Category Archives: Immigration-Migration-Refugees

Trump Muslim Travel Ban Will Hurt US Standing in World, National Security, Economy at Home

Trump’s Muslim ban barring travelers, students, businesspeople, immigrants, refugees from seven countries makes a mockery of all the Statue of Liberty stands for © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Trump’s Muslim ban barring travelers, students, businesspeople, immigrants, refugees from seven countries makes a mockery of all the Statue of Liberty stands for © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In one stroke of his pen, Trump overturned and violated foundational American principles and values enshrined in the Constitution that bars favor or disfavor for any religion, that guarantees due process of law and that every person deserves equal justice under law. His ban on travel, immigration and refugee asylum goes against American history and heritage as a nation built by immigrants, many who came as refugees fleeing war and persecution. It ignores the many instances in American history when government violated its own principles, such as its original sins, the genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of Africans, going on to the Chinese Expulsion, the Japanese internment, the ramifications of turning back boatloads of Jews fleeing the Nazi Holocaust. Trump would like to go back to those bad ol’ days.

And he did it on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Note: Trump’s statement released on Friday failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism, clearly the imprint of White Nationalist Steve Bannon, Trump’s key advisor.)

Trump, through his dismissive foreign policy tweets concerning NATO, nuclear weapons, climate change, indeed his entire America First policy – reinforced by the new UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in a defiant, “You have our back or we’re taking names” threat; his trade war launched with Mexico which likely will spread to China and others, his stance to pull the US out of global climate action – will turn the US into a pariah among nations, opening the way for China to step up influence in Mexico (a Pacific nation), and Africa, and Russia in the Middle East and Eastern Europe (after all, who will stop Putin’s push to establish a new Soviet Empire?).

The immoral, unconstitutional, anti-American, and ultimately self-destructive impacts of Trump’s Muslim Ban will not make the United States safer, but rather feeds into radical Jihadists’ war cry against the Crusader West, not to mention the misery, anxiety it has imposed on thousands of immigrants and refugees who have already suffered the terror of war and the trauma of leaving homelands, sending them back into dangerous and desperate circumstance.

The callous disregard for the toll on humans because of the horrendous way the order was rolled out – making the first two weeks of the Obamacare roll out look like the 1969 moon landing – gives proof to the lie of Trump as a “businessman” rather than King of Debt who drove his businesses into the ground, while screwing the workers and contractors, and raises real terror than he will in fact run the country as he ran his businesses.

There has been superb reporting on the individuals caught in Trump’s limbo. But I want to focus on the economic and social impacts of undermining travel and tourism, reviving anti-Americanism abroad and undermining the appeal of the United States as a destination.

Trump, with an America First philosophy, says he wants to expand economy and jobs, lower the trade deficit, but his policies already are guaranteed to damage one of the nation’s most vigorous, reliable engines of economic growth, jobs and social mobility, lifting minorities and women into the middle class, not to mention international goodwill: international travel.

Indeed, tourism is part of trade. Travelers coming into the United States are an “import,” and the dollars spent here go a long way to reducing the trade deficit. How much? According to the US Travel Association, travel and tourism generates $2.1 trillion in economic output (2.7% of GDP) from domestic and international visitors (includes $927.9 billion in direct travel expenditures that spurred an additional $1.2 trillion in other industries through a ripple effect). Travel expenditures support 15 million jobs (8 million directly); account for $221.7 billion in wages, and generate $141.5 billion in tax revenues to federal, state and local governments, levels that increased significantly over the past eight years, helping to lift the nation out of the Great Recession.

Just as Trump unleashed his ban – catching up people who were already in transit, many after years of vetting, and even green card holders and legal residents who happened to be traveling outside US – I was at the Javits Center for the New York Times Travel Show, a stunning gathering of travel suppliers and representatives from around the world and people who sell travel and value travel.

I stopped at a booth of an operator who organizes trips to Iran (earlier, Iran was cited as one of the “hot” new destinations for Americans, along with Cuba). In response to Trump’s ban on all arrivals from Iran, Iran retaliated with a ban on Americans coming in (Iraq is now talking about expelling Americans, where we have some 5,000 troops, already primed to hate Americans after Trump told the CIA he would like a “second chance at getting Iraq’s Oil” after all, “to the victor belong the spoils.”).

Cuba is another destination that Americans have been flocking to since Obama normalized relations and eased travel restrictions – a way to succeed where 50 years of isolation have failed, to introduce a taste for democracy to Cubans living under a Communist dictatorship. Now that is up in the air.

“If [Trump] makes it look like Mexico is the enemy, people will stop traveling to the enemy,” Alejandro Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group said on a “State of the Travel Industry” panel. “That would hurt us badly, but it would also hurt the United States. Most importantly, it would hurt the humanity and the morals and the principles of the United States.”

Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, a travel agency company, noted that on a trip to Mexico recently, he found Mexicans who normally take ski vacations in Aspen and Vail are going to Vancouver, Canada, instead.

The 20% tariff that Trump proposes against Mexico (which would be paid for by American consumers, not Mexico), the second largest trading partner with the US which supports 6 million US jobs,  will likely be retaliated with a tariff on American goods, making them more expensive and unaffordable for Mexicans, whose economy will likely be devastated (already the currency is taking a hit), and further destabilizing the country.

Trump’s domestic and foreign policies have a singular theme: disruption and destabilization. And he doesn’t care who is killed or how many suffer. A bully takes pleasure out of terrorizing vulnerable people.

In just his first few days occupying the Oval Office, Trump has managed to overturn the goodwill, and foment anti-Americanism. A travel insurance company actually came out with an alert to travelers to be more aware. The headline: “What to Be Aware of When Traveling in the Apocalypse; APRIL Outlines Simple Precautions for Traveling in a Post-Trump World”

“It’s not our role to influence or pass judgment on the political process in America, but regardless of personal opinions on Trump’s presidency, travel counselors recall the anti-American sentiments prevalent during the George W. Bush administration. They are therefore cognizant of shifting perceptions of Americans internationally,” explained Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL USA.

“Vacationing is a staple of American society and one of the primary ways Americans enrich themselves culturally. World events should not deter one from traveling, but vacationers need to be aware of their vulnerabilities and protect themselves accordingly.” Sad.

The value of international tourism goes beyond economic growth, jobs and tax receipts, though these are vitally important – but in essence literally brings peoples together. American travelers are unofficial ambassadors of American values and ideas, fostering good will. In the same vein, Americans who meet people face to face, where they are no longer “others” to be feared, but rather seen as human beings more similar than different. Travelers are the first line of diplomacy, the first line or promoting peace and cooperation.

President Obama understood this, which is why he encouraged young people to study, work and travel abroad and created mechanisms to help them find opportunities to do that; why he encouraged foreign students to attend our schools, to foster people-to-people exchanges, and why he eased restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Trump’s ill-conceived and executed travel & immigration ban is heinous (the chaoic, dysfunctional way it was rolled out – without even consulting his new Defense and Homeland Security Secretaries, without instruction to Customs and Border Patrol agents, making the roll out of Obamacare look like the 1969 Moon Landing), a violation of law (due process, religious freedom) and American values and morals. And though Trump justifies it as keeping Americans safe, it is not designed to do that – none of the 7 countries that are banned have ever been connected to terrorism on US soil, while the countries that have (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan) were not part of this ban. Not to mention that his wall along the Mexico border (where hysterical rightwing conspiracy theorists have said that ISIS has infiltrated) would do nothing to block the actual war-weary refugees that welcoming Canada has taken in.

Trump excuses his callous and grotesque policy as “extr-e-e-e-me vetting.” But these refugees already go through batteries of screening – at least 18 federal agencies – in an intensive process that takes years. And through all of this, Trump has not actually said what he would add to the process to make it more secure. The fact is, none of the refugees that have come through the process set out by the Obama Administration have had anything to do with terrorism in the US. What is happening in Europe, with the flood of hundreds of thousands of refugees that flowed through the continent, has nothing to do with what is happening in the US.

Trump’s America First foreign policies (trade, climate action, weakening NATO for example) are intended to isolate the United States, to put up our own Iron Curtain, our own Bamboo Curtain so that an autocrat can keep its people in darkness, ignorance, fear and insecurity and therefore malleable and controllable, which is what dictators and autocrats like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, and the Iranian Ayotollahs.

“President Trump’s travel ban on Iranians is a gift to the Islamic republic and its hard-line rulers,” writes Hadi Ghaemi, founder and executive director of the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in the Washington Post. “It will not deter terrorism on U.S. soil. Not a single terrorist involved in the 9/11 attacks or other fatal terrorist attacks in the United States since then has been of Iranian origin. Instead, Trump’s policy is a collective punishment of a diverse and changing nationality, and will ironically serve the purposes of Iran’s hard-line rulers.”

As for terror, let’s compare the number of Americans killed on American soil as overt acts of radical jihadist terrorism (as opposed to domestic terrorism, such as anti-abortion, anti-Muslims) including the Boston Marathon, San Bernadino and Orlando: there have been 15 deaths since 9/11, compared to 445,000 killed by gun violence on US soil. Toddlers are more lethal than terrorists, killing one person a week.

As for the number of foreign infiltrators, immigrants or refugees who participated in terror attacks in the US? The Washington Post reporting on a study by nonpartisan think tank New America Foundation, of 400 individuals charged with or credibly involved in jihad-inspired activity in the U.S. since 9/11 2001, 197 were U.S.-born citizens, 82 were naturalized citizens, and 44 were permanent residents; just 11 were on a non-immigrant visa, 8 were illegal immigrants, and 12 had refugee status.

Indeed, the United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, France, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Germany are among the countries that issued travel advisories against travel to the US over concerns about epidemic gun violence, mass shootings, police violence, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes and the Zika virus.

Tina Müller, 54, of Berlin, was quoted in USA Today (“Overseas Travel Warnings about USA Mount”) saying she had no plans to visit the US anytime soon, “They need to get rid of their guns. It would solve a lot of their problems. We have racism and prejudice in Europe, but we don’t have mass shootings and violence on that level.”

Yet Trump bases an unconstitutional ban on refugees, immigrants, green card and visa holders on a slogan of “protecting the safety of Americans”. But if he cared that much for Americans’ health, welfare, national security and safety, he would be signing executive orders for sensible gun restrictions starting with “No Fly, No Buy,” and smart-guns, instead of proposing a “Guns Everywhere” policy; he would be expanding the public option instead of repealing the Affordable Care Act to save tens of thousands of premature, needless death and suffering, and spending money to create vaccines against Zika and Ebola; and he would be expanding trade instead of putting up barriers and launching trade wars, to uplift people around the world from deprivation and poverty rather than exacerbating destabilizing income inequality.

Trump has demonstrated that he intends to rule as he campaigned, by stoking fear and terror and insecurity. That may well serve another goal: keeping Americans insulated from the world so they are kept in darkness and ignorance and malleable to his policies.

That is not a recipe to “Make America Great Again,” nor keeping Americans safe. That is a recipe for widening violence and terror as well as economic insecurity. There will be a domino effect, through the global economy, just as the US mortgage crisis triggered a global meltdown, starting with retaliatory policies such as trade tariffs and travel bans.

The anti-globalism, anti-trade isolationism implicit in Trump’s populism is quite frightening. The undermining of global institutions which effectively prevented World War III – the United Nations, European Union, NATO, even the international cooperation in outer space – edges us closer to the existential apocalypse given the technological capacity in the control of a single person.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NYS Launches Hotline to Assist Refugees Believed Detained by Trump Ban

Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of a confidential toll-free hotline for New Yorkers to report family members, relatives, friends or colleagues believed to be passengers on flights coming into the state, but are missing or believed to be detained. The toll-free hotline, 1-888-769-7243,  bolsters the state’s efforts to protect the rights of New Yorkers, their families and loved ones and allows those left in extremely vulnerable situations to notify the Department of State. The Governor made the announcement at a press conference in New York City.
 
“As New Yorkers who live in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, we welcome new immigrants as a source of energy and celebrate them as a source of revitalization for our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will ensure New York remains a beacon of hope and opportunity and will work to protect the rights of those seeking refuge in our state.”
 
New Yorkers who have experienced issues relating to love ones who are detained, missing, or travel restricted as a result of recent federal actions are encouraged to call the Department’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-769-7243. The hotline will be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will offer translation services.

The launch of this hotline follows action the Governor took yesterday regarding refugees who were detained at airports across the state. The Governor directed the Port Authority, the Department of State, and his Counsel’s Office to jointly explore all legal options to assist anyone detained at New York airports, and ensure that the rights of refugees are protected under the law.

 
The Governor also recently launched the formation of a New York State Hate Crime Task Force with members from the New York State Police and the New York State Division of Human Rights, to investigate hate crimes and conduct community outreach to educate New Yorkers of their rights.  The Task Force will also coordinate with local District Attorneys to provide necessary support during the prosecution of hate crime cases. Some of the investigators have already been involved in the investigation of recent reported hate crimes including swastikas found in different parts of the state.

In addition, the Governor announced earlier this month the formation of a new Interfaith Advisory Council, led by Cardinal Dolan, to help achieve a greater understanding and tolerance of all religions and cultures, promote open-mindedness and inclusivity, and bolster the state’s efforts to protect all New Yorkers.
 

Obama Ends ‘Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot’ Policy for Cubans Fleeing to US

Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump at a Republican Presidential Debate. Maybe Obama’s rescinding of the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy that gave Cuban migrants unique ability to become US citizens will inspire Cruz to advocate for just, comprehensive immigration reform. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump at a Republican Presidential Debate. Maybe Obama’s rescinding of the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy that gave Cuban migrants unique ability to become US citizens will inspire Cruz to advocate for just, comprehensive immigration reform. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Obama has taken an extraordinary next step to having normalized relations with Cuba last year: he is ending the so-called “wet-foot/dry foot” policy that gave Cuban migrants a privilege afforded no other group: the idea that a Cuban national only had to set foot on American soil to be embraced into legal residency and fast-tracked to citizenship. This was a privilege not afforded the Central Americans fleeing unbelievably horrendous violence and poverty, or any other group. Recently, a group of Cuban migrants were actually air-lifted by the United States from El Salvador, when El Salvadorans are unable to escape the murder capital of the world.  The move putting Cuban migrants on equal footing with other migrants could not be taken until the Obama Administration obtained assurances from the Cuban government that Cuban migrants who were returned would not be prosecuted or harmed.  Senator Marco Rubio’s relatives took advantage of such easy access, as did Senator Ted Cruz. Perhaps they will be more amenable to finding a more just solution to  immigration reform. –– Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

Here is the statement from President Obama:

Today, the United States is taking important steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba and to bring greater consistency to our immigration policy. The Department of Homeland Security is ending the so-called “wet-foot/dry foot” policy, which was put in place more than twenty years ago and was designed for a different era.  Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities.  By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has agreed to accept the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered removed, just as it has been accepting the return of migrants interdicted at sea.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security is also ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.  The United States and Cuba are working together to combat diseases that endanger the health and lives of our people. By providing preferential treatment to Cuban medical personnel, the medical parole program contradicts those efforts, and risks harming the Cuban people.  Cuban medical personnel will now be eligible to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, consistent with the procedures for all foreign nationals.

The United States, a land of immigrants, has been enriched by the contributions of Cuban-Americans for more than a century.  Since I took office, we have put the Cuban-American community at the center of our policies. With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.   During my Administration, we worked to improve the lives of the Cuban people – inside of Cuba – by providing them with greater access to resources, information and connectivity to the wider world. Sustaining that approach is the best way to ensure that Cubans can enjoy prosperity, pursue reforms, and determine their own destiny. As I said in Havana, the future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people.

 

As Trump Attempts to ‘Clarify’ Signature Immigration Policy, Clinton Agrees has Remained Same: Inhumane, Undoable, UnAmerican

Hillary for America campaign blasts Donald Trump’s charade to “soften” stance on immigration, stating, “as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it's always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”
Hillary for America campaign blasts Donald Trump’s charade to “soften” stance on immigration, stating, “as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it’s always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”

After a whirlwind visit to Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto, Donald Trump is slated to give a speech on immigration which is supposed to clarify what policy he might implement as President, after a week of attempting to couch his extreme policies in “softened” rhetoric.

“But make no mistake: Trump will always be Trump, and he is the same today as he was on the first day of his presidential campaign,” the Hillary for America campaign stated.”At his campaign launch, he stood in Trump Tower and told the world that, when it comes to immigrants from Mexico, ‘they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.’

“From the first days of his campaign, Donald Trump has painted Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and criminals and has promised to deport 16 million people, including children and U.S. citizens. He has said we should force Mexico to pay for his giant border wall.  He has said we should ban remittances to families in Mexico if Mexico doesn’t pay up. What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”  

The HFA campaign continued, “While Trump may try to disguise his plans by throwing in words like ‘humane’ or ‘fair,’ the reality is that Trump’s agenda echoes the extreme right’s will – one that is fueling a dangerous movement of hatred across the country.

“So as Trump attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas, he and his own campaign have continued to reaffirm that the defining policy proposal of his candidacy remains the same as it’s always been: forcibly remove 16 million people from this country.”

The campaign wants to remind voters of Trump’s position on immigration, and also state Clinton’s position, which has been “pants-on-fire” mischaracterized by Trump as “open-borders” but is a detailed plan for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path for legalization and keeping families together:

TRUMP: “I don’t think it’s a softening… I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually.” [Anderson Cooper 360, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • TRUMP:“I will tell you we are tougher maybe than ever in a certain respect.” [NH1 News, 8/25/16]

Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence: “Nothing has changed about Donald Trump’s position on dealing with illegal immigration… It is going to be fair. It is going to be tough. But there will be no path to legalization, no path to citizenship unless people leave the country.” [State of the Union, CNN, 8/28/16]

Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway: “It is this week what it’s always been.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • Conway:“He’s said no path to legalization, no path to citizenship and no amnesty. You can return home, and if you would like to go stand in line, like everybody else is… stand in line, wait your turn, go through the normal courses. Then that would be evaluated on a case by case basis.” [Good Morning America, ABC, 8/26/16]

Campaign Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson: “…he hasn’t changed his position, he has changed the words that he is saying.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

  • Pierson:“There is not a different message. He is using different words to give the message, because everyone on the news is saying that he is a bigot and that he is a racist because of the words he uses.” [New Day, CNN, 8/25/16]

Rick Perry: “Donald Trump is not softening his position on immigration.” [Fox & Friends, FOX, 8/30/16]

Donald Trump Jr.: “He wasn’t softening on anything. He didn’t change his stance on anything.” [CNN, 8/30/16]
No matter who surrounds Trump, his hateful rhetoric about immigrants and dangerous policies remain. He would deport an estimated 16 million, including every single undocumented immigrant and U.S. citizens born here to undocumented parents…

TRUMP: “We’re going to take people that are here illegally, and we’re going to move them out. Got to move them out. We’re a country of laws, and we’ve got to remain that way.” [Florida GOP Sunshine Summit, Orlando FL, 11/13/15]

TRUMP: “We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out.” [Republican Primary Debate, Houston TX, 2/25/16]

TRUMP: “We’re going to keep the families together… but they have to go,” [Meet the Press, 8/16/16]
Send a deportation force into schools, workplaces and homes in communities across America…  

TRUMP: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely…’” [Washington Post, 11/11/15]

TRUMP: “We’re rounding them up in a very humane way, in a very nice way. And they’re going to be happy because they want to be legalized. And, by the way, I know it doesn’t sound nice, but not everything is nice, somebody has to do it.” [60 Minutes, CBS, 9/27/15]

TRUMP: “You know if you back to the early 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower… he moved out 1.5 million people and brought them back to where they came from. They were here illegally. I think — it really does have big precedent.” [Hannity, Fox News, 11/10/15]

TRUMP: “…Eisenhower had the exact same situation and he moved out one and a half million people and very few people talked about it and it was a tough situation, but what he did is he did it. And, you know, I like Ike.” [Mornings With Maria, 11/6/15]
Rescind DACA and DAPA…

TRUMP: “I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration. Immediately.” [Presidential Announcement Speech, New York NY, 6/16/15]

TRUMP: “I’m also going to cancel all unconstitutional orders, executive orders, you’ve been hearing about that. We have a little bit of an excessive executive order president and empower the rank and file ICE officers and border patrol officers to finally do the jobs that they were meant to do.” [Roast N’ Ride, Des Moines IA, 8/27/16]
End birthright citizenship and deport U.S. citizens…

The Trump Campaign’s report Immigration Reform That Will Make America Great Again calls for an end to birthright citizenship, saying it “remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”

Sean Hannity: “One of the important aspects when you hear about his plan — you hear about his plan you hear about visas, you hear about people overstaying them. You hear, for example, no birth-right citizenship, correct?”

TRUMP: “Right.” [Hannity Town Hall, Fox News, Austin TX, 8/24/16]

Bill O’Reilly: “But here is a scenario, ok?  Illegal immigrant mother and father living in Los Angeles, two children who are American citizens, born here.  If you’re president do you order authorities to take that family into custody?”

TRUMP: “We have no choice.  I’m sorry, Bill.  We have to bring them out.” [O’Reilly Factor, Fox News, 8/24/15]
Subject all immigrants to religious tests and ban the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims from entering the country…

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” [Donald Trump Press Release, 12/7/15]

TRUMP: “Take a look at [FDR’s] presidential proclamations back a long time ago, 2525, 2526, 2527. What he was doing with Germans, Italians, and Japanese because he had to do it.” [Trump on Morning Joe, NBC News, 6/27/16]

TRUMP: “On immigration, we will temporarily suspend immigration from any place where adequate screening cannot be performed. Extreme vetting. Remember. Extreme vetting. All applicants for immigration will be vetted for ties to radical ideology, and we will screen out anyone who doesn’t share our values and love our people.” [Trump Campaign Speech, Charlotte NC, 8/18/16]
And build a giant concrete wall along our southern border.

TRUMP: “We’re going to build a wall. It’s going to be a real. It’s going to be a wall that is powerful and that people aren’t going to be going under or up or around or anything else.” [Erin Burnett Outfront, CNN, 11/12/15]

TRUMP: “It’ll be a real wall… I think the height could be 35 to 45 feet. That’s a good height.” [Hannity Town Hall, Fox News, Austin TX, 8/24/16]
What’s more, Trump has deployed lie after lie about Hillary Clinton’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform in an attempt to deceive and exploit voters so they buy into his dark, dystopian, and fabricated view of immigration in America.

Washington Post’s Fact Checker – “Four Pinocchios” for Falsely High Crime Statistics: “Trump’s wild rhetoric over deporting all unauthorized immigrants for bringing crimes like murder into the U.S. underscores a common public misperception that violent crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration. He continues to assert that crime is spiking because of illegal immigration, this time in California, but this claim remains unsupported…Four Pinocchios.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 5/13/16]

PolitiFact.com – “Pants on Fire” for a False TV Ad: “Trump’s television ad purports to show Mexicans swarming over ‘our southern border.’ However, the footage used to support this point actually shows African migrants streaming over a border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, more than 5,000 miles away. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.” [Politifact.com, 1/4/16]

Washington Post’s Fact Checker – “Four Pinocchios” for Another False TV Ad – this Time on Social Security: “The Republican presidential nominee makes a bizarre claim that undocumented immigrants will collect Social Security under a Clinton presidency… The broad assertion in this ad is just not supported by facts, and thus earns Four Pinocchios.” [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 8/20/16]

PolitiFact.com – Trump’s Claim “False” That Undocumented Immigrants Will Take Americans’ Jobs: “Trump says Clinton is ‘proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody’s jobs, including low-income African-Americans.’… The green cards would be available to students who are already legally in the United States. And given their level of education and expertise, they would not be taking jobs of low-income Americans. Nor is the program aimed at millions of students. We rate the statement False.” [Politifact.com, 8/18/16]

PolitiFact.com – No, Trump, Clinton Will Not Create “Open Borders”:“Trump said Clinton’s immigration platform would ‘create totally open borders.’ This is a huge distortion of Clinton’s proposals… We rate this claim False.” [Politifact.com, 6/23/16]

Clinton Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Governor Mike Pence recently said that there is a very clear contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s immigration policies. He is absolutely correct.

Unlike Trump, Clinton has promised that she will fight for comprehensive immigration reform within her first 100 days that offers a pathway to full and equal citizenship, fixes the family visa backlog, and protects our borders and national security. She will:

  • Fight for comprehensive immigration reform legislation with a path to full and equal citizenship.
  • Defend President Obama’s DACA and DAPA executive actions.
  • Do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families.
  • Conduct humane, targeted immigration enforcement.
  • End family detention.
  • Close private immigrant detention centers.
  • Ensure families can buy into Affordable Care Act exchanges, regardless of immigration status.
  • Promote naturalization.
  • Remove the 3- and 10-year bars to keep families together.

Hillary Clinton: “The truth is, too many people today feel left out and left behind.  That’s not the America we want to be.  Instead of demonizing hard-working immigrant families, we should be giving them a real path to citizenship.” [Clinton Remarks, 1/21/16]

“We won’t be fooled by Trump’s attempts to distract from his bigotry and disguise his dangerous ideas. Donald Trump will be who he has always been: Donald Trump,” the Hillary for America campaign stated.

Albania Could Prove Novel Solution in Syrian Refugee Crisis

Albania's countryside is ripe for new villages that could accommodate some Syrian refugees © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Albania’s countryside is ripe for new villages that could accommodate some Syrian refugees © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

With even access to places that only last year were welcoming to desperate Syrian and Iraqi refugees now cut off, new solutions are essential.

Here’s a novel idea that emerged after my recent travels: Albania could be a player in solving the Syrian Refugee crisis, and help itself in the bargain. Here’s why:

Albania has a tradition of helping refugees. I was surprised to learn during my recent visit that during the Holocaust, Albania, a majority Muslim country, protected 200 of its own Jewish citizens and took in 2000 Jewish refugees, harboring them from the Nazis, sheltering them “in plain sight” by blending them into the local population, at grave danger to their own lives. At the end of WWII, Albania was the only European country with more Jews than it had at the start of the war.

Here’s another thing: Albania suffers from under-population. After 50 years of Communist dictatorship when people were imprisoned inside their own country, tens of thousands left the country left as soon as the shackles were released, causing a massive brain drain.

Albania’s economy is stagnant – there is virtually no manufacturing, no export of any kind, no technological development. The biggest industries are construction (roads) and agriculture. There are still unresolved issues of property ownership stemming from the shift from feudal society to Communist dictatorship (when private property was nationalized), back to a vaguely capitalist economy. My idea is that all those who have a solid claim should become “shareholders” or “partners” in property ownership. With the value of things at roughly one-fifth (the median income in Albania is $5,000), a foreign investor can pay off all the claimants, or the partners can share in new ventures. Meanwhile, Albania has plentiful water resources and vast tracts of land – granted much of it is mountainous, but I have seen many villages carved in to the hillsides. USAID has been looking for ways to bolster Albania’s economy.

Albania is a young country, a small country. As one young man tells me, it gets no respect in the world community, but for centuries has always been pushed around by larger powers – the Ottoman Turks for 500 years, the French and Italians minutes after Albania won its Independence from the Ottomans in 1912, the “Council of Ambassadors” who sliced and diced the country to half its size, the Communists after WWII up until 1992. This is a country so craving international attention, that when George W. Bush became the first sitting American president to visit (in 2007), they named a street in the capital city of Tirana for him.

Now here’s an idea: instead of US spending billions of dollars to keep people in horrible refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey where people are frustrated without any ability to work or get educated or have a productive life, how about funding a program to enable families to apply for a resettlement in newly created villages in Albania. The families would be selected based on the skills they bring – doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, etc. etc., and they would build self-sufficient communities. They would have work visas, and opportunity to apply for citizenship at some point. They would have to follow Albanian law, would not be allowed to impose Sharia law (Albania is majority Muslim but is secular and tolerant of other religions).

The refugees would create their own towns, have their schools and clinics and city-services. They would be offered housing and some initial grant aid to resettle, but would have mortgages and business loans that they would repay – the funding to go back to the coordinating agency.

This would also be a major boon to Albania: the money spent to resettle the refugees would spark the economy. Moreover Albania needs the expertise and the consumer demand the new settlers would bring. The Syrian refugees are a closer cultural match than coming to Western Europe or US.

This is much the same as what was done to settle the American West, with land grants and such, and the American experience has proved over and over that immigrants are a boon to the economy and society – that’s why Germany has been so keen on bringing in hundreds of thousands a year.

For Albania, a tiny country of just 3.5 million population, the money would trigger consumer spending, which ripples through the economy, and create new jobs with new investments and ventures, new innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors. And it would make Albania a player on the world stage.

When I broached this idea to a young fellow whose brother works for the Prime Minister, he agreed it would be a good idea for Albania, but argued that the refugees wouldn’t want to come to Albania, they want to go to Germany where they think the streets are paved with gold. I responded that after years stuck in refugee camps, they would be more receptive, and the program would only take people who wanted this for their families.

The United States, through its involvement with various refugee agencies, might help develop the mechanism to relieve the suffering for at least some of the millions of people stuck in refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and Greece, some for years, and provide the seed funding.

It would be in the United States’ interest as well, because the refugee problem won’t go away just because the US closes its eyes or its borders, declares undocumented immigrants, migrants and refugees persona non grata or non-persons. The problem will only get worse, possibly destabilize America’s allies and just as global warming impacting faraway places with droughts, floods, and sea level rise, and in the case of public health epidemics like Ebola and Zika, it will come back to hurt the US, as well.

Despite Republicans’ best efforts, the United States is on track to resettle some 10,000 Syrian refugees by October, the end of fiscal 2016, the number targeted by Obama. This is still a small fraction of the 65,000 Obama and Democrats had sought to resettle at the height of the publicity of the refugee crisis, last summer. The international outrage seems to have subsided this year, though the number of deaths of desperate migrants fleeing war and terrorism in Syria and Iraq has actually increased. But Europe – particularly Germany- has tightened entrances, sobered by the mounting political pressure that resulted in the Brexit vote in Great Britain; even Angela Merkel’s leadership has come under attack as right-wingers ascend.

This is the case in the US, as well, with Donald Trump hitching his prospects to become president to anti-immigration and particularly anti-Muslim policies. Trump issued a press release calling Hillary Clinton “America’s Merkel” and noting that Clinton has said she would target 65,000 refugees, then stated, “Assuming her goal is to admit 155,000 refugees each year during a hypothetical first term in office, a Clinton Administration would admit at least 620,000 refugees in just four years – a population roughly the size of Baltimore.. at a lifetime cost of over $400 billion.”

Trump’s despicable rhetoric is already having results in an uptick of violence against Muslims in this country, and very likely factored into the shooting deaths of an Iman and his assistant in Ozone Park, Queens, last weekend.

Many Republican governors have declared their states off-limits to any Syrian refugee resettlement, despite the fact they are powerless to stop the federal government if it chooses to resettle refugees in their state. One of them is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, where, in defiance,  a group from churches and synagogues have come together to actively support the resettlement of several Syrian families.

With the ability to receive Syrian and Iraqi refugees hampered, the United States’ main involvement in relieving the suffering of the refugees is by spending billions of dollars in aid to support the camps. But there is no life in those camps, where children are unable to go to school, young people can’t get a college degree; professionals are unable to work in their profession if at all. People are desperate, which is why so many are putting themselves in the hands of shady smugglers, launching themselves into unsafe boats to try to make the journey to Western Europe, ideally, the new Promised Land: Germany.

With even access to places that only last year were welcoming now cut off, new solutions are essential.

And for Albania, the US and the refugees, resettlement of families in Albania could be a win-win-win.

See also: Come to Albania Now to See Emergence of a Young Country

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