In January 2017, the week after President Donald Trump ordered his first travel ban, two immigration reporters launched a pop-up newsletter called Migratory Notes. They wanted to give people a way to keep up with rapidly changing policies and a tsunami of coverage.
It was supposed to be temporary. But 16 months later, immigration continues to be one of the country’s most important topics, intensely complex and tremendously consequential to the lives of millions of people.
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They’ve continued to publish their newsletter every Thursday as a guide to help the public, other journalists and those in the immigration field make sense of it all. Here are 10 of the best stories they’ve seen investigating the consequences of the administration’s immigration policies.
The president’s first executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries was a major and sudden policy change that caused massive disruption at airports around the world.
In a five-part radio series, Ira Glass, Zoe Chace and Nancy Updike investigate the impact of this first of many attempts to limit who is admitted into the United States. It includes a devastating meeting in a refugee camp to explain the ban to bewildered would-be immigrants who had already sold belongings and packed their bags.
(This American Life, Feb. 3, 2017)
At a safe house in Buffalo, asylum seekers from around the world prepare to flee the U.S. for Canada. Jake Halpern reports on the growth of a clandestine movement.
(The New Yorker, March 13, 2017)
Border deaths have overwhelmed officials in South Texas, and with increased enforcement expected, the crisis shows few signs of letting up. Manny Fernandez tracked the story behind the uptick in bodies and George Etheredge illustrated this story with a stunning photo spread of found skulls.
(The New York Times, May 4, 2017)
If the border wall could be built, what would it cost? A team of reporters and photojournalists flew and drove every foot of the border to create an expansive multimedia package of aerial video, a podcast and a virtual reality experience for which the crew was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
(USA Today, September 2017)
The front desk clerks at a Motel 6 in Phoenix had been calling ICE on undocumented guests. Antonia Noori Farzan and Joseph Flaherty received a tip, and were able to confirm through court records that at least 20 arrests have taken place at two specific motels since August. The hotel has since been sued multiple times, and says it has stopped the practice.
(Phoenix New Times, Sept. 13, 2017)
Thousands of people are fleeing rampant violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. As they descend on the shelters that once supported economic migrants seeking a better life north, they are transforming them into refugee camps. In a four-part multimedia series, including a searing video animation, a team of bilingual journalists report the devastating stories of the transformation of the Central American migrant saga — and its collision with new Trump policies.
(Univision and El Faro, October 2017)
For many immigrants, being deported means a one-way ticket to the death and destruction they fled to come to the U.S. Sarah Stillman, with a dozen graduate students from Columbia University’s Global Migration Project, found that no government agency tracks the fate of deportees.
They contacted hundreds of organizations, at a time when the government was stepping up enforcement, and found patterns of deaths forewarned and minor infringements with life-threatening consequences.
(The New Yorker, Jan. 15, 2018)
When the Trump administration took the “shackles” off Immigration and Customs Enforcement, freeing officers from previous restrictions, the Philadelphia office went on an arrest spree. Agents ventured outside jails and prisons to arrest immigrants in ways that have raised concerns, even for those inside the immigration system.
Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff investigate why the Philadelphia ICE office ranked first in the country for arrests, even though Pennsylvania ranks 16 for number of undocumented immigrants.
(ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2018)
A teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death. Hannah Dreier creates a gripping and harrowing personal story about the lack of clear communication among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; unfulfilled promises that undermine immigrants’ trust in the system; and the disregard for the safety of migrants who have decided to cooperate with authorities, even if they have have done wrong.
(ProPublica and New York magazine, April 2, 2018)
Hidden Horrors of ‘Zero Tolerance’
In a Brownsville, Texas, courtroom, employees have been shocked by the anguish of parents separated from children and the rate of mass convictions. Debbie Nathan reports on the consequences when even parents fleeing violence to protect their young children are deemed smugglers, or criminals, and how these policies are playing out in one border courtroom.
(The Intercept, May 29, 2018)
Interested in keeping up with immigration news? You can subscribe to Migratory Notes here.
Daniela Gerson and Elizabeth Aguilera are the editors and co-founders of Migratory Notes, and Yana Kunichoff is a staff writer.