Immigration News: May 11, 2022

For a change of pace, tonight’s post starts with two family/food stories. Union Hmong Kitchen is the restaurant, but the food and memories and history come alive in Yia’s mother’s kitchen.

[MPR] “Through listening to stories of his parents’ ordeal and hardships, Yia has built not just a restaurant but a storytelling space that’s an homage to them. Though he towers over her by more than a foot, Pang is boss and chef in this home kitchen. Her influence on her son is as palpable as the food we’re about to enjoy.

“’The food that we do at the restaurant, yes, it’s Hmong food,’ Yia explains, ‘and it’s a reflection of mom and dad’s table, but [at] mom and dad’s table, that’s where you’re gonna get what you’re longing for. We want to give people a taste — so that they want to actually explore more.’”

The American Dream is especially sweet for Cambodians in California, who own about 80 percent of the state’s doughnut shops. 

[CBS] “The mom-and-pop doughnut stores that dot California’s strip malls carry mostly the same mouth-watering doughy delights. But beyond the rows of glazed, chocolate and sprinkles lies a different kind of richness, in the stories of the Americans behind the counter.

“Roughly 80% of doughnut shops in southern California – that’s well over a thousand – are owned by Cambodian refugee families. They arrived in America in the late 1970s and early ’80s seeking safety as the Communist Khmer Rouge committed genocide in Cambodia’s killing fields. Millions were executed or disappeared. 

“Many who escaped settled in California, and found work in doughnut shops.” 

And in other news

Clearly, some refugees are more equal than others.

[Roll Call] “Congress left out of a Ukraine-focused supplemental spending bill a White House proposal to grant Afghan evacuees permanent protections in the U.S., leaving roughly 36,000 of them in legal limbo.

“The move deals a blow to advocates who have spent months urging protections for those who were evacuated from Afghanistan last August but do not qualify for special immigrant visas.  …

“The omission of the provisions prolongs a period of uncertainty for thousands of Afghans who cannot safely return to Afghanistan.

“They include Afghans who are extended family members of special immigrant visa recipients and do not qualify as direct dependents, as well as Afghans who supported education, journalism or women’s rights and would face persecution under Taliban rule.”

DHS has received more than 19,000 applications, which require detailed information, which as proof of cash value of asset in Ukraine, vaccination records dating to childhood, and bank records of U.S. sponsors. 

[NBC] “The Department of Homeland Security has approved nearly 6,000 Ukrainians to enter the U.S. through an online application system that lets them gain legal authorization to fly to U.S. airports and then stay with Americans who have agreed to sponsor them, the agency said Monday. …

“The launch of the website meant the closing of a popular but dangerous and illegal route many Ukrainians had taken via the U.S.-Mexico border, where, after having entered Mexico on tourist visas, they were transported from camps in Tijuana into California. After April 25, U.S. Border Patrol officers began turning back Ukrainians trying to cross the southern border.”

New Jersey funds lawyers for immigrants, but ICE is stonewalling, refusing to allow access to lawyers.

[NJ.com]”The federal agency is now refusing to share basic identifying information about the people it arrests in New Jersey and ships to remote detention centers out of state, despite many requests from the pro bono lawyers desperate to contact them, and even Sen. Cory Booker. …

“Meanwhile, countless lives hang in the balance. Those with lawyers are 10 times more likely to win their immigration cases than those without counsel, research shows. Yet the vast majority of detained immigrants must face immigration court without a lawyer.” 

Port Isabel, an ICE-owned detention center with a long and troubled history, is ramping up to take even more immigrants. ICE has contracted with Akima to run the facility, and that company also has a record of problems.  

[The Daily Beast] “There are eight pending federal lawsuits against the firm, including claims from workers of overtime theft, wrongful termination, professional retaliation, and age and medical discrimination. Last March, the Department of Labor slapped one of the company’s affiliates with $21,000 in fines after an accident killed an employee at one of its Colorado managed sites. …

“Advocates argued that detention facilities such as Port Isabel and others under Akima’s management are not only historically inhumane—they’re also a raw deal for taxpayers.

“The federal government could save enormous amounts of money, [advocates]  say, by placing asylum seekers who pass background checks with financially supportive family members in the U.S. and investing instead in the infamously congested adjudication system, so as to more efficiently process claims.” 

The United States needs more immigrants, especially professionals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

[The Hill] “The letter to conferees working to finalize a China competition bill was signed by dozens of former senators and officials from the departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the former leaders of agencies like the CIA, National Security Agency and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“It comes as part of an effort to maintain a House provision that would exempt immigrants with advanced STEM degrees from green card caps.” 

Like many facilities along the border, the Respite Center headed by Sister Norma Pimentel is gearing up for an expected increase in the number of migrants arriving there. Recently, there have been 350-400 new arrivals daily, a drop from more than 1,000 daily last summer. 

[Border Report] “Haitian asylum seekers now make up the majority of migrants at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, the center’s director told Border Report.

“This is a big change from previous years when the facility has traditionally helped asylum seekers mostly from Central America who were released by the Department of Homeland Security.” 

When smugglers abandon boats at sea, people die. When migrants on those boats take the wheel to try to save themselves and their families, they may go to jail forever. 

[New York Times] “Mr. Mohammad’s sentence was heavier because two women drowned in that crossing. But eight migrants who had been on the boat said that the Turkish smuggler transporting them had abandoned the vessel and that Mr. Mohammad tried to save it after a Turkish Coast Guard vessel forced it into Greek waters, according to his lawyers. Only two of the migrants were allowed to testify in court because of coronavirus restrictions.

“’The criminalization of migrants as a means of deterrence has been a strategy for a long time,’ said François Crépeau, an expert on international law and a former top United Nations official on the rights of migrants. ‘The latest step is what we’ve seen in Greece recently, which is obscene numbers of years in prison for people who are basically trying to save their lives and protect their families.’”

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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