Mem Fox on being detained by US immigration

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”Remember, I wasn’t pulled out out because I’m some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now.” (photo: Tracey Nearmy / AAP)

The celebrated Australian children’s author tells how on her 117th visit to the US she was suddenly at the mercy of Donald Trump’s visa regime.

By Mem Fox / The Guardian
February 28, 2017


They made me feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady and I am a feisty, strong, articulated English speaker. I kept thinking that if this were happening to me, a person who is white, articulate, educated and fluent in English, what on earth is happening to people who don’t have my power?


I was pulled out of line in the immigration queue at Los Angeles airport as I came in to the USA. Not because I was Mem Fox the writer — nobody knew that — I was just a normal person like anybody else. They thought I was working in the States and that I had come in on the wrong visa.

I was receiving an honorarium for delivering an opening keynote at a literacy conference, and because my expenses were being paid, they said: “You need to answer further questions.” So I was taken into this holding room with about 20 other people and kept there for an hour and 40 minutes, and for 15 minutes I was interrogated.

The room was like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that. There was a notice on the wall that was far too small, saying no cellphones allowed, and anybody who did use a cellphone had someone stand in front of them and yell: “Don’t use that phone!” Everything was yelled, and everything was public, and this was the most awful thing, I heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.

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How to Make America Greater: Allow More Immigration

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A rally at Battery Park on Jan 29 protested President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration to the United States. (photo: Yana Paskova / The New York Times)

President Trump will make America smaller.

By Eduardo Porter / The New York Times
February 7, 2017


Few things would make the economic pie bigger than free flows of people from poor countries to rich ones. Immigration — not trade liberalization or the elimination of barriers to capital flows — offers the best shot at raising the incomes of the poor and increasing economic output around the world.


He may not be thinking in these terms. But as he barrels ahead with his promise to restrict immigration — barring people from some Muslim-majority countries, limiting work visas, expelling millions who are here illegally — the president might want to ponder how this fits the theme of making America “great again.”

For his plan, at the scale he promises, would shrink the American economy and impoverish the world. If greatness is what he pursues, a straightforward way to bulk up the economy — not to say bolster global growth — would be to allow many more immigrants in.

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Trump Fires Acting Attorney General

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President Trump defended his executive order on Twitter, writing that there is “nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country.” (photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration ban.

By Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman / The Washington Post
January 30, 2017


Yates felt she was in an “impossible situation” and had been struggling with what to do about a measure she did not consider lawful. A Justice official confirmed over the weekend that the department’s office of legal counsel had been asked to review the measure to determine if it was “on its face lawful and properly drafted.”


President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

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Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban

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Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, during a news conference in June. (photo: Pete Marovich / Getty Images)

Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.

By Matt Apuzzo, Eric Lichtblau and Michael D. Shear / The New York Times
January 30, 2017


“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”


Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.

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