The racist reality for migrants seeking a new life in Europe – The Times

For many exiles fleeing war or persecution in the Middle East, the European dream has become a nightmare of alienation and bureaucracy. By Oliver Moody

The Times,January 2 2020, 5:00pm

The Swedish bank cashier wrinkled her nose with displeasure when Ghayath Almadhoun presented his refugees identity pass. How do you have this? she said. Youre not allowed this. She tossed his bank card back across the counter.

Fuming, he went outside and plugged it into a cash machine, only to discover that the card was blocked. The cashier had frozen his account on a whim.

Life in Europe is often cast as the fulfilment of a dream for the millions of Arab migrants like Mr Almadhoun who have travelled west over the past decade.

Long before the 2015 migrant crisis, more than 200,000 people a year sought refuge in the EU, many of them fleeing war or persecution in the Middle East.

Sweden granted permanent

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The racist reality for migrants seeking a new life in Europe - The Times

A Translation Crisis at the Border – The New Yorker

Oswaldo Vidal Martn always wears the same thing to court: a striped overshirt, its wide collar and cuffs woven with geometric patterns and flowers. His pants are cherry red, with white stripes. Martn is Guatemalan and works as a court interpreter, so clerks generally assume that he is there to translate for Spanish speakers. But any Guatemalan who sees his clothing, which is called traje tpico, knows that Martn is indigenous. My Spanish is more conversational, Martn told me. I still have some difficulties with it. He interprets English for migrants who speak his mother tongue, a Mayan language called Mam.

Martn, who came to the United States with his parents in 1999, when he was four, was studying to be an engineer when the trickle of Mam speakers migrating to the Oakland area, where he lives, turned into a flood. In 2014, some sixty thousand unaccompanied minors crossed into the United States, in what President Barack Obama called an actual humanitarian crisis on the border. A local immigration lawyer told me that at least forty per cent of the children and teen-agers arriving in the Bay Area were Mam. Martn trained with a nonprofit in San Francisco called Asociacin Mayabwhich offers workshops in translation for indigenous-language speakersand then began interpreting. There is bottomless demand. I could do it three, four, five days a week, Martn, who also works for his fathers construction company, told me. Every day.

One morning in early December, Martn was interpreting for a criminal case in Dublin, east of Oakland. A clerk signed him inBuenos das, she greeted himand then he met the people hed be translating for, a Mam husband and wife who had been the victims of an attempted home burglary. Through Martn, the couple sought reassurance from the judge that their immigration status wouldnt be questioned.

Martn accompanied the husband to the witness box, while the wife waited in a nearby room. Watching a skilled simultaneous interpreter is a bit like watching someone speaking in tongues. As soon as the judge starts talking, the interpreter mutters along, not waiting for the sentence to be over before beginning to translate. Martn relayed the witnesss answers in a low, steady voice, in American-accented English.

The testimony turned on the layout of the kitchen. There are twenty-two officially recognized Mayan languages in Guatemala; all of them use relational nouns instead of prepositionsMam uses head to say on top ofand they have complex grammatical rules to describe bodies in space. The witness pinched his fingers and dropped them down to imitate his wife putting cash in her purse. He worked his eyebrows. He didnt look up when the prosecutor asked a question. He was telling his story to Martn, the only person in the room who understood.

When his wife emerged and was asked to spell her name, she looked at the ground and whispered in Mam, I will not be able to spell my name. I did not go to school to learn how. But she warmed to Martn, glancing over at him as she became more comfortable.

The prosecutor asked, What is your primary language?

The same language Im using now, she said. I only know a little bit of Spanish. She does not speak English at all.

During the lunch break, Martn and I went out for burritos. In line, a man in a baseball cap approached. You are doing a great job in there, he said. Martn looked at him, confused. The man lifted his cap. Im the judge!

Guatemala has a population of fifteen million people, forty per cent of them indigenous, according to the most recent census. In the past year, two hundred and fifty thousand Guatemalan migrants have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. At least half of them are Mayans, and many speak little or no Spanish. According to the Department of Justice, Mam was the ninth most common language used in immigration courts last year, more common than French. Three Guatemalan Mayan languages made the top twenty-five: Mam, Kiche, and Qanjobal.

The Bay Area is unusual in that Mam-speaking asylum seekers may be able to access in-person court interpretation. The vast majority of indigenous-language interpretation in the U.S. is done over the phone, by for-profit companies such as Lionbridge and S.O.S. International. Credibility is an official factor in a judges assessment of an asylum claim, and much can be lost on the phone. The quality of telephone interpretation also varies wildly. Martn says that he took the exam to become a Lionbridge translator, and, to test the company, invented extra material, a cardinal sin for translators. He passed anyway. (Lionbridge declined to comment.)

The U.S. government claims to provide proper translation at all points in the immigration process, but, in practice, it rarely offers Mayan-language translation at the border or in holding cells. (A spokesperson from Customs and Border Protection said, We use a third-party translation service via telephone when we are unable to communicate due to language barriers. We do our best to make sure we can communicate accurately, with everyone, throughout their time in our custody.) Until just a few years ago, there was a tendency to treat Mayan languages as dialects. A former immigration judge told me that all her Mayan-language cases, when they came from Customs and Border Protection, were listed on the court docket as Spanish. When Mayan-language asylum seekers can manage some Spanish, it is often not enough to navigate credible-fear interviewsin which migrants must explain why they are afraid of returning to their home countries.

Between April and June, 2018, the Trump Administration adopted a zero-tolerance policy, intended to deter migration at the southern border. As part of the policy, parents were forcibly separated from their children. That July, Martn got a call from Asociacin Mayab. Lawyers at the border were looking for Mam speakers to translate for detained migrant families. Martn travelled to the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center, in McAllen, Texas, which became notorious for holding children in cages made of chain-link fencing. He ended up translating for a migrant named Mario Perez Domingo, who spoke barely any Spanish, according to his lawyer, Efrn Olivares, of the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Domingo and his two-year-old daughter had been picked up by a Border Patrol agent who asked for their papers and then accused Domingo of forging his daughters birth certificate. The agent asked in Spanish if he had paid for the certificate, and Domingo said yes, because Guatemalans pay a small fee to the civil registry for birth certificates. The Border Patrol argued that Domingo had bought it on the black market and that the child was not his daughter, and took her away. (BuzzFeed reported on this separation.)

Domingo didnt have the language skills to explain. Not even Olivares, his lawyer, could fully understand what had happened. During Domingos criminal hearing, he was given only a Spanish-language translator. On the stand, he kept talking about a son who had been taken away. But he didnt have a son, he had a daughter, Olivares said.

By the time Martn got involved, Domingo had been transferred from McAllen, so they talked on the phone. In fewer than five minutes, Martn had the facts of the case. I asked if Domingo spoke Spanish. Not to the point where he could really explain himself or be able to understand what was going on, Martn said.

I asked if language was a factor in the separation, and Martn said, Definitely. Martn is generally unflappable, but an edge of anger came through. They know that they can get away with it. The father was reunited with his daughter only after taking a DNA test, a month later, and then both were released.

Extended detentions or deportations caused by mistranslation or lack of translation are not rare. A former volunteer at the South Texas Family Residential Center, in Dilley, Texas, the nations largest immigrant-detention center, told me that cases can turn on the difference between competent and incompetent translation. A mother held there told non-Guatemalan interpreters that she had had trouble in Guatemala because of her blouses, which sounds innocuous in English. She meant her huipil, a handwoven blouse worn by Mayans. She was saying that she was persecuted for being indigenous, but the interpreter didnt understand or explain. The womans claim was rejected, and she was deported.

According to a filing by the A.C.L.U. last August, a father accused of a crime was separated from his son without a Qeqchi translator present. During the six-month separation, the child began to forget his familys native language, and he suffered extreme isolation because of his inability to speak Spanish, English, or any language common in the shelter, according to the filing. Another boy was separated due to fathers alleged mental health problems; child advocates later determined fathers indigenous language may led [sic] to wrong mental health concern. By the time U.S. authorities acknowledged that there was no mental-health problem, they had deported the father.

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U., which brought a lawsuit to stop the child separations, told me that, of more than five thousand parents separated from their children, at least eight hundred were deported without them. A significant number of those were indigenous, Gelernt said. His team found that half were Guatemalan, and that ten to twenty per cent were from indigenous-majority departments, such as San Marcos, Huehuetenango, and Quich. (Children were taken from their parents before the zero-tolerance policy took effect, and about eleven hundred have been taken since it was ruled unlawful.) The indigenous population was likely the least able to understand their rights, and may therefore have been more susceptible to losing their children and waiving away their own asylum rights, Gelernt said.

Both Olivares and Gelernt believe that the system denies basic rights to Spanish-speaking asylum seekers as well, but that difficulties are exacerbated for Mayan-language speakers. The language barrier contributed, at least in part, to a lot of those separations, Olivares said.

Then there are the deaths. Kids dying on the border are Mayan, Naomi Adelson, the interpreter who trained Martn at Asociacin Mayab, told me. Six children have died in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security since Donald Trump took office. Five were indigenous. Jakelin Caal Maqun, a seven-year-old Qeqchi girl, had a fever that spiked on a long bus ride from the New Mexico desert, where she was picked up with her father, to a Border Patrol detention center. She died from a bacterial infection that led to multiple-organ failure after she received no medical care for ninety minutes. Felipe Gmez Alonzo, an eight-year-old Chuj boy, died of the flu as he and his father were shuttled between holding centers. President Trump placed blame for the deaths on the childrens fathers, who had signed intake waivers stating that their children did not need medical care. The waivers were in English, and officials provided a verbal Spanish translationtwo languages that the fathers did not speak fluently or at all.

Mayan Guatemalans have a persistent problem: explaining to people that they still exist. The ancient Mayan cities collapsed in the eighth or ninth century, but the Mayan people remained, farming corn in small towns. One archeologist compared it to the fall of the Soviet Union: the structure of life has changed, but the people are still there. All the Mayan languages share a common root, but most of them are mutually unintelligible. Yucatec Mayan is tonal, like Cantonese. Kiche, the language of the Popol Vuh, has six or ten vowels, depending on the dialect. Mam is produced far back in the mouth and comes out softly raspy. The variations are not a mark of being cut off from external influences, the linguist William Hanks told me, but, rather, a sign of development. Mayan languages have had four thousand years to ramify. Mayans have never been isolated, Hanks said. In 1990, the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala was formed, and a branching linguistics tree, showing the common origin of all Mayan languages, became a symbol of the Pan-Mayan movement. (Mam emerged from the trunk about two thousand years ago.) There is still debate about which subdivisions should be counted as dialects. (A chestnut in the field of linguistics: A language is a dialect with an army.) The introduction to the Academys official Mam-Spanish dictionary reads, Language is the backbone of the culture and cosmovision of a people.

Last summer, I visited Martns home town, Todos Santos Cuchumatn, in the lofty pine mountains near the border with Mexico, one of the coldest parts of the highlands. To get there, I drove through seven distinct language groups in two days. On the mountaintop just before the descent into the valley of Todos Santos, there is no running waterwomen fetch it from wells with plastic jugs. Suddenly, you start seeing men in cherry-red striped pants watering their vegetable patches.

Nearly everyone in Guatemala has some Mayan heritage, but the indigenous are considered a separate group, identified by language, place of origin, and, for women, colorful clothing woven on backstrap looms. (In Todos Santos, the men, too, wear traje.) Mayan people tend to be much poorer than non-indigenous Guatemalans, the result of a long history of oppression and land theft.

Some Central American migrants to the U.S. have adopted the slogan of the post-colonial immigrants-rights campaigns in Europe, from the nineteen-eighties: We are here because you were there. In 1954, the C.I.A. backed a coup that overthrew a President who was overseeing land-reform measures that included expropriating United Fruits holdings. The coup led to a civil war that lasted from 1960 to 1996, during which Marxist-Leninist guerrilla groups tried to topple a series of U.S.-backed governments and dictatorships. In the early eighties, the Guatemalan Army believedoften wronglythat Mayans were susceptible to guerrilla ideology. Soldiers pillaged indigenous communities, raped women and girls, and stole children who survived massacres, putting hundreds up for adoption. (Guerrilla fighters also attacked Mayans whom they believed were informing for the Army.) The Army burned houses and churches as well as cornfieldssacred sources of sustenance for Mayans. Two hundred thousand people died during the war, the Western Hemispheres bloodiest conflict of the twentieth century; eighty-three per cent of them were indigenous.

In Todos Santos, which was then a small cluster of adobe houses, the Army openly massacred Mam families, intending to terrorize the population. American Green Berets helped train a special-forces unit called the kaibiles, named for a Mam leader who had evaded capture by Spanish conquistadors. This unit committed the worst atrocities of the war. A Mam man told an anthropologist that, in 1982, soldiers captured an accused guerrilla fighter and summoned the people of Todos Santos to the town square. A soldier cut the man open from his neck to his belly. Then he took out the liver of the poor man, the witness said. He grabbed the liver out, and he ate it just like that, in front of the soldiers, in front of the people. We did not understand. After the war, a U.N.-backed truth commission found that the Guatemalan government had committed genocidal acts against Mayan communities.

Interpreters a generation older than Martn told me that, when they work on asylum cases, they must confront their own traumatic memories. One man translated for a woman who had been separated from her son at the border. He said that it was living my experience all over again. The woman described how her son had been pulled from her arms. At first, he was screaming. Then he began hyperventilating, and couldnt get a sound out. Then the guards took him away.

When the interpreter was ten years old, his mother was kidnapped by the Army. It was Sunday. I had climbed up into a tree to play with kites. My aunt came out. Shes one of those people with a strong personality, who doesnt tell you things calmly, he recalled. And she said, Come down out of there. They have taken your mom.

Despite the genocide, asylum status was hard to come by in the U.S., because Guatemalans were fleeing a regime that was supported by millions of dollars of U.S. military aid each year. In 1982, during the height of state terror, President Ronald Reagan met with the Guatemalan dictator Efran Ros Montt, who was later convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. (The sentence was overturned shortly afterward, under political pressure.) Reagan praised Ros Montts progressive efforts and said that he was getting a bum rap on human rights.

Indigenous people fared little better after the signing of peace agreements, in 1996. The country was opened to international mining and to palm-oil corporations, which have steadily encroached on indigenous land, forcing families to move to Guatemala City. Irma Alicia Velsquez Nimatuj, a Kiche anthropologist and a public intellectual, wrote in the Guatemalan newspaper El Peridico, The urban children, cornered into selling on street corners, were left choosing between an education for the poor that could only provide them with a survival-level job, or joining the gangs. Interpreters told me that racism and even violent discrimination are such ingrained features of Guatemalan life that some Mayan asylum seekers dont think to mention them in credible-fear interviews. They have plenty of other reasons to flee: gangs, death squads, domestic violence and femicide, disillusionment with a series of corrupt Presidents, and climate change, which is drying out cornfieldsa spiritual as well as an environmental crisis. Guatemalans confound the distinction between economic migrants and the types of persecution that the U.S. requires to grant asylum.

Martn waits outside a courthouse in San Francisco. During asylum interviews, he picks up important terms to include in a Mam-English legal dictionary that he is compiling.

Today, Todos Santos is a tangle of remittance houses, several stories tall, built of concrete block, with columns and fanciful towers, blue reflective windows, American and Guatemalan flags painted along the trim, and ears of corn strung out to dry on balconies. Most of the houses remain unfinished, with fingers of rebar reaching up from the top floor. Migrants send back money in installments and build floor by floor, until they decide to come home or are deported. The town runs on remittances: a store selling pens and paper is called Librera California, and coyote services are available for Spanish and Mam speakers. In the cemetery just outside town, on the day I was there, a large family was visiting. The sonthe only family member who spoke Spanishpointed to the raised graves, which are painted red, white, and blue, and told me, Those are the ones who died up there. The graves were decorated with plastic flowers and offerings of bottles of water with the caps unscrewed.

Mara Martn (no relation to Oswaldo) is the single staff member in Todos Santos of CONAMIGUA, a Guatemalan government agency that works with migrants and retornados, a local euphemism for the deported. Her office is in the town hall, where posters warning against migration are captioned This message was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy. Martn told me that CONAMIGUAs recent efforts to dissuade migrants included a radio spot in Mam with marimba music. She translated the ad: Here in Todos Santos Cuchumatn you can excel if you stay and start studying. The trip to the North is very risky and you could encounter death, and then your family would have to suffer and cry.

Martn admitted that her job is nearly impossible. In her spare time, she volunteers with a group that provides free translation via phone for Mam-speaking migrants in the U.S.

Other people in town work for the for-profit phone-translation services. The wife of a pharmacist who moonlights as an interpreter says that her husband is constantly getting calls from the border in the middle of the night. Oswaldo Martn said that the services lowball translatorsthey offered him forty-five cents a minute for highly skilled workbut pay that is low in Oakland is high in Todos Santos.

Most people from town who leave for the U.S. try to make it to Fruitvale, the part of Oakland where Martn lives. Pedro Pablo Solares, a specialist in migration and a columnist for the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, travelled throughout the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, providing legal services to migrants. He found that the immense majority of Mayans were living in what he called ciudades espejomirror citieswhere migrants from the same small towns in Guatemala have reconstituted communities in the U.S. If you are a member of the Chuj community and that is your language, there are only fifty thousand people who speak that in the world. Theres only so many places you can go to find people who speak your language, Solares told me. He described the migration patterns like flight routes: Qanjobal speakers from San Pedro Solom go to Indiantown, Florida; Mam speakers from Tacan go to Lynn, Massachusetts; Jakalteco speakers from Jacaltenango go to Jupiter, Florida.

I grew up my entire life speaking Mam, and there is no word for asylum, Henry Sales, a twenty-seven-year-old immigrant from San Juan Atitn, told me. Sales and Oswaldo Martn were at the CsarE. Chvez branch of the public library, in downtown Fruitvale, where they met with other Mam speakers to work on a Mam-English legal dictionary. Sales, who came to the U.S. a decade ago, has jobs at several libraries, translates in immigration court, assists a linguistics Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, and gives Mam classes. He has a radiant smile and tends to dress formally, down to his shined shoes.

Martn had the idea for the legal dictionary when he came across a Mayan health handbook, which listed ailments in English, Spanish, Kiche, and Mam. Translation isnt just words to words; its about expressing whole ways of experiencing the world. There has been a long-running debate in Guatemala about whether non-indigenous doctors should be trained to diagnose and treat xibrikilel susto, in Spanishfright or spirit attack, a common illness among Mayans that can involve symptoms ranging from depression to diarrhea and anemia. According to Mayan cosmology, the malady can be caused by violent events, or by the appearance of a restless soul who has died in a traumatic way and is unable to find peace.

Sales and Martn speak different dialects of Mam. Though they understand each other, Martn said that Saless Mam sounds more like Frenchairy, with swallowed consonantswhile his is more like Portuguesechoppy and guttural. Even I can hear the difference. In addition to the legal dictionary, Sales and Martn want to provide workshops in various dialects for Mam translators. The U.S. government does not offer certification tests for Mam interpretersMartn said that he had once been challenged by an opposing lawyer for not being certifiedand Sales and Martn believe that learning more dialects could further professionalize Mam interpreters.

They take notes during asylum interviews and court cases, in order to include important terms in the dictionary: credible fear, release, gangs, stipulate, persecution. What weve been doing is try to come up with a definition of asylum and translate that to Mam, Sales said.

Their shorthand translation is To be held and looked after by the law. Qlet tun ley.

A longer, more complete definition that Sales teaches in Mam class is Jun uj tun tkleti tij qa xjal aj kyaj tun tkub tbyon ay bix qa tkawali tux txuli/tchmili.

A paper that saves/protects you from people who are harming/attempting to kill you and your children, your wife/husband.

I asked Sales and Martn if Mam speakers generally understood their explanation of asylum, and Martn said yes, but he mentioned another problem cited by nearly everyone I interviewed. A tendency for a lot of indigenous people is to agree to everything being asked of them in Spanish, he said, even if its incorrect and self-incriminating. A lot of times they get deported, Sales said. Marianne Richardson, a graduate student at the University of Texas, studies access to indigenous languages at the border in Arizona, where many Mayan migrants cross. She told me that, often, when the Border Patrol asks a migrant if he or she speaks Spanish, the person will just say S. And theyll be, like, O.K., can I continue in Spanish? And the person says, S. But theres not really a comprehension check. She added, Some of them are really intimidated by an authority figure with a gun and just want to do what theyre told.

Sales said, We have been taught that, if we dont speak Spanish, we are stupid. He said that, when he first went to school in Guatemala and didnt speak any Spanish, I couldnt defend myself. The other kids would say he was dumb, and he just answered, Yes, yes, without understanding. It happened five hundred years ago, he said. They came and told us, You are savages.

San Franciscos immigration court convenes in an unmarked skyscraper in the financial district. On an August morning, a list of the names for the days cases was tacked onto the wall of a waiting room: Manzares, Martnez, Mendoza, Misa. Eleni Wolfe-Roubatis, the director of Immigrant Legal Defense, a nonprofit, told me that about thirty per cent of the courts cases involve Mam speakers, but they are hard to pick out. Unlike other Mayan groups, which have distinctive last names, Mam speakers were named after Spanish people whom they worked for as semi-enslaved peons. A common last name among Mam people is Pablo, for former peons of a certain Don Pablo.

In a courtroom handling family cases, children were scrambling over the furniture and crying. Some migrants didnt have a lawyer, but every case involved an interpreter. The judge, Scott Gambill, told the room, All these family units have to be heard in a given time. This is a high priority for the Attorney General. In 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed strict quotas and performance metrics to speed up immigration reviews. Sessions announced that family-unit cases were to be heard within a year. Critics saw the move as a way of deporting more people, faster. The change meant that judges were required to rule on at least seven hundred cases per year, which the National Association of Immigration Judges has said impinges on due process.

Judge Gambill repeatedly told asylum seekers and lawyers that he was sorry their court dates were so soon. The speed gave the proceedings a feeling of hitting a language barrier even when there wasnt one. The judge mentioned riders several times before I understood that he meant children.

The days session was intended to set future court dates and check if asylum seekers had changed their address. Migrants tend to move frequently, and if they miss a notice to appear they are ordered deported. One of the asylum seekers was a woman in an elaborately flowered traje, with a hot-pink smartphone tucked into the sash. Did she speak Spanish? the judge asked. Her lawyer, Alexandra Bachan, said, Shes going to identify herself, but beyond that... She made the gesture for so-so.

Leonel Pablo, a young man with gelled hair, ripped jeans, and spotless white sneakers, was in court without a lawyer. The judge asked, through a Spanish-language interpreter, Do you want a Mam translator? Pablo looked confused. Then he said, S, and was quiet.

During a break, Bachan stepped outside with Pablo. When they returned, Bachan told Gambill, Im probably crazy, but Im taking the case.

Delightfully crazy, the judge answered. You are stepping into the gap. The whole asylum request would have to be assembled and argued in three months. Pablo was alone in court that day, but his riderhis eight-year-old son, Hugowas part of his family unit.

Pablo told me in broken Spanish that he had tried to secure a lawyer: I call, but they are all busy. On finding Bachan, he said, Estoy muy agradecido con mi Diosito lindo, a very Guatemalan way of saying that he was thankful to his sweet God. He had come to court that day planning to represent himself in a language he could barely speak.

From court, I walked to the office of Ilyce Shugall, at the Bar Association of San Francisco, where she runs the Immigrant Legal Defense Program. Shugall was sworn in as an immigration judge in 2017 but stepped down last March. She wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explaining that, under Sessionss immigration rules, she could no longer guarantee that asylum seekers had the opportunity to fully present their cases. (In January, 2019, access to asylum was further restricted, when the Trump Administration began to require that many asylum seekers remain in Mexico while waiting for the disposition of their cases.)

I asked Shugall whether indigenous asylum seekers got due process. She let out a big sigh. Sometimes, she said, and paused. They were definitely the most challenging for me as an immigration judge. She explained that the accelerated schedule has disproportionately affected rare-language speakers.

I wasnt going to give short shrift to people who clearly werent understanding things, Shugall said. It was just really time-consuming, and I know not all judges do that.

Shugall worried less about Mam speakerssince groups such as Asociacin Mayab can sometimes provide interpretersthan about the Kiche and Qanjobal speakers who work as day laborers in the Central Valley. If you speed up their case, it just doesnt give them as much time to find various resources, like people who can help them with language, and then find counsel, and get the documentation they need from their village, she said.

I found it incredible that people who come from remote villages in Guatemala, do not read or write Spanish or English, do not speak Spanish, and are living in rural Central Valley, California, with no transportation, make it to San Francisco for their hearings, Shugall said. As long as you have the proper language interpreter at their final hearing, that is the culmination of everything, and they have an opportunity to speak in their language and tell their story, which Im sure is very gratifying for them in many ways, to finally be able to explain to someone in great detail why they are where they are right now.

One Saturday, I attended a Mam class that Henry Sales teaches at Laney College, in downtown Oakland. It was Labor Day weekend, but thirty people showed up, a mixture of social workers and public-school teachers. Dave Rose, a teacher at Fremont High School, said that he has a total of a hundred and forty students. Sixty of them speak Mam, he said. The other teachers gasped.

Soon Sales was running us through the alphabet. The letters were familiar but the sounds were not. There were glottal stops (as in uh-oh), and apostrophes that made a little popping noise out of the preceding consonant. We could barely get out chjonte, thank you.

Sales showed us how to pronounce tz, a hard buzz. Its not in the books, but our elders say the sounds are from the sounds of forests and animals, hesaid.

Rose wanted to know how to say Youre late. Yaj matzuli. Im going to use that a lot, he said.

During a break from pronunciation drills, Sales gave some background on Mayan culture. I dont call myself Latino or Hispanic, he said. No offense to them. But the Spanish have been the enemy. Sales told us about the biggest event of the year in Todos Santos Cuchumatn, a horse-riding festival that commemorates an anti-colonial rebellion. The ancestors saw horses for the first time when they were enslaved by the Spanish, Sales said. They danced, as an offering, before stealing the horses and escaping into the Cuchumatn Mountains.

The festival is a major holiday for the Mam. Men wear hats with feathers, to represent roosters and a masculine spirit, and gallop through town, past onlookers and marimba bands. Martn told me that he rode in it for the first time in November. It was his first trip to Guatemala in twelve years. He visited family in Todos Santos, and began to set up partnerships to teach Bay Area interpreters various Mam dialects via Skype.

The trip turned out to be an education in what Martn called Mam modalities and etiquette, a way of being that is subtly different from that of Californians. I would describe Mam etiquette as addressing everyone in the room and not taking up space, he said. Im here, but Im not here for meits for you.

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A Translation Crisis at the Border - The New Yorker

Terrorism, Brexit, and the Migrant Crisis: Three Stories That Defined the Decade – Breitbart

Three deeply intertwined stories that drove political and social change this decade, and in time may come to define European political history of the 2010s terrorism, Brexit, and the migrant crisis.

The most politically turbulent decade for Europe since the end of the Cold War is drawing to a close but what will these ten years be remembered for?

It has certainly been a difficult time, if not the most difficult yet, for the European Union. The early years of the decade were dominated by the Unions enforced policy of ultra-austerity on its southern members, particularly Greece. Suspicion at the disregard the Union appeared to treat the citizens of some nations with after Greece was later reinforced when the European Union installed its own technocratic government in Italy in 2011, after the government of the day hadnt played by Brussels rules.

Following the collapse of the elected government of Silvio Berlusconi, Brussels made a former European Commissioner the Italian Prime Minister, creating the first of three EU-backed technocratic Italian governments. These moves and others continue to linger in the minds of Eurosceptics across the continent years later.

Yet perhaps even greater developments may colour memories of the decade the deadly terror attacks striking against European cities and peoples, the decision of one European politician to unilaterally declare the continent open to mass migration, and the all-consuming debate on Britains withdrawal that hasnt even happened yet.

As we enter a new decade, events that define the last:

The Migrant Crisis

RIGONCE, SLOVENIA OCTOBER 23: Migrants are escorted through fields by police as they are walked from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp on October 23, 2015 in Rigonce,, Slovenia. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Future historians may well remember the 2010s ironically as the Wir schaffen das or we can do it decade. This phrase, uttered by Germanys Angela Merkel in 2015 was in response to criticism that already prodigiously generous Germany not doing enough to help migrants.

That, and the expressions of Germanys so-called Welcome-culture were interpreted as an open invitation by many so many, in fact, that over a million illegal migrants and refugees are known to have crossed into Europe in just one year, with over 800,000 of them crossing into the continent by sea.

Germany opened her borders to all comers in 2015, de facto throwing the borders of Europe open unilaterally, and in doing so triggered the Europe Migrant Crisis. The summers news was of the enormous suffering caused by Angela Merkels carelessness the thousands killed on unseaworthy boats sent by ruthless human-traffickers making the most of her largess to make quick money and of great columns of people marching north.

While in a sane world the migrant crisis shouldnt have been possible, a combination of factors including the European Unions much-vaunted but now discredited open borders scheme and Germany suspending the EU laws which were designed to prevent migrants crossing the continent looking for the most generous country rather than the first safe one, meant it was.

At times, the through-flow of migrants heading north through the Balkan route and central Europe was so great the number of illegals being waved through national borders was tens of thousands every single day.

While some countries opened their borders, others resisted being co-opted into Germanys mass migration scheme. Hungary, one of the last stops on the way north and a key road and rail hub for illegals heading to Germany saw up to 10,000 migrants a day in mid-2015, but the completion of their southern border fence in October of that year saw daily arrivals suddenly fall to pre-crisis levels, more or less overnight.

Registered, known illegal immigration to Hungary fell from 391,000 in 2015 to just 1,184 in 2017.

As the left in Europe mourns the end of a decade which saw the collapse of their political movements and the rise of the populist right across Europe, it is worth noting far-sighted left-politicians foresaw what damage to their own credibility the migrant crisis would do. European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans who isstill in post and these days delights in meddling with the Brexit process warned in 2015 that unless the establishment could find sustainable solutions to the migrant crisis, there would be a surge of right-wing populism across Europe.


TOPSHOT Authorites inspect a truck that had sped into a Christmas market in Berlin, on December 19, 2016, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens more.Ambulances and heavily armed officers rushed to the area after the driver drove up the pavement of the market in a square popular with tourists, in scenes reminiscent of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice last July. / AFP / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2010s for Europe was a decade pock-marked by the horror of radical Islamist terror, with a large number of high-profile, high-casualty attacks visited upon its cities and people, and dozens more intercepted by the security services before they could come to fruition.

Indeed, the decade began with an attempted attack fortunately for its intended target, failed on January 1st 2010, when a Somali migrant armed with an axe tried to kill Danish artist Kurt Westergaard in his home. The motivation for the attack is one now all too familiar in Europe Mr Westergaard had drawn a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

Later, nearly the entire editorial magazine of a French satirical magazine were gunned down in their own offices during a weekly meeting. Again, their crime had been to be undiscriminating in their lampooning, having made as much fun of Mohamed as of any other prophet or god. The vast majority of European mainstream media outlets chose to be cowed by the attacks rather than stand in solidarity with the dead, refusing to publish the images the men and women of Charlie Hebdo had been murdered for.

More attacks followed, and at an accelerating pace as the decade wore on. 2013 introduced Europe to a new kind of terror when a pair of Islamist converts rammed their car into a soldier on a London street and attempted to decapitate him with kitchen knives. While the name of Drummer Lee Rigby lives on, the car-knife attack became the weapon of choice for Islamist killers this decade and is now better known to ordinary people across Europe. Requiring no complex planning or acquiring illegal weapons or explosives, the method was promoted by the Islamic State themselves as ideal for killing the unbelievers.

While many terror attacks against Europe were perpetrated by so-called homegrown radicals arguably a product of the doctrine of multiculturalism encouraging balkanised communities going their own way, rather than pulling together and integrating into national cultures this has not always been the case. The gunman at the 2014 Jewish Museum attack had fought in the Syrian civil war before coming to Europe, and some of the attackers in the 2015 Bataclan massacre in which 131 were killed with Yugoslavian AK47-clones and explosives had also fought in Syria, thought to have entered Europe while posing as refugees during the migrant crisis.

Taking the automobile method to its logical conclusion, 2016 saw two truck attacks, using the largest and deadliest vehicles on the road to kill the largest number of Europeans. In the French city of Nice on their national day, a Tunisian migrant drove a rented 19-ton truck into crowds enjoying a seafront promenade party. Driving at over 50 miles an hour, 86 were killed.

This was followed up months later when a failed asylum seeker who too had come to Europe on a migrant boat murdered the Polish driver of a semi-truck and used the hijacked vehicle to drive through the Berlin Christmas market, killing 11.

The late part of the decade also saw a string of attacks in the United Kingdom. There was a vehicle-knife attack in Westminster in March 2017 which culminated in a police officer being stabbed to death inside the British Parliaments own walls, and the Manchester arena bombing which targeted children and their parents as they left an Ariana Grande concert which killed 22 and injured over 800.

Then London was revisited with another vehicle-knife attack at London Bridge later that year, where eight died. The scene would be targeted a second time in 2019 with yet another attack as a recently released extremist went on a knife rampage before being subdued by members of the public armed with improvised weapons.

The routine responses to these attacks has, too, become part of the grim background of European urban life in the 2010s the inevitable Love [insert city name] posters, teddy bears and tealights. Anti-terrorism barriers and police officers dressed like military special forces are now an apparently permanent feature of our streets. But as London mayor Sadiq Khan likes to point out, its all part and parcel of living in a big city.


WESTERHAM, ENGLAND JUNE 23: Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP and Vote Leave campaigner holds up the Daily Express as he returns to his home after buying newspapers of the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016 in Westerham, England. The United Kingdom is going to the polls to decide whether or not the country wishes to remain within the European Union. (Photo by Mary Turner/Getty Images)

If the 2010s were the Brexit decade, then Nigel Farage must have been the man of the decade. What other individual can claim to have had such a profound and widely felt impact on the whole continent in the past ten years quite apart from how it has utterly dominated British politics, Brexit has near totally paralysed the European Union itself.

Every major European summit for years has been consumed by Brexit discussion, repeated Brexit deadlines and the false sense of urgency that always accompanies the down-to-the-wire negotiations Brussels runs on have run roughshod over every other concern. Most frustrated by this has clearly been Frances Emmanuel Macron, who clearly saw his domestic rise to power as an insignificant stepping stone on his mission to totally reform Europe.

Hence his being by far the keenest European leader to get Britain out of Europeas soon as possible if his poll ratings are anything to go by his time as French president are numbered and with that his chance to make his mark on history. This is all great news for the actual people of Europe, of course, who might take the view the less Eurocrats in Brussels are capable of actually doing the happier and easier their day to day lives can be.

Brexit itself had been on the slow-boil for decades, the nascent Eurosceptic movement having all but vanished in 1973 after the county voted to stay in the European community on the basis of a pack of half-truths from then Prime-Minister Ted Heath who withheld the truth he knew about the future direction of Europe getting a kick-start with the Maastricht treaty in 1992. Signing the European Union into existence, the push by the British government to support the move and take the country into ever-closer union with Europe all but split the Conservative party.

Nigel Farage then an unknown was one of many to leave the Conservatives at the time over their direction on Europe. A founding member of the UK Independence Party in 1993, Mr Farage has been a persistent character of this decade, having come to national attention after suffering a broken sternum, broken ribs, and punctured lung in an air-crash on the morning of the 2010 general election.

While all will remember the 2016 referendum, 2014 was the year Britains fortunes turned with respect to the European Union. In the European Union parliament elections of that year, UKIP became the first party other than Labour or the Conservatives to win a national election in over a century, setting alarm bells ringing among the establishment parties in Westminster.

Desperate to not have his leadership torn apart by the European issue as it has John Majors in 1992, then Prime Minister David Cameron promised an in-out referendum on Britains membership of the European Union as a means to appease Eurosceptics in the 2015 general election. This was an easy promise for Mr Cameron to make neither he nor the pollsters expected him to win the vote outright, and another coalition government would give him ample opportunity to renege on the pledge.

Yet he romped home with 24 more seats, so Mr Cameron gave Britain the referendum hed promised. Again an easy decision for him the Prime Minister, all his colleagues, the people they socialised with, other world leaders, and the pollsters all believed hed easily win the vote, and in doing so would put the issue of Europe to bed for another generation. To make the gamble a sure one, the government threw its full weight behind the remain side, wrote to every household in the country explaining why the European Union is a good thing, and indulged in what was then called project fear.

Well, we know how that went. Yet almost four years later the United Kingdom still hasnt left the European Union but seems all but certain to do so and new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is promising a decade of growth, prosperity and Brexit.

Happy new year!

Read more:

Terrorism, Brexit, and the Migrant Crisis: Three Stories That Defined the Decade - Breitbart

Austria’s Kurz returns to power amid questions over whether ‘marriage of convenience’ with Greens can last – The Telegraph

He rejected coalition talks with the centre-Left Social Democrats (SP) after pledging to end the grand coalitions between Austrias two largest parties that were seen as an establishment carve-up.

The Social Democrats, who will now form the main opposition, were quick to dismiss the new coalition agreement. Its an VP program with Green camouflage, said Pamela Rendi-Wagner, the party leader.

It is striking that it predominantly bears the signature of the VP. The Greens have apparently only managed to secure positions in the area of climate protection, said Michael Ludwig, the influential mayor of Vienna.

It will be the Austrian Greens first term in government, and senior party figures defended the coalition agreement, insisting it was a price worth paying to secure their flagship climate policy.

We promised our voters a lot on climate protection, poverty reduction and transparency, and we stuck to that, Birgit Hebein, the partys regional leader in Vienna said.

Of course, there are some painful points, particularly on the topic of asylum, but we mustnt forget we only won 14 per cent of the vote, and we are taking on a great responsibility for the country. It was clear from the start there would have to be compromises.

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Austria's Kurz returns to power amid questions over whether 'marriage of convenience' with Greens can last - The Telegraph

No network in times of crisis – The Hindu

Bangladesh shut telecom networks along the border on December 29 apparently to forestall any inflow of undocumented migrants in the aftermath of Indias new citizenship law. Just two days later, regulators reversed the ban, saying the restriction was temporary.

Telecom outage was expected to hit 10 million people living within 1 km of border areas. The worst was soon averted as the ban was quickly lifted, but it illustrates a growing trend of shutting telecom and Internet networks by governments in South Asia and beyond.

It is impossible to thwart any illegal border crossing by shutting down mobile networks, said Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow at LIRNEasia, a Colombo-based ICT policy think-tank. The movement of human beings across the border is unstoppable unless you erect a wall the way Israel did or whatever Mr. [Donald] Trump is contemplating, Mr. Khan said. If a group decides to cross the border, they will cross the border at any cost. There may be a debate on the motivation of such migration, but the fact remains that its happening and it will keep on happening.

Authorities may reduce or stop the flow in some hotspots, but the huge border with India is a key challenge. If you stop at one place, they will find out another, Mr. Khan said, referring to a fertile frontier of more than 4,000 km that the two countries share.

With the focus cast on the frontier, Major General Shafeenul Islam, Director General of Border Guard Bangladesh, provided some clarity on illegal border crossings. Bangladesh arrested about 1,000 people for illegal crossings in and out of India in 2019, with 445 of them returning home in two months: November and December, Mr. Islam said at a media briefing in Dhaka on January 2.

After the Upper House of the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in December, it sparked fears of illegal crossings into Bangladesh. Mr. Islam, however, did not link the arrests to the fallout of Indias new law. He said those migrant workers, all identified as Bangladesh nationals, crossed into India in search of jobs. Jhenaidah and Satkhira emerged as the two major illicit migratory routes.

Risks of illicit crossings across the frontier deepened after all residents of the State of Assam, along the Bangladesh border, had to produce documentary proof that they or their ancestors had lived in India since 1971. About 2 million of Assams population of 33 million a mix of Hindus and Muslims failed the test. They now run the risk of becoming stateless.

As the protests over the new law spread, India shut down the Internet in Assam and some other areas. The Internet shutdown in Kashmir is now the longest-ever imposed in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks internet suspensions.

Mr. Khan calls it counterproductive. In doing so, India is antagonising its own people. And telecom carriers are losing money, he said.

The shutdowns of mobile and internet networks have unintended consequences and take a toll on economic life in both urban and rural areas. In Bangladesh, for example, mobile phones are the fastest way for people to transfer money in outlying border areas, where conventional banking is almost non-existent.

That means the network suspension is akin to shutting down a large part of business activity in remote areas. Millions of Bangladeshis living alongside the frontier are largely engaged in cross-border trade of medicines, agricultural commodities, milk and livestock. More and more society migrates into digital payment systems, the Internet becomes more important simultaneously. Its like oxygen in life.

Bangladesh has a history of shutting down or slowing the Internet over security concerns. During a road safety campaign by students in 2018, regulators briefly blocked 3G and 4G mobile Internet services to quell protests, leaving users in the lurch.

I find no reason to shut down the Internet to thwart civil protests because people communicate despite the shutdown. These are not political decisions, but bureaucratic decisions. The bureaucracy has taken over the politicians space and their over-adventurism is the prime driver of this hegemony, Mr. Khan said.

The regulators latest decision to shut the frontier mobile networks and retract it shortly afterwards reflect a lack of coordination between government agencies and weakness of the regulator itself, according to Mr. Khan.

(Arun Devnath is a journalist based in Dhaka)

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No network in times of crisis - The Hindu

Muslim population of England smashes three million mark for first time ever, figures reveal – The Sun

ENGLAND'S Muslim population has smashed the three million mark in 2019.

Some parts of London are now almost 50 per cent Islamic, according to analysis from the Office for National Statistics.


If current trends continue the areas could become majority Muslim within ten years.

Official ONS figures for 2018/19 that were released in December show that there are 3,194,791 Muslims living in England, with over a third aged under 16.

English Muslims make up the vast majority of the 3,363,210 currently living in England, Scotland and Wales. They make up 5.9 per cent of the 2018 English population (55.16 million).

2018 figures show that London was home to nearly 1.26 million Muslims, making up 14.2 per cent of the capital's population. 74 per cent of Londoners are listed as Christian or a-religious.

Following the migrant crisis that started in 2015, there were reports thatIslamic populations would triple by 2050as refugees headed west.

However the Islamic community in England is relatively low compared to other religions.

Christianity (all denominations) is still the most popular religion in England by a long shot, with 27.9 million people identifying with the church. 21.5 million of us don't identify with any religion at all.

The overall English population sampled by the 2019 ONS survey was 55,318,085. There were 63,783,693 Brits surveyed in all.

The Muslim Council of Britain has been approached for comment.





Original post:

Muslim population of England smashes three million mark for first time ever, figures reveal - The Sun

From Nazi camps to the Lake District: the story of the Windermere children – The Guardian

On the morning of 14 August 1945 towards the end of the second world war, 16-year-old Arek Hersh and 300 other Jewish children boarded a squadron of 10 converted Stirling bombers and took off from Prague. They were organised in groups of 30 to each aeroplane, with 15 sitting on each side on the floor. Hersh remembers it vividly: They cut us some bread, he says. We thought it was cake. They gave us each a piece and it was great. About eight hours later, they landed at RAF Crosby-on-Eden, near Carlisle.

The children were the first intake of a pioneering rehabilitation scheme, in which boys and girls from labour and concentration camps in eastern Europe were transported to the Lake District to find new families and start afresh. Their journey has been dramatised by the screenwriter Simon Block and the result is a timely and moving BBC film The Windermere Children, starring Thomas Kretschmann and Romola Garai, to be shown this month, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

At 91, Hersh is spry with a mischievous sense of humour. For almost half a century, he spoke to no one about his Holocaust experience. Not to his three daughters, who are old enough now not only to have kids of their own but also grandchildren. Nor to Jean, his second wife, whom he married in the early 1970s. Eventually, around 1995, Hersh decided to write it all down. The words came excruciatingly slowly. Two lines a day, he recalls, when we meet at his comfortable home just north of Leeds. But I wrote it, and then after that I could speak, I could talk about it.

Before the war, Hersh Herszlikowicz back then lived with his parents, brother and three sisters in Sieradz, a garrison town in west Poland. His father was a bootmaker, much in demand for making officers footwear. When the Nazis invaded, they came first for Hershs father, but he escaped; they came back for his brother, but he also slipped away. That left 11-year-old Arek, who was packed off to a labour camp near Poznan to lay lines and sleepers for the Poznan-Warsaw railway, which would speed up the German attack on the Soviet Union. One of his responsibilities was to clean the room of the camp commandant, who every day would leave Hersh a hunk of bread on his desk. It wasnt much, but Hersh believes it saved his life. We started with 2,500 men, he says. Within 18 months, there were only 11 of us left alive. And I was one of them. Very, very lucky.

Luck is a word that comes up again and again in Hershs account. When he was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, he told the SS officer that he was 17 and a locksmith. He wasnt either of those things; he just wanted to suggest that he might be useful to the Nazis. So thats what I said, and they told me to go to the right side, says Hersh. And 180 children all went to the wrong side. And they were murdered.

The most gruelling experience for Hersh personally, however, came in the early months of 1945, when he was evacuated first on foot, in the bitter cold, to the Buchenwald camp in Germany and finally to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia on what he calls the train of damnation. A whole month on open wagons without food, says Hersh, shaking his head. We ate grass. I ate the leather on my left shoe to keep going. I didnt swallow but I chewed it.

Your first instinct is to try to think your way into their heads. But you realise thats impossible

Hersh was in Theresienstadt, expecting any moment to be killed, when the camp was liberated by the Russian army on 8 May, 1945. He was moved on to Prague and it was here he was selected for the Committee for the Care of Children from Concentration Camps, which was set up by the British philanthropist Leonard Montefiore, a leading figure in the Anglo-Jewish Association. Montefiore persuaded the British government to accept 1,000 displaced children aged eight to 16; the Home Office agreed on condition that the funds were found by the Jewish community. In the end 650 boys and 80 girls came over.

What kind of physical and mental shape must these children have been in? How do you begin to repair the damage done to individuals, who in many cases were the only surviving members of large families? How do you try to imagine what they might be thinking? These were the questions that faced the therapists and educators at Windermere who were to help them in August 1945. It was also a quandary for the team behind the new drama.

Your first instinct is to try to think your way into their heads, says Simon Block. But you realise thats impossible. I cant imagine what Arek, who was in four different concentration and labour camps including Auschwitz, went through. And not just for a day, but for years. You cant recreate that trauma; all you can do is reflect how their behaviour may have manifested some of that while they were at Windermere.

Hersh turns up the electric fire a notch and Jean walks in with a tray of tea, biscuits and cake, and instructs me with brisk hospitality to tuck in, because her husband will probably forget. On the walls are photographs of Hersh with the Queen, Prince Charles and Liza Minnelli. Oh yes, she dedicated a song to me one time, he says.

After landing at Crosby-on-Eden, Hersh and the other children were driven to the Calgarth estate in the village of Troutbeck Bridge. A mile from Windermere, it was a wartime housing scheme that had been used for workers from the Short Sunderland aeroplane factory, which had relocated there to evade the bombing. Dormitory accommodation was provided as well as single rooms for older boys, like Hersh. Each one had a bed, a chest of drawers, he says. There was everything you needed.

The Windermere programme is not as well known as the Kindertransport initiative, which moved nearly 10,000 mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied territories to Britain between 1938 and 1939. At that time, some British politicians, including former prime minister Lord Baldwin, argued that it was a humanitarian duty. I have to ask you to come to the aid of the victims, not of any catastrophe in the natural world, not of an earthquake, he said, but of an explosion of mans inhumanity to man.

Block sees clear parallels with todays migrant crisis. Windermere is a story of refugees and child refugees, he says, and I thought it was very pertinent considering what was going on at the time [in Calais] when we started working on it.

In 1945, the immediate priorities for the children were to get clothing and find out about their families. The Red Cross supplied clothes, but they were odd shapes and sizes, so many children walked around in their underwear for a few days until donations of garments from local families started arriving.

We started to live as normally as we could, remembers Hersh. Some kids brought us bicycles and they said, Go on, have a ride! We didnt understand what they were saying, but they gave us a bicycle. So we went on the main road, and we were cycling on the right-hand side, so they tooted the horn like mad, shouting from the cars. We didnt know what they were shouting at us. We couldnt speak one word of English! But we caught on quite quickly, and we went to the cinemas, sixpence per seat, and it was very nice and we made our own life and things were OK.

News of their families took time to trickle through. For some there was hope, even something close to a miracle. There is a powerful moment in The Windermere Children when one of the children is reunited with a long-lost brother, who he has been told has probably died. That really happened. Oh, it would be incredibly manipulative to have made that up, says Block. No, if you have that, you wouldnt need to make anything up.

For most though, including Hersh, there was only despair. He found out his mother had been gassed and thrown into a mass grave at the Chelmno extermination camp. Of his immediate family, only his older sister Mania had survived, having escaped to the Soviet Union. There is a scene in the drama where Hersh all the children, are played by Polish actors hears about the fate of his family and soon after breaks up with his girlfriend. I still had so much grief, he recalls. I had lost my whole family and I felt I couldnt worry about my girlfriend as well.

At the Calgarth estate, the children received no counselling. Instead, they were encouraged to swim in the lake, play football, and given basic English lessons. The thing about therapy obviously is that its only any use if somebody wants to engage with it, says Block. Almost the main point was to bring them together in one place where they could be with other people whod been through what theyd been through, talk about it among themselves if they wanted to.

That was certainly Hershs experience. There were three or four boys I had been with in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, he says. We were always together. So I could talk to them, because they had a similar story to mine, but not to anybody else.

We just had to suffer, he goes on. Terrible. I had about 30 years of nightmares. Middle of the night, I used to get a nightmare and so on. It was only after he had completed his book, A Detail of History, in 1998, he says, that he finally began to heal. Its left me now. After I wrote the book actually, it left me then.

The Calgarth estate programme was designed to be a temporary scheme, running for four months, after which, the younger children would be placed in the care of foster families, and the older ones would live in hostels and prepare for work. Hersh moved first to Liverpool with his friends and then Manchester. He trained as an electrician, but eventually, living in Leeds after marrying Jean, he bought and let property, mainly to students. Somewhere along the line, in the 1950s, he shortened his name from Herszlikowicz, because he was fed up with having to spell it out.

Block, who also wrote the 2015 BBC drama The Eichmann Show about the trial of Adolf Eichmann, interviewed a dozen Windermere survivors and found that most of them were very eager to get on with life. He continues, They couldnt bury what happened to them completely because it would come back in their sleep, in their subconscious, but they wanted families and all the rest of that. It was when they retired and they had more time to reflect that it all came barrelling back to them.

Hersh is now involved in education, at schools and universities, and with the charity March of the Living, which each year organises a walk between the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. In 2009, he was awarded an MBE. When I first went back to Auschwitz, it was awful for me, he says. I couldnt get through the gate. But after three attempts I got through and since then Ive been going there with children and young people to show them the place.

These visits are clearly still not easy why does he put himself through it? Because I dont want people to think that it just happened many moons ago, and people forgot about it, he says. I talk to everybody, so young people know that what actually happened to me can happen to anybody. Thats the main reason I do it.

Block found that this idea of giving something back is a recurring theme. The Windermere children are the most patriotic people Ive ever come across, he says. Theyre so grateful for the chance they got to start their lives again in the UK, and they want to express that in many ways, by being successful here and paying taxes and raising their families here.

Hopefully viewers will think, Well, its not impossible to bring people here and help them rather than be scared of those who might be fleeing from terrible experiences. We can bring them in, help them and then thats repaid many times over.

The Windermere Children will be broadcast on BBC Two later this month.

On 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 will mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Information on different ways to get involved in this landmark anniversary can be found here

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From Nazi camps to the Lake District: the story of the Windermere children - The Guardian

What does Austria’s new governing coalition mean for migrants? – InfoMigrants

Austria's first government coalition between the conservative Peoples Party and the Green Party will have ripple effects on a range of issues including immigration. The two parties took nearly three months to iron out their disagreements -- with migration being the key issue that sets the unlikely bedfellows apart.

Austria's new governing coalition, consisting of conservative leader Sebastian Kurz's Peoples Party (OeVP) and the Green Party marks the first of its kind in the Alpine country.

Though Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz said that the coalition deal with the Greens offered ''the best of both worlds'' between the right-leaning OeVP and the left-environmental Greens, this marriage-of-inconvenience will be put to the test repeatedly when it comes to a series of central issues the two parties will have to address as a coalition government -- and migration is just one of them.

Migration 'at heart' of Kurz' politics

Kurz, who will be returning to the prime ministerial post, intends to continue his tough stance on immigration, which has helped his party garner votes from more right-leaning voters. "Migration will stay at the heart of my politics," said Kurz while setting out the government agenda, which was published in a 300-page document.

Kurz, who at age 33 is the world's youngest prime minister once more, stressed, for example, that migrants rescued in the Mediterranean should be taken to "safe countries of origin, third countries or transit countries, if they are safe" instead of EU ports.

He also added that, in his view, efforts to redistribute migrants within Europe had failed. Though his policies may not quite echo those of several EU countries that have practically shut themselves off to non-EU immigration since the onset of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015 (such as Hungary and Poland), Kurz' views are not only a long way from various other EU countries that have taken a more liberal stance towards migrants, such as neighboring Germany, but also from his new coalition partners, the Greens.

Preventive custody

Following the September 29 election, the two parties have been hammering out their coalition agreement for several weeks, with migration being one of the main sticking points between the OeVP and the Green Party with its more pluralistic views. With inclusive, open-door policies towards migrants being the antithesis of what Kurz stands for, Austria might become increasingly less attractive for immigrants, especially those who arrive in the country using irregular migration.

Kurz has made clear that he wants to increase checks on asylum seekers and root out elements considered to be harmful to the country. Several Austrian newspapers reported that as part of the government agenda, Kurz' government intends to introduce preventive custody for potentially dangerous immigrants. This would even apply to immigrants who had not committed a crime on Austrian or EU soil.

A similar proposal had already been put forward by Kurz' previous coalition government with the far-right FPOe after a fatal stabbing committed by an asylum seeker in February 2019.

Kurz has repeatedly made comments in the past of wanting to fight the spread of "political Islam" in Austria in particular, using such measures as extending grounds for detention and lowering the threshold of criteria required for deportation. In a tweet published at the start of the new year, his party said that it would continue "the fight against illegal migration and stop the forming of parallel societies and political Islam" in Austria.

New immigration strategy

Among a raft of proposals, the coalition also intends to introduce a "new immigration strategy" with the ultimate goal of separating work-based immigration from those seeking asylum, while also making access to the labor market easier for migrant laborers.

The reality of introducing any changes to Austria's immigration system will likely take many months of negotiation not only between the two coalition government parties but also with the opposition, which will be keen to highlight weaknesses in the arrangement between the OeVP and the Green Party both from the left and the right. Any overhaul to immigration laws will also have to comply with EU law.

Despite these safeguards, there are many native Austrian who would welcome significant changes to the country's immigration laws. Critical views towards migrants are quite common in the country; a recent poll by IPSOS revealed that Austrians believed thatover a third of their population was made up of people with a foreign background-- while in truth, the percentage of Austrias immigrant population stands at 16%.

Extended headscarf ban for youths

Among the more headline-grabbing, migration-related issues is the pending introduction of a headscarf ban on girls under the age of 14 at state schools.

There already is a ban on headscarves in place, which at the moment only applies to students in kindergartens and elementary schools. Its expansion is likely to cause opposition among the Greens, as they pursue a more inclusive attitude toward multiculturalism.

Headscarf bans and other issues related to religious clothing have repeatedly become bones of contention in the Alpine nation over the years, where urban populations of cities like Vienna and Graz tend to take more pluralistic views while the rural communities express that they feel Christianity is an important aspect of their national identity.

Constitutional integrity comes first

Any proposed legal changes will have to pass through the Austrian parliament, in which Kurz' OeVP and the Greens together have a majority. However, Green Party parliamentarians could still in future raise their opposition in key sticking points (in defiance of the coalition agreement), with migration being a likely candidate for disagreement between the two parties.

Furthermore, even if any such changes or compromises thereof were to be passed by parliament, Austria's Constitutional Court could still throw a spanner in the works by undoing newly enacted laws.

Last year, Kurz suffered a considerable defeat when the country's highest court ruled that measures designed toreduce welfare payments for immigrants failing to learn Germanwere unconstitutional.

The politics of politics

While making good on campaign promises against immigration appeals to Kurz' voter base and even helps expand it, the reality for the country with a population of less than 9 million people is that very few people on the ground ever are affected by sweeping changes to immigration regulations.

However, such tougher immigration guidelines might rather have deterrent effects on people planning to come to Austria, which due to its relatively small population size has one of the biggest migrant populations (in relation to its native population) within the EU.

The majority of immigrants to Austria with legal status, however, come from other countries within Europe; according to the latest Austrian government statistics, nearly 1 million immigrants to Austria come from Europe, compared to 117,000 from Turkey, 50,000 from Syria and 44,500 from Afghanistan.

with AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters

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What does Austria's new governing coalition mean for migrants? - InfoMigrants

In a lifetime on the border, Agent Chancy Arnold has seen it transform – Los Angeles Times

Fresh out of the academy yet still very much an agent-in-training, Chancy Arnold was finally being given a little range.

He and his partner were told to drive on the border road east, familiarize themselves with the rolling hills and unmarked trails that would become their new office.

As they approached the base of Otay Mountain in San Diego County, they came upon a man lying face down in the dirt. About 50 yards to the south, a flimsy barbed wire fence denoted the U.S.-Mexico border.

Strange, Arnold thought, does he really think hes hiding from us?

The agents yelled at the man: Get up, we can see you!

He remained still.

Closer inspection revealed the grisly truth: Someone had driven the migrant through the border, ordered him to the ground and put a bullet in the back of his head.

Even as a rookie, Arnold thought he had a pretty good idea of what it would be like to be a Border Patrol agent. His father had worn the same olive green uniform for as long as he could remember. But the discovery that day was a shock and a glimpse of the ruthless landscape he was now part of.

That was 1985, and Arnold is now nearing 35 years with the agency, making him the longest-serving Border Patrol agent in the nation.

The border has changed considerably in that time.

Arnold has watched the terrain transform into one of fences and roads, surveillance cameras and sensors. Hes seen migration patterns turn from single Mexican men to unaccompanied children and asylum-seeking families.

Hes had to acknowledge the humanity and desperation of the people he encounters while enforcing the laws and policies hes sworn to uphold.

Most agents retire after 20 to 25 years. But Arnold always planned to work until the Border Patrol made him leave. That will be in July, when he turns 57.

Since Day 1, Arnold said, I was going to work until the end.

Arnold was just shy of 3 years old when his father left his job as a roughneck on a Montana oil rig and joined the Border Patrol in 1965. The Arnolds left the northern plains for the dusty borderlands of El Centro.

The year his father joined was a turning point on the southwestern border. The U.S. bracero program, which had sanctioned agricultural labor by Mexican migrants, had just been shut down. And the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 for the first time restricted legal immigration from the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico, while opening it up to Asia and Africa. Preference was given to those with U.S. citizen family members or desirable skills and professions.

But demand for Mexican labor didnt end, and soon migration that once might have been legal was now illegal, creating a large new population of unauthorized immigrants.

The El Centro sector apprehended some 5,300 migrants in 1965, a figure that more than doubled over the next five years. In neighboring San Diego, apprehensions rose to 50,600 over the same period.

It wasnt until Arnold was around 21 that he could imagine carving his own path as an agent.

What the Border Patrol represented securing our borders, securing our nation appealed to me at the time, he recalled. It also provided for a long-term career, no college degree needed, and the chance to work outdoors.

Quite honestly, he said, it was what I knew.

On a recent Friday, Arnold made the familiar trek to Arnies Point, a vista overlooking what used to be one of the most heavily trafficked illegal border crossings.

It looks nothing like it did when he was a mop-top rookie.

But gazing down, Arnold with a military-style crew cut now turned silver was looking decades into the past.

He could see thousands of migrants gathering in a soccer field that has since been filled in by dirt. He could see the vendors in the festival-like atmosphere selling last-minute provisions before the nightly surge north. And he could see agents running through the scrub brush in pursuit.

Catch who you can, process them at the station, come back for more. Repeat. That was the pace back in those days.

In 1985, San Diego accounted for more than 427,000 of the southwest borders 1.2 million apprehensions, the most of any sector.

Just like when his father joined the agency, the southwestern border was at another turning point. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act sought to stem the rising illegal flow by authorizing a 50% increase in Border Patrol staffing and toughening criminal laws against employers. At the same time, it provided a pathway for amnesty for some longtime migrant residents, giving them a chance at legal status.

But illegal immigration continued to grow.

And the increased manpower was slow to materialize. It wasnt until 1994 that the roughly 3,000 agents nationwide in the mid-1980s grew to 4,200, according to Syracuse Universitys Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which gathers federal data.

About 140 of those agents were assigned to Brown Field station when Arnold began. Their coverage area stretched from just east of the San Ysidro Port of Entry to Otay Mountain.

It was from here that Arnold departed each evening, armed with a six-shooter revolver, six to 12 spare bullets, handcuffs and a radio. Agents patrolled in American-made SUVs.

The border fence then was nothing more than barbed wire or cable strung between poles. It didnt stop foot traffic from coming north. Rather, it was meant to stop vehicle loads of drugs or people. It worked sometimes.

Working the swing shift, thered be eight or nine vehicle chases going on at the same time, Arnold recalled. Itd be like a dog fight, trying to figure out whos got this chase and whats going on with that one.

Just north of Arnies Point, finger canyons disappear around the bend. Thats where, in the dense brush, Arnold once hunted for bandits who were hunting for migrants.

The canyons were notoriously violent, a place where robbers could easily hide and prey on those who crossed north. Rapes, assaults and murder were common.

Arnold was just three years out of the academy when he was picked for the elite bandit detail. The stakes were higher on this assignment, and gunfights were practically inevitable.

In fact, Arnies Point was named for one. Its where Agent Arnie Forsyth was once hit in the buttocks during a shoot-out with bandits.

Arnold got into his first and only gunfight in a canyon farther west.

The detail had intelligence of a two-man ambush operation, where one bandit would hide behind a stand of trees at a T-intersection of two trails while the other would distract passing migrants.

Sure enough, Arnolds group approached and took down the distractor. Then the bandits partner came around from behind with a loaded .45-caliber pistol. The agents fired. The bandit was hit; he survived.

Arnolds rotation on the bandit detail was the second to last before the unit was disbanded. But he credits the experience for making him a better cop.

I think it helped me grow up.

More substantial fencing starting going up around 1990 to stem the increasing flow of migrants. But the corrugated landing-mat material, installed on its side, acted more like a ladder than a fence.

It was also easily breached with tools.

At the same time, a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment was sweeping the state. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson helped push through Proposition 187, a voter-approved initiative that slashed state services such as healthcare and public education to unauthorized immigrants. The law was later overturned by a federal judge.

A new strategy was launched in 1994 called Operation Gatekeeper that flooded the San Diego border with agents in three tiers a highly visible show of force that would dissuade migrants from crossing in the first place and catch those who did farther inland.

Apprehensions soared in the first year to more than half A million, then they began to drop off sharply. From fiscal 1995 to 2005, overall apprehensions in the sector declined by 76%.

While some may have been disinclined to make the journey north, however, most just shifted routes east to the less fortified deserts, into the territory Arnolds father had once patrolled.

In the five years after Gatekeeper was launched, apprehensions in El Centros sector rose from 37,317 to 238,126.

The shift didnt come as a surprise but was rather a tactical decision by leaders: Push illegal crossings away from large cities and into wilderness areas for easier apprehensions. But the human cost was high, as the harsher environment claimed thousands of lives over the years.

Following in his fathers footsteps, Arnold eventually transitioned into management.

Hes covered just about every job in the San Diego sector: supervisor, training officer, watch commander. He spent 13 years in the prosecutions unit, readying cases for criminal and administrative court. By then, he had gone back to school, earning a criminal justice degree.

Arnold went to Washington in 2009 for nine months to coordinate care for unaccompanied minors, who in the years preceding had been fleeing to the United States in record numbers. The waves had sent authorities scrambling to find a way to place the children, mostly teens, in appropriate housing long term while caring for their short-term needs at Border Patrol stations.

The experience would help prepare him for his current role.

As assistant chief over prosecutions, asset forfeiture and detentions in the San Diego sector, Arnold has most recently been in charge of mitigating what he calls a humanitarian crisis that started about a year ago with the surge of Central American caravans arriving at the border to seek asylum. Most of them are families.

Although some of the migrants follow protocol and present themselves at ports of entry, many see the long wait of metered lines and cross illegally. Then they sit and wait to be arrested, so they can claim asylum.

Many families ended up staying several days at Border Patrol stations, long past the 72-hour limit, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement reluctant to release them into the community determined where to house them next in accordance with a court agreement that set out the terms of detention for children.

All our Border Patrol stations are set up, built and designed not for families, not for children, but for single adult males, Arnold said. We were holding people in custody longer than we ever intended to hold people in. People in custody longer require more resources.

The change in population shifted agents away from patrolling the line and into caretaker roles.

The latest scrutiny comes as a group of doctors urges Customs and Border Protection, the umbrella agency of the Border Patrol, to hold free flu shot clinics in detention centers for migrant children. Three children have died in detention from the flu in the past year, none in San Diego.

A few weeks ago, doctors demonstrated outside the Border Patrols sector headquarters in Chula Vista, where Arnold is based; the day ended with six protesters arrested.

CBP officials have called vaccine programs in short-term detention not feasible.

The current spotlight on the border is perhaps the most intense its ever been and has created political and philosophical rifts across the country. In many ways, it illustrates the deeper divisions facing the nation.

Arnold tries not to let the discord get to him.

I know theres always throughout history going to be those individuals who dont agree with who we are or what we do, he said. One thing Ive tried to make sure were focused on is that we conduct ourselves with integrity and as professionals.

The vast majority of agents are at the mercy of laws, policies and a vast bureaucracy operating high above them.

We dont get the luxury to say no to laws weve been asked to enforce, he said. Were going to enforce those laws.

But not at the expense of losing their humanity.

I think were portrayed as not caring about people, Arnold said. We do. Your heart goes out to these people. We are humans, we do care about the individuals we encounter.

The Border Patrol is being handed over to a new generation, as agents who came on board during the hiring frenzy of Operation Gatekeeper begin to consider retirement.

But Arnold wont be leaving without first getting a seventh star on the sleeve of his uniform. He gets one for every five years of service.

Ive never met someone with seven stars in my career, he said.

Not even his dad, who retired with four.

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

Originally posted here:

In a lifetime on the border, Agent Chancy Arnold has seen it transform - Los Angeles Times

Columnist Razvan Sibii: The resistance, as organized by immigration lawyers – GazetteNET

Published: 1/5/2020 3:00:39 PM

Modified: 1/5/2020 3:00:11 PM

Throughout 2019, the journalists working the immigration beat have struggled to keep up with the near-daily indignities that the Trump administration has visited on the migrants seeking admission into the U.S. One byproduct of that is that many worthy stories about people fighting back against those indignities have been under-covered. Here are two such stories.

In the summer of 2014, as the so-called surge of families and unaccompanied minors overwhelmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Obama administration decided to detain hundreds of families instead of releasing them conditionally until their cases could be heard in immigration court.

Megan Kludt, now a partner with the Northampton-based immigration law firm of Curran, Berger & Kludt, volunteered at the border helping people imprisoned in a makeshift holding facility in Artesia, New Mexico. The detention of children was unprecedented, and at the time, felt like an absolutely off-the-charts violation of human rights, Kludt says.

Upon returning to the Pioneer Valley, she joined forces with the ACLU of Massachusetts Immigrant Protection Project connecting local immigrants with attorneys. In 2018, the fresh hell unleashed by the Trump administrations family separation policy brought Kludts focus back to the southern border. She now works with the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC), an alliance of several non-governmental organizations and law firms around the country, on the biggest challenge currently facing immigration advocates: helping detained migrants make a case in front of an immigration judge or an ICE officer that they are not a danger to the community or a flight risk, and can therefore be released until their case is decided. (Disclosure: Kludt occasionally guest-speaks to my UMass classes for a nominal fee.)

Local organizations do the best they can, Kludt says, but they have a hard time reaching everyone who needs help. Using a specially designed case management system and a production line approach to its work, EPIC is able to help thousands of people document their ties to the U.S. by contacting their family members or friends who have agreed to sponsor them, posting bond, and preparing parole requests. They also collect data about ICE practices that can then be used in lawsuits. More than 1,000 attorneys and volunteers, many of them fluent in Spanish, French or Portuguese, contribute to this massive effort remotely.

Our goal is to provide service and to try to release as many people as possible, but if were not actually changing the system, were not really succeeding. So we also need to be constantly checking in about advocacy. What we want to see is policy changes, Kludt says. Its really a human rights crisis. Theres a lot of things that are going on under this administration that are really heartbreaking, but everyone has their place and what they can do. In my case, Im an immigration attorney, so this is my place, this is my stand at this time.

While collaboratives like EPIC have managed in recent years to deliver at least some assistance to many of the refugees detained in facilities across the United States, tens of thousands of individuals and families remain largely out of reach in improvised shelters to the south of the border because of the governments new Remain in Mexico policy. In the sad hierarchy of wretchedness, these people probably rate as the most vulnerable group of refugees, as they have to contend not only with miserable living conditions, but also with extortion, assault and even kidnapping.

Border Angels is one of the few U.S.-based outfits that have been able to consistently assist this category of people. For decades, the organization was best known for leaving water jugs in the desert areas of the border for migrants to find. They now also directly support 16 migrant shelters in Tijuana with donations collected from Americans, electricity and water bills, food, legal representation and bond.

That work is personal for Dulce Garcia, a Border Angels board member and a DACA recipient. Im still undocumented, even though I came here in 1987 when I was about 4 years old. Fast-forward to today: Im a property owner, a business owner, I have my own law practice, and Im also the executive director for this nonprofit. But no matter how much I pay in taxes, no matter how much I feel like Ive earned my keep, I still will never be a U.S. citizen the way the laws are today, Garcia says.

Her uncle died trying to cross the desert into the U.S. When she was in high school, her brother was detained by ICE, and now lives with a deportation order that will be enforceable as soon as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is ended. In September of 2017, Garcia successfully sued the Trump administration in a bid to retain DACA protections. When the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the legality of DACA in November 2019, Garcia was in attendance. But until the court, Congress and the American voter finally make their decisions, Garcia and the hundreds of volunteers she coordinates continue to fight back against inhumanity.

Interviewing migrants. Posting bond. Contacting family members. Drafting parole requests. Suing the government. Bringing toys and clothes to children stuck in migrant shelters. Leaving lifesaving water jugs in the desert. Paying electricity and water bills. They all chip away at the misery thousands of families are experiencing this winter.

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Columnist Razvan Sibii: The resistance, as organized by immigration lawyers - GazetteNET

The refugee crisis showed Europes worst side to the world – The Guardian

Over the last decade, migration has become an urgent political issue. The 2010s have been marked not only by the global movement of people across national borders but also attempts by governments to erect walls and fences in their path. Weve seen nationalism winning votes and the worldview of the far right mainstreamed.

Flow, flood and crisis. Media imagery and language has shaped public opinion. Of course, migration from the global south to the north intimately connected to the legacy of colonialism and the wests military machinations has been happening for decades. But the 2010s has seen a higher number of people from the south moving towards the north. In particular, Europe has seen hundreds of thousands of people from Africa, the Middle East and south Asia, fleeing chronic poverty, political instability, wars, and the climate crisis in countries often laid to ruin by western-backed institutions.

Libya had always been the migratory destination for many sub-Saharan Africans because of its employment opportunities. Following the suppression of the 2011 Arab spring and Natos intervention in Libya, a lawless society emerged, with racial hatred against sub-Saharan Africans unleashed. Many escaped forced labour and torture, climbed into dinghies and began the dangerous sea journey across the central Mediterranean. But when they landed in Europe, they didnt come to safety. Instead, they found themselves in the centre of a white, Eurocentric discourse a problem to be blamed for societys ills.

Throughout this time, when tens of thousands died at sea trying to reach Europe, Europe has imagined itself to be the victim of a migrant or refugee crisis. The concept of a crisis caused by the movement of people into the European continent has always been embedded in the Eurocentric way of seeing things. This rupture brought about by the arrival of the other creates anxiety and fear in the European mind, as the sociologist Encarnacin Gutirrez Rodrguez has pointed out thus the need to create neverending irrational, ideological justifications for that anxiety and fear.

This can be seen in the way migration into Europe has been portrayed as an invasion of different cultures and a clash of civilisations in a way that is similar to the justifications of the colonial era where the colonised were cast as racially inferior beings. Colonialism still casts its shadow over the immigration debate. For Europe, the other challenges its way of being as its presence is a reflection of Europes past imperialism, upon which much of the continents wealth was built.

In the past decade, weve seen anti-migrant policies and racism flourish across the world. The EU implemented the hotspot system, filtering people and categorising them as asylum seekers or economic migrants. Europes patrolling of its southern borders intensified, resulting in deals with Turkey and Libya. Since Italys then-interior minister Marco Minnitis agreement with Libya in 2017, Italy has supplied technical support to the Libyan coastguard, fending Africans away from European waters.

Restrictions were also imposed on NGO search-and-rescue activity in the Mediterranean. These policies under the centre-left Democratic party (PD) were later continued and elaborated on by the hard-right Matteo Salvini of the League from the summer of 2018 and now carry on under the PD/Five Star coalition. Thousands have died as a result.

Back in the 1970s, the critic and writer John Berger depicted Turkish migration to Germany in A Seventh Man, which charted migrant workers journeys in Europe through their departure, work and return. The return represented the future, where a worker could travel freely and see lives improved for his family when he visited home. But in the 2010s, this cycle has been disrupted many migrants and asylum seekers irregular status prevent them from visiting home. Instead, they are forced to live invisible lives, illegalised, entrapped and segregated.

In Britain, the Conservative government has persistently refused to receive refugees only 3% of asylum applications in Europe are lodged in Britain because refugees are commonly denied entry. In 2016, when the refugee numbers were at their highest across the continent, Britain only received 38,517 applications for asylum, compared with 722,370 applications in Germany, 123,432 in Italy and 85,244 in France. Britain, simply put, has one of the lowest refugee acceptance rates in Europe.

Plenty of efforts have also been made see the Home Offices hostile environment to make life unbearable for asylum seekers and migrants in Britain. Over the decade, I have witnessed asylum seekers leading a subhuman existence, deprived of rights to work (despite the substandard state support) and made to pay for healthcare. They live in desperate limbo, pushed into the world of exploitation and forced labour. As a Chinese builder said to me: If you didnt die in the back of a lorry, you could die working here.

And there are many migrants who are effectively imprisoned. Throughout this decade, I have visited many people detained in Dover and Yarls Wood removal centres, held without time limit, and despite committing no crime. Today, Britain remains the only European country to practice the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and migrants. Over this Christmas, 1,826 people were incarcerated in these centres.

While large numbers of people across the globe continue to be denied freedom of movement and illegalised, their determination to survive will not be defeated by walls and borders. Migrant protest movements such as the black vests (gilets noirs) in France and the black sardines (sardine nere) in Italy show that there is plenty of resolve and a willingness to fight back. We can join them by fighting for the regularisation of peoples immigration status but also by challenging the system that enables their marginalisation and racial segregation. We must offer a different way of seeing migration; a real alternative that addresses colonialism and the massively unequal world that it has created.

Hsiao-Hung Pai is a journalist and the author of Chinese Whispers: The Story Behind Britains Hidden Army of Labour

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The refugee crisis showed Europes worst side to the world - The Guardian

Turkey’s gambit in Libya could tear the country apart – The National

The battle for control of Libya is about to enter a new and potentially disastrous phase if Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, is given the go-ahead to proceed with his plan to deploy forces to Tripoli.

The long-running Libyan civil war, which has been raging since the overthrow of its dictator Col Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, is approaching a decisive phase, with forces led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar closing in on the capital.

Widely regarded as the leader who has the ability to restore order to this war-ravaged country, Field Marshal Haftar, who enjoys the backing of countries including Egypt and Russia, recently announced that his forces had launched their final battle for control of Tripoli.

The aim of the 76-year-old rebel commander is to remove the Government of National Accord, led by prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj and backed by the UN, and bring to an end its chaotic attempts to restore order to the country.

But the prospects of the long-running Libyan conflict being resolved any time in the near future could be seriously compromised if, as now seems likely, Mr Erdogan presses ahead with his proposal to send Turkish forces to Tripoli in support of the GNA. A bill has now been sent to the Turkish Parliament seeking approval for the deployment which, if granted, could see forces from the country arriving in Tripoli within the next few days.

Such a development would undoubtedly complicate efforts to resolve the dispute and might even result in an escalation of hostilities as Mr Erdogan, who increasingly sees himself as a major powerbroker in the Mediterranean, seeks to consolidate his influence over a key North African state.

Although the GNA is officially acting under the auspices of the UN, its abject failure to bring any sense of stability and security to the country has meant that it has very few international backers.

One of the main reasons the GNA has failed so miserably to assert its authority is because of the malign influence of groups, many of which have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Those with influence include Abdelhakim Belhaj, leader of the conservative Al Watan Party and former head of Tripoli Military Council. He was head of the defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a group that previously campaigned for Qaddafi's overthrow and has been linked to the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017 that killed 23 people during a concert given by the American singer Ariana Grande.

Belhaj was named on the list of terrorists drawn up by Saudi Arabia at the start of the diplomatic dispute with Qatar in 2017.

Its association with known militants is one of the main factors for the GNA's failure to win international backing. To date the only countries actively supporting the GNA are Qatar, Turkey and Italy which, alone among the European nations, believes the body is the best means of protecting its extensive oil and gas interests in the North African state.

Mr Erdogans proposal to send troops in support of the GNA will, therefore, be seen as a desperate throw of the dice designed to save the Tripoli-based organisation from suffering certain defeat at the hands of Field Marshal Haftar.

Mr Erdogans move also needs to be seen in the context of Ankaras wider policy of seeking to expand its influence in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa after the recent discovery of large undersea gasfields.

Turkey is concerned that it might end up being isolated if the four main beneficiaries of the gas discovery Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece are able to establish a co-operation mechanism to protect their energy assets in the region.

To this end, Ankara struck a deal with the GNA in November to create a strategic corridor that runs from Dalaman on Turkeys south-west coast and Derna on Libyas north-east coast.

The fact that the GNA does not even control the stretch of coast referred to in the deal, and that Field Marshal Haftar has refused to acknowledge the agreement, has not stopped Mr Erdogan from hailing the deal as a significant achievement in Ankaras attempts to protect its interests in the Mediterranean.

The deal has already provoked strong protests from Greece and Cyprus, which have a long history of territorial disputes with Turkey and claim the accord is void and violates the international law of the sea, while Egypt has called it illegal and not binding". During a December 12 summit, leaders of the EU issued a statement unequivocally siding with member states Greece and Cyprus.

Hence, Mr Erdogans plans to increase Ankaras ties with the GNA by sending forces to defend its interests not only risk causing a major escalation in the Libyan conflict, but could exacerbate tensions between Turkey and a range of other countries with competing interests in the region.

Turkeys deepening involvement in Libyas civil war could also have profound implications for the future stability of North Africa, as well as Europe. For a start, if Ankara succeeds in its aim to save the GNA and its associates, the most likely outcome for Libya will be the partition of the country between the area controlled by Field Marshal Haftar to the east and the remainder controlled by Tripoli to the west.

Such an outcome, though, would only further exacerbate tribal tensions in the region, potentially leading to a dramatic surge in the number of migrants seeking to make their way to Europe, thereby creating a migrant crisis not seen since the height of the Syrian crisis in the previous decade.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraphs defence and foreign affairs editor

Updated: January 5, 2020 11:30 AM

See original here:

Turkey's gambit in Libya could tear the country apart - The National

The 2010s have been the best decade for European populism to date – Daily Gaming Worlld


The rise of populist and anti-globalization sovereignty movements has been a defining feature of the past decade in Europe, from the Brexit vote to the emergence of new political parties across the continent.

Populist parties have existed in many European countries for decades, but apart from some, such as the Austrian Freedom Party under Jrg Haider in the early 2000s, few have enjoyed widespread popular support or held power within a national government before 2010.


The 2010s, triggered in large part by the 2015 European migrant crisis which saw more than a million asylum seekers flock to Europe after German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened borders, saw the creation or rise of anti-migration parties and movements whose main objective is sovereignty. for their nations.

In the UK, the Brexit movement saw its first big victory in the 2014 European Parliament elections when the UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage became the first party other than Labor or Conservative to win a national election since 1906.

Farage: Let June 23 go down in history as our Independence Day https://t.co/XC1oCOHf8r pic.twitter.com/5vYmTJYDlp

Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 24, 2016

The victory largely influenced Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to call for a referendum on joining the European Union which saw 14.7 million people vote to leave the EU, so that Cameron resigns and Theresa May ends replace it.

While Prime Minister Theresa May spent years without success negotiating an EU exit deal that Parliament would approve, 2019 saw a second wave of Brexit victories, including another victory in the European Parliament elections for Nigel Farage, this time with the Brexit Party, and the national elections in December which saw a strong conservative majority for Boris Johnson who promised to finally deliver Brexit by the end of January 2020.

In Austria, the 2010s were a roller coaster for the Freedom Party (FP) which was able to win votes in each election until 2017, when the party, under the leadership of Heinz-Christian Strache, was able to form a coalition with the Austrian Peoples Party and its leader Sebastian Kurz.

AUSTRIA ELECTS LIVE WIRE: Exit polls indicate leftist parties suffer historic losses https://t.co/i5En2fbPUg pic.twitter.com/bBKHVKH5ay

Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 15, 2017

The coalition represented the first time that the FP had been part of a national government since Haiders time in the early 2000s. But the government, despite its popularity, was overthrown due to a scandal known as the Ibiza affair which led to the resignation of Strache as vice-chancellor and head of the FP.

The FP did not match its 2017 performance with its new leader and former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, but remains an established force in Austrian politics.

Germany, which was the focal point of the migrant crisis due to the actions of Chancellor Merkel, saw the creation of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in 2013.

After the migrant crisis, the AfD recorded massive gains in regional elections, even defeating Merkels Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in its home state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in September 2016.

The party had another solid result in the national elections in Germany in 2017, winning 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats in the German parliament and became the official opposition after the CDU formed a grand coalition with the social democrats. .

Massive anti-migration alternative for Germany now the most popular party in East Germany https://t.co/SmXf4FxN7a

Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 8, 2018

The AfD has become incredibly popular in former East Germany, recently showing strong performance in Brandenburg and Saxony in 2019 and at least one 2018 poll showed the party to be the most popular in the region.

For Hungary, the 2010s were undoubtedly the decade of Viktor Orban who has seen electoral victory after electoral victory since he became Prime Minister in 2010.

The Hungarian leader has also successfully led a campaign against the NGO empire of the left-wing American-Hungarian billionaire George Soros, who announced that he would move his foundations of the open society (OSF) from Budapest to Berlin in 2018.

Considered an example by many other pro-sovereignty parties in Europe, Orbans resistance to mass migration by building a very effective border barrier at the end of 2015 and the pro-family and pro-Christian policies of his Fidesz party influenced others across Europe.

Italian Senator Matteo Salvini, who transformed the Italian Northern Separatist League, formerly the Northern League, into a national force and entered government after the 2018 national elections alongside the anti-establishment of the Five Star Movement in as Italian Minister of the Interior.

Salvini leads the Lega to the first historic victory in the national elections https://t.co/h35QrrGWbg

Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 27, 2019

What Urban succeeded in doing on land, Salvini set out to do the same at sea and considerably reduced the number of illegal migrants entering the country by restricting access to the port to migrant transport NGOs operating in the area search and rescue (SAR) off the coast of Libya. , thereby reducing the number of migrant deaths.

Salvini also promised to enact similar family-friendly policies that would allow Italians with large families to receive land grants in rural areas of the country.

However, the five-star League and Movement coalition was not to last with disagreements after Salvinis victory in the 2019 European Parliament elections, which led to its collapse in August.

The popularity of the League has remained constant since it left government, while the five-star movement, winner of the 2018 elections, has experienced a dramatic decline and only about a third of Italians support the current left-wing coalition. Five star democratic party as a migrant. transport NGOs have been given the green light to operate again.

Marine Le Pen, a close ally of Salvini, also experienced a dramatic increase in popularity in the 2010s and while she finished second behind Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 presidential election, her party is now still in first place place with Macrons La Rpublique en Marche! (LREM) in the polls and beat Macron in the 2019 European elections.

Le Pen triumphs over Macron in an exit poll from the EU elections and calls for new national elections https://t.co/MX9PTsLkMY

Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 26, 2019

Le Pen also succeeded in transforming the National Front into a major political force and, in 2018, renamed the party as the National Rally (RN).

While Germany received the largest number of migrants in total during the 2015 migration crisis, Sweden received the largest number of migrants per capita.

The Swedish populist Democrats (SD), led by Jimmie kesson, have grown dramatically over the past decade due to their criticism of mass migration and their firm stance on the growing trend of violent crime among gangs rampant in the country, which has seen a recent increase in bombing and explosions.

In 2010, the SD won only 5.7% of the vote in the national elections and managed to become the largest party in the country in a recent poll which placed the party at 24%, ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. .

VOX in Spain was one of the youngest populist parties in Europe to have achieved electoral success; it was formed in December 2013 and rose from just 0.2% in the 2016 national elections to become the third Spanish party in 2019 to win 15.1. percent of the vote and 52 seats in the Spanish Parliament.

Spain: populists make massive gains, Salvini predicts racist smears by the media https://t.co/jiZzse9tlT

Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) November 11, 2019

VOX is both anti-mass migration and pro-national sovereignty, but one of their most notable positions has been their intense opposition to the independence of Catalonia.

In 2019, shortly before their election, VOX leader Santiago Abascal told Breitbart London that he not only opposes the independence movement, but that he will also seek to make the separatist parties in Spain illegal.

The 2010s were the best years to date for the pro-sovereignty populist movement with several parties ending the decade as the most popular in their respective countries.

Whether or not he is currently in power or looking for gains in the next national elections, the populist movement has become an established political force throughout Europe, making the 2010s the decade of populism.


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The 2010s have been the best decade for European populism to date - Daily Gaming Worlld

WDET’s Top Story, News and Issue of 2019 – WDET

2019 has been a marathon of a news year. And it wasnt justimpeachment.

This past year, 101.9 WDET reported at a marijuana industry conventionin Detroit, on the migrant crisis at the Southern border of the U.S.,anddown the street from our Midtown studios on a racial discrimination lawsuit against Founders Brewingtaproom.

Our online audience may digest our news in different waysstreaming and reading stories at wdet.org, on NPR One, over a Google Home or Amazon Alexa or through our podcasts like MishMash and Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, but there were some clear stories and local news events that stood out no matter themedium.

Heres our top stories, news and issues of2019.


Eli Newman

Sandbags are stacked to precent flooding in Jefferson Chalmers, a neighborhood of Detroit that suffers from flooding due toitscanals.

In 2019, WDETs listeners and readerszeroed in on the dramatic effects of a warming planet.

This summer, WDETs Pat Batcheller reported on Great Lakes water levels reaching historic highs, after fluctuating for years, threatening homeowners alongLakeErie and Lake St. Claire with flooding and propertydamage.

Ellen Rutt

Cass Tech students painted signs with the help of artist Ellen Rutt for the Global Youth Climate Strikein2019.

Elsewhere, WDETs Eli Newman saw what flooding looks like in Jefferson-Chalmers, where residents saw water flowing into basements and homes. Residents said city officials were not doing enough to address theproblem.

My issue is blame, says Caroline Hardy-Grannum, a longtime resident of the area whose basement has about two feet of water in it. We all recognize what the canals are going to do. It has been predicted. But not what the drains are goingtodo.

For people around the world, standing up against climate change became a political moment. But others,Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson found,suffered fromecological grief brought on by wildlife loss and environmental change.



I dont want the church to go away. Its broken everybodysheart.

Mike Grobbel

WDETs Quinn Klinefelter reported on how Center Lines St. Clement Church couldface closure due to budget concerns. He attended mass one Sunday to hear what parishionersthought.

Its a beautiful church, everybodys friendly, Kelly Kannan said, her voice stained with tears. Beautiful church, I dont want the church to go away. Stay here. [The thought of it closing,]its brokeneverybodysheart.

It was one of our most-listened to and read stories of 2019, sparking discussions around architecture, faith, community and the preservation of historicspaces.

Read thestory


From automotive mergers to legal marijuana and budget stalemate in Lansing, WDETs airwaves wasnt short on local news to bring to our listeners. Here are the top news events and trends of 2019, as determined by our audience through page clicks, listens andshares.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has had a memorable first-term, with her signature .45-cent gas tax increase to fund road improvementsgetting caught up in budget haggling, the threat of a state shutdown, and eventually leading to her issuing nearly a billion dollars inline-item vetoes in aRepublican-passedstatebudget.

She also exercisedexecutive authority through a banof flavored-vaping productanda controversy at Wayne State University (Editors Note: WSU owns WDETslicense).


Shiraz Ahmed / WDET

Empty shelves at a prospective medical marijuana facility in CenterLine,Mich.

Legalization of recreational marijuana may have passed at the ballot box last year, but it quickly became apparent that customers would have to wait for the industry to get setup.

Municipalities got to vote on what recreational marijuana would like in their backyard, and many turned down the offer.

But the first establishments did open up in Ann Arbor, and even medical marijuana is continuing to grow in thestate.


Despite an anti-gerrymandering ballot measure that creates a redistricting commission to draw political mapspassing last year, the practice continues to threaten representation inMichigan.

First, a US Supreme Court decision passed down said thatfederal courts cannot intervene in partisan gerrymandering cases. The decision involved cases out of Maryland and North Carolina, but it had a major impact on a case that was waiting appealinMichigan.

Meanwhile, the redistricting commission began taking applications to serve on the board, but funding for the commission was threatened during state budgetnegotiations.


The announcement of Fiat Chryslers merger with French automaker Peugeot turned heads around the world, but particularly here in metroDetroit.

One expert thinks the merger is representative of the future of the autoindustry.


Jake Neher/WDET

The historic UAW strike against General Motors was one of our top news events of the year. It drew attention nationwide, and caught the glance of various Presidentialcandidates.

WDETs Laura Herberg wantedto show the human side of what a labor action looks like. She reported on what strikers do in their spare timeand spoke to workers striking outside GMs Warren Transmission Operationsfacility.

The strike ended up lasting a month and costing the state $18.5 million in lost income tax andwages.

Editors note:WDETreporters are members of the Professional and Administrative Union, Local 1979,UAW


Of course, no listing of news events in 2019 wouldbe complete without the impeachment of President Donald Trump, only the third president to be impeached in U.S.history.

The Presidents first stop after being impeached was Battle Creek,Mich.for a plannedrally. The vote draws attention to Michigans Democratic Congressional delegation, specifically Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, two red-to-blue 2018 swingdistricts.

But this story will continue in 2020, as the Senate tries Trump on the two articles ofimpeachment.


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Repeat of 2015 migrant crisis inevitable without action: Turkish president | TheHill – The Hill

Turkish President Recep TayyipErdoansaid Sunday that violence in Syrias Idlib region threatens to cause another Syrian refugee crisis akin to the one that began in 2015, according to Reuters.

Speaking in Istanbul Sunday, Erdoan said Russian and Syrian offensives in the region had driven more than 80,000 people toward Turkey. He added that Ankara was trying to the best of its possible to bring an end to the bombings, saying a Turkish delegation would travel to Moscow to discuss the issue Monday.

Unless Europe takes steps to stop the violence in the region, Erdoan added, the continent was likely to see an influx of refugees fleeing the war zone similar to 2015s, according to the news service.

Turkey invaded northeastern Syria following the U.S. departure from the region in October, with Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFormer pro golfer advanced business interests of indicted Giuliani associates: report Trump faces pivotal year with Russia on arms control Repeat of 2015 migrant crisis inevitable without action: Turkish president MORE reaching a new arrangement to demilitarize northern Syria by the end of the month.

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Triumph of the right in Sweden is a result of the total failure of liberalism – RT

Swedens right-wing Sweden Democrats are now neck and neck with the ruling Social Democrats in opinion polls. Though vilified and demonized, the partys success represents a complete failure of liberalism in the face of reality.

The Sweden Democrats - who were until recently dismissed as a fringe, racist party - are now surging in the polls. A voter survey, commissioned by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper last week, puts the party within 0.2 percentage points of Prime Minister Stefan Lofvens left-wing Social Democrats. Moreover, voters now agree with the partys policies on nine out of nine issues.

On immigration, 43 percent of voters side with the party and its leader, Jimmie Akesson. Only 15 percent favor Lofvens policies. Likewise, 31 percent favor Akessons position on law and order, compared to 19 percent for Lofven.

The press has not made Akessons ride to the top easy. Yet, most outlets have failed to dig up dirt on the 40-year-old politician, who like Frances Marine Le Pen, has made a point of distancing his party from its extreme-right roots and presenting a clean-cut image.

Akesson was rounded in the media for admitting to an online gambling addiction several years ago, but voters evidently didnt mind. Akessons past comments about homosexual parents were dug up by author Jonas Gardell for a much-publicized op-ed two weeks ago, readers gave him their vote a week later regardless. Do-gooding musician Bono even made a spectacle of comparing Akesson to Hitler before last years elections, to no avail.

Its not difficult to find the real reason for Akessons popularity. Sweden is in the throes of a crime wave. Murder, assault, rape, threats, and harassment have all skyrocketed since 2015, according to the countrys Crime Prevention Council. Sexual offenses in particular have tripled in the last four years, while murder and manslaughter have more than doubled.

Furthermore, Sweden has emerged as the hand grenade attack capital of Europe. In 2018 there were 162 bombings reported to police, and 93 reported in the first five months of this year, 30 more than during the same period in 2018. The level of attacks is extreme in a country that is not at war, Crime Commissioner Gunnar Appelgren told SVT last year.

A 2017 investigation found that immigrants, the majority of them from the Middle East and North Africa, were behind 90 percent of shootings in Sweden. Meanwhile, the countrys police force has identified 50 immigrant-heavy neighborhoods as vulnerable - a term many have taken to mean no-go zones.

The Sweden Democrats reject multiculturalism, and have proposed a tightening of immigration law and a return of refugees to their home countries. The party has advocated life without parole for serious offenses, and the deportation of foreigners found guilty of serious crimes.

Many of us remember another Sweden, Akesson wrote in an op-ed last month. An everyday life where crime was there but not so close. Crime that was not as crude and ruthless as what we see today.

Akessons paean to the past has been criticized as the typical nostalgia of nationalism, but in its place, Lofven has only offered denial, blaming segregation, poverty and unemployment for the crime in Swedens ghettos.

The segregation is because there is...too high unemployment in these areas. But that would have been the same regardless of who had lived there. If you put people born in Sweden under the same conditions, you get the same result he said in an interview with SVT last month.

However, unemployment has fallen as shootings have risen. Even if unemployment alone is to blame for violence, Lofven did not mention the fact that the unemployment rate among migrants in Sweden is triple the national average, while 90 percent of refugees who arrived since the 2015 migrant crisis are unemployed.

Instead, his government has engaged in across-the-board denialism. The taxpayer-funded Swedish Institute puts out videos downplaying the crime problem and literally telling critics on Twitter that nothing has happened here in Sweden. The institute has also created an Arabic-language advertising campaign inviting prospective migrants in with promises of generous welfare benefits.

Lofven publicly denied the existence of no-go zones in a statement given at the White House last year. But when crime statistics tell a different story, the Ministry of Justice has a plan for that too: suppress politically sensitive information, meddle with figures, and ignore embarrassing results.

Lofvens liberalism may have resonated with voters when he came to power in 2014. But the migrant crisis and subsequent crime wave that followed a year later proved its undoing, as the country was repaid for its humanitarianism in blood and a drain on welfare. A quick google search reveals hundreds of articles that pose questions like Why is Sweden shifting to the right?

The answer to that question is simple. Liberalism has clashed with reality, and lost.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


Triumph of the right in Sweden is a result of the total failure of liberalism - RT

A crisis within a crisis: Hundreds of unaccompanied minors left to ‘fend for themselves’ on Lesbos – InfoMigrants

Hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children on the Greek island of Lesbos are living in conditions that pose severe risks to their physical and mental well-being, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The Greek government announced plans to resettle children on the mainland, but aid organizations on Lesbos see little improvement so far.

Unaccompanied minors on the Greek island of Lesbos are being exposed to degrading conditions and often left to "fend for themselves," according to areportthis week from Human Rights Watch.

The research draws on anonymized interviews with 22 children from October this year, some as young as 14, living on Lesbos. Severe overcrowding in Moria, the island's main camp, has led to a lack of age-appropriate accommodation for children traveling alone or separated from family. The majority of the children spoken to for the report were living either in areas alongside unrelated adults, or in a large informal area that has sprung up outside the camp.

The report calls for an urgent response to the dangerous and unsanitary conditions the children are living in. One 16-year-old interviewee reported sleeping on a cardboard carton on the floor.

Sharing tents with adult strangers

Lesbos, alongside other Greek island "hotspots" on Samos and Chios, has experienced the biggest increase of boat arrivals since 2016, when the EU-Turkey Deal was introduced in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees to the continent.

With over 18,000 people now in a camp with capacity for little over 2,000, thousands -- includingthose with complex health needs, pregnant women, and young children -- are sleeping in tents on the rough, sloping ground of an olive grove. The area is often referred to as the "jungle" by those living there.

There are currently 968 unaccompanied and separated children on Lesbos, according to the latest UN figures. With only 147 spots for age-appropriate accommodation outside the camp, and 210 spaces inside Moria, hundreds are being left vulnerable and exposed to insecure, and sometimes violent, conditions.

Interviewees in the Human Rights Watch report described having to share tents with adult strangers, or on the ground without shelter -- some for as long as three months.

One 16-year-old interviewee from Afghanistan said in the report that he couldnt sleep while in the large main tent in Moria camp, intended for new arrivals. "There is no control who will come and sleep in there," he said. "The most difficult [thing] is that there's no light in the tent at night because the lamps are broken. It's terrifying because you don't know who or what is moving inside the tent."

"Everything is dangerous here -- the cold, the place I sleep, the fights," said one 14-year-old interviewee, who stated they lived in a rat-infested tent with 50 other people.

Not enough shelters available

There has always been a fragmented child protection system for unaccompanied minors on the island, Elina Sarantou from legal service provider HIAS on Lesbos, pointed out. Problems have included lack of information, an inefficient guardianship system, poor quality asylum interviews and delays, and inhumane reception conditions.

"The numbers however have now increased and it is therefore difficult, or even impossible, to ignore anymore," said Sarantou, adding that the current situation is directly related to shelter.

"In order for a minor to be transferred, a space has to open up on the mainland," Sarantou told InfoMigrants. "And since there are only shelters for a quarter of the minors in Greece, there is an obvious bottleneck."

In November the Greek government announced plans to respond to the severe overcrowding of hotspot areas such as Lesbos on the Greek islands. Plans include moving 20,000 people to the mainland early next year, and shutting camps on Lesbos, Chios and Samos - replacing them with 'closed' facilities that human rights advocates have feared will constitute detention centers. While transfers from the islands to the mainland have increased in recent months, high numbers of boat arrivals have also continued.

Relocation to the mainland

At the end of last month the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also announcedNo Child Alone, a new scheme to respond to the situation of unaccompanied minors on the islands -- promising to quickly settle thousands of children on the mainland. HIAS however say they have seen little implementation on Lesbos so far.

At the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) pediatric clinic outside Moria, mental health activity manager Angela Modarelli says, since October, they have started to see unaccompanied minors accessing psychological support "because the situation is getting worse and worse."

"They are in an unknown place, an unknown world - not speaking the language - without any support," said Modarelli, adding they are treated like adults even though they are children. "Every night when it becomes dark, they have to find a way to keep themselves safe.''

"Mostly when they arrive to see us it's already a crisis moment," said Modarelli. She has seen cases of self-harm, depression, suicidal ideation and plans, sometimes attempts. "And we had kids of 16 and 17 having a plan to end their life. Because... this is too much. They dont see that they are welcome here."

Most of the unaccompanied minors interviewed in the recent Human Rights Watch report also reported experiencing psychological distress.

Although long term solutions are urgently needed now, Afshan Khan, UNICEF special coordinator for the migrant response in Europe, toldInfoMigrants,Greece could not be expected to provide this support alone.

"UNICEF is once again urging European Governments to increase pledges to relocate unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children, fast-track family reunifications for those who already have relatives in Europe and increase funds supporting response efforts," said Khan.

"Unaccompanied children are among the most vulnerable people on the Greek islands, and they need Greece and other European countries to take care of them," said Coss in the Human Rights Watch report. "The EU and its member states should demonstrate responsibility and care for kids who suffer there every day."

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A crisis within a crisis: Hundreds of unaccompanied minors left to 'fend for themselves' on Lesbos - InfoMigrants

Pope Francis decries Libyan migrant camps as places of torture and slavery – The National

Pope Francis has described indifference towards the migrant crisis as a sin and called detention centres in Libya as places of torture and despicable slavery.

The Pope, who has made defending refugees a key part of his time at the head of the Catholic Church, was speaking as he welcomed 33 migrants to the Vatican from a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

He said all detention centres, which are overcrowded and a hot spot for human rights violations, should be closed and migrant traffickers punished.

Exact migrant figures in Libya are difficult to determine with many held in unofficial camps where abuse is particularly rife, but the figure is believed to be well over 600,000.

So far in 2019 just under 100,000 migrants arrived by sea to Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Malta, according the UNs refugee agency. Some 1,277 are dead or missing.

While the figures are a far cry from 2015 when over a million made the voyage by sea, the percentage of deaths to arrivals has risen sharply.

"How can we fail to hear the desperate cry of so many brothers and sisters who prefer to face a stormy sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of torture and ignoble slavery?", the Pope said.

"How can we remain indifferent to the abuses and violence of which they are innocent victims, leaving them at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers? Our ignorance is a sin."

Pope Francis criticised the policy of preventing migrants from landing in Europe, which has repeatedly seen rescue ships stranded in the Mediterranean and unable to dock.

This approach has emboldened the Libyan coastguard to lead rescues, which typically sees the migrants returned to detention centres.

"Serious efforts must be made to empty the detention camps in Libya, evaluating and implementing all possible solutions," Pope Francis said.

"We must denounce and prosecute traffickers who exploit and abuse migrants,"

The Popes comments came as he unveiled a cross adorned with a life jacket, which had been worn by a migrant who died last year while crossing the Mediterranean.

I decided to expose here this life jacket, crucified on this cross, to remind us that we must keep our eyes open, keep our hearts open, to remind everyone of the absolute commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers, he said.

In 2016 Pope Francis flew three Syrian families languishing in Lesbos to the Vatican and he has been highly critical of the mistreatment of migrants.

Updated: December 20, 2019 04:35 PM

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Pope Francis decries Libyan migrant camps as places of torture and slavery - The National

Top 10 Films of 2019 – Boca Raton

Twenty-nineteen was another powerful year for world cinema, if not an entirely compelling one for American filmshence the fact that six of my entries for the past year were international movies. But its a masterpiece from one of the dominant voices of American independent cinema in the aughts that claims the No. 1 spot.

Ash is Purest White, the master Chinese director JiaZhangkes existential spin on the gangster epic, follows Qiao, the fiercelyfaithful girlfriend to Bin, a middling mobster. After serving five years inprison for firing a gun to protect Bin, Qiao must forge a new life, griftingfrom one mark to another while searching for Bin, whose allegiances haveshifted. Zhangkes direction and narrative preoccupations drift much like hisunorthodox heroine, following her on boat and train, and culminating in afascinating reversal of fortune. Doubling as a metaphor for Chinas owncomplicated growth over the 21st century, Ash is Purest White is a pristinejewel of movie with stylistic associations ranging from Antonioni to Scorsese.

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults stirring Waves is acombustible family drama of unusual enormity, and one that hits literally closeto home: It was filmed in Broward and Dade counties. When a shoulder injurythreatens to derail a star athletes plans for the future, it sets off a chainof tragic consequences presented with almost unbearable tension. A diptych of amovie, its second half, which follows his sister Emily through her firstbudding romance, is more contemplative, but no less profound. Set against thebackdrop of the brutal Darwinism of the college admissions process and thedouble standards society places on black Americans to excel, Waves is aguidebook for coping in the 21st century. Its emotionally draining, and worthevery minute.

This German import marries the harrowing solitude of asurvivalist drama with headline-ripped social commentary. During a characterssolo voyage to lush Ascension Island, she faces a brutal stormone renderedwith a camera that yaws from side to side along with her yacht, and anunnerving sound design that places us among the creaking infrastructure of theboat and the apocalyptic torrents of Mother Nature. But the movies darkestturn arrives later, when she happens upon a wrecked fishing trawler ofabandoned passengers, of whose plight the Coast Guard seems curiously unmoved.Examining the human capacity to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, itsmoral heft reverberates like an unanswered SOS call.

In director Christian Petzolds slippery adaptation of AnnaSegherss World War II-era novel, he transforms her story about an unnamedFrench narrator fleeing the German invasion into a temporal jumble ofhistorical rhymes and repeats. It could be 1944, 1984 or 2014, and maybe itsall three of these. Petzold wants us to feel unmoored; this is a story, afterall, about dislocation as a permanent state. Transitis propelledby enough bureaucratic cul-de-sacs and absurdist ironies that its as if aKafka story was filmed in the slick style of late 1960s Hitchcock, to saynothing of the looming influence of Samuel Beckett. Petzolds unspecifieddystopia has plenty to say about the Nazi regime, about third-worlddictatorships, about todays unfolding migrant crisis, all of them connected bya universal condition ofstuckness.

Quentin Tarantinos black comedy, set against the backdrop of the Manson Family/Sharon Tate murder 50 years ago, is a chronicle of inside-Hollywood metafiction. Its a layered love letter to the films Tarantino himself famously binged while working the register at Video Archives in Los Angeles in his 20s, and is thus a cinephiles heaven. Tarantinos trademark leisurely pacinghis propensity to let scenes play out past other filmmakers expiration timesworks to the movies loosely structured favor. There is very little plot to speak of but a great deal of insightful observations, witty asides, and generous dips into kidney-shaped pools of Hollywood nostalgia. Yet the movies revisionist history, boisterous humor and self-referentiality skate over its blunt assessment of a studio system in its death spasms and a generation losing its innocence.

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Celine Sciammas historical romance is a defiant erasure ofthe male gaze, a domineering fixture and a theoretical bugaboo since the dawnof cinema. The story is simple enough: A painter, Marianne, travels to a remoteisland in Brittany to paint a commissioned portrait of the aristocraticHeloise, an unwilling subject who is soon to be shipped off to Milan in anarranged marriage. The women end up falling in love, which is, of course,forbidden. What could have been the stuff of Merchant-Ivory prestige cinemainstead borrows its syntax from rigorous filmmakers such as Ophuls, and Powelland Pressburger, co-opting their rigorous melodrama as a shot across the bow topatriarchies everywhere. Distinctions between artist and model, mistress andservant, and form and content burn away in the movies crackling fireplace,while its symbolic send-off is at once subversive and heartbreaking.

Greta Gerwigs masterly follow-up to Lady Bird extends her affinities for young women who chafe againstsocietys strictures. She shuffles the source material into an ambitiousbifurcated narrative that oscillates between the characters young adulthood,after three of the sisters have left the March family home, and a formativeperiod seven years earlier, when they all lived together as the Civil War woundto its bloody close. This approach allows past and present to rhyme in waysthat are both richly ironic and devastating, so that its themes ofproto-feminism, gender roles, sacrifice and patriotism can ripple across thecanvas like leitmotifs. Though in some ways her movie is a modernist, playfuladaptation, she is in the best way a reverential classicist, with countlessimages that evoke John Ford. Every shot resembles the sort of painting youwould like to step into.

Pedro Almodvars tender memory filmabout a reclusive,physically hurting filmmaker whose latest festival invitation prompts his past tolap against his present like waves on a beachfrontis unlike anything yet made from this naughty provocateur ofcandy-colored melodrama. Yet as a remembrance of things past and a lucidreckoning with the directors own weaknesses and misgivings,Pain andGloryis a pinnacle of autofiction, in many ways representingeverything his oeuvre has been building toward. He saves the films mostself-reflexive masterstroke for the marvelous final sequencean act of bravuramagic that, once you unpeel its layers, speaks to the curative properties offilmmaking.

WithParasite, the South Korean mad genius Boon Joon-ho has crafted a satire so funny, so savage and so necessary in our present moment of global unrest and anxiety that it makes Luis Bunuels bourgeois vivisections look almost tame. Think pieces will be written about popular cultures response to this young centurys grift, class envy and income inequality; many will lead withParasite. But its his refusal to demonize or caricature either of the movies warring families that renders the films pathos so powerful.Parasitehas a great deal to say about a range of other topics, toolike globalization American cultural appropriationbut its the moments of casual malice, whether delivered from the bubble of privilege, in one familys case, or by the need to feel superior toanyoneelse, in the others case, that condemn both sides.

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The title is seemingly cynical, as no movie has betterexplored the brutality and absurdity of the soulless divorce industrythanMarriage Story. Yet writer-director Noah Baumbach, whosescreenplay drew partly from his own divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh, takesthe sober, cosmic view of marriages inextricable hold on people even whendocuments, and feelings, and life itself suggest otherwise. Marriage Storyischock full of lived-in insights that perhaps only a middle-aged person couldreliably write. And without much of a plot to propel the scenes forward, themovie assumes its power from its accretion of accurate details, its micro setpieces, its deadpan wit even in times of pain and sorrow. All of which is tosay thatMarriage Storyisdespite its achieved sublimity, thetears it will doubtlessly induce, and its characters (literal, in one case)open woundsan unlikely comedy.

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Top 10 Films of 2019 - Boca Raton