Immigration News from December 3, 2021

Not many immigration news stories today, except for continuing coverage of the Remain in Mexico program, so I’ll start with some good news Minnesota stories from November: St. Paul’s LEAP High School, Rochester’s Village Agricultural Cooperative, two Afghan refugee stories, and the HAFA farm. 

Good News From Minnesota

Great news for St. Paul—LEAP High School for new immigrants will remain open! So will Highwood Hills, which has a large number of Somali students, and Wellstone elementary, which has a dual Spanish immersion program and is a community hub in the North End community. 

(Star Tribune) “At a Nov. 11 hearing, Julio Almanza, a former schools superintendent in Duluth, said the district failed to recognize the unique nature of LEAP. To many staff members, students and parents, he said, it’s not just a school, it’s family….

“Sarita Toledo, a senior at LEAP who is from Mexico, said she knows of students who spoke little or no English and attended LEAP and a traditional high school. Most preferred LEAP’s smaller class sizes, she said, while elsewhere, ‘they weren’t truly learning.’

“Teacher Tom Doyle said he had just welcomed a new student from Afghanistan and that the teen had been assisted by a student from Somalia in finding a place to pray.”

Rochester’s Village Agricultural Cooperative creates opportunities for immigrant communities to grow culturally relevant foods.

(AgWeek) “The organization started by serving the Cambodian community in Rochester, which Nigon-Crowley said has between 5,000-8,000 people. It’s now serving many of the city’s immigrant communities. 

“‘We have over 16 different languages that we know have been spoken — those are official languages, and doesn’t even count the number of dialects,’ said Nigon-Crowley.

“The biggest populations served by the Village Cooperative are from Cambodia and Kenya, but Nigon-Crowley said they also have growers from Mexico, Guatemala, Cameroon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Iran, Bosnia, Ukraine and Laos.” 

Caroline Clarin helped five families resettle in the United States since 2017. Now she’s trying to get the rest out. 

(Star Tribune) “The U.S. soldiers called them “Caroline’s guys.” They transformed farms in a war zone – risking their lives for the program she built, sharing her belief that something as simple as apple trees could change the world….

“In the process, the 12 agricultural specialists, all traditional Afghan men, formed a deep, unexpected bond with their boss, an American woman who worked as a U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser in the region for two years.

“Now Caroline Clarin is trying to save them one by one, doing it all from the 1910 Minnesota farmhouse she shares with her wife, drawing from retirement funds to help a group of men who share her love of farming….

“‘They are kinda free,’ Patan says of his kids now, recalling how bomb blasts in Kabul caused them to miss school more than once.

“They still carry the trauma. When fireworks were shot off for Fourth of July this summer, Patan called his cousin in a panic and asked if Fergus Falls was being bombed.” 

The Raza family got out of Afghanistan ahead of the big evacuation, arriving in Minnesota in August. Now they feel right at home. Minnesota has welcomed more than 300 Afghans since September. 

(Pioneer Press) “Within two weeks of fleeing the Taliban in Kabul, and just a few days after  settling into their new home in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, Afghan evacuees Habib and Nasreen Raza had invited a neighbor family to dinner.

“The Razas were sitting on their front stoop on Bush Avenue one day in mid-August when they spotted Chris and Briann Morbitzer out on their daily walk, pushing daughter Rosie, 2, and son Peter, 1, in a baby jogger.

“The Razas smiled and waved.

“The Morbitzers smiled and waved back….

“Now, after dozens of meals and countless cups of tea, the neighbors have become ‘family,’ Habib Raza said….

“Now, the Razas are looking forward to welcoming other Afghan families to Minnesota, he said.”

And good news from HAFA:

(Star Tribune) “Last week the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), the nonprofit they co-founded with other families in 2011, raised the final chunk of money needed to buy a 155-acre Dakota County farm that the association has been renting for the past several years. The association plans to continue subletting smaller plots to Hmong farmers, providing families with a shot at stability and security for generations to come….

“Hmong growers are an essential engine driving Minnesota’s local food movement. They comprise more than half of the vendors at Twin Cities area farmers markets, producing and selling locally grown peppers, tomatoes and baby bok choy that the rest of us enjoy.

“‘If we care about local food, we’ve got to care about Hmong farmers,’ Janssen told me.” 

Remain in Mexico.

The Biden administration will continue to turn people back under the Title 42 “public health” policy. Western hemisphere asylum seekers who are not turned back under Title 42 will be put into the Remain in Mexico program, unless they qualify for limited exceptions. 

(WOLA) “Though administration officials claim they are only reinstating Remain in Mexico, a program they oppose, to comply with a court order, their efforts to do so have been far from minimal. In fact, the program’s 2.0 version will apply to citizens of even more countries than before: ‘nationals of any country in the Western Hemisphere other than Mexico,’ the guidance reads. The Trump-era program was applied only to Spanish and Portuguese speakers, but notices for migrants who claim fear of harm in Mexico are being translated into Haitian Creole as well, according to an internal document seen by CBS News reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez.

“Between September 19 and November 26, the U.S. government used the Trump-era “Title 42” pandemic authority, which remains in effect, to expel 8,898 people back to Haiti, 20 percent of them children, on 85 different flights, usually without any chance to ask for asylum. The Biden administration will most likely continue to apply Title 42 to most migrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as Mexico agreed in March 2020 to take back expelled citizens of those countries. Asylum seekers from other hemispheric countries, who are harder to expel because of distance or poor consular relations, will now be more likely to end up forced to Remain in Mexico—apparently including Haitians. Those migrants will have U.S. hearing dates, while those expelled under Title 42 do not.”

Nothing about Remain in Mexico is good news. 

(Arizona Republic) “The new version of this program draws upon much of the same infrastructure as the previous one, which ended in January when Biden suspended the implementation of MPP on his first day in office.

“The Mexican government announced it agrees to take in migrants under the program, as long as the Biden administration commits to addressing humanitarian concerns….

“Chelsea Sachau with the Florence Project in Tucson said that the information in the government’s documents do not always square up with reality on the ground.

“She pointed to some of the challenges to conclude proceedings within six months, including a massive backlog in immigration cases and that most asylum seekers are unable to secure legal counsel in the first place, especially while in another country….

“Sachau doubts the changes will make any real difference.

“‘At the end of the day, this program is going to be as problematic as it always has been,’ she said.” 

And in other news

The United States failed to respond by the October 13 deadline for filings in the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. That Commission may now decide the case based on documents submitted on behalf of the family of Anastasio Hernández Rojas.

(San Diego Union Tribune) “The United States failed to respond by the October 13 deadline for filings in the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. That Commission may now decide the case based on documents submitted on behalf of the family of Anastasio Hernández Rojas. 

“Hernández Rojas was killed by Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents who beat and tasered him in the process of deporting him at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Evidence has surfaced in the international case suggesting that a special team from Border Patrol worked to cover up what happened.

“The Trump administration tried to get the case dismissed in the admissibility phase by arguing that there had been justice because the family received a $1 million settlement in 2017 in a civil suit. The commission rejected that argument and allowed the case to proceed to the merits stage.” 

(Al Jazeera) While Mexico announced a collaboration to provide development aid to Northern Triangle countries in order to stop immigration to the United States and Mexico, the amount and start date and other details of the plan were not specified. 

“The “Planting Opportunities” project announced on Wednesday will bring together the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (Amexcid) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and target the three so-called Northern Triangle countries….

“The new US-Mexico collaboration will begin in Honduras, with an effort to teach job skills to more than 500,000 at-risk youth, the Mexican foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

“The department did not provide details about the programme or how much funding would be allocated for the scheme.” 

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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