Refugee Voices

REJECTING WHITE HOUSE CLAIMS AS 'CONTRIVED,' SUPREME COURT BLOCKS CENSUS CITIZENSHIP QUESTION...FOR NOW

"The Trump administration's attempt to politicize and manipulate this fundamental pillar of our democracy has failed."

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Reprinted with credit to CommonDreams.org under a Creative Commons License

June 27, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) - Civil liberties and immigrant rights advocates celebrated Thursday as the U.S. Supreme Court blocked—at least temporarily—the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, an effort critics had decried as a blatant attempt by Republicans to "weaponize" the national survey for political advantage.

NO NEW FLU CASES AMONG ASYLUM-SEEKING MIGRANTS IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 16, 2019 (San Diego) – The flu outbreak in San Diego among migrants seeking asylum appears to be waning.  No new flu cases were diagnosed among the 35 new migrants screened at the county shelter on Sunday, June 16th, says Michelle Mowad, communications specialist with the county.

HELPING WOMEN IN HONDURAS: SPEAKER TO ADDRESS LA MESA ROTARY JUNE 12 ON MICRO-LOAN SUCCESS STORIES

East County News Service

June 10, 2019 (La Mesa) – “We’ve recently read and heard about the number of Hondurans coming to the United States,” says Scott Elam with the La Mesa Rotary Club. “Join us for another perspective to learn about Honduran women who are making great strides to improve the lives of their families and villages through the benefits of micro-financing.”

FLU CASES AT MIGRANT CENTER INCREASE

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
May 26, 2019 (San Diego) – A total of 32 cases of influenza (flu) have been diagnosed among migrants at a San Diego shelter since May 19, when the federal government began air-lifting asylum seekers here from Texas. This includes 14 new cases since May 23, when the County initially announced the outbreak.

COUNTY RESPONDS TO FLU OUTBREAK AT MIGRANT CENTER

 

 

San Diego County Public Health officials are responding to an influenza outbreak among asylum seekers recently flown to San Diego from Texas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FLIES MIGRANTS TO SAN DIEGO, AS THOUSANDS MORE WAIT IN MEXICO AND TEXAS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

May 21, 2019 (San Diego)--With detention facilities in Texas overflowing with some 8,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., the Trump administration has begun shipping migrants to San Diego.  Three flights a week, each carrying 120 to 135 migrants, will be arriving in San Diego, where they will be processed by U.S. Customs and Immigration officials. The first plane load has arrived, with flights slated to continue indefinitely.  

GROUPS PAN PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NEW IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL AS ELITIST

 

 

By Suzanne Potter, California Public News Service

May 17, 2019 (Sacramento) -- Immigrants' rights groups are speaking out against President Donald Trump's new immigration proposal - unveiled yesterday - saying it betrays American values and ignores the thorniest issues that have thus far held up a comprehensive immigration deal in Congress. 

VOLUNTEER TO TUTOR ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

 

 

East County News Service

 

March 24, 2019 (San Diego) -- If you can speak English, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Laubach Literacy Council of San Diego County provides tutors for adult learners of English as a Second Language with tutoring locations countywide.

AS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CLAIMS IT CAN’T REUNITE ALL SEPARATED FAMILIES, JUDGE WEIGHS ACTION; HOUSE DEMOCRATS PREPARE TO SUBPOENA RECORDS

By Miriam Raftery

Illustration by Duke Windsor*

February 24, 2019 (San Diego) – Following revelations that the Trump administration failed to inform a federal judge that it had begun separating migrant children from their parents back in 2017, a federal judge in San Diego sent strong signals Thursday that he is prepared to expand his June 2018 reunification order to mandate reunions of more families who came to the U.S. seeking freedom from persecution.

Judge Dana Sabraw’s original order required unification only of children who were in government custody at the time, taken from migrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. But on Thursday, Judge Sabraw made clear, “No one but a few in the government knew that these separations had been going on nine or 10 months before, and that hundreds if not thousands were” being separated. He added, “The court didn’t know that and plaintiff didn’t know that, and I don’t think government counsel knew that.”

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: HUMANITARIANS AL SANATI AND RAMIRO SANDOVAL SPEAK OUT ON EFFORTS TO HELP REFUGEES AND REBUILD IRAQ

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Al Sanati and Ramiro Sandoval

Cllick this audio link to hear our interview, or scroll down to read highlights.

February 23, 2019 (El Cajon) — Al Sanati, director of the War Refugees Group, and Ramiro Sandoval with Hermanos Unidos Sin Fronteras (Brothers United Without Borders) were our guests on our East Count Magazine Radio Show on KNSJ recently.

These humanitarian leaders are fighting for justice and filing suit to win financial reparations from the Iraqi government for1.2 million Iraqi refugees around the world, including over 80,000 in East County. They have also met with top dignitaries in Iraq in an effort to help the nation’s new government rebuild Iraq.

Audio: 

Interview with Al Sanati and Ramiro Sandoval

SDSU LIBRARY ARCHIVE DETAILS DETAINEES' PATH TO SEEKING ASYLUM, CONDITIONS INSIDE DETENTION

 

 

A new archive of hundreds of letters between a group of volunteers and asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border has been developed and is being digitized at the SDSU Library.

By La Monica Everett-Haynes

February 13, 2019 (San Diego) - What began as a casual gathering of friends has become a first-of-its-kind living archive of handwritten letters shared by hundreds of asylum seekers detained along the U.S.-Mexico border. Those letters, in the collective correspondence, provide a detailed description of each person’s path to pursuing asylum, and the conditions inside detention centers. 

SUPERVISORS VOTE TO SUE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER DUMPING ASYLUM SEEKERS LOCALLY

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
February 13, 2019 (San Diego) — San Diego’s County Supervisors voted 4-1 in closed session on Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its treatment of families seeking asylum in the U.S. The federal government has been dumping migrants including parents with children on the streets of San Diego with no resources to help them while they await asylum hearings to which they are entitled under international law.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE MIGRANT SHELTER THROUGH DECEMBER

 

 

East County Supervisors Jacob and Desmond split on vote

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Courthouse building, courtesy of San Diego County

January 30, 2019 (San Diego) -- A temporary shelter for migrants will be set up in downtown San Diego at the old county courthouse slated for demolition – not at Camp Barrett, a former youth detention center in East County that was among several sites considered.

By a four to one vote, Supervisors voted to allow Jewish Family Services to lease the courthouse building for one dollar through December 31st.  The nonprofit group will reimburse the county for costs to open the migrant shelter and maintain the property near Balba Park on Sixth Avenue, and advised Supervisors that it has already secured funds.

FREEWAY SIGNS WELCOME I-15 DRIVERS TO LITTLE SAIGON DISTRICT IN CITY HEIGHTS

 

 

New freeway exit signs to be installed at El Cajon Boulevard on February 1

Source: Little Saigon Foundation

January 27, 2019 (City Heights) --Starting in February, commuters on I-15 will notice new freeway exit signs directing them to exit El Cajon Boulevard to reach the Little Saigon District in City Heights, San Diego. Caltrans confirmed that the signs will be set up at the transit station on El Cajon Boulevard over the I-15 North and South exits on February 1. An unveiling ceremony will be held on that day at 10 a.m. with guests including City Council President Georgette Gomez and Assemblymember Todd Gloria.

SUPERVISORS VOTE TO HELP FIND TEMPORARY SHELTER FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS

 

By Chris Jennewein

Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Jewish Family Service CEO Michael Hopkins speaks to the press after the Board of Supervisors vote. Photo by Chris Jennewein

January 8, 2019 (San Diego) - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to help a coalition of local nonprofit groups assist asylum seekers by providing temporary shelter on county property.

“Now it falls to us to say, as leaders, what can we do? We have the obligation to help,” said newly elected Supervisor Nathan Fletcher at his first board meeting.

TRIUMPH OUT OF TUMULT: IRAQI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST NITAL MESHKOOR

 

Her journey as a refugee led her to Syria, Kuwait, Jordan and Russia. Now an El Cajon resident, she has worked as a scientist, realtor, poet, and humanitarian.

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Nital Meshkoor in Iraq, approximatey 20 years ago

January 5, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Nital Meshkoor settled in El Cajon in 1998 following her escape from the first Iraq war, a journey that cost her many years of hardship, but her actions in the community have set her apart as a human rights activist and role model for refugees to come.

CITY, COUNTY OFFICIALS ARE MAKING MOVES TO SHELTER ASYLUM-SEEKERS

 

City officials plan to explore housing migrants seeking asylum at a shuttered juvenile facility in Alpine and county officials will explore options next week. An especially chaotic holiday season highlighted the need for more resources, shelter space and coordination to serve the thousands of asylum-seeking families federal officials are releasing in San Diego.

By Maya Srikrishnan and Lisa Halverstadt, Voice of San Diego

January 4, 2019 (San Diego) -- After waiting a month and seven days in Tijuana to seek asylum on the other side of the border, Leonardo Garcia and his family ended up outside a San Ysidro McDonald’s after dark.

IRAQ AND SYRIA GENOCIDE RELIEF BILL SIGNED INTO LAW IN DECEMBER

By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2019 (Washington D.C.) – One of the last acts of the outgoing Congress in 2018 was passage of H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act. The measure passed the House and Senate by unanimous consent and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 11, 2018.

The new law could impact familes, friends and loved ones of tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian immigrants and refugees who now call San Diego's East County home.

The action came shortly before President Trump ordered a pull-out of troops from Syria, against the advice of his generals and top security advisors. It is unclear how the troop withdrawal may impact implementation of the bill’s provisions.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTS MIGRANTS TO WAIT IN MEXICO FOR ASYLUM HEARINGS; COURT BLOCKS TRUMP DENIAL OF ASYLUM TO DOMESTIC AND GANG VIOLENCE VICTIMS



By Miriam Raftery

December 20,2018 (San Diego) – Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today announced that Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. must wait in Mexico until their hearing dates, except for unaccompanied minors. But the action is likely to be challenged in court—and thus far, federal courts have consistently ruled against the Trump administration efforts to restrict the rights of asylum seekers.

SEN. ATKINS CALLS FOR UNITED RESPONSE TO MIGRANT CRISIS, RECALLING HEPATITIS A SCANDAL

 

By Ken Stone

Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  State Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins says she was having “productive conversations” with Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Photo by Chris Stone

December 19, 2018 (San Diego) - Recalling the deadly hepatitis A outbreak, state Senate leader Toni Atkins on Tuesday urged public officials at all levels to coordinate responses to what she called the ongoing humanitarian crisis in San Diego and Tijuana.

31 ARRESTED IN BORDER PROTEST; LOCAL FAITH LEADER RELEASED WITHOUT CHARGES AFTER VIDEO DEBUNKS ASSAULT CLAIM

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via American Friends Service Committee




December 13, 2018 (San Diego)—On Monday, 32 people, mostly faith-based leaders from across the nation, were arrested in a peaceful protest in support of migrants seeking asylum at the international border in San Diego.

While most were charged with not following officers' orders and quickly released, Matthew Leber from the American Friends Service Committee representing Quakers was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a Border Patrol agent and kept overnight. But he was released without charges after a video posted by the AFSC shows agents knocking down Leber and taking his backpack, countering officials’ version of what occurred.  View video:  https://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational/videos/338520756967150/

East County resident Jack Shu, president of Cleveland National Forest Foundation, witnessed the incident. “I was standing only 15 feet from Matt when he was arrested,” Shu told East County Magazine. “The media reported that he was arrested for assault when the truth is, it was the Border Patrol that escalated the situation and used physical force when it was not needed.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA LEADS MULTISTATE AMICUS BRIEF CALLING FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION TO PROTECT ASYLUM-SEEKERS

 

 

East County News Service

December 9, 2018 (Sacramento) - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a multistate amicus brief filed in support of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which challenges the Trump Administration’s efforts to prevent people who have not entered the country at a “port of entry” from applying for asylum in the United States. 

 

MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL IN EL CAJON FEATURED FESTIVITIES AND EDUCATION ON HEALTH AND CRIME CONCERNS

 

 

By Briana Gomez

December 6, 2018 (El Cajon) -- The annual El Cajon Multicultural Festival and non-profit fair at Eje Elementary School in El Cajon last month hosted an array of organizations dedicated to welcoming new immigrants into the community. 

SAN DIEGO RAPID RESPONSE NETWORK SHELTERS ASYLUM SEEKERS DUMPED BY ICE ONTO SAN DIEGO STREETS; LAUNCHES GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN

 

East County News Service

November 20, 2018 (San Diego) -- Every day since October 26, immigration authorities have released onto the streets of San Diego 20-30 migrant families (50-70 individuals) seeking asylum at the San Diego-Tijuana Border. Once processed and vetted for security risks, the Department of Homeland Security has quietly dropped these families – tagged with ankle bracelets and without any resources – at locations across San Diego. The situation has left hundreds of migrants homeless on San Diego’s streets, with nowhere to go and no way of getting to their final destinations.

REP. HUNTER AND TRUMP WANT TO ELIMINATE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP FOR IMMIGRANTS’ BABIES, BUT SUPREME COURT RULED THIS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

By Miriam Raftery

November 5, 2018 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump, in an interview with Axios, declared his intention to eliminate birthright citizenship by executive order – a move that reputable legal scholars on both the left and right agree would be unconstitutional.  Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) has previously supported a bill in Congress to similarly end granting citizenship to most children of immigrants born here.

Trump stated,  "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order." 

But the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. is crystal clear that everyone born in the U.S. must be granted citizenship.  It states: "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Moreover, the Supreme Court has upheld that the amendment does cover children of immigrants, regardless of their parents' legal status.

CASA CORNELIA HOSTS ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY, PROVIDES LEGAL COUNSEL TO MINOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS

 

 

Dilkhwaz Ahmed honored for efforts helping refugees and immigrants in El Cajon

By Briana Gomez

 

October 25, 2018 (San Diego) -- Casa Cornelia, a non-profit law firm that provides pro-bono services to the San Diego immigrant community, hosted its annual “La Mancha Awards” last Friday, Oct. 19

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT CONTINUES TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS SERVING HOMELESS, REFUGEE POPULATIONS

 

East County News Service

October 9, 2018 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) is continuing its support of community organizations that assist specialized populations in the East Region, including homeless and refugee groups, with recent grants to Crisis House and Survivors of Torture International.

JUDGE, CITING RACISM BEHIND TRUMP’S ORDER TO REMOVE NONWHITE IMMIGRANTS, TEMPORARILY BLOCKS DEPORTATIONS OF HAITIANS, SUDANESE AND CENTRAL AMERICANS WITH PROTECTED STATUS

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 3, 2018 (San Francisco) – U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco has temporarily blocked an order by the Trump Administration to revoke the legal status of over 300,000 immigrants who had been granted temporary protection in the U.S.  after fleeing violence and natural disasters in Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Some have lived in the U.S. for over 20 years.  The order also protects children who are U.S. citizens, whose parents have been ordered deported.

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