New Latino Voice Tracking Poll: Clinton 75%, Trump 13%, Other 12%

The latest New Latino Voice (NLV) online tracking poll from Florida International University and Hispanic mobile advertising company Adsmovil has Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump by more than 60 points with Latino voters.

This current poll, which ran from August 8–August 15, shows Clinton with 75% support, Trump with 13% and Other with 12%. Clinton’s lead has been holding steady at more than 50 points over a span of 19 consecutive weeks. (Click here for previous poll.)

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When the poll focuses just on the swing state of Florida, Clinton still maintains a similar lead.

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The issue of security rose and peaked as a principal issue over the month of June, before it began to decline in August. On the other hand, immigration continues to be the biggest issue facing the U.S., according to the almost 2,000 Latinos who participated in the poll.

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When asked about this week’s results, FIU professor Eduardo Gamarra told Latino USA the following:

“This is the 19th consecutive week of polling and the data continue to show remarkable consistency week to week. Mrs. Clinton appears to have an ironclad grip on Latinos as she has been above 70% since mid May and nothing appears to even nudge her numbers. In contrast, Mr. Trump has dropped down again below 13% nationally. He is unlikely to have any impact on our Latino numbers in the near future and if you examine the past 18 weeks, it is unlikely that he will manage to recover even his highest score of 17.3%.

Our poll can lead us to speculate only that older Latinos are drawn in greater proportion to Trump and to third party candidates. This week, older Latinos appear to be more drawn to candidates other than Trump. Overall, as we noted three weeks ago, these numbers in Florida spell serious trouble for Donald Trump especially if voter turnout is high among Latinos. Voter registration figures for Latinos in Central Florida are raising eyebrows as in some counties they are far outpacing all other voters.

You can read the poll’s full findings below:

The Most Important Report You Need to Read About the Central American Migrant Crisis

A new “Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration” report released Thursday by the International Crisis Group offers an updated and contemporary view of how deportation enforcement policies both in the United States and Mexico have done very little to stop Central America’s growing humanitarian crisis.

The 39-page-report (below) starts off with the following executive summary:

Massive deportations from Mexico and the U.S. have failed to stem the tide of Central Americans fleeing endemic poverty combined with epidemic violence. Stepped up enforcement has diverted undocumented migration into more costly, circuitous and dangerous channels. Criminal gangs and the corrupt officials who enable them are the beneficiaries of a policy that forces desperate people to pay increasing sums to avoid detention, extortion or kidnapping. Beefed-up border control inadvertently fuels human smuggling and fortifies criminal gangs that increasingly control that industry. Governments must guarantee those fleeing violence the opportunity to seek asylum through fair, efficient procedures, while launching a major regional effort to provide security and economic opportunity in home countries. Central American leaders, especially in the northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, must in turn address chronic insecurity more effectively while monitoring and assisting those deported, especially children and adolescents, so they have an option other than fleeing again.

The report also lists 16 recommendations directed to the governments of Mexico, the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Here are just a few of the recommendations:

To the government of Mexico: “Offer ‘Visitor for Humanitarian Reasons’ status, commonly known as humanitarian visas, to applicants for asylum, allowing them to accept formal employment and move freely within the country.”

To the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador: “Expand prosecutorial capacity in Guatemala to investigate human trafficking for sexual exploitation, especially in border areas; and work with shelters and human rights groups to encourage Central American victims of trafficking networks to report abuse.:

To the government of the U.S.: “Step up and expand in-country processing for refugee status or humanitarian parole of Central Americans with protection needs, particularly minors; explore accelerating the asylum process; and give adequate shelter to those awaiting decisions.”

Earlier this week, both the White House and the State Department announced the Government of Costa Rica has established “a protection transfer arrangement (PTA) with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help address this regional migration challenge.” Collaboration with the UNHCR and the IOM are also recommendations from the International Crisis Group report.

You can read the entire report here:

Detained, Deceived, and Deported: Experiences of Recently Deported Central American Families

A new report released Wednesday by the American Immigration Council presents testimonies of eight Central American women and their families who have been deported to their respective countries of origin after being detained in the United States. Entitled “Detained, Deceived, and Deported: Experiences of Recently Deported Central American Families,” co-authors Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D. and Tory Johnson describe “how women are living in hiding, fear for their own and their children’s lives, have minimal protection options, and suffer the consequences of state weakness and inability to ensure their safety in the Northern Triangle.”

Each of the eight women interviewed share their stories: from the time they decided to come to the United States with their children to how they were detained and subsequently deported. They also explain a part of this narrative very few people are focusing on: life after deportation. Here are just some of the quotes from the testimonials (click on this link to read all the testimonials):

People [in the United States] hear things about Central Americans and they think that we come here to start trouble or to bring that delinquency here and it’s not true. We come [to the United States] to protect our families and to overcome the obstacles to have a better life. I truly hope that some kind of legal option can become available to help people who are trying to get away from threats and violence, like my family. Because we need it now more than ever. Rosa, a 36-year-old woman from Honduras

I don’t have the protection of anyone and it’s very scary. It’s extremely hard for me to be here, without the protection of my husband, without protection of my family or anyone. There are a lot of gang members here everywhere on the corners of my neighborhood…I’m always afraid that I might run into one of them and they’re going to hurt me. For now I just ask God to help me. At night I make sure that I lock the door before it gets dark and I stay inside with the kids. Gabriela, a 27-year-old woman from El Salvador

I have been hiding ever since I got back. The fact is I can’t go back anymore to live in my mom’s house because she said they have been threatening my family. I can’t go back there because if I go back there my whole family is in danger, especially my kids. My husband actually left Guatemala because he was being threatened so much, and he is now in the United States. Before I was in the detention center, they threatened my family and they were threatening us. So we couldn’t go back [to that neighborhood] now that we were deported; I have to struggle to keep my kids safe. Andrea, a 26-year-old woman from Guatemala

The report concludes by saying that “the rushed removal of asylum-seeking families raises concerns about the potential harms that these mothers and children are likely to be exposed to after their deportation. With no support available upon return, these individuals have limited chances of living a normal, safe, and healthy life.”

You can read the entire report below:

Preparing for Our Climate Future

While it’s hard to track exactly how many people have left their homes for reasons relating to climate change specifically, climate scientists do know that natural disasters and ecological changes displace three times as many people in the world than human factors like war and violence. And as climate change slowly reveals what its effects on the Earth will be, there’s good reason to believe that in the decades to come more and more people will migrate from their homes once their environments have become unsustainable. Dr. Koko Warner, who has studied climate change and its effects on migration at the United Nations, talks about what we should expect in the future and how we can best prepare for a growing world on the move.

Featured Image: 2016 Earth Day at the United Nations (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Qatar: A Nation of Immigrants

The tiny Arab country of Qatar has the world’s highest percentage of immigrants—around 90% of the roughly 2.5 million people there come from somewhere else, many of them there to build new infrastructure in time for the 2022 World Cup. This wasn’t always true, though. Thanks to rich oil reserves, in the last few decades Qatar’s only city of Doha has grown from a small desert community to a booming, luxury-soaked metropolis in constant demand for immigrant labor. Eileen B. Byrne spent some time in Doha, a temporary migrant herself working as a journalist, and she asked a number of people of different nationalities how they understood the dynamics of a country where citizens are vastly outnumbered by migrants.

Featured Image: Eileen B. Byrne

For One West African Migrant, a Mexican Dream

For the thousands of Central American migrants who cross Mexico en route to the United States every year, the town of Tapachula, half an hour from the Guatemala border, is a dangerous no man’s land of abusive officials and violent gangs. But an increasing number of migrants from all over the world are finding temporary haven here, and the town is becoming a global crossroads, if an unglamorous one. Down 8th Avenue, restaurants serve home-style curries and migrants stroll the sidewalks in traditional clothing, and a multitude of languages can be heard in the courtyard of a local hotel.

Manuel Ureste -Outside travel agency (Manuel)
Image: Manuel Ureste

These migrants haven’t reached their destination yet, but after a perilous trek the length of the continent, Tapachula is a welcome rest stop. And though the city remains dangerous for locals and migrants alike, a few have even decided to call it home.

This story was produced in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists. Manuel Ureste contributed to the reporting.

Featured Image: Manuel Ureste

Redefining Statistics and My Dreams: A Personal Essay from a Second-Generation Latina Immigrant

On the first day of Kindergarten, I remember how she held my hand. I remember how, before she kissed me goodbye, my mother whispered into my ear, “tienes que ser la mejor,” you have to be the best.

I was born into a family of hardworking immigrants in a city only an hour away from the U.S.–Mexico border. Worried about the quality of education in the low-income neighborhood that we lived in, my parents toured schools until they found one that satisfied their expectations. Like many immigrants, they dreamt of a life full of opportunity for me and my younger brother, making our education their priority. I knew from my father’s dust-covered hands and my mother’s warm and tired smile that nothing would make them happier than to see us succeed. While it is unlikely that my mother remembers whispering those words into my ear, they followed me as I grew up. In a way, her words gave me the courage to learn how to take on the world without her by my side.

When I was 15 years old, my parents’ visas expired. Confident that it would be an easy renewal and that the process would allow them to come back to the United States, my parents left me with my younger brother for what should have only been a short time. However, a week turned into a month, and that month, into years. I saw my brother leave everything behind: his school, his friends and his life. He crossed borders indefinitely to join our parents in a different country.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when my parents’ visas were denied not once, but twice. Instead, I was stunned. I never thought that my smart and amazing eight-year-old brother would not be able to finish his school year or that I would never get to enjoy my mother’s comforting enchiladas after a soccer game.

Yet the thought of leaving my country, a country that many believe that I do not belong in, was one that I could not bear to imagine.

I spent the next few years learning how to adapt quickly and prudently in different environments, moving a total of four different times, thanks to the generosity of neighbors, school administrators and the strangers who took me in. My school, concerned about my well-being, enrolled me in a dropout prevention program for homeless youth, tiptoeing around me as if I could break at any moment.

Gently, I was encouraged to go back to my family.

Gently, I was told that my life would be better if I just went back to Mexico.

In hindsight, I understand why my situation was treated with such caution. Among second-generation immigrants of Hispanic descent, only about 20% ever make it to post-secondary school and only half of those between the ages of 25 and 35 have a high school diploma. In addition, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are more than 4 million U.S.-born children of undocumented parents, thousands of whom are facing the consequences of family separation due to broken immigration law.

Here I was: alone, homeless, a result of Congress’s refusal to engage in immigration reform. All those factors increased my chances of dropping out by 87%. That, in conjunction with everything else, left me surrounded by a pool of frightening statistics.

However, those statistics just lead to a series of unfortunate misconceptions. For one, they fail to take into account the extreme sacrifices made by immigrant families. They erase my parents’ resisting their decision to let me go, unsure of my future, and how they held my younger brother as he crumbled and watched me wave him goodbye from the other side of steel grates. They fail to take into account how, for millions of first- and second-generation immigrants, these statistics create a subconscious prejudice that deters institutions from seeing the full potential of the students who walk through their doors. In the case of my brother and so many others, they fail to convey that going back means going somewhere that was never home.

For children and teens who have feared and anticipated the separation of their family for their whole lives, it is easy to internalize these misconceptions as reality. As the months progressed, I first fell into that trap. I saw my academic achievements dismissed, and I was encouraged to quit extracurricular activities that I saw as integral to my education and identity.

It was then where I pushed forward. Stubbornly, I ignored the advice to take easier classes and lower my horizons. Instead, I found support in teachers that refused to coddle me. I cherished the few programs that sought out talent among low-income Arizona school districts and used them to help me navigate the complex college application process, where I eventually applied to more than 14 different out-of-state private and public universities.

I learned how to interpret what it meant to have a certain SAT score.

I learned what it meant to receive a certain-sized letter.

I learned how to explain to my father what it meant to be valedictorian and what it meant to get accepted into an Ivy League school.

“Ivy League? You mean I believe?”

Living without my family propelled me to discover the true meaning of tenacity. Still, I am resentful that my hard-working parents couldn’t be here to support and raise me. I am resentful that my brother, an American citizen, had to readjust to a Spanish-speaking school and that at such a young age, the English language that gifted me with bilingualism is slipping through his fingers.

When I graduated high school at the top of  my class, my family was not there to cheer me on, and it is unlikely that they will be there when I graduate from college. However, these challenges inspired me to pursue the education that they worked so tirelessly for me to have. And while I still question whether sacrificing my family was worth it, I know that the tumultuous events that filled my adolescence —the uncertainty of where I would next live, or of when I would be able to see my parents— transformed me into a strong and independent individual.

The politics behind immigration, the gridlock, the lack of reform and the unfulfilled promises, have led to the raids and targeted deportation and separation of thousands of unthreatening immigrant families. We face prejudice and bigotry on behalf of presidential candidates claiming that we are everything but the best while it is those same types of individuals that continue to exploit our people. Under these circumstances, we cannot afford to wait idly for substantive change to occur.

We cannot afford to be submissive. We cannot let our children face disadvantages simply because they are subjected to unconscious biases and misconceptions.

Instead, we must whisper into the ears of every child, as they run into their first day of school, and encourage them to be the best in a country that flourishes when different voices come together. We must remind them, and remind ourselves, of the power in our voices and the potential that we hold.

The system is broken, but we must find every opportunity to make sure that we let America know that we belong here, that we are here to stay and that we will succeed together.

Number of Latinos Moving to Immigrant ‘Hostile States’ Decreased, New Study Says

A new University of Washington/Dartmouth College study published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers concluded that “hostile states” with restrictive immigration laws witnessed a decrease of Latinos moving to those states from 2008–2010.

Dartmouth’s news release about the study stated that researchers wanted to examine “the effects of state-scale immigration enforcement on internal Latino migration pattern,” using 2000 U.S. Census data and the 2005-2010 American Community Surveys. Referring to classifications from earlier research, this new Washington/Dartmouth study categorized “states into two groups: ‘hostile states,’ which have enacted laws that are restrictive in some way (i.e. Ariz., Ark., Colo., Conn., Fla., Ga., Md., Miss., Mo., N.C., Nev., Okla., Ore., S.C., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Va.) and all others (‘non-hostile states’).”

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These were the study’s major findings:

Between 1995 to 2000, the states that were yet to pass laws making life difficult for unauthorized migrants, attracted Latinos disproportionately. In the 1995-2000 period, nascent hostile states experienced a net gain of 47 for every 100 naturalized and non-citizen Latinos, as compared to U.S. born whites during that time, who had a net gain of 20 people per 100 movers in and out of future hostile states.

For the 2005-2007 period, at the onset of the Great Recession, population change due to migration dropped a bit for all four groups but still remained relatively robust.

During the 2008-2010 period when hostile state policies were now in effect, migration redistribution for both U.S.-born and naturalized Latinos fell dramatically to levels close to those of U.S.-born whites. Most notably, in 2008-2010, the redistribution effect of non-citizen Latinos to hostile states came to a halt. Non-citizen Latinos were opting not to move to states that had restrictionist policies in place.

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Examples of restrictionist immigration policies included “universal employment verification” and “mandatory legal status checks for state licensing services.” The study also included examples such as Arizona’s SB 1070 law, whose key provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012.

“Like almost all immigration legislation, these state-scale statutes have had intended and unintended consequences.” said study co-author, Richard Wright, professor of geography at Dartmouth. “They have reduced the attractiveness of these states to the unauthorized, but they have had a serious dampening effect on the migration patterns of Latinos with rights associated with citizenship.”

Rushing to Become Citizens After Anti-Immigrant Talk

All these ads and speeches from presidential candidates warning against “illegal” immigrants haven’t just fired up conservatives. They’re also motivating immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship so that they can vote in this election. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 8.8 million immigrants living in the U.S. are eligible to become citizens. A coalition of immigrant rights groups, led by Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), is working to naturalize one million people in time to vote in November.

Featured image via Alexandra Hall

Child Migrants Fight in Immigration Courts to Stay in US

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Civic Ideas on February 17, 2016, and is the first in a two-part series. We would like to acknowledge Latin America News Dispatch for sending this story our way.

NEW YORK — Congregating on benches in a downtown Manhattan courtroom, children and their guardians listen to a young woman who stands in front of them talking in Spanish. The speaker, Marielos Ramos, is not a judge.

Wielding a dry erase board, several enlarged legal documents mounted on poster board and wry humor, she identifies the legal rights and resources that could help the children to stay in the United States.

“With a good lawyer, you will be able to tell the judge, ‘Yes, he wasn’t born here, he doesn’t have permission to be here now, but he is eligible to get permission,'” Ramos, a child migration counselor with Catholic Charities, explains to the group. “And with this permission, the child can stay here legally and his case can be closed. But you can’t get to this point without a lawyer.”

According to records obtained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), 52,942 unaccompanied child migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were placed in deportation proceedings in the United States from October 2013 through September 2014. Thousands of these children ended up in New York.

In September 2014, the New York City Council, the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust allocated $1.9 million to fund a coalition of organizations to provide migrant youth with legal services and training sessions to learn their rights. Many of the young migrants qualify for asylum or special visas that would allow them to stay here, but it’s nearly impossible to access these forms of relief from deportation without legal representation.

These children and adolescents were among the surge of migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014. Most were trying to reunite with family in the United States or to flee violence in their countries from a combination of gang activity, police crackdowns and vigilante justice.

Unaccompanied child migrants from countries that do not border the United States are protected from immediate deportation by federal law, the 2008 Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act. Instead, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is required to turn youth over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within 72 hours. The ORR then settles them with sponsors or in shelters throughout the country as they await their immigration hearings.

While the law slows down the process of deportation, young migrants still face a race against time to find lawyers before their hearings. TRAC indicates that more than 50 percent of youth placed in deportation proceedings since Oct. 1, 2013, lost this race, going unrepresented.

Ramos’ presentation is part of the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians of Unaccompanied Alien Children launched by the EOIR in 2010. Catholic Charities is one of several organizations in New York that received a mix of public and private funding to provide training to children and their guardians about immigration court and acquiring free or low-cost legal representation for their deportation cases.

“When kids aren’t given lawyers, not surprisingly, their rights aren’t fully protected,” said Brett Stark, co-founder of Terra Firma, a medical-legal partnership program that focuses on immigrant youth in New York. According to the TRAC database, a child migrant without a legal expert in her corner only has a 10 percent chance of winning relief from deportation. With a lawyer, her odds jump to 80 percent.

In response to inquiries about the issue of unrepresented child migrants, Kathryn Mattingly, assistant press secretary for the EOIR, said over email that judges often ask minors and their sponsors during the first hearing if they would like more time to find legal representation. She added that they provide them with a list of pro-bono attorneys who might be able to help them.

The children and guardians attending Ramos’s courtroom presentation commuted from all over New York City and Long Island that day to attend their initial deportation hearings. Most of the defendants —the youngest of whom was 4 years old— had been in the country for a matter of weeks. Hardly any of the families had found an attorney, but the judge did issue them a second hearing date to give them more time.

Ramos said that fear of attending the first hearing without representation convinces some families to stay home. In her orientation, she said that this creates problems with the judges. She laid out for the group what would be likely to happen: “The boy or girl did not show up: order of deportation. When they find them, they’ll send them home.”

The TRAC database demonstrates that one fifth of the Central American migrants under the age of 18 were issued removal orders to their home countries between October 2013 and September 2014. Ninety percent of them had no lawyer to represent them.

For the youth deported in absentia, Mattingly says that the removals are justified. When a young migrant fails to show up to a hearing, they may be deported “in absentia if the immigration judge was satisfied that the respondent had notice of the time and place of their hearing, and that the Department of Homeland Security proved its case of the respondent’s removability,” said Mattingly.

This is why Ramos said that in New York, organizations working with unaccompanied migrants encourage them —increasingly with outreach phone calls before their hearings— to show up at the courthouse. Once there, they can usually meet legal experts from organizations such as The Door or Catholic Charities for an initial case screening. This is generally the first step to finding attorneys to represent them.

Most young migrants who obtain representation and secure legal status work with a lawyer to file for asylum or apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Some have strong cases for both while others are clear candidates for one or the other.

For youth who left their countries to escape violence and are filing for asylum, the Department of Justice requires that they demonstrate “past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” according to a 1987 Supreme Court precedent.

Jaya Ramji-Nogales, co-director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy at Temple University, said that persecution can be hard to prove if an applicant left her country before threats of violence were acted upon. “If someone’s been harmed by the gangs, before they came to the United States, they’re really much more likely to be granted asylum than people who are fleeing without getting hurt, sadly,” said Ramji-Nogales.

Stark is critical of the limitations surrounding asylum eligibility. “There’s still a gap, chasm, a divide between the reality of fearing for your life, and a lack of a bridge, in some cases, to an existing area of support under asylum law,” he said. He felt that this partially defeated its purpose, saying that “the idea of refugee law is not to protect as few people as possible; it’s to protect as many as we can who need help.”

If a young migrant can show that he has been neglected, abused or abandoned by a parent, he may apply for SIJS. Rather than going through a regional asylum office and facing a prosecutor, the SIJS process is partly handled in family court. Stark said that this is better for some youth because family courts “are naturally much more child friendly, and much more — at least by law and by design — open to hearing testimony about the home.” This gives young migrants the chance to provide more context about their lives that will be deemed relevant to their cases for remaining in the country.

While SIJS is generally a faster way to obtain permanent residency, known as a green card, it also has its limitations. Ramos explained to the group at the courthouse that a child who obtains legal status under this process will never be able to petition for a visa for a parent in order to help them get their own green card.

Ramos said that young migrants arriving in New York are lucky compared with their peers who end up in states with fewer resources for their particular needs. “At least New York has this system that we have a project that’s actually working with kids,” she said. “But then we have other places where they’re going… and there’s nothing there.” These are the kids who are most in danger of missing their hearings and receiving orders of deportation.

“The system just really needs more resources to take care of these kids adequately,” Ramji-Nogales said. “We’ve put so many resources into securing the border and just not sufficient resources into making sure we can have an adequate process for these folks.”