HEADLINES: Refugees

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Mark Hetfield, Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs at HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, wrote a scathing op-ed for The Huffington Post, criticizing the Department of Homeland Security’s recent rescission  of offers to resettle refugees that were previously approved. Hetfield, in his article for the Post:

In September, at an overseas refugee processing post, I personally witnessed delivery of six such rescissions to refugees and their families. DHS did not tell them the reason for the denial, as the basis was secret evidence. What I saw causes me to question the reliability of these “security checks.” Five were Christians who fled religious persecution and sought to reunite with family in the U.S.:, a young unmarried female hairdresser, an unmarried middle aged female receptionist, and a severely disabled man traveling with his parents, one in a wheelchair and the other their full-time caretaker. All of these were expecting to reunite with family members in California. Other no-longer approved refugees I met were similarly unlikely suspects.

[The Huffington Post]

Juniper Gardens Training Farm in Kansas City, KS is equipping refugees who were once farmers in their home countries to use their skills in a new urban setting.  Through New Roots for Refugees, Rachel Polluck of Juniper Gardens is training refugees to start their own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, where investors pay the farmers an up front fee and get a share produce as it is harvested. The program takes in 16 refugees a year, trains them, and gives them a 1/4 acre plot with which they can have complete creative control over what they grow. [The Atlantic]

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representative, Vincent Cochetel, weighs in non the debate over the SSI bill:

To the Editor:

Your Sept. 28 editorial “A Lifeline for Refugees” raises a pressing issue unknown to most beyond the refugees it affects. These include May (not her real name), a 60-year-old Burmese refugee in upstate New York. May has struggled to learn English and become an American citizen while battling breast cancer. She relies on Supplemental Security Income to survive.

Unless Congress extends S.S.I. eligibility for refugees, May will lose this vital income. Thousands of elderly and disabled refugees across the country confront the same dire situation.

Read more: [NY Times]

The Dominican government has confiscated or annulled nearly 1,600 birth certificates belonging to residents of Haitian descent, a migrant advocacy group charged Tuesday. A government official denied anyone had been wrongly denied a birth certificate.  Sonia Adames, director of Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Services, told reporters the group’s investigation found 72 percent of those affected are between 15 and 30 years old and have been unable to find a job, open a bank account or enroll in school as a result. [AP]

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