Monday, September 29, 2008
The reverse flow of refugees into Afghanistan has its origins, at least in part, in the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Many refugees who fled Afghanistan for Pakistan in the 1980s have now returned home. But many of the militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who are fighting the NATO force that seeks to pacify Afghanistan, operate from sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal areas.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The report, Teens, Video Games, and Civics, examined data from a survey of 1,102 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 and found that 97 percent of American teens — 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls — play some kind of video game. Indeed, a typical teen plays at least five different categories of games, with 40 percent saying they play eight or more different game types, while 76 percent play games with others at least some of the time.
The report also found that 44 percent of youth play games that teach them about a problem in society, while 52 percent play games that cause them to think about moral and ethical issues. The report indicated that youth who have these kinds of civic gaming experiences are more likely to be civically engaged in the offline world, and are also more likely to go online to get information about current events, try to persuade others how to vote in an election, say they are committed to civic participation, and raise money for charity. In addition, the study found that these civic gaming experiences occurred equally among all kinds of game players, regardless of family income, race, and ethnicity.
The new projects are located in parts of the country with a high rate of forced displacement, either as expulsion or reception zones. They range from the opening of emergency shelters and school cafeterias to the provision of clean water and sanitation.
Seven of the 22 new projects focus on children and young people, another seven on indigenous communities and the remaining eight on community infrastructure. One project will help run a boarding school along the Ecuadorian border so that children can stay for the night, avoiding the difficult and at times dangerous daily journeys on the Putumayo River. Another initiative will bring basic sanitation to an Afro-Colombian community on the Pacific Coast, a part of the country suffering from high levels of violence and displacement.
UNHCR Colombia hopes to raise $600,000 for the first phase of the programme by the end of the year through the international community, civil society and the private sector.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The board’s action came one month after North Carolina’s State Board of Community Colleges voted to bar irregular immigrants from enrolling in the state’s 58 community colleges while it commissioned a study on the politically charged issue.
Again, lets hope the Federal DREAM Act passes soon!
Friday, September 26, 2008
- Forced Migration Review No. 31 (Sept. 2008)
- FMO Research Guide (Sept. 2008)
- FMO Resource Summary (Sept. 2008)
- Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation & Poverty, "Migration and Climate Change Resource Guide"
- Human Security, Climate Change and Environmentally Induced Migration (UNU, Institute for Environment and Human Security, June 2008)
- International Crisis Group, "Climate Change and Conflict"
- Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governance System to Protect Climate Refugees, Global Governance Working Paper, no. 33 (Global Governance Project, Nov. 2007)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Government Accountability Office said:
According to program officials, as of August 2008, fencing costs averaged $7.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $2.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing, up from estimates in February 2008 of $4 million and $2 million per mile, respectively. Furthermore, the life-cycle cost is not yet known, in part because of increasing construction costs and because the program office has yet to determine maintenance costs and locations for fencing projects beyond December 2008. In addition, land acquisition issues present a challenge to completing fence construction.Maybe the government hoped to hire some "irregular migrants" to help build the wall!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The case relies on a 1994 U.S. anti-torture law that allows for suspects to be charged for crimes anywhere in the world. The US federal extraterritorial torture statute, 18 USC § 2340A, makes it a crime for US citizens or anyone present in the United States, regardless of whether they are a US citizen, to commit torture abroad, or to attempt or conspire to commit torture abroad. The law applies regardless of the nationality of the victim. Penalties can be a fine and/or imprisonment of up to 20 years, or if the victim dies as a result of the torture, imprisonment for a term of years, life imprisonment, or death. The statute has never been used before.
The extraterritorial torture statute, which has been unique in its jurisdictional reach, was passed in 1994 to implement US obligations as a state party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In 2007, however, federal law with regard to genocide was amended to enable the government to bring charges against any person in the United States no matter where the genocide took place. A law criminalizing the recruitment of child soldiers in similar circumstances also has been proposed and has received support, although it has not yet been passed.
Arguments against the the law rested on the requirement of employers to verify workers using a verification system - e-verify system (Basic Pilot Program). However, U.S. federal law states that this process is voluntary. Opponents argued that by requiring Arizona employers to use the Basic Pilot Program program, the Legal Arizona Workers Act runs afoul of the Constitution and subjected all Arizona employees regardless of legal status - Latinos in particular - to potential discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin. They also argued that the state law also violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment because it deprived workers of due process.
The law is one of the toughest in the nation. However, this ruling could have drastic consequences for small businesses and workers in the area. Small business have found it increasingly difficult to find workers. The Arizona Department of Commerce does not keep records about how many companies have transferred business to Mexico, but some owners say the trend likely will increase because of the new law.
Monday, September 22, 2008
It is rare for the nation's top law enforcement officer to reject rulings issued by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. In the past three years, the attorney general has weighed in on three immigration cases; U.S. immigration courts rule on about 40,000 cases each year.
28-year-old Alima Traore has lived in the United States since 2000. She arrived on a tourist visa and stayed on a student visa, attending college and studying nursing. Her student visa expired in 2003. She said she could be forced to marry a cousin if she returned to Mali, and would be powerless to prevent tribal officials from mutilating the genitals of any daughters she might have in the future.
The immigration appeals panel previously has ruled that fear of female genital mutilation is solid basis for granting asylum (See the Kassindja Case). Yet, the board had denied asylum to the her, last year and again in April. In doing so, it noted that Ms. Traore’s genitals had been cut as a child and said that while “reprehensible,” the mutilation could not be repeated.
Mr. Mukasey called that basis flawed. “As several courts have recognized, female genital mutilation is indeed capable of repetition,” Mr. Mukasey’s order said.
However, Mukasey's order does not automatically grant U.S. residency to the woman.
The case known as Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, et al., is the ﬁrst by a state court to ﬁnd that a law providing in-state tuition to nonresidents violated the 1996 federal statute, which holds that immigrants who are not legally in the United States cannot be eligible based on their residence in a state for "any post-secondary beneﬁt unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a beneﬁt."
The California law, enacted in 2001, allows students who attended California high schools for at least three years, including undocumented immigrants, to pay the lower tuition rate that California residents pay. Undocumented immigrants receiving the exemption must also promise to actively seek U.S. citizenship.
The plaintiffs' case centered on the question of whether high-school attendance could legally replace the residency requirement for receiving in-state tuition. The appeals court said it could not, ﬁnding that the state's approach violated federal law. The lawsuit, which sought class action status, was brought by out-of-state students against California's three public higher education systems: the University of California, California State University, and the community colleges.
The University of California said it offered 1,639 exemptions under the tuition law in the 2006-7 academic year. Students classiﬁed as "potential undocumented" immigrants received 271 of those. Most of the other exemptions went to students whose families had recently moved to California. Community colleges offered an estimated 19,300 exemptions, with about 90 percent of those believed to be undocumented immigrants.
Related issues, involving whether undocumented immigrants can attend public universities, have cropped up in Arkansas and North Carolina. The North Carolina community-college system recently banned undocumented immigrants from attending its institutions, while the Arkansas attorney general ruled last week that state and federal law did not prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending state institutions.
Doesnt this ruling contradict the pending Federal DREAM act?
Leaving his business in Chicago, Kim moved to California to learn Mandarin and Korean, and to prepare himself for humanitarian aid work in China. On New Year's Day 2003, carrying little more than two duffle bags and a one-way ticket, Kim moved to the China-Korea border. He spent the majority of his first year getting to know North Koreans and their culture.
Kim shares these refugees' stories with the public in his new book, "Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World's Most Repressive Country" (Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2008).
Born and raised in Chicago, Kim graduated in 1999 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with dreams of attending business school. Now a full-time MBA student at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, Kim says he plans on returning to nonprofit work in the future.
Friday, September 19, 2008
However, it should be noted that thousands of aliens have been sidelined from the Naturalization process by the Bush Administration. The Daily News reports:
[F]ees have gone up by 610% in the last 10 years while the federal minimum wage has only increased by 27%. In New York State the number of applications fell 40% during the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2007. Yet this is better than the national average, which is down 50% since the 2007 fee increases.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
A Peace Corps advertisement
Lady Liberty searching for "illegals"
A Native American asking an immigrant to the U.S. "where would we be?"
Shadows of immigrants saying no to new immigrants
Passage to the U.S. depicted as Noah's Ark
Sunday, September 14, 2008
•In December 2003, Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was seizedby the police in Macedonia and turned over to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials. El-Masri was rendered to a detention center in Afghanistan, where he was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. CIA officials released El-Masri four months later after realizing that they had mistaken him for a terrorist of a similar name.The principal objection is that U.S. officials have abducted or orchestrated the abduction of suspected terrorists outside of the United States and transferred them to countries known to employ coercive interrogation techniques that involve torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
• In October 2002, Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was arrested in Pakistan and, reportedly at the request of U.S. authorities, flown to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. Habib remained in Egypt for six months, after which he was transferred to the United States detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
• In September 2002, Maher Arar, a dual citizen of Canada and Syria, was in transit at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on his way to Montreal following a family vacation in Tunisia. U.S. officials detained Arar on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. They later arranged for his transportation to Syria, where he was beaten with electrical cables, repeatedly interrogated, and detained in a tiny cell for several months. After the Canadian government intervened, the Syrian government released Arar in October 2003.
• In December, 2001, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari were expelled from Sweden and transferred to Egypt. The two men were flown on a private jet owned by a U.S. company that reportedly is used primarily by the U.S. government. Both men were asylum seekers, but had been excluded from refugee status based on evidence that they were associated with Islamist terrorist groups. To justify the expulsions, Sweden relied upon “diplomatic assurances”—a formal guarantee issued by the Egyptian government that its officials and agents would not torture Agiza and al-Zari. Both men allege that they were in fact tortured and mistreated in prison after their transfer to Egypt.
Friday, September 12, 2008
In sum, tightened immigration requirements in the U.K. - set to kick in November- will require that immigrants brought in on sponsored visas to work as cooks in the thousands of Indian restaurants must now speak fluent English and possess a "high-level" cooking certificate.
But the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Home Office has been paying attention to the protests. It has since "revised its list of occupations and skills that are in short supply in UK, which enables employers to recruit skilled workers from India and other countries outside the European Union."
Making the new revised list: "skilled chefs, secondary school teachers of Maths and Sciences, consultants and senior specialist nurses, some engineering occupations, including civil and chemical engineers."
Not included: Indian information technology workers.
Already on the list: veterinary surgeons, hovercraft officers, and, in Scotland, filleters of frozen fish.
Friday, September 5, 2008
This line from Sarah Palin's convention speech has infuriated many in the civic engagement field:
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
Community organizers serve their their states by organizing members in neighborhoods for improved housing, healthcare, education, and other social services. For a Republican to say that only those who work for the government and get paid by tax dollars "have responsibilities" is to deny their entire heritage of saying that the private sector is an important part of American society. As Peter Levine recently said in his blog post "there was a time when Republicans prided themselves on recognizing the power and responsibility of the private sector. But apparently they are so zealous to retain control of Washington power that they are willing to disparage active citizenship."
Yet one of the greatest traditions in the United States has been the decentralized system of creating change- whether it be the Women's Rights movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Labor Movement, etc.
There is a reason why many are cynical of politics- election campaigns are themselves a joke- rather than talking about the policy issues, we hear countless ad hominem attacks, people are turned off by it. For this reason, community organizing, the grassroots method for changing policy, is a preferred route for civic engagement. Instead of choosing between politicians, individuals get to choose to support an issue. But perhaps Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani have more important things to do than listen to the issues important to the communities they are supposedly serving.
Halima writes in “Tears of the Desert," of growing up in a placid village in rural Darfur. Halima became a doctor, just as the genocide against black African tribes like her own began in 2003. Halima soon found herself treating heartbreaking cases. The janjaweed attacked a girls’ school near Halima’s clinic and raped dozens of the girls, aged 7 to 13. The first patient Halima tended to was 8 years old. Her face was bashed in and her insides torn apart. The girl was emitting a haunting sound: “a keening, empty wail kept coming from somewhere deep within her throat — over and over again." Soon afterward, two United Nations officials showed up at the clinic to gather information about the attack. Halima told them the truth. A few days later, the secret police kidnapped her. “You speak to the foreigners!” one man screamed at her. They told her that she had talked of rape but knew nothing about it — yet. For days they beat her, gang-raped her, cut her with knives, burned her with cigarettes, mocked her with racial epithets. One told her, “Now you know what rape is, you black dog.” Upon her release, a shattered Halima fled back to her native village, but it was soon attacked and burned — and her beloved father killed. Halima still doesn’t know what happened to her mother or brothers. Eventually she made her way to Britain, where she is seeking asylum, and even there Sudanese agents are trying to track her whereabouts.She is applying for a travel document and a visa to come to the United States to talk about her book, due to be released on September 9, but it seems unlikely that they will arrive in time for its release.
Students started a facebook group to try to help speed up the asylum process for her.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Barack Obama writes in, "Choices for a Rising Generation:"
So at this historic moment, we must ask our rising generation to serve their country as Americans always have — by working on a political campaign or joining the military, by doing community service or relief work abroad. Because that's how real change has always come — from ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things; from all those, young and old, black, white, and brown, who were willing to do what was risky and what was hard and put their shoulders to the wheel of history, and turn it towards opportunity and equality and justice for all."
John McCain writes in "A More Peaceful and Prosperous World:"
Young people understand the power that the political process wields as a force for change, and they are actively engaged in harnessing that power to bring about change for their families, their communities and their world. I see, in the efforts and enthusiasm of America's youth, that our nation's best days are ahead of us. I hear the message of young people loud and clear, and as President, I will honor the obligation of today's leaders to leave the next generation a more peaceful and prosperous world than the one we have today.
What strikes me about these two essays is the assumption that the candidates appear to know and understand the wide range of issues that young people are concerned about. The issues that are important to young people vary drastically, along party lines, by age (the concerns of people in high school are not the same as recent graduates etc.), and along personal ambitions. Thus, it is not fair to group young people together and assume that they have the same needs.
Second, there is a difference between listening to young people's voices and actually implementing their ideas. The former is represented in McCain's closing statement more so than in Obama's. McCain "hears" the voices of young people (the question is if this listening is selective) but will he incorporate policy ideas formulated by young people? Obama appears to make more of an appeal to young people in his closing statement, asking them to participate (this could come off as slightly condescending).
Lastly, neither candidates make reference to the young people who do not and cannot participate in "conventional" ways such as politically or doing community service. I am referring to the young people who must work to support their families, those who come from broken homes and are preoccupied with making ends meet in their own lives. They too participate, just not in the traditional sense of the phrase civic engagement. The candidates should not look down on these young people and discredit their participation, but acknowledge their resilience and support their needs as well.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Both presidential candidates support increases in federal Pell grants, arguing for Pell grant award amounts that better keep up with the rising costs of college. As U.S. senators, McCain and Obama both voted in favor of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act last fall, which increased the maximum Pell grant award from $4,050 to $5,400.
While federal Pell grants target the neediest and lowest-income students, McCain and Obama have also attempted to address the needs of a college student population at large -- the 18 million students who enroll in college each year, and the 7 to 9 million who apply for federal financial aid.
Obama would like to see a scaling back of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which allows borrowers to take out their federal parent and student loans from a third-party private lender and is currently used by the majority of families who rely on federal college loans to help finance their children's college education.
Instead, Obama has thrown his support behind the Federal Direct Loan Program, through which parents and students obtain their federal college loans directly from the Department of Education. Obama contends that the Federal Direct Loan Program is a less costly option for both borrowers and taxpayers, since the government isn't required to pay subsidies to third-party lenders as in the FFEL program.McCain, on the other hand, backs an expansion of the FFEL program.
Both McCain and Obama propose additional financial help for those students who participate in public service programs. McCain wants to expand the Teach for America program, which places college graduates in low-income school districts after an accelerated teacher-certification process.
Obama, for his part, has outlined a plan for a $4,000 education tax credit as part of his American Opportunity Tax Credit program. To qualify for the tax credit, a student enrolled at a public college or university must complete 100 hours of public service.
Two additional proposals round out Obama's higher education platform: a simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a community college partnership initiative.