Good news, bad news, signs of hope


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

Good news first: After lots of public pressure and some lawsuits, the U.S. Army has reinstated at least 32 immigrant recruits and revoked discharge orders for six more. The Army has also suspended more than a hundred other discharges, pending review. Never believe that public attention and protest are useless: your voices, sharing on social media, calls to Congress all make a difference.

Storm Lake, Iowa’s director of public safety is taking to the road to promote the benefits of welcoming refugees and immigrants. The small city touts the diversity and rapid population growth provided by immigrants. Even its problems are good problems, Prosser says:

“Overcrowding, lack of housing and schools bursting at the seams are just a few of the problems we’re facing.

“Which problems do you want?” Prosser asks other communities. “It’s either these problems, or the problems that come with shrinking.” Superintendent Stacey Cole and her predecessor Carl Turner have also strongly agreed that these are “good problems” to have.”

Immigrant grandparents are good news for big-city families, providing “a lifeline” for families who cannot afford expensive day care. That’s one more reason to support family-based immigration.   

Bad news for refugees—and others: The Trump administration has almost stopped admitting Iraqis who have worked for the U.S. government. These Iraqis face extreme danger inside their country because of their assistance to the U.S. government, military, or U.S. companies. In Fiscal Year 2016, about 5,100 were admitted to the United States, with the number dropping to about 3,000 last year, and to 48 in this fiscal year. Reuters reports that “hundreds of them have been killed, wounded, abducted or threatened because of their work and face continued danger inside Iraq from armed militias opposed to the United States.” U.S. military officials say this policy will harm national security because foreign nationals will not trust the U.S. to protect them if they provide interpreting and translating services.

Apart from the small, targeted program for these refugees, the administration continues to delay and deny refugee admissions overall, with the cap on refugee admissions set at its lowest-ever level, and the actual number of visas granted falling far below even that reduced cap.

And others: A woman in Kansas first came to the state when she was eight and more recently returned a second time, with the assistance of a paid smuggler. When she was arrested by immigration authorities, she agreed to testify against the smuggler. She did, he was convicted and released with a slap on the wrist. Three years later, she’s still in immigration jail, now scared that she’ll be in danger if she is ever released. It’s called a “flip-flop:” immigration authorities lean on immigrants to testify against (mostly U.S. citizen) smugglers, then strike plea bargain deals with light sentences, which add to their conviction records. “It’s all very weird and sort of a game,” says Arizona defense lawyer Paul J. Gattone.

Including U.S. citizens: Customs and Border Patrol is the defendant in lawsuits filed over intrusive and abusive searches in airports. The article contains graphic and stomach-turning details.

“The women who’ve brought these lawsuits, including two minor girls, say CBP officers subjected them to indignities — such as strip searches while menstruating and prohibited genital probing — despite finding no contraband. Four women further allege they were handcuffed and transported to hospitals where, against their will, one underwent a pelvic exam and X-rays. In one of the cases, the woman’s lawsuit asserts she was intravenously drugged at the hospital, according to lawsuits.”

Jim Jones, a former Idaho Supreme Court chief justice and former Idaho attorney general totals up Trump tactics and finds a real threat:

“It certainly appears that our great country is embarking on a program to deny entry to immigrants of color and to expel many who are already here, even if they entered legally.

“The program has two components–a publicity effort to besmirch refugees and other immigrants, and wide-ranging governmental actions to reduce the immigrant population. It takes on the look of an ethnic cleansing of this wonderful immigrant nation.  …

“Ethnic cleansing is not a concept to be invoked lightly, but when a policy looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, about the only conclusion to be drawn is that the country is heading down a dark path.”

Signs of hope: Last week’s Minnesota primary election put refugee, immigrant, and U.S. citizen Ilhan Omar on a fast track to Congress. But that’s not the only hopeful sign: The State Canvassing Board just certified that 925,554 people voted; the highest primary turnout since 1994.

Besides on-going support for immigrants—voting, calling  Congress, publicizing abuses, focusing on policies, helping victims, protesting and speaking out—an op/ed from the Brookings Institution proposes a new idea:

Require that every American student attends a citizenship ceremony before graduating from high school. These ceremonies are deeply, colorfully and unapologetically patriotic. Most participants and observers cannot help but be moved by the sight of people from around the world — despite an increasingly long and arduous application process to become a citizen — pledging their allegiance to the flag, singing the national anthem and, often tearfully, receiving their naturalization certificate….

“There is much that needs to be fixed about our immigration system. But the biggest fix we need is in the way many Americans view immigrants themselves. A first step would be to ensure that young Americans witness the magical moment of becoming a citizen.”

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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