Archive for the ‘countries’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2014
Many of the 30,000 (some articles say 60,000) Central American unaccompanied minors who have entered the U.S illegally since last January have come with histories of trauma. Many of the children and teens have been physically or sexually abused. For example, the USCRI refugee contractor says more than 90 percent of the girls they’re dealing with have been raped. An article at NPR explores this troubling issue:
Many of the Central American children who have entered the U.S illegally in recent months have come with a heavy burden — a history of hardship and violence. And many of the children now face difficult and uncertain futures.
This has social service agencies around the country scrambling to figure out how to help the more than 30,000 unaccompanied minors who have been placed with family and friends since January, as they await their immigration hearings.
One of those nonprofits is Mary’s Center, which has been helping immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area for years. Until recently, workers at the agency saw about five to seven newly arrived children each month. Now they’re seeing that many every day, according to Maria Gomez, the group’s president and CEO.
She says many of the children have had horrific experiences, which will require serious counseling…
“So far almost every single one of the kids that we’ve gotten has been through some horrendous trauma,” she says. She adds that many of the children have been physically or sexually abused, at home or on the way to the U.S. Gomez says one 11-year-old girl they’re seeing was raped by the men her family paid to bring her to the United States. She’s now pregnant…
Other agencies say they’re seeing similar cases — children with layer upon layer of problems that will need to be dealt with soon. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit that is helping the federal government settle about 1,000 unaccompanied minors, says more than 90 percent of the girls they’re dealing with have been raped… Read more here
An article in The Buffalo News also explores this issue with refugees resettled to the US.
Posted in Guatemalan, mental health, teenagers, unaccompanied minors, USCRI | Tagged: central american, children, immigration, minors, raped, refugees, resettlement, trauma, unaccompanied, youth | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 18, 2014
Of the 36 million Syrian refugees fleeing the country the US has so far accepted only 36. Half of these refugees are children. Although the US has pledges to accept thousands more, sweeping counter terrorism laws along with the usual long wait of the resettlement process means the refugees wait will be protracted. With US-led airstrikes in Syria pushing more refugees over the border, there is now a heightened sense of urgency in processing Syrian refugees for resettlement here. An article in The Guardian examines the issue:
Since the start of the war in Syria in early 2011, the number of people fleeing the country has swelled to more than 3 million – half of them children. The US has accepted only a staggering few – just 36 in 2013.
Though the US has recently pledged to accept thousands more over the next few years, the resettlement process is complex and protracted. In some cases, refugees are left waiting in camps for up to three years before they are cleared to board a plane to America. This is in part due to sweeping US counter-terrorism laws that have, until recently, been ensnaring Syrians who pose no threat.
With no end in sight to the country’s brutal war, which has claimed upwards of 190,000 lives, according to the UN’s latest figures, refugee advocacy groups are calling on the US to fast-track the process for Syria’s most vulnerable and absorb a greater number of its refugees. Since the US-led coalition against Isis began conducting air strikes within Syria two weeks ago, likely pushing more refugees across borders, there is a heightened sense of urgency… Read more here
Posted in security/terrorism, Syrian | Tagged: airstrikes, Eric Schwartz, fast-track, immigration, refugees, resettlement, Syria, syrian, terrorism | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 16, 2014
The suicide rate among Nepali-Bhutanese refugees continues as a subject of concern. The suicide rate among Bhutanese here is 20.3 per 100,000 people, nearly double the rate of 12.4 per 100,000 for U.S. residents overall, and higher than the global suicide rate of 16 per 100,000. In six years, up to 55 Bhutanese immigrants have hanged themselves, using ropes or traditional scarves, with the last one occurring in Ohio in April. A former Bhutanese refugee in Portland, OR has made it his goal to support refugees from his country and reduce the number of suicides. An article in the Los Angeles Times tells more:
…In six years, up to 55 Bhutanese immigrants have hanged themselves, using ropes or traditional scarves, and [Som Subeti of Portland's Lutheran Community Services] suspects the rate might be even higher. He has hounded federal agencies such as the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to investigate the trend. He sent emails, made telephone calls, even traveled to Washington to address officials…. Due in part to Subedi’s pressure, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study that found the problem to be endemic: The suicide rate among Bhutanese here is 20.3 per 100,000 people, nearly double the rate of 12.4 per 100,000 for U.S. residents overall and higher than the global suicide rate of 16 per 100,000… He wrote a column for the Oregonian newspaper, questioning the American dream. “I am a refugee from Bhutan,” he began, describing how he once encouraged friends in the camps in Nepal to hurry to the U.S., a place he called “close to heaven.” He wrote: “Now I see those newly arrived struggling; they question me about my ‘heaven.’ Some say they would return, if possible, to their dark refugee camps rather than face their desperate situations in Oregon. I have come to feel that ‘the American dream’ is dangerous, because people come here with great expectations. I have stopped calling the camps in Nepal.” Benefits for Bhutanese stop after a few months, often before the recipients have assimilated. Subedi disagrees with the CDC conclusion that a Bhutanese predisposition to suicide was brought to the U.S. from the refugee camps. “It’s like saying, ‘It isn’t our problem,'” he said. “America is all about immigrants. The U.S. has resources other nations don’t. But there isn’t the will to help refugees here.”… His compatriots continue to take their own lives, the last one in Ohio in April… Read more here
Posted in Lutheran Community Service, mental health, Nepali Bhutanese, Oregon, ORR, suicide | Tagged: bhutanese, immigration, nepalese, ORR, Portland, refugees, resettlement, Som Subeti, suicide, U.S. Centers for Disease Control | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 14, 2014
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is warning about a new fraud scheme targeting refugees and other recent immigrants. ORR urges refugees to be aware that there are several criminals seeking to take advantage of newly arrived refugees who may not realize the need to protect their personal information from thieves and other criminals.
The Bhutanese community of Minnesota reports a new variation on a common fraud scheme, with several community members have received phone calls from people claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The callers tell the person who answers that they owe money to the IRS, and if it is not paid immediately, the IRS will freeze their bank account, sue them, and take away their citizenship or other lawful status.
So far, at least three people have been contacted, and one unfortunately sent a money order for $3,000 to these criminals.
Additional information can be found here in a Listserve message from the ORR.
a new scam
Posted in Nepali Bhutanese, ORR, scams | Tagged: bhutanese, citizenship, immigration, IRS, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, phone, refugees, resettlement, scam | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 13, 2014
Last Wednesday two Guatemalan unaccompanied youth escaped from a Heartland Alliance (and here, here and here) detention center in Des Plaines, Illinois and carjacked two cars in a cross state odyssey that ended in Iowa. The suspects are part of the group of 60,000 that entered the country illegally since last January. The youth, a sixteen and a seventeen year-old, told an employee of a nursing that they were armed before stealing her car, and later carjacked a 91 year-old man at a Walmart in Moline. An article at NPR indicates that trauma plagues many of these youth. The carjacking incident is covered in articles in JournalONLINE and in the Daily Mail:
Two teenage Guatemalan refugees being housed on the campus of Maryville Academy are facing charges of vehicular hijacking after taking cars from people in Des Plaines and the Quad Cities, then leading police on a chase that ended Wednesday in Iowa, authorities said. The suspects, who are 16 and 17 years old, were due to be extradited to Cook County after being detained in an Iowa jail. They are expected to be charged as adults, authorities said. Both juveniles were being housed on Maryville’s Des Plaines campus as part of a program run by Heartland Alliance, a social service agency that contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The pair were awaiting immigration proceedings… It all began at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of Nazarethville, a nursing home at 300 N. River Road in Des Plaines, when the two suspects threatened an employee about to get into her Toyota Camry, pushed her away and drove off, officials said. The teens told the employee they were armed but did not show any weapons. The employee was not injured, according to Pat Favia, a spokeswoman with Presence Health, the nursing facility operator. Hours later, authorities say, the duo turned up in Moline, where they ordered a 91-year-old military veteran in a Walmart parking lot out of his Buick LeSabre. The man, leaving the store after picking up his prescription, was uninjured, according to Detective Scott Williams of the Moline Police Department. The suspects rammed a vehicle as they left the parking lot and headed west on Interstate 80, authorities said. Some 20 miles west of Iowa City, police set up stop sticks, which blew out the tires of the Buick… Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Friday…officials are contacting all other agencies who have a contract for housing refugees to ask that each shelter undertake similar security assessments… Read more here
Posted in Guatemalan, Heartland Alliance, ORR, teenagers, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: carjacking, Des Plaines, Guatemalan, heartland alliance, immigration, maryville academy, Moline, ORR, refugees, resettlement, unaccompanied | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 4, 2014
Health and Human Services via its ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) office is releasing $9 million in leftover funds for use in legal representation of 1222 (2600 as part of a larger program) of the about 60,000 unaccompanied Central American minors who crossed the southern border since last January. The law does not need that these foreign nationals, here illegally, have legal representation. Almost half of minors with attorneys have been allowed to stay in the country, while only 10 percent of those without representation were allowed to stay, according to an analysis of cases through June by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Of the cases heard from July 18 to September 2 more than 90 percent were marked as instances where the child had no legal representation. The court cases which will decide whether the minors are to be deported or be given refugee or other legal status to stay here. A U.S. District Court Judge has put off on ruling on the core issue of whether these minor plaintiffs are entitled, under the Fifth Amendment, to counsel at government expense. An article at CBS Los Angeles explains:
SANTA ANA (AP) — The Obama administration is spending $4 million on lawyers for unaccompanied immigrant children in deportation proceedings…
Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, said on Tuesday that it is the first time the office that oversees programs for unaccompanied immigrant children will provide money for direct legal representation.
The grants to two organizations are part of a bigger $9 million project that aims to provide lawyers to 2,600 children. The move comes after the number of Central American children arriving on the U.S.-Mexico border more than doubled this past year, many of them fleeing violence… Read more here
An article at Politico also explains the case and the legal issues:
The battle over legal counsel for child migrants moved on two fronts as a federal judge first weighed-in Monday and the Department of Health and Human Services next announced its own initiative Tuesday to try to assure more representation for the minors.
With the 2014 fiscal year literally hours away from ending, HHS said Tuesday it has committed $4.2 million in leftover funds to support the efforts to secure counsel for the children. Republicans in the House have blocked prior efforts by the Justice Department to use its own funds for this purpose. But HHS said it has sufficient authority to make the awards to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
HHS estimated that the funds are sufficient to provide legal representation for about 1222 children, with an initial focus on eight cities including Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix. That’s a fraction of the total number of minors in the immigration court system after the record border crossings earlier this year. But the step is significant and comes as migrant rights attorneys are trying to elevate the same issue in federal court in Seattle… Read more here
Some argue that refugee status may apply if the minors face violence back home due to their membership in a particular social group, e.g. those who will not join drug gangs. The 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as any person who:
“owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
The United States Refugee Act of 1980 defines a refugee as any person who is:
…outside their country of residence or nationality, or without nationality, and is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
In fact, a new White House plan would allow some Central American children to come to the United States legally with refugee status, according to an AP article. The plan would allow Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran immigrants who are legally present in the U.S. to ask for refugee status for child relatives still back at home. Also, the White House is calling for the admission of 70,000 refugees in fiscal year 2015, and lists people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as eligible for admission to the U.S. as refugees “if otherwise qualified.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is initiating a program to give refugee status to some young people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in response to the influx of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under the program, immigrants from those countries who are lawfully in the United States will be able to request that child relatives still in those three countries be resettled in the United States as refugees. The program would establish in-country processing to screen the young people to determine if they qualify to join relatives in the U.S…
The program would not provide a path for minors to join relatives illegally in the United States, and would not apply to minors who have entered the country illegally.
Instead, it aims to set up an orderly alternative for dealing with young people who otherwise might embark on a dangerous journey to join their families in the United States… Read more here
Posted in asylees, court, Dept. of Justice, el salvadoran, Guatemalan, honduran, Obama administration, ORR, teenagers, unaccompanied minors, USCCB, USCRI | Tagged: central american, immigration, legal representation, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, unaccompanied minors, youth | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 28, 2014
Proposed regulations for the protection of unaccompanied child migrants in government facilities from sexual assault await the White House’s approval. Advocates claim the delay leaves children in the facilities without key protections against sexual assault. Although the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was required by law to submit new agency regulations by September 2033, it did not bother to submit more than a draft version in January 2014. The White House has failed to explain the delay. The exact number of assaults in the system that houses unaccompanied migrant children is unknown, although a Houston Chronicle investigation found 101 “significant incident reports” filed between March 2011 and March 2013. Minor victims of abuse also usually have no easy way to report and pursue a case. The children and teenagers are often cut off from the outside, and may have no safe way to report it if they suffer abuse at the hands of a facility staff member. An article in the Huffington Post examines the issue in depth:
WASHINGTON — Proposed regulations that could better protect unaccompanied child migrants in government facilities from sexual assault remain bogged down in the White House’s approval process, despite reports in May that many instances of abuse had been inadequately investigated. Those reports have frustrated advocates who have long pushed for the new rules and see them as even more urgent given the influx of children and teenagers being apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As the administration strains to handle the humanitarian crisis of nearly 63,000 unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border illegally since October, human rights advocates worry the children might remain vulnerable to abuse in the facilities where they are being kept.
While the children and teenagers are often released to family members and eventually may be deported, those from countries other than Mexico or Canada first go to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency has its own internal standards in place, but it hasn’t finalized implementation of the stricter standards required under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA. That means there are fewer formalized standards to help minors who already may be vulnerable to abuse, scared to speak out and unsure to how to ask for help… Read more here
Posted in abuse, children, Dept of Homeland Security, el salvadoran, guatelmalan, honduran, Obama administration, reform, teenagers, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: border, Central America, immigration, Obama, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, reform, refugees, resettlement, unaccompanied minors | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 16, 2014
A Congolese refugee family of an unnamed resettlement agency in a small town outside Portland, Oregon found themselves homeless this past summer despite a father who is an experienced automotive mechanic. A newspaper article uses the typical refrain of resettlement agencies, claiming they merely fell through the cracks in the system. This seems to be a regular occurrence as illustrated on this blog. The article at KGW News explains:
LAFAYETTE, Ore. – A refugee family of 13 people has a home to rent in a small town after being homeless this past summer.
Oswald Mushombe and his wife Nakinga Mahinga have 11 children, ranging in age from 5 months old to nearly 16 years old. Some of them were born in a refugee camp in Africa, where the family lived for five years to escape violence and persecution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Housing problems after they arrived in the United States 16 months ago led to the family bouncing around and eventually ending up living in a Portland park this past summer.
Mushombe said he tried everything to get help from a variety of agencies.
A week ago, they ended up in front of the McMinnville home of Monica Radke. She took them in, and has been spearheading a help campaign ever since.
The family is renting a Lafayette home thanks to a landlord who saw their story and wanted to offer them a place to live. …On Friday, Mushombe learned about some better job prospects. He is an experienced automotive mechanic.
A week after the campaign started, the family of 13 is moving into a home they can call their own. State and other agencies are offering assistance for the family that seemed to have fallen through the cracks of a refugee integration system… Read more here
Posted in Congolese, housing, neglect | Tagged: Congolese, homeless, immigration, lafayette, mechanic, oregon, oswald mushombe, Portland, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 12, 2014
Can you imagine being accused of misconduct in government work and then repeating that misconduct in front of inspectors who later arrive? The US Department of Homeland Security is relieved to announce that it is unable to substantiate advocates’ claims it abused child immigrants. One reason they make this claim is that its inspectors did not actually witness misconduct during inspections. Alleged misconduct includes inadequate food and water, denial of medical care, and physical abuse and psychological abuse. After looking at 116 complaints of abuse Homeland Security still must investigate 100 more, yet has made this (premature?) announcement of lack of abuse. An article at AP has the story (the AP report claims that the American Civil Liberties Union was not available for “immediate comment”. Why do reporters contact groups at the last minute before publication and then write that they are unavailable when they cannot immediately respond?):
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal investigation that included surprise inspections was unable to substantiate 16 accusations by advocacy groups that the government packed into frigid cells children caught crossing the border alone, made them sleep on hard floors and provided inadequate food or medical care. Other claims about treatment of the children are still under review, according to the Homeland Security Department.
Inspector General John Roth said in a memo made public Tuesday that immigrants alternately complain that detention facilities are too cold or too hot, but either way, there are cloth or disposable blankets. Likewise, Roth said food service has also improved since the American Civil Liberties Union and four other advocacy groups in June made 116 allegations of wrongdoing, mistreatment and abuses by border agents…
Roth told Johnson that the remaining 100 complaints are still being investigated by the Immigration Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility, CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs and the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
In June, the ACLU and others complained of “systematic abuse” of immigrant children caught crossing the border alone. The groups said more than 80 percent of the immigrants complained that they received inadequate food and water, about half were denied medical care, and about one of every four was physically abused.
The complaints included a 13-year-old boy who said he was threatened by an official with a metal rod and was later sexually molested while in custody, a 14-year-old girl who reported her asthma inhaler was confiscated, and a 14-year-old boy who said he was unable to sleep for five days because the lights were always on. A 16-year-old boy said an official told him, “You are in my country now, and we are going to bury you in a hole.”…
Roth said investigators from his office also made three unannounced visits to a family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, where more than 600 immigrant women and their children have been held since late June. He said investigators did not see any misconduct during any of the site visits. Read more here
Posted in abuse, children, Dept of Homeland Security, el salvadoran, Guatemalan, honduran | Tagged: abuse, central american, Homeland Security, immigration, inspection, investigation, medical care, neglect, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 5, 2014
[Editor's note: The following group of minors is not an official part of the US refugee resettlement program, but rather a separate immigrant group that the US Congress has charged the Office of refugee Resettlement (ORR) with managing. These youth are arriving without official sanction, as opposed to refugees in the national program who have been invited to resettle in the US].
According to a recent news article the Arkansas Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has concluded that unaccompanied minors who have arrived in the state from Central America pose little risk of spreading infectious diseases to the public. The minors are screened for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and vaccinated for a host of others. The article is found at The Courier:
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has concluded that unaccompanied children who have arrived in the state from Central America pose little risk of spreading infectious diseases to the public…
Children arriving to the U.S. from Central America receive multiple vaccines before they are released from the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement’s-funded program into a community. These vaccines protect against: tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, flu, pneumonia, polio, and hepatitis A and B. Furthermore, any child who enrolls in an Arkansas school also must meet state vaccination requirements.
In addition, the Office of Refugee Resettlement screens all children for tuberculosis. Children found to have TB disease are sent to shelters that have the capacity to care for them. Only those children who are no longer infectious are placed with a sponsor… Read more here
Posted in Arkansas, children, el salvadoran, Guatemalan, health, honduran, office of refugee resettlement, teenagers, unaccompanied minors | Tagged: Arkansas, CDC, Center for Disease Control and prevention, clean bill of health, health, immigration, infectious disease, refugees, resettlement, unaccompanied youth | Leave a Comment »