Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts

March 15, 2017

Gay Iranian Makes it to The US 1 Day Before Trump’s Order but…

Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle
Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey.

Amir knows he should be happier. He is among the lucky ones, a gay Iranian man who gained refugee status and flew to San Francisco just a day before President Trump was inaugurated and a little over a week before he signed the first of two executive orders temporarily barring refugees from entering the country.

Instead, Amir sits alone in his room in the city and wonders: Why him?

He thinks about a fortuitous last-minute flight change that had him depart for San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 19 rather than Jan. 30 — a few days after Trump signed his initial executive order. More so, he worries about his friends left behind, like Ashkan, who was also set to come to the U.S. as a refugee but now may lose that opportunity altogether.

Amir spends his days on the phone with Ashkan and his other friends in Turkey, where as gay refugees who fled Iran together they formed a community in a small town where residents looked down on them. Now, his friends can neither go back to Iran nor come to the U.S. — and they have told Amir they have contemplated suicide.

“Is this the America they talked about, the one that valued freedom and human rights?” asked Amir, 31, who requested that his last name be withheld because he fears repercussions.

Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey. Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey.

Amir and his friends are among those whose lives were thrown into disarray first by Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which froze all refugee admissions for four months. The move was struck down by federal courts, but on Monday Trump signed a follow-up order freezing admissions, while also temporarily halting the entry of all immigrants from Iran and five other majority-Muslim countries.

The second order, which is being challenged in the courts, is to take effect Thursday.

In the weeks since the first ban was struck down, more than 4,000 refugees have arrived. But many others in the pipeline were not able to make it.

The limbo for these people will continue. Roughly 11,000 refugees who have been vetted by government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security are standing by, as flights into the U.S. are not being booked for after Thursday, said Karen Ferguson, head of the International Rescue Committee’s Northern California office.

Ferguson and other advocates fear that the freeze will be disastrous for many. During the intense vetting process — which takes an average of 18 to 24 months — refugees run through numerous security and medical checks. But these clearances have expiration dates that Ferguson worries will lapse during the four-month suspension, effectively sending the applicants back to the start of the process.

“It’s going to leave people in harm’s way,” Ferguson said. “There will be tragedies. Some people will not make it through even when they would have.”

The Trump administration has said the freeze is a necessary step in boosting efforts to identify would-be terrorists and keep them out of the country.


Hawaii files the first legal challenge to Trump’s new travel WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C), Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (R) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) take part in a news conference about issues related to a reconstituted travel ban at the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection headquarters, on March 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that excludes Iraq from the blacklisted countries but continues to block entry to the U.S. for citizens of Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya and Yemen. Kelly, Tillerson and Sessions left the news conference without taking questions.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** Trump’s new travel ban seeks to avoid 1st edict’s flaws CORRECTED VERSION - WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R), Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (L) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) take part in a news conference about issues related to a reconstituted travel ban at the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection headquarters, on March 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that excludes Iraq from the blacklisted countries but continues to block entry to the U.S. for citizens of Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya and Yemen. Kelly, Tillerson and Sessions left the news conference without taking questions.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) 

Trump’s new executive order on immigration a lot like the first President Donald Trump on Monday signs a new version of his controversial travel ban, aiming to withstand court challenges while still barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shutting down the U.S. refugee program. New travel order may still have legal obstacles, analysts say

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that more than 300 people in the U.S. who had been admitted as refugees were being investigated for potential terrorism-related activities. But Sessions did not provide details on the cases, or what precisely the number represented.

“We also know that people seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program,” Sessions said. “Like every nation, the United States has the right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do us harm.”

But the focus on the country’s refugee program has ignited opposition from advocates and politicians who call it a critical humanitarian effort that has not proved to be dangerous.

Between 1980 and 2015, no U.S. resident who had arrived as a refugee was involved in a fatal terrorist attack, according to research by the libertarian Cato Institute. In 2016, a man who came to the country as a refugee and who officials believe may have been inspired by the Islamic State group injured 11 people by running them over at Ohio State University.

The White House says the stakes are high. So do advocates for refugees.

Around the Bay Area and the country, as arrivals of refugees have been put on hold, lives have been changed and families have been separated, as advocates try to figure out what’s next. While Amir got in, others were not as fortunate — including a Syrian refugee who lives in Jordan and was preparing, along with his wife, son and daughter, to join his sister in the East Bay.

Ahmed, whose family fled the fighting in Syria in 2013, had spent years seeking admission to the U.S. and was waiting for his airline tickets the day Trump signed the first ban. He had made all of his preparations for travel — ending his contract at work, selling his furniture and taking his children out of school.

Trump’s orders were more crushing than leaving his war-torn home country, because he dreamed of restarting his family members’ lives and giving his children opportunity, said Ahmed, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym.

Since then, his family’s refugee case has been suspended as organizations try to help. He said he was ready to contribute to the U.S., sending a reporter pictures of the tools he once produced at the factory he owned in Syria.

“Mr. President,” Ahmed said. “We are not terrorists. We want to live in peace.”

The changing plight of refugees goes beyond the 120-day freeze.

More than 37,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Because the Trump administration lowered the maximum number of refugees the country will take in during this period, from 110,000 to 50,000, the remaining slots are limited.

“The administration has the right to cap and put limits on the number of refugees it’s going to accept — there’s no legal obligation to take a particular number,” said Beth Van Schaack, a professor at Stanford Law School who once investigated war crimes in Syria for the State Department. “The issue is one of morality at some level.”

Polling shows the country is divided over the admission of refugees. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 52 percent of respondents said it was appropriate to limit entry of refugees because of security risks.

It’s not the first time the country has been split over refugees. The Pew Research Center found that Americans have, in the past, generally not wanted to welcome them, regardless of their country of origin. In 1980, a poll found that 71 percent of Americans did not approve of Cuban refugees.

“We want the American administration to rethink this decision,” said Ahmed, “because we are a good people that loves peace, and what was imposed upon us was outside of our will.”

 By Hamed Aleaziz who is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer

March 7, 2017

Is Trump’s ICE After Father of American Fallen Hero Khizr Khan?

Khizr Khan at the Dem. National Convention. He told Trump He(Trump) did not know the Constitution

The father of a fallen Iraqi American soldier who became a household name due to a spat with Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a trip to Canada, owing to his “travel privileges bring reviewed”. 

Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his son, army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed during the Iraq war. 

A supporter of Hillary Clinton, he used his July speech to ask Mr Trump if he had ever read the US Constitution, and said that he would gladly lend him his copy. Mr Trump, enraged, then attacked the family – beginning a row that overshadowed the presidential campaign for several days.
Mr Khan, an American citizen born in Pakistan, had planned to speak at a lunch in Toronto on Tuesday in a discussion about Mr Trump's administration.
A US citizen for more than 30 years, Mr Khan, a lawyer, was notified on Sunday evening that his “travel privileges had been reviewed,” according to Ramsay Talks, the company behind the talks, based in Toronto and hosted by Bob Ramsay.

On Monday afternoon Mr Ramsay confirmed on Twitter that Mr Khan would not be speaking.

“Cancelled - Tuesday, March 7 Khizr Kahn talk. Tickets will be refunded,” he said.

Mr Khan, in a statement on Ramsay Talks’ Facebook page, said he had not been given a reason as to why his travel privileges were being reviewed and apologised to ticket-holders for the cancellation. 

"This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad," he said. "I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future."

He told The Telegraph he had no additional comment to make.

It remained unclear why a US citizen would have his travel privileges reviewed – even one born abroad. Pakistan is not one of the six countries listed on Mr Trump’s travel ban, which was instigated on Monday.

US Customs & Border Protection told Reuters that it does not contact travellers in advance of their travel out of the United States. CBP would not comment specifically on the Khan case, citing privacy protections.

March 2, 2017

LGBT Jewish New Yorkers Support Their Muslims Brothers

Members of Beit Simchat Torah support vigil, left, greeted a woman outside the Islamic Center on Washington Square South. Photos by Tequila Minsk

 During the presidential inauguration, while some politicians and clergy rallied and performed civil disobedience at Trump Tower in Midtown, Beit Simchat Torah’s Jewish-Muslim outreach initiative, House of Peace, gathered to greet worshippers at the N.Y.U. Islamic Center, at 268 Thompson St., just south of Washington Square Park.
Harold Levine, co-chairperson of House of Peace explained, “This is a response to the alarming rise of anti-Muslim sentiment seemingly provoked by statements during the campaigns.”
On Friday afternoons, Muslims gather for Junnah, a big prayer service — the most heavily attended during the week — that includes the weekly sermon. This is why Beith Simchat Torah, an L.G.B.T. congregation located on W. 30th St., chose Fridays for these vigils of positivity.
The Islamic Center serves hundreds of Muslims — N.Y.U. students, faculty and employees, as well as visiting Muslims or those living in the neighborhood.
The House of Peace action — welcoming worshippers as they arrive and staying to greet them they as they leave — has taken place several times starting the Friday after the election.
“Going forward, we will continue this weekly,” Levin said. “The reaction has been overwhelming. We get hugs, handshakes and thank yous. The worshippers photograph us and want to be photographed with us.”
Personal stories are shared between the congregants of the two religious institutions and it’s been a chance for members of the Jewish congregants to learn more about the Muslim community in New York City.
“Most importantly, it’s made everyone who participated feel they’re doing something positive in a difficult time,” the Beit Simchat Torah Web site notes. Levine elaborated that educational activities for members about Islam are in the works, as well as developing other ideas for outreach.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum writes on the shul’s Web site: “We need to deepen our engagement with, and knowledge of, our Muslim neighbors here in NYC. We know that one of the first targets of institutional and individualized hate already in NYC and elsewhere is the Muslim community. We must study Islam and become better educated so we can engage in sophisticated discussions.”
Last month, the congregation also joined in a larger prayer service at Foley Square to protest Donald Trump’s travel ban. As nearly 80 Muslims prayed, other religious groups and friends encircled them in solidarity.


February 23, 2017

Industry Technology Advances in Peril While Lacking Immigration

 and Immigration Restrictions

The question is not complicated when one knows the answer, the question is: 
What brain power are we loosing with restricting immigrants from coming in?  The answer is on the doctorates awarded to immigrants from countries in turmoil or not friendly to the US.

Turmoil in these countries gives us rather an opportunity than a crisis just like we had after WW11 in which we were able to bring in the immigrants and pick from the brightest to help us achieve the miracles in technology we enjoy now but we have in the thought process the miracles we expect  
to accomplish 30 years from now. We are going to need all the brain power we can get.

One good example for these plans is Iran. I’ve had an Iranian Doctor, friends and even in High School a classmate. I know these people are smart and like to have knowledge just like the persians before them, when the Iranians were the Persians. My experience with them is that they possess beauty and  smarts. Low keyed and with a softer voice than many others from that region. 
Don’t go by what their government is or says nor their politicians because they have a limited freedom of government unlike us in which our politicians don’t represent all of us but for a big portion, let’s say about 40%. 
But we have better technical information to prove this point rather than my own experiences.


Many tech companies and scholars have raised their voices against President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration. The hundreds of researchers and high-skilled workers who could be affected by the travel ban are part of the larger U.S. innovation economy, a community that relies heavily on foreign talent and whose members now worry that legal immigration could be the next target.

We asked three experts on innovation, competitiveness and the workforce on how broad immigration reform could affect the country.

Nearly 100 Silicon Valley companies – including tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter – filed an amicus brief opposing Trump’s immigration order nearly a week after it was implemented. The brief stated that the order disrupts business operations, threatens investment and “makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees.”

MIT, Harvard and six other universities in Massachusetts filed a request to the federal court of Boston against Trump’s  executive order.

The state of Washington, backed by other states such as Minnesota, claimed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the order harms their businesses and universities. The court eventually agreed with the states and temporarily blocked the travel ban.
Although the visas issued to countries included in the executive order represent less than 1 percent of total visas, the impact on the U.S. talent force could be significant. Iran, which is included in the restricted list, ranked 10th in the number of U.S. doctorates awarded to noncitizens in 2015. At MIT alone, more than 100 students and scholars were affected by the travel ban.

“You can’t build a border against ideas,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “You are always moving along a cutting edge on innovation. The way to win on that is to be very open and competitive with respect to the talent. The fact that [the Trump administration] did this to seven countries raises a fear that it can extend to more countries.”

Many in the tech community worry the order could be the first step toward a deeper review of the entire legal immigration system.

The last of these proposals does not focus on temporary work visas but on permanent residents, individuals who hold green cards. The bill aims to reduce the number of new visa issuances by 41 percent in the first year, and limit them by half in ten years. In a Fox News interview Cotton said: “Most of the people coming to our country are coming because they are distant relatives, under the outdated diversity lottery or as refugees. Obviously they don’t have the kind of high skills our economy needs.”

Although both targets are two separate buckets, temporary visa holders and permanent green card holders are part of the same complex immigration system. High-skilled workers typically obtain green cards after they have held student and work visas.


“Companies are importing low-wages workers on H1-B visas to take jobs from young, college-trained Americans,” Trump said during a rally in Columbus, Ohio, in October. “We will protect these jobs for all Americans.” But Trump has contradicted himself on this issue several times: “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in,” he said during a Republican debate in March on Fox News.

[ Donald Trump flip-flops, then flips and flops more on H-1B visas]

This back-and-forth suggests Trump and his team might still be weighing the effect a strict “America First” policy may have in the long run.

Traditionally, Republicans and Democrats have agreed on the need to continue welcoming high-skilled foreign workers. In the past two decades, all three U.S. presidents expanded visa caps for students or the highly skilled. Democrats have traditionally been more flexible when it comes to visas for workers’ families.

In 1999, Bill Clinton boosted the original H1-B cap from 65,000 to 115,000 “to address a shortage of skilled workers.” In 1998, he signed a temporary increase to 195,000 and its future return to 65,000.
Family categories(they are not allowed to work with some exceptions )

With his H-1B Visa Reform Act, George W. Bush expanded the 65,000 cap for high skilled workers to an extra 20,000 for graduates of U.S. masters programs or higher.
After 2007, students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields were eligible for an additional 17 months of practical training, for a total of 29 months.
An executive order on Nov. 20, 2014, was directed to expand visa programs for foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers. It asked also to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
Obama’s 2014 executive order asked to expand practical training for foreign students.
Why are tech companies concerned?

Amid increasing globalization in recent decades, the U.S. economy has relied on foreign labor for innovation. “There is a strong correlation between immigration and innovation,” said Manjari Raman, program director and senior researcher at the U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School. “Tech companies in Silicon Valley rely on innovation as a competitive advantage, and they want access to large pools of talent.”

A study by Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce suggests that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training, an increase from 28 percent in 1973.

“Our undergrads are predominantly U.S.-born but frequently come from families who are first-generation. But our master’s and PhD programs are extremely global in nature,” said Fiona E. Murray, associate dean for innovation at MIT. “This is not about excluding American students, but actually recognizing the demand for advanced education — especially PhDs and beyond — is often more global and less local in nature. And so we have an opportunity to educate a very global community of young innovators.”

[ ‘Deeply concerned': Corporate America responds to Trump’s travel ban]

H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, and H-4 visas for their immediate relatives, represent more than a third of the total visas related to employment.

For tech and research industries, these seem essential: The number of these visas is capped — for 2017, the limit is 65,000 plus an extra 20,000 for those with a master’s. Demand has exceeded the cap in most recent years, so a lottery system decides who receives a visa.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification is responsible for deciding if there are any qualified and available U.S. workers in the area of intended employment. It also must ensure that the admission of a foreign worker will not impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. These certifications, while they don’t reflect the final number of visas, provide the best indicator of the needs for different companies. Most of these jobs are in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to a 2015 report from the certification office.

(except computer)
Software developers
Software developers
(systems software)
and information
systems managers

26,465                                                         Software developers
(applications total)


Software developers
(systems software)

Electronic engineers
(except computer)

and information
systems managers

Main positions needed
Cognizant Tech. Solutions U.S. Corp.
Computer systems analysts
Google Inc.
Software developers
Intel Corporation
Electronics engineers
Cisco Systems Inc.
Software developers,
Microsoft Corporation
Software developers
Qualcomm Technologies Inc.
Electronics engineers
Amazon Corporate LLC
Software developers
Oracle America Inc.
Software developers
Apple Inc.
Software developers
Ernst Young U.S. LLP
Accountants and auditors
Facebook Inc.
Software developers
House of Raeford Farms Inc.
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters
Hcl America Inc.
Computer systems analysts
Deloitte Consulting LLP
Software developers
Defender Services Inc.
Janitors and cleaners
Koch Foods of Alabama LLC
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters
Goldman Sachs Co.
Software developers
JP Morgan Chase Co.
Software developers
Capgemini Financial Services USA Inc.
Software developers
Yahoo! Inc.
Software developers
Igate Technologies Inc.
Software developers
IBM Corporation
Software developers
Infosys Ltd.
Computer systems analysts
Case Farms Processing Inc.
Slaughterers and meat packers
Ericsson Inc.
Software developers
But experts like Raman also note the need for these companies to do more.

“In areas like STEM there is a shortage of high skill talent within the country,” she said. “Immigration is a great way to fill a gap, but there is an opportunity here for these companies to see what they can do more to create a pipeline of talent within the U.S.” At the same time, she said, “we should encourage students who come to the U.S. for higher studies, to stay back in the U.S. rather than send them back to their own countries. You need both.”

It could impact U.S. competitiveness
Some of the international economies where these researchers and workers are coming from are among U.S. competitors, although Raman clarified: “Competitiveness is not a win-lose game. When the U.S. becomes more competitive, everyone benefits. When China becomes more competitive, everyone benefits.” The four largest feeder countries for American companies are also among the top contributors to U.S. invention and research.

Labor certifications in 2015
South Korea

Since 2008, more U.S. patents have been registered by non-U.S. citizens than those registered by Americans. Murray confirmed this trend: “In our MIT alumni survey, the rate of patenting is higher for foreign-born students (34 percent) than for U.S.-born students (30 percent).”

Top ten countries for U.S.
patents in 2015, by the residence
of the first-named inventor.
In 2015, more U.S. patents were registered by Non U.S. citizens, than by U.S. citizens.
0-K’s-5%….Israel, India 
5….Canada, France, Britain
4…South Korea

Foreign origin:
South Korea
Top ten countries of foreign citizenship for U.S. doctorate recipients, 2004-2014
U.S. doctorates awarded, by citizenship and field of study in 2014.

{Life sciences
Physical sciences
Social sciences}

Visa holders
U.S. Citizens and
Permanent residents:
South Korea

Iran, one of the countries affected by the travel ban, is among the top ten countries with most U.S. doctorates.
Need for an open debate
In a recent report, experts from the Harvard Business School said one of the ways to keep the U.S. economy competitive is to allow the influx of more high-skilled workers.

However, the country doesn’t necessarily agree. The study notes that only 29 percent of the public supports high-skilled immigration, compared to 77 percent from the business community.

“Many more jobs have been lost due to automation rather than immigration,” Raman said, adding that the latter is often the focus of the blame.

To ensure the country’s ability to compete, Raman encouraged politicians to inform the public and keep an open dialogue including business leaders’ perspective, but also the needs of U.S. citizens. “The United States is competitive if its companies are able to compete successfully across the globe and, at the same time, the average American is able to aspire to rising living standards,” Raman said.

“If a policy decision serves only U.S. companies or if it serves only the average American, that might not always serve the country best in the long run. It may seem a good policy in the short term, but in the long term it may have unintended consequences that could harm the country’s ability to compete globally.”

Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, National Science Foundation, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, MIT Innovation Initiative, U.S. Competitiveness Project at Harvard Business School. Published Feb. 21.

February 17, 2017

100,000 National Guard Troops For Immigration Round Ups

“Hell’s Threshold," by Nadia Werbitzky(1941)

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by the Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Ore., and as far east as New Orleans, La.

Almost immediately after the Associated Press published its report, the White House issued a denial. “That is 100% not true. It is false," Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One before President Trump headed to South Carolina to tour a Boeing plant later Friday.

“There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants," Spicer said. He said he couldn't deny altogether that the subject had never been discussed in the administration,  The White House has noted before that many proposals have been drafted on a range of issues, but not all are under serious consideration.
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Four states that border Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Governors of the 11 states would decide whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized "to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States." It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any immigrants who crossed the border illegally.
The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact of the program could be significant. Nearly one-half of the estimated 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without permission live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump's executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has "committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense."

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Representatives for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that the Obama administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff's deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump's executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on to the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops' stated role on the border at the time was to provide surveillance but not make arrests.

Associated Press

February 12, 2017

Foreign Born Doctors in Underserved Areas at Risk for Deportation

Patients in Alexandria, La., were the friendliest people Dr. Muhammad Tauseef ever worked with. They'd drive long distances to see him, and often bring gifts.

"It's a small town, so they will sometimes bring you chickens, bring you eggs, bring you homemade cakes," he says.

One woman even brought him a puppy.

"That was really nice," he says.

Tauseef was born and raised in Pakistan. After going to medical school there, he applied to come to the U.S. to train as a pediatrician.

It's a path thousands of foreign-born medical students follow every year — a path that's been around for more than half a century. And, like most foreign-born physicians, Tauseef came on a J1 visa. That meant after training he had two options: return to Pakistan or work for three years in an area the U.S. government has identified as having a provider shortage.

He chose to work with mostly uninsured kids at a pediatric practice in Alexandria. "That was a challenge," he says. "But it was rewarding as well because you are taking care of people who there aren't many to take care for."

And the U.S. medical system depends on doctors like Tauseef, says Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association. He worries that if President Trump's executive order on immigration takes effect, it will mean parts of the country that desperately need medical care may not have a doctor.

"International medical graduates have been a resource to provide medical care to areas that don't otherwise have access to physicians," he says. "With the current uncertainty about those physicians' immigration status, we don't know whether or not these areas are going to receive care."

According to the AMA, today there are about 280,000 international medical graduates in the U.S. That's about 1 in 4 doctors practicing here. Some are U.S. citizens who've gone abroad for medical school, but most aren't.

"They don't all have permanent visas, and so a lot of them are concerned about what their status is going to be, whether they can stay, whether they can go home to visit family and still come back, and the communities they serve have similar questions," he says.

And the care provided by the graduates of foreign medical schools is, by and large, top notch. A study published Feb. 3 in the journal The BMJ, formerly The British Medical Journal, shows Medicare patients treated by doctors with degrees from non-U.S. medical schools get just as good care — and sometimes better — than those treated by graduates of American medical schools.

The immigration uncertainty is hitting medical schools at a tough time. Dr. Salahuddin Kazi is in charge of recruiting top students from across the world for the University of Texas Southwestern residency program.

"Typically we have 3,000 people applying for our 61 positions — of those 3,000, at least half of them are international medical graduates," he says.

Applicants find out their program match in March and usually start working in June. That gives them about 90 days to get a visa. Kazi worries this year that won't be long enough and that students from countries included in the travel ban won't be admitted.

"That would create hardship for the hospital, for us and for our remaining residents," he says. "They'll have to pick up more shifts or give up vacation."

Pediatrician Tauseef left Louisiana two years ago but continues to care for low-income patients at Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic in Dallas. Six of the 30 physicians who work at this clinic are from other countries.

Tauseef says they're all educated to do the same thing. "As a physician, being a foreign medical graduate, U.S. medical graduate, a Muslim doctor, a non-Muslim, we are trained to look for signs and symptoms," he says. "We do not look at anybody's color; we are not trained to look at anybody's religion or ethnicity."

Tauseef, who has been in America for 13 years, says he will apply for U.S. citizenship in March.


This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, KERA and Kaiser Health News.

February 6, 2017

Belgium Man Afraid of Deportation Tried Jumping off B’klyn Bridge

 A Belgian man frightened that he could be deported was talked down from a beam above the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge early Sunday morning, after he had reportedly been threatening to jump.
According to the Post, two NYPD officers had been patrolling the bridge's pedestrian path shortly after midnight Sunday when they happened upon two bags filled with clothes and personal items. While searching for the bags' owner, they spotted the man standing on an out-of-bounds beam above the Manhattan-bound road, threatening to jump to his death.
The officers quickly radioed for backup and halted traffic on the road beneath the man, the Daily News reports. Moments later, an officer from the nearby 84th NYPD Precinct climbed onto one of the bridge's cables to speak with the man, who shared his fears of being sent out of the country.
The man reportedly said he had come to the U.S. from Belgium on a tourist visa, the Post notes. The officer successfully talked the man down from the beam, and emergency responders took him to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

February 3, 2017

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Nationwide Immigration Directive

By Dan Levine and Scott Malone
 A federal judge in Seattle on Friday put a nationwide block on U.S. President Donald Trump's week-old executive order barring nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.
The judge's temporary restraining order represents a major challenge to Trump's action, although his administration could still appeal the ruling and have the policy upheld. 
The Seattle judge, James Robart, made his ruling effective immediately on Friday, suggesting that travel restrictions could be lifted straight away. 
"It's a wonderful day for the rule of law in this country," said Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell.
The state's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said: "This decision shuts down the executive order right now." He said he expected the federal government to honor the ruling. 
The new Republican president's order signed on Jan. 27 triggered chaos at U.S. airports last weekend. Some travelers abroad were turned back from flights into the United States, crowds of hundreds of people packed into arrival areas to protest and legal objections were filed across the country.
The challenge was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The Seattle judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration. 
The decision came on a day that attorneys from four states were in courts challenging Trump's executive order. The Trump administration justified the action on national security grounds, but opponents labeled it an unconstitutional order targeting people based on religious beliefs.
Earlier on Friday, a federal judge in Boston declined to extend a temporary restraining order that allowed some immigrants into the United States from countries affected by Trump's three-month ban.
Also on Friday in Virginia, a federal judge ordered the White House to provide a list of all people stopped from entering the United States by the travel ban.
The State Department said on Friday that fewer than 60,000 visas previously issued to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen had been invalidated as a result of the order. That disclosure followed media reports that government lawyers were citing a figure of 100,000.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia ordered the federal government to give the state a list by Thursday of "all persons who have been denied entry to or removed from the United States."
The state of Hawaii on Friday joined the challenge to the order, filing a lawsuit alleging that the order is unconstitutional and asking the court to block the order across the country.
The order also temporarily stopped the entry of all refugees into the country and indefinitely halted the settlement of Syrian refugees.
On Friday the Department of Homeland Security issued additional clarification of the order, stating that there were no plans to extend it beyond the seven countries. The DHS also reiterated that the ban did not apply to permanent residents, or green card holders, and some others, such as those who have helped the U.S. military.
In the Boston case, U.S. District Judge Nathan Gorton denied the request, after expressing skepticism during oral arguments about a civil rights group’s claim that Trump's order represented religious discrimination.
(Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York, Brian Snyder in Boston and Lawrence Hurley, Lesley Wroughton and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Jonathan Weber and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Rigby)

Trump Drafts of Exec Order on Cuts-full of Noise and Black Holes

 Who is going down the black hole besides children and poor immigrants?

A draft plan, under discussion inside the Trump administration, promises to exclude would-be immigrants who might need public assistance and to deport, whenever possible, those already dependent on welfare.
The draft executive order, as written, illuminates one of the ways in which the Trump administration plans to deliver on campaign-trail promises to halt what candidate Trump repeatedly described as the intentional abuse of American social service programs. The effort, as described, appears to want to reduce immigrants’ impact on American taxpayers and the workforce. But there are just a few problems with Trump’s draft order. They begin with the facts.
The language in the order, as written, portrays immigrants generally as a drain on the American taxpayer, and would direct the government to address the issue in several ways. The draft order would:
  • Direct various federal agencies to more strictly identify and exclude potential immigrants likely to need certain types of public aid and deport those already in the United States who have had to rely on social services help.
  • Command federal officials to determine how much the federal government could save — it specifically suggests a savings of $100 billion — if immigrants were limited to getting “only the public benefits that they are eligible to receive.”
  • Compel federal officials to demand reimbursement from people inside the United States who made legal promises to support immigrant relatives, if necessary.
  • Require social service agencies to report immigrant benefit recipients to federal authorities.
The order calls for lots of research too, including how the estimated $100 billion in savings the order says these activities would generate could be brought to bear on domestic poverty along with regular reports monitoring the number of immigrants blocked, reimbursements demanded and the status of monitoring efforts to stop immigrants from receiving public benefits.
But, almost none of the issues identified in the draft order exist as they are described in the order.
Immigration is complexCitizenship status can change and, in many U.S. households, citizens and legal and illegal immigrants live together, making the rights and benefits available to them difficult to quantify or classify as aid to “aliens.” Long-standing U.S. law already makes it rare for noncitizens to receive most forms of public assistance, such as cash payments. And, experts in immigration law and the nation’s public assistance programs say there’s little data to support the administration’s claim that immigrants disproportionately draw on public aid. 
There are at least 5.1 million children living in the United States with a parent who is an unauthorized immigrant, according to an analysis published by the Migration Policy Institute in January 2016. More than 70 percent of these children are also U.S. citizens, eligible for a full slate of social service benefits as any other child in a family with a similar income. And immigrant children are more likely than others to live in low-income families. As many of those children are minors, they cannot simply be given control of the federal food or cash aid for which they qualify. The benefits have to be controlled by their parents, immigrants who are the heads of their households.
These families offer a helpful framework for thinking about any promise to surgically extract needy immigrants, said Tanya Broder, a senior staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.
“The reality is that immigrants and citizens live together, work together and inhabit the same communities and neighborhoods,” said Broder, who specializes in policies affecting access to health care, public education and aid. “For good reason, we want every baby to be born healthy, every young child to have basic nutrition and the people around us to be physically healthy enough to contribute to our economy. When you ignore that, the consequences can quickly become more costly in terms of human beings and taxpayer dollars than providing services in the first place.” 
Though the draft orders characterize a ban on immigrants receiving welfare as something new, or at least insufficiently enforced, some of what it lays out as proposals for new immigration and welfare policy already exists. And what the order depicts as poor enforcement is actually more like a long line of laws, legal decisions, rules and official guides for federal employees that have made public charge deportations rare. 
For more than 100 years, U.S. law has allowed federal officials to bar immigrants who, based on a specific formula, seem likely to need public assistance after arrival. That test is known as the “public charge” law. The law technically allows federal immigration authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival and prevent legal immigrants from moving toward citizenship for the same reason.
Individuals living in the United States who want to help their relatives enter the country also are already required to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that they earn enough money to support themselves and those hoping to immigrate. Anyone signing such an affidavit also agrees to pay back public assistance should their relatives receive it.
On top of that, in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, widely known as “welfare reform.” In addition to the lifetime limits for all welfare recipients, the law significantly restricted immigrant access to the U.S. social safety net.
“It was definitely the biggest change in policy regarding immigrant access to means-tested benefits ever,” said Ron Haskins, one of the chief architects of the welfare reform law and a Republican congressional committee staffer who worked with the Clinton administration on the matter. Today, Haskins is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he co-directs the Center on Children and Families. 
Those reforms barred illegal immigrants from many programs designed for the poor, said Audrey Singer, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. She studies demographic change, immigration, global refu­gee movements and their municipal implications.
Much to the chagrin of many Republicans in Congress, some of these rules were scaled back during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, Haskins said. The reason for the rollbacks: Many Democrats were never fond of the specifics of the welfare reform law, Haskins said. Clinton was unsure, and just two cabinet members and advisers in the room with Clinton when he decided to sign the 1996 law thought the immigrant provisions should be included, Haskins said.
Politics wasn’t the only driver. In the years that followed welfare reform, documented reports of abuses, inaccurate reads of the public charge law, exorbitant fines 33 times the value of benefits provided and other stories began to reach Washington, Broder said.
By 1999, administration officials clarified the public charge law so that participation in food aid programs, seeking help with medical care, job training, education or child care clearly could not be considered violations of the country’s prohibition on public dependency. Since 2002, immigrant children have been eligible for food aid during the five-year waiting period required for adults, and since 2009, states have had the option of providing health care coverage to legal immigrant children and pregnant women within their first years in the United States.
Still today, immigrant access to Social Security assistance is seldom granted, Singer said. Legal immigrants — including green-card holders — must navigate a mandatory five-year waiting period for eligibility in most aid programs. And, once on cash aid rolls, legal immigrants become subject to the same lifetime limits that apply to everyone else. What’s more, some immigrants never become eligible for cash aid, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To do so they have to fit certain criteria and live in a certain states. Across the country, refugees — people fleeing war, famine or persecution — receive six months of assistance after they arrive in the U.S., then become ineligible for most aid for several years. 
None of that adds up to a situation anything like that implied by Trump’s draft executive order. Immigrants do not make up overwhelming majorities of those receiving public assistance.
Immigrant families are less likely to receive food benefits than other households, according an Urban Institute analysis of federal 2008 and 2009 SNAP data. The pattern held but the gap between immigrant and native-born families narrowed when it came to cash aid and public health insurance.
In poor families, about 18 percent of children with native-born parents received cash help — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — in 2008 and 2009, compared with about 12 percent of children with foreign-born parents, according to the study. Among children in poor families, 77 percent of those with U.S.-born parents and 69 percent of those with foreign-born parents had Medicaid or CHIP coverage.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for detailed data on the citizenship and national origin status of more recent or current SNAP (food stamps) recipients. A Department of Health and Human Services representative said the department does not have such data for Medicaid users. But an annual report on TANF recipients compiled by the agency suggests strongly that the inferences in Trump’s draft order are not well founded.
In fiscal year 2015, 744,257 adults were enrolled in the cash assistance program along with about 2.37 million children who live with ineligible adults. That group of children includes some living with legal and illegal immigrant parents. But, non citizens made up about 280,300 — or just 9 percent — of all the people receiving cash aid.

January 30, 2017

AG Hold Over from Obama Bars Justice from Defending Trump’s Order

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from President Barack Obama's administration, ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration. 

IMAGE: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

Sally Yates in June 2016. J. David Ake / AP

The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel signed off on Trump's order last week, but Yates — who stayed on as acting attorney general pending the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama — said the office's reviews don't "address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just." 
"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," Yates wrote in a memo to the department's lawyers. 
"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful," she wrote.  The memo came to light only a few hours after Obama broke his post-presidential silence in a statement backing protesters demonstrating against the executive order. 
Obama "fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," the statement said.  Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants' Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the directive "a remarkable but welcome development." 
The directive "sends a powerful message that there's something very wrong with a Muslim ban," Gelernt said. 
But Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to Trump and a major architect of the travel ban, said, "It's sad that our politics have been politicized, that you have people refusing to enforce our laws." 
In an interview Monday night on MSNBC's "For the Record," Miller said it was "sadder still that you have a situation where the previous administration — and I don't want to bring up the past — lifted, removed, eliminated whole sections of immigration law, and it wasn't even considered by many in the media and many in the administration to be matter of controversy." 
Yates’ memo would appear to represent the most serious rebellion by the Justice Department since the "Saturday Night Massacre" of October 1973, when Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out President Richard Nixon's order to fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor.


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