Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, immigrant communities have been among those most impacted. This week, reporting by Prism senior reporter Tina Vasquez uncovered that the lauded immigration attorney entrusted with representing detained migrant children has spent years advocating for a policy that now forces a cruel “binary choice” on parents detained with their children: keep their family together in facilities where a deadly virus is spreading, or send their children away. That policy, known as “Family Separation 2.0,” represents just one of many ways longstanding immigration policy issues have collided with the pandemic to generate new challenges not only for those in detention, but for immigrant communities around the country. In case you missed it, here’s some of Prism’s top immigration coverage.
“At my plant I would say there are an equal amount of men and women working, but it is women raising our voices. The reason is because many of us are the head of households. We take care of the family, we take care of the children, and we are the breadwinners. We have to protect children, we have to protect our family and our community. Many of my coworkers are women with little children. Schools are closed and there is no place for the children to go. With all of this going on, with all of this stress, Mountaire is forcing us to work on Saturdays. We can’t afford to be vulnerable and exposed at work.”
-Luz, a 38-year-old immigrant from Mexico working at Mountaire Farms
“We, the detained people of dormitories A, B, and C at Mesa Verde ICE Detention Facility, are protesting and on hunger strike in solidarity with the detained people at Otay Mesa Detention Center. We begin our protest in memory of our comrades George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, and Tony McDade. Almost all of us have also suffered through our country’s corrupt and racist criminal justice system before being pushed into the hands of ICE,” the statement read in part. The mass protests against police violence had officially reached ICE detention.
“What has been made very apparent to me, especially during the pandemic, is that in times of crisis, the most vulnerable and the most marginalized are left behind,” said Oluchi Omeoga, a national organizer with the Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project. “When COVID started, people scrambled—what are we going to fight for, what are we going to demand from ICE? Queer and trans immigrants were left out of that conversation; Black folks were left out of that conversation, and that’s just the case in these larger movements. It’s really disheartening to hear organizations say they have an intersectional framework, yet when things really heat up and become chaotic, they drop it. We need to embody these things every day, especially during a crisis. We mean it when we say we are trying to get to liberation.”
“Jane Smith,” who prefers to use a pseudonym, was ecstatic when brought on board to work with a top financial magazine on an H-1B from Singapore earlier last year. While H-1B continues to be one of the most popular work permit categories, it is still a legally complex and expensive process for the sponsoring employer. Most journalists and artists know it’s a category largely used by finance and tech companies with more resources. Naturally, Smith, who was hired for a top editorial position, considered herself lucky—until now.
Stick with Prism for more immigration coverage that honors the many identities and communities facing these challenges. See you back here next week.