Immigration News: January 14, 2022

Two immigrants, one in Minnesota and one in Boston, take different kinds of action to advocate for a better world and country: Outdoor-loving Ramona Htoo put words on paper and basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom put a big word on his back. 

When she was growing up, Ramona Htoo couldn’t find any children’s books written in her Karen language. Now she has written one, sharing her love of her Karen heritage and her love of the outdoors with her own daughter.

[Sahan Journal] “Htoo was born into a Karen family fleeing the civil war in Myanmar. She spent 10 years in a refugee camp in Thailand before her family resettled in Idaho, in 2007. At the time, the 12-year-old spoke no English. …

“’After I became a mom, I realized there are no children’s books in Karen,’ she said. ‘I wanted to read a book in Karen for my daughter.’” 

So, Htoo took action. She wrote and self-published My Little Legs, a book she said is about ‘being outdoors and what your little legs can do.’…

“The book is bilingual, with English and Karen script.” 

A Boston Celtics player is an activist, but with a twist—he wears his activism on the court.

“FREEDOM: When you change your last name, that’s going to be behind your jersey. My goal was to educate every kid in the world….

[NPR] “INSKEEP: He still speaks out about Turkey. He visits Fethullah Gulen, the movement leader whose place of exile is in Pennsylvania. He has also lobbied members of Congress on human rights issues. Last fall, he joined calls to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s treatment of Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim minority….

“FREEDOM: I feel like it is definitely a good first step, but it is not enough. All the athletes, I believe, need to come out and say, I’m not going to compete in a country where there is a genocide happening. That’s what I’m expecting from athletes.”

And in other news

COVID threatens everyone, but immigrants in Minnesota are getting sick and dying at higher [Sahan Journal] rates than native-born Minnesotans.

“Immigrants in Minnesota died at twice the rate of U.S.-born Minnesotans from COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, according to a recent University of Minnesota study. 

The study also found that foreign-born Minnesotans died of COVID-19 at younger ages than the U.S-born population, and that foreign-born men died of the virus at higher rates than women. 

“The survey is similar to a study conducted last year that disaggregated Asian COVID-19 death data and found high death rates in the local Hmong and Karen communities.” 

Only a small percentage of asylum-seekers assigned to the speeded-up Dedicated Docket have lawyers. 

[Border Report] “The American Bar Association has launched a nationwide campaign to enlist pro bono lawyers to help asylum-seekers who are being fast-tracked through deportation proceedings in a “Dedicated Docket” program in which, Border Report has learned, over 70,000 migrants have been placed.” 

The continuing failure of ICE detention facilities–most of them run by for-profit companies–is evident in surging COVID infection numbers.

[CBS] “On Thursday, 1,766 immigrants were being monitored or isolated at ICE detention facilities due to confirmed coronavirus infections, a more than sixfold jump from January 3, when there were 285 active cases, government statistics show.

“The number of detainees with active COVID-19 cases represents 8% of the 22,000 immigrants ICE is currently holding in its network of 200 detention centers, county jails and for-profit prisons….

“Individuals in ICE detention include migrants who recently crossed the southern border, asylum-seekers, permanent residents convicted of crimes that render them deportable and other noncitizens, including unauthorized immigrants arrested because of criminal records.

“Roughly 76% of the 22,000 immigrants currently detained by ICE do not have criminal records…”

U.S. population growth, slowing dramatically in recent years, depends on immigration.

[The Hill] “Today’s U.S. foreign-born residents represent 14.2 percent of the nation’s population. That percentage is three times as large as the 1970 proportion of 4.7 percent, which is America’s historic low, and slightly less than the country’s record high of 14.8 percent in 1890. …

“Between July 2020 to July 2021, America’s population grew by 0.1 percent, which is the lowest rate of growth since the nation’s founding. The country gained 392,665 additional people, increasing the population to 331.8 million.   

Of the country’s demographic increase during that 12-month period, immigration accounted for 62 percent of the gain and natural increase 38 percent. …

“The large majority, more than 75 percent, of the U.S. foreign-born population are lawful residents in the country. The remainder, nearly 25 percent, are estimated to be unauthorized migrants.” 

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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