Stand Up for Refugees, Immigrants

Author: Robin Bronen

President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive orders exploded like a bomb across the world, wreaking havoc, causing injury and placing thousands of people in danger. Sadly, this targeting of immigrants, refugees and Muslims, which inspires hateful words and actions, is not new.

I have worked with Alaska’s immigrant, refugee and Muslim communities for more than 20 years as the first Alaska state refugee coordinator in 2003 and as the executive director and co-founder of the Alaska Institute for Justice, the only nonprofit in Alaska that provides free and low-cost immigration legal services. Advocating for justice and human rights in our community, I have been the recipient of hateful rhetoric, which has been painful and scary. Several years ago, I received a death threat just prior to speaking about comprehensive immigration reform at an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council, requiring the FBI and Anchorage Police Department to also be present to ensure everyone’s safety. Now this hateful rhetoric has intensified inside and outside of Alaska.

The policies being crafted by President Trump are being built on top of a long legacy of federal government actions that have harmed immigrants, refugees and Muslims. In 2002, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was implemented during President Bush’s presidency to use immigration enforcement to target the Muslim community. NSEERS singled out immigrant men and boys over the age of 16 from 24 Muslim-majority countries plus North Korea. They were required to register with Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices, the predecessor agency to the Department of Homeland Security. Immigration officials fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed 85,000 Muslim and Arab non-citizens from November 2002 to May 2003 under the program. In Southern California, between 500 and 700 men and boys from Middle Eastern countries were detained and disappeared for weeks by federal immigration officials when they complied with orders to appear at INS offices for the program.

To see full article, go to https://www.adn.com/opinions/2017/02/07/stand-up-for-refugees-immigrants/

Robin Bronen is the founder and executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, which provides free and low-cost legal services for immigrants. She has worked and advocated on behalf of refugees, immigrants and the Muslim community in Alaska for more than 20 years.

 


Fleeing Climate Change

November 8, 2016 | Editor’s Pick

By Liz Mineo, Harvard Staff Writer
In one of the most dreaded science-fiction scenarios, entire communities are forced to abandon their homes because rising sea levels, droughts, and storm surges, driven by climate change, endanger their lives. It’s already happening in Alaska, where warmer temperatures are melting permafrost, eroding the state’s northern coastline and causing severe and rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, which leaves villages unprotected from forces of nature. To explore climate change and population displacement in Alaska, the Gazette interviewed Robin Bronen, a human rights attorney, senior research scientist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and co-founder and executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice. Bronen came to Harvard for a conference on climate change displacement sponsored by the International Human Rights Clinic, the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic.   To see full article go to http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/11/fleeing-climate-change/
 

 

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Statement from the American Immigration Council on the End of NSEERS

For Immediate Release

December 22, 2016

Washington D.C. – Today, the Department of Homeland Security officially ended a Bush-era registry created after 9/11 to track noncitizen men from predominantly Muslim countries. The registry, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was shown to be ineffective and had not been used for years.  Nonetheless, the NSEERS structure remained intact. NSEERS will be dismantled through a published regulation in the Federal Register called a final rule. Ending NSEERS cannot prevent the Trump Administration from following through on its threats to create a religious registry; however, it does stop the next Administration from using the NSEERS framework without publishing a new regulation.

The following is a quote from Royce Murray, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council:

“Painting entire communities with a broad brush of suspicion is wholly inconsistent with our nation’s values. While we can all agree that national security must be a priority, the NSEERS registration program was widely regarded as an ineffective and obsolete counterterrorism tool. The next administration should not repeat the mistakes of the past and institute any discriminatory registry.”

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For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524.


Graham, Durbin Announce Bipartisan Bridge Act To Protect Young Individuals From Deportation

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced they are introducing bipartisan legislation to protect young undocumented individuals should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued. U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are original cosponsors of the bill.

Like DACA, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to young undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children.

“It’s my firm belief most Americans want to fix a broken immigration system in a humane manner,” said Graham.  “In my view, the DACA Executive Order issued by President Obama was unconstitutional and President-elect Trump would be right to repeal it.  However, I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women — who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government — back into the darkness.  Our legislation continues to provide legal status to them for three years as Congress seeks a permanent solution.  These young people have much to offer the country and we stand to benefit from the many contributions they will make to America.  I’m confident that if President-elect Trump were to support this measure we can repeal the unconstitutional Executive Order and Congress will provide temporary legal status through the proper constitutional process.”
 
“DREAMers have so much to contribute to this country, their country, and they’ve demonstrated their commitment to the United States in countless ways – by opening businesses, becoming doctors and teachers, and serving in uniform,” said Senator Durbin. “That’s why I’m proud to work with Senator Graham to ensure that DREAMers are protected from deportation until we are able to provide a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. These kids are Americans at heart and deserve to remain in the only country they call home.”
 
“In the highly contentious world of immigration policy, one of the least controversial propositions is that the children of undocumented individuals, who were brought to the United States by their parents and were educated here, should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in America,” said Senator Murkowski. “Along with members of Alaska’s faith community, I share the strong moral conviction that the Dreamers should be free from fear of deportation.  The introduction of this measure is timed to remind the Dreamers that there are people in Congress who have their backs.”
 
“More than 350,000 Dreamers live, work and are educated in California—nearly half the young people nationwide who have been admitted to the deferred action program. Giving these young people an opportunity to go to college, pursue careers and give back to their communities has been tremendously beneficial for my state,” said Senator Feinstein. “We have a moral obligation to do all we can to shield them from deportation and keep their families together.”

“Congress needs to pass legislation to lawfully ensure that children who were brought here by their parents, through no fault of their own, are able to stay and finish their education and continue to contribute to society,” said Senator Flake.

Key points of the BRIDGE Act:

·         A current DACA recipient would receive provisional protected status until the expiration date of his or her DACA status and could apply for provisional protected presence prior to this expiration.
·         An individual who is not a DACA recipient but who is eligible for DACA could also apply for provisional protected presence.
·         Applicants would be required to pay a reasonable fee, be subject to criminal background checks, and meet a number of eligibility criteria indicating that they came to the United States as minors, grew up in this country, have pursued an education, have not committed any serious crimes, and do not pose a threat to our country.
·         An individual’s provisional protected presence and employment authorization would be subject to revocation by DHS if the individual no longer met the eligibility criteria.
·         The BRIDGE Act would provide provisional protected presence and employment authorization for three years after the date of enactment of the legislation

Find out more about the BRIDGE Act below.

The BRIDGE Act

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization to individuals who are eligible for the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

DACA provides temporary protection from removal and work authorization to young students and veterans who grew up in the United States if they register with the government, pay a fee, and pass a criminal background check.  More than 740,000 young people have received DACA.  Temporary protection under the BRIDGE Act would ensure that these young people can continue to work and study and be protected from deportation while Congress debates broader legislation to fix our broken immigration system.

The BRIDGE Act would provide “provisional protected presence” and employment authorization to DACA-eligible individuals.  A current DACA recipient would receive provisional protected presence until the expiration date of his or her DACA status and could apply for provisional protected presence prior to that expiration.  An individual who is not a DACA recipient but who is eligible for DACA could also apply for provisional protected presence.

Applicants would be required to pay a reasonable fee, undergo criminal background checks, and meet a number of eligibility criteria indicating that they came to the United States as minors, grew up in this country, have pursued an education, have not committed any serious crimes, and do not pose a threat to our country.

An individual’s provisional protected presence and employment authorization would be subject to revocation by DHS if the individual no longer met the eligibility criteria.

The BRIDGE Act would provide provisional protected presence and employment authorization for three years after the date of enactment of the legislation.

http://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/graham-durbin-announce-bipartisan-bridge-act-to-protect-young-individuals-from-deportation


Report: Immigrants bring $1.4B in spending power to Alaska’s economy

A new report that shows how much Alaska’s immigrant population impacts the state’s economy. An immigration reform advocacy group called The Partnership for a New American Economy released such reports for every state and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, August 22. By looking at demographics, entrepreneurship, taxes, visa demand and more, the reports are full of data that show the economic impact immigrant populations have across the country.

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Read the ADN article here. Download the report here.


As need for interpreters grows, Alaska courts look to technology to save money

We would like to share an Alaska Dispatch News article written about the need for court interpreters in Alaska. The Language Interpreter Center has trained the only two court-certified interpreters in Alaska.  The Alaska Court System will see hundreds of requests for interpreting services this year, and that volume has staff looking to technology to streamline what can become a complex and costly process. Here is the link to the article.


US Citizenship & Immigration Services Current Alerts

US Citizenship & Immigration Services Current Alerts are posted at the following address and are searchable by topic and date. http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts

Hearing on “Refugee Admissions, Fiscal Year 2016” before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on October 1, 2015 by Chief of Refugee Affairs Division Barbara L Strack and Acting Associate Director Matthew D. Emrich http://www.uscis.gov/tools/resources/hearing-refugee-admissions-fiscal-year-2016-senate-committee-judiciary-october-1-2015-chief-refugee-affairs-division-barbara-l-strack-and-acting-associate-director-matthew-d-emrich

DHS to Create Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/dhs-create-filipino-wwii-veterans-parole-program

USCIS Simplifies the Immigrant Fee Payment Process http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-simplifies-immigrant-fee-payment-process

DOS Publishes Updated Visa Bulletin for October 2015 http://www.uscis.gov/news/dos-publishes-updated-visa-bulletin-october-2015