Lessons from a refugee father and other immigration news – June 20, 2017


Refugee stories are not just fascinating and exciting stories – though they are both. They are life lessons and stories of family and of contribution to the economic and spiritual wealth of this country.  Kao Kalia Yang was born in a refugee camp in 1980 and came to Minnesota with her family in 1987. The award-winning author of The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir, and The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, powerfully describes lessons learned from her refugee father and her own immigrant experience.

My father is not a powerful man: Lessons from my refugee father (MPR, 6/13/17)

“My father’s life gives me the freedom to drive far too fast, speak far too quickly, tread far too heavily across the terrain of memory, of love; getting us from one place to the other, in search of a better life, a better world, a better possibility for understanding the powerless, and the lessons our lives have to teach us about how to better live and love each other, about how to survive despite our lack of power. It does not take powerful men to live powerful lives.”

Supreme Court rules Ashcroft, Mueller cannot be held accountable for post-9/11 immigration detainee claims (CNN, 6/19/17) 80 Muslim, South Asian,, and Arab immigrants, arrested without any individualized reason for suspicion and held in severely restrictive conditions after 9/11, sued for civil rights violations. The Supreme Court said they could not sue unless Congress specifically authorized them to do so.

“Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor of law professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, said the decision “will make it all but impossible for victims of federal constitutional violations to obtain damages in all but the most ordinary of cases.”

“The Court has effectively said that, even where constitutional rights are at issue, whether there should be damages remedies is up to Congress, not the judiciary,” he said.

“Rachel Meeropol, an attorney for the challengers, argued they were mistreated through a policy “crafted at the highest levels of government, to treat harshly Muslim non-citizens of Arab and South Asian descent, based on the false and pernicious assumption that the individuals with those characteristics might have some connection to terrorism….

“Justice Stephen Breyer took the unusual step of reading his dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from the bench. He argued he would have allowed the plaintiffs’ claims to go forward, and he noted the plaintiffs were “shackled,” “slammed against walls” and “verbally abused.”

Supreme Court Rules for Bush Officials in Post-9/11 Suit (New York Times, 6/19/17)

“Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 4-to-2 decision, acknowledged that the way the detainees said they had been treated was appalling. But he said lawsuits seeking money from high-ranking officials were not the right way to address asserted misconduct in the midst of a national security crisis.

“If the facts alleged in the complaint are true, then what happened to respondents in the days following September 11 was tragic,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “Nothing in this opinion should be read to condone the treatment to which they contend they were subjected.”

“The question before the court, however,” he wrote, “is not whether petitioners’ alleged conduct was proper, nor whether it gave decent respect to respondents’ dignity and well-being, nor whether it was in keeping with the idea of the rule of law that must inspire us even in times of crisis.”

Fighting for the Immigrants of Little Pakistan (The New Yorker, 6/26/17 issue) This article tells the long story of the 9/11 defendants whose case went to the Supreme Court – and the thousands of others arrested in the aftermath of 9/11, the “Special Registration” program that targeted East Asian and Arab immigrant men.

“In 2003, the Inspector General of the Justice Department released a report on this group of immigrants, who came to be known as the September 11 Detainees. It supported Razvi’s account: “We believe the FBI should have taken more care to distinguish between aliens who it actually suspected of having a connection to terrorism from those aliens who, while possibly guilty of violating federal immigration law, had no connection to terrorism.” A second report described the mistreatment of detainees at the Metropolitan Detention Center, where “some officers slammed detainees against the wall, twisted their arms and hands in painful ways, stepped on their leg restraint chains, and punished them by keeping them restrained for long periods of time.” Most of the September 11 Detainees were eventually deported for immigration violations.”

That was then. Now a renewed push for deportations under the new administration is hitting New York’s Pakistani community hard. This young man’s family is one of those ordered to leave:

“Mansoor, who is twenty-two, attended a public school for children with special needs, where he received speech, physical, and occupational therapy, and he continues to see specialists at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He can now speak, although it’s not always easy for strangers to understand him. When he was fourteen, he stopped using a feeding tube. By last year, he no longer needed a wheelchair, although his gait remains unsteady. Still, Khan noted, “He cannot do anything himself. If he goes to the bathroom, we help him.” He gestured toward his shoes. “He cannot tie the laces.” His physicians have said that it is essential that the family remain in the U.S., because Mansoor would not be able to receive the necessary treatment in Pakistan.”

Federal prosecutors inaugurate ‘express’ deportations (Miami Herald, 6/19/17)

“Under orders from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a champion of hard-line immigration enforcement, federal prosecutors are asking district judges to issue what are known as “judicial orders of removal,” which ensure that a convicted foreign national will be deported on completion of the sentence instead of being sent to an immigrant detention center to await proceedings in immigration court and then a deportation order from an immigration judge….

“Trump administration officials hope the judicial orders of removal lead to an assembly line of deportations straight from the federal penitentiary and back to the countries from where the foreigners came — a sort of “express deportation” system….

“This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” Sessions said in announcing the new measures…”

OPINION:We can turbocharge our technology industry with immigration reform  (The Hill, 6/19/17)

“Between 2015 and 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of native-born workers who will enter the labor force will barely exceed those who will retire. With net migration expected to account for almost all growth in the U.S. labor force, those immigrants must be carefully chosen to ensure that they will help employers fill key areas of need. And there will be great need, including in the technology industry.

“A 2016 Conference Board analysis points to the STEM occupations as one of three fields that look certain to experience acute labor shortages over the next decade. Positions in short supply but in great demand include information security analysts and data scientists.”

What’s happening with Trump’s immigration laws? The latest on who is safe and who isn’t (Newsweek, 6/18/17) The bottom line: DACA recipients are safe, for now, but the administration is clear that there are no promises for the future.

PRIDE #30: Once a refugee, attorney Luis Mancheno fights for immigrants (NBC, 6/18/17)

“It’s important for people to see that a Latino immigrant refugee gay is doing something good, doing something important for the community, and to really find humanity in my story,” Mancheno told NBC Out….

“Throughout law school, Mancheno represented immigrants in court. In 2013, he worked for the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, where he represented detainees in Arizona. Many of his clients were transgender women “who suffered horrible, absolutely horrible forms of violence,” according to Mancheno.”

UN refugee agency: Record 65.6 million people displaced worldwide (BBC, 6/19/17)

There are 65.6 million displaced people in the world – more people than live in the UK. Of these:

  • 22.5 million are refugees
  • 40.3 million are displaced in their own country
  • 2.8 million are seeking asylum

Where do the refugees come from?

  • Syria: 5.5 million*
  • Afghanistan: 2.5 million
  • South Sudan: 1.4 million

Who is hosting the refugees?

  • Turkey: 2.9 million
  • Pakistan: 1.4 million
  • Lebanon: 1 million
  • Iran: 979,4000
  • Uganda: 940,800
  • Ethiopia: 791,600

*Another 6.3 million Syrians are internally displaced

ICE nabs teenage hours before his senior prom, days before his graduation ceremony (Washington Post, 6/14/17)

“Puma Macancela was supposed to walk in his high school graduation ceremony, scheduled for Saturday. He is now all but certain to miss it and faces imminent deportation to his native country.

“He is petrified,” said Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbors Link, a nonprofit group handling the teenager’s case. “He is scared to death he’s going to be sent back to Ecuador.”

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About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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