The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

Starting the week with some good news: most people in the United States, and most people in the top immigrant-receiving countries around the world, consider immigrants “a strength rather than a burden.” That includes Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Australia.

“In the U.S., the nation with the world’s largest number of immigrants, six-in-ten adults (59%) say immigrants make the country stronger because of their work and talents, while one-third (34%) say immigrants are a burden because they take jobs and social benefits. Views about immigrants have shifted in the U.S. since the 1990s, when most Americans said immigrants were a burden to the country.”

In other good news:

A father has been reunited with his daughter some 10 months after the border patrol separated them and deported him.

“As sad as it sounds, [Jose] is now one of the lucky parents,” says Lee Gelernt, a senior attorney with the ACLU who has sued to force the government to reunite the families. “There are still hundreds of parents in Central America who have not reunited with their children. We’re hoping some of them will be allowed back, but at this point very few have been able to come back.”

In still more good news, a California federal district court stayed termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nepal and Honduras. An earlier court order extended TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua.

The Bad

The latest report from Mexico shows Tijuana as the most violent city in the entire world in 2018. That’s the city where the United States insists asylum seekers must stay while waiting for their cases to be heard. According to the report, five of the six most violent cities in the world are in Mexico.

Adding to the danger of cities: kidnapping of migrants who are traveling north across Mexico.

“At least 19 men believed to be from Central America were traveling on a bus in northern Mexico last week when masked gunmen stormed aboard, forced the migrants onto pickup trucks, then sped away, Mexican officials said.

“The violent incident Thursday, which took place just miles from the U.S. border, was not unique. A group of 25 migrants was pulled off another bus under similar circumstances in February, a top Mexican human rights officials said this week. The migrants’ whereabouts are unknown.

“The two cases highlight the risks faced by Central American migrants in Mexico, where criminal groups have diversified well beyond drug trafficking and now help smuggle migrants north and sometimes extort or kidnap them for ransom.”

The Ugly

The “Remain in Mexico” policy is fulfilling all of the predictions of failure made by opponents. Last week, the first court cases were supposed to be heard on Tuesday. Then the cases got scheduled for Thursday instead—but the court had no way to contact asylum seekers in Mexico to tell them about the rescheduling. So the court moved the hearings back to Tuesday … and chaos:

“[The immigrant’s attorney, Olga] Badilla explained to the judge that she had only learned the day before that the hearing had moved back to March 14 and that her client hadn’t found out in time to be at the port of entry at 9 a.m. She arrived a couple of hours later, but Customs and Border Protection officers wouldn’t let her into the U.S. for her hearing.

“She’s present at the port of entry and ready to come in,” Badilla told the judge, asking for the court’s help. “It’s an unusual situation given the circumstances.”

“Bartolomei turned to the government attorney, Jason Aguilar, chief counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Aguilar said the judge should order the woman deported in her absence.

“Bartolomei denied that motion…”

To summarize: the government screwed up, failed to notify the asylum seeker of hearing date changes, then turned her away at the border when she tried to get to court, and then asked the judge to order her deported because she wasn’t in court.

In another sign of humanitarian attitudes toward refugees (yeah, that would be sarcasm), the Trump administration is refusing to allow Christian refugees from Iran, despite a 1990 law that gives persecuted religious minorities in Iran, Ukraine and some former Soviet countries special preference for asylum.   That means about a hundred Christians for Iran who sold everything and went to Austria to get their visas and proceed to the United States now face being sent back to Iran.  One family did get through, and is now living in Los Angeles:

“A family of four Iranian refugees has made it to Los Angeles, ending an odyssey that saw them stranded in Vienna for nearly three years. Their story is another illustration of the personal cost of U.S. government immigration decisions.

“It all started in April 2016, when Argisht, his older brother Menooa and their parents, Hrach and Levon, left their home city of Isfahan and traveled to Vienna under the Lautenberg refugee program, which Congress established in 1990 to benefit persecuted religious minorities. The family is Armenian and Christian, a group that endures discrimination in their home country….

“They’re slowly getting over the uncertain years they spent in Vienna. But they haven’t forgotten about those they left behind there. Argisht describes a kind of survivor’s guilt.

“I’m happy and I’m sad, because I want luck for everyone — not [just] for me,” he said.”

 

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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