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  1. Would the Last Eritrean to Flee the Country Please Turn Out the Lights

    There's an old joke from the Soviet era where Leonid Brezhnev is talking to his deputy. Brezhnev says, "If we lift the Iron Curtain and allow our people to leave the U.S.S.R., the only ones who will be left here are you and me." The deputy responds, "Speak for yourself."

    Repressive regimes often prevent their people from leaving. If the doors were open, everybody would go. The classic example of this in today's world is North Korea. The state is a vicious dictatorship run by a spoiled child. Few people are able to escape from North Korea, and those who do usually end up in China, which is not exactly a paragon of human rights.


    Official portrait of the Eritrean National Soccer Team.


    If there were a contest for most repressive regime after North Korea,*Eritrea*would certainly be in the running. The country is a single party state that allows no dissent and has no independent media (it is actually*rated*worse than North Korea in terms of press freedom-how is that even possible?!). There is a "national service" program that is akin to slavery and members of "unregistered" religions are severely persecuted and killed. On the other hand, they have nice weather this time of year.

    Eritreans are not permitted to leave the country without permission, which is often impossible to obtain. But given conditions in Eritrea, and the fact that the country has a long-and difficult to police-land border, many Eritreans flee the country and seek asylum abroad.* Most Eritrean asylum seekers end up in neighboring countries: In 2008, for example, over 8,000 Eritreans sought asylum in Ethiopia and about 13,000 registered as refugees in Sudan. According to the*United Nations, in 2011, about 11,900 Eritreans sought asylum in the industrialized world (basically North America, Europe, and Israel), and Eritrea has consistently ranked in the top dozen source countries for asylum-seekers.*

    As you might expect, there have been high profile defections. Last year, two Eritrean pilots stole a government jet, flew to Saudi Arabia, and asked for asylum. Last month, a female Eritrean pilot sent to Saudi Arabia to retrieve the stolen jet*also defected*and has asked the Saudis for asylum. To me, the fact that a woman pilot would request asylum in Saudi Arabia-a country where*women are not allowed to drive cars, let alone fly airplanes-speaks volumes about the desperation of these people.

    Eritrean soccer players have also*defected in droves. In 2006, four players defected in Kenya. The next year, 12 players requested asylum while in Tanzania. Also in 2007, another six players sought asylum in Angola and three more defected and requested asylum in Sudan. After that, the Eritrean government required soccer players traveling abroad to post a bond before leaving the country. Despite this precaution, 12 players defected in Kenya after a tournament in 2009. And last December, the entire team (along with their doctor) disappeared in Uganda. They requested asylum from Kampala. Given this record, its not too surprising that the team has never qualified for the World Cup or the *African Nations Cup.

    In my practice, I have represented many asylum seekers from Eritrea. They fear indefinite conscription, and religious or political persecution. My clients have been physically beaten, detained in metal shipping containers, and treated as slaves. Their family members have disappeared or been killed. Indeed, the situation is so bad that the United Nations actually created special*guidelines*for assessing Eritrean asylum claims.

    While the civilized governments of the world should be working to change the regime in Eritrea (and other countries that abuse human rights), we should continue to offer asylum to people who flee such places.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

    Updated 07-16-2013 at 02:22 PM by JDzubow

  2. Bloggings: Marriage Equality and Immigration Reform: How Many Concessions to Bigotry Are Needed to Pass CIR? By Roger Algase

     
    ID's May 1 editorial raises the question whether it is either morally or politically defensible to throw same-sex couples under the bus in order to pass comprehensive immigration reform. This is, arguably, what the bipartisan Gang of Eight (GOE) Senators have done in their CIR bill, which leaves out any mention of green cards for same sex marriage partners of US citizens. 
    ID's editorial points out that marriage equality supporters are not being thrown under the bus if compared to certain other groups with an interest in immigration, including F-4 family members, DV lottery applicants and certain Indian companies using the H-1B program.
    This is true enough. It might be more accurate to say that marriage equality supporters are only being thrown under a motorcycle, or even a bicycle, by comparison with these other groups.
    As some commentators have also pointed out, if the US Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, as may happen this June, then it will not be necessary to include marriage equality in a CIR bill at all. It would already be the law if the land.
    For that reason, purely as a matter of strategy, it might make more sense for marriage equality supporters to wait until the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality comes down, rather than to risk killing CIR entirely over what might turn out to be an entirely moot issue.
    But suppose homophobia (as, for example, openly expressed in Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion in Lawrence vs. Texas) prevails in the high court and DOMA is upheld. Assuming that CIR has not yet been enacted by June (a reasonable assumption), should marriage equality advocates remain silent?
    First, as a matter of strategy, it is not at all certain that caving in on marriage equality would save CIR as presently drafted anyway.
    According to the April 30 Politico article referred to in the ID editorial: Gay rights push threatens immigration deal, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is warning that if the right to same-sex marriage green cards becomes part of the bill, "the bill will fail and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart". 
    It may also be true that, as the Politico article also explains, if marriage equality goes into the CIR bill, conservative evangelicals and Catholic bishops will pull out of the coalition, along with most or all Congressional Republicans who now support CIR. 
    But another Politico article of the same date has the title: Marco Rubio: Gang of Eight's immigration bill can't pass the House. According to this article, Rubio is on record as stating that even more concessions to right wing immigration opponents may be necessary to get CIR through the lower chamber. In other words, even without marriage equality, it may be difficult to pass CIR as it is in its present form.
    Ovid begins his Metamorphoses as follows: 
    "In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas/corpora..." ("I intend to tell of changed forms in new bodies.")
    Evidently, House Republicans may have similar intentions for any Senate passed CIR bill.
    Moreover, as a matter of principle, isn't the current CIR bill already full of so many concessions to right wing immigration opponents, in terms of throwing away billions of dollars on "border security", draconian employer verification, waiting more than a decade for "provisionally" legalized immigrants to become permanent residents, turning H-1B into a virtual labor certification program (more about this in a future blogging), eliminating the diversity visa lottery in order to keep out African and Bangladeshi immigrants, reducing family immigration to keep out Latin American ones; and many other harsh restrictions, that it is already in danger of becoming a restrictionists' dream, rather than a genuine reform bill? 
    Trying to mollify right wing bigotry against marriage equality has only led so far to producing a bill riddled with concessions to bigotry against minority immigrants. How much more accommodation to prejudice do we need in order to pass CIR? And what will the final bill look like if those who are opposed to both marriage equality and immigration keep getting their way on issue after issue?
    The Republicans (those who have any sense, at least) desperately need immigration reform for the survival of their own party in diverse, 21st-Century America. Their stake in CIR may well be even bigger than that of the Democrats. Does it make any political, or moral, sense for immigration supporters to keep giving away the store?
    Perhaps standing on principle, including marriage equality, may actually be the best strategy for passing genuine immigration reform.
     


     

  3. Infiltration Leads to DHS Opening Civil Rights Investigations into ICE

    by , 05-01-2013 at 05:47 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)

    From DREAMActivist.org:

    NATIONAL--After being infiltrated and exposed by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will now have to comply with a civil rights investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into five separate incidents of detainee mistreatment. NIYA will make the communication from DHS (with personal case information redacted) available to reporters upon request.
    In response to infiltration of ICE facilities in Florida and Michigan, ICE has accused NIYA twice of making false allegations. Every single detainee ICE releases because of our organizing, however, stands as a small admission of guilt from the agency. With this forthcoming investigation into five separate incidents of mistreatment, we may finally get a deeper admission of wrongdoing from DHS and their private contractor, GEO Group, Inc.
    Yesterday, Michigan ICE informed us that they will release our infiltrator there, Claudia Munoz. We have obtained information of serious mistreatment--including verbal abuse that authorities internally have tried to correct--that we will make public in the coming days. Everilda Calvo-Sanchez, a detainee from Guatemala who is eligible for legal residence, was released two weeks ago after NIYA exposed her case as a failing of local ICE officials to follow national ICE policy.
    NIYA will continue to organize against the attacks on immigrant communities and the indignities immigrants must face in detention. We know local ICE officials, like Regional director Rebecca Adducci, do not follow policies set forth by their national office until we hold them accountable. We stand by our demand that Adducci be fired or resign, and we will continue to bring ICE's wrongdoing to light, anywhere and everywhere.
    Last summer, 26 members of Congress supported our call for a full review of all cases inside Broward Transitional Center. While that demand has not yet been met, this investigation is admission that the behavior of their local officials is too repugnant to ignore, even by their supervising department.

    Click here to donate to DREAMActivist.org.
  4. ELECTRONIC I-94 CARDS

    by , 04-30-2013 at 07:52 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo
    USCIS and Customs and Border Security (CBP) have rolled out an automated I-94 card system effective this week. Foreign entrants into the US via air and sea ports will no longer be given paper I-94 cards at the inspection desk. Foreign nationals will be electronically registered by the Port of Entry officer. This is a good step toward an all-electronic entry and exit system.

    CBP has set up a dedicated webpage through which foreign nationals can review the electronic record of their entry and print out a paper copy of the I-94. The paper copy is often needed by other federal and state agencies for immigration benefits and US drivers licenses. One would hope that these agencies will be able to tap into the CBP system rather than relying on paper copies.
    Read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com or www.ilw.com.  You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  5. Bloggings: Arnold Schwarzenegger Weighs in on Immigration Reform Against the Terminators. By Roger Algase

    Everyone who cares about immigration reform should read Arnold Schwarzenegger's article in the April 30 Politico entitled: The immigration solution the nation needs.
    Amid all the distortions by the anti-immigrant, white supremacist lobby, all the elaborate political and economic theorizing on both sides, all the confusion generated by the mass of detail in the 844 page Senate bill, and all the needs to cater to a great variety of interest groups with a stake in the reform debate, the immigrant, and former California governor's, article stands out as a clear affirmation of what immigration really means to America. 
    Governor Schwarzenegger writes: 
    "It is also important to remember that in the United States, we aren't just affected by the immigrants coming in. 
    We're hurt by the immigrants we are sending away."
    He concludes:
    "If the Gang of Eight is successful, we'll confront the dangers of our border while reminding the world that we are still the shining city on the hill that captured my imagination and harnessed my dreams. We will continue to be the world's great launching pad for achieving the impossible."
    All Americans should take these words to heart as we move toward enacting reform, despite all the difficulties still ahead. Arnold Schwarzenegger's message should encourage everyone who is battling for CIR against its would-be Terminators.
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