Archive for October, 2017

Humble Oneself and Take a Knee

Opinion piece by Mfon E. 

Growing up Catholic, I am used to the act of humbling myself by kneeling. And as a sports fan, especially for football, I know that “taking a knee” is a sign of respect for players who have gotten hurt. Whether in a religious or sports setting, kneeling is a reflection of community, humility, and respect.

When I recently attended a church service, the priest spoke about how we need to constantly humble ourselves by kneeling before God.  That statement made me think about the cries and complaints of those who are disturbed by the actions of athletes taking a knee to put a spotlight on the social injustices, specifically police killings of minority women, men, and children, especially in African-American communities. Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers, began this peaceful protest a year ago. Few  understood why he was kneeling during the anthem to protest racial discrimination and police killings. He’s a rich athlete; why should he care about the mistreatment of individuals being profiled and abused by racist cops?

Kaepernick cares and used his platform to express his concerns because if he weren’t in the NFL, if he didn’t have great athletic skills, if he weren’t rich, if he weren’t well-known, he would just be another “black man,” another problem for communities, another practice target for racist police officers. By taking a knee, Kaepernick decided to push aside worldly possessions and humble himself, before his teammates, his opponents, and the United States. His kneeling and the silence that accompanied it, have directed the public’s attention to the issues that are causing this protest. But the only thing critics are focused on is the kneeling and how he is not honoring his country. But, we must ask, how is his country honoring him? By killing people who look like him because they can?

The media and a handful of conservatives depict Kaepernick’s actions as disrespectful to U.S. soldiers. They make it seem as if you’re not honoring the country and those who fought for it if you fail to stand during the national anthem, but again, I ask, are they? Some of our veterans are homeless, and the way they are treated in Veterans’ Hospitals around the country is disgraceful. On top of that, the words of condolence that came out of the mouth of their Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, to a now pregnant widow who lost her husband in battle were, “But you know he must have known what he signed up for.” How is that honoring soldiers who have fought and died for this country?

Those who have chosen to take a knee are humbling themselves for justice. If you were to watch a neighbor, friend, or family member, die by the hands of someone else, and that person (or institution) got away with it, would you not be overwhelmed with rage and sadness? By taking a knee, these individuals are screaming their rage with silence; they’re fighting without firearms. Some people say that discussing social issues at a sporting event is bad timing, so when is the right time? In our personal and professional lives when everything seems confusing and chaotic, sometimes we have to stop, think, drop to our knees, and humble ourselves to find inner peace, or pray to God (if you’re religious). We all need to take a knee and really look at this country we hold dear.

#SayTheirName

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Should TPS Be Extended?

Part III of a series on TPS

Missed the last blog?

President Trump was elected in part due to his hardline stance on immigration, such as promising the creation of a border wall and a crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration. Given this context, the Trump Administration’s proposal to end TPS is unsurprising.

This installment of the TPS series serves to layout the chief arguments for and against the TPS program.

 

Arguments to End TPS + Rebuttal

1. It is not so ‘temporary’:

Argument: Critics have pointed out that some TPS recipients have remained in the United States for over 20 years, and argue that their protection from deportation is no longer temporary. Such critics are under the impression that the U.S. government routinely and blindly renews TPS applications, regardless of the designated country’s current conditions.

Rebuttal: It is true that TPS recipients, particularly the ones who have been here for an extended period, often have built lives for themselves in the United States. Many have jobs, friends, and families – including children born here. TPS recipients do not necessarily have a home or economic opportunity to which to return, due to continued deteriorating conditions that make their home country unsafe to live in. The Department of Homeland Security regularly reviews living conditions in TPS-designated countries before extending TPS.

 

2. Conditions in designated countries have improved:

Argument: Americans argue that countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, who received TPS due to natural disasters anywhere from 20 plus years ago have had ample time to recover and allow for the return of TPS individuals from the United States.

Rebuttal: Contrary to critics’ beliefs, most countries that have been receiving TPS for years are still not safe to return to. The Secretary of Homeland Security examines all possible reasons for TPS extension, including: a subsequent natural disaster, prolonged violence causing a power vacuum and political chaos, a health epidemic, etc. All of these conditions weaken the designated country’s economy making it impossible to adequately handle the return of TPS recipients.

 

3. TPS recipients hurt the U.S. economy:

Argument: TPS critics rally around steadfast anti-immigration claims, blaming TPS recipients for the United States’ economic woes, claiming that they take jobs from Americans and exploit America’s social service programs.

Rebuttal: In actuality, TPS recipients aid the U.S. economy. TPS recipients often hold jobs – meaning they pay federal, state, and local taxes, and spend their income at U.S. based businesses. Taken jointly, these factors mean that TPS recipients increase tax revenue and stimulate the economy.

 

While awaiting the Trump Administration’s decision on whether or not to extend TPS on a country-by-country basis, thousands feel as if they are stuck in limbo, and wonder where they will be in a few short months. To the question of whether TPS should be extended, compassion, reasonableness and sound judgment should guide this decision rather than bias and fear.

 

Up Next:

Country highlight: Haiti — coming November 3rd

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Reclaiming the Truth: Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Many of us we were taught in elementary school that Christopher Columbus was a brave Italian explorer who first discovered the Americas. We remember him as a hero and for this reason honor him with his own day, Columbus Day. However, this provides a white washed, ethnocentric version of United States’ history. Upon examining the true root of the holiday and the factual history, we discover Columbus Day celebrates, and honors the colonization of the Americas, and the genocide and ethnocide of the indigenous peoples. Columbus encouraged the enslavement and mass murder of indigenous peoples along his voyage and ‘discovery’ of the Americas. To ignore these atrocities by celebrating  Columbus Day, we also have to ignore the violent reality of European colonization, and devalue the indigenous populations within the Americas.

In the United States, states, cities, and universities throughout the nation have taken steps to pay homage to the indigenous peoples impacted by European colonization by celebrating an alternative to Columbus Day called, Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that people were in the Americas before the land was ‘discovered ’ by Columbus, and that they were nearly erased from history after his arrival due to the spreading of diseases and violent repression. This movement to reclaim U.S. history with the truth by celebrating alternatives to Columbus Day, began in 1992 in Berkeley, CA in which the title Indigenous Peoples’ Day was coined on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival. Today, 4 states, 55 cities, and 3 universities celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Supporters of the alternative holiday also intend to draw attention to the fact that indigenous communities continue to be marginalized, discriminated against, and lack access to basic services in the United States.

Various Spanish speaking countries in Latin America have begun to celebrate Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) as an alternative to Columbus Day. Día de la Raza pays tribute to the Hispanic heritage of Latin America, and honors the countries that were brutally conquered by Europe. This celebration is also meant to remember and celebrate the peoples, cultures, and traditions suppressed by European explorers during a continuous and seemingly unending process of colonization that has lasted for centuries. As in the United States, Día de la Raza serves to promulgate the current challenges many indigenous communities continue to face in Hispanic and Latin cultures.

Although there are positive steps and actions being taken to factually rewrite our history, more still needs to be done. There are still 46 states, and numerous cities as well as universities throughout the United States that do not recognize any alternatives to Columbus Day. In doing so, they have chosen to silently accept and promote an ethnocentric version of U.S. history. On this day in particular, please support the recognition of indigenous peoples and their cultures. You can take small steps by not observing Columbus Day as a holiday and/or by sharing the true meaning of Columbus Day with at least one person. Another step you can take (on a larger scale) is to contact your mayor or congressional representatives requesting that your city or state celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

 

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Who Receives TPS?

Part II of a series on TPS

Don’t know what TPS is? Read the first blog post here.

As the name suggests, TPS is meant to serve as a provisional legal migration for foreign nationals who cannot return home due to violence, natural disasters, or other extreme circumstances. However, some TPS recipients have called the United States. home for almost two decades, due to ongoing life-threatening conditions within their home country. Today, around 320,000 foreign nationals from 10 countries around the world reside in the United States under the protection of TPS. The list below details who these people are, why they were granted TPS, as well as timing details of the TPS program by nation.

Designated Country

Original Designation Date

Most Recent Designation Date

Current Expiration Date

Number of People

Nicaragua

December 30, 1998

January 5, 1999

January 5, 2018

2,550

Honduras

December 30, 1998

January 5, 1999

January 5, 2018

57,000

El Salvador

February 13, 1990

March 9, 2001

March 9, 2018

195,000

Haiti

January 12, 2011

July 23, 2011

January 22, 2018

50,000

Sudan

November 4, 1997

May 3, 2013

November 2, 2017

1,040

South Sudan

January 25, 2016

May 3, 2016

May 2, 2019

50

Somalia

September 16, 1991

September 18, 2012

September 17, 2018

270

Syria

August 1, 2016

October 1, 2016

March 31, 2018

5,800

Yemen

January 4, 2017

March 4, 2017

September 3, 2018

1,000

Nepal

January 4, 2017

June 24, 2015

June 24, 2018

8,950

 

Why these Countries are Receiving TPS:

Central America: Nicaragua, Honduras, & El Salvador

All three countries first received TPS status after Hurricane Mitch hit in 1999, leaving a path of complete destruction and devastation. Millions of people lost their homes, and roads as well as agricultural crops needed to sustain national economies were washed away. The damage caused by Mitch and subsequent natural disasters has made it impossible for individuals to return.

Haiti

Haiti was granted TPS after a massive earthquake struck the country in 2010. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit the country and TPS was extended due to environmental damage and structural loss. Around 1.4 million individuals were left in need of aid and housing after the hurricane but those people are not eligible for TPS.

Sudan

Sudan began receiving TPS due to protracted civil conflict. Since then, two civil wars have meant subsequent fighting between militia groups and antigovernment rebels, displacing millions of civilians.

South Sudan

Upon the country’s independence, intense interethnic fighting erupted, leading to civil war. The United States granted South Sudan TPS after thousands were displaced, and national trade as well as infrastructure were destroyed.

Somalia*

A combination of inter-clan fighting, terrorist activity, and droughts leaving half a million dead caused the United States to grant Somalia TPS. The continued large presence of terrorist group al-Shabaab renders the country unsafe for the return of citizens.

Syria*

Syria received TPS due to explosive violence throughout the country, caused by civil war brought on by political uprisings in 2011. Syria continues to receive TPS due to ongoing violent uprisings against President Assad. Syrian nationals seeking TPS were subjected to additional security screenings and background checks due to concerns about terrorism.

Yemen*

Yemen was granted TPS because it is ensnared in civil war with neighboring Middle Eastern countries, which has created violent and unsafe living conditions for individuals. Furthermore, the war has made it difficult to deliver relief efforts due to damaged infrastructure and violence.

Nepal

In 2005, a major earthquake hit Nepal. The subsequent aftershocks, along with the initial damaged caused by the earthquake devastated much of the country’s housing and infrastructure. Roughly half a million homes were destroyed and the United States granted TPS to aid those who were rendered homeless.

*Trump’s travel ban will not affect those who are already protected under TPS from deportation, and have been protected since the designation date.

Designation dates and expiration dates are subject to change. This data was drawn from USCIS and will be updated periodically.

Up Next: 

Arguments for ending TPS vs. arguments for keeping TPS coming out October 20th

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  • Quixote Center
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    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
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    Email: info@quixote.org

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