Saturday, February 28, 2009

Haitians hope for Obama

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.  Last year alone, aside from the political and social unrest, 2008 held numerous environmental disasters including mudslides.  We all heard about the collapse of  a school in November that killed nearly one hundred young students and wounded many more.  In response to this chaos and disarray, the United Nations sent 10,000 peacekeepers to help and support.  The aid is hardly enough.  

Throughout this difficult time, the Haitian government requested that the United States grant temporary protected status to Haitian immigrants.  Bush considered the request for a few short months, before declining it and ordering further deportation of the Haitian immigrants. 
To make matters worse, many of the Haitians deported are not criminals.  Rather elderly, mothers, and people who have lived in the United States for years who have no where to go once in Haiti.  

My question to Human Rights Human Wrongs, spring 2009, is should there be a sixth element to being qualified for asylum including environmental disasters that the government cannot protect its people against?  If people starving in jails can gain asylum because their government is unable to feed them, shouldn't natural disasters count as well?  Surely IJs and ICE attorneys would see this as too large a group etc.  However, Haiti is the POOREST country in this hemisphere, there should be some loophole here.  That is not to say that the U.S. should invite all of Haiti here for a vacation during the rainy season.  But why send innocent people back into the dangers of Haiti?  Perhaps President Obama can help change this unnecessary cruelty against our weakest nation on this side of the globe.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fake Immigration Attorney+ Real Clients= BIG Problems

By now, we are all aware that the immigration system is very much a believer that immigrants are guilty until they can prove otherwise. Guilty of what you ask? I don’t know and neither does INS or ICE-they are just guilty. This story is a direct result of immigrants and detainees having no right to court appointed lawyers and then having to resort to inexpensive and sometimes inadequate legal service. In this story we have a Dominican immigration attorney who practiced law in Dominican Republic but was never admitted to the bar in the United States. This man, Mr. Espinol, nonetheless declared himself an immigration attorney and targeting desperate immigrants, abused of the trust his Latino immigrant clients put in him. Mr. Espinol received payments from his low-income clients but would not file applications for green cards when he was paid for that among other services. Mr. Espinol infuriates me. Here is a man, in the position to help his community. The assumption is that he knows the despair in his clients; that he understands. Instead Mr. Espinol abused and exploited some of the most vulnerable people who sought him out for help. At the mercy of volunteer lawyers from the City Bar Association (NYC) in a legal clinic, Mr. Espinol’s clients find themselves in a dire situation. Some face deportation and have missed deadlines to file applications among other things. This story should remind us of the great responsibility we have taken. Many of us have met our clients and need no reminder of how REAL this is. I don’t want to resemble this Mr. Espinol not one second throughout this semester in respect to the inadequacy of my service to the client I am working with. This goes for all of us. We may not be real immigration attorneys, but everything we read, write, touch is real in these cases, and we must always be true to that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Religion as a premise for human rights abuse

Pakistan has been in turmoil for the past few years with rising insurgency within the country. In the North West Frontier Province, Taliban leaders have come to power and have driven many out of the sanctity of their homes because of the ongoing clashes between the government and the militants. The issue of imposing Sharia Law in the country is not new. The militants and extremists have been pushing the government to impose Sharia in order to avoid clashes. The situation is out of control and the government has had great difficulty in curtailing the issue. The announcement of Sharia Law in NWFP is a human rights abuse because according to the militants and extremists interpretation of the law, women have no rights and their education is frowned upon. As the article talks about, it also gives rise to a parallel system of justice where punishment is given in the most inhumane ways. This could pose a threat to the whole country's stability because if the Taliban have been successful in having Sharia imposed in one part of the country, I don't think anything will stop them from doing so in other parts also using the same techniques of violence that they did in Swat. This decision to impose Sharia in Swat will give rise to many human rights abuses especially against women. The condition of Swat will be the same as Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. 

Think you can change the world?

A former student of mine sent the above link -- have some great ideas on changing the world? Want to win $50,000? Enter the contest -- entries are due by March 2nd.
Good luck!

Monday, February 23, 2009 the US?

I was shocked when my father told me about this story the other day... A woman beheaded here in the U.S? Is this an honor killing? A simple homocide? Is homocide ever simple? I find this story pertinent because we are all dealing with cases regarding various human rights abuses. It's a little ironic that the very abuse that many come to our country fleeing happens here, less than 500 miles away from our school. I like to think that I am culturally sensitive, but I have no tolerance for customs that dictate a painful death. I'm sure death by decapitation is far from comfortable.