Refugee Voices

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.

ISLAMIC GROUP CALLS ON CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD TO FIRE PRINCIPAL MOVED TO ANOTHER SCHOOL AFTER ALLEGED BULLYING SYRIAN REFUGEE

 

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo: Yusef Miller, CAIR-California 

October 3, 2018 (El Cajon) – Members of CAIR , the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on Cajon Valley Union School District members  at the September 25th board meeting to  fire former Greenfield Middle School’s principal, Gregory Calvert over his handling of the alleged bullying of a Syrian student.  Calvert has since taken a position as assistant principal at Chase Avenue Elementary in the same school district. 

FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SPEAK AT SDSU ON REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT OCT. 8

 

 

By Lamonica Everett-Haynes, SDSU News Center

Photo: U.S. Ambassador Johnny Young (Credit: Bethesda Chevy Chase Rotary Club)

October 3, 2018 (San Diego) - Johnny Young, former U.S. Ambassador to  Sierra Leone, Togo, Bahrain and Slovenia, will speak at San Diego State University, presenting his lecture: “Refugee Resettlement: How did we get here and how do we move on?” 

HOPE FOR IRAQI CHRISTIANS HOSTS FUNDRAISER SEPT. 28 TO HELP REFUGEES

 

 

East County News Service

September 13, 2018 (El Cajon) - Local nonprofit Hope for Iraqi Christians is hosting a gala fundraising dinner on Friday, September 28 at 6:30 p.m.  All proceeds will benefit refugees in Iraq and throughout the Middle East who have been driven out of their homes by conflict and genocide in the Middle East throughout the last several years. The event will be held at the University of San Diego Forums Hall, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego.

REFUGEE STUDENTS HOPE TO MAKE AMERICA STRONGER, SAFER AND HEALTHIER

 

 

By  Dilkhwaz Ahmed

Jonathan Goetz and Nital Meshkoor contributed to this story

Photo: These 13 students are helping to help make America great.

August 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Sharp Grossmont Hospital, the Grossmont Healthcare District and License to Freedom are preparing some promising young bilingual refugees in east county for nursing careers.

Thirteen high school juniors with good grades graduated earlier this month from a one-week intensive program at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Ten of them still plan to pursue nursing as a way to help their community and the community at large.

SYRIAN REFUGEES FIND HOME IN EL CAJON, BUT FAMILY REMAINS TORN APART

 

By Briana Gomez

August 1, 2018 (El Cajon) – Houda Al Sidnawi arrived in the United States in 2016 with both of her parents and her two younger sisters, now 16 and 10. The family left Syria in 2012 at the brink of the civil war and immigrated to Egypt where they obtained appropriate documentation to enter the United States on refugee visas.  

SEEKING LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE IN AN ISLAMOPHOBIC SOCIETY

 

Writing and Madness in a Time of Terror: A Memoir, by Afarin Majidi (Barnes & Noble/Amazon, 2014, 325 pages).

 

Book Review by Dennis Moore

 

“A woman forced to flee Iran with her family … bravely explores three explosive issues—mental illness, racism, and misogyny—with bracing candor … Majidi provides an engrossing and timely look at the way women of color are doubly objectified, as exotic sexual quarry and as individuals worthy of contempt.” – KIRKUS REVIEWS

 

July 25, 2018 (San Diego) - The very first time that this writer interviewed Afarin Majidi, the author of this memoir, Writing and Madness in a Time of Terror, what resonated with me was her reliance on and speaking of the current and timely “#MeToo” movement, as if everything written in this memoir is symptomatic of what women are experiencing throughout the country.

FEDERAL JUDGE RULES ASYLUM SEEKERS MUST HAVE HEARINGS AND CAN’T BE ARBITRARILY DETAINED

 

Despite having committed no crime, some asylum seekers have been kept in windowless cells for over a year, never allowed outside even a single day

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – People who ask for asylum when they arrive at the U.S. border after fleeing violence and persecution have committed no crime, unlike people who cross the border illegally. Yet the Trump administration has been imprisoning asylum seekers for over a year, even after they passed background checks, were found likely to receive asylum, and in some cases, even after a court granted them asylum but the administration was appealing the cases.

SURI RESTAURANT AND MARKET HOSTS WORLD REFUGEE DAY EVENT

 

By Kendra Sitton

June 28, 2018 (El Cajon) -- Community-oriented business leaders from across the County descended on Suri Restaurant in El Cajon on Wed., June 20.  Business for Good SD partnered with the restaurant for World Refugee Day. During their monthly mixer, the entrepreneurs and local leaders ate Syrian food masterfully prepared by the restaurant’s staff, comprised entirely of refugees.

SAN DIEGO JUDGE ORDERS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO REUNITE IMMIGRANT FAMILIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2018 (San Diego) – U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego issued a ruling Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to end separation of parents from children at the border and to reunite families already separated, except in limited circumstances.

OUR NAMES ARE NATASH, LETICIA, MARGARITA: WE SEEK ASYLUM

 

By Chris Stone

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

Photo:  Many women and children from Mexico and Central America waited to see if they would be the next people allowed to enter the U.S. Photo by Chris Stone

June 24, 2018 (San Diego) - Natash waited in line Saturday morning to present herself to U.S. immigration officials at the PedWest Port of Entry, believing that America is the “best place where human rights are respected.

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