Tuesday, October 25, 2016

France buses 1,600 migrants out of notorious ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais



James McAuley of the Washington Post reports on an important refugee development in Europe.  

More than 1,600 migrants were bused to new shelters across France yesterday as part of the dismantling of the notorious “Jungle” camp in Calais, a last stop for those desperate to cross the English Channel and enter Britain.

France maintains that it is closing the camp for humanitarian reasons and to end the stateless limbo for thousands of migrants. But the camp also has become a glaring symbol of Europe’s struggle to cope with a mass migration of people from war-torn places such as Syria and Afghanistan.

The Calais "Jungle" is the nickname given to a refugee and migrant encampment in the vicinity of Calais, France. Many living in this camp attempt to illegally enter the United Kingdom via the Port of Calais or the Eurotunnel by stowing away on lorries, ferries, cars, or trains traveling to the UK. The camp gained global attention during the European refugee and migrant crisis when the population of the camp grew and French authorities carried out evictions. 

The plan is to resettle the migrants in different regions of France.




October 25, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Trump’s Anti-Immigration Bluster Won’t Stop ‘Sanctuary’ Cities By Christopher N. Lasch

From the Bookshelves: The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw


The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw

Born in Taipei to Malaysian parents, Tash Aw grew up in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Britain. In his first memoir, the twice-Booker Prize-nominated novelist explores the culture of silence about the past, which made his parents reticent about discussing the family's history as Chinese immigrants.


October 25, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lithuania: Where EMigration is a bigger concern than IMmigration

From Quartz: the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union recently increased its seats in that nation's parliament from 1 to 54. Their radical migration platform? Stopping emigration.

Since joining the European Union in 2004, Lithuanians have been fleeing their homeland in search of better paying jobs.

The small, centrist party, founded by farmers, hopes to find solutions to "stop citizens fleeing Lithuania.”


October 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Middle East’s Migrant Population More Than Doubles Since 2005

Given what we have been seeing in Europe, it should not be surprising that between 2005 and 2015, the number of migrants living in the Middle East more than doubled, from about 25 million to around 54 million, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from United Nations agencies. Some of this growth was due to individuals and families seeking economic opportunities. But the majority of the migration surge, especially after 2011, was a consequence of armed conflict and the forced displacement of millions of people from their homes, many of whom have left their countries of birth.


The rapid rise in the number of people looking for safe havens and new livelihoods has over the past decade transformed the Middle East into the world region with the fastest growing international migrant and forcibly displaced population, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from United Nations agencies.

All told, the Middle East’s migrant population increased by about 120% between 2005 and 2015. This far exceeds increases in the combined international migrant and forcibly displaced populations over the same period in continental Africa (91% growth), Latin America and the Caribbean (77%) and the Asia-Pacific region (26%).

For details, see here.


October 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACLU, Hastings Center Sue U.S. Government for Information on Asylum-Seeker Detention Policy


Law 360 (subscription required) reports that the American Civil Liberties Union and a refugee studies center at the University of California, Hastings College of Law sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California federal court Thursday over its alleged refusal to release documents that shed light on its policy for detaining asylum seekers. The suit alleges ICE has failed to respond within proper statutory time limits to Freedom of Information Act requests that seek data on the agency’s parole decisions as well as policy documents that explain how it decides whether to grant asylum seekers parole.

Here is more information about the case, ACLU v. ICE

The ACLU filed suit against the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for refusing to release documents that would shed light on the agency’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from last October seeking statistical data on parole decisions for asylum seekers and ICE policy documents on how parole decisions are made were mostly ignored by ICE.

In 2012, ICE reported that 80 percent of asylum seekers who established a credible fear were released on parole. In 2015, that number dropped to just 47 percent. The majority of detained asylum seekers are locked away in privately-run immigration detention centers, currently under review by DHS.

We're concerned that this turn toward locking up asylum seekers is meant to deter efforts by people who are fleeing persecution, extreme violence, and even death. It doesn’t make sense to detain people up who don’t pose a danger and have a strong incentive to show up for court. They have a right to seek protection under U.S. and international law. The public has a right to know if ICE has reversed its policy.

The suit is being brought by the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law, and pro bono counsel at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila.


October 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How the U.S. screens Syrian refugees

Eric Trump Takes Picture with Woman with "Contra (Against) Trump" T-shirt


The Trumps didn't realize that  "Latinas Contra Trump" shirt translates to "Latinas Against Trump." (@cecicardelle via Twitter).

Whatever else one might say, it has been a memorable U.S. Presidential campaign. Here is some lighter news from the campaign trail.

Looks like Eric Trump has a muy mal understanding of Spanish.  The Donald’s middle son at a North Carolina rally posed for a photo with a young woman wearing a “Latinas Contra Trump” shirt.

“No one at the rally realized my shirt said AGAINST tr*mp,” Annie Cardelle tweeted along with the photo.


October 24, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Face: Cartography of the Void by Chris Abani

The+Face,+by+Chris+Abani+-+9781632060433+(1)The Face: Cartography of the Void by Chris Abani

In The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed Nigerian-born author and poet Chris Abani has given us a profound and gorgeously wrought short memoir that navigates the stories written upon his own face. Beginning with his early childhood immersed in the Igbo culture of West Africa, Abani unfurls a lushly poetic, insightful, and funny narrative that investigates the roles that race, culture, and language play in fashioning our sense of self.

As Abani so lovingly puts it, he contemplates “all the people who have touched my face, slapped it, punched it, kissed it, washed it, shaved it. All of that human contact must leave some trace, some of the need and anger that motivated that touch. This face is softened by it all. Made supple by all the wonder it has beheld, all the kindness, all the generosity of life.” The Face: Cartography of the Void is a gift to be read, re-read, shared, and treasured, from an author at the height of his artistic powers.

Alternately philosophical, funny, personal, political, and poetic, the short memoirs in The Face series offer unique perspectives from some of our favorite writers.


October 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

USCIS Policy Alert - Determining Extreme Hardship

LEXIS NEXIS Legal Newsroom Immigration has posted the new US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on determinations of extreme hardship to qualifying relatives as required by certain statutory waiver provisions. This guidance becomes effective December 5, 2016.

Chapter 2 provides, in relevant part, that:

"USCIS​ recognizes​ that at least some degree of hardship to qualifying relative​s​ exists in most, if not all, cases in which ​individual​s​ with the requisite relationship​s​ ​are ​denied admission​. ​Importantly, t​o be considered “extreme,” the hardship must exceed ​that which is usual or expected.​ ​But e​xtreme​ ​hardship ne​ed not​ be unique​,​ ​n​or ​is ​the standard ​as​ ​demanding as the ​statutory ​“exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” standard​ that​ is​ generally applicable to ​non-​lawful permanent resident​ ​cancellation of removal."

Read the guidance at the link above for details.


October 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Terrifying, heart-rending, defeating: 10 hours on patrol along the Mexican border

Building walls to keep out immigrants helps terrorists


In this CNN commentary ("Building walls to keep out immigrants helps terrorists," Ben Emmerson and Jessica Jones make the argument that efforts to take extreme immigration measures, as advocated by Donald Trump and some leaders in Europe, will undermine national security:

"While the intention might be to protect those already within our borders, the truth is that restricting access to safe territory for those outside it encourages covert movements of people, including by traffickers, which makes borders more, not less, porous. 
The establishment of clandestine routes across international borders and the criminalization of individuals legitimately seeking access to safe countries may ultimately assist terrorists who exploit chaos and vulnerability in equal measure.
For those who make it to our borders, the fear-mongering engaged in by Trump and others leads to discrimination, social exclusion and the marginalization of communities, which have been recognized by international bodies as conditions conducive to terrorism.
Respect for the humanitarian needs and human rights of migrants is not distinct from counterterrorism objectives; it is central to them. The hard-line approach will backfire.
It is time to be clear: It is not in our interest to flout international law and restrict refugees' routes of escape or the assistance we provide them. To protect ourselves, we must face up to and fulfill our obligations to the millions of displaced people struggling to re-establish their lives.
Every citizen must recognize their own responsibility for upholding and promoting the values that form the fabric of our society. A series of clear choices must be made over the next weeks and months, and the very future of our democracies may depend on them. The baton is in our hands."


Ben Emmerson is the UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights and an international lawyer, and he specializes in European human rights law and international criminal law. Jessica Jones is a human rights barrister specializing in international and criminal justice work and legal adviser to the UN special rapporteur. The opinions expressed in this commentary are theirs.


October 23, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Oral Arguments on November 30 in Jennings v. Rodriguez


The Supreme Court yesterday released its December calendar and set oral argument in Jennings v. Rodriguez, which involves the question whether bond hearings are required in cases of the detention of immigrants, for Wednesday, November 30.  It is the only case set for argument that day.

Stay tuned for updates. 



October 22, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Underground by Hamid Ismailov


The Underground by Hamid Ismailov
After Uzbek author, journalist, and poet Hamid Ismailov was forced into exile when the government declared his work subversive, he emigrated to London, where he now works at the BBC as the Head of the Central Asian Service. His stunning novel The Underground tells the story of a biracial orphan growing up in late-Soviet Moscow. 




October 22, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: How to Travel without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andrés Neuman


How to Travel without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andrés Neuman Translated from the Spanish by Jeffrey Lawrence A kaleidoscopic, fast-paced tour of Latin America from one of the Spanish-speaking world’s most outstanding writers.

Lamenting not having more time to get to know each of the nineteen countries he visits after winning the prestigious Premio Alfaguara, Andrés Neuman begins to suspect that world travel consists mostly of “not seeing.” But then he realizes that the fleeting nature of his trip provides him with a unique opportunity: touring and comparing every country of Latin America in a single stroke. Neuman writes on the move, generating a kinetic work that is at once puckish and poetic, aphoristic and brimming with curiosity. Even so-called non-places—airports, hotels, taxis—are turned into powerful symbols full of meaning. A dual Argentine-Spanish citizen, he incisively explores cultural identity and nationality, immigration and globalization, history and language, and turbulent current events. Above all, Neuman investigates the artistic lifeblood of Latin America, tackling with gusto not only literary heavyweights such as Bolaño, Vargas Llosa, Lorca, and Galeano, but also an emerging generation of authors and filmmakers whose impact is now making ripples worldwide.


October 22, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Where the bird sings best
Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The magnum opus from Alejandro Jodorowsky—director of The Holy Mountain, star of Jodorowsky’s Dune, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, innovator behind classic comics The Incal and Metabarons, and legend of Latin American literature.

There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now.

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.


October 21, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

They Came To America And Found Love


Tariq and Tabinda Sheikh

In a season of mean-spirited talk about immigration and immigrants, it is nice to hear an upbeat immigrant story.  NPR on its Story Corps had a lovely one today. 

When Tariq Sheikh first saw Tabinda, he remembers she was wearing yellow gloves. A recent arrival from the Dominican Republic, Tabinda had just taken a job as a housekeeper at a New York City hotel — the very same hotel where Sheikh worked at the hotel's front desk.

And when Tariq saw her, he was utterly tongue-tied. He couldn't even say hello.

"Oh, I thought you was rude and mean," she tells him, on a visit with StoryCorps in 2014. "I said, 'Oh my God, this guy don't even say hi.' You're just staring at me!"

But there were a very simple reason for his silence at the time, he tells her: She was the woman of his dreams. "Yeah," she answers, "but I didn't have that dream!"

Still, Tariq, who was an immigrant from Pakistan himself, built up his courage to ask her out for coffee. And it took her two days to answer — but she had a good reason, too: "because I didn't know how to speak English," she explains.


October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 319,711; Deaths at Sea: 3,654


The International Organization for Migration reports that 319,711 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 19 October, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. Some 168,857 people have arrived in Greece and 145,381 in Italy during 2016. The total is well below the number of arrivals at this point in 2015, when over 650,000 migrants and refugees had made the journey.

I found the description of migrant deaths to be chilling, with the routine nature of the report of the real human tragedy sounding akin to a weather report:

"Some 3,654 people have died trying to make the crossing in 2016. These include five bodies recovered on Wednesday, when an Irish navy ship encountered a rubber boat and rescued 118 survivors off Libya.

By comparison, deaths through 21 October 2015 stood at 3,138 – 2,822 of them on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy."



October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

When These Latinos Tell Immigration Stories, They Push Beyond Fairy Tales


When Latino colleagues from across NPR shared their families' immigration stories for Hispanic Heritage Month, their essays were full of things achieved and things surrendered; cultures celebrated and cultures lost; decisions made by choice and by coercion. Camille Salas, a librarian, wrote about her grandfather's decision to join the Navy in exchange for U.S. citizenship. Cecily Meza-Martinez, of News Operations, wrote about her family's hardships and achievements, which included a role in building Disneyland. Producer Ana Lucia Murillo wrote about how her father crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. in the bottom of a van marked "Laundromat."  Click the NPR link above for more stories.




October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Truth About Immigration

An informative short video on Wired debunks some basic myths about immigration and undocumented immigrants.


October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)