Family separation is back in focus following the reassigning of Jonathan Hayes from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), report J.C. Derrick and Harvest Prude for World Magazine. “Anti-immigration hard-liners – led by presidential adviser Stephen Miller – saw Hayes as soft on immigration and ousted him while the nation’s attention was focused on the exploding pandemic. Now, they’ve imported new leaders in an effort to refashion ORR into the arm of immigration enforcement – sparking concerns that the child-separation policy Melania and Ivanka Trump intervened to stop may return in another form.”
Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of Noorani’s Notes. Have a story you’d like us to include? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW POLL – Over the years, Gallup polling has found consistent support for immigration across the political spectrum. COVID-19 has changed that. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement break down a new Washington Post-University of Maryland Poll finding that “65 percent of Americans support a temporary halt on nearly all immigration during the coronavirus outbreak.” 67% of independents, 83% of Republicans and 49% of Democrats support the idea. Over the weekend, I wrote on Medium that immigration advocates need to understand this new environment: “take a beat, develop a new set of immigration policies that will help the nation recover and, along the way, speak forcefully to the contributions of immigrants here now.”
PIPELINE – Cambodian refugees who began migrating to the U.S. during the Southeast Asian conflicts of the 1970s remain vulnerable to the “prison-to-deportation pipeline,” Agnes Constante reports for NBC News. Eric Tang, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto,” argues that the Refugee Act of 1980, which established a standardized resettlement system, fell short of addressing the needs of Southeast Asian refugees. If America were to recognize the role it played in the conflicts in Cambodia and Vietnam, Tang says, “then maybe we wouldn’t have put all these conditions into the Refugee Act, which insisted on wildly unrealistic expectation that [refugees] would somehow find livable wage jobs overnight and become economically independent.”
LEARNING TO FARM – Heartland Communities, a nonprofit based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been awarded a 3-year, $300,000 federal grant to provide refugees from Myanmar with small farms, the Associated Press reports. The grant will allow 14 participating refugees, mostly former farmers, to form the Refugee Incubator Farm of Northeast Indiana, which will award each participant a plot of one-half to one full acre. If all goes as planned, Heartland Communities administrator Jain Young says, farmers “will share their newly acquired skills with each other and their children, planting the seeds for the second-generation small-business owners.”
BANGLADESH – Bangladesh is being asked to open its ports and allow boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya refugees, including children, to come ashore so the refugees can access medical care, food, and water, reports Rebecca Ratcliffe for The Guardian. More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since a 2017 army crackdown that the UN has described as “ethnic cleansing akin to genocide.” While Bangladesh rescued a separate boat of refugees earlier this month, the government has said the latest boats will not be allowed entry. Bangladesh has “shouldered a heavy burden as the result of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes,” notes Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But this is no excuse to push boatloads of refugees out to sea to die.”
TINDERBOX – For his “Coronavirus in California” podcast for the Los Angeles Times, Gustavo Arellano interviews Sergio Jonathan Moreno, who was just released from one of the largest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in the country, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in San Bernardino County, because he is at high risk for contracting COVID-19. Moreno recounts his experience in the dangerously cramped quarters, which the ACLU has called a “tinderbox scenario” when it comes to a potential outbreak.
Stay safe, stay healthy,