SUMMARY - Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here_ The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis - Jonathan Blitzer



Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Illegal immigration from Mexico to the US increased dramatically in the 1970s, overwhelming enforcement agencies. Border Patrol increased crackdowns.

  • Until the 1980 Refugee Act, the US lacked a formal refugee/asylum policy and admitted refugees mainly on an ad hoc basis based on geopolitics rather than law. Significant refugee groups included Hungarians, Cubans, and Vietnamese/Cambodians.

  • The 1980 Refugee Act established the US's first codified refugee policy based on international standards, defining refugees as people outside their homeland unable/unwilling to return due to persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group.

  • It created procedures for refugees to apply for asylum and established the refugee resettlement program still used today. This standardized how the US processed asylum claims and admitted refugees.

    Here is a summary:

  • Juan Romagoza fled torture in El Salvador and went into hiding, moving between safe houses in Usulután province to avoid being found by death squads.

  • With an infected gunshot wound to his foot, he was smuggled out of El Salvador to Mexico by Margarita Ortiz for emergency medical treatment. He spent months recovering in a Mexico City hospital.

  • After staying at a "Usulután embassy" sheltering other Salvadoran refugees, Juan lived and worked precariously in Mexico City, taking various jobs while avoiding detection by police who targeted immigrants.

  • He developed strategies like changing his voice and memorizing Mexican details to pass as a local rather than be deported back to danger in El Salvador, where the civil war continued to rage.

  • At the shelter, the Salvadoran refugees stayed informed about the conflict and supported each other, gathering on weekends to share news and stay connected to their homeland during their exile.

    Here are the key details from the passage:

  • Juan, a Salvadoran refugee, arrived in Los Angeles and found community among other displaced Salvadorans in MacArthur Park.

  • He then decided to travel to San Francisco, where more Salvadorans had settled, especially in the Mission District.

  • For his first two weeks in San Francisco, Juan slept outdoors in Dolores Park with other homeless Salvadoran immigrants.

  • He started organizing the homeless Salvadorans into therapy groups in the park to share their experiences of trauma and displacement.

  • San Francisco had a history of supporting Central American refugees dating back to the 1970s through religious organizations that opposed the Vietnam War and helped Chileans fleeing Pinochet's regime.

  • The local Catholic archbishop, John Quinn, was a vocal opponent of US policy in Latin America and military aid to El Salvador.

  • One day in Dolores Park, a woman from Casa El Salvador (a Central American aid organization) approached Juan and connected him with local support networks.

In summary, the passage describes Juan's journey from LA to SF and his initial experiences finding community and support among other Salvadoran refugees there.

Here is a summary:

  • Eddie Anzora was growing up in LA in the 1990s during the height of the crack epidemic and gang violence. He dabbled in graffiti under the tag "MCP."

  • The neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley where he lived, Langdon Avenue, was experiencing high rates of drug dealing and gang warfare between groups like MS-13, Columbus Boys, and TJ Locos.

  • MS-13 was evolving into a more hardcore gang aligned with the Mexican Mafia prison gang. Members felt pressured to affiliate with larger gangs in prison for protection.

  • LA was taking a strict law enforcement approach to the drug crisis, aggressively targeting minority communities with mandatory minimum drug laws.

  • In 1988, the LAPD carried out a massive raid of over 90 officers on a South Central LA apartment building, arresting 33 Black residents in response to the drug problems afflicting Los Angeles.

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  • In the early 1990s, Doris Meissner proposed reforms to streamline and expedite the asylum process in the US. Her goal was to reduce the large backlog of cases.

  • However, Rahm Emanuel, a top White House adviser, pushed for a more enforcement-focused approach to appeal to critics. He emphasized border security over asylum reforms.

  • In 1993, Border Patrol Chief Silvestre Reyes launched Operation Blockade in El Paso. It flooded the border with agents, increasing apprehensions. This took enforcement focus away from Meissner's proposed asylum reforms.

  • The Clinton administration pursued a mixed approach - increasing both border security through initiatives like Operation Blockade, while also trying to streamline asylum through Meissner's INS reforms, in an attempt to balance different priorities around immigration and border control. But the asylum backlog remained large.

    Here is a summary:

  • Myrna Mack was an anthropologist in Guatemala who studied the issue of internal displacement caused by the country's long civil war. Her work documented human rights abuses.

  • On September 11, 1990, Myrna was murdered in her home by being stabbed 27 times. The official explanation was that it was a robbery and traffic accident, but her sister Helen did not believe it.

  • Helen began her own investigation after slow and erratic police work. A police report had identified the main suspect as an undercover military intelligence agent named Noel de Jesús Beteta Álvarez. But this report was shelved under pressure.

  • Threats and acts of intimidation were common against opponents of the Guatemalan government during the civil war. Helen continued pursuing the case against the military despite facing threats herself.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Cecilia Muñoz was disappointed after a vote on comprehensive immigration reform failed in the US Senate in 2007, as it seemed to signal increased immigration enforcement with no protections in place.

  • She had advised then-Senator Barack Obama on immigration issues during his presidential campaign, taking a reformist approach that criticized harsh enforcement and called for legalization.

  • After Obama was elected, Muñoz was personally recruited by him to join his administration, despite initially turning down roles to focus on her work and family. She ultimately took a senior White House position on immigration.

  • Meanwhile in El Salvador, Juan Romagoza, who had survived torture during the civil war, was volunteering to help build new healthcare clinics as part of President Mauricio Funes' reform agenda after he won elections in 2009 championing improved healthcare access. Juan saw this role as fulfilling a longtime dream.

  • The passage contrasts the advancement of immigration reform efforts under Obama in the US with associated policy changes in El Salvador at the time around healthcare, noting key figures involved on both sides.

    Here is a summary:

  • Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller had long advocated for more restrictive immigration policies. In 2015, Sessions met with Steve Bannon and was convinced Trump could advance their agenda.

  • Miller, a young conservative speechwriter, shared Sessions' views and helped author an anti-immigration memo with him. Miller brought a more inflammatory rhetoric than Sessions.

  • Miller impressed Sessions while working on his Senate staff, learning immigration policy intricately.

  • In 2016, Miller joined the Trump campaign and influenced Trump's immigration speech.

  • After the election, Sessions as Attorney General and Miller as a senior White House adviser achieved their goal of restrictive immigration policies through executive orders rather than legislation. Miller sought maximum control over decisions and exclusion of other agencies like the NSC. His bomb-throwing approach struck others as foolish.

    Here is a summary:

  • José Luis Contreras and Theodore Dale monitored early vote tallies for the 2017 Honduran elections that showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla with a clear lead over incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández.

  • However, the vote counting was abruptly halted with over half the votes tallied. Trucks delivered ballots from rural areas that leaned toward Hernández. When the count resumed, Hernández had taken a narrow lead.

  • International observers objected to irregularities and mistakes in the process, but the electoral tribunal still certified Hernández as the winner. Protests ensued that were met with violence from security forces, killing 22 people.

  • The OAS initially called for new elections but the US backed the tribunal's decision, despite the Honduran government later violating conditions like protecting political opposition that had been tied to US aid. This raised questions about US intervention in the controversial election process.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Keldy Mino was detained in an ICE facility in El Paso, Texas for 6 months while waiting for an asylum hearing. She helped other detained mothers who had been separated from their children by discreetly collecting their names and details.

  • Sister Mary Kay Mahowald, a Franciscan nun, regularly visited the facility and connected with Keldy. She helped gather information about the separated families to get them legal representation.

  • Emily Kephart, an immigrant rights advocate, was trying to locate a 6-year-old Guatemalan girl who had been separated from her father a month prior at the border. With help from a case manager, she confirmed the girl was in a shelter in Chicago.

  • The passage describes rising migration from Guatemala to the US due to drought, irregular rainfall exacerbating problems for subsistence farmers in Guatemala's western highlands.

  • It discusses the detrimental effects of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy on immigrant communities in Guatemala and efforts by advocates and lawyers to track separated families and push for reunification after a class action lawsuit.

    Here is a summary:

  • The passage describes the author meeting Juan for the first time in person in Usulután, El Salvador. They are celebrating a reunion two years in the making after connecting regularly by phone for the author's book project on Juan's experiences during the civil war.

  • Juan warmly greets the author at the bus station. They tour the town, with Juan pointing out landmarks and recounting stories from the civil war era.

  • Juan introduces the author to friends and family. It's clear Juan is well-respected in the community for his medical work and advocacy over the years.

  • Over lunch at Juan's home, they continue catching up. Juan shares more details that enrich the stories he recounted by phone. His wife and daughter also join in conversation.

  • Meeting Juan in person gives the author new insight into his character and life beyond what they discussed remotely. It strengthens their rapport and trust as Juan will continue serving as a guide and source.

    Here are summaries of the references provided:

  • The Lourdes Vides reference cites her 1988 application for naturalization to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, to provide biographical details.

  • The William Stanley reference cites his 1996 book "The Protection Racket State" and page 152, to describe someone having a "ferocious kind of look."

  • The Ross Gelbspan reference also describes someone's demeanor, citing his 1991 book "Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI" on page 48.

  • The Terry L. Karl and Charles Mohr references are cited from an 2014 expert report and a 1983 New York Times article, respectively, to provide information about Salvadoran "tandas" or elite circles/cliques.

  • The second Stanley reference again cites his book on page 153, this time to discuss alliances within the Salvadoran tandona.

  • The final reference mentions a videotaped deposition but provides no further context.

In summary, the references provide biographical sources, describe appearances, and discuss elite Salvadoran political circles, to supply context to events and individuals mentioned in the text. Let me know if you need any part of the summary expanded upon.

Here are the summaries of the note references in the text:

  • Census figures are widely understood to undercount immigrants who are undocumented. This reference cites the general understanding that census figures undercount undocumented immigrants.

  • Terry A. Repak, Waiting on Washington: Central American Workers in the Nation’s Capital (Philadelphia: Temple University Press: 1995), 1. This reference cites a book that claims by the late 1980s, Washington DC's Salvadoran population was the second largest in the country.

  • Robert L. Jackson, “Washington Mayor Imposes Curfew,” Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1991. This reference discusses a Los Angeles Times article about DC Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly imposing a curfew on one or both nights during the Mount Pleasant riots in 1991.

  • Interview with Peter Shields, June 1, 2020. This reference cites an interview that discusses locked file cabinets at CLP.

  • Patrick Scallen, “The Bombs That Drop in El Salvador Explode in Mt. Pleasant” (PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2019). This reference cites a dissertation that claims most Salvadorans who arrived in Washington DC after 1980 settled in Mount Pleasant.

  • Carlos Sanchez, “Salvadorans Fearful of Deportation,” Washington Post, May 26, 1987. This reference discusses a Washington Post article about Salvadorans afraid of deportation.

  • Bernbaum, “La Clínica del Pueblo,” 19. This reference discusses a source mentioning CLP taking on a more dignified and galvanizing name.

  • Bernbaum, “La Clínica del Pueblo,” 23. This reference mentions a source about CLP receiving special funds to hire a part-time nurse.

  • Bernbaum, “La Clínica del Pueblo,” 18. This reference discusses a source about CLP hiring a part-time nurse.

  • Linda Feldmann, “Mt. Pleasant Residents Join Hands to Shake Riots’ Stigma of Violence,” Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 1991. This reference mentions bottles of beer being passed around residents joining hands after the Mt. Pleasant riots.

    Based on the information provided, here are summaries of the notes without directly copying content:

  • A US GAO report from 2018 outlined difficulties agencies faced in reuniting migrant children separated from parents at the border under the zero tolerance policy.

  • A DOJ review of family separation planning discussed treating children over 10 and credible fear interviews conducted remotely.

  • Field notes provided ethnographic context for claims in the narrative, citing news reports, studies, congressional testimony and author interviews on topics like family separation cases, US-Central American migration discussions and internal Biden administration policy debates.

  • A 2018 New York Times article discussed how the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from parents detained and criminally prosecuted under increased border enforcement.

  • Quotes in a note came from a 2022 New Yorker article on El Salvador's leader and a 2023 El Faro article on that country dismantling gangs, but did not include full quote translations.

  • Biographical information was provided on authors who wrote books and articles cited in other notes, related to migrants on trains through Mexico and violence in Central America.

    Here is a 350-word summary of the key details provided:

The texts cover a wide range of topics related to U.S. immigration policy and Central American migration dynamics. Michael McClintock wrote two volumes examining state terror and popular resistance during the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s. Cecilia Menjívar studied Salvadoran immigrant networks in the U.S.

Hiroshi Motomura examined immigration occurring outside standard legal frameworks. Ana Muñiz analyzed how racial boundaries are constructed through policing. Mae Ngai discussed how "illegal aliens" shaped modern America in her book Impossible Subjects. Jeffery Paige linked coffee and the rise of democracy in Central America.

Other works covered topics such as surviving violence in Honduras, fighting to end family detention, disparities in asylum decisions, the U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala, and the transnational MS-13 gang crisis.

E (2016) is about life and death in Central America. The Hollywood Kid (2019) profiles an MS-13 hitman. Notable figures mentioned include Tom Bossert, who pushed for family separations as Trump's homeland security advisor, and Juan Romagoza, a Salvadoran refugee organizer who helped hundreds flee the civil war.

Key immigration-related events referenced include the 1980s sanctuary movement that aided Central American refugees, reforms under Reagan that curbed asylum access, the Obama and Trump administrations' differing stances on border control and refugees, and how policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols impacted asylum seekers. Gaps remain in fully summarizing the extensive details provided across these various works.

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