The immigration thread: American Melting Pot or Get off my Lawn

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Not in this thread. There has been good back and forth and a presenting of information about the Syrian Refugee process. No sure what else you want. Maybe articulate it?

Your posts are among the few that contribute to a discussion in my opinion.

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Exactly what I am talking about. Your post is ignorant stuff about someone you don't know. In the name of being righteous

I've added something to this discussion.

Have you?

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The dialogue in this place just keeps getting less and less productive. Good luck to the 2 teams.

This is total weaksauce. There is a ton of great stuff in this thread.

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yes. And without making **** up about people I don't know

My apologies. Didn't mean to come off so harsh.

Don't tap out. I think there is still plenty of good dialogue to be had here.

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'Americans saved my life': former refugees from Iraq perplexed by US fears


Displaced Kurds from the Persian Gulf war in 1991 say politicians’ backlash against taking in Syrian refugees is a stark contrast to what they experienced


As US lawmakers voted this week to block the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris, Abdulla Sindi struck a despondent tone.


As one of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds displaced by the Persian Gulf war, Sindi knows firsthand the plight of refugees fleeing conflict and recalls as though it were yesterday the sense of desperation looming over temporary resettlement camps.


Sindi remembers the daily uncertainty confronted by his family when placed at a refugee camp lacking the most basic of resources. The image of food and supplies airdropped by American planes under Operation Provide Comfort stays with him to this day – it was what motivated Sindi to accept two deployments training and advising US troops after the country’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.


“Americans saved my life,” Sindi told the Guardian. “And so I worked with them and returned the favor.”


After gaining US citizenship in 2006, he went on to spend four years in Iraq, from 2009 to 2012. There, Sindi served as an interpreter for the US military and in the security detail for vice-president Joe Biden and senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham during their trips to Erbil.


To Sindi, his story is about more than goodwill toward the country he has now called home for two decades. It’s about the trust placed in him, a native of Zakho, Iraq, by the US government.


“I was a refugee, I came from nowhere, and I reached the point where I could be in a convoy with the vice-president of America in Iraq,” Sindi said.

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I don't have the solution for the problems going on right now, but as a human being with compassion, I think we should try putting ourselves in these refugees shoes. If it were us and our families, we'd want someone to help us too instead of sitting on our cozy couches while we eat popcorn and waste time arguing on an internet message board.

These poor people are dying over there. Unfortunately it's a reality that we can't ignore. And we CAN and SHOULD help them!

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There is a downside in showing you are an unprincipled coward, which is what those Democrats did.

Willingness to knowingly pass bad laws out of cowardice means you shouldn't be a congressman.


You know, I wasn't going to chastise Gerry Connolly too hard for voting for the bill, politics is politics, and while I might have supported a primary challenger quietly, I wasn't going to post about it here.


Then I saw this:

At Oakton HS welcoming 505 new citizens at naturalization ceremony. Important reminder we're a welcoming nation and will keep our doors open


Connolly released a statement earlier on his vote, saying he'd support increased resources to lower the time, and that the bill was just an added layer of certification, but he's trying to play both sides of the game.


You can be Machiavellian, and you can be idealistic.  Pick one and roll with it.  You can't be the former, and say to me that you're the latter (though that move is indeed in line with the former).


Odds are good I'd still vote for him in the general, barring some sort of superior 3rd party entrant, since he would still be superior to the GOP alternative.


However, I definitely will be voting against him in the primary, if there's a challenger.  I hope there will be.  Heck, I'll write in Batman if I have to.


You might be the lesser evil to some challengers, Connolly, but definitely not the least evil with the way you've acted the past few days.

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You might be the lesser evil to some challengers, Connolly, but definitely not the least evil with the way you've acted the past few days.

Yep. He's a spineless piece of ****.

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In the first majority-Muslim U.S. city, residents tense about its future


Karen Majewski was in such high demand in her vintage shop on a recent Saturday afternoon that a store employee threw up her hands when yet another visitor came in to chat. Everyone wanted to talk to the mayor about the big political news.


Earlier this month, the blue-collar city that has been home to Polish Catholic immigrants and their descendents for more than a century became what demographers think is the first jurisdiction in the nation to elect a majority-Muslim council.


It’s the second tipping for Hamtramck (pronounced Ham-tram-ik), which in 2013 earned the distinction becoming of what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade.


In many ways, Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.




My Position On the Syrian Refugees
Edited by visionary

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Administration assures governors refugee vetting is rigorous


The Obama administration is assuring governors that refugees who come to the United States in its resettlement program undergo a "rigorous security vetting process," particularly if they are fleeing from Syria.


"In short, the security vetting for this population — the most vulnerable of individuals — is extraordinarily thorough and comprehensive," Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson write in letters sent to all state and territorial governors and to the mayor of Washington. D.C.


After last week's attacks in Paris by the Islamic State, several governors vowed to block efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. for fear their ranks would be infiltrated by IS militants planning a domestic attack. In the House, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to erect high hurdles for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.


The administration countered that the vetting process was thorough and could take nearly three years. President Barack Obama has said the U.S. will remain a welcoming place for refugees from around the world.


In their letters to governors, Kerry and Johnson said the vetting process is multi-layered and intensive and involves multiple law enforcement, national security and intelligence agencies and includes even more precautions for Syrian refugees. A copy of the letter addressed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and dated Friday was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press.


Noting that more than 4 million people have fled Syria, the American officials say some of the closest U.S. allies and other nations are pledging to take in Syrian refugees. They say the plan to bring at least 10,000 to the U.S. this fiscal year "represents a modest commitment by our government." Most of the refugees, they add, are families, victims of torture and children.


A refugee applicant cannot be approved for travel and admission to the U.S. until all required security checks have been completed and cleared, according to the letter to Cuomo. The vetting process includes:




Syrian refugee family diverted from Indianapolis: We felt rejected, we were depressed


Days after being diverted from Indianapolis to Connecticut, a Syrian refugee family is expressing disbelief in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times.


Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and more than two dozen other governors, issued orders banning any new Syrian refugees from entering their states in wake of the terror attacks in Paris.


“Look, the bottom line, we don’t know who these people are,” Pence told FOX 59 in an interview, shortly after issuing the order Monday.


The 33-year-old Syrian father of a four-year-old, along with his 23-year-old wife, talked to The New York Times through an interpreter, asking they only be identified by their first initial, still fearful for their safety. The family fled Syria in 2011 and have been seeking resettlement to the U.S. from Jordan.


“One person’s decision, the governor’s decision, doesn’t reflect all of Indiana’s decision,” the father known as A. told the newspaper. “Maybe the governor is going to reflect and find in himself that he had made a mistake and come back and see the light.”


Pence has defended the decision, calling it a pause, until the federal government can ensure security checks are rigorous enough to protect Americans. While governors cannot stop refugees from entering the United States, they can stop critical aid within their state. On Friday Pence joined 26 other governors in signing a letter to Pres. Barack Obama urging him to review the country’s refugee resettlement program.


“My heart goes out to this family and other families who have been caught up in the humanitarian crisis of the Syrian regime,” Pence said on CNN. “It’s just simply as Congress did…we said it’s time to take a pause.”


The family told the newspaper they had spent time researching Indianapolis, connecting with other refugee families awaiting their arrival.

“We felt rejected,” A. said. “We were depressed. How could that be the freedoms that we hear about?”


Carleen Miller, executive director of the Indianapolis-based Exodus Refugee Immigration, made the decision to divert the family, fearful state services like food aid and Medicaid would be eliminated.


“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do since I’ve been here for eight years,” she said.

Edited by visionary

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Obama: U.S. Will Welcome Refugees ‘As Long as I’m President’


Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world “as long as I’m president.”


Obama commented Saturday at a learning center in the Malaysian capital that serves the poor, including some refugees. He met with boys and girls wearing crisp white and black uniforms and neckties as they sat at tables and worked on painting and puzzle projects.


Obama said the youngsters “represent the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris.”


Most of the children the president met with are Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape persecution by the country’s Buddhist majority, with many ending up in Malaysia, where Obama was attending a regional economic summit.


Obama noted that the world is currently focused on the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, where years of civil war have forced millions to flee to other countries to escape the bloodshed. But he said the world must not forget about some 60 million people who have been displaced around the globe.


Last week’s Paris attacks have led U.S. lawmakers to seek to halt or delay the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. out of concern that terrorists could try to slip in with them and carry out similar attacks. Obama has rejected that idea and pledged to veto any bill sent to him to block Syrians from entering.


Speaking of the children he had just met with, Obama said: “Anybody who had a chance to see those kids, hopefully you understood the degree to which they’re just like our kids. They deserve love and stability and protection.”


He said more and more countries are recognizing that they need to do more, vowing that “as long as I’m president we are going to keep stepping up.”

Edited by visionary

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Syrian refugees in Louisiana swept up in fierce political debate


At night, the quiet among the organized blocks of modest houses and close-cropped lawns in this comfortable, middle-class community is punctuated only by the sounds of the occasional frog or passing car. The chaos of the French Quarter and rowdier urban sections of New Orleans, as well as the brutal war in Syria, feel like a world away.


Living with his wife and four small children in a tidy suburb a few miles outside the city, in an area not unlike where two Syrian refugee families have recently been resettled, Ahmed, a Syrian-American, came to the U.S. 22 years ago.


Ahmed, who declined to use his real name for fear of anyone using him to track down refugees, is one of the few people outside of a local resettlement organization who have been in contact with the Louisiana families — 13 people in total — that have become local symbols of a pitched battle over refugees and fearmongering that is playing out on the national stage.


“They have been through a lot to get somewhere, and now … they found out that here the eye is on them too,” said Ahmed of the scrutiny faced by refugee families. “They are scared and worried. They don’t know what to do … They don’t come over here just to be here. They came here because they have a catastrophic place to live in.”


Out of the 1,800 refugees from Syria who have been accepted into the U.S. during that country’s more than four-year civil war, Louisiana is home to just those 13. According to Catholic Charities, a nonprofit group assisting with refugee resettlement in the state, there are no additional Syrian refugees slated to be resettled in Louisiana through March.


But in the wake of the Paris attacks, the issue of Syrian resettlement was rapidly seized on last week by state politicians and presidential hopefuls seeking to boost their political fortunes.

For many Syrian refugees who have made it to the U.S., like Alaa Hammouz, 24, their focus is on starting a life outside their home country, to which they may never return.


He lives in Atlanta, where he fled in 2012 to stay with relatives after receiving threats for speaking out against the Assad government. He used a previously approved visitor’s visa to enter the U.S. via Lebanon and then applied for asylum, a process that took nearly two years and included extensive interviews and background checks.


“Day and night, I was dreaming of it,” he said of the long waiting period for protected status. “I was getting nightmares about going back to Syria.” If he hadn’t been able to go to the U.S., he believes, he would be in jail or dead because of his stance against the Syrian government. Today he is taking community college classes, restarting his medical education after leaving Syria as a third-year dental student.


He said that many Americans he met when he first arrived weren’t even sure where Syria was.


“People don’t understand. They just hear what the media told them,” Hammouz said of the post-Paris backlash against Syrian refugees.


After suggesting Americans should “be merciful” with Syrian refugees, he added, “I don’t blame [Americans] … They want their homeland to be safe and secure.”



Carson after camp tour: Absorb Syrian refugees in Mideast


Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Saturday, after visiting a camp for Syrian refugees, that the displaced should be absorbed by Middle Eastern countries, with the international community sending aid and "encouragement" to the host nations.


Carson toured the Azraq camp in northern Jordan under heavy Jordanian security, with journalists barred. Carson's campaign also limited access, not providing his itinerary and releasing only a short statement after the camp visit.

After the Azraq visit, Carson suggested that it would be best to absorb Syrian refugees in Middle Eastern host countries, which have given temporary shelter to most of the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled civil war in their country since 2011.


"Syrians have a reputation as very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population," he was quoted as saying.


"The humanitarian crisis presented by the fleeing Syrian refugees can be addressed if the nations of the world with resources would provide financial and material support to the aforementioned countries as well as encouragement," the statement said.


"There is much beauty in Syria and I suspect that many displaced Syrians will return there when peace is restored," he added.


Overwhelmed host countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, have balked at the idea of longer-term integration of refugees. They have complained that they are carrying an unfair burden while the international community's support has fallen short.


An aid appeal of $4.5 billion for refugees in host countries in 2015 is only about half funded. The cash crunch has created increasingly unbearable conditions for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and — to a lesser extent — in economically more robust Turkey. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of refugees moved on to Europe in hopes of a better life.




Published on Nov 22, 2015


For every lamp and bulb sold in a participating IKEA store during the campaign period in November-December 2015 the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to UNHCR. The IKEA Foundation, UNHCR’s largest private sector partner, is working with UNHCR to improve access to lighting and energy for refugees in camps in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. By improving access to cleaner, renewable, sustainable and user-friendly energy supplies, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR are making refugee camps safer and more suitable places for the many families who live in them. We thank you for supporting this campaign.


To learn more about the IKEA Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign: http://www.unhcr.org/brighterlives

Edited by visionary

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Carson's plan doesn't seem any more realistic today than it did before he went on his trip.


The countries there can't really absorb all those people, with or without aid.


His "solution" is pretty much just sweeping it under the rug.  "You keep them, here's some cash for them."


Sounds like the setup to a really bad babysitting situation.  "Hey thanks, here's the kids, here's 20 bucks, see you two hours after we agreed to pick the kids up."

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I'm not sure if that's entirely true DogofWar. The Gulf states are more than capable of taking large numbers of refugees. In fact they are probably better equipped to deal with it than most European states.

Unfortunately they have washed their hands clean of this situation. Quite pathetic honestly.

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I'm not sure if that's entirely true DogofWar. The Gulf states are more than capable of taking large numbers of refugees. In fact they are probably better equipped to deal with it than most European states.

Unfortunately they have washed their hands clean of this situation. Quite pathetic honestly.


Well they're closer geographically and could probably each absorb more than individual European/Western counties, but not 4 million, at least not if we want happy endings for a reasonable number of them.


But when I said "can't" I was including the political situation you alluded to, though I didn't make that clear, my mistake.


Economically it's likely difficult if not impossible for them to absorb 4M people, but even if the US/West/UN fill the economic gap, there's the political problems.  I mean, holy cow, it's the middle east, everyone hates everyone, even if the countries had the government infrastructure to accept and then resettle the refugees, they'd have to overcome all the potential problems that come with such a major operation, like corruption and misappropriation of funds.  And of course then there's just the prejudice.


There's like a 90% chance Carson's plan ends with refugees in terrible conditions in camps where the international community suddenly has to sweep human rights violations under the rug because they thought all the problems endemic to the middle east wouldn't rear their head in resettling millions of people.  Just not a realistic solution to expect them to all just stay in the ME, at least not without major issues.

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What changes to the U.S. visa waiver program mean for travelers


Don't say Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything.


A bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to make changes to the Visa Waiver Program, which currently makes it possible for citizens from 38 approved countries to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without first applying for a visa. The vote was 407-19.


One of the key features of H.R. 158, or the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, is that it adds "terrorism risk" as a factor for evaluating whether a foreign traveler should be allowed in the country.


The House bill, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the ability to suspend a country from the program, without prior notice, "if the country fails to comply with an agreement to share information regarding whether its citizens and nationals traveling to the United States pose a U.S. security threat."


"You have more than 5,000 individuals that have Western passports in this program that have gone to Iraq or Syria in the last five years," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "Those are gaps that we need to fix."

Even for countries included in the waiver program, the bill creates stricter rules and screening procedures for visitors to the U.S.


Countries that wish to stay in the program would have to have e-Passport technology. This is not a big change from previous regulations: Travelers from waiver countries were already required to have an e-Passport if the document was issued after October 2006. The other changes focus on improving communication with other countries about travelers who could pose a risk, and increasing and improving the technology used to screen passengers.


Under the new bill, visitors from waiver countries would have to go through the visa process if they had recently been to Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan.


The U.S. Travel Association supports the bill: "In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, Rep. Miller's bill offers thoughtful solutions that will enhance America's security," said Roger Dow, the association's president and CEO. "When it comes to travel and tourism, nothing is more important than security."


In countries removed from the Visa Waiver Program, citizens would have to apply for a visitor visa to come to the U.S. for business or pleasure.

Edited by visionary

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Anxiety Grows in Texas With Syrians Due to Arrive Soon
Republican leaders in Texas want to expand the legal authority of the states to bar Syrian refugees, as the expected arrival of 21 of the refugees in Texas this week has intensified concerns and fears about accepting Syrians in the wake of the Paris attacks last month.
Governors in about 30 states — most though not all of them Republicans — have called on the Obama administration to stop accepting Syrian refugees into the United States, after terrorists killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13. The attackers included a man who entered Europe with a Syrian passport and posed as a migrant.
No other state has taken a more aggressive approach to blocking Syrian refugees than Texas, which last week became the first state to try to bar the refugees by suing the federal government. Federal officials and lawyers for local relief organizations that work with refugees said states did not have the authority to turn away Syrian refugees and that denying services or benefits to refugees based on their country of origin or religion was unlawful.

Despite the lawsuit Texas filed last week, the resettlement of a handful of Syrian refugee families has continued in the state. Twenty-one Syrian refugees were scheduled to settle in Houston and Dallas this week, including a total of 12 children aged 2 to 15. On Monday, six members of a Syrian family — two children aged 3 and 6, their parents and their grandparents — joined relatives who were already living in the Dallas area. Texas takes in more refugees than any other state, roughly 10 percent of the refugees resettled in the United States, according to state officials.
The lawsuit accuses the State Department and other federal agencies, as well as the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit relief group, of failing to consult with Texas in resettling refugees and refusing to resolve the state’s security concerns. The suit claims the federal officials violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which lawyers for Texas said required the federal government to consult regularly with states before refugee resettlements.


“Instead of adhering to that statutory framework, the federal government and the committee have left Texas uninformed about refugees that could well pose a security risk to Texans and without any say in the process of resettling these refugees,” the lawsuit reads.


Lawyers representing the International Rescue Committee and civil rights activists called the state’s efforts to bar Syrian refugees illegal, unconstitutional and immoral. They said the nonprofit group had cooperated with Texas officials but disputed that Texas was entitled under federal law to detailed case information about individual refugees before they were settled and denied that the 21 refugees expected to arrive in Texas this week posed any security risk.

In addition to the 21 refugees, the authorities have detained three Syrian families in South Texas who came in recent weeks to the border crossing in Laredo and asked for asylum. Asylum seekers, asking for protection after arriving, go through different procedures from refugees.

Criminal and national security background checks turned up no negative information on them, said their lawyer, Jonathan Ryan, the executive director of Raices, a legal aid organization in San Antonio.

On Friday, officials denied the three families’ requests for release, citing an unspecified “law enforcement interest.” All three families said they were Christians fleeing persecution.

Edited by visionary

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U.S. judge denies another Texas request to block Syrian refugees


A U.S. federal court judge dismissed a request by Texas shortly after it was filed on Wednesday seeking a restraining order to block the imminent entry into the state of nine Syrian refugees, saying the evidence presented was "largely speculative hearsay."


This is the second attempt by Texas to seek immediate court help to halt the refugees, with Texas saying the U.S. government had not met its legal obligation to consult with local officials about the resettlement.


The Texas action came after U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump touched off a global firestorm by saying that Muslims should be denied entry into the United States.


"The (Texas) Commission has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm," U.S District Judge David Godbey said in his decision.


The results of this case could determine whether the governors of more than 30 states will be able to go through with plans to bar the local resettlement of Syrian refugees.


A previous attempt for a temporary restraining order was dropped last week by Texas. The move came hours after the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief at the U.S. District Court in Dallas saying the federal government and not the states sets U.S. policy on immigration.


Texas said in that case the government had provided the information it requested on the group, which was two families of six each who arrived in Dallas and Houston on Monday.


After the November 13 attacks in Paris for which the group Islamic State claimed responsibility, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was one of the first governors to seek to block on security grounds the resettlement of Syrians in their states.


"It is essential that a judge consider halting the Syrian refugee process, at least on a temporary basis, to ensure refugees coming to the United States will be vetted in a way that does not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans," Abbott said in a statement.


A family of eight Syrian refugees, including six children ages 6 to 15, is due to arrive in Houston on Thursday, along with a 26-year-old Syrian woman whose mother resides in the area, the Justice Department said last Friday in a court filing.

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Calls for David Cameron to step in after US bars British Muslim family from trip


The prime minister is facing calls to challenge the US over its refusal to allow a British Muslim family to board a flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, to visit Disneyland.


Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has written to the prime minister after a family party of 11, about to embark on a dream holiday for which they had saved for months, were approached by officials from US homeland security as they queued in the departure lounge and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled, without further explanation.


Creasy said she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslims are saying they have had similar experiences of being barred from the US without being told the reasons for the exclusion.


The family, from Creasy’s constituency in north-east London, had applied for and were granted travel authorisation online some weeks before their scheduled 15 December flight.


Speaking to the Guardian, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children aged between eight and 19, said they had been given no explanation for the last minute cancellation, but he believed the reason was obvious: “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat.”


He said the children had been counting down the days to the trip for months, and were devastated not to be able to visit their cousins in southern California and go to Disneyland and Universal Studios, as planned.


Creasy believes a lack of information from US authorities is fuelling resentment within British Muslim communities.


“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy writes in an article for the Guardian. She said she was in contact with at least one other constituent who had had a similar experience.


Ajmal Mansoor, an imam and lecturer based in Bristol, spoke this week about his own experience being turned away from boarding a flight to New York on 17 December, after which he was told only that his travel authorisation had been revoked.


“I am baffled, annoyed and angry,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that. However not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people. It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off. I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don’t think so!”



British Muslims Say They Are Being Refused Entry To The US


Ajmal Masroor, a well-known imam and commentator based in Bristol, told BuzzFeed News that he was due to travel to New York last week to give a lecture at a community mosque, as well as to visit friends.


Masroor said that just minutes before he boarded his Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow airport, he was approached by a representative of the United States embassy, who told him his authorisation under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) was being revoked.


He is one of a number of British Muslims who say they have had similar experiences in recent weeks just as they were about to board flights to the US. The Muslim Council of Britain said it was concerned that US officials were making the decisions to revoke authorisations on the basis of the faith of the individuals involved.


Masroor said he had applied successfully to travel under the VWP, which allows citizens of certain countries, including Britain, to travel to the US for up to 90 days without having to go through a formal visa application.


Those wishing to travel to the US under the programme must first apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is run by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. The scheme is open to citizens of the qualifying countries unless they have a criminal record, have been arrested even if not convicted, or have a communicable illness.


But although Masroor met the criteria and had been granted permission to travel, he was approached by a US official shortly before boarding. “They asked to see my passport,” Masroor said. “I handed it to him… he told me shortly after that my visa had been revoked, and I would be unable to travel to the United States today.”


“I was so shocked,” Masroor said, adding that when he asked why this was happening, the man replied: “You must have done something wrong,” before walking off.

Edited by visionary

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Liberals outraged by Obama's deportation plan


Democratic presidential candidates on Thursday criticized the Obama administration's plans to begin deporting potentially hundreds of families that arrived in the United States illegally since last year.


The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that federal immigration officials are preparing raids that would target the families and could begin as soon as January. A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the plans.


The news, arriving on the eve of the holidays, sparked concerns and outrage from Democrats and immigration advocates. They argued that the effort would target largely women and children fleeing violence from Central America, whom critics say should be treated as refugees.


"Hillary Clinton has real concerns about these reports, especially as families are coming together during this holiday season," said Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "She believes it is critical that everyone has a full and fair hearing, and that our country provides refuge to those that need it. And we should be guided by a spirit of humanity and generosity as we approach these issues."


Her chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said he was "very disturbed" by the reports, adding: “As we spend time with our families this holiday season, we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them?”


Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another Democratic presidential candidate, called for an end to "mindless deportations."


“DHS’ Christmas Eve announcement that they are planning to launch mass holiday raids and deport families who risked their lives to flee violence in Central America is completely at odds with our character as a nation," O'Malley said in a statement.


The issue of migrant families crossing the border since last year has been particularly tricky for Clinton. Though the former secretary of state has endorsed liberal immigration policies, Clinton drew criticism in 2014 when she said unaccompanied migrant children — coming here primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — “should be sent back” to their home countries. Clinton defended those comments earlier this year, arguing that it was important to send a message to families in Central America to not allow children to “take this very dangerous journey.”


Administration officials said the plans, which have not been finalized, are consistent with new deportation priorities announced last year. Now, federal immigration officials are focusing their deportation efforts on criminal immigrants and those who had recently crossed the border illegally.

Edited by visionary

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Trump’s effect on Muslim migrant debate reverberates in heartland


After the fire, the patrons of Juba Coffee and Restaurant gathered behind yellow police tape and mourned the charred remains of a place they called their own. Dressed in hijabs and tunics and speaking their native language, the Somali refugees said they’d long been comfortable in this overwhelmingly white, Protestant city. But now they were upset and frightened.


“We can not let them see us angry,” the owner, Abdulazziz Moallin, 36, told his fellow Somalis after the Dec. 8 fire. “We have to be sure they see us as good neighbors. Let’s not try to blame anyone.”


The advice was difficult to follow. The fire, which erupted when someone tossed a 40-ounce can of Bud Light filled with the gasoline into the restaurant, happened hours after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. Although the motive was unclear, many of the customers could not help but wonder whether this was the latest attempt in the city to intimidate those who practiced Islam.


The echoes of presidential politics and global tragedies are reverberating in the heartland.


Here in Grand Forks, population 60,000, friendliness is advertised with a giant smiley face on a water tower. Residents, descended mostly from Norwegian Lutherans, were accustomed to coexisting with the Muslim refugees who have settled in town over the past decade. But a confection of events — recent terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists, the global refu­gee crisis and a presidential campaign debate over whether “political correctness” has led the United States to be too welcoming to Muslims — has made both sides increasingly fearful of their neighbors.

“We don’t need to learn about the cultures these refugees left behind,” another said.


“This town’s built by white people,” said a third, to some applause. “Not by blacks. Not by Mexicans. Not by Indians.”


Pent-up frustrations in the city were finally bubbling to the surface, said Terry Bjerke, a Grand Forks City Council member running to unseat Brown for mayor. Some were already upset that UND’s mascot, the Fighting Sioux, was being replaced with the more culturally sensitive Fighting Hawks — and had embraced the anger at the “PC police” expressed by presidential candidates Trump and Ben Carson. The campaign had finally given people a license to say how they feel.


“We are sick of it,” Bjerke said. “Our questions are legitimate.”


Bjerke said he was upset that there were no statistics to show whether refugees had been responsible for an increase in robberies and burglaries. With so many refu­gee students learning English in school, he wondered whether native speakers were losing valuable time from their teachers. Most upsetting, he said, was that the Somalis weren’t adopting “American customs,” such as playing hockey or eating hot dogs.


Although he condemned attacks on Muslims, Bjerke said they might have been “the cost of doing business” in a country that rightly values free speech.


The week after the public hearing on diversity, Bjerke invited a speaker named Usama Dakdok, an Egyptian Christian, to lecture about the city’s need to contain Islam’s influence. More than 450 attended, watching as Bjerke raised copies of the Constitution and the New Testament in the air and declared, “From my cold, dead hands!”


The events unnerved the refugees, who sensed a shift in the way their adopted city was viewing them.


Asha Amare, 47, who said she came to Grand Forks about nine years ago and believes she was the first Muslim woman to move to the city, always sensed more intrigue in her culture than anguish about her presence.

“Let’s talk about the good,” Moallin said.


They recalled that an elderly white man had approached them the morning after the fire and assured them that Christians are peaceful and neighborly. Then there was the church that helped put plywood over the broken windows and the vigil in which 100 people showed up to support them.


As the family surveyed the damage on this afternoon, a relative handed Moallin an iPhone. A news article had stated that Grand Forks police had arrested a suspect named Matthew William Gust and charged him with arson. The 25-year-old had a minor criminal history and a fondness for Bud Light, according to court records.


Gust, who refused to talk to police, could not be reached for comment.


“I am happy they caught someone,” said Moallin, exuding little emotion. As Moallin made his way out of the restaurant, he turned around one last time. The family’s American dream had turned into a dark cavern, surrounded outside by a blanked of white snow.


“I just want to know why he did this,” he said, his eyes beginning to glaze. “Why? This place was beautiful.”

Edited by visionary

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What are the chances that Trump is actually one of the world's most brilliant satirists and has been doing all of this stuff in order to draw out and expose the latent xenophobia and racism in the underbelly of America?






Sigh. Yeah, I know. Not likely.

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