Refugee Voices

CALIFORNIA POLITICANS REACT TO TRUMP ORDER ON FAMILY SEPARATION; STATE FILES LAWSUIT

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2018 (San Diego) – East County legislators and California’s state attorney general are taking action in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to end separation of immigrant children and parents. Some argue that the directive does not go far enough to protect children and babies, since they could still be detained with parents and since it’s unclear how or when youngsters already taken from parents will be reunited.

Trump's reversal came after audiotape of terrified, crying children at a detention facility was released by ProPublica and after a judge sharply criticized the Trump administration upon learning that records were not kept when some children were taken from their anguished parents, who have been unable to get any information on their children's whereabouts 

"I can’t understand this," the exasperated judge reportedly told the attorney. "If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?”

BUSINESS EVENT HIGHLIGHTS IMMIGRANT ENTREPRENEURS : TONIGHT AT SYRIAN-OWNED RESTAURANT ON WORLD REFUGEE DAY

 

Local business owners celebrate refugees’ positive economic contributions: over 64,000 foreign-born residents add $1.4 billion in business income to San Diego County

Source: Business For Good

June 20, 2018 (El Cajon) – On June 20, small business owners will gather at an immigrant-owned restaurant to honor the positive economic impact of immigrants and refugees on the San Diego economy. The event will take place on World Refugee Day, observed annually to honor the courage, strength and determination of people who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. at Suri Restaurant, 461 El Cajon Blvd, El Cajon, CA 92020. If you’d like to attend, check out the event link.

Business for Good San Diego, a local nonprofit that unites small business owners to drive policy that improves the community, works to support policies that recognize the importance of immigrants to our local economy. Staying true to this perspective, Business for Good partnered with International Rescue Committee San Diego to bring this summer mixer to Suri Restaurant, a Syrian restaurant in El Cajon.

CALIFORNIA SENATORS FIGHT TO STOP CHILDREN FROM BEING TAKEN FROM PARENTS AT BORDER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Twitter

June 4, 2018 (San Diego) – Outrage is growing over revelations that the Trump administration has dramatically expanded the number of children being forcibly separated from their parents at the international border. On Friday, dozens o f protests were held in cities across the nation, NPR reports. The hashtag #familiesbelongtogether is trending on Twitter, showing thousands gathered at protests from Trump Towers to the nation’s capital.

INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION: SOMALI FAMILY SERVICES’ YOUTH SUMMIT APRIL 22

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2018 (San Diego) -- Somali Family Service (SFS) will host the fifth Annual Youth Summit on Saturday, April 22nd.  The theme of this year's Youth Summit is "Inspiring the next generation of leaders to make a change."

SUPREME COURT RULES IMMIGRANTS AND ASYLUM SEEKERS CAN BE DETAINED INDEFINITELY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Prayer vigil held in 2015 by Iraqi Christians outside the ICE prison in San Diego’s Otay Mesa, where their family members were detained for prolonged periods.

March 4, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that immigrants and asylum seekers may be detained indefinitely without periodic bond hearings.  The ruling applies even to people with permanent legal status.

LOCALS RESPOND TO IRAQI JOURNALIST ALLEGING CORRUPTION AGAINST AYATOLLAH SISTANI

 

Click to view video of Adnan Al Jaafari's anti-corruption message in Arabic or scroll down for highlights and local reactions

By Jonathan Goetz

Translator Abbas Al Khuzaie also contributed to this report

February 14, 2018  (El Cajon) -- Adnan Al Jaafari is a journalist who has published a video criticizing corruption, including harsh words for Iraq's highest ranked religious figure, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

A blog on Huffington Post, as well as an East County resident we interviewed, credit Sistani with defeating ISIS in Iraq.

TRANSLATOR WHO HELPED U.S. MILITARY SAVES BABY FROM FIRE, BUT HIS FAMILY IN EL CAJON LOSES EVERYTHING

 

 

Hear our interview  on KNSJ ith Mandy Mattis, No One Left Behind, on the Shurish family, how you can help this local hero and other translators relocated here after risking their lives to help Amreican troops.

By Miriam Raftery

February 1, 2018 (El Cajon) – Targeted by the Taliban for helping the U.S. military as a translator in Afghanistan, Ahmed Shurish fled his homeland with his wife and children, leaving everything else behind.  They arrived here just seven months ago, building a new life in El Cajon.

But now his family has once against lost everything, this time in a fire in which Shurish heroically saved his neighbor’s baby from the flames. So the community is pulling together to help this hero and his family rebuild their lives yet again.

LEADERS FROM SAN DIEGO TO UNITED NATIONS DENOUNCE TRUMP’S SLUR AGAINST IMMIGRANTS FROM NATIONS OF COLOR

 

By Miriam Raftery

This is a moment of truth, a moment to reflect on our values -- values of decency, respect, and compassion -- and call this president to account for his treatment of others.” – Andrea Guerrero, Alliance San Diego

January 13, 2018 (San Diego) – The Washington Post, citing multiple sources, reported  Friday that during a meeting with several Senators meant to hammer out bipartisan immigration legislation, President Donald Trump made a vulgar racial remark. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the President reportedly said of immigrants from Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador.

REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS GIVE BACK, SERVING MEALS TO HOMELESS IN EL CAJON

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: License to Freedom's Executive Director Dilkhwaz Ahmed and Pacific Consulting Group's Pavel Consuegra serve up a meal for the homeless and El Cajon’s Mayor

December 30, 2017 (El Cajon) – Local immigrants and refugees are giving back to the community, serving up dinner to the homeless with License to Freedom at Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon.

License to Freedom members have been helping the homeless for two years, including an event held on December 27th, two days after Christmas. The events will continue in 2018.  Meridian Baptist feeds the homeless every Wednesday night and License to Freedom hosts the 4th Wednesday of each month.

IN CHRISTMAS MASS, POPE FRANCIS URGES CHRISTIANS TO WELCOME REFUGEES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Pope's homily for Christmas Mass during the night: full text

December 25, 2017 (The Vatican) -- In his homily at Christmas Mass in St Peter’s Basilica during the night, Pope Francis drew parallels between Biblical refugees Joseph and Mary and the millions of refugees around the world today who are “driven from their lands” under desperate circumstances, often forced to leave family members behind.

“In many cases,  the Pope observed, “this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.”

He urged compassion and a welcoming attitude toward refugees, in stark contrast to the harsh policies imposed by the Trump administration, which has sought to restrict admission of refugees and increase deportations, tearing many families apart.

EL CAJON CHALDEAN COMMUNITY HOLDS RALLY CALLING ON U.S. AND IRAQ TO SAVE CHRISTIAN FAMILIES FROM GENOCIDE

 

 

 

By Paul Kruze

November 21, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Some 300 members of El Cajon’s large Chaldean  community gathered at Prescott Promenade in downtown El Cajon on Thursday afternoon to vent their frustrations that the U.S. government is not doing enough to protect ethnic Chaldean Christians who still live in war-torn Iraq and face new persecutions now, even after ISIS has been routed from their homeland.

The rally was sponsored by the Chaldean League of California, local Chaldean associations, and the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter. Several speakers called for the Iraqi constitution to be amended to assure equality for Muslim and Christian Iraqis and asked for there to be a separation of church and state in Iraq.

According to a flyer distributed by the Chaldean League, since the defeat of ISIS, Iraqi Christians have started to return to their overrun towns and villages, yet are once again being forced to flee again when Iraqi and Kurdish forces clash.

“PROTECT IRAQI CHRISTIANS” DEMONSTRATION THURSDAY IN EL CAJON CALLS FOR PEACE, END TO GENOCIDE

 

 

After ISIS Genocide, Iraqi Christians are displaced again

By Noori Barka, PhD, President, Chaldean League of California

November 14, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Since ISIS defeat, and by the time the displaced Iraqi Christians have started to return to the towns and villages in the Nineveh Plains, they were forced to flee again as Iraqi and Kurdish forces clash. It's a shame that after our people started rebuilding their homes with the hope to start their life in peace after ISIS horror are now killed and displaced again by their own governments!

Our people have lost their faith in either Kurdistan or Iraqi governments to protect them. They see no future in their homeland and they are fleeing to neighboring countries looking for a safe refuge for their families.

Iraq is the land of the original Christians: the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs. Iraqi Christians were the original architects of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, before the Kurds and Arabs. Today, the Christian population of Iraq is down to about 200,000, a stunning 80 percent decline from the 1.5 million in 2003. Christianity is on the verge of being driven eliminated from its ancestral home.

SAN DIEGO ARAB FILM FESTIVAL 2017 INCLUDED 1948: CREATION AND CATASTROPHE AND ALI, THE GOAT AND IBRAHIM

 

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo, left: 1948: Creation and Catastrophe Directors Professor Ahlam Muhtaseb, Ph.D. and Andy Trimlett

November 13, 2017 (San Diego) – October’s San Diego Arab Film Festival was a success, featuring films from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, France, Tunisia and the United States.

SYRIAN REFUGEES AND MILITARY VETERANS JOIN GROWING SOLAR INDUSTRY

 

Refugee uses GRID training to launch his own solar installation company; other trainees meet top solar employers at graduation ceremony 

Source: Grid Alternatives San Diego

October 11, 2017 (San Diego) -- This month, GRID Alternatives San Diego, an affiliate of America’s largest nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives, introduced Syrian refugees and military veterans to the multi-billion-dollar solar industry through its Solar Installation Training Program. Attendees at the program graduation included refugee and long-time GRID volunteer Mohamed Hauter, who recently launched his own solar installation company and now employs several graduates of GRID’s training program.

NILE SISTERS PRESENTS “REFUGEE CRISIS: SPOTLIGHT ON SOUTH SUDAN” SEPT. 28

 

East County News Service

September 22, 2017 (San Diego) -- On September 28, 2017, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) will host "Refugee Crisis: Spotlight on South Sudan," an event featuring an informative panel of South Sudanese leaders and key stakeholders. The panelists will discuss the founding of Republic of South Sudan (ROSS), concerns over ballooning populations of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), as well as the responses by international, national, and local entities.  Confirmed panelists include former Governor of Western Equatoria, Honorable Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro and the Chairman and CEO of an international development firm, Dr. David S. Bassiouni.

SUPREME COURT REINSTATES TRAVEL BAN ON SOME REFUGEES UNTIL HIGH COURT HEARS CASE

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 12, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court today blocked an Appeals Court order that would have allowed refugees who already have contractual agreements from resettlement agencies to enter the U.S.  The ban could be temporary, put in place until the justices issue a final ruling after deliberations on the case begin in mid-October.

DIVERSITY DIALOGUES WORKSHOP SEPT. 14 EXPLORES MULTICULTURALISM

 

Source: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

September 4, 2017 (El Cajon) - "Developing a Positive Multicultural Orientation Toward Diversity: Self-reflection about our Diverse Identities and Cultural Orientation" is the title of the first Diversity Dialogues workshop for the fall semester at Cuyamaca College. Presented by marriage and family therapist Mayumi Y. Douglas, this workshop is set for 2-3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, in Room I-207 at the Student Center.

CHALDEAN CULTURE, FOOD, TRADITIONS AT CUYAMACA COLLEGE AUG. 28

 

East County News Service

August 26, 2017 (Rancho San Diego) - Leaders of the thriving Chaldean community in San Diego’s East County will be on hand for a special Chaldean Culture & Traditions celebration at Cuyamaca College on Monday, Aug. 28.       

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.”

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