Hastings amendment studies immigration policies aimed at Haiti

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) voted in favor of H.R. 3619, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2009. Included in the Act was an amendment introduced by Hastings that directs the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to conduct a study examining the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to the effects of possible changes in U.S. immigration policies toward Haiti. (Click here for a PDF copy of the amendment.)

“Changes in immigration policies affecting Haiti are nothing new.” Hastings said. “In fact, it was just over ten years ago that Congress passed the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, which affected far more Haitian nationals than any of the currently proposed policies would affect.

“TPS, or some other comparable relief, for our Haitian neighbors is long overdue, and this administration has been stalling for far too long. This study will hopefully help us show that our government has rationally and realistically examined all possible results and that we are well equipped to contend with any possible effects.”
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Activists for Haiti press Obama on immigration plans

The Miami Herald reports on the growing unease among Haitian activists over their perception President Obama is not moving fast enough on either immigration reform or Temporary Protected Status for Haitian immigrants.

“I feel they are stringing us along, and we are in an awkward position,” said Randolph McGrorty, head of Catholic Charities Legal Services, who brought the subject to a head with a stinging e-mail sent to House, Senate and administration staffers last week. “Do we allow them to string us along because they are our allies or do we start calling them on the carpet for it?”

Presidential candidate Obama did not promise to grant undocumented Haitian immigrants temporary legal status in the United States — a designation known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS — but activists said they believed the first African-American president would give the issue special consideration.

Instead, former President Bill Clinton — a United Nations special envoy to the country — and the United Nations have taken the lead in rebuilding a storm-battered Haiti after last year’s four back-to-back storms that killed hundreds and left nearly $1 billion in damages.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA has long supported TPS for Haitians.

U.S. set to honor Jesuits killed in El Salvador

On Wednesday, the House will debate and approve (on the suspension calendar) H. Res. 761, remembering and commemorating the lives and work of the six Jesuit Fathers and two women on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their deaths at the UCA in San Salvador on November 16, 1989. The United States House of Representatives is set to pass House Resolution 761

Remembering and commemorating the lives and work of Jesuit Fathers Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Amando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, and housekeeper Julia Elba Ramos and her daughter Celina Mariset Ramos on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their deaths at the University of Central America Jose Simeon Canas located in San Salvador, El Salvador on November 16, 1989.

Seeking better life, some migrants find terror

The New York Times reports on a growing peril facing people from Central America as they attempt to pass through Mexico en route to the United States.

Mexican human rights groups that monitor migration say the threats foreigners face as they cross Mexico for the United States have grown significantly in recent months. Organized crime groups have begun taking aim at migrants as major sources of illicit revenue, even as the financial crisis in the United States has reduced the number of people willing to risk the journey.

Read the full story here.

Forced migrants in Europe: living in limbo

On the occasion of the World Food Day (Oct. 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17), Jesuit Refugee Service Europe draws atten­tion to the desperate situation of destitute forced migrants in Europe. All over the European Union we accompany migrants who for good reasons cannot return to coun­tries of origin but are completely excluded from social services in the countries where they are living.

“These persons are living in limbo, in an impasse, without any perspective,” says Stefan Kessler, Policy Officer with JRS. The organisation is currently running a research and advocacy project on the situation of these destitute migrants.
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Internally displaced children focus of UN attention

A top United Nations official this week urged that greater attention be given to the plight of internally displaced children, among the most vulnerable groups affected by armed conflict.

“This is becoming an increasing issue around the world,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, told reporters ahead of the presentation of her annual report to the General Assembly.

She noted that annexed to her report is the “rights and guarantees” which should be accorded to children who are among internally displaced persons (IDPs), including the right to education, the liberty of movement, the right to protection against sexual and gender-based violence and the right to basic services.
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Criminal justice for immigrants in Texas' Reeves county

Tom Barry shares the story of immigrants detained at the Reeves County Detention Center on the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy website here. He writes that the “greatest fear of inmates at the Reeves County Detention Center is getting sick and being consigned to … what they call “el hoyo” (the hole). It’s the hole not because it’s so dark or dirty, but rather because it’s where there is no relief from the walls, loneliness, emptiness, and yourself.”

In modern prisons and detention centers, (Secure Housing Units) are the modern equivalent of the old “solitary confinement” — intended as both punishment for disciplinary infractions, and as a deterrence to prevent unruly behavior. But at the (Reeves County Detention Center) and many others throughout the country, SHUs are often used simply to better manage prison populations — to isolate and punish problem inmates whether they break the rules or not.

At the RCDC, which since 1985 has expanded from a 300-bed prison to one that holds up to 3,700 inmates, the SHU is systemically and routinely used to house severely ill inmates. That’s because there is no infirmary at RCDC.

Read the full story.