A LIberian immigrant will be sworn in as mayor in Helena, Montana on January 2. He says immigration was not an issue in the campaign.
In the small town of West Frankfort, Illinois, Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco was a familiar and popular figure. The town voted overwhelmingly for Trump. But when immigration police came for Juan Carlos, his neighbors stood up for him, sending letters of support that “raved about Mr. Hernandez, someone most people in this mostly white coal-mining crossroads had not realized had been living here without papers for about 20 years.”
How a Liberian Refugee Got to be a Montana Mayor (NPR, 12/25/17) He ran on local issues: more funding for police and firefighters, and will be sworn in as mayor in January.
“Twenty-three years before Wilmot Collins became the mayor-elect of Helena, Montana, he was himself a refugee from Liberia. He stood in a long line at the port of Monrovia, Liberia, waiting for a cargo vessel to carry him away from the country’s civil war….
“Now a child protection specialist for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and a Navy reservist, Collins lives across the street from the school where he worked as a janitor upon arriving in Montana. When fleeing Liberia, he says he and his wife once had nothing to eat but toothpaste….
“When I was running, I was not running as a refugee, but with what’s been going on nationally with refugees I think it was good to know that all refugees are not what [critics] say they are. We’re not bloodsuckers. We are not just here to consume the resources. We provide for the economy.”
Meeting a Town’s Beloved Resident, Months After Telling His Immigration Story (New York Times, 12/26/17) Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco was jailed in February for being an undocumented immigrant. Support poured in from the small town where he lived – West Frankfort, Illinois. Eventually, he was released on $3,000 bond. While grateful for the letters of support, he is also embarrassed that people told “stories about acts of charity that he had never meant to be public.”
“His next court date has been set for April 19, 2021.
“It is a date he says he thinks about endlessly. He swerves from miserable (if he is deported, his family will remain here) to hopeful (maybe a judge will allow him to stay). On the one hand, he’s counting down to what he sees as the equivalent of an execution date; on the other, he feels he has been granted precious time.”
Volunteers In NYC Show Support For Immigrants At Court Appearances, Appointments (NPR, 12/25/17) Volunteers in New York go to court and immigration appearances with immigrants, offering them moral support and a feeling that they are not alone.
“LOHSE: I’ve been one time when I was with a wife of a guy. Then, the ICE agent came out with a pair of glasses and a wallet. Your husband wants you to have this. They didn’t give a chance for her to say goodbye.
“FERTIG: This type of volunteering is not easy. It’s emotional, and the issues are thorny. “
Immigrants aiming to serve stymied (San Antonio Express-News, 12/26/17)
“The day after Mohanad Albdairi began his enlistment in the Army Reserve, recruiters called him back with bad news: Immigrants, even those here legally, can no longer join the Reserve force.
“Albdairi, 32, an Iraqi immigrant, had served in the New Iraqi Army, formed with the support of the U.S. after occupying the country, then worked as an interpreter for U.S. forces until threats by militants forced him to flee the country.
“He underwent extensive background checks to get his special immigrant visa but was told he’s a security risk who can’t join the Army Reserve….
“I spent three years with the Iraqi Army and five years with the U.S. military,” he said. “It’s in my blood. I want to do something to help this country.”
Fearing Deportation From U.S., Migrants Walk to Canada (NPR, 12/25/17) The U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement says people who cross into Canada at a legal border crossing will be sent back, because the U.S. is a safe refuge. If they cross illegally, they can stay until their claim is decided. For many people, such as Haitians with expiring TPS status, the U.S. no longer seems safe.
“Canadian police tried to stop him and a family of five Nigerians. “This is Canada, right? If you cross the line here, you’ll be arrested for illegal entry,” the officer stated from the Canadian side.
“Do you understand?” The group said it did. They crossed and were arrested….
“On the border, a man from Burundi told an RCMP officer that he can’t return to the African nation. ‘They going to kill us over there,’ he said in a voice raised so that the officer could hear him clearly.”
Nashville pastor hopes God intervenes before Haitian congregants lose immigration status (The Tennesseean, 12/25/17)
“Benjamin, who helps broadcast the East Nashville congregation’s worship services online, lived through the earthquake that ransacked his home country.
“Nearly eight years later it is still hard to talk about as he sat in the balcony of the chapel decorated with poinsettias and Christmas trees on a Sunday in early December.
“It was like a nightmare,” Benjamin said. “I lost a lot of my friends because I was in college and the college was collapsed, and most of them passed or died under the rubble.”
Trump Administration Decries Family-Based Immigration Policy (Voice of America, 12/24/17) The administration is focusing on two recent crimes by immigrants who have been in the United States for decades – and saying that this proves terrorists are using the family visas to come to the U.S.