Category Archives: Refugee Issues

Trump Warned: ‘If You End DACA, We Will Make Your Life Impossible’

“The end of DACA would rip apart families, instill fear in communities, make our nation less safe, and hurt our economy.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-31-2017

Photo: United We Dream/Twitter

Following reports that President Donald Trump would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as early as Friday, immigrant rights activists and supporters of the program reacted with immediate outrage and promises to oppose the president if he makes such a move.

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‘Positively Evil’: Immigrant Checkpoints to Remain Open as Harvey Forces Evacuations

“Safety should be a priority regardless of immigration status.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-25-2017

CBP and ICE suspended border patrol operations during two recent hurricane evacuations, but they have not been given orders to do so as Hurricane Harvey approaches Southeast Texas. (Photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr/cc)

As residents of Southeast Texas evacuate under strict orders in preparation for the rapidly-approaching Hurricane Harvey, members of the area’s immigrant community are being left with an impossible choice on Friday: face the potentially life-threatening storm or follow evacuation orders and risk being detained and even deported.

Border Patrol officials said late Thursday they were not planning to close roadside immigration checkpoints north of the affected area as tens of thousands made their way out of several coastal counties, where Harvey was expected to make landfall by early Saturday. Continue reading

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Canada Builds Border Camp for Asylum Seekers Fleeing US

Hundreds of Haitians, fearful of deportation under President Donald Trump, have crossed the border to seek refugee status in Quebec

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-9-2017

Thousands of asylum seekers have fled the U.S. for Quebec, Canada, in recent months because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant statements and policies. (Photo: Morgan/Flickr/cc)

Canada’s military has troops assembling heated tents that will be capable of temporarily housing up to 500 asylum seekers who continue crossing into the country where it borders New York State.

“Around 250 asylum seekers are arriving each day in Montreal, the largest city in Canada’s mainly French-speaking province of Quebec,” Reuters reported on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency told CBC-Radio Canada there are currently 700 people waiting to be processed, and although the wait time is two or three days, the asylum seekers do not have access to beds. Continue reading

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Border Agency Set to Jumpstart Trump’s Wall in a Texas Wildlife Refuge

by Kiah Collier, Texas Tribune, and T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, July 28, 2017, 1:55 p.m.

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Hidalgo Co. in South Texas. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin constructing the first segment of President Trump’s border wall in November through a national wildlife refuge, using money it’s already received from Congress.

That’s what a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official recently told a nonprofit group that raises money to support two national wildlife refuges in South Texas, according to the group’s vice president.

“I was alarmed,” said Jim Chapman of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. “It was not good news.”

For the past six months, CBP has been quietly preparing a site to build a nearly 3-mile border barrier through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Texas Observer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has reportedly begun drilling and soil testing in California and New Mexico.

But construction on the wall was not expected to begin until January because Congress has yet to approve CBP’s budget. On Thursday, the House approved a spending bill that contained $1.6 billion to build segments of the wall in Texas and California. Its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

However, CBP recently told a senior Fish and Wildlife Service official in Texas that the agency would shift funds to pay for the new segment out of its current budget. The official passed on the news to Chapman’s group this week.

The Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed the remarks, but asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Carlos Diaz said it “would be premature to speak about specific locations.” The only South Texas projects authorized under the current budget are the installation of 35 gates at gaps the agency left in the existing border fence, he said.

The 2,088-acre Santa Ana refuge, located along the Rio Grande south of McAllen, Texas, is considered one of the nation’s top bird-watching sites, with more than 400 species of birds. The refuge is also home to two endangered wildcats — the ocelot and jaguarundi — and some of the last surviving stands of sabal palm trees in South Texas.

A wall cutting through the refuge could do serious environmental damage, Chapman said, undermining the reason Congress appropriated money to buy the land in the first place. But under a 2005 law, the Department of Homeland Security can waive any environmental regulations that would normally impede construction in a sensitive wildlife area.

Chapman said his group is now counting on Democrats to halt expansion of the project.

“The Democrats in Congress up to now have been very unified as far as not appropriating money for the wall,” Chapman said.

Trump made construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico the signature promise of his political campaign and told supporters it would be solid concrete, 30 feet high and would stretch the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump estimated it would cost perhaps $10 billion to $12 billion — and he vowed the Mexican government would pay the bill. Five days after his inauguration, he signed an executive order to begin the process.

Since then, the wall has faded from the headlines amid other controversies. But Trump has never ceased pursuing its construction, even as he has backed off the most bombastic of his demands.

In February, the CBP launched a bidding contest to build models for the new wall. Both solid concrete and alternative designs were allowed. The project is months behind schedule.  CBP officials recently said the winners will be announced in November.

Earlier in July, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that the wall should be see-through. Border patrol agents needed to be able to spot threats on the other side and avoid any “large sacks of drugs” thrown over the top. He also said he favors a wall with solar panels to generate energy and reduce the building cost.

He also opined that only 700 to 900 miles of wall may be needed. About 650 miles of the 2,000-mile long border already has some type of physical barrier. The remaining miles will be guarded by topography, the president said.

“You have mountains. You have some rivers that are violent and vicious. You have some areas that are so far away that you don’t really have people crossing,” he said.

It remains far from clear, however, whether Trump will be able to achieve even his scaled-down version of the wall. The current border fence, a far more modest project built mostly under President Obama, cost between $2.8 million to $3.9 million on average per mile, according to the Government Accountability Office. CBP previously announced that the agency has $20 million on hand for the current fiscal year.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have balked at paying for the wall, which the Department of Homeland Security estimates would cost around $20 billion. Mexican officials have vigorously rejected any proposition of financing construction.

Trump, however, has already taken credit for beginning to fulfill his campaign promise.

“In a true sense, we’ve already started the wall,” he told the reporters.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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The Defiant, Refugee-Loving History of New Mexico

How the state’s unique and open relationship with Mexico is overshadowing Trump’s immigration policies.

By . Published 7-11-2017 by YES! Magazine

“We’ve been known, historically, to welcome the stranger and offer refuge to persecuted individuals.”
YES! Illustration by Jennifer Luxton.

After two hours of public testimony, Ralph Nava was the last of 60 speakers to testify in favor of the Santa Fe City Council’s resolution to reaffirm and strengthen its welcoming policies toward immigrants. As a native of northern New Mexico whose family’s presence in the region dates back generations, he implored the audience and council members to consider the history. “All of this area was Mexico just a few generations back,” Nava said. “All of a sudden, we’re trying to make all of these artificial barriers and walls that don’t make sense.”

He went on to tell a story about taking his grandmother to Mexico. On their way back over the border, she kept telling the U.S. border agents she was Mexican even though she had lived her entire life in New Mexico. “She wouldn’t say she wasn’t Mexican,” laughs Nava, who insists that for her, it was not a symbolic stand. “She genuinely thought of herself as Mexican.” Continue reading

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As Trump Pushes Massive Saudi Weapons Deal, Yemenis Suffer from Cholera, War, and Famine

One possible outcome of Trump’s visit could be a green light to attack the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, where the bulk of the humanitarian aid enters Yemen

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2017

Cholera patients line the halls of Yemen’s few medical facilities, less than 45 percent of which are fully functional after two years of war. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/IRIN News)

President Donald Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday bearing a major arms deal for the Gulf kingdom, which observers warn will swiftly then be used against the people of Yemen, who are currently facing a deadly cholera outbreak, devastating famine, and two years of war that shows no sign of abating.

In exchange for the $110 billion package, said to be the largest arms deal in history, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has offered “to invest at least $200 billion in American infrastructure and open up new business opportunities for U.S. companies inside the kingdom,” according to Alternet‘s Max Blumenthal, a move that is expected to win the U.S. president points in the rust belt states of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Continue reading

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With Muslim Ban 2.0 in Court, Trump Campaign Website Scrubs Call for Ban

Statement calling for “total and complete shutdown on Muslims” entering U.S. removed from Trump campaign website Monday afternoon

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-8-2017

This story may be updated.

Minutes after a reporter asked White House press secretary Sean Spicer why President Donald Trump’s campaign website still broadcast his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” that page went blank, according to reports on Monday afternoon. Continue reading

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‘We Reject Politics of Fear’: Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

Teacher in Milwaukee said six-year-old student “crawled into her lap crying [and] told her, ‘I am so scared that somebody is going to take my daddy away'”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-27-2017

“Instead of funding President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, we are seeking additional funding for our nation’s public schools.” (Photo: doug turetsky/flickr/cc)

More than 150 advocacy groups sent a letter (pdf) to Congress on Thursday urging lawmakers to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and spend the money on education instead.

Trump’s “targeting of Muslims, refugees, and undocumented immigrants…are eroding the trust built by educators, parents, law enforcement, and communities over decades,” the letter states.

Its signatories include the Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, and the National Immigration Law Center, among other community groups and labor unions. Continue reading

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U.S. Launches 59 Missiles at Syrian Government

By . Published 4-6-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. military has launched 59 missiles into Syria, an official has confirmed to NBC. The target of the strikes was a Syrian government-controlled airfield in Homs, Syria.

According to a Statement from the Department of Defense:

“At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria). The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and was in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed or injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.” Continue reading

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Minnesota churches face tough questions in offering sanctuary to immigrants

Protecting immigrants is vital work, but what happens when the police arrive at your door?

By Christopher Zumski Finke. Published 3-17-2017 by YES! Magazine

Police monitoring the crowds at the Minnesota Women’s March. Credit: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

In 1982, a man by the pseudonym René Hurtado found himself living in a suburban church in Minnesota. He had fled El Salvador, his home country, after participating in a U.S.-backed military unit during a civil war. After coming to the United States, he spoke out about the terrible things he had done—torturing prisoners with electrocution and needles, for example—as a member of the CIA-trained Salvadoran military. El Salvador wanted him back, and the U.S. government wanted him deported. Instead, Hurtado hunkered down at St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Hennepin County, Minnesota, while his case played out in the national media and in immigration courts.

Hurtado still lives in Minnesota more than 30 years later. Today, his story has new relevance as Minnesota’s churches again embrace their role as sanctuary spaces, this time in response to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and aggressive deportation policies. Continue reading

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