Refugee Voices

CONGRESSWOMAN SUSAN DAVIS PRESENTED REFUGEE CHAMPION AWARD

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Congresswoman Susan Davis and Nile Sisters founder Elizabeth Lou

August 8, 2017 (San Diego) -- Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) is the recipient of the 2017 Refugee Champion Award.  The award was presented by Nile Sisters Development Initiative, a San Diego-based nonprofit helping local refugees and immigrants.

MEDICAL MEET AND GREETS FOR REFUGEES SOON TO BECOME REGULAR AFFAIRS

 

By Rachel Williams

August 7, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Medical handouts, translated to English and Arabic, are strewn across the table at St. John’s Church for Syrian and Afghan refugees. Health organizations around San Diego participated in an educational meet and greet to introduce the differences in urgent and emergency care, proper nutrition and disease prevention.

RAISE ACT BACKED BY TRUMP WOULD SLASH LEGAL IMMIGRATION IN HALF, REQUIRE ENGLISH AND SPECIAL SKILLS FOR ENTRY TO U.S.

 

Major CEOs say bill would harm tech industry; policy has roots in racist organizaitons

By Miriam Raftery

August 3, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – Going far beyond rounding up  undocumented immigrations, President Donald Trump is now backing a bill that aims to cut legal immigration in half.  It proposes a skills-based immigration system that includes English proficiency and job skills, also prohibiting immigrants from bringing any family members here except for spouse and minor children.

SUPREME COURT DEALS BLOW TO REFUGEES, BUT SUPPORTS RIGHTS OF GRANDPARENTS UNDER TRUMP TRAVEL BAN

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 20, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – The Trump administration can break promises made by resettlement agencies and bar some 24,000 refugees already promised a safe haven in the U.S., the Supreme Court has ruled.

The decision overturns a portion of a Hawaii court ruling which would have allowed those refugees from six mostly Muslim nations entry, provided they had been vetted and already accepted for entry.  The stay was issued on an emergency basis based on Trump administration national security argument until an appeal is heard by the 9th Circuti Court of Appeals, which could reinstate or uphold the lower court’s ruling.

But the high court’s unsigned order  also upheld the ruling by Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii allowing grandparents, aunts, uncles and other close relatives of people already in the U.S. to join their family members here. 

FEDERAL COURT ORDERS “CLOSE FAMILY” DEFINITION IN TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN TO BE EXPANDED

 

 

Ruling also protects refugees with resettlement to U.S. approved

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2017 (San Francisco) – Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could prohibit travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, provided that people with close family members or other ties to the U.S. are allowed to enter. But now federal judge Derick Watson has ruled that the Trump administration’s interpretation of close family was too narrow. 

The court held that grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sister-s in law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the U.S. should be allowed entry, in addition to parents, children and siblings already allowed to enter.

DRAMATIC PHOTOS DEPICT BATTLE OF MOSUL

 

 

Allied forces gain ground: Iraqi Prime Minister declares end to ISIS caliphate, but plight of refugees remains dire

By Miriam Raftery; Photos by Kainoa Little

Photo, left:  Refugees flee the embattled city of Mosul

July 4, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County Magazine has obtained dramatic photos from the Battle of Mosul, taken in the Iraqi city during April 2017 by photographer Kainoa Little, who specializes in photographing war zones and refugees. 

His images show Iraqi federal police fighting to free Mosul from occupation by Islamic State, or ISIL, militants who seized the city in June 2014.  The photos poignantly depict the courage of soldiers and at times, fear, as they fight amid the ruins and also the anguish of residents and refugees fleeing the city. 

The battle captured in these April photos continues, with the allies gaining ground. Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi held a press conference to praise his troops for a “big victory in Mosul” including retaking what remains of the al-Nuri mosque in the old city, Associated Press reports. 

SUPREME COURT ISSUES COMPROMISE ORDER ON TRUMP TRAVEL BAN

 

Ruling allows immigration from six Muslim nations for those with ties to U.S., but bans others until full case is heard this fall; refugees hardest hit by decision

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syrian refugee boy's future remains in limbo

June 27, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary order reinstating a portion of President Donald Trump’s travel ban previously halted by multiple appellate courts.  The decision allows immigration to continue from six Muslim nations (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) but only for people with a “bona fide relationship” to the U.S.  The temporary order is in place until the high court hears the case in the fall and issues a ruling.

The definition of such relationship or ties is not spelled out, but legal experts generally agree that travelers with family in the U.S., jobs or job offers, and students at U.S. universities will be protected.  It is unclear whether others, such as those with medical conditions seeking treatment here, would be banned or not. Visitors seeking visas who don’t have ties here would be barred from entry.  Hardest hit would be refugees fleeing violence, whose hopes of a brighter future in America will now be dashed unless they already have family or other ties in the U.S., international aid groups warn.

JUDGE TEMPORARILY HALTS DEPORTATIONS OF IRAQIS NATIONWIDE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Iraq prayer vigil held in El Cajon in July 2014. El Cajon is home to 40,000  or more Iraqi-Chaldean Christians as well as Kurds and other Iraqi religious minorities.

June 27, 2017 (San Diego ) – A federal judge yesterday issued a nationwide two-week ban on deportation of  Iraqi-Americans back to Iraq.  The ruling was prompted by a lawsuit on behalf of 114 Iraqis  rounded up and detained in  Detroit, mainly Christian Chaldeans, but the ban applies broadly to 1,400 Iraqis under deportation orders nationwide.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued the stay to give him time to determine whether his court has jurisdiction to weigh in on the detainees’ fears that deportation to Iraq could lead to death, torture or persecution, the Chicago Tribune reports.  Goldsmith wrote, “Such harm far outweighs any interest that government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately.”

NONPROFIT TEACHING SWIMMING TO REFUGEES: SEEKS DONATIONS FOR VAN

 

East County News Service

June 21, 2017 (San Diego) - Out of the Boat Swim, a nonprofit, provides free water-safety and beach programs to refugee and underprivileged children living in San Diego. Out of the Boat Swim offers free beach and water-safety programs to help refugee and inner city kids integrate during a challenging time of transition. Some of the children will go on to become Junior Guards in the San Diego Junior Lifeguard program by design of the partnership between Out of the Boat Swim and San Diego Junior Lifeguards.

SUPREME COURT RULES TOP BUSH OFFICIALS IMMUNE FROM PROSECUTION FOR DETENTION AND ALLEGED ABUSE OF MUSLIMS AFTER SEPT. 11 TERROR ATTACK

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 20, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – The US. Supreme Court has ruled that former Bush administration officials cannot be sued for allegedly violating Constitutional rights protecting against illegal search and seizures.  The case, Ziglar v. Abbasi, was filed by Muslim immigrants who allege that they were profiled based on their religion, arrested and detained in harsh conditions after the September 11th terrorism attacks.  

HUMANITARIAN GROUPS WARN REFUGEE BILL IN CONGRESS COULD PUT LIVES IN PERIL

 

East County News Service

June 17, 2017 (San Diego) - The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act has been reintroduced and will be considered in the House Judiciary committee this weekContrary to its name, refugee advocates say the measure would actually endanger the lives of refugees in need ot immediate resettlement as well as any refugees already in the U.S. who travel home to visit family.  A letter opposing the legislation has been sent to the committee’s chair and ranking member, signed by 117 refugee advocate organizations including many local groups ranging from churches to human rights advocates.

ACLU AND MINORITY HUMANITIES FOUNDATION FILE FEDERAL LAWSUIT SUPPORTING DETAINED IRAQIS

 

 

“President Trump has placed a death sentence for the Christians that currently face deportation to Iraq.” – Mark Arabo, President, Minority Humanitarian Foundation, San Diego

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery:  Iraqis Chaldeans and Assyrian Christians at Santa Sophia's Church in Spring Valley held a mass to mourn the murder of  Iraqi Christians  in a Baghdad church in 2010.

June 15, 2017 (San Diego) -- A class action lawsuit has been filed against the federal government in Michigan seeking to halt deportation of Iraqi refugees to Iraq. The suit seeks protections for over 100 Chaldean Christian detainees,  as well as other religious minorities including Shiite Muslims, Kurds, and Yezidis who would could face persecution, torture or death at the hands of ISIS if returned to war-torn Iraq.

“Not only is it immoral to send people to a country where they are likely to be violently persecuted, it expressly violates United States and international law and treaties,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director for the ACLU of Michigan, in a statement on the ACLU website. “We are hoping that the courts will recognize the extreme danger that deportation to Iraq would pose for these individuals. Our immigration policy shouldn’t amount to a death sentence for anyone.”

SECOND APPEALS COURT BLOCKS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN, BUT ON DIFFERENT GROUNDS

 

 

Ruling also affirms block on refugee ban, but allows review of vetting procedures

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2017 (San Francisco) --  A second federal appeals court has blocked nearly all of President Donald Trump’s executive order  that included a 90-day travel ban from six mainly Muslim nations, though the two courts found different rationales for their rulings, the New York Times reports.

100,000 CHILDREN AT RISK IN MOSUL, UNICEF WARNS AS BATTLE TO FREE CITY FROM ISIS RAGES

 

Minority Humanitarian Foundation President Mark Arabo calls for global response

By Miriam Raftery

June 7, 2017 (San Diego) –  Iraqi forces backed by the U.S. are driving Islamic State (ISIS) forces from the stronghold in Mosul where the terrorists have held civilians captive for three years. But the toll is bloody.  CNN reports ISIS killed over 160 civilians in a single day.  Aerial photographs reveal  horrific carnage.   

NEW RESEARCH: HIGH LEVELS OF ANXIETY FOUND AMONG SYRIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN

 

Source: American Psychiatric Association

Photo by Rachel Williams: Syrian refugee girls in El Cajon

May 21, 2017 (San Diego) -- The Syria Civil War has exposed millions of civilians to extreme physical and emotional trauma. Anxiety is common among Syrian refugee children, affecting more than four in five children, according to research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in San Diego.

EL CAJON TEACHERS AND IMMIGRANTS HIGHLIGHTED IN WASHINGTON POST

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  ahausloher on Twitter

April 15, 2017 (El Cajon) – Efforts of El Cajon teachers to help Middle Eastern immigrant children have been highlighted in a Washington Post article titled, “How President Trump is – and is not—changing what it means to be American.”  Read the full story

LOCAL SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY SUFFERS TRAGIC LOSS

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 13, 2017 (El Cajon) – A Syrian refugee family in El Cajon who fled war-torn Syria to give their only son a brighter future is now grieving over his loss. On his first trip ever to a beach, 17-year-old Mohammed al-Mustafa was pulled under by a rip current and has not been found.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: STEVEN RIZNYK, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY, WARNS GREEN CARD AND VISA HOLDERS NOT TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE U.S.

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 10, 2017 (San Diego) – Immigration attorney Steven Riznyk, CEO at San Diego Biz Law, was a guest on our East County Magazine Radio Show aired on March 24th on KNSJ Radio.  (Listen to our interview by clicking the orange audio link.)   He offered important advice in the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, speaking about little-known provisions that could lead to deportations or refusal to readmit some travelers with green cards or visas who leave the U.S. on vacation or business travel.

Audio: 

LOCAL WOMEN FIGHT FOR EQUALITY AND EMPOWERING SIMILARITIES

 

By Rachel Williams

April 7, 2017 (San Diego) -- Last week, the Women’s Museum of California debriefed attendees on preserving the past and inspiring the future for refugees in San Diego. The local chapter of the U.N. delegation concentrates on economic empowerment for women within the changing world of work and political landscape.

THE LOCAL JEWISH COMMUNITY OPENS ITS DOORS AFTER A REDEFINED TRAVEL BAN

 

By Rachel Williams

April 5, 2017 (San Diego) — At Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Devorah Marcus opened their doors to support those impacted by Trump’s revised executive order, but judges in Maryland and Hawaii issued injunctions to temporarily halt the travel ban.

TRUMP’S ORDER 13769: HOW IT’S GETTING RID OF VISA HOLDERS AND IMMIGRANTS WHO HAVE NO IDEA IT EXISTS

 

By Steven Riznyk,  immigration attorney, San Diego

March 21, 2017 (San Diego) -- It is interesting to note that a lot of Green Card and visa holders are still not aware of Presidential Order 13768 as the travel ban took over the news. However, Steven Riznyk’s law firm, San Diego Biz Law, has been receiving calls from clients nationwide and worldwide who are affected by this section. They are afraid to travel, are denied entry at the border, and lose their airfares as well as vacation times. 

People don’t realize, states Steven Riznyk, how Presidential Order 13768 is affecting their family members and employees. Regrettably, and what is more surprising, states Mr Riznyk, is that a lot of visa and Green Card holders have no idea this Order is in effect, and are blindly traveling outside our borders, never to return. 

Green Card and Visa Holders are unaware that if they have a criminal record of any kind they require an approved waiver from the CIS (=immigration department) or Governor’s Pardon (for more serious offences); otherwise, they are leaving the United States, possibly never to return. Although people think that they only have a 5 or 10-year bar with certain offences, the reality is that they are not automatically allowed in after the time has elapsed; they often have to present a case. People without a valid waiver will find themselves unable to visit sick or dying relatives or otherwise travel outside the United States. 

WISHING FOR A BETTER LIFE

 

Five Wishes, by Mollie Moon (Suka Press LLC, Carlsbad, California, 2017, 346 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

When you enter into freedom, possibility comes to meet you.

  • John O’Donohue

March 20, 2017 (San Diego) - Mollie Moon has escaped the cold European winters for a life in Southern California, where she lives with a bossy feline and occasional sand in her shoes, to write this fictional account of a young Latina breaking with family and cultural traditions; Five Wishes.

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP’S REVISED TRAVEL BAN ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Child in Africa, where famine threatens millions of children with starvation, the U.N. announced this week.  Trump’s order, blocked by a judge, barred refugees from entering the U.S, including drought-stricken nations

March 16, 2017 (San Diego) – A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked implementation of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. In a scathing 43-page ruling, U.S.  District Judge Derrick K. Watson wrote that there is a strong likelihood that the case, filed by the State of Hawaii, would be successful in proving that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating based on religion. Read the ruling.

TRUMP ISSUES REVISED TRAVEL BAN: EXCLUDES IRAQIS, GREEN CARD AND VISA HOLDERS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 7, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump has issued a new, more narrowly crafted executive order restricting refugees’ entry into the U.S. after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked implementation of his earlier executive order as unconstitutional.  Here’s what the new ban includes:

NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES PLANS TO BECOME ‘SANCTUARY ASSOCATION’ AT DINNER WITH 1,200 ATTENDEES

 

East County News Service

February 19, 2017 (San Diego) – Over 1,200 attended Friday night’s Neighborhood Market Association (NMA) banquet at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. NMA’s Mark Arabo used the night to honor the diversity of its members, and declare the NMA the first ever “sanctuary association” in the nation.

MINORITY HUMANITIES PRESIDENT AND CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY LEADER PRAISES RULING UPHOLDING SUSPENSION OF TRAVEL BAN

 

East County News Service

February 11, 2017 (San Diego) -- The news of President Trump’s wide reaching immigration ban has stunned the world as well as many Chaldean Christians in San Diego. The ban, which has put a halt to the travels of many Chaldean Christians in San Diego and abroad has been uniformly condemned by Chaldean residents in El Cajon. A ruling suspending the Trump ban has just been upheld by the Court of Appeals.

CALIF. ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA JOINS 6 STATES, ASKS SUPREME COURT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION FOR NON-CITIZENS DETAINED BY FEDERAL GOVT.

 

East County News Service

Photo:  Iraqi church leaders and families held prayer vigil in 2015 for Christians detained 6 months or more at ICE facility in Otay Mesa

February 11, 2017 (Sacramento) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the state attorney general from Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Jennings v Rodriguez, a case involving the federal government’s authority to detain non-citizens pending completion of their removal proceedings.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN LORENA GONZALEZ-FLETCHER AND COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE "CALIFORNIA WELCOMES REFUGEES" LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

 

East County News Service

February 10, 2017 (Sacramento) -- California State Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego) and Adrin Nazarian (D- Sherman Oaks) have introduced a legislative package that they say builds upon California’s efforts to welcome and successfully integrate refugees from around the world. This legislative package will help refugees access educational and employment resources necessary to become integrated and productive members of the community.

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