Bitter-sweet Valentine’s Day Stories

Broken Heart by Suzanne Schroeder

Broken Heart by Suzanne Schroeder, published under Creative Commons license

I have three immigration stories so share on Valentine’s Day, with a message that love and hope survive despite every hardship. The first is a story of love and marriage, the second a story of food, and the third a story of solidarity.  Continue reading

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Denying Asylum Turns Deadly

2vrqe9ePQUSFPSDs5uptiQOne hundred and thirty-eight people have been killed after being deported from the United States to El Salvador since 2013. The United States sent them back to the country they fled. Then they were killed. Human Rights Watch reported on these 138 deaths:

“We found these cases by combing through press accounts and court files, and by interviewing surviving family members, community members, and officials. There is no official tally, however, and our research suggests that the number of those killed is likely greater.

“Though much harder to identify because they are almost never reported by the press or to authorities, we also identified or investigated over 70 instances in which deportees were subjected to sexual violence, torture, and other harm, usually at the hands of gangs, or who went missing following their return.

“In many of these more than 200 cases, we found a clear link between the killing or harm to the deportee upon return and the reasons they had fled El Salvador in the first place.”

Continue reading

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Good News, Bad News: Immigration Stories

statue-of-liberty-landmark-close-new-york.jpgBad news about immigration can crowd out the good news stories of people who have immigrated here, made lives for themselves and their families, and contribute every day to their communities. Their stories show what we as a nation stand to gain from immigration—and what we lose when the gates swing shut. Here are seven good news and bad news stories. Continue reading

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Public Charge Changes: Far Beyond Food Stamps

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The new public charge regulation penalizes people who have received a range of public benefits, but its focus on barring permanently barring poor immigrants goes far beyond that. The rule targets a grandmother planning to live with her daughter and son-in-law and help care for their children. The rule targets a bright, ambitious immigrant without a college education, who is still ready to do any kind of work to make a better life for their children. In short, the rule targets family reunification and immigrants who have helped to build this country and whose energy and contributions we still need. 

News accounts describe the rule as denying visas to people who have received food stamps, Medicaid, and three federal housing programs. That’s the fear-inspiring part of the provision, clearly intended to scare legal immigrants and citizens away from these and any other public benefits to which they are entitled. Fear is the point, and it is working. The proposed rule was announced almost two years ago, and hundreds of thousands of immigrants pulled themselves and their children out of public programs for fear that noncitizen parents and other family members could be denied the more secure status of legal permanent resident.”

And yet the actual number of people who could be affected by the public benefit portion of the regulation is small compared to the number affected by the rest of the rule. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network describes these provisions: Continue reading

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Banning Africa

Throw the Bum Out

Three years after the first Muslim ban, Trump has done it again. This time he banned all immigration from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar/Burma, and Krgyzstan, and banned diversity visas for Sudan and Tanzania. Immigration bans now cover about a quarter of the entire population of Africa, including Nigeria, the continent’s largest country. Like the first Muslim ban, this ban also targets countries with large Muslim populations.

This ban is not about security: no nationals of these countries has launched attacks in the United States. This ban is not about stopping people from overstaying visitor or student visas: those visas are still allowed. This ban aims to stop family reunification and legal immigration. Continue reading

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Immigration Court: Where Politicians Give Orders to Judges 


Judges should be independent and impartial, right? That’s kind of Civics 101. The governor can’t tell a judge to find you guilty of murder—or to acquit you. The mayor can’t tell a judge to find you guilty of speeding. The lawyer who prosecutes cases cannot tell a judge how to decide. Judicial independence is so important that the Constitution says federal judges hold office for life, unless removed for bad behavior. 

None of that applies to immigration judges and courts. Immigration courts come under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, who appoints and removes immigration judges. The Attorney General is also the chief prosecutor and chief law enforcement officer in immigration cases. Under this administration, immigration judges have been ordered to speed up processing and to deny asylum. Continue reading

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Unsafe Third Countries


The Trump administration won’t let asylum seekers into the United States. Tens of thousands wait for their next U.S. immigration court dates in danger and squalor in Mexico. Under the Remain in Mexico (Migrant Protection Protocol) policy, they are allowed into the United States for each court hearing and then taken back to Mexico until the next hearing.

Now the Trump administration has begun sending plane-loads of asylum seekers to Guatemala. They plan to send more to Honduras, beginning this week. Under international law, they can’t send asylum seekers back to the countries that they fled, so they are shipping Hondurans and Salvadorans to Guatemala. They plan to send asylum seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador, México, Brazil and Nicaragua to Honduras.

The game of musical chairs that sends Mexican asylum seekers to Honduras and Honduran asylum seekers to Guatemala, and so on, is a cynical and heartless circumvention of international and U.S. law. Continue reading

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