Saturday, July 18, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Immigration Divide

Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with Trump:

"Caribbean issue divides Mass. lawmakers; Loyalties tested by fears Dominican may deport many of Haitian descent" by Maria Sacchetti Globe Staff  July 18, 2015

State Representative Frank Moran and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry are almost always on the same team. They are Democrats and the children of immigrants whose families hail from the same small island in the Caribbean.

So when Dorcena Forry called for a boycott on travel to the Dominican Republic amid fears that the nation planned to deport thousands of residents of Haitian descent, she naturally turned to Moran for support. But he refused. Moran was born in the Dominican Republic, the state senator’s parents are from Haiti.

“I totally disagree with her,” he said. “We need to find a solution, not to add more fuel to the fire.”

Dominicans and Haitians are among the largest immigrant communities in Massachusetts, and over the years they have built alliances on issues such as education, immigration, and jobs. But now the conflict roiling the Dominican Republic is testing those loyalties and pushing Massachusetts politicians to take sides in the international fray.

As long as no one hates anybody.

In Boston, tensions escalated in recent weeks amid widespread confusion over the effect of the Dominican Republic’s plans for enforcing its immigration laws. Dorcena Forry said she received death threats after she called for the travel boycott last month.

Aw, gees.

On July 9, dozens of flag-waving protesters on both sides clashed in front of the Dominican consulate in Boston. The next day, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called a special meeting to say he did not support the boycott, after an aide had publicly said he did.

I know of one I'm sure he opposes.

In a highly unusual move, this week a Dominican diplomat, Dominico Cabral, attacked Massachusetts politicians who support the boycott.

Quick, get John Kerry on the phone.

In comments to Spanish-language media here and overseas, he called the travel boycott a “dirty campaign” that would hurt Dorcena Forry and others with Dominican-American voters. Massachusetts is home to more than 120,000 people of Dominican descent, including immigrants and their US-born children, and 77,000 Haitian-Americans, according to the census.

“We’re going to make the difference in the next elections,” Cabral, the former consul general in Boston, said in an interview. “And if she persists in this, she’s going to lose.

And the mayor, too.” Looks like a threat to me.

Dominican officials insist that nobody has been deported from the country since late 2013, after their nation’s highest court, reinterpreting a constitutional provision, ruled that Dominican-born children of undocumented immigrants were not entitled to citizenship. The ruling effectively revoked the citizenship of as many as 200,000 native-born Dominicans, mainly children of Haitian immigrants to the Dominican Republic. The order was retroactive to 1929. Amid international outcry, the country passed a law allowing those affected to apply for citizenship.

Does have a 1930s feel to it all, as does the planet with the record numbers of immigrants and war refugees.

Separately, also in response to the court ruling, the president cleared the way for people in the country illegally to apply for legal residency by June 17 or face possible deportation. The deadline reignited the international debate and generated fears of deportations, even for those born in the country.

“No one born in the Dominican Republic will be deported,” Jose Tomas Perez , the Dominican ambassador to the United States, wrote in a July 11 column in El Nuevo Herald.

But lawyers and others say the situation is more complex. They say the citizenship application process is so bureaucratic — demanding notarized documents that many native-born Dominicans do not have — that most have been shut out. About 55,000 native-born Dominicans with foreign parents have been approved, while another 9,000 applications are pending.

US Senator Edward J. Markey called the application process “overly burdensome” in a letter to the State Department earlier this month, and Secretary of State John Kerry expressed similar concerns in a statement. US Senator Elizabeth Warren did not respond to requests for comment.

Wade McMullen, managing attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, a Washington nonprofit representing stateless Dominicans, said many people of Haitian descent fear they will face deportation once the controversy dies down.

“Many of them are multigeneration Dominican. They only speak Spanish,” he said. Haitians speak French or Creole. “They have never been outside of the country. They’ve never traveled to Haiti.”

And although Dominican officials say nobody has been deported, media reports have documented some deportations, and tens of thousands of people have left on their own accord, some fearing violence if they don’t. In his letter to the State Department, Markey said the Dominican government was “brazenly” encouraging the departures by providing free rides to the border.

Like, sorry for the politically incorrect bit, what happened last summer with the immigrant kids.

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” said Dorcena Forry, the Boston-born daughter of Haitian immigrants and the only Haitian-American lawmaker on Beacon Hill. “We get that the Dominican Republic is a sovereign nation,” she said, but she believes authorities there should not strip citizenship from native-born residents. “That is the big piece that everyone has concerns with.”

It is. The island itself has been in one for decades. Why the big deal now?

Cabral, the former Boston consul, said the Dominican Republic is simply trying to bring order to its immigration laws after years of lax enforcement. After the 2010 earthquake, he noted, the Dominican Republic allowed many Haitians to enter.

He said officials are concerned that escaped prisoners also slipped across the border, adding to the need to register immigrants.

That's a racist thing to say.

In Massachusetts, the debate is testing immigrants and their children — particularly lawmakers such as Dorcena Forry and Moran, who straddle two worlds. They are bilingual and speak English with Boston accents, and are far more familiar with Massachusetts.

Former Boston lawmaker Marie St. Fleur, a Haitian-American who favors the boycott, said many immigrants and their children do not know the long history between the countries. Dominicans have recruited Haitians to work there for over a century, but many were often mistreated. One horrific example was the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians by Dominican soldiers.

In other words, illegal immigrant labor has been a problem for decades and decades all over the planet. And chi bono?

In 2010, the Dominican Republic amended its constitution to bar Dominican-born children of illegal immigrants from obtaining citizenship. In the United States, people born in the country are citizens at birth.

Yeah, you suggest that up here to keep 'em from coming and you get your head ripped off.

“There needs to be a better job of pulling people together, and having conversations and really sharing the history so that it’s about fixing the problem,” St. Fleur said.

As long as it isn't the sordid history of U.S.-backed interventions and U.S.-sponsored dictators.

Moran, the state representative from Lawrence, said he has struggled over the conflict in recent weeks. Though his city is largely Dominican-American, he left the Dominican Republic when he was 8. He read news reports about what’s happening in his home country and called his father for guidance. “I am trying to defend something I don’t know,” he said.

After some research, Moran decided to remain neutral. He said the Dominican Republic has the right to set its immigration policies, but he did not approve of deporting people who were born in the country.

And he definitely does not support a travel boycott, which he said could hurt the Dominican Republic and businesses in cities such as Lawrence.

Been a lot about Lawrence in the paper lately.

“I’m not taking any sides in this. I want to find a solution,” said Moran. “I don’t want to be part of the problem.”


So how goes the rebuilding of Haiti five years after the quake?  

Cholera still a problem, or....

"US-Cuba ties raise fear of deportation; Thousands of immigrants may be told to return" by Alicia A. Caldwell and Curt Anderson Associated Press  July 18, 2015

MIAMI — With the United States and Cuba inching closer to fully restoring diplomatic ties, including reopening embassies for the first time in 54 years, the future is murky for tens of thousands of Cuban immigrants who have been ordered by immigration authorities to leave the country.

They are being sent back?

More than 35,000 Cubans living in the United States have outstanding deportation orders, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They include people who pose a threat to national security or have serious criminal convictions and are considered priorities for enforcement agents.

Like what? Rape, robbery, and murder?

Despite being an enforcement priority, those immigrants have not yet been sent back to Cuba because the government of President Raul Castro has not given them permission to return. It is unclear whether the Cuban government’s position will change.

Castro already retreating on the deal.

Sisi, a 50-year-old grandmother who moved to Miami with her family when she was 4, wonders what the future holds.

As a teen in the 1980s, Sisi married a man involved in South Florida’s booming cocaine trade. By the middle of the decade, she was involved in the business and served 2½ years in prison, cutting ties to her brief life of crime in 1989.

Though she served her debt to society for the drug conviction, what she didn’t know at the time was that her criminal record would prompt immigration authorities to issue a deportation order in 2000.

‘‘I was young, stupid. It’s hurting me,’’ said Sisi, who spoke on the condition that she only be identified by her nickname.

For decades deportation to Cuba has been complicated by the lack of diplomatic ties.

A 1984 repatriation agreement includes a list of 2,746 people who had come to the United States in 1980 as part of the Mariel boatlift who should be deported. The mass migration from Cuba to Florida started when then-President Fidel Castro announced he would allow anyone who wanted to leave the Communist island nation. An estimated 125,000 Cubans made the perilous trip between April and October 1980.

It has been said, by some, that Fidel also emptied the jails and loaded them onto the boats.

ICE records show that 1,999 people on that list have been sent back to Cuba, including 1,093 since 2001. ICE is responsible for finding and removing immigrants living in the country illegally and those who have been ordered to leave.

Sisi’s lawyer, Grisel Ybarra, said the Cuban community is “shaking like a leaf’’ amid the ongoing talks between Washington and Havana.


Can't be any worse than Mexico:

"US sought drug lord ‘El Chapo’ for trial; Mexico resisted pleas to extradite escaped convict" by Azam Ahmed New York Times   July 18, 2015

NEW YORK — Less than three weeks before Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the infamous drug kingpin known as El Chapo, escaped from Mexico’s highest security prison, the United States issued a formal request for his extradition, according to a statement by the Mexican attorney general late Thursday night.

The request, issued June 25, was made public after testimony by the attorney general, Arely Gómez González, before senators and representatives of the country, raising fresh questions about the relationship between the two nations. 

Does the U.S. not like the new president?

The US government has been frustrated by the Mexican authorities, who have delayed a decision on whether to accept a US offer of unconditional support to track down Guzmán — including the use of drones, advanced intelligence equipment, and a special task force. 

Okay, think about that for a moment. Disregard the Mexican memory regarding the U.S. invasion and occupation in an attempt to capture Pancho Villa before WWI, and dump the stealing of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas from them. Put yourself in the early 21st century. Would you want your nation infiltrated by these American forces, for whatever reason? Most don't, no matter what the reason. Yes, we can force it on governments, but that takes a while.

Long before the escape, Mexican officials also appeared resistant to the idea of extraditing Guzmán, who faces indictments in at least seven US federal courts on charges that include narcotics trafficking and murder. In October, a new indictment in US District Court in Brooklyn linked him and his associates to hundreds of acts of murder, assault, kidnapping, and torture.

But the Mexican government indicated it would keep the prisoner in its custody, wanting to prosecute and imprison Guzmán in what many viewed as a show of sovereignty.

U.S. doesn't tolerate that.

In January, Mexico’s previous attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, suggested Guzmán would never serve time in the United States.

“El Chapo must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him,” Murillo Karam was quoted as saying at the time. “So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.”

Guzmán escaped from prison on the night of July 11, using a mile-long tunnel burrowed into the floor of his bathroom that experts say took more than a year to dig.

According to the official story.

The Mexican government has struggled to explain how Guzmán managed to pull off such an elaborate prison break from what was meant to be the country’s most secure facility.

The Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, said last year after the drug lord’s arrest that losing him again — Guzmán had escaped Mexican custody once before — would be unforgivable.

Whether Guzmán had been warned about the US extradition request, or whether that had any influence on the timing of his escape, is unclear. Extraditions can take years to occur. Washington did not formally request the extradition of Guzmán after his arrest in February 2014.


Related: Mexican Drug Lord Spotted in Dallas 

Sorry about the headline, although there is no evidence that he is not there.

NDU: It's a huge, front-page and four-page feature that I didn't think was worth the trip.