While Minnesota’s 430,000 immigrants make up less than 9 percent of the population, their stories come from every part of the state. Today’s news brings stories from Shoreview and Rochester, as well as Minneapolis and even a connection to the Texas tractor-trailer tragedy that claimed 10 lives last week.
National stories today include an in-depth look at refugees in the meat-packing industry in California and the conviction of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio on criminal contempt charges.
Amid stepped-up enforcement, Minnesota ICE liaison gives agency a friendlier face (Star Tribune, 7/31/17) Mary Hogan was appointed as community relations officer for ICE last September.
“As anxiety among local immigrants rose along with an uptick in ICE arrests, Hogan redoubled efforts to set the record straight about how her agency does business. She has listened to tearful relatives of men facing deportation and assured superintendents that schools are still generally off-limits for immigration agents. Her argument: If you object to the country’s tangled immigration laws, your quarrel shouldn’t be with agents sworn to uphold them….
“Some local advocates give Hogan high marks as an attentive listener who follows up with answers — even as they remain wary of her agency and its direction under the new administration.”
TX human smuggling ring has Minnesota connection (KARE, 7/25/17) One of the survivors of the Texas tractor trailer tragedy and his brother were on their way to Minnesota.
“The criminal complaint details a sophisticated smuggling operation. Survivors told police they’d paid Mexico’s “Zetas” drug cartel to help smuggle them across the Rio Grande river by raft. Then, they were taken to the trailer paying another $5,000 to be delivered to the United States. …
“In my experience, that is more common than we think and it’s common because of the desperation right now,” said Sister Margaret McGuirk of Incarnation Catholic Church in Minneapolis.”
Immigrant nation: Contributing to the community (Shoreview Press, 7/25/17) From Chinese immigrants raising money for Shoreview’s library to a newly-arrived Eritrean refugee quickly finding work, this second in a three-part series explores immigrants in Shoreview:
“Refugees also become important contributors to the economy over time, Donovan noted. For example, the Hmong community that sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War began immigrating from Laos in the ‘70s. In 1980, their median household income was $17,000; by 2010, it was $49,000. Households receiving public assistance dropped from 67 percent to 14 percent and workforce participation rates jumped from 27 percent to 59 percent.”
Immigrant nation: Becoming a U.S. citizen (Shoreview Press, 7/11/17) Shoreview works to become a welcoming city for immigrants.
“The Shoreview Human Rights Commission hopes it isn’t the last time it hosts a naturalization ceremony at the library.
“I think it is a very positive thing for the city,” said member Julie Williams. “I was very impressed. I had never actually seen a naturalization ceremony. It left me with a sense of optimism. They are excited to be citizens and excited to be here.”
Play’s immigrant themes help actor grasp his identity (MPR, 7/24/17)
“His mother is Brazilian and his father is from Wisconsin. They met in Brazil when his father was studying abroad for international business. After they married the moved to Puerto Rico, where Alex was born.
“He lived in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, a city of almost 240,000 people. At the age of 10, he moved with his family to Slinger, Wis., population about 5,000.”
Church considers becoming a sanctuary (Rochester Post-Bulletin, 7/31/17) Rochester’s First Unitarian Universalist Church may vote in September or October.
“For Morales, the issue is personal. She was an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States when she was 2 years old. Morales believed her faith was the support she needed during the uncertainty and difficulties her family faced under the constant threat of deportation.
“She took issue with the portrayal of undocumented immigrants as dangerous criminals during the recent election rhetoric. She also shut down common inquiries such as why undocumented immigrants couldn’t just come into the country legally.
“There is no line to get in (legally),” Morales explained. “If there was a way, we would have been using it a long time ago. These people face dangers in their home countries. Each individual’s circumstances are different and so complicated.”
And in national immigration news
In California’s poultry plants, refugees fill the vacuum left after President Bush’s immigration raid (Los Angeles Times, 7/31/17) Beginning in 2006, when George W. Bush ordered raids on Midwestern meatpacking plants and more than 1,300 undocumented immigrants were arrested, refugees have become a major labor source for this entry-level, backbreaking work.
“Refugees have increasingly become vital workers in an industry with high turnover. And the growing unrest and bloodshed in the Middle East and elsewhere have readily supplied them in places like the Central Valley….
“It’s difficult to know exactly how many refugees work in this occupation but roughly one-third of workers in the industry in 2010 were foreign-born, according to a peer-reviewed article in Choices, a publication of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Assn., a nonprofit that serves those who work in agricultural and broadly related fields of applied economics….
“What the meatpacking industry knows is that these are really good workers. They show up on time. They say ‘yes’ when they are told what to do. They do what is necessary for their survival,” [Lavinia Limon, chief executive officer and president of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants] said.”It works really well for employers.”
Migrants in surge fare worse in immigration court than other groups (Washington Post/The Marshall Project, 7/30/17) Many are unable to find lawyers; many face judges who say that fleeing gang violence, even gang violence backed by national police, is not sufficient grounds for asylum.
“Immigration courts have long had high rates of in absentia rulings, with one-quarter of all cases resolved by such decisions last year. But the rate for families who came in the border surge stands out as far higher, according to the Justice Department office that runs the immigration courts and tracked the cases of those families over the past three years.
Many immigrants did not understand what they were supposed to do to pursue their claims and could not connect with lawyers to guide them. Some just stayed away, fearing they could be deported directly from courthouses and choosing instead to take their chances in the immigration underground.”
178 migrants found abandoned in trailer in Mexico (CNN, 7/30/17) The U.S. push-back against Central American immigrants and refugees since 2014 has supported stronger Mexican efforts to capture and deport Central American immigrants.
“Mexican authorities rescued 178 Central American migrants found abandoned in a trailer in Veracruz state, the country’s National Institute for Migration said….
“In December, Mexican officials rescued 110 migrants from Central and South America who were trapped inside a trailer in Veracruz, officials said.”
The Call-In: Business and immigration (NPR, 7/31/17) Dan, who runs a landscaping business in Kentucky, describes reasons for hiring immigrant workers:
“I did a little bit of research. And our employees that we had that were Hispanic had an average tenure of about two years. And our average tenure for an American was about 140 days. And so when you’re looking at replacing a person on average every six months versus every two years, there’s just a different level of investment as far as recruitment and training but also in productivity. A person that’s been here for a year or two years can perform at a much higher level. They’re more competent, and they do a better job.”
And Michelle Jamrisko of Bloomberg recounts a conversation with farmers in Kansas:
“And they said, you know, look we’ve – the three of us have lived here all our lives. They said, we really fear a crackdown on immigration not just because of what it would mean for the workers but also because, if they leave, we’re losing our wherewithal to have a hospital close by or a school close by. You know, the localities won’t see the need for it. “
“[Elaine] Duke has nearly three decades of experience working for the federal government, including time at DHS and the Department of Defense, serving under both Democratic and Republican presidents.
“She previously served as under secretary for management and chief procurement for DHS, where she was responsible for managing the agency’s $47 billion budget. “
“The nation’s former top immigration enforcement officer on Friday said that despite claims to the contrary, the Trump administration is going after undocumented immigrants who are the most easily deportable — those who voluntarily check in, most of them without criminal records — in order to boost deportation numbers.
“We are seeing daily raids, but they’re silent — mom and dads with no record are coming in for check-ins and getting deported,” John Sandweg, former acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. “It’s very abundantly clear that this is not about public safety, not about border security. It’s clearly about setting a record amount of deportations.”
The Daily: A Day with I.C.E. (New York Times, 7/31/17) NYT reporter Jennifer Medina followed ICE officers for a day – here’s the podcast.
“Every day from before sunrise until late into the night, undocumented immigrants across the United States are being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, the front-line soldiers in President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
“Increasingly, the arrests are collateral: Officers detain people they come across while looking for somebody else.”
Trump administration reaches deal with Texas counties on immigration (Reuters, 7/31/17) It’s a 287(g) deal, authorizing and training local sheriff’s offices to enforce federal immigration law.
Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio convicted of criminal contempt (Chicago Tribune, 7/31/17) He’s 85 years old now, and probably won’t do jail time.
“The federal judge’s verdict represents a victory for critics who voiced anger over Arpaio’s unusual efforts to get tough on crime, including jailing inmates in tents during triple-digit heat, forcing them to wear pink underwear and making hundreds of arrests in crackdowns that divided immigrant families. Arpaio is vowing to appeal.
“Arpaio, who spent 24 years as the sheriff of metro Phoenix, skirted two earlier criminal investigations of his office. But he wasn’t able to avoid legal problems when he prolonged his signature immigration patrols for nearly a year and a half after a different judge ordered him to stop. That judge later ruled they racially profiled Latinos.”
Sorting out the Dream Acts (ILCM, 7/31/17)
“On July 20, 2017, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Dream Act of 2017. A week later, two bills were introduced in the House of Representatives that would protect also Dreamers – the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, introduced by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and the American Hope Act, introduced by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”
Cancer patient from Honduras wins deportation reprieve (Sun Sentinel, 7/31/17) Some good news! But the reprieve is temporary – a decision on her asylum case is still pending, and if asylum is denied, she will be back on the list for deportation.
“Gomez, a domestic worker who has lived in South Florida for 15 years, said she has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that could not be properly treated in Honduras because of a lack of medicines. She has compared being sent back to Central America as the same as being given a death sentence.
“Gomez said she fled violence and an abusive relationship in Honduras and since coming to the U.S has worked to become a productive resident.”