Refugees in St. Cloud and other immigration news

 

UniteCloud graphic

UniteCloud graphic – for more information on Monday night panel discussion, go to http://www.unitecloud.org/i-dont-mean-to-offend-you-but/

Jeff Johnson strikes again in St. Cloud – but he doesn’t speak for the city. Johnson plans to introduce his anti-refugee resolution on Monday night. The rest of the city council and Mayor Dave Kleis have already rejected it. Now Republican State Representative Jim Knoblach has also weighed in against the Johnson nonsense.

UniteCloud is sponsoring a forum with a panel of four local Muslims who will speak and answer questions on Monday evening. That should be a more interesting event than Johnson’s presentation to the city council.

And in news to watch for today: November 6 is the date for a decision on TPS for Central Americans and Haitians. 

Could Johnson’s refugee moratorium be enforced? Leaders say no. (St. Cloud Times, 11/3/17)

“Knoblach also called for residents to work together, much like the City Council’s approved resolution in support of a just and welcoming community. That resolution says ‘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.’

“Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their homeland because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on factors including race, religion and political beliefs. Refugees apply for protection and go through a lengthy security screening overseas before they are admitted to the United States.”

‘Offend us.’ Ask local Muslims whatever you want to know (St. Cloud Times, 11/5/17) A panel of local Muslims will speak and answer questions at First United Methodist Church of the St. Cloud Region in Sartell on Monday, November 6, from 6-8:30 p.m.

“UniteCloud is hosting an event to ask those uncomfortable questions. They even say it in the title of the event: “I don’t mean to offend you, but … ” …

“Organizers purposefully asked Muslims from a variety of backgrounds.

“’These four people are not all Somali. There are so many different types of Muslims in this area but for so many people, Somalis are Muslim and any Muslim is Somali,’ Ringsmuth said. “

OPINION: St. Cloud council’s vote reflects GREATER>! Community (St. Cloud Times, 11/4/17)

“I believe opponents of Johnson were in a clear majority. I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement from Kleis and others to show up. All too often, those of us who welcome refugees and other immigrants assume all will be well, and those who disagree with us will not prevail.

“I should know better. Like most columnists, I don’t get much response to what I write, but whenever I say something positive about the diversity in our community — particularly about my Muslim friends — I can predict a salvo of denunciation at the Times website comment page.

“Those whom Johnson was representing are committed and organized and vocal. Those of us who applaud what Goerger did need to be equally committed and organized and vocal.”

More on the diversity visa

How the Diversity Visa Lottery Program Works (NPR, 11/3/17)

“In 1995, Darakshan Raja’s Pakistani parents applied to enter the U.S. through the lottery. Her mother, a professor of English, wanted to pursue her career here. Raja recalls the long list of documents and certifications her parents had to provide: birth certificate copies, entire academic history, government reference letters, family and marriage records, financial statements, multiple English test results and certificates from the police that the applicants don’t have a criminal record.

“And there was something else. At the age of 6, Raja herself was questioned by an American Embassy official in Islamabad. She says she was asked: Do you believe in democracy or do you believe in communism?

“’Now you can imagine at that age? I had no idea what the word meant,’ she recalls.”

The Diversity Visa Winner Who Saved New York From a Terror Attack (The Daily Beast, 11/3/17) Abdel Rahman Mosabbah, a young Egyptian Muslim, came to the United States on a diversity visa back in 1997, before 9/11 happened, before police and the entire country were as alert to terrorism as we have become. Living in a crowded tenement with people he barely knew, he was appalled when a young Palestinian man living in the apartment showed him a bomb and explained his plans to bomb “the B train typically used by Orthodox and Hasidic Jews commuting from Brooklyn.”

“The young Egyptian excused himself to go for a walk. He was petrified. He wanted to warn somebody. But he had only been in the States a few weeks. He had no idea who to call or how to make himself understood. Outside the Atlantic Avenue station, he saw two men in uniform standing near a white car with lights on top and the word ‘police’ on the side. They weren’t the FBI or the NYPD or the Joint Terrorism Task Force or the Marines or the Green Berets. They were a couple of young Long Island Rail Road cops making their rounds. Mosabbah tried to explain what he’d seen. He kept repeating the word ‘bomba’ and making the noise of an explosion.”

Eventually, FBI interpreters were located and he made himself understood. In a dramatic raid on the apartment, two terrorists and their bomb were captured, shortly before they were to detonate it.

“But here’s the question we ought to be asking ourselves today as we look back on that morning when jihadis were stopped in Brooklyn: Would an Abdel Rahman Mosabbah dare go to the police today? Would he go out in the heat of a dark summer night to try desperately to warn the cops of an impending attack when all Muslims, all immigrants, are being treated as suspect? Would he do that when diversity visas—like his visa—are being attacked by the president of the United States as if they they were a terrorist laissez-passer, a virtual license to kill?”

Immigration and Terror (Baltimore Sun, 11/1/17)

“Under the circumstances, the president could have just as easily attacked Home Depot for renting out the pickup truck. That enabled Mr. Saipov’s actions, too. But the real problem isn’t immigration, and it wasn’t a hardware store’s truck rental program. Uzbekistan wasn’t even on Mr. Trump’s list of Muslim-majority countries from which travel should be restricted. Domestic terrorism doesn’t require the perpetrator to be an immigrant — or even to be Muslim, as Stephen Paddock demonstrated when he shot to death 58 people and wounded hundreds more in Las Vegas….

“What does an immigration crackdown accomplish besides boosting Mr. Trump’s popularity among the far-right? Here are some of the possibilities — producing a religious war that inspires further acts of terrorism, denying the U.S. economy the billions of dollars of benefits that a robust immigration policy provides and promoting a world view of the U.S. as a bunch of paranoid nationalists instead of the welcoming immigrant-built and democracy-loving country that the founders intended.”

And in other news

Protected status no longer justified for Central Americans and Haitians in U.S., State Dept. says (Washington Post, 11/3/17)

“On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke to inform her that conditions in Central America and Haiti that had been used to justify the protection no longer necessitate a reprieve for the migrants, some of whom have been allowed to live and work in the United States for 20 years under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS)….

“DHS has until Monday to announce its plans for roughly 57,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans whose TPS protections will expire in early January.

Detained 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy released from custody in Texas (The Guardian, 11/3/17) Though immigration authorities released Rosa Maria, the judge hearing the ACLU motion seemed less than sympathetic:

“That request was was viewed with scepticism on Thursday by district judge Fred Biery, who wrote that the public interest risks being impaired “if the immigration laws are not enforced or enforced only selectively” and asked why the girl’s mother, who is also undocumented, has not been detained as well.

Biery wrote that despite the court’s “great empathy” for the girl and her mother, it would “be helpful if the government would advise the court as to why Felipa De La Cruz has not been apprehended and subject to the same deportation procedures as apparently are underway for RMH. Mother and daughter then could be successfully reunited in their home country.” Sanctuary debate: What should immigration enforcement look like at hospitals? (Christian Science Monitor, 11/3/17)

Medical professionals and attorneys are concerned about a similar chilling effect on community health from arrests around hospitals. If an immigrant avoids seeking medical care, not only could they be putting their own health at risk, but also the health of others, advocates say.

‘What can we do?’: Minneapolis music school Slam Academy reaches out to refugees  (MinnPost, 11/3/17)

“If you can put your culture into music, you can feel more comfortable in any society. When you maybe have some troubles with your language, music is an international thing that people everywhere can relate to. I believe it’s an important thing for refugees everywhere — just to keep creative, keep on being creative for sure.”

Washington County Jail sees increase in immigration holds (Woodbury Bulletin, 11/3/17)

“About 900 inmates were booked into the jail over that two months, Starry said, and 37 of them were men and women arrested for immigration-related charges, making those bookings less than a half percent of the total inmate population.

“Heinen said the jail population was a little lower than usual in September and October — they are generally close to capacity in the 227-bed facility — making it possible to take in more inmates from ICE. However, Heinen also suspects the higher number has something to do with President Donald Trump’s tightened immigration restrictions.”

U.S. sends lesbian refugee back to country where she was raped (Daily Beast, 11/5/17) Scared of all police, unaware of her rights, she lied to CBP officials and said she was not afraid to return to Uganda. When an attorney tried to correct the record and get her a credible fear interview, CBP refused and put her on a plane.

Today, they refuse to reexamine her case –– despite the fact that she has survived beatings, torture, and a ‘corrective’ rape ordered by her own father….

“[Ugandan police] arrested both women, took them to jail, and charged them with immorality. While they were incarcerated, L. and E. couldn’t communicate. The police beat and tortured them. Their parents urged them to beat them, according to L., ‘so that we could get upright, so we would not go back and think about the same act.’…

“When she landed at Dulles on August 25 of this year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials searched her things. They found that she had a ticket for a flight to Seattle, and told her they believed this meant she had lied to obtain her student visa. A CBP officer pulled L. aside for questioning, and she was terrified.
“‘I tried explaining, but I wouldn’t let her know my issues back in Uganda,’ L. said. ‘I had never opened up to any officer or any other person on the experience I had in Uganda. I felt I couldn’t open up to anyone. I wanted to talk to her, but I felt I couldn’t.’”

The First Amendment and Soliciting Crimes of Immigration (Take Care Blog, 11/3/17)

A federal criminal statute makes it a felony to “encourage or induce” a noncitizen “to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.” Is this criminal law void under the First Amendment? A Ninth Circuit panel (Reinhardt, Tashima, Berzon) invited interested parties to weigh in on the question—and they did, filing nine briefs on behalf of a variety of organizations. Nearly all of these amici curiae(friends of the court) encouraged it either to strike the statute from the books on First Amendment grounds, or to adopt various constructions to save it from unconstitutionality….

“Indeed, the government has already successfully prosecuted a woman for ‘encouraging’ her undocumented housekeeper to stay in the United States. The crime? This now-felon told her housekeeper, accurately, that ‘if you leave the [United States] they won’t let you back.’ It does not require a master class in First Amendment law to see why that is deeply troubling.”

Trump wins visas to hire 70 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago (The Hill, 11/4/17)

“The Trump Organization has won the permission to hire 70 foreign workers to serve as maids, cooks and servers for the 2017-2018 tourist season, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department.

“The Palm Beach Post reported Friday that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., won the permission after first applying for the H-2B visas in July. The request was originally filed during Trump’s “Made In America” week at the White House.”

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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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