Silicon Valley since Trump took office. Workers shared their personal efforts to resist through pledges and petitions — both successful and unsuccessful — with The California Sunday Magazine.

Climate Change
Climate change, not border security, could provide a legitimate reason to declare a state of emergency, given that millions are predicted to leave their homes because of climate change in upcoming years, reports The Intercept.

A group of DACA recipients traveled to Washington D.C. this week to ask lawmakers to reinstate “advance parole,” permission to travel overseas that was suspended under the Trump administration 20 months ago, reports The Orange County Register.

A new film aims to shed light on how ski resorts depend on immigrant labor to thrive. “Young ski bums don’t want to do the work that it takes to run a resort community — citizens born in the U.S. aren’t cooking in restaurants or cleaning hotels rooms,” said one expert who has studied this workforce.


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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 What keeps families in one of the most polluted places in California? 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

Migratory Notes

At a time of rapidly shifting policies, we publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

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 publish a weekly concise and insightful guide to immigration news.

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