A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘refugees

[LINK] “The Stories We Tell about Resettlement: Refugees, Asylum and the #MuslimBan”

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Anthropologist Nadia El-Shaarawi, writing at Savage Minds, describes her experiences interviewing Middle Eastern candidates for refugee status and frames them in the context of the anti-refugee sentiment and exclusionary state structures.

As a volunteer legal advocate working with refugees who were seeking resettlement, I learned to ask detailed questions about persecution. These were the kind of questions you would never ask in polite conversation: Who kidnapped your best friend? Were they wearing uniforms? What did those uniforms look like? Where did they hit you? Did you pay a ransom for her release? How did you identify her body? Questions like these, which refugees are asked over and over as part of the already extreme vetting that they undergo to be granted asylum and resettlement, are personal, intimate, painful. They demand a precise and consistent command of autobiographical detail and the strength to revisit events that one might otherwise want to forget. They try to get to the heart of what happened to a person, what forced them to leave everything behind.

On a more cynical level, these questions try to catch a person in a lie, to identify those who are not “deserving” of refuge. The answers are checked and cross-checked, asked again and again across multiple agencies and organizations. In separate interviews, family members are asked the same questions. Do the answers match up? Do the dates and places make sense? Were you a victim of persecution? Are you who you say you are? While these questions and their answers shape the narrative of an individual resettlement case, there is a way in which they don’t get to the heart of what happened to a person, why someone was forced to flee, cross at least one border to enter another state, and is now seeking resettlement in a third country.

Vetting, extreme or otherwise, is about inclusion and exclusion. But before someone even gets to the arduous, opaque process of being considered for resettlement in the United States, decisions are made at the executive level about who to include in a broader sense. While the Refugee Convention provides protection for any person with a “well-founded fear of persecution” on specific grounds, this has never been the full story of the US refugee program, where a presidential determination each year decides how many refugees will be resettled, and from where. Some die-hard advocates and detractors aside, refugee resettlement has historically had bipartisan support and mostly stays under the radar of public attention, except, it seems, in moments where it becomes a reflection of broader anxieties and struggles over belonging and exclusion.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares some secrets about the TTC.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how exoplanet HAT-P-2b somehow induces pulsations in its parent star.
  • Citizen Science Salon looks at a new crowdsourcing effort to find Planet Nine from old WISE images.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on a marijuana bouquet delivery service.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the detection of the atmosphere of super-Earth Gliese 1132b./li>
  • Language Hat examines the different source languages for neologisms in Russian.
  • Language Log reports on an obscene Valentine’s Day ad from Sichuan.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the search of Syrians in Istanbul for health care.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the fascist experimentations of economist Franco Modigliani.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the stunning war art of Paul Nash.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that non-Russian republics tend to have better health indicators than the average, and warns of the potential instability that could be triggered by the failure of Putin’s vision for Trump.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto’s Wellington Street.
  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet’s disintegration.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.
  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour’s Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, “misogynoir” as it is called.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.
  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump’s immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at ongoing research into the sizes of Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • Dangerous Minds notes Finland’s introduction of a new Tom of Finland emoji.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper speculating as to the fate of icy dwarf exoplanets in white dwarf systems.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the intensification of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog asks readers how they study.
  • Language Log looks at the structure of yes-no questions in Chinese.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the consequences of the Trump travel ban.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers impact craters as potential abodes for life.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer does not quite understand renters’ fears about new developments in their neighbourhoods.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the court ruling against Trump’s refugee order.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests prospects for long-term economic growth in Russia have collapsed, and notes the sharp fall in real incomes in Asian Russia.

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto shelters struggle to cope with surge in refugee claimants”

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The Toronto Star‘s Nicholas Keung describes how incoming refugees–not only from Syria–are overwhelming the city’s shelter system.

At one Toronto refugee shelter, a family with four kids was asked to give up one of their two rooms for a newly arrived family so both could have a roof over their heads.

At another, in the west end, a family of three stored their luggage in the staff office and spent the night in what’s supposed to be the TV room for other residents.

The recent shelter crunch has even prompted the Romero House, which has four locations in Toronto, to launch a community host program to ask neighbours, friends and supporters to open their homes to accommodate the overflow until a shelter bed is available for those knocking on its doors.

Since the beginning of the fall, the peak season for refugee arrivals, Toronto’s already strained refugee shelter system has been dealing with what some operators call an unprecedented bed shortage. Some operators are even referring callers to shelters in Hamilton.

The system is expected to be further strained with more asylum seekers anticipated to arrive via the United States after the Trump administration’s recent executive order to limit immigration and refugees that is widely viewed by the immigrant communities there as xenophobic.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO notes that the Honest Ed’s sign is not going to be salvaged.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the last of Kepler’s detections.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the apology of the Church of England for the delivery of holy services in the gay slang language of Polari.
  • Language Log shares a triscriptal writing from California.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that government workers in the United States generally are revolting.
  • The Map Room Blog reports on someone hoping to draw fantasy-style maps of the fifty states of the Union.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen questions why people have issue with his model of dining out, which focus on restaurants not in the mainstream.
  • The NRYB Daily looks at the lost cartoons of Gerhard Richter.
  • Savage Minds looks at the problems of archeology in the era of alternative facts.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the unconstitutionality of Trump’s refugee order.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at recent negative trends in Russia’s environmental policies.

[LINK] “Canada told LGBT Iranian refugees to apply to the US. Then Trump happened”

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Daily Xtra‘s Dylan C. Robertson looks at how Iranian LGBT refugees who were told by the Canadian government to try the United States have now found themselves hanging, without any place to go.

Mitra’s sanctuary is a mouldy basement in Turkey’s conservative heartland. The microbiology student’s life in northern Iran came crashing down in the summer of 2014, when she was outed as a lesbian. A neighbour beat Mitra, and her parents disowned her. Like thousands of LGBT Iranians, she fled to Turkey.

The 27-year-old now works 14-hour shifts standing upright at a textile factory, before coming home to her transgender partner. The two women sleep on a folding sofa; they have just one plastic chair.

Canada invited both to start a new life 14 months ago, when embassy staff in Turkey started a third-country resettlement application. But our country has now closed its doors, effectively suspending an informal program known worldwide for bringing scores of queer Iranians to safety.

Over the past decade, hundreds of LGBT Iranians have come to Canada, mostly through UN resettlement. But this humanitarian pipeline has dried up as Canadian officials in Turkey focus their resources on bringing Syrians to Canada.

Instead of welcoming them here, Canada has told LGBT Iranians like Mitra to try moving to the US, which President Donald Trump recently closed to all refugees, as well as to Iranians already holding visas.

Many refugees took the advice, and are now languishing in Turkey, unsure whether to try and wait out the US administration or apply to Canada, knowing that they will be sent to the back of line.

“My life is in danger; I can’t go back. If I could, I would. But I can’t,” says Mitra, who agreed to speak with Xtra under a pseudonym. “I’m not Turkish, because I can’t work and study here. I’m nobody.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 9:00 pm