Let’s get local: Immigrants and detention centers near you

Immigrant detention centers are not just along the border, and not just giant for-profit prisons or military bases. CItyLab and ESRI have mapped local government contracts with ICE, showing 850 local detention jails and prisons in 669 counties that have contracted with ICE to detain immigrants. The map shows current utilization, as well as some history of each individual contract.

Population growth through immigration is the focus of a Migration Policy Institute report. Their study covers the years 2010-2016, and shows the number of immigrants in the United States increasing, and foreign-born population growing by 15 percent or more in 15 states: North Dakota, West Virginia, South Dakota, Delaware, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Indiana, Florida, Nevada, Washington, Iowa, and Maryland. Immigration keeps many states growing: About half of Minnesota’s population growth is due to immigrants. And about half of all Minnesota immigrants already have become U.S. citizens.

Remittances from immigrants means the money they send “back home.” Pew Research reports that “an estimated $574 billion (USD) was sent by migrants to relatives in their home countries in 2016,” a slight decline from 2015, but still nearly double the amount of a decade ago.  

Historically, remittances from immigrants support families and the economies of the countries they left. Irish immigrants sent remittances home in the 1850s, helped by the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank in Ireland. During the great migration from Europe to the United States during the early part of the 20th century, remittances supported families and economies “back home,” with remittances to Italy called “a fantastic rain of gold.”

Update on the Children: The Trump administration failed to meet the court-ordered July 10 deadline for reuniting immigrant children under the age of five with their parents. Judge Dana Sabraw said he would “stand on the deadline,” and ordered a new progress report and explanation of the government’s failure on Thursday.

Questioned by reporters about the administration’s failure to meet the deadline, Trump has an old/new answer: blame the children: “Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.” Maybe he’s thinking of 1885, when Friedrich Trump came over from Germany: a time when there were virtually no restrictions on European immigration. Even then, racism tainted U.S. immigration rules, with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1862. 

The Trump administration did retreat slightly from its zero-tolerance, detention-for-everybody policies on Tuesday, saying it will release most families with ankle bracelets for monitoring rather than indefinitely (and illegally) detaining migrant children and parents together.

Immigration officials and the ACLU, which sued the government on behalf of the children, are working together on family reunification now. “They’re collaborating to share information and track down children and parents,” Vox reports, “meaning that the ACLU is more interested, right now, in setting a deadline the government can meet than slamming it for missing one.”  

Despite the progress, awful stories continue to surface. One comes from Guatemala, where Ovidio Batres Morales is back home after seven weeks in an immigration jail—without his seven-year-old daughter Ashly. He and her mother do not know how to get her back, but were finally able to talk to her by phone on June 27. The Los Angeles Times reports:

“Batres said he doesn’t recall agreeing to be removed without his daughter. But he adds that he is not quite sure what documents he signed. Batres never learned to read or write.”

Buzzfeed has a horrifying account of mistreatment of pregnant women in immigration detention. Women say say they have been denied medical care, shackled around the stomach, and abused. One woman told of her miscarriage. Four months pregnant, she began bleeding, and begged for help from her jailers in Arizona:

“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors. They wouldn’t look after me,” she told BuzzFeed News, speaking by phone from another detention center, Otay Mesa in San Diego. “I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying.”

The new Trump administration push for “de-naturalization” of U.S. citizens is targeting a grandmother in Florida. Norma Borgono, age 63, came to the United States from Peru in 1989, and became a U.S. citizen. The complicated story begins back when she was a secretary and her boss committed fraud. She helped the FBI convict her boss, and pleaded guilty, paid restitution, and served her sentence. That doesn’t matter.

“The citizenship application contains the question, “Have you EVER committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were NOT arrested?” (emphasis original). Lying on that question makes any applicant vulnerable to having his or her citizenship later revoked and is the basis of the vast majority of denaturalization cases.”

Now that provision is the basis for taking away her citizenship. Borgono didn’t describe her role as a secretary to a man who was committing fraud on her naturalization application. The fact that she never got a penny beyond her salary didn’t matter.

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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