Weekly Review July 6th-July 9th 

This week, we read about one man’s immigration journey, a senator’s fight to end the deportation of veterans, and a surge in Covid cases at ICE detention centers. 

The Heaviest, Lightest Thing 

Jesús Rodríguez is a writer, law student, and immigrant from Venezuela.   

“The Heaviest, Lightest Thing” is his immigration story—from childhood to now. 

Rodríguez’s story begins with an invitation to The White House. He was invited to meet with then First Lady Michelle Obama. Unfortunately, the Secret Service realized he was undocumented and turned him away. He describes the contradictions and complexities of the immigration system. He also describes how his challenges varied across presidential administrations.  

After telling his entire story, Rodríguez reveals that in a few months, he will have status. He still worries for those who do not. His story is a testament to immigrant resilience in the current immigration system. Read his entire story here. 

“To immigrants, papers are everything. They can also mean nothing. For how often my community gets called ‘undocumented,’ perhaps no one in this country possesses more documents, or clings to them more fiercely to prove their existence than we do,” Rodríguez says.  


Tammy Duckworth on Her Fight to Shield Veterans From Deportation 

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is fighting to end the deportation of undocumented veterans. Senator Duckworth is a veteran Army pilot. She flew combat missions with undocumented service members. 

Senator Duckworth released a report criticizing the deportation of veterans who served honorably. The Biden administration recently announced policy-based plans to support deported veterans. Senator Duckworth agrees but says it is still important to change the law. 

Senator Duckworth tells The New York Times that many Americans do not know about this issue. Department of Defense (DOD) officials did not even know it was worsening until Senator Duckworth told them.  

Helping undocumented and deported veterans is a top priority for Senator Duckworth. Read the full interview here.   

 “During the Trump administration, we had actually had folks who were in Iraq and Afghanistan whose spouse was detained by ICE and deported, and their kids were put into government care. Can you imagine being overseas and finding out your spouse has been picked up by ICE and now your children are being handed over to social services?” 


Virus cases are surging at crowded immigration detention centers in the U.S. 

Coronavirus infections in U.S. immigration detention centers are rising significantly. Since April, the number of detained migrants has almost doubled. Only about 20% have at least one dose of a vaccine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) frequently transfers detainees between facilities. These facilities have insufficient testing and lax safety protocol. This means that detention centers are, once again, becoming a hotspot for the virus. 

ICE states that local officials decide if detainees are a priority for vaccination. The problem is that detention facilities tend to be in remote, under-resourced areas. As a result, some of the worst outbreaks happen in states with low vaccination rates. The delta variant is also a growing cause for concern. 

“You have people coming in and out of the facility, into communities where incomplete vaccination allows these variants to flourish, and then you bring them inside the facilities, and that variant will spread. What you’re describing is the combination of insufficient vaccination plus the evolution of the virus, and that is really scary.” – Sharon Dolovich, law professor and director of the Covid Behind Bars Data Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

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