News

Christs Church Benefit Concerts

This December Christs Church, the Episcopal Church in Montpelier, VT will be hosting free, noontime concerts to benefit CVRAN. CVRAN will have a table with information about what we do at the concert. Donations will go to support our work. Hope to see you there!

Tunisian Feast

Join us on December 11th for a delicious Tunisian Feast, prepared by Chef Ghazi for the benefit of the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN). The feast will be take-out and distributed at the side door of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center at 58 Barre Street in Montpelier. We ask you to make reservations in advance as described below and to let us know your preferred time for picking up your dinners. The dinner will include some of the finest Tunisian dishes.

Each dinner will include the following:

  • Couscous with lamb, chicken, or vegetables: Couscous is the signature dish of Tunisia. Steamed over a richly savory, mildly spicy sauce, Tunisian couscous is served with deliciously prepared meat or vegetables.
  • Tajine: The Tunisian take on a frittata, this delicious cheesy, veggie filled egg dish will delight your senses.
  • Tunisian Salad: A savory mixture of brightly colored fresh vegetables dressed in lemon vinaigrette and decorated with olives, capers and tuna.
  • Tunisian Bread: A lightly spiced braid of soft semolina bread, baked fresh with fennel, turmeric and black sesame, milk and olive oil. Crunchy on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside. A perfect compliment.
  • Dessert: You may choose between assida and baklava.
  • Assida: A delicacy like none other, savor this special hazelnut cream traditionally prepared for big celebrations.
  • Tunisian Baklava: The fine craftsmanship of this baklava will astound you…almonds are soaked to remove the skin, baked to release the flavors and then crushed by hand. The honey-soaked pastries speak for themselves.
TUNISIAN FEAST RESERVATIONS

When: Saturday, December 11, 2021 Serving 4:30-6:30

Where: Pick up is at the side door of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, at 58 Barre Street, Montpelier

Cost: $20 per meal donation is recommended

How do I make a reservation?

Send an e-mail to: sdalevt@gmail.com, put “Tunisian Feast” in the subject line. Include in your e-mail:

  • Contact person for your party
  • E-mail and phone number for contact
  • Total number of meals
  • For each meal choose an entrée (lamb, chicken, or vegetarian) and a dessert (assida or baklava)
  • Specify your preferred pick up time– 4:30PM, 5:00 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:00 PM

You will receive a confirmation e-mail.

How do I pay?

You may pay when you pick up your meals.
Pay by cash or by check made out to CVRAN.

How do I pick up my dinners?

Drive in the entrance to the Montpelier Senior Activity Center to the west of the building. Come all the way around the side and you will be greeted there to pick up your meals, and make your payment.

Note: You may also make a reservation by mail by sending in the above information, along with your payment, to S. Dale, 28 Terrace Street, Montpelier, VT 05602.

Equal Exchange Products Fund Raiser

Would you like to buy olive oil from Palestinian farmers, pecans from African American growers in our south, or support a 4,500 member cooperative in Kerala, India, that works on elephant friendly fencing, safe water systems, and schooling through buying cashew? Purchase these items and more at the website cvran.justfoodhub.us

All the items on the website are from Equal Exchange, an organization that benefits cooperatives and small farmers of economically disadvantaged peoples around the world. Buy them to support new Vermonters.

It’s easy:
  1. Go on to the website to make your order: cvran.justfoodhub.us
  2. Order by Nov. 21st or Dec. 9th. Pick up one week later in Montpelier (see website).
  3. 30% of what you order will go to CVRAN to support its work!
  4. Share this order list with friends.

With many thanks to Sue & John Morris of Marshfield who run this website & its work, free of charge, for good causes

Immigration in the News – August 2021

TPS Registration Extension

The Department of Homeland Security has announced extensions of the registration periods from 180 days to 18 months for initial (new) applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under the designations of Venezuela and Burma, and the redesignation of Syria.

Biden Continues Use of Title 42

The Biden administration is continuing the use of Title 42 to quickly turn back immigrants at the southern Border. Title 42 allows immigrants found at the border to be turned back immediately at the discretion of the border agent without going through the normal screening process. Unlike the Trump administration practice, Biden is not using Title 42 to turn back minors who show up at the border alone.

“Migrant Protection Protocols” Renewed by SCOTUS

The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden Administration must revive a Trump Administration decision mandating that some asylum seekers remain in Mexico pending court decisions. These “Migrant Protection Protocols” require that individuals who arrive at the southern border requesting asylum are given notices to appear in immigration court and sent back to Mexico, until they are told to return to a specific port of entry at a specific date and time for a court hearing.

Legal representation for these people is rare, believed to be less than 7.5% of individuals subject to MPP. The lack of counsel, combined with the dangers that individuals face in border towns, have made it nearly impossible for anyone subject to MPP to successfully win asylum.

Goddard College Offers to House Afghan Refugees

Goddard College has offered to house Afghan refugees at their Plainfield campus for at least two months this upcoming fall. This follows Governor Scott’s announcement to the White House and the state that Vermont welcomes refugees from war-torn countries. There are no clear plans to bring Afghan refugees to the state yet.

Countries Pledge to Accept Afghans After U.S. Military Departs

The United States and 97 other countries said they will continue to take in those fleeing Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal. The joint statement notes that the Taliban have given assurances that people with travel documents clearing them to enter any of those countries could safely depart. But the international community has little influence over what takes place within Afghanistan’s borders. Many fear that the process of applying for visas and travel documents within Afghanistan will only identify those who wish to leave to the Afghan government.

 

Immigration in the News, July 2021

FACT SHEET: The Biden Administration Blueprint for a Fair, Orderly and Humane Immigration System 7/27/2021

This lengthy document includes the following policies relating to asylum seekers:

  • Establishing a dedicated immigration court docket to consider the protection claims of eligible recent arrivals quickly and efficiently.
  • Authorizing asylum officers to adjudicate asylum claims and establish eligibility standards that harmonize the U.S. approach with international standards.
  • Maximizing legal representation by working with pro bono legal service providers.
  • Reducing immigration court backlogs by hiring more immigration judges.
Judge Blocks DACA Program, Barring New Applicants

A federal judge in Texas ruled that the U.S. government can no longer accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is a major setback for immigrants who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children.

The Biden administration is ordered to close the program to first-time applicants while a Texas-led lawsuit makes its way through the federal courts.

Those currently in the program will still be permitted to work and be protected from deportation until a further court ruling.

Farm workforce act: A path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, or indentured servitude?

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would grant undocumented farmworkers legal status and a path to citizenship. But because of its length-of-service requirements workers would be required to work for four or (in most cases) eight years after achieving certified agricultural worker status before they could qualify for permanent residence. As a result activists claim it would limit farmworkers’ rights to unionization and legalization and leave them vulnerable to low wages and poor working conditions.

The bill passed the House in March with bipartisan support, but is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

A Pathway to Citizenship and Economic Growth Through Budget Reconciliation

The Senate Committee on the Budget released a draft of its $6 trillion reconciliation budget blueprint which includes $126 billion to put immigrants on a pathway to citizenship.

This column at the Center for American Progress argues that this is an appropriate use of the budget reconciliation process because putting Dreamers, those eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and essential workers on a pathway to citizenship would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP over a decade and create over 400,000 new jobs.

Boundless Immigration News Weekly Recap: July 16, 2021

The White House will be assigning more immigration officers to review DACA applications and promote “public awareness” to remind current DACA beneficiaries to renew their work permits and deportation deferrals.

Notes in Remembrance of Lou Cherry

It was with deep sadness – and appreciation – that the CVRAN community learned that Lou Cherry had died in early April, in Asheville, NC, after a short illness. He had only recently relocated there from Vermont to join his wife, Arlene.

Lou was a person with wide interests, strong personal qualities, and deep commitments.

For CVRAN, Lou was a founding member in the spring of 2015, accomplishing two essential and grounding tasks: drafting and filing the Articles of Association with the State of Vermont, and successfully applying for recognition as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation under federal law. Lou was among other original CVRAN members who were part of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier where the organizing meetings took place.

Over his years of involvement with CVRAN Lou was gracious, caring, informed, and committed. His ability to think through challenges creatively and effectively – always with good humor – was an anchor for the young, dynamic organization. His early contributions provided an essential foundation for the recent years of fruitful engagement with refugees,
asylum seekers, and many volunteers.

Lou especially enjoyed taking part in the Central Vermont visits of the staff of the Mexican Consulate from Boston. They offered valuable services to hundreds of Mexicans who live and work on Central Vermont farms. His competence, personal enthusiasm, and devotion to Spanish were a gift to all. His creative culinary skills were essential when CVRAN organized Latin Fiesta nights.

Lou’s commitments reflected his own life, as the son of parents who came to the US from Hungary. He was deeply appreciative that his son, Eric, had served as a Unitarian Universalist minister in Cluj, Romania. That Transylvanian community had been part of Hungary before WWII and was a Jewish ghetto late in the war.

The following is from the April 29th obituary in the Times Argus, on his move to Vermont in the early 2000s:

With his quiet sense of purpose and wry sense of humor, Lou quickly found productive ways to engage with the central Vermont community and beyond. He had an infectious laugh deeply enjoyed by the community.

The CVRAN community will always remember Lou’s spirit and commitment to many progressive interests.

Montpelier Teenager Makes Substantial Donation To Help Asylum Seekers in Montpelier

Moss close-upRussell Clar, an 8th grader at the Montpelier Middle School and a member of the Beth Jacob Synagogue is our newest generous supporter. For his Bar Mitzvah service project in April, he was inspired to support the effort to promote refugee justice. Instead of receiving gifts himself he chose to have any gifts for him directed to CVRAN in honor of his Bar Mitzvah. He researched online and found CVRAN.

He sees the plight of refugees as a timeless issue, especially poignant now with so many people fleeing violence, poverty, and drought in their home countries. As a Jew, he is acutely sensitive to what it means to flee and to be a refugee.

Russell is a talented photographer and sells his unusual images of the natural world online. He is planning to donate some of the profits to CVRAN.

Thank you, Russell, for your generous spirit and creative project. The more than $800 you raised will support our monthly budget for the asylum seekers we are hosting while they await their work permits and final asylum hearings.

Biden Grants Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the U.S.

Buzzfeed News recently reported that more than 100,000 Haitians residing in the U.S. since prior to May 21 have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Haitians who satisfy this criterion must file an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and pass a background check after which they will receive work and travel authorization.

Haiti has been suffering from social unrest, gang violence, and an ongoing constitutional crisis, all of which have made recovery from the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince even more challenging. The Obama administration had already granted TPS to Haitians living in the U.S. continuously since 2010; this protection was set to expire in October. The new protection Biden is providing will expire in 18 months.

TPS is a boon for Haitians living in the U.S., allowing them to live and work without fear of being suddenly deported. On the other hand it is temporary, preventing those who wish to do so from putting down roots and establishing a long-term connection with their community. Hopefully a better solution can be found before the 18 month reprieve expires.

Biden Increases Refugee Cap

Biden recently announced that he would increase the refugee cap for the fiscal year (ending September 30) to 62,500. This is a reversal from his prior statement that he would be leaving the Trump administration’s cap of 15,000 in place. The administration had seemed on the verge of increasing the refugee cap for months but President Biden never signed the final paperwork that would allow refugees to board planes for the US. When he finally announced that he would be leaving the cap at 15,000 it prompted fierce criticism from refugee advocates.

The new cap of 62,500 is in some ways more messaging than policy. Biden said meeting the new cap by the end of September would be unlikely due to budget and staffing cuts during the Trump administration. It’s nonetheless a positive sign that President Biden is taking seriously the need to shift course after the Trump administration’s policies.

Title 42 Used to Expel Asylum Seekers under Biden administration

Expulsions under Title 42 are a result of a 1940s  era public health statute that permits the CDC to close the border to “nonessential” travel. Back in March of 2020 when the Trump administration was barely beginning to consider taking coronavirus seriously it nonetheless quickly acted to activate provisions that prevent migrants from seeking asylum at our border with Mexico. Potential asylees were then, at the discretion of the Border Patrol agent, processed according to Title 42 and quickly returned to Mexico rather than according to Title 8 which governs normal immigration procedures and requires access to asylum. The Trump administration began applying Title 42 to migrants despite the lack of support for such measures by public health data even as the border remained open to tourists and other travelers.

President Biden is continuing this Trump-era policy in the face of criticism and legal challenges. Migrants are sent back into Mexico after having crossed the border, sometimes many miles from where they crossed in the first place. There, as this article from the LA Times explains, their problems are compounded because they are subject to gangs of kidnappers.   The expulsions by the Border Patrol are a bonanza for these gangs, who wait and pick up migrants after they are dropped off in a strange city. Once the gangs kidnap someone, the kidnappers check cell phones for US numbers, hoping to find friends or family already in the US who can be extorted for ransom money. Those hit up for ransom money may then be forced into debt in order to rescue loved ones.

The Biden administration appears to be worried that pent-up demand at the border will lead to more more border crossings and more asylum seekers, possibly increasing the administration’s political vulnerability as those on the right attempt to pin a “border crisis” on Biden’s policies. At the same time, there are legitimate reasons to seek to reduce the rate of attempted border crossings: it takes time to rebuild the capacity to process migrants at the border, capacity which was encouraged to atrophy under Trump. But we must continue to hold the Biden administration to higher standards, the consequences otherwise can be horrific.