Somalia, Dadaab, Minnesota and other immigration news – December 29, 2017

Somalia remains a country wracked by violence, but many refugees from that violence are now being forced back home as Kenya threatens to close the Dadaab refugee camp. Other Somalis are being deported home from the United States, though there may be a reprieve for teh 92 whose plane turned back in December. A Somali-Minneostan writes about her home country and especially about Somali women in the New York Times. These stories and more in today’s news digest …

I spent the first year of Trump’s presidency visiting one of the world’s largest refugee camps. Here’s what I saw. (Washington Post, 12/28/17) A reporter’s stories from Dadaab, where hope of gaining refuge in the United States grows dimmer each day.

“One time, over coffee, I asked him whether he really thought this was the best time to move a family of Somali refugees to the United States. He read the news as much as I did. He knew about the attacks on Muslims and the hostility toward refugees. He followed President Trump on Twitter.

He looked at me like I was crazy, like a man who flew back to Nairobi and took his dog to a park, like someone who believed that Dadaab could be improved simply by writing about it.

“Bro,” he said. “It’s still the greatest country in the world.”

Deportation plane’s ‘mystery’ return from Somalia lands in legal morass (Star Tribune, 12/27/17)

“Canada Arten boarded a flight back to Africa this month — after eight years awaiting his deportation and months of last-ditch efforts to avert it. But in a stunning reversal for the Twin Cities man and 91 other deportees on board, the plane turned back to the United States.

“The flight’s return has landed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a legal, logistical and public relations morass. The case of Arten, who arrived as a refugee but lost his legal status after a robbery conviction, highlights the cascade of complications triggered by the failed mission. A federal lawsuit in Florida on behalf of him and other passengers, who allege physical abuse aboard the flight, has blocked their deportations until at least Jan. 8.”

Opinion: A deadly year in my family’s homeland (New York Times, 12/2717) A Minnesota Somali writer tells stories of home and war and flight.

“Before I was born, my college-educated, fairly Westernized parents decided they weren’t going to teach me about clans because that knowledge, in recent history, has been employed so murderously, especially in the rise of the Shabab militants. Growing up in Minnesota, in the Somali diaspora, I was relatively sheltered from that history. In 2017, however, it has been impossible to ignore the truth because of a particularly grim event: On Oct. 14, a truck bombing in Mogadishu killed more than 500 people and injured hundreds more.”

Yemeni Americans say Trump’s travel ban tears families apart (WNYC, 12/27/17)

“Twelve year-old twins Alawi and Abdullah Shaibi aren’t sure why they haven’t seen their mother in more than three years, but they think it has something to do with a closed airport.

“We just want her to come, we love her and miss her,” said Alawi.

“On Wednesday, the twins were among more than 100 Yemeni Americans who rallied in the freezing cold at Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square to protest the Trump Administration’s travel ban. They had come from Buffalo with other relatives, who explained that their father applied for their mom to come to the U.S. from Yemen. But she’s been stuck in Djibouti with her four other children while she waits for her visa to be processed.”

Trump Administration is set to add another burden on immigrants (Daily Beast, 12/27/17) Onerous new paperwork requirements will make it harder for immigrants to seek help from members of Congress.

“The Hill staffer said offices often follow up with USCIS many times for each individual constituent. Those queries can come over the course of many months. So getting a new privacy waiver from the immigrant for each follow-up question would mean a massive increase in paperwork.

“Besides the practical hurdles, attorneys are also concerned in principle. Leopold, for one, questioned whether USCIS had the authority “to dictate to a senator or U.S. representative what to require from a constituent in need of assistance with an immigration matter.” Kolken, meanwhile, said the translation requirement could prove prohibitively expensive for immigrants in need, noting that certified translators can charge up to $100 for every page they translate.”

San Diego border crossings overwhelmed by asylum seekers: ‘We can’t give up’ (Los Angeles Times, 12/27/17) Asylum seekers from around the world crowd the border crossing in Tijuana, waiting to cross and go to U.S. immigration jails. But the border holding cells are full, so they are not allowed even to cross.

“We can’t give up. We don’t have options,” said Mesfin Tesfaldet, a 33-year-old man from Eritrea seeking asylum in the U.S., who has been waiting to be processed for at least a week….

“Tesfaldet said he fled Eritrea to Sudan after he was jailed for his political views. In Sudan, he said, he couldn’t go to a refugee camp because the two governments were working together to send Eritreans back to their home country.

“He hid for several years before finding a way to fly to Brazil. From there, he followed a grueling and potentially lethal migrant trail up to Tijuana.”

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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