The following is part of a pop-up newsletter called “Migratory Notes” written by Daniela Gerson and Elizabeth Aguilera, who at a time of rapidly shifting policies, synthesize exceptional immigration journalism and highlight emerging practices to connect with multiethnic communities. It’s republished here with permission. You can follow along on Medium or subscribe here.
Eddie’s Steak Shed’s owner is getting deported and his wife regrets voting for Trump, a cockfight sting operation leads to an immigration sweep, shutting down the jobs magnet, and the list of cities not cooperating with the feds is confusing many law enforcement officials.
Straight-up amazing reporting
In a beautiful narrative and video weaving divergent views on immigration in the same Texas town, the Washington Post hones in on what it means to be American and whether it should be attached to a birthright. “Over the past three decades, every other developed economy in the world except Canada has abandoned or restricted birthright citizenship amid rising flows of immigrants and refugees,” Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan write.
For the past year, The New York Times has been tracking Canada’s experiment with citizens privately sponsoring Syrian refugees through insightful stories on this integration effort. Now the year is over, and the sponsorship is officially complete. But what comes next?
“As Month 13 approached across Canada, every group of sponsors and refugees had to determine what their new relationship would look like,” Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn write. “Some were mutually relieved to be done, the chemistry never quite right. In other cases, the Canadians continued directly funding the Syrians, unable to cut the financial cord.”
Will history repeat itself?
Trump’s crackdown focuses on people in the U.S. illegally — but not on the businesses that hire them. To create a “real wall” a former immigration enforcement officer tells Cindy Carcamo at the LA Times, the jobs incentive needs to be cut off. But if history is any guide, that’s not happening soon.
“The neon light is on. It has been for decades, and that neon light is driven by jobs,” Mark Reed testified to Congress 20 years ago as an INS officer. “As long as those jobs are available, those people are going to come in.” Now, semi-retired, he sees the same problem.
Often California is regarded as on the leading edge of immigration trends and policies. The LA Times visits the man most associated with the anti-immigrant backlash of the 1990s and the subsequent decline of the Republican party, former Governor Pete Wilson. He promoted the ballot measure Proposition 187 that would have stopped state public services to undocumented immigrants. Wilson, says he would do it again even if he knew then what he knows now and that leadership “means making people unhappy. It means making them enemies.”
An ICE policy change may have a larger impact on deportation numbers than immigration raids, Jorge Rivas reports in Fusion. The majority of immigrants end up deported after being transferred from other law enforcement agencies using requests called detainers. The previous policy recommended detainers when an undocumented immigrant had a prior conviction. The new policy, set to go into effect April 2, eliminates that recommendation “which means ICE could send local police a detainer for any ‘subject’ they believe ‘is removable from the United States.’”
Meanwhile, ICE has been targeting so-called “sanctuary cities” with increased enforcement operations in an effort to pressure those jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration agents, a senior US immigration official told CNN. The Trump administration is also testing the boundaries of a policy that marked sensitive places — such as schools, hospitals, churches, and demonstrations — as off limits in the past, reports Huffington Post.
In Granger, Indiana, the Mexican owner of Eddie’s Steak Shed is set to be deported after his annual check in with ICE. His wife, a former undocumented immigrant from Greece, says she voted for Trump but now regrets the decision. (South Bend Tribune)
In Detroit, Michigan, a multi-jurisdiction cockfighting sting operation that brought in more than 150 agents yielded only one criminal arrest. But 50 people were taken in on immigration charges. (Latino USA).
In Conyers, Georgia, ICE agents came to a work site looking for one man. He no longer worked there, but they ended up arresting six other undocumented immigrants instead. (EFE)
The two teenagers who allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl at 9 a.m. in the bathroom of a D.C. suburban high school were among tens of thousands of young people who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 2016, the Washington Post reports:
“Jose Montano was searching for his uncle; Henry Sanchez Milian, for his dad.
Traveling separately, each was apprehended by federal border agents and targeted for deportation proceedings.”
The alleged attacks set off a national conservative backlash. Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary, wrote that “elected leaders of so-called sanctuary cities and communities should be held accountable for the actions of the illegals. If you harbor an illegal alien within your city limits and he commits a heinous crime, then the mayor and council should go to jail, too.”
In addition, Starnes believes liberal educators should be held responsible. He cites parent Theresa Rickman: “You have young adult males that really do not have our culture and you are putting them in the same classroom as our 14-year-old girls and they are saying there is nothing we can do about that — sorry.”
Maryland mother Maria Reyes paid thousands of dollars to smuggle her 12-year-old daughter into the U.S. from El Salvador, only to lose her to the same gang violence she had fled. The girl’s fate “offers a window into the way unaccompanied minors are falling prey to MS-13, bolstering its ranks but also becoming its casualties,” writes Michael E. Miller in the Washington Post of the vicious Salvadoran gang that has roots in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t know people like that existed in the United States,” Reyes told Miller. “ I thought it was super safe to have my daughter here with me.”
Federal authorities on Monday published the first report on alleged crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in so-called sanctuary cities. Law enforcement agencies across the country pushed back that the report contained misleading information that prompted confusion, according to The New York Times.
The report includes a tally of counties with the highest number of declined detainer requests. Clark County, Nevada, had the highest at 51 for the week DHS documented, much to the surprise of local authorities, BuzzFeed reports. Law enforcement agencies in the county, which includes Las Vegas, contend that they do cooperate with federal authorities.
Southern Poverty Law Center published a report calling the methodology skewed, which may help explain why Vegas is topping the list. Apparently, the detainers only represent 15 percent of the total 3,083 issued during that time period.
American consular officials were instructed to broadly increase scrutiny last week instituting new visa regulations for travelers. This is the first evidence of the “extreme vetting” Trump promised during the presidential campaign, Reuters reports.
The move will make it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States, requiring new security checks, including social media reviews, before giving visas to tourists, business travelers and relatives of American residents.
Preceding the official changes zero Africans were granted visas to attend an African trade summit in California. The Guardian reports that in past years, 40 percent of interested attendees were denied entry visas. This year 100 percent were barred.
Facing the consequences
Rural areas are bracing for a doctor shortage due to a change in visas for skilled workers. The suspension of a “premium processing” option means foreign doctors may not arrive in certain areas for months, reports The New York Times.
After raids in Las Cruces, New Mexico, students stopped showing up at school, reports the New Yorker. “Absences went up by twenty-five per cent in the two days after the raids, but the numbers were even higher at the schools for younger students, where many still rely on their parents to drop them off and pick them up every day,” Jonathan Blitzer writes. “In the two days after the raids, absences at elementary schools rose by almost a hundred and fifty per cent.”
In order to build his wall the Trump administration will have to sue Americans who live and own property along the border. Quartz reports: “the government has already sent condemnation notices to some Texas residents whose properties back the Rio Grande.”
Wall or no wall, a new report shows that migration from Latin America is plummeting and the number of laborers from Mexico will eventually reach zero despite immigration policies, according to CNN. The Brookings Institute report asks, “Why build a wall to stop an immigration surge that has largely already occurred?”
Daniel Lombardi spent six weeks photographing the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas for High Country News. The pictures run the gamut from the harsh dry terrain to areas where both sides of the border come together in cities and all of them illustrate how the area would change again if Trump’s wall is erected.
Immigrants and $$
Despite some of Trump’s statements that immigrants are harmful to America, they are generally drivers of economic growth. In his first address to Congress, he stated: “According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.” Some authors of the report fire back in Vox, writing “President Trump, or his speechwriters, cherry-picked some of our results related to government budgets and ignored the overall positive impact that immigrants have on our economy (a positive impact that in turn supports the health of public finances).”
Follow-up stories on Travel Ban, Sanctuaries and Fatima
The Trump administration had its first victory in the courts protecting their travel ban on refugees and travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. Virginia Federal Judge Anthony Trenga’s ruled that the order falls within the president’s authority. Trenga’s ruling does not impact the current status of the ban — it was paused by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, but it provides a foundation for government lawyers to battle for the order, according to The Hill.
Yet many universities are refraining from using the sanctuary term. Emory University in Georgia decided to call itself a “safe harbor” this week. The reason, Marketplace reports, is that any private school in Georgia that adopts “sanctuary policies” could lose state funding. (Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to attend public universities in Georgia.)
The story of Fatima continues, the 13-year-old who recorded her father’s deportation from the backseat of the family car when he was arrested while taking her to school. The tiny wonder girl ran the LA Marathon with her sister. Fusion described how she had trained with her dad and he encouraged her to run the race even though he was not able to be there. She said when she struggled during the race she thought of her dad yelling, “You can do it!”
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 (two 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).
- Director, Immigrant Rights & Integration — Haas Foundation
- Social media editor ACLU
That’s it for Migratory Notes #8. 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 yous to those who helped this week, knowingly or unknowingly. Here’s a few: Keith Hammonds, Ron Lee, Laurel Rosenhall, Cindy Carcamo’s FB posts, Global Nation Exchange FB group, Marshall Project newsletter, Mash-Up Americans, Xavier Maciel’s Sanctuary Schools newsletter, 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