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Documentary Examines COVID-19 Conditions in Georgia Immigrant Jail

Plus: Pandemic increased “hostile rhetoric” toward migrants, and Black immigrant runs for Minnesota State Senate

Deanna Garcia

Dec 04, 2021

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A documentary called “The Facility” directed by journalist Seth Freed Wessler examined the conditions at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center during the first few months of the pandemic. “This is both a specific place and it’s also a story about a system,” Wessler said. “We have a system that is treating asylum seekers and immigrants in a punitive way and is causing really significant suffering.” The film began in March 2020 when detainees began contracting the virus. It also uncovered allegations of women detainees receiving unwanted gynecological procedures six months later. Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a nurse, revealed the facility wasn’t following federal guidelines for the pandemic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

In other national immigration news…

Pandemic Increased “Hostile Rhetoric” Toward Migrants Worldwide, UN Says

The United Nations migration agency said the pandemic appears to have increased “hostile rhetoric” toward migrants throughout the world and “radically altered” mobility. The International Organization for Migration’s World Migration Report 2022 described how traveling and other pandemic restrictions have caused problems for migration worldwide. According to the report, there are about 281 million migrants around the world as of 2020, making up 3.6% of the global population. IOM noted that 60% of those migrants were migrant workers. The Associated Press and The Hill 

Black Immigrant Runs for Minnesota State Senate

Zaynab Mohamed, a community advocate with the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, announced her run for state senator. She’s the first person to announce her candidacy for the seat, which would represent part of south Minneapolis and Richfield. If Mohamed is elected, she would become the first Black woman and youngest woman to join the state Senate. She grew up in south Minneapolis after her family came to the U.S. from Somalia. Mohamed said her presence as a Black immigrant woman in the Senate would push her colleagues to consider how issues will impact all people. Sahan Journal 

California Undocumented Immigrant Students Face Difficulty Receiving Financial Aid

Even though California passed a law in 2001 that allows undocumented immigrants who graduated from a U.S. high school to pay in-state college tuition, immigrant advocates say many students who qualify for the benefits can’t receive them. The application process is hard to follow and requirements are different for each college. San Francisco’s Immigrant Rising is asking for the three state public college systems to align their requirements to make it easier for undocumented students. According to the California Student Aid Commission, only 16,000 individuals received Cali Grants out of 92,000 undocumented students attending state public colleges and universities. Lake County Record-Bee 

Undocumented Immigrants Search for Ways to Fight Trauma

Germán Cadenas, who immigrated from Venezuela at a young age in 2002, became a U.S. citizen after residing in Arizona as an undocumented immigrant for 10 years. He’s currently a psychology professor at Lehigh University and has published research on the psychology of undocumented immigrants. Mental health issues can stem from being belittled, hunted and detained and from feeling dehumanizing by xenophobic rhetoric. Cadenas discovered that when immigrants identify systems that psychologically harm them and engage in social justice to demolish those systems, their efforts become a “coping mechanism that helps protect their mental health” and helps others heal. The Guardian



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