Trump’s total refugee ban ended today, but the new screening procedures, combined with a 45,000 cap on admissions for this year, pose serious barriers to refugee admissions. The 45,000 cap is the lowest ever, and less than half of last year’s 110,000 limit. The president has complete authority to set the number of refugee admissions, without any judicial review.
The “enhanced” screening procedures will seriously delay processing, which already takes 18-24 months.
Refugees from 11 unnamed countries will have to wait on an additional 90-day review.
Meanwhile, in St. Cloud, the City Council voted to welcome refugees – a solid win for immigrants and allies.
Trump lifts refugee suspension, but 11 more countries face more review (New York Times, 10/24/17)
“Jennifer Higgins, a senior DHS official who works on refugee issues, said the United States will also deploy more officers abroad who are trained in “assessing the credibility and admissibility of applicants,” including a more rigorous criminal background check or “ties to bad actors.” Higgins said the goal would be to develop “tailored lines of questioning for each case.”
Trump allows refugee admissions to resume with new screening (Chicago Tribune, 10/24/17)
“Officials declined to describe the new screening procedures in detail, but they include such measures as collecting additional information to better determine whether refugees are being truthful about their status; stationing fraud detection officers at certain locations overseas; and improving training for adjudicators who process refugee applications.”
U.S. to accept refugees again, with tougher screening for ‘high risk’ applicants (Washington Post, 10/24/17)
“Administration officials said all refugee candidates will now face enhanced security screening that will gather more biometric and personal information, including social media use. The measures will also allow for more diligent information sharing among the U.S. agencies tasked with vetting refugee applicants, officials said.”
Amid talk of refugee ban, City Council backs ‘welcoming’ resolution (St. Cloud Times, 10/23/17)
“Goerger’s resolution states “St. Cloud is welcoming to all residents without regard to age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin, and we renew our commitment to foster a community in which all people have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.” …
“Moorhead and Fargo passed similar resolutions this fall. Moorhead unanimously approved a resolution Sept. 25, and Fargo passed on a 4-1 vote a resolution Oct. 9 that tagged the city as an “inclusive community,” according to The Associated Press. The resolutions were responses to national rallies and hate speech incidents in the area.”
St. Cloud City Council approves ‘welcoming’ resolution (Star Tribune, 10/24/17)
“After one St. Cloud city leader proposed a moratorium on refugee resettlement, the City Council instead passed a resolution Monday to support being a “just and welcoming community.”
“It is more representative of the feelings of the council at large and of the community, and I’m seeing that tonight,” Council Member Jeff Goerger said before loud applause and a standing ovation from some residents in the packed room.”
And in other news
Nearly 74,000 speak at least some Somali in Minnesota (St. Cloud Times, 10/22/17) Estimating the number of people of Somali descent in Minnesota is tough – but a new Census Bureau estimate of Somali speakers helps. Fascinating article details some of the difficulties in counting and gives information on other ethnic groups as well.
“In early 2016, the Minnesota Demographers Office gave an estimate that there are between 40,200 and 52,400 Somalis in Minnesota. That includes people born in Somalia and of Somalia descent. Some from the Somali community put the number as high as 80,000 Somalis living in Minnesota. …
“After Spanish, Somali is the next most common language spoken at home. More than 203,000 Minnesotans speak Spanish. Hmong has nearly 59,000 people.
“About half of the Somalis in the survey — about 37,000 people — said they speak English very well.”
‘We call it the Muslim Ban 3.0’: the young Yale lawyers fighting Trump’s order (The Guardian, 10/23/17) One of the young lawyers in “Dumbledore’s army,” which has challenged travel bans and the DACA order, calls it “a battle for the soul of the country.”
“Their Dumbledore – named for the headmaster of Hogwarts in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels – is Mike Wishnie, a soft-spoken Yale Law School professor who leads an immigration-focused clinic staffed by students….
“The campaign goes on. All less than a decade into practice, the young lawyers have chosen to use their degrees to work at small-budget non-profits. Instrumental in a succession of interim victories against Trump immigration policies, so many Davids fighting the Goliath that is the US Department of Justice, they have been stretched well beyond what they thought were their limits.
In the shadow of Trump’s walls, locals remain unimpressed (The Guardian, 10/24/17)
“The scene feels a bit like the film Jurassic Park: a jovial guide explains how the fence will keep sightseers safe from untold terrors. This fence, though, is designed to keep out people, not unadvisedly resurrected dinosaurs….
“Residents of the impoverished neighbourhood thought little of the efficacy of the new wall samples that jutted above the fence. Guillermina Fernandez, who sells plants from her neat little house abutting the fence, complained that noise from the construction began early in the morning, but was otherwise disinterested. “It doesn’t affect us,” she said in Spanish.”
Immigrants’ Rights Group Sues DHS Over Sanctuary City Docs (Law360, 10/23/17)
“The Immigrant Legal Resource Center said the DHS has failed to hand over documents subject to a FOIA request from the group, detailing the “jail-to-deportation pipeline” between local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the immigrants’ rights group, the documents include information of significant public interest.”
ICE official, sheriff clash over suspected Wine Country arsonist (The Mercury News, 10/1/9/17) Jesus Fabian Gonzalez said he set a fire to keep himself warm. ICE criticized the sheriff’s office for past refusal to keep Gonzalez in custody after his legally mandated release date.
“We don’t know if these fires were arson or caused by another source,” [Sonoma County Sheriff Robert] Giordano said. “There is no indication that Gonzalez had anything to do with these fires and it appears highly unlikely.”…
“Despite ICE’s misleading statement, we will continue to protect and serve our community members with the strength and compassion they deserve,” he continued. “I hope to end this senseless public confrontation with these facts so that I may focus on the fire recovery.”
Army Tightens rules for Immigrants Joining as a Path to Citizenship (NPR, 10/22/17) NPR’s Melissa Block interviewed Margaret Stock, a retired U.S. Army officer, who created a program to recruit skilled immigrants. Stock said, in part:
“I was appalled by this because it’s obvious the military is going to lose a valuable source of recruits. The foreign-born right now are 13.5 percent of the population. And the percentage of the population that’s foreign-born is growing. So if you’re going to say that the military can’t recruit 13.5 percent of the population, you’re restricting military recruiting only to citizens. You’re going to end up with much less quality in terms of language – foreign language skills, cultural skills.” =