June 2018 Newsletter: US Immigration; +Darfur; +etc.

Welcome to this edition of the Peace/Justice — Human Rights action edition!

This version originally was meant to go out the first week of June but logistics made it impossible.  Then I was ready to send it June 20 but caught U.S. President Trump’s reversal of his policy to separate children and parents at the border.  Since the topic was being addressed below I decided to wait a few extra days to follow the revisions.  That said, it may continue to evolve over the next several weeks, and thus I have decided to send the newsletter now, highlighting to all that this may remain in flux for some time.

With most topics, the content here barely skims the subject of immigration; it can only try to coax out the core issues.  Again, that is why the blog was created – please use it to share any thoughts about vital areas you feel are missing or misconstrued, etc.

There are also sections related to Myanmar, Darfur and a couple other issues.  But due to the extra focus on the U.S. immigration issue, I have postponed a follow-up to the previous newsletter, noted at the end – it will be sent in the next couple of weeks.

 


FREE JOURNALISTS IN MYANMAR

This section highlights two concerns.  Firstly, the journalists themselves – they were arrested in December 2017 for investigating military abuses in Rakhine State (where the Rohingya crisis exists).  Despite protests concerning disregard for freedom of the press, they have since been charged with a criminal offence and could face 14 years in prison.

Secondly, last month (May) included World Press Freedom Day.  As noted in our previous newsletter, there have been rising populist dynamics.  A typical part of those dynamics is the attempt to discredit various sources of journalism.  This newsletter therefore wants to uphold the worthy, essential work of journalists, who often globally work in very physically threatening conditions, and applauds their courage.

Take Action:
[Note: If non-Canadian, edit start of your message with “As a citizen of {country}…]
https://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1770&ea.campaign.id=88081

Further Reading:
Background on Reuters Journalists Action [Amnesty International]
   Evidence of Further Massacres [May22]
Are Journalists Increasingly Under {physical} Attack? [BBC]
Other Journalist Threats: Mexican Journalist Killed, Sixth in 2018 in Mexico [Reuters: May29]

 

 

 


U.S. SEPARATING PARENTS FROM CHILDREN, AT BORDER

[Preamble: This newsletter sometimes skips a “hot button” issue, given its extensive coverage, that little is to be gained by repeating it.  Instead we often highlight other terrible plights NOT being addressed because the “hot button” issue is taking all the focus.  In this case we do a little of both.  For this immigration issue, we try to untangle and anchor the core issues and solutions.  We start with the typical brief overview and actions still needed, but will follow it with further analysis, given it fits well from the previous newsletter and the notion of affecting change].

As noted previously the U.S immigration system is broken, resulting in a simmering group of concerns and actions.  Then, recent politically-driven action (the “Zero Tolerance” notion) added to the chaotic result.  Both immediate and long-term actions / affirmations are needed, which is followed by a link to take action:

Immediate Actions / Affirmations:

  1. Children should not be separated from their parents. Using young children as objects to send a message (in this case, to stop migrating to the US) is not only stunningly callous and uncaring, it is immoral for the Possible Harms, Including Life-Long, to Separated Children.[CBC].  Due to its fundamental wrong, it is little wonder it provoked such a groundswell of outrage and protest, resulting in the action being abandoned.

    Corollary: Reunite the families already separated, due to the possible harm to the children.  [A federal judge has now ordered the reunification for children under 5 years old].

  2. Children should not be detained with their parents. Such concerns are why the U.S. 1997 Flores Agreement came into effect and must be heeded.  It recognizes detention is no place for innocent children, even with their families.  This is advocating for adequate resources for those seeking to immigrate rather than scare tactics to try to reduce the number seeking immigration.
  3. Asylum seekers should not be detained indefinitely. [July2: In a case brought by the ACLU and others, a federal judge determined such practices violated the Fifth Amendment {due process} and asylum seekers who pass the “credible fear” tests must be granted parole].

There are other considerations but I will include them below under item #2, “Fixing the System”.  Many concerns stem from a seemingly lack of trust in the immigration system as it currently stands.  The remaining concerns are the long-standing historical tension surrounding immigration, noted further below.

 

Long-Term Actions / Affirmations:

  1. Improve Living Standards of Developing Countries: The most basic issue is that there are countries whose citizens find life so desperate that they are willing to risk the journey to try to enter the U.S.  For example. the “Northern Triangle” countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have a history of violence, from which people want to flee [Council on Foreign Relations Jan/18].  The source of the violence is complex but at least goes back to the 1980s and civil wars (including the US-backed Contras).  Some roots go back further to Los Angeles and the 1960s (MS-13.gang) and 1980s (M-18 gang) , many of whom had fled their country’s unrest but then ended up in these gangs in the U.S., and were then deported back to their countries in a 1990s crackdown, which spread the gang influence back in their home countries (over 80,000 gang members now).

    One consequence at the end of the civil wars was many unemployed young men and easy access to weapons, leading to the proliferation of gangs, narcotics trafficking, weak rule of law, and official corruption. In 2015 El Salvador was the world’s most violent country not at war (though its rates have fallen somewhat since).  Total extortion payments in any of these countries could be as high as $290 million.  In sum, even if your child didn’t end up in a gang, your family could easily become a target of violence.

    Basic solutions are two-fold.  International development NGOS that deal directly with the people via local empowerment (especially women), capacity building, micro-credit, etc., can do much to help raise living standards, though it is rare to go much beyond the local level.  Note: Government-to-government funding is prone to strings attached and also to being siphoned off.  Secondly are the efforts to induce good governance – separate and well-functioning legislative, legal and enforcement aspects.  These efforts remain very primitive and fragile.

  2. Fix the Broken U.S. Immigration System: A broken system generates undue moral clashes, such as demands to “Stop the Queue-Jumping”. I agree – in general I don’t want queue-jumping as part of my moral framework (apart from exceptional circumstances), because it is not fair.  The same goes for No-Shows at asylum courts – while most do show up, a minority do not (though providing legal counsel significantly reduces that rate).  .In a smoothly running system there is no backlog, thus no queue jumping, few no-shows, and thus no such false, often manufactured, moral dilemmas and its associated liberal-conservative rancor.

    The [Vox] article demonstrates how the immigration system has been fixed before and could be again.  It simply needs the political will to provide the changes noted in the article and the resources (for instance, more immigration judges & asylum officers).

  3. Revisit the UN Convention on Refugees [E-International Relations]. Some people are deemed refugees {thankfully} only because a broad interpretation is made.  That leaves some people at risk of a narrow interpretation.

Selective History of U.S. Human Rights and Asylum

Apart from showing how the U.S. has adopted the core acts and protections for refugees, this list shows: (a) the tension surrounding immigration that has always lurked in U.S. history; (b) whatever group at a given time has been demonized, has later become part of the social fabric of society.

  1. 1845-55: Over 3 million immigrated to the U.S. (greatest per capita migration) from the unrest in Europe and crop failures in Ireland. The immigration backlash took the form of the “Know Nothing” movement, which included a strong anti-Catholic element.  It dispersed when the slavery issue took prominence.  Yet I remember as a young boy (over a century later) how weird it seemed that when John F. Kennedy ran for president there was controversy about him being Catholic.
  2. 1863-71: Chinese immigration led to violence and even a massacre. The anti-Chinese sentiment lingered into the early 20th
  3. 1930s: As the Jewish people faced persecution, 67% of the U.S. said they would not accept 10,000 Jewish children. In 1939 Cuba then the U.S. then Canada refused a boat of 937 Jewish refugees, which had to go back to Germany where 254 of them would die in concentration camps;
  4. 1942-45: American Japanese were sent to U.S. internment camps;
  5. 1967: The U.S. was not a signatory of the 1951 Convention of Status of Refugees, but is a signatory of the 1967 Protocol, which incorporates the Convention by reference;
  6. 1975-79: Fueled again by concern about job losses, 62% of Americans did not want to take in the Vietnamese fleeing the conflict (& later “Boat People);
  7. 1980s: This time the animosity was directed towards Cuban refugees;
  8. 1990s: This time the fear involved Haitian refugees;
  9. 1980: Congress passed The Refugee Act which brought the notion within domestic law, and added provisions for an Office to help with resettlement in the U.S.
  10. 1997: The Flores Settlement Agreement requires the federal government (a) place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than keeping them in custody; (b) keep immigrant children who are in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible.
  11. 2012: Obama introduces the DACA program for young undocumented immigrants.

 

Take Action (Belatedly; US citizens only – phone calls to Reps.)
Do Not Treat Asylum Seekers Like Criminals [Human Rights First]
Keep Pressure Until All Families Reunited, All Given Due Process [ACLU]
Bookmark this URL which gives your Representatives for all levels of government, federal to local:
http://myreps.datamade.us

 

Additional References:
Facts & Recent History of U.S. Asylum [TIME]
Fact-Checking The U.S. Family-Separation Policy  [Washington Post]
U.S. Asylum Process [Human Rights First, HRF]
Four Paths To Seek Asylum, Infographic  [HRF]
Latin America’s Homicide Epidemic [Economist]
Partial Legacy of Denying Entry to the U.S. [Slate]
Most Asylum Seekers Show Up in Court [Politifact]
JFK and Catholicism [JFK Library]

 

 

 


DARFUR: DO NOT NORMALIZE RELATIONS

In the longitudinal study of Darfur, it is astounding now to watch countries considering a more normalized relation with Sudan, given that it has not changed its brutal and suppressive relations with its own people.  In the EU it is due to the migrant issue and using Sudan and others to stem the flow.  In the U.S. Obama had started the shift, seemingly seeing an unjust “calm” as reason enough to try to entice Sudan to do real development of its peripheries, thus perhaps hoping it might kick-start real economic growth.  At best risky; at worst, deluded.  And with President Trump in office, I simply cannot predict who will decide what.

Take Action:
Do Not Normalize Relations with Sudan

Background:
Six months after Lifting Sanctions Progress Is Limited [IRIN]
UK’s Boris Johnson Condemned for Trade Forum with Sudan [Guardian]
How Far Wil EU Go to Protect Its Borders [Dissent]

 

 

 


U.S. BISHOPS: SKIP CONFERENCE THAT SUPPORTS REPARATIVE THERAPY

Reparative Therapy is the notion that there is a therapy that can change someone’s sexual orientation back to heterosexual.  This newsletter sides with scientific evidence that such therapy can be harmful and should be banned, let alone the faulty basic premise that only heterosexual relations can be deemed “normal”.

Take Action (US only):
Tell US Bishops to Skip Conference

Canada: Tell Government to Ban Reparative Therapy

 

 


SKIP PAPER RECEIPTS!

This topic continues the issue of personal habits, their largely hidden environmental costs, and potential solutions.  This action won’t save the world, but these receipts usually have a toxic component, thus the fewer, the better, whether for meals, ATMs, or for gas.  In addition, habits can have a spill-over effect – where else can my daily patterns be changed for the better?

Take Action:
Take Pledge to Skip The Receipts Where Possible

 

 


TELL U.S. HOUSE TO RESTORE NET NEUTRALITY

Net neutrality maintains a level playing field for access to the internet. Removing that (that is, charging people more for better access to the internet) would be similar to charging people various rates for varying rates, and even possibly degrees, of access to the library system – knowledge is an essential resource in this world and it would create an inequality.

Take Action:
https://stopthefcc.net/?source=6CommonDreams

 

 

 


IN-DEPTH FOLLOW-UP: THE SUBTLE, PERVASIVE EFFECTS OF BIAS

[Postponed – Stay tuned – coming in a couple of weeks]

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