Immigration News from November 15, 2021

Student artwork from LEAP High School

As more refugees arrive in Minnesota, students, alumni, and teachers at LEAP High School for newly-arrived immigrants say the St. Paul school district plan to close LEAP would be a big mistake. Newly-arrived immigrants, especially refugees, need LEAP’s intensive classes, the support offered by teachers and fellow students, and the strategies developed to help new arrivals. 

(Sahan Journal) “Kwe Knyaw enrolled in St. Paul’s LEAP High School in 2015, right after he arrived from a refugee camp in Thailand….

“His classmates were also new immigrants. Though they came from different countries, they had a lot in common. He found the support from his teachers ‘precious.’ And the school environment—a small school with small class sizes—welcomed him. ‘It feels like you belong in this country,’ he said….

“Kwe and his fellow graduates, current students, and teachers say that the district has missed the value a small school can deliver to new immigrant students.

“’There is not another option for students right now,’ said Sandy Muellner, a biology teacher who has worked at LEAP for 25 years. ‘I don’t think they understand how important a safe place is.’”

Three months after their dangerous flight from Afghanistan, families look forward to leaving the camps set up on U.S. military bases and resettling in communities. 

(Washington Post) “’In the next few months, you will see the vast majority of families leave the military bases, reach their final destinations and have their children enrolled in public schools,’ said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, chief executive of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

“School district leaders in several areas of the country say they are ready for the influx and have long experience in welcoming refugees. Some are working with resettlement agencies and community organizations to ease the transition….

“Refugee children often suffer from trauma and can have greater needs in language learning, family communication, academic intervention and social-emotional support. Their families often arrive with little in hand to stake out a new life, anxious about housing, jobs and food. They worry about relatives left behind.”

Some 250 Afghan evacuees have already arrived in Minnesota, and more will arrive soon.

(KARE 11) “Around 250 Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in Minnesota in the next three weeks, according to the International Institute of Minnesota….

“The International Institute of Minnesota is one of five refugee resettlement agencies in Minnesota. To date, they’ve already resettled 250 Afghans. Now, they’re tasked with resettling that same number in a much shorter time frame: less than a month.”

The United States is pausing all refugee resettlement through January 2022, to focus on resettlement of Afghan evacuees. Most of the Afghans will receive humanitarian parole, which is not refugee status and does not offer any pathway to citizenship. The U.S. refugee resettlement system was gutted during the Trump administration, and rebuilding is not moving fast enough.

(Arizona Mirror) “The temporary pause on new resettlement comes after the U.S. saw a historic low admission of refugees last fiscal year and in October. … Nationally, the U.S. admitted and processed 11,411 refugees in fiscal year 2021, way below the refugee cap of 62,500 that President Joe Biden set.

“For fiscal year 2022, Biden has set the cap of admissions at 125,000, but current signs don’t bode well for the U.S. to hit that mark. …

“Danilo Zak, policy and advocacy manager for the National Immigration Forum, said there’s many challenges, both domestic and international, that have weakened the U.S. refugee resettlement program….

“More federal agents need to interview refugees to have their cases adjudicated faster, there needs to be better coordination in the vetting process, and Congress needs to direct more funds to agencies that serve refugees, he said.” 

And in other news

October’s migrant apprehensions at the border fell for the third straight month. About 57 percent were expelled under Title 42. 

(CBS) “The public health law, which was invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020, has allowed U.S. border officials to expel migrants without giving them a chance to see an immigration judge or an asylum officer. In October, U.S. officials expelled migrants over 93,600 times using the Title 42 authority. 

“The overall expulsions figure does not equal the number of individual migrants taken into custody since many try to enter the U.S. more than once and are processed multiple times. Nearly 30% of the migrants encountered in October had been previously processed by U.S. authorities in the past 12 months, CBP said.”

The number of immigrants monitored  under ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program has more than doubled this year, rising to 136,000 immigrants. ISAP funnels billions of dollars to the for-profit private contractors running the program. Participants report that ankle monitors cause physical and mental pain and are frequently unreliable. In contrast, the less costly Family Case Management system canceled by Trump provided community support to immigrants awaiting court dates and had a 99 percent effectiveness rate in ensuring that they showed up for court dates. 

(The Hill) “ISAP requires enrolled individuals to either wear ankle monitors, use a voice reporting system or download an app called SmartLINK. All three tools have been developed by BI Incorporated, a subsidiary of the private prison trust the GEO Group that has been awarded every ISAP contract since the program’s inception….

“‘We are steadfast in that we must end the criminalization of immigration,’ Aly Panjwani, a Take Back Tech Fellow at Just Futures Law, told The Hill. ‘We can’t replace these brick and mortar prisons with high-tech ones because it’s just perpetuating the same carceral approach to immigration that the [Department of Homeland Security] has had since its founding.’”

Gia Vang (KARE 11 anchor) and Chenue Her (Good Morning Iowa) broke new ground as Hmong anchors on major market television shows. Sahan Journal asked them about their perspectives on reporting. 

(Sahan Journal) “Her added that he’s always thinking about ways to bring in perspectives that his white colleagues don’t have—from pitching stories to writing scripts. 

“’Whenever I pitch stories, I like to peel back the layers enough to say, at the end of the day this impacts the entire community, it’s not just communities of color,’ he said.

“In the Twin Cities, Vang said her non-Hmong audience might think stories about the Hmong community don’t apply to them. She added that there is always a broader impact to consider. 

“’How does this impact the fabric of the Twin Cities in terms of its culture?’ Vang said. ‘Hmong people are a part of this community, they have become a fabric of a community of the Twin Cities. So not only does it impact this group, but it impacts our culture—the Minnesota culture in general.’” 

Sister Teresa Ann Wulf, a Benedictine sister based in Watertown, South Dakota, spoke to a group at the Watertown library before leaving for another trip to the border to assist immigrants there. 

(Watertown Public Opinion) “’Anyone whose life is in danger and is at risk can approach an international border and apply for asylum. It’s an international human right,’ Wolf said.

“Wolf explained that although this is an international human right, the United States and several other countries fail to uphold this law and many recent immigration restrictions and policies have only caused further harm to already traumatized people.

“The political tension that centers around immigration, whether illegal, legal or asylum-seeking, comes with a heavy price. That price is the failure in identifying, solving and reforming issues regarding immigration among congress. But there is also a heavy toll paid by all immigrants, regardless of their visa status. Wolf said communities also suffer from the polarization of immigration in a variety of ways.” 

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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2 Responses to Immigration News from November 15, 2021

  1. Diane Dodge says:

    As someone who volunteered for years in environmental science classes and the school gardens, I think that closing LEAP high school would be devastating, not only to young folx who attend, but to their families and their communities. As a person who has had a combination of privilege (being white, having the benefit of a middle class upbringing, etc.) and LUCK (“Born in the USA”), I have had the good fortune to observe how LEAP teachers and staff work within the St. Paul school system to provide students not only academics, but options on how to function in a new and confusing social environment. If there are more egalitarian options, the school district needs to daylight them. In the meantime, LEAP needs to stay open!!


  2. Mary Turck says:

    I completely agree – -hope you will send this to the school board members! Here’s how:
    By Email
    Contact the school board’s group email at When using this email, the messege will go directly to all school board members.


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