Minnesota Monday, racism in immigration jails, and more


Pro-immigrant march in St. Paul. Photo by Fibonacci Blue, published under Creative Commons license.

Today’s summaries begin with stories from Minnesota, including Liberian refugees whose protection will expire on Saturday, an immigrant told to “go back where you came from” by a city worker in Minneapolis, a victim of a rear-end car collision turned over to ICE in Anoka County, Somali detainees subjected to racist name-calling and beatings in an immigration detention center, and more. A second section focuses on real stories from real immigrants, including an Iraqi family’s heart-wrenching journey, five stories from Los Angeles, and U.S. citizens in danger of deportation. The final section looks at Washington news.

Minnesota Monday

Twin Cities Liberians rally to stay in U.S. (MPR, 3/25/18) The rally will begin at 11:30 a.m.

The Deferred Enforced Departure or DED program expires on March 31.

“Five thousand people nationally are protected from deportation under the DED program.

“Rally organizer Abdullah Kiatamba says many of them are part of Minnesota’s large Liberian community.

Liberian refugees have earned the right to stay in the U.S. (Star Tribune, 3/24/18)

“The last extension of what is now called Deferred Enforced Departure was granted last year and will expire on March 31. President Donald Trump has given no indication that he intends to follow the pattern set by Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama by granting another extension or, as much of Minnesota’s congressional delegation has sought, a path to citizenship.

“That is not only regrettable, it is cruel. “The feds kept renewing for 27 years because conditions in Liberia didn’t improve,” said John Keller, of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. Life happened in that time. Those “temporary” refugees built careers, homes, families — all legal under their immigration status. They are business owners, teachers, nurses. Many work in nursing homes, where the labor shortage is acute. Some have grown old here, no longer able to start over. To abruptly return them to one of the poorest spots in the world, splitting up families and creating chaos in their communities, would be monstrous.”

The best of the best (Southwest Journal, 3/22/18) Cledor Ndiaye is a legal immigrant, a winner of the visa lottery, who comes from “one of those African countries that Trump infamously labeled with a term not fit for a community newspaper.” But writes Steve Brandt:

“His day began around 3:30 a.m., when he rose to pray. As one who grew up Christian in a predominantly Muslim country, his faith and his Bible were important touchstones in his new life.

“He’d leave our house about 4:30 a.m. to catch a crosstown bus to the Blue Line station. He’d take the train as far as he could, then catch a ride with Latino co-workers to an assembly job in Mendota Heights. After his shift, he’d take the train to downtown Minneapolis and the library. That’s where he’d sift through job listings and polish his computer skills until his evening job-training program.”

Casting a wider talent net (Twin Cities Business, 3/22/18) A lengthy and thoughtful analysis of Minnesota labor market needs and population changes.

“But maximizing the current labor force is only part of the overall solution, because growth in the labor force will come increasingly from international immigration. While many Minnesotans pride themselves on being “Minnesota nice,” they need to be better at welcoming newcomers to the state, experts say. “We need to increase the percentage of people who stay. It is not a choice between attraction and retention. It has to be about both,” Frosch says. It’s like the “Start seeing motorcycles” bumper sticker, he adds—Minnesotans need to start seeing newcomers.”

ACLU sues Anoka County, Coon Rapids authorities for turning woman over to ICE after crash (Star Tribune, 3/23/18)

“I was the victim of a car accident, but instead of helping me, Coon Rapids police just called ICE,” Parada said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “No one should fear deportation because they needed help from the police.”

Minneapolis city worker tells woman to ‘Go back to the country you came from’ (KSTP, 3/22/18)

“I was mad,” Hirut May said. “She said, ‘If you don’t like it here, you should go back to the country you came from.’ And I did tell her I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here because I have kids.”

“May said she was born and raised in Ethiopia and moved to Minneapolis about 20 years ago. “

Claiming abuse, lawyers try to halt deportation flight (NPR, 3/23/18)

“A group of immigration attorneys are asking federal authorities to launch an investigation into the treatment of 80 African detainees, many of them Somalis from Minnesota, after dozens of them reported verbal and physical abuse in a Texas detention facility….

“The attorneys’ report goes on to say that the detainees were repeatedly assaulted, punched, kicked and slammed against the walls. It alleges that in one case, an officer elbowed a Somali national six times on the back of his neck while the man was handcuffed and held down….

“If they get deported, that basically washes away all the evidence,” Marouf said.”

Real people, real stories

An Iraqi Family Sought Asylum in the U.S., Thinking the Worst Was Over. Then Their American Nightmare Began. (The Intercept, 3/19/18)

“Zinah Al Shakarchi sent it to the Intercept tips address at 5:30 a.m. on January 7. She described how her husband was in detention, on hunger strike, and how she had reached out to every legal organization she could find to no avail. She described how her young son was in a “bad psychic condition,” crying all the time and trying to hurt himself.

“He think if he will hurt himself, his father will come to see him,” she wrote.

“When we first spoke two days later, Zinah described how her family had ended up in their situation. In the weeks that followed, we spoke frequently as Zinah navigated the complexities of U.S. immigration law. Throughout the process, she provided every piece of paper she could find to corroborate her family’s account, including government records from Mexico, the United States, and Canada, where she and her two young children are currently living.

“The narrative that emerged from those conversations and documents reveals how a man who has never been accused, charged, or convicted of a crime in the U.S. nonetheless found himself in indefinite detention on American soil — and the remarkable lengths his family went to in order to get him back.”

Report: Detainees at Texas detention center beaten (San Antonio Express-News, 3/22/18)

“Detainees from Africa held in a West Texas immigration facility this year were subjected to physical beatings, pepper spray and racial slurs and denied medical treatment, according to a report released Thursday by immigrant rights groups.

“The advocates said the report is based on interviews with 30 men from Somalia, who are now being held at a detention facility in Robstown. During a brief stay at the West Texas Detention Facility in Sierra Blanca, about 80 immigrants from Africa, most of whom have been ordered deported by immigration judges, reported abuse at the hands of guards hired by a private prison company that runs the facility under contract from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

‘Dreamer’ doctors-in-training are ‘at the mercy’ of the courts (The Daily Beast, 3/22/18)

“Last Friday, Arias got great news. On Match Day, when 31,000 medical students nationwide found out where they will be trained as residents, he learned he would be heading to Southern California, where he was raised. His three-year residency will be in internal medicine, and his goal is to practice in underserved communities that need bilingual doctors, he said. …

“I see the role I can play in my community,” he said. “I don’t want that to be stripped away from me.”

US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico (CNN, 3/25/17)

“A US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

“The deportation follows an earlier decision by US authorities to deny Miguel Perez’s citizenship application because of a felony drug conviction, despite his service and the PTSD he says it caused.”

When ICE tries to deport Americans, who defends them? (The New Yorker 3/21/18)

“For decades, U.S. citizens have been deported repeatedly, in isolated cases and en masse, due to racism and bureaucratic indifference, as well as the complexity of federal immigration laws, which can make it difficult for some bona-fide U.S. citizens to understand and document their status….

“NPR has reported that its analysis of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that in the decade between 2007 and July of last year, six hundred and ninety-three U.S. citizens were held in county jails under immigration detention orders. A separate request by the Northwestern University professor Jacqueline Stevens found that another eight hundred and eighteen were held in immigration detention centers. That’s a rough average of a hundred and fifty mistaken detentions of Americans every year.”

Hope and Fear: How the Fortunes of Five L.A. Immigrants Have Changed Since Trump Took Office (RollingStone, 3/23/18) Trump’s election hit hard. Everything Dela Cruz had achieved, he knew, might be taken from him.

“I feel like my confidence has been stripped away,” he told me last June. Early in September, four days before Jeff Sessions made it official, Dela Cruz heard that Trump had decided to repeal DACA. He spent the weekend in his room, feeling hopeless. That Monday he sat in his kinesiology class with two windows open on his laptop: one for his lecture notes and the other to watch Sessions insist that “we are a people of compassion and we are a people of law.” Trump would allow DACA to expire in March 2018, and with it the hopes of 700,000 young, undocumented Americans. “It’s heartbreaking,” Dela Cruz said. “You give hope to someone and you just tear it up and take it away.””

And in other news

As a lawyer, he worked for immigrants. As a lawmaker, he works against them. (Washington Post, 3/23/18)

“Back then, before Goodlatte was elected to Congress as a Republican in 1992, he was the region’s only immigration lawyer. Mostly he secured visas for foreign workers at the General Electric plant in neighboring Salem.

“He also helped some of their extended family members — parents, siblings and adult children — join them in the United States. Today, immigration opponents call that “chain migration,” and now Goodlatte wants to ban it. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he’s at the center of Washington’s immigration fight and author of a bill embraced by many hard-liners that would cut legal immigration by 25 percent.”

The real reasons Congress can’t act on guns or immigration (CNN, 3/23/18)

“Trump’s inconsistencies are especially damaging for Congress when it comes to the social issues, the ones that are as much about cultural identity for Republican voters as they are about policy. On things like guns and immigration, it was always going to be Trump who could make the difference. He — unlike no other lawmaker in Congress — could stake out new positions and challenge traditional GOP orthodoxy, but he’d have to decide to spend some of his political capital as well as his time and focus.” 

Donald Trump proves his omnibus veto threat was just a temper tantrum (Vox, 3/23/18)

“[Trump] offered an eleventh-hour threat to veto the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this week (which would keep the government open until the end of September). He claimed he’d veto the bill because it didn’t contain enough money for his wall on the US-Mexico border — and because it didn’t address the fate of the 690,000 unauthorized immigrants facing the loss of their protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“But then he turned around and agreed to sign the bill anyway, just a few hours later. Which proves the underlying truth of Trump’s immigration stance: His efforts at “leadership” are just temper tantrums.”

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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