Razor Wire and Case Studies in Cruelty

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In an act of civil disobedience, Rev. Jennifer Jo Vonrue and Rev. Ranwa Hammamy are pictured being handcuffed and marched up the hill along a fence threaded with concertina wire. Credit:UUSC/UUA Staff (Angela Kelly, Rachel Freed, Audra Friend, Mary Katherine Morn) Published under Creative Commons license. 

Stringing razor wire, aka “concertina” wire, is one of the make-work tasks assigned to U.S. military troops on the border. Nogales, Arizona doesn’t like the razor wire that the military is putting on their existing wall. Representative Raul Grijalva tweeted that this is an administration stunt, “trying to create the perception of rampant lawlessness and crime.” The city council and the mayor oppose the razor wire  that is, in some instances, only feet from people’s homes.

“Mayor Arturo Garino told the Nogales International paper on Monday: “That wire is lethal, and I really don’t know what they’re thinking by putting it all the way down to the ground.”

“The proclamation the city council is scheduled to vote on says concertina wire is typically something found in battlefields, and that placing it along the entirety of the border fence is “not only irresponsible but inhuman”.

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Truth About Trafficking, Taxes, and El Paso

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“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Human trafficking was one of the topics in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, as part of a large section on immigration and border security. Here are some facts that somehow didn’t make it into the speech:

“Human trafficking” includes both sex and labor trafficking. More than two-thirds of trafficking victims are U.S. citizens. Most of the rest enter legally.

“Most of the victims we work with come in on perfectly good visas,” Martina Vandenberg, the founder and president of the Human Trafficking Legal Center, told me.

“This mischaracterization is part of a cynical strategy that uses trafficking to bolster arguments for harsh immigration policies and also makes it more difficult for non-citizen victims to remain safely in the U.S. Last year, despite having originally exempted people who were applying for humanitarian visas, the Administration announced that, beginning in mid-November, applicants who are denied T visas may be required to appear in immigration court, the first step in deportation proceedings.”

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Saying No to SOTU: Immigrants and Refugees Are Welcome Here

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Seed art from the 2018 Minnesota State Fair

Immigrants and refugees contribute tremendously to the vitality, economy, and culture of the United States. Most people in the country recognize and appreciate this contribution: a January poll found 62 percent agreeing that “immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.”

That’s as true for undocumented immigrants as for those with legal permanent residence. Most undocumented immigrants have been here for years. They have raised families here, bought homes, worked and volunteered and helped to build their communities. Theier contributions are also recognized by Americans—81 percent believe there should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States. Continue reading

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From Visas to Voters, Immigration Policy Remains a Mess

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On the (somewhat) brighter side: members of Congress oppose Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric by inviting immigrants to be their guests at tonight’s State of the Union address. Among those attending:

  • Linda Clark from Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. Clark came to the United States in 2000, fleeing the Liberian civil war. A resident of the United States for over 18 years, Clark is now threatened with deportation because of President Trump’s decision to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberian Americans. She will be a guest of Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar.
  • Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States, who has risked deportation by immigration authorities for the past 19 years. Until she recently went public and quit, she worked for one of Trump’s golf clubs. She will be a guest of New Jersey Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman.
  • Jin Park, a DREAMer from South Korea who will graduate from Harvard University this spring with a degree in molecular and cellular biology. He has DACA status, and recently won a Rhodes scholarship to continue his studies at Oxford University. Except—if he leaves the United States, he will not be allowed to return. He will be a guest of New York Representative Grace Meng.

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Toothpaste and Tall Tales: Today’s Immigration Stories

toothpaste-29774_960_720.pngFlaky immigration stories keep piling up like snow in February. Detention centers charging $11 for four ounces of toothpaste. Immigration officials giving out fake court dates. And today’s big three: flagging attorneys’ passports so they can’t see asylum seekers in Mexico, force-feeding immigrant hunger strikers, and tall tales about voters from Texas.  Continue reading

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Good News Friday: Yes, We Can

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Yeah, you’re right: most of the new is still awful. In the face of all the awful, I need to remind myself that good people are doing good things, so here’s today’s collection of good news, starting with the latest Pew Research Center survey, which found that a whopping 62 percent agree that “immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.” Continue reading

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Not One, But Two, Ballooning Immigration Backlogs

statue-of-liberty-landmark-close-new-york.jpgYou’ve heard about the immigration court backlog, now around a million cases, with people waiting for years to appear before a judge. That’s mostly from the enforcement side of U.S. immigration. The U.S. Citizenship and Information Services (USCIS) is where people “get in line” by filing applications asking for permanent residence for their spouses, or protection under the Violence Against Women Act, or work visas for their employees. That process is also stalling out, with data showing a USCIS backlog of more than 2.3 million cases at the end of FY 2017. Continue reading

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