Immigration News from September 11-12, 2021

Vandals attacked the Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul last week, leaving behind a white nationalist slogan. Threats of violence against Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park led to cancellation of in-person services on Friday and increased police patrols at synagogues and Jewish centers. Vandals toppled 30 grave markers in a Jewish cemetery in St. Paul. Against this local background, an intelligence assessment from the Department of Homeland Securitywarns of threats from white nationalists against people and organizations involved in refugee resettlement. We must stand together against hate. 

Sahan Journal reports on the attack on the Hmong Cultural Center. If you want to donate to support the clean-up and recovery, here’s a link

“The center, launched in 1992 to provide critical services to immigrants and refugees, was in the initial stages of opening a newly expanded museum, featuring educational exhibits on the community’s arrival in the U.S. and contributions to the state of Minnesota. 

“But then, around 3:40 on Wednesday morning, three people pulled up in front of the center, got out of a car, and sprayed white paint over plywood decorated with pro-Black Lives Matter artwork and poetry from St. Paul poet Tish Jones. On one of the boards, the vandals stenciled, ‘Life, Liberty, Victory,’ a slogan commonly associated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front. “

Once again: threats come from extremist right-wing U.S. citizens and the threat of violence is directed TOWARD immigrants, and does not come FROM immigrants. (CBS)

“The assessment issued Tuesday by DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis cautioned that white supremacist groups and racially motivated extremists might target ‘individuals or groups they perceive have been relocated, or have assisted with relocation, as well as possibly other refugee communities that are unrelated.’

“The bulletin noted that since mid-August, ‘suspected racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists have issued vague threats’ against the federal government, critical infrastructure and ‘an organization involved in resettlement.’ They called for an arson attack on a Florida-based nonprofit organization that has been helping with Afghan resettlement, according to the bulletin.”

And in other news

Spain and Belgium offer group homes for immigrants waiting for their cases to be resolved. Sweden gives asylum seekers apartments and work permits while they wait. The United States has successfully used alternatives to detention, including the hugely successful Family Case Management system. We need to end the senseless cruelty of detention. (New York Times)

“One day in the spring of 2019, a young Honduran man in a detention center in Ferriday, La., began to feel strange. He’d recently heard from his lawyers that his request to be released on humanitarian parole while his asylum case was pending had been denied. As he swayed on his feet, his skin breaking out into hives, he suspected that the stress of facing more time in a prison cell had brought on a panic attack.

“Then his symptoms intensified. His throat closed up, and he could barely catch his breath. His roommate tried to soothe him, but M., whom I am identifying only by his first initial because of death threats he has received in Honduras, lost consciousness and was taken to the local rural hospital, where he received treatment for anaphylactic shock. Over the next several months, he would go into shock twice more. The doctors never isolated the cause.

“M.’s lawyers helped him file for parole yet again. “He needs a full medical evaluation and physical therapy to fully recover from his injuries,” they wrote; his release was “the only humanitarian course of action.” But an immigration officer rejected the request, calling M. a flight risk even though he had no criminal record and a friend willing to sponsor his release, assuming the responsibility for getting him to court….

“In spite of being a prime candidate for parole, M. was kept in detention for roughly 18 months before he was deported in May 2020 without warning, after a Covid outbreak in his facility. (He is now fighting his asylum case from Honduras.)”

U.S. law says that asylum seekers have a right to a hearing and to asylum if they are fleeing persecution. Trump slammed the door shut. Asylum seekers have been waiting in Mexico for years. Biden opened the door, at least a little. Then the Supreme Court shut it again. (Buzzfeed News)

“After being forced to wait in dangerous Mexican border towns since 2019, Frank finally got the call he and his wife had been anxiously waiting for; in a few days, a UN official said, they’d receive a second call with a time to arrive and be processed into the US.

“But that call never came. And then a few days later, someone on a WhatsApp group of Cuban asylum-seekers shared an article about how the Supreme Court had refused to block a requirement that the US restart a Trump-era program that forced thousands like Frank and his wife to wait in Mexico until a decision on their case was made.

“‘My wife fell to the floor in tears,”‘said the 32-year-old, who declined to use his full name out of fear of government scrutiny. ‘One day we were waiting on the call to enter the US, and the next we don’t know if we will ever be allowed in.'”

The Mulakhail family, who arrived in the United States from Afghanistan in 2018, now plan to host a former co-worker at the U.S. Institute of Peace and his family, newly evacuated from Afghanistan. (Star Tribune)

“Sher Mohammad Mulakhail sat on a toshak in the Bloomington apartment he shared with his wife and six children. His family had found the place far too small at first, and the view was hardly scenic — overlooking asphalt instead of the orange trees and gardens outside their old house in the eastern fields of Afghanistan….

“Sitting alongside their father, Mulakhail’s children knew how much he worried about his native country. They often saw him pray for help, sometimes cry. But now he laughed and chattered excitedly in Pashto about plans to host the friend and his family when they arrive this fall.”

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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