Immigration News from September 24, 2021

A sweet story to end a bitter week: Kao Kalia Yang is an amazing writer and a Minnesota treasure. Her first children’s book weaves together a bench, neighbors, her children, and friendships across generations and borders. Now that bench goes to St. Paul’s East Side Freedom Library. (Star Tribune)

“Bob Schally and his wife, Ruth, liked to sit on a bench outside their yellow St. Paul home, keeping an eye on neighborhood children skateboarding down the street and watching the seasons change.

“It wasn’t a regular bench. Maroon and plush, it used to be the back seat of an old pickup truck. After his wife of 60 years died, Schally sat on it alone.

“That’s where he was when the little girl who lived across the street came to visit him and give comfort in his grief — a bittersweet moment that inspired her mom, author Kao Kalia Yang , to write the award-winning children’s book “A Map Into the World.” In its pages, Bob, Ruth and their bench are there in vibrant illustrations by Seo Kim.” 

Haitian Migrants

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the migrant encampment in Del Rio has been completely emptied. But that’s not the end of the story. (Vice)

“More than 20,000 Haitians are trekking upward through Central America based on numbers from the Panamanian government, which tracks migrants crossing the Darien Gap. The sliver of land connecting Colombia and Panama is a transit point for migrants heading north and also one of the most deadly, marked by drug traffickers, armed guerrillas, and jaguars….

“​​The Haitian population in South America has grown exponentially since 2010. Thousands fled to Brazil after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. Still more arrived seeking work in advance of the Olympics and the World Cup. Around 143,000 Haitians lived in Brazil as of 2020, according to the Spanish newspaper El País. But work in Brazil became scarce after  those sporting events, and Chile became another top destination, as Haitians could arrive as tourists without a visa. 

That changed with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who imposed strict restrictions on Haitians entering Chile and made it harder for them to obtain legal status. Facing discrimination and racism, many started contemplating migrating once again.” 

The immigration system has been criminalized. The criminal justice system targets Black people—wherever they are, wherever they come from. (Vox)

“[I]nhumane treatment of Black migrants, particularly Haitian migrants, is not new; it’s closely linked to the history of immigrant detention in the United States.

“Haitians have sought asylum at US borders for decades, but every presidential administration since the 1970s has treated Haitians differently than other migrant groups, rejecting asylum claims, holding them longer in detention, and making it harder for them to settle down in safety. In the early 1990s, for example, when the United States detained more than 12,000 Haitian refugees at Guantanamo indefinitely, Immigration and Naturalization Services denied the vast majority of them asylum.”

In Washington, the Haitian tragedies spark political maneuvering. (Washington Post)

“White House officials are scrambling to try to repair the damaged relationships with Black leaders, holding private meetings with them that they hope will smooth relations. Black voters were a cornerstone of the coalition that powered Biden to the Democratic nomination and the White House last year, and they are expected to play a crucial role in next year’s midterm elections. Outrage among Black leaders about Biden reached new highs this week, creating fissures with potentially far-reaching implications. 

“”Biden’s deportations of Black Haitians seeking asylum at the Southern border while images and videos of White Border Patrol agents grabbing and shouting at them went viral drew sharp rebukes from normally supportive Black allies. The official collapse of policing negotiations on Capitol Hill this week also all but extinguished dim hopes of ushering in new laws the year after George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. And lingering uncertainty over the fate of a long-shot push to expand voting rights has created growing anxiety about future elections.”

And in other news

President Biden named David Neal, a former chief immigration judge, to head the immigration court system. (BuzzFeed)

“David Neal, who retired from his position as a chief immigration judge of the Executive Office of Immigration Review in 2019, has now been appointed to lead the agency. His resignation in 2019 came during a time when many immigration judges left EOIR due to concerns about how the Trump administration had reshaped the work the court was doing.”

After nearly five years of litigation, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. issued a five-year injunction telling ICE to stop detaining unaccompanied children who turned 18 and “aged out” of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody. (National Immigrant Justice Center)

“The court pointed to ICE’s ‘pervasive violations‘ of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which requires the agency to prioritize placing children in the ‘least restrictive setting.’ When an unaccompanied immigrant child reached their 18th birthday in ORR custody, ICE would routinely arrest them, handcuff them, and transport them to immigration detention centers across the United States. In its opinion, the court explained that its decision to grant injunctive relief was in part based on ICE’s failure to comply with the court’s orders throughout the life of the case, constituting ‘a pattern of agency recalcitrance and resistance to the fulfillment of its legal duties’.”

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,, 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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