refugees

Detained Afghan family bound for Washington State

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Attorney Robert Blume, who represents the family, speaking to reporters in Los Angeles. (photo: Nick Ut / AP)

Government officials said the family members were given back their passports and visas and will be interviewed April 5 in Seattle to determine if they are eligible to use those visas to remain in the United States.

By Amy Taxin / The Associated Press via The Seattle Times
March 6, 2017


“It is a victory in a battle that shouldn’t have been fought. The government swung and missed on this issue, and they just got it wrong.”
— Attorney Robert Blume


An Afghan family of five who traveled to the United States on special visas and were detained by immigration officials at the Los Angeles airport were released from custody Monday, according to the U.S. government and the family’s attorneys.

The mother, father and their three young sons, including a baby, arrived at the airport Thursday for a connecting flight to Washington state, where they planned to resettle.

Instead, U.S. immigration officials detained them and split them up. They planned to send the mother and children to a detention center in Texas, but lawyers intervened over the weekend and got a federal judge to quash the transfer.

Homeland Security officials haven’t said why the family was held, while immigrant advocates asserted in a court petition that there was “absolutely no justification whatsoever.”

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Afghan Family, Visas in Hand, Detained in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles International Airport (photo: Patrick T. Fallon / Reuters)

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the U.S. government was detained after flying into Los Angeles, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed Saturday.

By Nicholas Kulish / The New York Times via The Seattle Times
March 5, 2017


“I’ve never, ever heard of this happening. They go through so many layers of security clearance, including one right before they get on the plane.”
— Becca Heller, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project


An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the U.S. government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed Saturday.

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Saturday evening issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the mother and children from being transferred out of the state. The order, by Judge Josephine L. Staton of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, arrived as they were about to be put on a plane to Texas, most likely bound for a family detention center there, lawyers said.

The scene at the airport was “chaotic, panicked, it was a mess,” said Lali Madduri, a lawyer with the firm Gibson Dunn, which is representing the family pro bono. “The whole time the children are crying, the woman is crying. They can’t understand what’s going on.”

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Trump’s Radical Anti-Americanism

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(illustration: Tom Bachtell / The New Yorker)

As the President rejects our foundational principles, all we can turn to is our instinct for shared defiance.

By Adam Gopnik / The New Yorker
February 13, 2017


Within two weeks of the Inauguration, the hysterical hyperventilators have come to seem more prescient in their fear of incipient autocratic fanaticism than the reassuring pooh-poohers. There’s a simple reason for this: the hyperventilators often read history.


Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, the couple who did so much to bear witness to the terrible truths of the Second World War, came to town last week to introduce their new memoir to an American audience. In it, there is a photograph that can only be called heartbreaking in its happiness, unbearable in its ordinariness. It shows an eight-year-old Serge with his sister and their Romanian-Jewish parents walking along a promenade in Nice, in 1943, still smiling, still feeling confident, even at that late date, that they are safe in their new French home. Within a few months, the children and their mother were hiding in a false closet, as Gestapo agents took their father to Auschwitz, and his death.

What the photograph teaches is not that every tear in the fabric of civility opens a path to Auschwitz but that civilization is immeasurably fragile, and is easily turned to brutality and barbarism. The human capacity for hatred is terrifying in its volatility. (The same promenade in Nice was the site of the terrorist truck attack last year.) Americans have a hard time internalizing that truth, but the first days of the Trump Administration have helped bring it home.

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How President Trump Could Seize More Power After a Terrorist Attack

Wall Street Hope Revived as Trump Plans to Roll Back Rules

(photo: Aude Guerrucci / Getty)

President Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist.

By Ryan Lizza / the New Yorker
February 7, 2017


“I do believe the world faces a serious and growing terrorist threat. But Trump, either by ignorance or malice, is distorting the nature of that threat by targeting very well-vetted immigrants, including legal permanent residents and refugees. He simply does not have a strong national-security case to make against these people, which is why it is reasonable to wonder if he has some ulterior motive for taking such extreme steps against them.”
— Evan McMullin, former C.I.A. officer and Republican who ran for President as an independent candidate against Trump


Since September 11, 2001, ninety-four people have been killed in the United States in ten attacks carried out by a total of twelve radical Islamist terrorists. Each of the attackers was either an American citizen or a legal resident. More than half of the ninety-four murders occurred last year, when Omar Mateen, who was born on Long Island, killed forty-nine people at a night club in Orlando.

According to the comprehensive terrorism database maintained by the New America Foundation, since 9/11 there have been three hundred and ninety-six people involved in American terrorism cases, which New America defines as “individuals who are charged with or died engaging in jihadist terrorism or related activities inside the United States, and Americans accused of such activity abroad.” Eighty-three per cent of these individuals were American citizens or permanent residents. (Seventeen per cent were non-residents or had an unknown status.)

And yet, for more than two weeks, President Donald Trump and his top White House aides have been obsessed with highlighting a threat that does not exist: jihadist refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

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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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Trudeau Says Canada Will Take Refugees Banned by U.S.

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (photo: Chris Bolin / Reuters)

By Rob Gillies / Associated Press
January 28, 2017


“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
— Justin Trudeau on Twitter


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a message for refugees rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump: Canada will take you.

He also intends to talk to Trump about the success of Canada’s refugee policy.

Trudeau reacted to Trump’s ban of Muslims from certain countries by tweeting Saturday: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

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Border Agents Defy Courts on Trump Travel Ban

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(photo: Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

Congressman Don Beyer says, “We have a constitutional crisis” over refusal to release travellers from Muslim-majority countries after judge grants temporary stay.

By Edward Helmore and Alan Yuhas / The Guardian
January 30, 2017


“We continue to face border patrol’s noncompliance and chaos at airports around the country,” said Marielena Hincapie, director of the National Immigration Law Center. Officials, she said, were “Kafkaesque” in their confused responses, adding that Trump’s order “has already caused irrevocable harm, it has already caused chaos.”


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents defied the orders of federal judges regarding Donald Trump’s travel bans on Sunday, according to members of Congress and attorneys who rallied protests around the country in support of detained refugees and travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

On Sunday afternoon, four Democratic members of the House of Representatives arrived at Dulles airport in Virginia on word that people had been detained and denied access to lawyers.

“We have a constitutional crisis today,” representative Don Beyer wrote on Twitter. “Four members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”

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