The term "climate refugees" is misleading, but climate change is one of several root causes behind forced migration. More research is needed in this field, and preventive measures such as climate change adaptation can reduce the risk of displacement, according to a new report by NRC. Currently it is not scientifically proven that people are forced to flee due to climate change only. However, climate and environmental issues are among the underlying causes of migration, which must be seen in a larger political and economic context.
Climate change affects the environment, which can trigger conflict and displacement. In order to prevent displacement, it is important to reduce the negative consequences and implement climate change adaptation for societies that are affected by climate change. The report recommends that climate change adaptation in developing countries be given priority together with mitigation and emission-reducing measures.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Besides coordinating asylum policy, the EU's Asylum Agency will also have a technical set-up to send specialised teams of experts to member states affected by extraordinary asylum pressures. These teams will help the national authorities in identification, translation, interpretation, accommodation and repatriation issues related to would-be asylum seekers.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
There were about 25 million ecomigrants in the world a little more than a decade ago, said Norman Myers, a respected British environmental researcher at Oxford University. That number is now "a good deal higher," he added. "It's plain that sea-level rise in the wake of climate change will inundate the homelands of huge numbers of people."Yet some are skeptical of this article, saying that there needs to be a better definition of "ecomigrant." I am not sure whether Jack Shafer makes a convincing argument against the increasingly alarming number of people threatened by climate induced changes.
In Bangladesh, about 12 million to 17 million people have fled their homes in recent decades because of environmental disasters -- and the low-lying country is likely to experience more intense flooding in the future. In several countries in Africa's Sahel region, bordering the Sahara, about 10 million people have been driven to move by droughts and famines.
A variety of forecasts suggest that environmental disasters are likely to grow in number and intensity in coming decades. Conflicts and war often follow migrations of large numbers of people across international borders
Some analysis from an editorial in the New York Times:
The court must decide whether he can be convicted of the crime of aggravated identity theft — which carries a heavy mandatory prison sentence — even though he did not know the numbers belonged to specific people. This is a case about the misapplication of federal law. It also is a case about unequal justice. The government is misusing the identity theft law to pressure illegal immigrants to agree to quick deportation.
Ignacio Carlos Flores-Figueroa, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, purchased a forged Social Security card and a permanent resident card bearing his name and false identification numbers in Chicago. When he submitted those documents at his job in East Moline, Ill., his employer reported him to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which determined that the numbers belonged to other people. There is no evidence those people were harmed.
Mr. Flores-Figueroa pleaded guilty to misuse of immigration documents and illegal entry into the United States. He pleaded not guilty to aggravated identity theft, saying that he didn’t know that the ID numbers belonged to anyone. He was convicted and sentenced to 51 months of imprisonment for the crimes for which he pleaded guilty, and an additional mandatory two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft. Mr. Flores-Figueroa is asking the Supreme Court to reverse his identity-theft conviction, arguing that the law does not apply to his actions.
The federal aggravated identity theft statute is aimed at the most serious forms of identity theft — and it says the theft must be done knowingly. Congress wanted to punish those who take the identities of other people to do them harm, typically by trying to drain their bank accounts. Mr. Figueroa did not have the intent necessary to violate this law. He was guilty of identity fraud — a separate, and lesser, crime.One of the criminal law’s most important tasks is sorting out degrees of culpability. People like Mr. Flores-Figueroa enter the country illegally to work at jobs that pay little and are often dangerous. Their actions are illegal, but they fall far short of stealing a specific person’s identity to rob someone’s life savings.
Peter Levine has more to offer about this bill.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Though he's lived in this country since he was 2, Juan Gomez has no permanent legal right to stay in the United States, let alone a guarantee of a chance to graduate from Georgetown University. His record is a litany of overachievement: a 1410 out of 1600 on the SAT; high scores on 13 Advanced Placement exams, which earned him close to two years of college credit; and a top-20 class rank at a competitive Miami high school. But Juan doesn't have a clear right to be in the United States, much less at Georgetown. In 1990, when he was 2 years old, his family came to this country from Colombia on a tourist visa and never left. Once they were here, they applied for political asylum and spent almost 17 years building a modest life before their legal status finally caught up with them. In October 2007, after they were repeatedly denied political asylum, Juan's parents and grandmother were deported to Colombia, a country that Juan can't even remember.For Juan and the 65,000 plus people, lets hope the DREAM Act passes this year!
Juan applied to Georgetown as an international student and won a scholarship that covers most of his tuition and expenses. But unless Congress or the Obama administration grants him some sort of extension or waiver, Juan could be deported before he's able to graduate, according to his lawyers. He might not be allowed to return for at least 10 years, if ever.
An estimated 65,000 young people in the United States graduate from high school each year in circumstances similar to Juan's, according to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. These are teenagers who have been in the country at least five years, say researchers who prepared the 2003 study by analyzing population surveys and census data. When they finish high school, they watch their friends go off to college or work, and discover that it is impossible for them to do the same.
First, whether in the heat of conflict or within postwar programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalized. During conflict, the roles that they play are frequently deemed peripheral and insignificant by governments, national and international NGOs, policy-makers, and program developers. In the aftermath of war, girls continue to be marginalized within the realms of education, economics, and are frequently discriminated against within formal disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) processes, as well as within the context of their families and communities.
Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalization, girls are fundamental to the war machine – their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups.
Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimization, perpetration, and insecurity. During conflict, girls are subjected to grave violations of their human rights through forced recruitment, killing, maiming, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, abduction, forced marriage, and increased exposure to HIV/AIDS. Many are also forced to participate in brutal acts of violence. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimization through socio-economic marginalization and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.
Finally, girls in fighting forces are not simply silent victims, but active agents and resisters during armed conflict. Girls’ made remarkable attempts to defend and protect themselves during situations of severe violence and insecurity, as well as efforts to bring about change for themselves and by themselves. Challenging the predominant portrayals of girls as emblematic victims, girls attempted to avoid, minimize, or resist wartime abuses, patriarchal power structures, and the culture of violence that surrounded them.In light of these research findings, an alternative approach is essential -- one that gives due regard to the ways in which girls in fighting forces are perceived, represented, and conceptualized.Rather than focusing solely on girls’ vulnerability and victimization, it is essential also to direct our attention to their self-efficacy, resilience, and skills. Moreover, given their significant presence and multiple roles within fighting forces, girls’ experiences and perspectives should be considered as central and indispensable to understandings and analyses of war and political violence, and not regarded as peripheral or, unwittingly or wittingly, rendered invisible.
In addition, Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit emphasized that "the issue is not only with the lack of judges, but with the poor quality of representation. “The problem of quality of representation is a severe problem in the courts… There are many fine immigration lawyers but all too often I see cases where the immigrants representation is substandard.” Additionally, he pointed out that only about 35% of immigrants have representation when they go to court. Katzmann believes improving the quality of representation is a critical issue to improve the immigration court system as a whole.
Will Attorney General Eric Holder work to fix these problems? Initial signs do not show him placing much attention on these overburdened and under-resources courts.
Petition for certiorari, Petitioner’s Reply Brief, and an amicus curiae of Criminal and Immigration Law Professors, et al. (in support of petitioner).
Monday, February 23, 2009
A Response to Adam Fletcher's Post on "Real Participation"- Humanitarianism and the Role of Young People in Conflict
I wrote my master's dissertation on "Humanitarianism and the Role of Young People in Conflict: Challenges to the Current Normative Framework of Children's Participation." The central thesis argues that many humanitarian organizations do not recognize how young people in the global south participate in the context of structural, armed, and political conflict and that this non-recognition is rooted in organizations’ conceptual framework for understanding childhood. Organizations operate based on a set of assumptions that interpret childhood as a time to develop towards adulthood, a stage separate from the adult realm, and a period associated with certain behavioral characteristics. Although organization-sponsored participation emerged within the context of a rights based approach and the ‘localization’ of development, which suggest sensitivity to local contexts and to the agency of young people, actual participation has largely been limited by these conceptual assumptions about childhood. Young people’s participation that challenges these assumptions is not recognized or even delegitimized by organizations. I think this arguement can apply to most organizations that work on inclusion of children in programming through participatory activities.
I do not think that Adam Fletcher and I disagree, but what I am concerned about is that the paradigm in which children's participation occurs is one that is based on certain assumptions about childhood, whereas children are often forced due to structural problems to participate in a way that is not acceptable to society. For example, many young people who are exposed urban or gang life have had many life experiences that are beyond childhood, they have had adult experiences, and these experiences cannot be discredited when working with them to achieve a sense of liberty. I came to understand this fully when working with high school students at Ballou High School in D.C. Many could not focus on education because they had to support their families by working. Thus, when we worked with them on civic engagement projects, they wanted to be treated as adults who came up with adult solutions. For example, they wanted to change the school cell phone policy because many needed their cell phone in case of an emergency at home (which were frequent) or for work after school. However, the administration did not understand this because they did not see the students as having adult experiences, but rather as child becomings. (Ultimately, a deal was brokered)
For this reason, rather than a consultative process, or training programs that are based on who the child will become rather than who the child already is, participation should include direct action and voice so that young people can use their life experiences as a point of departure for change. And that is why real participation means recognition of how people already participate and using that to enhance their own personal liberty. It is a necessary first step for participation to ensure that we recognize young people for who they are not what they will become.
For comprehensive coverage of Gitmo detainees, check out Andy Worthington)
Senator Evans said yesterday the Government would pour $12.8 million into overseas aid projects this year to help displaced people. This compared with $6.5 million last year.
Victims of the Iraq war would be a top priority, along with Afghans, Burmese and Sri Lankans fleeing persecution and political terror.
Senator Evans said stabilising displaced populations was part of a strategy to try to stop people from attempting risky journeys to Australia.
The move follows a surge in boat people caught off the West Australian coast. Almost 200 Afghans and Sri Lankans have been stopped since October. Two million Iraqis had fled to neighbouring countries in the past five years, while another 2.8 million were displaced inside Iraq. There were 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, up to 200,000 Burmese refugees in Bangladesh and more than 500,000 people displaced in Sri Lanka.
This is a much better response than the past, when the "Pacific Solution" and other tough enforcement measures was the government's answer.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
(Also kudos to TrueNorth for their inspiring television commercials)
In 2008, 10,653 women were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to agency spokeswoman Cori Bassett, 965 of those women — nearly 10 percent — were pregnant. Many of them, were raped on their way to the United States—a journey known to be dangerous for any willing to take it, but especially so for women. For pregnant women in immigration detention facilities, it is virtually impossible to obtain an abortion. “Preliminary records indicated that during fiscal year ’08 and ’09 to date, no detainee has had a pregnancy terminated while in ICE custody.” Not a single one.
With the prevalence of rape among immigrants and the government’s increasingly stringent immigration enforcement policies, ICE’s treatment of pregnant detainees has become particularly relevant in recent years.
Medical services within ICE detention facilities, including requests for abortions, are handled by the Division of Immigration Health Services, a subagency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The division has sometimes scrambled to fulfill its growing responsibilities, since ICE was created out of the now-defunct Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services.
The joint policy of the division and ICE is to not fund elective procedures, including abortions. On its “Detainee Covered Service Package,” the division lists abortion as an example of commonly requested procedures that are “not covered but can be requested in the event of an emergency situation.” “ICE must pay for the termination of a pregnancy if a physician determines that the continuation of a pregnancy is life-threatening for the mother.”
ICE’s policy on abortion is markedly different than that of its sister organization, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which requires that each pregnant inmate receive counseling to help her decide “whether to carry the pregnancy to full term or to have an elective abortion,” according to federal regulations. If a detainee asks for an abortion, the prison’s clinical director “shall arrange for an abortion to take place.”
How do we reconcile the fact that we welcomed Liberians here for five, ten, fifteen or more years, with the word “temporary” we attached to their official legal status? Proponents of the deportations have claimed that allowing Liberians to stay “makes a mockery of the concept of short-term temporary humanitarian protection,” but any such mockery happened years ago, as protection was extended, again and again, with the label “temporary” still attached. That dry, legalistic phrase, “extending TPS,” had the real life result of allowing human beings to build lives here. Thousands of Liberians made their homes here in the United States for years and years in such a “temporary” status. And thank God for that. It allowed them to feel safe, to forget the horrors many of them had experienced, to build new lives. Find jobs, buy houses, start businesses, have children. Become members of their communities. Tearing those human beings from their lives here cannot change the fact that the lives we allowed them to build here were not “temporary.”
(1) After your victory last year in getting the HIV travel/immigration ban repealed by Congress, the Bush administration promised to remove HIV/AIDS from the Health and Human Services list of health conditions that make a person inadmissible for immigration purposes. They never got around to it. What do you understand the new administration's position to be on this issue? Do you expect any progress on the ban this year?
Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality: We are frustrated that the new rule hasn't been issued, but optimistic that the Obama administration intends to implement Congress' decision to end the ban, and soon. We have kept pushing, and will keep pushing until the repeal is enacted. Last Friday we sent the White House a letter signed by 150 organizations, calling for full implementation of the repeal. Change.org's Dave Bennion blogged on it this week - you can read the letter and see the list of signatories on our site.
(2) President Obama has previously expressed support for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a bill that would allow U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign-born partner for immigration benefits to the U.S. but stopped short of formally endorsing it. What are the prospects for passing the Act this year?
RT: The UAFA can't pass soon enough for couples like Amy and Lee, who are trapped in an impossible situation: Amy, an American, doesn't have the right to sponsor Lee for a green card because they're lesbians. Lee overstayed her visa when she and Amy fell in love - if their relationship were recognized the way straight couples' are, this wouldn't be a problem. They are raising two young sons together, but every day is full of anxiety for them. Because Lee is undocumented, she worries constantly about being picked up and separated from her family. She can't leave the country to visit her mother, who has cancer, because she would never be able to return to Amy and their children in the U.S.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
If conservative Republicans continue to advocate the mass removal of resident illegals, our candidates will lose Hispanic vote share - to the point where our performance among Hispanics mirrors that among African Americans. If conservative Republicans continue to advocate the mass removal of resident illegals, our business support will erode - not to levels typical of a congressional minority, but to levels reflecting a fundamental shift of interests favoring the Democrats.
Mass deportation is a deal breaker. The linked prospects of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, persecuted clergy, ruptured families, and mass profiling spooks the legal, working-class Hispanic. It is the GOP platform plan to remove the 12 million illegals among them that turns the Hispanic vote from "leans Democratic" to Democrat-dominated.
Federal immigration statutes are, by universal agreement, absurd. The law, as it applies to employers, encourages the hiring of illegals by making document fraud child's play. I took pains in my article to cite the actual warnings on the I-9 form. Employers are told that they must accept school IDs, report cards, and work visas scheduled to expire, and that they are liable to lawsuits if they do not. But border jumping is punishable by deportation.
These laws scarcely inhabit the same policy universe. Their coexistence is a tribute to the insanity of avoiding comprehensive immigration reform.
You say you want to enforce existing immigration law, but you don't. You want to change it, so that it can be enforced against a work force that was legally hired. The overwhelming majority of "illegals" were properly processed by their employers under existing I-9 procedures. Unmasking the frauds incentivized by these procedures will require new statutes. This reflects your policy preference for deportation, not your superior commitment to law.
Employers want to change existing law too. But they would give visas to existing foreign workers, and implement stricter verification standards going forward. That is their policy preference.
George Clooney says refugees from Sudan's war-wracked Darfur region that he's been visiting this week are echoing a message: "Bring us justice."It also appears that Luis Moreno-Ocampo is looking to bring justice.
Clooney said his trip to the camps in Chad comes at an "extraordinarily important moment" with the International Criminal Court about to decide whether to seek the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Despite concerns of heightened violence if the arrest is sought, Clooney said that most Darfur refugees he spoke with told him they see hope in the international community.
Clooney said the concern of increasing violence is most acute among refugees in Darfur. "Here in Chad, it is a very different feeling," he said, with many people telling him: "Bring us justice. Bring us justice."
Clooney is designated a U.N. Messenger of Peace but said his current visit — his sixth to Darfur and Chad — was privately arranged. Clooney, who co-founded Not On Our Watch to focus global attention on Darfur, has been denied entry to Sudan. He called that a sign the government doesn't want to draw any attention to Darfur at this critical time.
Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court, issued a press release indicating that it would rule on March 4 on the question of whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The main function of buzzwords such as “participation” and “empowerment” is to paper over the ugly reality that there will be some battles of conflicting interests between “the poor and disadvantaged” and other more powerful groups like the World Bank and rulers of poor countries -- and that the poor will almost always lose such battles.What is real participation? Sadly, I agree with Easterly that participation as done by development and humanitarian organizations is often just another check mark to go through as we work in other countries. Real participation means recognition of how people already participate and using that to enhance their own personal liberty.
The Senate last year repealed the law banning HIV+ people from visiting or immigrating to the U.S.
So why is the policy still in place?
Why are green card applications from HIV+ applicants still getting denied?
Nobody seems to know.Sign the Letter to President Obama!
Dear President Obama,
We write to urge you to order the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") to publish a proposed rule to remove HIV from the HHS list of communicable diseases of public health significance as soon as possible.
As a former co-sponsor of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ("PEPFAR"), we are sure you are aware that this landmark legislation included a provision which struck the statutory language that required HIV to be designated a communicable disease of public health significance. In response to concerns about the potential increased costs to the U.S. health care system of removing HIV from the list, PEPFAR also raised future visa fees as an offset. On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed PEPFAR into law completing the first step in a two step process to end the ban.
Abu Qatada is accused of being a threat to national security, of raising funds for terrorist groups and of providing spiritual guidance to Islamic terrorists.
British authorities have been trying to deport him to Jordan, where he has been convicted for his role in two bombings, but appeals courts had ruled that he could not be sent there because he could face torture.
The Home Office appealed, and the Law Lords on Wednesday reversed the appeal court ruling.
Abu Qatada — whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman — arrived in Britain in 1993 and claimed asylum for himself and his family.
The lawyers for Abu Qatada and three other men who were also accused of terror offenses will appeal their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. None of the men will be deported while that appeal is pending, said Tom Porteous, London director of Human Rights Watch.
And more info on Tuition Equity from the Higher Education Access Alliance.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
As word leaks out that the World Bank effectively funded the demolition of homes of the very poor residents of a small village, Jale, in Albania, and then refused to speak about it for more than a year, one can only hope that the Bank will spend as much time thinking through what went wrong as it will doing damage control.
This is not the first time the Bank has gotten into trouble over resettlement. In June 2000, an internal inquiry faulted the Bank for violating its own guidelines in a resettlement project in Tibet.
Criticisms in a review of resettlement in connection with a dam project in Indonesia in 1985 indicated problems there as well.
What can the World Bank do to increase accountability?
First, the Bank can become a lot more transparent in its activities. By using its own website and other forms of Internet-based technology, the Bank can make the initial project statement -- the Project Concept Note or PCN--available to the public, to invite comments (which could also be posted on a website) prior to finalizing the project design.
Second, the Bank must develop a culture of seeking information from the public and responding to it. In the case of Albania, urgent messages from the residents of Jale went unheard for weeks. A Bank team visiting the country two weeks after the demolitions reportedly did not speak to individuals whose homes were destroyed. An Office of Civic Engagement that can use Internet-based methods of communication as well as traditional ones, might be worth thinking about -- not only to talk with NGOs or civic groups, but also to reach out to individuals.
Third, the Bank's management (rather than lower-level staff) must be held accountable for its actions. It can easily hide behind the fact that it was the Albanian government that undertook the demolitions; the government in turn is already blaming the Bank and hinting that it will not compensate the victims.
Finally, Mr. Zoellick can take a big step to increase accountability by making public the results of his new investigation.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The professor, Leopold Munyakazi, 59, taught French at Goucher College in this city north of Baltimore until he was suspended with pay in December after the college learned that he had been indicted on murder and several genocide-related charges in Rwanda, according to court papers.However, it is worth noting (from Slate):
Dr. Munyakazi was arrested at his home in Towson for overstaying his visa, said Brandon A. Montgomery, an ICE spokesman. Mr. Montgomery said that Dr. Munyakazi was released from custody on the condition that he wear a monitoring device and that he faced a deportation hearing in April.
University officials also pointed out that the indictment was prepared a month after Dr. Munyakazi gave a controversial talk in Delaware while he was a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey. In that speech, Dr. Munyakazi questioned the Rwandan government’s official account of events during the genocide.
“I refer to it as civil war, not genocide; it was about political power,” Dr. Munyakazi said in that speech, according to a University of Deleware news release from October 2006. “Ethnicity is not really understood about Rwanda. In Rwanda there are no tribes. There are social groups. They are one single people.”
Also 'Colored Opinion'
Goucher President explains in an open letter that the charges—which Munyakazi denies—were brought to his attention in December by "a producer from NBC News … working on a series about international war criminals who are living in the United States." The producer was accompanied by a Rwandan prosecutor, Ungar adds.
A network series about hunting for war criminals among us?
Sounds strange to my ears—and to those of Ungar, a former journalist and one-time dean of American University's School of Communications. In his open letter, Ungar continues: "Some question the unusual circumstance in which the prosecutor traveled around the United States with a television producer and camera crew, rather than talking with the appropriate U.S. government officials through standard channels."
(Also NPR's four part series on immigration)
The de facto deportation of U.S. citizen children when there parents are deported from the United States has long been a problem, and troubled federal judges like Ninth Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson (He submitted dissents in a series of unpublished dispositions and contends that, in those cases, ordering the deportation of a noncitizen parent in effect will result in the deportation of a U.S. child).
- There were 1.4 million foreign born from Africa residing in the United States in 2007.
- African immigrants made up 3.7 percent of all immigrants in 2007.
- About one-third of African immigrants were from West Africa.
- The top countries of origin for African immigrants were Nigeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
- Over half of all African immigrants resided in New York, California, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
- More than 500,000 Africans have gained lawful permanent residence in the United States since 2000.
- Nearly 40 percent of African-born lawful permanent residents in 2007 were the immediate relatives of US citizens.
- About one-third of all refugees and asylees admitted to the United States in 2007 were from Africa.
- Most Africans admitted to the United States on temporary nonimmigrant visas were tourists and business travelers.
- Three countries accounted for more than half of temporary nonimmigrant admissions from Africa.
- About half of temporary worker admissions from Africa were specialty occupation workers and intracompany transferees.
Immigrants who are permanent residents, with documents commonly known as green cards, have long been eligible to enlist. But the new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, according to military officials familiar with the plan.But, there is much resistance from the veterans who expressed concern that some foreigners might have divided loyalties or be terrorists seeking to infiltrate the US armed services.
Recruiters expect that the temporary immigrants will have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise than many Americans who enlist, helping the military to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.
The program will begin small — limited to 1,000 enlistees nationwide in its first year, most for the Army and some for other branches. If the pilot program succeeds as Pentagon officials anticipate, it will expand for all branches of the military. For the Army, it could eventually provide as many as 14,000 volunteers a year, or about one in six recruits.
The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after DHS officials update an immigration rule in coming days.About 8,000 permanent immigrants with green cards join the armed forces annually, the Pentagon reports, and about 29,000 foreign-born people currently serving are not American citizens.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
“My clients wanted to do what any other American does,” Ms. Cerrillo said. “And they wanted to show that they paid their taxes if there is ever a chance for amnesty or a green card.”
That all changed Oct. 17, when investigators with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, armed with a search warrant, seized thousands of confidential tax returns from Ms. Cerrillo’s business. They told her they were looking for people with fraudulent Social Security numbers, commonly used by illegal immigrants to get work.
The seizure of the tax returns was the first step in a broad, continuing investigation, called Operation Number Games by local law enforcement officials. Sheriff John Cooke said his investigators had identified about 1,300 illegal immigrants who had filed tax returns bearing fake or stolen Social Security numbers. Many will face deportation proceedings.
The campaign is causing concern at the I.R.S., which says illegal immigrants paid almost $50 billion in taxes from 1996 to 2003, and among immigrants’ rights groups, which call the operation a thinly disguised attempt to root out illegal immigrants.
If a stolen or false Social Security number is used only to get work, “there is no negative impact on the rightful owner,” said a Social Security Administration spokesman, Mark Hinkle; but it can wreak financial havoc if used to gain access to bank accounts or to obtain credit cards.
Late last Monday, the American Civic Liberties Union of Colorado filed a lawsuit in State District Court here arguing that by seizing and retaining confidential tax information, the Weld County authorities had violated privacy rights of thousands of taxpayers.“If the sheriff and the D.A. can comb through thousands of records in a tax preparer’s office on the theory that some of their clients are doing something wrong, then none of our confidential information is safe,” said Mark Silverstein, the legal director for the group.
Both sides agree that the issue has exposed a hole in federal immigration policy. Since 1996, the I.R.S. has distributed about 15 million Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to enable people without Social Security numbers to pay taxes. Many illegal immigrants also buy fake or stolen Social Security numbers on the black market to show to potential employers.
Researchers visited more than 30 facilities around the country to examine the effects of a 2003 change in the federal system for overseeing the thousands of children who arrive alone.
More than 90,000 such children were apprehended in 2007 along the country's southern border. Most were immediately sent back to their homeland — Mexico, in many cases — but about 8,000 were placed in U.S. custody, the report said.
Those children must be transferred to HHS' Division of Unaccompanied Children's Services, created in 2003. Before that, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service handled the apprehension and custody of unaccompanied immigrant minors.
The division has placed some children in foster care, housed others in child-friendly shelters or group facilities, and reunited many more with parents or relatives while awaiting the outcomes of their immigration cases, the report said.
Children have gotten better medical care, psychological treatment and education under the division's oversight than they did before, said Brane, director of the refugee commission's detention and asylum program.
But the study also found that as the number of children in custody surged, some facilities became more restrictive of the children's activities and behavior, and there were few therapeutic programs for those who were victims of gang violence, sexual abuse or abandonment. Some children also lacked legal representation, the study said.
Researchers also found some children weren't transferred into the division's care within the required 72 hours and were treated like criminals.
Children and staffers reported that some children arrived at shelters and homes in handcuffs. One girl said she was thrown to the ground and accused of being a drug smuggler; a boy with a broken shoulder said a Border Patrol agent twisted his arm when he did not raise it.
The study authors visited facilities in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington state between April 2007 and February 2008.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Are you looking for a little excitement in your life? Imagine what fun it would be to live through a rebel attack...to navigate a minefield...to negotiate with corrupt officials and border guards in a desperate effort to survive.
Thanks to a U.N.-sponsored exhibition, visitors to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week got just that opportunity -- at a theme park with a name right out of Disney: "Refugee Run."
Visitors were given the opportunity to experience the harsh conditions that millions of refugees and internally displaced people face daily in some of the world's most hostile environments and killing fields – exciting places like Darfur, Congo, Iraq and Pakistan.
Walk in and you can visit a small tent similar to the ones you see in Darfur, a canvas cover over a dirt floor. Move on to a larger tent, a replica of the shelters that house large numbers of Afghan refugees and familiea in Pakistan or Iran.
We’re taking fun for the entire family -- don't forget to visit the gift shop. And when your day in refugee hell is over, you go back to your hotel at this Swiss mountain retreat and relax in your luxurious jacuzzi.
Refugee Run -- promotional posters were everywhere on the snow-covered streets and resembled the old ads for the movies "Logan's Run" and "Midnight Run" -- left some participants enraged, and others rolling on the floor in laughter, that the misery of millions could be marketed so tastelessly at this gathering of the rich and famous.
"Isn't this just a tad different from the life of an actual refugee, at risk of all too real rape, murder, hunger, and disease? Did the words "insensitive," "dehumanizing," or "disrespectful" ever come up in discussing the plans for 'Refugee Run'?"
But others, including some influential figures, were supportive of the exhibition.
"The exhibition is artificial, but anything that sensitizes people to the harsh realities of refugees can only be a plus," said former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Refugee Run "a profound experience that reminds us of the plight of millions of forcibly displaced people."
And Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson, a corporate supporter of UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, said, "it's beautifully done."
The UNHCR sponsored Refugee Run in an effort to secure private sector interest and funding for its global operations from the rich and richer at the World Economic Forum. The objective was to increase private sector contributions to $100 million annually, said Olivier Delarue, head of UNHCR's Corporate and Foundation Partnership Unit.
U.N. officials said that reaching out to the corporate world for support is essential, because 98 percent of UNHCR's operations are dependent upon voluntary contributions from governments, individuals, corporations and foundations. In 2008, the private sector contributed about $50 million to the agency's annual budget of $1.7 billion to support millions of refugees and internally displaced persons around the planet.
Delarue said hundreds of World Economic Forum participants visited "Refugee Run," including the CEOs of Nike Inc. and Gucci Group.
Delarue said Refugee Run cost less then $100,000 and was funded completely by a private-sector umbrella group that includes representatives from Nike, Microsoft, Manpower, Price Waterhouse Coopers and others.
The court ruled that because the woman, Osserritta Robinson, was married to her husband for less than two years before his death, her pending residency application could be terminated. The ruling came in a 2-1 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. It overturned a May 2007 ruling by a federal district court judge in New Jersey that the federal government had wrongfully determined that Ms. Robinson, 31, was no longer the spouse of her late husband. The Robinsons were married for eight months.
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Nygaard blamed the government for its slow response to Ms. Robinson’s petition for permanent residency.
“This same department whose delay or inaction forecloses Osserritta Robinson’s chance of becoming an American, now so diligently pursues the avenues of her expulsion,” he wrote. “My view, wholly in the margin, is that it is untoward of this nation of immigrants, we who have passed through the portals of citizenship, to coldly and impassively slam the door behind us on innocent aspirants who dream to follow.”
One attempted “trump card” is that an “authentic” member of group X is in favor of a certain policy towards group X. The hidden assumption is that any “authentic” member of group X can speak for all other members of group X, and knows what is best for group X. When these hidden assumptions are clearly stated, they are clearly silly. I was authentically born in West Virginia, but I would not dare claim to know what’s best for Appalachian poverty based on my accident of birth (or speak for my fellow “Appalachians.”)
A recent use of this “trump card” was UNHCR’s statement defending its “Refugee Run” at Davos, which we debated on this blog last week: “The exhibit received a seal of approval from a genuine refugee, Raphael Mwandu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” I have every respect for Mr. Mwandu’s opinion, but I don’t approve of UNHCR’s using him as a trump card. What did it mean that one refugee was “genuine” – did they disqualify some other refugees that were not “genuine”?
Sunday, February 1, 2009
(HT: Chris Blattman)
While a foreign spouse of an American citizen is eligible for residency the law also requires that a couple be married at least two years for the foreign spouse to be considered for residency, in part as a safeguard against fraudulent marriages. Moreover, the government has also argued that if the American spouse dies before the two-year mark, the foreign spouse becomes a widow — or widower — effectively annulling the marriage and the right of the foreigner to be considered for residency.
There are at least least 170 immigrants caught in this bind, according to Surviving Spouses Against Deportation, a nonprofit group. They entered the country legally, followed the rules and are now subject to deportation because their spouses died before they had been married for two years.
Bills were submitted in Congress in the last session that would have amended immigration law to provide such relief to surviving spouses. The bills received bipartisan support, but Congress failed to act on them before the end of the session. The bills are expected to be reintroduced in the current session. In a wide-ranging directive issued on Friday, Janet Napolitano asked her staff to review the immigration laws that affect surviving noncitizen spouses.