In Texas, the conflicts between immigration enforcement and public safety concerns is on display

What’s happening in Texas is part of a larger national debate about how local and state law enforcement policies can affect public safety. SB4 is the first state law seeking to penalize sanctuary cities, but many other similar pieces of legislation are moving through states around the country.

On the other hand, the governor of Illinois signed the Trust Act Monday. The law prevents state and local police from detaining people on the basis of their immigration status and from complying with immigration officers’ requests to detain people. Some people say the Illinois law creates a “sanctuary state,” though many supporters reject that label. The law would ensure good communication with the federal government on immigration, not keep law enforcement agencies apart, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says.

“Illinois has been welcoming of immigrants for a long time, and this bill will continue that tradition,” Rauner said during the signing ceremony. “It also makes clear that stopping violent crime will be law enforcement’s mission rather than working on federal prerogatives that a federal court has found illegal.”

Read on at PRI.org.

“I wish my body could tell the difference…”

I worked with reporter Tiziana Rinaldi on a story that took great courage on the part of the people who spoke with us.

Laura López, a 29-year-old DACA recipient in Provo, Utah, told me about what it’s like to panic. The physicality of it is striking.

Woman outside, with young boy piggy backing“I wish my body could tell the difference between border crossing danger and the feeling of the unknown, even if I’m just sitting at my desk,” she said.

If you’ve ever had an anxiety attack or a panic attack, you’ll understand this story very well. The consequences of long-term stress, in this case caused by long-term immigration status uncertainty, is real. Our immigration system puts a lot of people in this kind of limbo. And mental health experts say, it’s really hard to provide the kind of care these immigrants need.

Read on at PRI.org.

An immigration data workshop at Investigative Reporters and Editors

There are some 320 million people in the US. 43 million of them were born abroad. About 11 million people are undocumented and over 5.1 million children have one or more undocumented parent. 860,000 people have applied for temporary legal status because they were brought to the US without proper documentation as children. Over 500,000 people are waiting for their cases to be heard in immigration courts. Some 270,000 people in the US came as refugees. On any given day, about 40,000 people are in immigration detention.

The numbers surrounding immigration can often be daunting and, sometimes, hard to track down. In this session, we’ll go through some of the most useful data sets available — and talk about some of the data that’s a bit tougher to find. We’ll talk about how to use that data to get leads on local and national stories — and what to do when the government is not providing data about its immigration actions.

IRE logoI’ll be at this year’s IRE conference in Phoenix for a June 24 workshop. Come work through the numbers — each is a person, after all — and find stories with me.

April 6 in Chicago: People-Centered Immigration Storytelling

I led a workshop at the Journalism and Women Symposium in Virginia in October that I think was supposed to be about technology.

But the only tools anyone really needed was some scratch paper and a pen.

Daria Nepriakhina/CC BY 2.0

What I’ve found in developing a social strategy for Public Radio International and for our immigration coverage, Global Nation, is that while many newsrooms and institutions want to develop relationships with the communities they cover, they often end up seeking “likes” and retweets instead. Facebook and Twitter provide particular types of data about their performance and — instead of focusing on their actual goals — they focus on upping the numbers these for-profit platforms give them most easily.

Which brings me back to the scratch paper. The most difficult part of creating a strategy, a process by which you can engage with a wider public, isn’t finding numbers to measure your success. It’s actually knowing what success means for your organization — without depending on what’s on the screen in front of us.

I’m going to give another, more in-depth version of the session I gave last fall at City Bureau in Chicago on April 6. I’ll talk about how we defined success in Global Nation, and how we measure it. And I’ll do my best to help participants scratch out their own goals. If you’re in the area and like this kind of stuff, please join us!

Public Newsroom #13: People-Centered Immigration Storytelling

Hosted by City Bureau, South Side Weekly and Illinois Humanities

Thursday, April 6 at 6 to 8 p.m.
Build Coffee
6100 S Blackstone Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60637

Find out more and let the organizers (and me) know you’re coming.

The US has already tried registering Muslims. It didn’t work.

I reported on a Muslim registry in the US almost 15 years ago, after 9/11. It never occurred to me, once the Bush administration quietly stopped pursuing the program, that I would have an occasion to report on it again.

But here we are. Since this story ran, the Obama administration has taken the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), essentially a profiling program for male non-resident immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, off the books. But it was a program that was implemented by executive order, so if Trump so chooses, it will be easy to begin again. In fact, one of Trump’s immigration advisors was a chief architect of the original program.

I reported this story to help people better understand what “extreme vetting” and “Muslim registry” actually means. Read and listen at PRI.org.

‘Detained because my name was Gonzalez’

Jacinta Gonzalez locked herself to a vehicle on Mar. 19 to block the road to a Trump rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She was arrested with two other protestors, who were released that night. She was held detained overnight at the request of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez is a US citizen. Credit: Diane Ovalle/Mijente
Jacinta Gonzalez locked herself to a vehicle on Mar. 19 to block the road to a Trump rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She was arrested with two other protestors, who were released that night. She was held detained overnight at the request of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez is a US citizen. Credit: Diane Ovalle/Mijente

Gonzalez and the two other protesters were in the booking area together, where they were processed, fingerprinted and patted down. That’s when, she says, two agents called her by name to come up to the counter. Gonzalez says she was the only one in the booking area who was called up. They began asking questions including, “What’s your immigration status?”

Gonzalez replied, “I want an attorney present to answer your questions.”

“Oh, so you’re illegal,” one of the agents replied, she recalls. They asked if she is a citizen. She refused to answer. She had provided her Louisiana drivers license, name and date of birth — enough to check databases and verify her status.

The agents then told her that they were issuing an immigration detainer, which is a request by ICE for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to hold a suspect and turn him or her over to immigration officials once they complete their investigation.

Chris Hegstrom, the director of public information for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, says this was all standard procedure. The ICE agents are stationed at the Fourth Avenue jail and question everyone who comes through, he says.

“If you were arrested today, you would be interviewed by ICE,” Hegstrom says. “If I were arrested, I too would be interviewed by ICE.”

The two other protestors, both white men, told The Republic they were never questioned by the agents nor were they asked about their immigration status.

About 8 p.m., the three protestors were seen by a judge. They were released on their own recognizance and will face misdemeanor charges for obstructing a highway. By late that night, 11 p.m. or midnight, Gonzalez estimates, the jail finished processing them. The two other protestors were released; Gonzalez was kept in jail overnight, in isolation, she says.

Full story at PRI.org.

Supreme Court hears immigration case — and starts with tough questions for lawyers

The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents program, commonly known as DAPA, was scheduled to start in May 2015 and would have granted certain undocumented parents, like Bilbao, temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization. But the program was put on hold by a federal court.

The case was argued April 18 in the Supreme Court. The New York Times reported that lawyers were facing tough questions about their cases from the justices.

“It’s as if the president is defining the policy and the Congress is executing it. That’s just upside down,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said to Obama’s top lawyer.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February has added an extra layer of uncertainty for those awaiting a ruling. A tie, which is now more possible, would let stand an appeals court ruling that blocks the expanded DACA and DAPA program from taking effect.

More at PRI.org.

Detained after being released by a judge

Here’s my latest, about the powers of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement.

Gonzalez and the two other protesters were in the booking area together, where they were processed, fingerprinted and patted down. That’s when, she says, two agents called her by name to come up to the counter. Gonzalez says she was the only one in the booking area who was called up. They began asking questions including, “What’s your immigration status?”

Gonzalez replied, “I want an attorney present to answer your questions.”

“Oh, so you’re illegal,” one of the agents replied, she recalls. They asked if she is a citizen. She refused to answer. She had provided her Louisiana drivers license, name and date of birth — enough to check databases and verify her status.

The agents then told her that they were issuing an immigration detainer, which is a request by ICE for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to hold a suspect and turn him or her over to immigration officials once they complete their investigation.

The whole story is at PRI.

Trump v. The Pope

It’s an unlikely pair to be having a war of words, but GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and Roman Catholic Pope Francis traded sharp statements about immigration and the Mexican border.

After hosting a mass in Ciudad Juárez, on the US-Mexico border, the pope responded to a question about Trump’s position on immigration: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel,” the pope said. Still, he declined to offer advice to Catholics who are voting in this year’s election.

Last week, Trump told Fox Business News that the pope is a “very political person” who doesn’t understand US-Mexico relations. But this week’s papal comment inspired Trump to respond even more forcefully.

Read more at PRI.org.

Scalia: His legacy on immigration not all what you might think

The Supreme Court this term will hear cases on unions, abortion and legislative districts. And they’ll also hear a challenge to Obama’s executive action on immigration, which would affect some 5 million people.

How the Supreme Court will decide those cases may have shifted dramatically with the death over the weekend of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The immigration program the Supreme Court will take up would shield some undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, and their parents, from deportation for three years at a time, and give them authorization to work legally. Arguments in the case, United States v. Texas, are scheduled to begin in April.

So what does Scalia’s death mean for undocumented immigrants?

Read on at PRI.org.