Focus on Minnesota, Update on DC


For today, we lead with several articles about immigration in Minnesota. You may have noticed coverage of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recently: that’s because DED for Liberians expires March 31, and Minnesota has the largest Liberian population in the country. Other Minnesota stories cover a soccer club, an educational series in St. Cloud (movie night tonight!), Somali refugees, and Norwegians.

Outside Minnesota, DC is debating the budget bill, and nothing looks good for immigrants.

And in other news: three family stories.  

Liberian immigrants may face deportation under this little-known U.S. foreign policy program (Think Progress, 3/16/18) Two Minnesotans tell their stories of what will happen if Trump ends DED on March 31.

“Caroline Grimes — a Liberian immigrant who fled civil war in 2002 for the United States — is currently working as a nurse in Minnesota. Her job helps support her two daughters and pays for her car and house mortgages. On March 31, Grimes may lose her job, her ability to drive, and her possessions. Worst of all, she — a legal, tax-paying immigrant — may be at risk of deportation….

“Pastor Moses Punni has similarly and painstakingly taken on the task of “provider” for his community in Minnesota. As a DED holder, Punni is also at risk of losing his status and becoming undocumented on March 31. Holding up photos of his 15-year-old daughter throughout her growth stages over the years, Punni said his deportation would deprive his daughter of a quality livelihood in the United States. She’s an athlete, a smart kid, and his ministry “co-teacher.” Beyond his daughter, Punni sees the Bible as “the blueprint” for his life, so that has guided him to become foster parent to two Sierra Leonean boys — ages ten and 12….

“Now, less than two weeks out from the program’s expiration, the Trump White House doesn’t yet have any clear insight on how it’s going to proceed. But if past is precedent, it may not be good.”

Klobuchar joins Liberians in urging they be allowed to stay (MPR, 3/16/18)

Magdalene Menyongar, a nurse, moved to the United States under TPS status in 1994. She has a 16-year-old daughter whose father died in a car accident.

“It’s heartbreaking that my community has to go through this. We came here during the Liberian war and even if I were to leave my daughter, her father passed away,” she said, fighting tears. “How do you cope with that?

Soccer club nixes trip to Uganda over travel ban concerns (WCCO, 3/19/18)

“A Minneapolis soccer team just passed up the opportunity of a lifetime, because they weren’t sure they’d be able to return to the U.S.

“FC Minneapolis, the highest-level soccer team in Minnesota after Minnesota United, was scheduled to play the Uganda National Team in Uganda Sunday….

“Even though they are here legally, their immigration attorneys had concerns some of the players might not be allowed to return because of the travel ban.”

Putting a face to immigration: St. Cloud State series emphasizes human impact of policy (St. Cloud Times, 3//18/18) The Immigrant Realities series starts Tuesday with a Minnesota-made documentary, and is planned as a monthly event.

The series begins with the documentary “Without Papers” followed by a discussion with filmmaker Andres Parra, a Venezuelan immigrant who lives in Minnesota.

“He follows one family who is living in the U.S. without legal permission and how Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program changed things.

“The idea is to show a real story. This is not a made-up story,” García-Pérez said. “We’re giving a face to a population that is … every day on the verge of losing everything.”

Today in St. Cloud:  “Without Papers” documentary and discussion with filmmaker Andres Parra.  When: 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 20. Where: Little Theatre, Atwood Memorial Center, St. Cloud State University.

Resettlement of Somalis in Minnesota plummets in wake of Trump policies (MinnPost, 3/19/18)

“Last year, for my office, we had resettled 99 Somali refugees during [the first half of] our fiscal year, which started on October 1st,” said Schuneman, who’s director of refugee services at the International Institute of Minnesota. “This year, we’ve resettled 13.”

“Walen, the director of refugee services at the Minnesota Council of Churches, has seen a similar pattern….

That’s not a big surprise. The administration of President Donald Trump has reduced overall refugee arrivals since it came into office in 2017. Yet the primary cause is the administration’s increased scrutiny of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, said Schuneman and Walen.

A desire for more space and cheaper land brought the first Norwegians to the Buffalo River valley (MinnPost, 3/19/18) A MNOpedia article describes the other end of immigration to Minnesota.

In 1869 Paul Hjelm-Hansen wrote a series of articles promoting immigration to the Red River Valley that was published in a Norwegian American paper based in Wisconsin. These articles sparked the interest of a few of the Norwegians in Houston County, and soon they made plans to move to the Red River Valley.” 

In DC this week

From Noorani’s Notes, National Immigration Forum, the best summary:

OMNI WEEK – Should a DACA compromise make it into Friday’s omnibus funding bill (a long shot), here are the details to sweat: How much border funding and for how long? How generous are the DACA protections? Is there an increase in detention beds or enforcement agents? What about H2-B or EB-5 reauthorizations? If the compromise is a three-year border funding plus protection for those eligible for DACA, high-fives all around. If the White House overreaches and adds agents/detention beds, Democrats won’t take that deal. Nor should they.

SHUTDOWN OVER DACA? – Nope, said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) on FOX News Sunday. And as Mike Lillis reports in The Hill, Democratic Leaders are pulling back from taking a hard line on immigration.”

And in other news

‘Where’s Mommy?’: A family fled death threats, only to face separation at the border.

(Washington Post, 3/18/18)

“They had come so far together, almost 3,000 miles across three countries and three borders: a mother with three children, fleeing a gang in El Salvador that had tried to kill her teenage son.

“But now, in a frigid Border Patrol facility in Arizona where they were seeking asylum, Silvana Bermudez was told she had to say goodbye.

“Her kids were being taken from her.”

Fearing deportation under Trump, these immigrants prepare to become untraceable (Miami Herald, 3/8/18)

“A few months back, Lorena Jofre was planning to buy a condominium in Miami-Dade County to finally move into her own place with her 7-year-old daughter.

“Jofre, who has lived much of her life in uncertainty, also planned to exchange her old car for a new one, thanks to a better paying job. She even hoped to return to college to become a teacher or a social worker.

“But her plans have since drastically changed….

“Jofre is now taking steps to become untraceable after President Donald Trump ordered stepped up enforcement of immigration laws and arrests of undocumented immigrants”

After two months in prison, a Lynn immigrant is freed (Item, 3/18/18)

Edgar “Lupe” Mendoza and his girlfriend, Cindy Magana, had no idea what was happening when five Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) patrol cars pulled them over on North Common Street in January.

“The couple were taking their 4-year-old son, Zahir, to a doctor’s appointment when the black Chevrolet Tahoes flashed their lights.

“We were scared and wondered why we were being surrounded,  and as Edgar was being handcuffed our son asked ‘What’s happening to daddy?’” Magana said. “At first I thought it was the Lynn police, but when the female officer tapped on my driver’s side window, I saw her ICE badge.”

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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