“America First” policy will require the US to adopt unimaginably selfish policies, ignoring responsibility for worldwide poverty and consequences of climate change that will make the current border crisis seem mild. CNN video of the refugees being attacked with tear gas at the Mexican border is offered at the end of the post.
Actions and Opportunities follow the report on Honduran refugees flooding toward the US border and what US immigration/refugee foretells. Tune into KSFR 101.1 FM at 8:30 today for a solo show focusing on our current economic and political situation and what you can do about it. If you got this too late to listen, you can always get the podcast on Monday at ksfr.org, under the programs menu, scroll to podcast and scroll through the alphabet of shows til you get to R. 😉 Apologies about the hodgepodge of fonts that follow. Something went awry. Mistakes happened.
US Doors Slammed Tight to Refugees as Trump Whips Up Fear
The U.S. admitted 22,491 refugees in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. That’s one-quarter of the number allowed to enter two years ago and the lowest since Congress passed a law in 1980 creating the modern resettlement system. It was less than half the maximum that the administration had said it would allow, even with millions of people seeking to escape war and famine around the world. Contrast our tight borders and utter lack of moral responsibility with Germany who in 2016 admitted 1 million refugees, almost 50 times the number accepted into the US.
“It’s unfortunate for the refugees who could have come this year and didn’t,” said Jen Smyers with Church World Service, an organization that supports refugees and immigrants. “But these low numbers also show the U.S. turning away from a global leadership role on this issue.” And Donald Trump will stop at nothing to deter refugees, as reflected in his comments about the Honduran refugees that are now streaming across Mexico in a caravan. He continues to make unsubstantiated claims that people are simply grabbing kids who they’ve known less than 20 minutes as they reach the border and that these people streaming to the US are really bad people. The video of these folks looks more like decent, desperate people seeking refuge from horrific conditions. But Trump whips up fear by demonizing them.. After noting that he had pressed Mexico to stop the caravan at its border. “If that doesn’t work out, we’re calling up the military, not the guard, we’re calling up the military and we’re going to have the military stationed,” Trump said. “They’re not coming into this country. They might as well turn back.” Trump has also threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, an act that would only exacerbate the squalid living conditions that are driving Central Americans to seek refuge in the US. Trump is systematically implementing policies to make entry into the US even more difficult, to the delight of his frenzied supporters. From the Nation:
Under “enhanced vetting” procedures announced in October, a reform that accompanied the Muslim ban, “high-risk” countries are facing harsher screening of personal background records and social-media accounts.Humanitarian groups have warned that thousands of refugees could be placed in more danger as they are subjected to tighter reviews. The immigration service is already facing a backlog of 700,000 resettlement cases. Meanwhile, despite ongoing congressional and local political support for what remains of the refugee program, Republican lawmakers have advanced a proposal to give individual states veto power to turn away refugees assigned for resettlement by the federal government.”
The White House continues to destroy channels for safe legal passage by individual refugees, it is unraveling multiple other forms of humanitarian reprieve, in some cases directly cracking down on those already granted protection. The haphazard repeal of Temporary Protected Status for migrants from several countries that have suffered humanitarian crises, including Haiti, El Salvador, and Nepal, effectively revokes legal status for hundreds of thousands of migrants already living and working here, including those who raising US-citizen children and well-established residents who haven’t retuned home in many years. Many of them now face deportation to places where human -rights violations remain rife, so they may essentially face the same devastating fate as individuals who might otherwise qualify for refugee protection.
The vast reductions in refugees being admitted is having an impact on the non-profit organizations who help with resettling refugees. Lutheran Immigrant and Refugees Services, had resettled 9600 refugees in 2016 has seen its caseload drop to 3700 and Milwaukee Catholic Charities was forced to close as it saw its caseload drop from 700 to just 97. The decimation of the infrastructure of agencies that support resettlement is yet another impact of Trump’s policies. As reported in the Nation’s excellent piece, Trump is working on many levels to unravel our capacity and our will to be anything like a responsible member of the human race, ignoring entirely how the US is one of the primary forces behind both climate change and the economic and social instability that creates the conditions from which refugees flee. Click here to read the very informative Nation article.
I want to say something of what Roxanne and I found on our Road Trip in Buffalo, NY and Minneapolis, MN, both of which are ‘resettlement cities.’ These have welcomed thousands of the purportedly ‘really bad people’.’ And in doing so, they have benefitted from an infusion of resilient people who have become a backbone of economic vitality in these communities. In Buffalo, we found the revival of the West Side of Buffalo, its poorest neighborhood, anchored in a wide variety of cultural wares, clothing shops, foods, restaurants, and music. Rather than being a threat to their community these refugees have enriched it. Consider that our Nation is now willing to only accept 1/50th of the number of refugees resettled by Germany. What is wrong with our moral compass?
And Now take a moment and project out 10-20 years, when the world is faced with still more desperate people fleeing climate change-caused famine, drought and devastation. Will these be really bad people or just victims of US First policies, victims of the US failure to who leadership in the fight to counter climate change, victims of US trade and military policies designed to extract the wealth from countries that are desperately poor. In this context, far more people will seek refugee status here in the US. Is this how we will respond? US First and you and your starving children be damned. Imagine what Democracy Now will report, imagine the video of the suffering hoards. And to a very significant degree, their plight will be our fault and our response will be our shame. The video at the bottom is a prelude to our future and forces us to ask ourselves: what kind of people are we?
A CNN video at the end of the post is well worth watching, especially the commentary from Van Jones, CNN commentator. He makes the point that the US needs to be doing more on both sides of the border, accepting more refugees into our country while working to improve conditions in Central America and the rest of the world rather than simply exploiting those countries and extracting their wealth, leaving their populace desperate.
Paul & Roxanne
Actions and Opportunities: And We Have Lots to Report
Elect a New Congress. Call from home for Xochitl Torres Small. XochitlTorres Small is an exceptional candidate and her contest is a tossup. Now it matters how hard we work in the closing stretch. Remote calling is simple. You sign in, and up pops a script and person to call. You fill in some answers during the call. When you are finished the data is saved and the next call pops up. We need to make the calls so people in CD2 can knock on the doors. Contact Richard Ellenberg, by phone or email to get set up. If my phone is busy, please leave a message. firstname.lastname@example.org or 505 699 9158
Journey with Paul & Roxanne Talking About Our Road Trip. Podcast for Those Who Missed the Talk. Click here to listen to the Journey podcast.
KSFR. 101.1 FM Saturday, Oct 20, 8:30am. A solo show in which I discuss Reverend Barber, Austin Tiny Houses, climate change, the urgent need for grassroots activism, and how you can be part of it.
Sunday, October 21, Precautionary Principle Workshop 10:00 am to 3:00 pm – Lunch will be provided. Location: Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Center, 848 State Rd. # 68, Alcade. One in a series of events intended to increase public awareness, education, and empowerment around the issue of the hexavalent chromium plume originating from Los Alamos National Laboratory that has been found in our watershed. Hope to see you there. Click here for more information and to RSVP (not a Facebook link). TEWA. This is the only reason I won’t be canvassing for Abbas this weekend.