“Immigration Nation,” a six-hour Netflix series three years in the making, gives a nuanced close-up look at immigrants and their treatment. Reporting and observation show ICE agents in New York, Charlotte, N.C., and El Paso as they round up immigrants, process them – mainly for deportation – and talk about their work. According to The New York Times review, “Immigration Nation’ provides abundant evidence for things that some might call fake news, like the determination of ICE, under the Trump administration to remove immigrants in bulk regardless of whether they pose any danger . . . . But what sticks with you . . . is its depiction of the banality of deportation – of the huge disconnect between the everyday people of ICE and the Border Patrol and the everyday people they detain, arrest and process.”
About a dozen refugees from Afghanistan are making masks in New Jersey to help protect against Covid-19. So far they have produced more than 2,000 $10 organic fabric masks. The masks are sold online through Global Grace Marketplace (https://global-grace-marketplace-cafe-square.site/) and fair trade stores across the country.
As the pandemic shut down the economy and furloughed refugees who had just started working, Interfaith Rise (http://www.interfaithrise.org), a church-based resettlement agency, began distributing sewing machines to those who had sewing experience. One of the refugees developed a prototype and a refugee-only work force was formed. Their sewing pays about $15.00 an hour and has helped to connect these new Americans to their new world.
Steven is a young pastor who campaigned for human rights, assisted political prisoners, and fought for voting rights in his native Uganda. As government corruption and repression in Uganda grew, he was captured and tortured, and two of his fingers were cut off. In 2018 Steven was forced to flee. He lawfully walked across the international bridge to Brownsville, Texas and has been in detention in Port Isabel, Texas ever since. Although he is diabetic, has never committed a crime, and has ample sponsorship, inexplicably Steven was denied asylum. Because of the terrible conditions in detention, Steven’s health has deteriorated. His diabetes was not treated and now he is losing his eyesight. He is also at high risk for Covid 19.
Steven has been told that as soon as he is deported back to Uganda, he will be seized and killed by security forces; he won’t even get out of the airport. Even though his case is on appeal, Steven’s deportation is imminent.
Please call the following senators and representatives and tell them it is a violation of both domestic and international law to return Pastor Steven to torture and death in Uganda.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (Chairperson, Hispanic Caucus): 202-225-3262 (Washington, DC), 210-348-8216 (San Antonio, TX)
U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (Chairperson, Congressional Black Caucus) 323-965-1422 (Los Angeles, CA), 202-225-7084 (Washington, D.C.)
U.S. Senator Corey Booker: 973-639-8700 (Newark, NJ), 202-224-3224 (Washington, D.C.)
U.S. Senator John Corwyn: 202-224-2934 (Washington, D.C.), 713-572-3777 (Houston, TX)
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: 956-686-7339 (McAllen, Texas), 202-224-5922 (Washington, D.C.)
Thelma Gomez, a member of the Vermont migrant community and an organizer with Migrant Justice states that grueling work schedules, limited access to medical care, language barriers, and cramped housing all contribute to farmworkers’ vulnerability to Covid19. “Multiple workers share the same room and if one gets sick there’s no way for them to self-isolate or to keep others from getting sick,” she says.
In addition, undocumented workers don’t receive stimulus checks from the Federal government nor do they qualify for unemployment. If a dairy farm closes or downsizes – and many farms have been struggling during the pandemic – these workers may find themselves homeless. Yet they are essential to the production of milk on dairy farms throughout the state.
Migrant Justice continues to represent the rights of farmworkers and to fight for their dignity, and many other organizations throughout Vermont are also involved, contributing transportation, food and clothing, and language support. The struggle continues.
As Many as 1,111 Vermont Employees of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services Face Furloughs
A 50% drop in revenues from applications for immigration services such as visas, asylum, and citizenship may mean that nearly two-thirds of the USCIC’s workers in the state will be furloughed on August 3. The federal agency furloughs would be avoided only if Congress provides emergency funding by that date. USCIS workers are split between facilities in St. Albans City and Essex. “The notice to these employees went out this week, leaving these dedicated employees and their families in limbo wondering if they will have a job in August and wondering why Congress will not act to prevent it,” said Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor.
According to an investigation by The New York Times and The Marshall Project, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has become both a domestic and global spreader of the coronavirus. Even as lockdowns and other measures are being taken around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE has continued to detain people, move them from state to state, and deport them.
Detainees are exposed to Covid-19 in cramped and unsanitary detention centers, and so far ICE has confirmed at least 3000 coronavirus-positive detainees, though testing has been limited. Further spreading the virus, detainees who may be infected are often moved from facilities in one state to another. And from March to June more than 200 deportation flights carrying migrants, some of them ill with coronavirus, have left the U.S. for their home countries. So far governments of 11 countries have confirmed that deportees returned home with Covid19. As of early July, ICE said that it was still able to test only a sample of migrants before sending them home. Yet deportation flights continue.
CVRAN Annual Meeting
On June 18 on Zoom eighteen members of CVRAN assembled for our annual meeting. On the agenda was the election of board members. The departure of three board members – Walter Liggett, Lois Liggett, and Jean Jersey – was noted. Everyone was greatly appreciative of their hard work and devotion to CVRAN. Walter Liggett was applauded for his years as Treasurer and all he’d done to track the finances of the organization, both incoming and outgoing. Diane Fitch agreed to serve an additional term as President but since she’s already served three terms in this capacity, it necessitated a by-law change in term limits from three years (three terms) to four. This was voted in and Diane was thanked for her willingness to serve the extra term. Peter Thoms is now Treasurer; and Hope Crifo, Rachel Cogbill, and Margaret Blanchard are Board Directors, with Hope in addition serving as ASAN Financial Director.
Our next meeting will be on July 16 and we hope to meet outdoors with social distancing. At this time the Treasurer’s Annual Report will be discussed, as well as larger issues about where we are as an organization and how we envision the next stage of our work, both in CVRAN and ASAN.
Since March the Trump administration has been quietly violating a federal; anti-trafficking law by turning back unaccompanied children at the southern border. Many of the children are younger than 13. So far more than 20000 have been sent back to their countries of origin. With the pandemic as an excuse, unaccompanied children have been denied their right to protective custody and the chance to tell their stories to an asylum officer or judge. Our government is returning children targeted by gangs back to their tormentors, and abused children back to their abusers. But public health experts say that Refugee Resettlement shelters are nearly empty and there is plenty of room to quarantine children for 14 days. In addition Homeland Security has told parents in family detention that if they’re worried about the coronavirus they can get their children released. This is an untenable choice for parents between keeping children in conditions of dangerous contagion or being separated from them, perhaps permanently.