Barring a five-year-old with cancer and other immigration stories – December 28, 2017


Ifo hospital in Dadaab

Ifo Hospital at Dadaab refugee camp. Photo by GlobalHealthCrisis, published under Creative Commons license

Nimo is five years old. She has kidney cancer. She is a refugee, born in Kenya’s sprawling Dadaab refugee camp to parents who fled Somalia in 1992. Because her parents are from Somalia, she is barred from the United States – her only hope for life-saving medical treatment. “If she doesn’t get resettled, she’ll die,” one of her doctors, Aden Hassan Abdi, the clinical service coordinator with the Islamic Relief aid group, told the Washington Post. 


She would not be the first, say doctors who see the deadly consequences of Trump’s refugee policy for children with emergency medical needs. 

Trump’s new suspension of refugees leaves some at risk of dying, doctors say (Washington Post, 12/26/17)

“There are now 11 countries facing a broad suspension from the U.S. refugee program. Even people with potentially deadly — yet treatable — illnesses are being blocked. Some refugees with severe medical conditions have already died while waiting for the admissions to resume, advocates say….

“Last month, one of the children who had been waiting for his flight to America — a 3-year-old boy with a treatable congenital heart condition — died, Abdi said. More than 50 other cases have been designated as life-threatening.

“For so many of them, without resettlement, it’s a death sentence,” Abdi said. “Trump’s policy is like a bomb that exploded here.”

The 5 most important immigration stories of 2017 (MinnPost, 12/27/17) Immigration is a national issue, with huge Minnesota impacts – the travel ban, DACA rescission, TPS ending for many, fewer refugee admissions and this:

“4. An immigration lawyer takes on the Trump administration
John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, has long been a popular figure among the state’s immigrant communities for his legal service to immigrants and refugees….

“‘He’s my superhero,’ said Michelle Rivero, an immigration attorney with the Rivero Law Office, LLC in St. Paul. ‘He performs a very vital function, and people depend on him.’

“Rabbi Morris Allen, of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, added: ‘He works in a way that’s quiet and unassuming. Thank God we have John Keller doing the work he’s doing to protect human dignity at all cost.’”

Could Texas’ Big Bend be the border’s weakest link? Smuggling of drugs and immigrants is on the rise (Los Angeles Times, 12/26/17) Big Bend is the largest of nine sectors of the border, with the fewest Customs and Border Protection agents.

Since the summer, Big Bend saw the biggest increase in unaccompanied youth caught on the border, mostly Central Americans: 278 since the federal fiscal year that began in October, up 74% from last year. By contrast, the number of youths caught in the Rio Grande area dropped 64% during the same period.

“At the same time, Big Bend saw drug seizures drop, Smith and other agents said. That’s because smugglers use the immigrants as decoys, they said, and abandon dozens at a time to overwhelm agents, before sending drug mules with 50-pound backpacks of marijuana in their wake.”

Minnesotans play key role in landmark Liberian election (Star Tribune, 12/26/17) Minnesotans are deeply involved in the December 26 presidential election in Liberia.

“Minnesota is just not an observer or a sideline cheering squad,” said Abdullah Kiatamba, a Liberian community leader and executive director of the nonprofit African Immigrant Services. “Minnesota is shaping and influencing things.”

“Community leaders say more than 30,000 people of Liberian descent live in Minnesota, with many concentrated in the northwest metro. They often describe Minnesota as home to the most Liberians outside Liberia.”

More immigration actions planned in 2018 at job sites across Tennessee, high-ranking enforcement official says (Commercial Appeal, 12/27/17)

“The federal government plans to increase job site immigration enforcement actions  across Tennessee in 2018, said Robert Hammer, a high-ranking enforcement official.

“Workplace immigration investigations will likely focus on “critical infrastructure,” such as airports, defense contractors, food distribution and other businesses that have an impact on the general safety and welfare of the community, he said.”

He taught lawyers, vets and more how to ballroom dance. Now his students are trying to save him from deportation (Washington Post, 12/27/17)

“Since May, Heimach and a disparate crew of lawyers, military veterans, a dog walker, an entomologist and others united in their love for dancing have been on a crusade to protect the instructor they call “G,” an undocumented immigrant from Mongolia who was arrested twice in 2016 for drunken driving….

“But the ballroom dancers say Galtsog Gantulga is a gifted instructor who senses when his students need to talk or want to dance but are too shy to take the initiative. He hurt no one in the two drunken driving incidents, they point out, and has served time behind bars. He also sold his car and joined Alcoholics Anonymous….

“I’m a Republican, but the current administration is creating a national humanitarian tragedy,” Heimach said in one of several interviews in the past few months, referring to a spike in arrests and deportations of longtime residents, including many without criminal records. “This is ridiculous.”

In Rebuke to Trump, Cuomo Pardons 18 Immigrants (New York Times, 12/27/17)

In a jab at President Trump’s promises to crack down on illegal immigration, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday pardoned 18 immigrants in an effort to free them from the threat of deportation or other immigration-related issues.

“The pardons targeted those who had committed low-level offenses and had demonstrated significant rehabilitation since their convictions

Deterring Illegal Immigration by Separating Parents and Children (Atlantic, 12/27/17)

“The move has received pushback from immigrant groups who argue it’s cruel, but administration officials see it as a way to discourage Central American migrants from making the journey to the United States following an uptick in family units and unaccompanied children caught at the border. Even if the policy successfully deters economic migrants however, immigrant advocates warn that it will punish the most desperate immigrants—those fleeing violence or persecution—without dissuading them….

“The policy is not yet a done deal. The proposal has reportedly been approved by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has yet to sign off on it. At the very least, however, the measure falls in line with the administration’s approach to immigration: stoking fear among potential migrants to keep them from coming to the United States illegally.”

‘My liberty ends at the door’: El Salvador native takes refuge from ICE officials as deportations rise (New Orleans Advocate, 12/27/17)

Before November, Torres had been focused on work and family. Standing in the church’s sanctuary this week, he described how he slept next to a hospital bed for months after his daughter Kimberly was born prematurely and had to be treated for the seizure disorder she still has.”

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,, 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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