UN: Don’t force refugees back to Somalia

The United Nations again appealed to governments worldwide not to forcibly return refugees to Somalia, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and some two million displaced by years of fighting, as the situation deteriorates even further in the Horn of Africa country.

“We are appealing to all States to uphold their international obligations with regard to non-refoulement,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva, citing the principle in international law on protecting people from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be in danger. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama urges GOP work across party lines for immigration reform

May 25, 2010 White House Statement after President Obama’s meeting with the Senate Republican Conference:

The President had a good exchange with the Senate Republican Conference today about priorities for the balance of the year.
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Education in Southern Sudan

Look for an update on Jesuit Refugee Service education projects in Southern Sudan in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye on the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA website

Michelle Obama Questioned by Second Grader Worried About Her Mom’s Immigration Status

Clearly, the Most Important Statement of the Day on Immigration Reform

Washington, DC – Today President Obama and President Calderon of Mexico held a press conference in the Rose Garden. They both spoke about the need for immigration reform and about concerns about the new anti-immigrant law in Arizona. Important but not especially newsworthy.

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama and Mexico’s First Lady Margarita Zavala visited the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD to speak with second graders. According to Karen Travers of ABC News, the following occurred when a young girl spoke up:

The student shyly raised her hand and said, “My mom … she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”

Mrs. Obama replied: “Yeah, well that’s something that we have to work on, right? To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? That’s exactly right.”

The girl then said quietly, “But my mom doesn’t have any …” and trailed off.

Mrs. Obama replied: “Well, we have to work on that. We have to fix that, and everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that happens. That’s right.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “This heartbreaking exchange says more about the current state of the immigration debate than the remarks of the two Presidents in the Rose Garden. The little girl wants her mother to have papers, but hears that the President is sending people away who don’t have papers. She speaks the truth. The Obama administration is on track this year to exceed the deportation levels of the Bush administration. Most of those deported are not criminals but ordinary immigrants whose only violation was to come to this country without papers to work hard and seek better lives. With comprehensive immigration reform stalled, and Arizona taking matters into their own hands, this young girl gives voice to the growing frustration and desperation in immigrant families and communities. Like the DREAM students who earlier this week staged a sit-in in John McCain’s office, young people are increasingly underscoring the dysfunction and consequences of our broken immigration system and showing how Washington’s failure to address the unstable and unsustainable status quo is becoming a moral and political crisis.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.


Senate committee to discuss Haiti

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing for this Wednesday, May 19 at 10:00 am entitled “After the Earthquake: Empowering Haiti to Rebuild Better.” It will take place in 419 Dirksen.

Witness list:


T. Christopher Milligan
Coordinator for Disaster Response in Haiti
U.S. Agency for International Development

The Honorable Kenneth H. Merten
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti


The Honorable Andrew S. Natsios
Distinguished Professor
School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Sean Penn
J/P Haiti Relief Organization
San Francisco, CA

Mark Schneider
Senior Vice President
International Crisis Group
Washington, D.C.