Refugee Voices

6 EL CAJON SOCCER PLAYERS CHARGED WITH DISRUPTING FLIGHT; FEDS ACCUSED OF RACIAL PROFILING

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 3, 2015 (El Cajon) – Six soccer players from El Cajon face federal charges of disrupting a Southwest Airline flight from San Diego to Chicago. The flight was diverted and landed in Texas Monday after a confrontation between crew members and the passengers.  If convicted of interfering with an airline flight, the young people could face up to 20 years in prison.

The federal complaint alleges that the young athletes in a Chaldean soccer league, all in their late teens or early 20s, used profanity, lunged at a flight attendant, and called her racist and a pig. But family and friends of those arrested say the dispute arose after flight attendants demanded that the players, all Iraqi-American Christians from El Cajon, stop talking in their native language. Some suggest racial profiling. Now another passenger has stepped forward to say he saw no altercation at all.

CHALDEAN AMERICAN FESTIVAL: A CULTURAL CELEBRATION SEPT. 19-20 IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

September 2, 2015 (El Cajon) -- The city of El Cajon is home to more than 40,000 Chaldeans, one of the largest Chaldean enclaves in the United States.  Chaldeans are an integral part of the local business community as well as the community at large, and would like to invite neighbors to sample the culture at the upcoming 5th Annual Chaldean American Festival on September 19 and 20. The City of El Cajon has proclaimed September Chaldean American Month, and invites the whole community to attend the Chaldean American Festival. The family event will feature authentic homemade Chaldean faire, traditional music and dancing, games for children, as well as local vendors for all to enjoy.

DIEGO VALLEY CHARTER SCHOOL HELPS IMMIGRANT AND DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS ATTAIN THEIR DREAMS

 

Hear our radio interview, originally aired on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ:

http://k001.kiwi6.com/hotlink/kn5r63g0j0/Newsmakers-DiegoValleyCharterSchool.mp3

Story by Miriam Raftery, photo by Leon Thompson

August 28, 2015 (El Cajon) – Miguel Angel Soria and Peter Alkatib at Diego Valley Charter School in El Cajon are working wonders, helping 80% of their students—all at risk and drop-out youth—graduate with a high school diploma and go on to college or a career pathway. They are also co-producers of the Chaldean Voices documentary film debuting soon on KPBS and in El Cajon to celebrate Chaldean-American month.

About 30%  to 40% of the student body are Iraqi Chaldeans and most of the rest belong to other minority populations.  The school offers flexible scheduling to accommodate students who must work or raise children, also providing tutoring and other help to assure their students achieve their dreams.

IRAQIS IN EL CAJON RALLY FOR REFORMS

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2015 (El Cajon)—About 250 to 300 Iraqis from multiple religions and beliefs united in a demonstration in El Cajon on Saturday, standing in solidarity with people across Iraq who have taken to the streets to demand governmental reforms.  Mass protests in Iraq followed a cut-off of electricity amid sweltering heat.

LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES BRIAN JONES AND RANDY VOEPEL SPEAK OUT AT 2ND CHALDEAN CHAMBER'S "MEET YOUR CANDIDATE" EVENT

 

By Janis Russell

August 17, 2015 (La Mesa)- The San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted its second Meet Your Candidates event at Sammy’s Woodfire Pizza in La Mesa on August 5. The speakers were Assemblyman Brian Jones, who is running for Senator Joel Anderson’s seat, and 71st state Assembly district candidate Randy Voepel, who has been Mayor  and served on Santee’s city council since 2000. Voepel is running against Mike Harrison, who currently serves on Duncan D. Hunter, and Tony Teora, an engineer. (Harrison spoke at a prior Chamber event and Teora is invited for the future.)

MASS DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRAQ: SOLIDARITY RALLY SET TODAY IN EL CAJON

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Camilia Sadik

 

August 15, 2015 (El Cajon) –This photo is not in Egypt nor Tunisia.  The scene is Iraq, this month, where demonstrators are calling for an end to corruption and a return to secular government amid scorching temperatures that have reached 122 degrees. 

A solidarity rally is planned today in El Cajon from 6 to 8 p.m. at 201 East Main Street.

“Mass demonstrations were triggered in Baghdad by lack of electricity and unbearable heat in August,” linquist Camilia Sadik told East County Magazine, also providing photos taken by her friend in Baghdad.  “They began in Tahreer Square in Baghdad on August 1 and then spread all over Iraq.  Two major slogans are `In the name of religion, we were burglarized by thieves” and “Yes to secularism, No to Shiites, no to Sunnis.”

ICE ISSUES RESPONSE ON IRAQI DETAINEES AT OTAY: 5 ORDERED DEPORTED, 1 FACES CHARGES OVER FALSE PAPERS, 22 REMAIN BEHIND BARS

 

Congresswoman Davis wants to speak with family members of detained Chaldeans

By Miriam Raftery

August 3, 2015 (Otay) –After our story  yesterday on efforts by local Chaldeans to free more than 20 Iraqi Chaldean Christians detained for months at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Homeland Security facility in Otay Mesa, we received a response from Lauren Mack, public affairs officer for ICE in San Diego. 

Mack advised us via e-mail, “There are currently 28 Iraqi nationals in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Otay Detention Facility in San Diego. One of those individuals was criminally charged this week in federal court with providing false information on an immigration application. Five others in the group have now been ordered removed (i.e., deported) by an immigration judge.”

Asked if these six individuals are Chaldean Christians or not, Mack declined to reveal the religion of these detainees. However she did provide a copy of the criminal complaint filed against Reta Morrogi (a.k.a. Zina Hormes Oraha Delli. It states that Morrogo communicated through an interpreter in the Chaldean dialect. She is charged with failing to disclose time spent in Germany on her flight from Iraq to the U.S.

EAST COUNTY CHALDEANS PLEA FOR RELEASE OF CHRISTIANS DETAINED BY HOMELAND SECURITY AT OTAY

 

Detentions shine spotlight on U.S. policies that critics say is harshest system in the world for asylum seekers

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 2, 2015 (El Cajon) – Over three dozen Iraqi Chaldean Christians from El Cajon held a prayer vigil and protest outside the prison walls at the Homeland Security detention facility at Otay Mesa on Thursday, calling for the release of their family members and friends who fled ISIS only to be imprisoned when they arrived in America seeking asylum.  Over two dozen have been held in indefinite detention for over four months, some up to seven months, with no hearing date set for release. 

The detainees include a woman who pleaded for release to see her mother, who died Thursday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Father Noel from St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon told East County Magazine that all of the detained Christians have family in El Cajon who vouch for their identities and are willing to take them in. 

The situation is far different than for Iraqi Chaldeans who came here a decade ago seeking asylum.  “Ten years ago, they were held just a couple of days and they were not in a jail,” he told East County Magazine.  “Today, they are fleeing ISIS," escaping genocide in their homeland, only to arrive and be imprisoned in the U.S.

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS 3 AWARDS FROM SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

 

 

East County News Service

July 31, 2015 (San Diego) – East County Magazine picked up three more awards from the Society for Professional Journalists San Diego pro chapter last night during the annual awards banquet at the Bali Hai restaurant.   Two of the awards honor coverage on our East County Magazine Show on KNSJ Radio while the third is for an investigative report at our online news site (www.EastCountyMagazine.org), bringing our total awards to 83 since our founding in 2008.

Last night’s honors, all second place awards presented to Miriam Raftery (photo, left), include our radio interview series with local Chaldeans’ efforts to halt genocide in Iraq, a radio interview with a Kurdish woman about her family’s ordeal fleeing ISIS, and an online investigative report on a San Diego company’s failure to disclose negative impacts of a proposed energy project.

You can read and hear our award-winning entries here:

CLERGY TO HOLD MASS JULY 30 OUTSIDE OTAY DETENTION CENTER FOR CHRISTIAN DETAINEES

 

Faith leaders Mark Arabo to call for immediate release of over 27 Iraqi Chaldean Christians being held for crossing border after fleeing ISIS.

July 28, 2015 (San Diego)- Since the rise of the Islamic State terrorists known as ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christians have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been made it across the Mexico-US border. Now, 27 Iraqi Christian men and women have been imprisoned for over four months after fleeing ISIS. Word has come that their requests for asylum may also be denied, Mark Arabo told East County Magazine.

CHALDEAN VOICES - A TALE OF IMMIGRANTS

 

Photo: Film makers Miguel Angel Soria and Peter Alkatib

Film review by Mimi Pollack

July 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--As an ESL teacher at Grossmont College, the majority of students in my classes are Iraqi and Iraqi Chaldean. Thus, I had a particular interest in the documentary, “Chaldean Voices”, which I saw Friday evening at “Documentaries on the Prado” at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Chaldeans are Christian Iraqis. Most have fled their war-torn home and with the exception of Detroit, Michigan, the largest number of Chaldeans now live in El Cajon, California, and surrounding neighborhoods.

FBI SEEKS INFORMATION FROM PEOPLE IN U.S. ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OVERSEAS

 

East County News Service

July 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reaching out to refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants in the U.S. to help identify and prosecute those committing human rights violations in other countries.

VARGAS, ARABO IN FOX NEWS SPECIAL: CROSSING JORDAN

 

June 27, 2015 (San Diego)--Congressman Juan Vargas and Mark Arabo will be featured in an hour-long special, “Crossing Jordan—Escape from Terror” on Fox News detailing their work  to help facilitate safe passage for religious minorities out of Iraq and Syria, and to secure their freedom.

The program anchored by Bret Baier premiered Friday night and will air again on Saturday, June 27 at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time and on Sunday, June 28 at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard time.

IRAQI CHRISTIANS WHO FLED ISIS ARE IN DETENTION CENTER AT OTAY: LOCAL LEADERS CALL FOR RELEASE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

East County News Service

Photos of rally by Peter Mansour

June 24, 2015 (San Diego) – Clergy members and Iraqi community leaders held a prayer vigil on June 18th, calling for release Iraqi Chaldean Christians held in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.

Since the rise of ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christian have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been fortunate enough to make it across the Mexico-US border. But many of these Christians have now been imprisoned in the detention center for up to four months without any indication of imminent release, despite testimony from Christian family members in San Diego that can vouch for their identity.

SAN DIEGO RESEARCHER HELPS LAUNCH “PROJECT MOSUL” TO RECREATE HERITAGE DESTROYRED BY ISLAMIC STATE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 4, 2015 (San Diego)—Imagine using crowd-sourced images to digitally recreate ancient works of art and architecture, starting with those destroyed by the Islamic State in Iraq and other world heritage sites where antiquities have been lost.  That’s precisely the mission of Project Mosul, an innovative undertaking started by University of California San Diego (UCSD) researcher Matthew Vincent, along with several others.

You can help!  Needs include uploading videos you have from destroyed or damaged sites, such as vacation photos you’ve taken. You can also assist in sorting, masking, or processing reconstructions on the site.  Start  here.  If you know how to code, you can build tools here or join a conversation with volunteers  here.

MARK ARABO SPEAKS AT ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN POWAY SUNDAY JUNE 7 AND JUNE 28

 

Upcoming Sunday Education:

June 4, 2015 (Poway) Sunday, June 7 and 28, at 9 a.m., St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway will host an Education Summit.  Nationally-recognized global humanitarian Mark Arabo will share details of the urgent circumstances in Iraq and neighboring Syria. He will provide insights into how we may be able to help our fellow Christians in the part of the world where Christianity was born. The theme of Arabo’s speech will be “Persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”

ARABO SPEAKS OUT ON ISIS RANSOM DEMANDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Islamic State or ISIS forces are reportedly demanding ransoms of up to $100,000 apiece for 250 to 300 Christians captured in Syria February 23rd.  Fox News reports the demands were made to Assyrian leaders during negotiations with ISIL fighters arranged by Sunni Muslims.  Thus far, 23 have been released.

BILL TO EXPEDITE HELP FOR IRAQI REFUGEES INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - A bill introduced this week by San Diego Congressional members Juan Vargas, a Democrat, and Duncan Hunter, a Republican, would provide expedited processing for religious minorities in Iraq/Syria.

U.S. BISHOPS CALL ON U.S. AND EUROPE TO HELP SAVE SYRIAN REFUGEES

 

Arabo praises support for relocation of displaced Christians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syrian refugee children at clinic in Jordan, by Russell Watkins, Dept. for International Development

March 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County ) – Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the global community, led by the United States and Europe, to take action to save the lives of 4 million Syrian refugees.

A LONG WAY FROM JAMAICA WEST INDIES!

 

 

Driven: When Obstacles Take Center Stage , by Magetta Chantiloupe (Austin Macauley Ltd., London, England, 2014, 379 pages).

“Keep guard over your eyes and ears as the inlets of your heart, and over your lips as the outlet, lest they betray you in a moment of unawareness.”

Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 4, 2015 (San Diego) - Looking from the outside at Magetta Chantiloupe and all that she has accomplished in life, one would think that this San Diego resident and author of Driven: When Obstacles Take Center Stage, has always had it together. But looks would be deceiving, as this Certified Financial Planner with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards – retired General Stock Broker and native of Jamaica West Indies, and mother of four adult children has fought and struggled to attain all that she has accomplished. Also the author of Iraq: The War That Shouldn’t Be – You Decide, Chantiloupe has been a world traveler – she has cruised the world, 41 of which were on the CUNARD Line. Her actual achievements and overall story could fill several books.

OCEANLEAF AWARDS HONORS THOSE HELPING REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS FROM EAST AFRICA AND SOMALIA

 

By Janis Russell

March 1, 2015 (San Diego)- On Wednesday February 25, Somali Family Services held its third annual Oceanleaf awards celebration at the Four Points by Sheraton. Aaron Bruce,  a professor at San Diego State University, was the Master of Ceremonies. The theme this year was Honoring Communities Woven Together by Hope and Resilience.

ISIS SEIZES HUNDREDS OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA

 

Trials by ISIS underway as some captives reportedly freed; local Chaldean leaders speak out on crisis

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Open Doors

March 1,2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Fears mount for hundreds of Assyrian Christians taken captive by ISIS last week, amid reports that the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants are putting hostages on trial, though some reports indicate that a handful have been freed. 

The hostages include at least 262 men, women and children taken from villages in northeastern Syria, CNN reports.  Open Doors USA, an organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, reports the captives include 72 families.

CHRISTIANS TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ,

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Islamic State militants

February 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --Hundreds of Christians in Iraq are taking up arms and training to fight against Islamic State forces and reclaim their towns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A BORN LEADER, WITH THE STRENGTH TO RALLY HER VILLAGE TOGETHER AND MOTIVATE OTHERS

 

 

 

Janju: The Voice Of One Girl, by Priscilla Koranteng (Poised Publishing LLC, Lanham, Maryland, 2014, 150 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 27, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Priscilla Koranteng, an author and businesswoman born in Ghana, West Africa, to a teacher and politician, and who grew up with a lot of optimism and the zeal to achieve the best in all she could, has written a warm and fictional account of a young girl growing up in Africa; Janju: The Voice Of One Girl.

CHALDEAN PATRIARCH DEFIES POPE, ORDERS PRIESTS BACK TO IRAQ

 

East County News Service

Photo: St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon; photo by Khari Johnson

January 18, 2015 (El Cajon)—Chaldean Church Patriarch Louis Sako has issued a statement published in an Arabic language publication indicating that he refuses to recognize the authority of Pope Francis.

AKRAM: DAUGHTER OF IRAN, A MOTHER'S LOVE FOR HER DAUGHTER

 

Akram, by Akram Arastehjoo (The Scriptory, Stacy Thunes Krieger, Menlo Park, California, 2014, 115 pages).

Screenplay Review by Dennis Moore

January 7, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Akram Arastehjoo, a descendant of the great Persian Empire, which we now know as Iran, tells her own and personal family story that encapsulates the long and illustrious history of kings and queens, in a screenplay written by Stacy Thunes Krieger, Akram. The author actually derives her name from the Holy Quran; meaning generosity, or “most generous.” This is pointed out by Krieger in this well-written and warm story.  Arastehjoo is unabashed in her pride for everything that is Persian, and rightfully so. It comes across in my interview of the author and throughout the story. I have been made aware that Iran actually converted from the original name of Persia to Iran in 1935, but it did take some getting used to. Many seem to prefer that bygone era of Persia, and all it stood for, including the iconic Darius the Great.

IMMIGRANTS LINE UP TO APPLY FOR DRIVER'S LICENSES

 

East County News Service

January 2, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Starting January 1st, California has begun issuing special driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Across San Diego, lines formed as immigrants stepped up to apply for the new licenses, which are valid only for driving and are not valid for use as a federal ID, such as applying for a passport.

NILE SISTERS HONORS ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS AT PORTRAITS OF SUCCESS EVENT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Nat Roberts and Miriam Raftery

Hear our radio coverage of this event for KNSJ:  http://kiwi6.com/file/209625u098

December 29, 2014 (City Heights) – At the Nile Sisters’ 2nd annual community celebration, Portraits of Success, local refugees and immigrants were honored for their achievements and heard inspirational and motivational stories.

“Keep dreaming, keep believing in yourselves,” urged keynote speaker Mark Kabban, a CNN hero and founder of Youth and Leaders Living Actively (YALLA).

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