Philip Clay’s suicide in South Korea put a spotlight on deportation of adult adoptees, a tragedy that has been going on for years. Other deportation stories reveal personal tragedies: a Syrian refugee, long-time dairy farmers, parents, U.S. citizen children – and honorably discharged U.S. soldiers. Their stories lead today’s news – followed by some good news immigration stories, citizenship stories, and more.
Deportation a ‘Death Sentence’ to Adoptees After a Lifetime in the U.S. (New York Times, 7/2/17) 29 years after he was adopted into an American family, Philip Clay was deported back to South Korea.
“He could not speak the local language, did not know a single person and did not receive appropriate care for mental health problems, which included bipolar disorder and alcohol and substance abuse.
“On May 21, Mr. Clay ended his life, jumping from the 14th floor of an apartment building north of Seoul. He was 42.
“To advocates of the rights of international adoptees, the suicide was a wrenching reminder of a problem the United States urgently needed to address: adoptees from abroad who never obtained American citizenship. The Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, estimates that 35,000 adult adoptees in the United States may lack citizenship, which was not granted automatically in the adoption process before 2000.”
Editorial: A Syrian activist was a State Department ally. Now the U.S. won’t grant him asylum. (Washington Post, 6/29/17)
“Radwdan Ziadeh embodies the hopes that Syrians had when they first rose up against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He is a secular liberal activist who not only dreams of a Syrian democracy, but also for years did his best to promote one through organizations he founded. A fixture on Washington’s foreign policy circuit, Mr. Ziadeh was a go-to ally for the Obama administration’s State Department when it sought to create an alternative to the Assad regime. He responded by organizing a series of conferences in Turkey that produced a 238-page “Syria Transition Roadmap.”
“Now, inexplicably, Mr. Ziadeh is being threatened with deportation from the United States, where he has lived for the past decade and where his three children were born. In response to his request for asylum, the Arlington office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services found this month that he is, in fact, a refugee deserving protection. Yet it issued a preliminary notice of intent to deny him asylum on grounds that he had “provided material support” to “an undesignated terrorist organization” — namely, members of the same U.S.-backed rebel groups that attended those conferences.”
Trump Administration Targets Parents in New Immigration Crackdown (New York Times, 7/1/17) When unauthorized immigrant parents take care of their kids, they are in line for deportation.
“When unaccompanied children are apprehended at the border — often after having been taken there by smugglers — immigration officials initiate cases for their deportation, a process that can take months or years. In the meantime, many of those children are placed with parents or relatives who crossed earlier to establish a foothold in the United States and earn money to send back home….
“In some cases, parents or other relatives who have taken in undocumented children may face criminal smuggling-related charges and the prospect of prison; in other cases, they will be placed in deportation proceedings along with the children.”
America’s Dairyland and Trump in the Rear View Mirror as Workers Return to Mexico (Wisconsin Public Radio, 6/18/17) After 16 years of work on the Pepin County dairy farm, the Hernandez family and other dairy workers are heading back to Mexico.
“Farm owners Doug and Toni Knoepke watch Hernandez and the other workers from a few feet away as they load their two-truck caravan. It looks like a scene from “The Grapes of Wrath,” Doug Knoepke remarks, referring to the movie about the mass migration from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California in the 1930s.
“Only this time, it is in reverse: The migrants are leaving a land abundant with economic opportunity for an uncertain future in their homeland….
“The Hernandez family is leaving, in part, because of the threat of deportation — which could ban them from returning to the United States for 10 years — and what they describe as increasingly harsh rhetoric by President Donald Trump and others toward immigrants, especially those here illegally.”
Born in the United States, Learning to Live in Mexico (The Intercept, 7/3/17)
“Some of the children’s families were forced back to Mexico because their parents were deported. Others came to Tijuana because of family emergencies or other obligations and got stuck, with undocumented relatives unable to cross back.”
Deporting immigrant soldiers
Discharged. Deported. Why California may cover vets’ legal bid to return (The Mercury News, 7/5/17)
“I think it’s wrong. We risked our lives for Uncle Sam, and then for a little mistake we made in our lives and got in trouble with the police, they deport us right away. They don’t want us,” said de Leon, adding that he became addicted to drugs and sold them to support his habit after his mother died and he couldn’t find a job.
“De Leon, who notes that he was honorably discharged, is not alone. He is one of an estimated several thousand veterans expelled from the United States since 1996, when deportation of immigrants with certain convictions became mandatory, with no judicial discretion. It wasn’t until their deportations, after serving their time in jail or prison, that many of them realized they were not citizens….
“The California Assembly last month approved AB 386, which would direct the state to pay legal fees for certain deported veterans trying to return to the U.S. if they have a California connection — such as having been stationed at a California base, or having children attending school here.”
Why Trump Should Embrace America’s Immigrant Soldiers (The Atlantic, 7/4/17)
“America may never have won its independence if not for soldiers like Polish-born Casimir Pulaski, who brought the insights of a European cavalry officer to the Continental Army; or Prussian-born Friedrich von Steuben, who drilled General George Washington’s forces at Valley Forge; or even John Fitzgerald, who served as Washington’s aide-de-camp over that cold winter, having arrived in the colonies only seven years earlier from Ireland.
“Millions of immigrant soldiers would follow in their footsteps. They include 100,000 U.S. troops who arrived in Europe a century ago to fight the First World War, immigrants who did not become citizens until their naturalization after a victorious return. And they include more than 100,000 men and women from this century who have earned their citizenship through military service since the September 11 attacks.”
And some good news:
Here’s the back story on this Vermonter: Vermont Father With Work Authorization and No Criminal Record May Be Deported (WSHU/NPR, 7/3/17) At his annual check-in, immigration officers said policy had changed: he would be deported.
“Juan De La Cruz met his wife, Kirsten, over 10 years ago. A few years later they were married, and had their first child together. The couple worked several jobs to save money to start a business together, and over the years built a farm business with dozens of sheep, laying hens and pigs.
“Juan is originally from Mexico, so the couple hired a lawyer in 2008 to start the green card process. About $20,000 later, they had no luck on the green card. They were eventually advised that Juan should simply continue to reside in the U.S. on the work authorization permit he’d obtained.”
“The idea came to Polanco during her sophomore year at UNC-Chapel Hill, when she joked with her sister about starting a family food truck. But she also began thinking more broadly about her Latina identity and some of the privileges she had enjoyed going into college….
“Born in California to Salvadoran parents, Polanco never had to worry about being undocumented. But she speaks passionately about how many of her Latinx friends grew up under different circumstances. …
“So Good Pupusas began its scholarship program last year, providing two recipients $1,000 each to use toward school.”
On Cleveland’s Largest Urban Farm, Refugees Gain Language and Job Skills (Civil Eats, 7/5/17) In Cleveland, “men and women from Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burundi, Myanmar, and Somalia learn language and job skills as they work the six-acre Ohio City Farm—one of the largest urban farms in the nation.”
Meet 5 immigrants who became American citizens on July 4 (Vox, 7/5/17)
“Because I’m American I can, first of all actually be a part of the political process, I can vote, just have my voice heard more. I’m definitely going to speak up and help support immigration or immigrants that are here. That’s my story, and I had people that helped me growing up, so I want to try and help others who don’t feel like they have a voice.”
Citizenship course aims to help area residents become Americans (Faribault Daily News, 7/3/17) From Faribault:
“The eight-week course, which takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Thursday at the Faribault Diversity Coalition’s offices in Faribault, aims to teach those eligible people how to become citizens by passing the test and completing the required paperwork.
“Groups of volunteers from Sembrando Poder and the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee will help the class’s participants file the required paperwork free of charge, with the applicant covering the federal filing fee. In addition, the volunteers will work closely with course participants to ace the naturalization test, which, as long time University of Minnesota professor Kathleen Ganley explained is not a slam dunk, even for native English speakers.”
Opinion: The Country I Love (New York Times, 7/4/17) One of six immigrant citizens now serving in Congress tells about spending “more than a dozen years on an alphabet soup of visas — F1, H1B and more — before I finally got my green card through marriage to an American.” She also calls for a more humane immigration policy:
“Restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries, and cracking down on unauthorized immigration in a way that tears families apart and creates an atmosphere of fear, cuts at the very fabric of what really does make America great: the diversity that is our greatest strength.”
Mexican Lawful Immigrants Among the Least Likely to Become U.S. Citizens (Pew Research Center, 6/29/17)
“Among Mexicans, desire is high, but about half cite language, cost barriers.”
And in other news
U.S. denies visas to Gambian school robotics team (Al Jazeera, 7/3/17)
“The Gambian pupils become the second team of students refused entry to the US to attend the FIRST Global robotics event in Washington, DC, on July 16-18. On Saturday, it was reported that an all-girls team from Afghanistan were also denied a visa to travel to the US to showcase their creation at the same competition.”
Immigration symposium: Prelude to a turning point (SCOTUSblog, 6/29/17) Charles Roth, Director of Litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center, summarizes this term’s Supreme Court immigration decisions and previews cases set for the next term.
Opinion: The truth about sanctuary cities (Nevada Independent, 6/29/17)
“It’s not clear that the details matter, however. Take, for example, Laxalt’s protest against California cities that refuse to detain “illegal aliens with violent criminal histories.” It turns out that the City of San Francisco’s “City of Refuge” ordinance actually says that police may detain immigrants with violent criminal histories to facilitate turning them over to ICE. According to his press release, that is exactly what Laxalt wants. In other words, it would be correct to say that Adam Laxalt appears to support a key feature of San Francisco’s policy on immigration.
“The details of San Francisco’s actual policy are a good illustration of why it is so hard to actually define what counts as a sanctuary policy with any kind of legal precision. But lack of policy coherence doesn’t stop politicians from issuing press releases.”
In a small-town Colorado church, an immigrant facing deportation finds sanctuary and friendship (Los Angeles Times, 7/4/17)
“After Sabido received sanctuary June 2, the whole town swung into action.
“In a place like Mancos, things become personal very fast,” said Travis Custer, 30, a local resident who has rallied support for Sabido. “We immediately formed a committee of 10 to 12 people and began discussing ways to get this story out, to show people how broken this immigration system is.”
Immigration hard-liners try to force Trump’s hand on DACA (Dallas Morning News, 7/3/17)
Opinion: The hidden costs in the new immigration bills (CNN, 7/4/17)
“Does it make sense to punish people for not staying away from our country by keeping them in our country? And does the US want to pay for additional years of incarceration for people who could just be returned to their home countries? The fee to cover the average cost of incarceration per federal inmate in 2015 was $31,977.65 (or $87.61 per day).”