Refugee Voices

NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES PLANS TO BECOME ‘SANCTUARY ASSOCATION’ AT DINNER WITH 1,200 ATTENDEES

 

East County News Service

February 19, 2017 (San Diego) – Over 1,200 attended Friday night’s Neighborhood Market Association (NMA) banquet at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. NMA’s Mark Arabo used the night to honor the diversity of its members, and declare the NMA the first ever “sanctuary association” in the nation.

MINORITY HUMANITIES PRESIDENT AND CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY LEADER PRAISES RULING UPHOLDING SUSPENSION OF TRAVEL BAN

 

East County News Service

February 11, 2017 (San Diego) -- The news of President Trump’s wide reaching immigration ban has stunned the world as well as many Chaldean Christians in San Diego. The ban, which has put a halt to the travels of many Chaldean Christians in San Diego and abroad has been uniformly condemned by Chaldean residents in El Cajon. A ruling suspending the Trump ban has just been upheld by the Court of Appeals.

CALIF. ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA JOINS 6 STATES, ASKS SUPREME COURT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION FOR NON-CITIZENS DETAINED BY FEDERAL GOVT.

 

East County News Service

Photo:  Iraqi church leaders and families held prayer vigil in 2015 for Christians detained 6 months or more at ICE facility in Otay Mesa

February 11, 2017 (Sacramento) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the state attorney general from Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Jennings v Rodriguez, a case involving the federal government’s authority to detain non-citizens pending completion of their removal proceedings.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN LORENA GONZALEZ-FLETCHER AND COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE "CALIFORNIA WELCOMES REFUGEES" LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

 

East County News Service

February 10, 2017 (Sacramento) -- California State Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D – San Diego) and Adrin Nazarian (D- Sherman Oaks) have introduced a legislative package that they say builds upon California’s efforts to welcome and successfully integrate refugees from around the world. This legislative package will help refugees access educational and employment resources necessary to become integrated and productive members of the community.

9TH CIRCUIT PANEL OF 3 JUDGES UNANIMOUSLY RULES AGAINST TRUMP ON TRAVEL BAN, AFFIRMS THAT REFUGEES, IMMIGRANTS FROM 7 BANNED NATIONS AND GREEN CARD HOLDERS SHALL BE ADMITTED TO U.S.

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

February 9, 2017 (Seattle) – In a unanimous verdict in State of Washington v. Trump, a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against President Donald Trump and refused to reinstate a travel ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim nations.  That means admission to the U.S. will resume for refugees  and for immigrants who are citizens of of Iran, Iraq, Libya Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as green card holders with permanent residency in the U.S.

In their decision, the judges wrote, “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States. Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all. We disagree…”

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT HELPING REFUGEES WITH SUPPORT TO LICENSE TO FREEDOM

 

East County News Service

February 7, 2017 (East County) –  The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) has awarded a $10,000 grant to License to Freedom, an El Cajon-based nonprofit that assists Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants with cultural assimilation and health education.

9TH CIRCUIT TO HEAR ARGUMENTS ON TRUMP TRAVEL BAN: HIGH TECH COMPANIES AND NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERTS WEIGH IN

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 6, 2017 (San Diego) – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday refused to halt refugees and citizens from 7 Muslim nations from entering the U.S., CNN reports.  The action follows a decision Friday by federal judge James Robart in Washington State that blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

JEWISH COMMUNITY JOINS WITH LOCAL OFFICIALS AND NONPROFITS TO COMBAT HATE TARGETING IMMIGRANTS, REFUGEES

 

Executive order canceled 129,000 immigrant visas

"The refugee crisis, the millions that are displaced…Now is not the time to be spectators, we need to be involved: Generous with our time, money and with our feet." --Rabbi Scott Meltzer

By Thea Skinner  

February 6, 2017 (San Diego) -- Days before U.S. District Judge James Robard halted an executive order to bar immigrant travel, the Jewish community and official leaders organized at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla on February 2nd.

HEART4REFUGEES: ANGELS BRING LIGHT TO LIVES IN DARKNESS

 

By Rachel Williams

February 5, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Falafel softly crackles and pops in the frying pan as the smell of tahini infuses the air at Cajon Terrace Apartments. While the kids practice their ABCs and numbers in their new living room, a Syrian husband and wife cook side by side.

EL CAJON ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER MOVING TO TEXAS

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 5, 2017 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry has accepted a position as Assistant City Manager for Dallas, Texas.  A Syrian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child, Al-Ghafry previously worked in Texas and has over 28 years of experience in municipal government.

 “He’s been a real asset to this city,”  El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM, adding that Al-Ghafry speaks Arabic and has been helpful in translating and explaining city ordinances to immigrants from the Middle East. 

JUDGE HALTS TRAVEL BAN NATIONWIDE; REFUGEES AND OTHERS WITH VISAS CAN NOW ENTER U.S.

 

By Miraim Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News :  Among the first to gain entry was an Iranian infant in need of heart surgery.

February 4, 2017 (San Diego) –  Travelers barred from entering the U.S. due to President Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order issued on January 27th must now be admitted due to a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robard on Friday.  

The court issued a nationwide halt to the entire executive order, though the Trump administration has said it will appeal the ruling. The ruling applies to refugees previously approved for admission to the U.S., as well as citizens of seven Muslim nations including Syrians.  It also requires admission of green card holders with visas.

READER’S EDITORIAL: IMMIGRANTS ENRICH THIS COUNTRY

 

By Miriam [Mimi] Pollack

February 3, 2017 (El Cajon) -- Imagine you have had a good life with a stable job and family. Then, imagine that your life turns upside down, be it from war, religious persecution, or social unrest, and you have to start from scratch in a new country with a different language, culture, even alphabet! Welcome to the world of many of my adult ESL [English as a Second Language] students. Despite all that they have gone and continue to go through, they are very grateful to be here

EXCLUSIVE : IRC AND SURVIVORS OF TORTURE DIRECTORS SPEAK OUT ON REFUGEE RESTRICTIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

Hear our interview for KNSJ Radio by clicking the audio link

February 1, 2017(San Diego) – To learn the impacts of President Donald Trump’s executive action restricting refugee s’ entry into the United States,  we interviewed International Rescue Committee Executive Director David Murphy and Kathi Anderson, Executive Director at Survivors of Torture.

The order has created “fear for a lot of people” in San Diego, long a welcoming haven for refugees starting with the airlifts of Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s, says Murphy.  San Diego County takes in 3 to 4 percent of  all the refugees accepted into the U.S. each year.

Audio: 

NILE SISTERS FORUM STRIVES TO RAISE AWARENESS AND PREVENT FEMALE CIRCUMCISION

 

By Rachel Williams

Photo, left: “Here at The Nile Sisters we’re really trying to address health disparities and improve access to care for our refugee and immigrant population,” Susan Hagos, the health advocacy coordinator for The Nile Sisters Initiative, said.

February 1, 2017 (San Diego) -- The Nile Sisters Initiative hosted a panel at The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female circumcision. Refugees and immigrants face several physical and mental health complications after undergoing the procedure in their home countries.

HOMELAND SECURITY SEEKS TO CLARIFY RULE ON TRAVEL FOR GREEN CARD HOLDERS

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 31, 2017 (San Diego) — On Sunday, following a weekend of chaos at airports around the world due to President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from 11 nations that led to detention of even legal U.S. permanent residents, the Department of Homeland Security and its Secretary issued statements that seek to clarify the policy.

REP. SUSAN DAVIS CALLS FOR REPEAL OF TRUMP ORDER TARGETING MUSLIMS AND REFUGEES, PRAISES COURT RULING STAYING ORDER

 

East County News Service

January 31, 2017 (San Diego) -- “Federal courts have rightly stayed President Trump's unconstitutional executive order banning Muslims and refugees. Immigration officials need to follow and respect the rule of the federal judges and allow those being held to have access to attorneys. The right of habeas corpus is a bedrock of our democracy,” says Congresswoman Susan Davis, who yesterday called on President Trump to left his executive order banning travel to the U.S. from  predominantly Muslim nations.

GROSSMONT-CUYAMACA COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD TO VOTE FEB. 21 ON PROTECTING IMMIGRANT STUDENTS

 

East County News Service

January 31, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The Chancellor and leaders at Grossmont-Community College District have sent a letter to students in the wake of  President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders regarding immigration, border security, and a travel ban on people from seven nations, as well as his threat to establish a Muslim registry.  The letter affirms that the district’s governing board will vote February 21 on whether to adopt the following policies:

  • Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges are open to all students who meet the minimum requirement for admission, regardless of background, culture, religion, or immigration status. 
  • The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will not release any personally identifiable student information, including data related to immigration status, without a judicial warrant or court order unless authorized by the student or required by law.
  • The District will not cooperate with any federal effort to create a registry of individuals based on any protected characteristics such as religion, national origin, race, or sexual orientation.
  • The District stands proudly for the heritage of American community colleges as hallmarks of a diverse, engaged, and healthy democracy.

Below is the letter in full:

COURTS BLOCK PART OF TRAVEL BAN FROM MUSLIM NATIONS AS PROTESTS GROW; TRUMP CLAIMS ORDER IS WORKING “VERY NICELY”

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Protest planned at 5 p.m. tonight at Lindbergh Field; immigrant attorneys warn demonstrators could be detained, caution non-citizens not to participate due to “grave” risks

January 29, 2017 (San Diego)—Multiple federal courts have issued orders temporarily blocking deportation of  legal residents detained at airports following President Trump’s executive order Friday, including a New York federal judge ruling on an ACLU suit that applies nationwide. While some remain detained and denied access to counsel per the ACLU, others were allowed to meet with immigration attorneys  and were soon set free at airports across the U.S., where large crowds gathered and greeted the arriving immigrants with cheers to welcome them to America (View video).

The court orders thus far protect only those already at U.S. airports or in transit. Other lawsuits are set to be filed Monday by civil rights and Arab-American groups seeking to overturn as unconstitutional the broader ban on admitting refugees as from seven mostly Muslim nations (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Syria, Libya and Yemen)  listed as countries of concern by the State Department. 

The order also applies to  an estimated half million legal U.S. residents with green cards from those countries, as well as people who hold dual citizen in any of the seven nations as well as citizenship in U.S. ally nations including Canada and Great Britain.

TRUMP BANS REFUGEES FROM KEY MUSLIM NATIONS, ALSO BARS LEGAL RESIDENTS OVERSEAS FROM RETURNING TO U.S.

 

Order exempts nations where Trump has business ventures; protests erupt at airports nationwide

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

Photo: A large crowd at JFK airport in New York is protesting the crackdown on refugees and immigrants tonight, where cab drivers have threatened to shut down airport traffic for an hour.  A smaller group of protestors has gathered at San Diego's Lindbergh Field airport,  CBS reports.

January 28, 2017 (San Diego)—An executive ordered signed Friday by President Donald Trump suspends admission of refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations for at least 120 days pending “extreme vetting.”  Those nations are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, CNN reports. 

Despite banning refugees from Syria, Trump backed off his campaign pledge to establish a safe zone inside war-torn Syria for persecuted people.  

The order also puts a half million legal residents of the U.S. who are traveling overseas in limbo, unable to return home, and slashes in half the number of refugees the U.S. will admit this year from all countries.

CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES COULD BENEFIT FROM TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo:  Prayer vigil for Iraqi Christians in El Cajon

January 28, 2017 (El Cajon) – President Donald Trump’s sweeping order restricting refugees from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. has been greeted with optimism by some in San Diego’s Chaldean Christian community, since Trump has stated on a Christian broadcasting station that he would give priority to persecuted Christians, after a tougher vetting process is implemented.

Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation in San Diego, voices hope that the order could help save lives of Christians facing death at the hands of ISIS in the Middle East.  An estimated 400,000 Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq and another 80,000 have been killed or tortured, some by crucifixion and beheadings 

Some have suggested Trump's order could be unconstitutioal for discriminating against Muslims.

Arabo, while hopeful to get help for persecuted Christians,  also expressed a wish for the order to be expanded to protect other people persecuted by ISIS, regardless of their faiths.

TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS EXTENDED FOR SOMALIANS

 

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

January 17, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) - Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Somalia (and eligible individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) for an additional 18 months, effective March 18, 2017, through Sept. 17, 2018.

SYRIAN CHILD WHO TWEETED AMID BOMBING SURVIVES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- Seven-year-old Bana Alabed’s tweets during the fall of Aleppo, Syria, have drawn global attention to the plight of people trapped in the city in recent weeks, drawing comparisons to the diary of Anne Frank.  An anguished plea during recent bombings, followed by days of silence, led to concerns that Bana may have perished—but now word has come that she is a survivor.

LOVE IS BLIND

 

Update:   Hear our interview with Amanda Matti, author of A Foreign Affair, (originally aired on KNSJ radio) by clicking the audio link here.

 

A Foreign Affair, by Amanda Matti (W & B Publishers, Kernersville, NC, 2016, 343 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

December 1, 2016 (San Diego) - Amanda Matti, an El Cajon (San Diego) resident who served six years in the United States Navy, including a 2005 deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has written a riveting true story of romance and war; A Foreign Affair. Matti provides graphic details of her experience in a war that many in this country felt never should have been.

LOCAL FAMILES URGENTLY NEEDED TO VOLUNTEER AND MENTOR SYRIAN FAMILIES IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

Hear our interview with Dilkhwaz Ahmed by clicking this oramge play button.

East County News  Service

December 10,2016 (El Cajon)—In an interview on KNSJ Radio, Dilkhwaz Ahmed with License to Freedom offered an urgent plea for help. Hundreds of Syrian families have just arrived in East County – with 50 to 60 more flooding in each day. 

The refugees fled a humanitarian crisis in their war-torn homeland, relocated here by the U.S. government at the request of the United Nations. Other countries are also offering shelter to refugees. But many who came here have large families, so their modest aid funds are scarcely enough to cover rent and food.  They need help to overcome trauma and learn how to build new lives in America. But there are not nearly enough people or resources to fill the desperate need.

Audio: 

A REVOLUTION OF STRUGGLE CONTINUES FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES IN EAST COUNTY

 

Fleeing violence in Syria, some fear homelessness in U.S.

Hear our radio interviews with Syrian refugees and those seeking to help them in El Cajon by clicking the audio link.

By Rachel Williams

December 1, 2016 (El Cajon) -- Within the Villas of Embasadora, a motel in El Cajon, Syrian refugees have converted their rooms into makeshift homes where it’s cheaper for families of eight, or eleven to survive, than in San Diego’s public housing where costs have risen sharply.

Audio: 

SYRIAN REFUGEES THANKFUL FOR NEW LIVES IN SAN DIEGO REGION

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

November 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The youngest survivors of Syria’s civil war are a traumatized generation.  In the U.S., 80% of the 10,000 Syrian refugees admitted in 2016 are children—and nearly all have suffered unspeakable trauma. 

A CALL FOR COMMUNITY INCLUSION OF SYRIAN REFUGEES

 

By Rachel Williams

Photo (left to right): Ramla Sahid, founder and executive director of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans; Shadi Martini, senior Syria advisor to the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees; Dr. Georgette Bennett, President of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding; David Murphy, former county director for the IRC in Ethiopia; Sana Shtasel, senior advisor to the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees.

Of the 16,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. in recent years, not a single one has been tied to terrorism. San Diego has more Syrian refugees than any other U.S. city.

November 22, 2016 (San Diego) – Shadi Martini was manager of a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, when the Assad regime began to prosecute suspects working in opposition. Martini and his coworkers provided undercover aid to the wounded and people suffering.  But in 2012, the secret network was discovered, forcing him to flee the country.

Thereafter he served as an organizing assistant for Syrian refugees in a neighboring nation. Later, he joined the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

 “What I have witnessed is suffering is not limited to my country,” Martini said during a post-election discussion on refugees held last Thursday in San Diego by the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees and The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans.

NEWCOMERS’ COLLABORATIVE WORKSHOP IN EL CAJON DREW OVER 100 PARTICIPANTS

 

Source: Newcomers’ Collaborative

November 20, 2016 (El Cajon) -- On Saturday, November 5th, 2016, 91 Spanish Speakers and at least 24 children attended a resource event coordinated by the Newcomers’ Collaborative, a workgroup of the El Cajon Collaborative. The event provided an opportunity for newcomers to browse local resources and attend workshops on navigating the education system, immigration and civic engagement, Child Welfare Services, domestic violence, equal housing rights and employment. Attendees were also able to apply for public benefits such as Cal-Fresh and Medi-Cal on-site, or ask questions regarding their eligibility or specific case.         

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