Friday, September 30, 2011

Common Sense in Immigration Law?

"Nadia Habib and her mother, Nazmin, had appeared before immigration officials Thursday with their passports and luggage ready to go after Nazmin Habib's illegal status caught up with them. Nadia, who has lived in the United States since she was 20 months old, had not realized that she was an illegal immigrant until she qualified for financial aid for college and was asked to produce identity papers."

-LA Times

Nadia Habib has lived as productive citizen in this country for almost twenty years. She does not remember being brought to this country, and knows almost nothing of her native Bangladesh, where she is to be sent. The only reason this is happening to Nadia at all is because she got into college. She learned of her illegal status when the financial aid office asked for identity papers.

We often see cases where illegals or legal permanent residents are deported because they have committed a crime. For better or worse we have decided that coming to America is a privilege and if you break the law you are no longer welcome. But Nadia broke no law, by all accounts she was doing exactly what we wish more of our young people were doing: succeeding and going to college.

Now luckily this is not an entirely tragic story. Their case is being reviewed, and there is a chance they will be allowed to stay. Also, this story is garnering national attention, which could be helpful for their case. But knowing how fickle Immigration courts are this is far from certain. By deporting Nadia and her mother we are breaking up a family and severely hampering a young student.

When will we come together and reform immigration law to include some common sense. Nadia played no part in bringing herself to this country illegally, she probably doesn't even remember the trip. She has lived as a law abiding citizen and is succeeding, isn't this exactly the type of person we want in this country? I only hope that some good can come out of this case in the form of attention and hopefully future legal status for Nadia and her mother.

"Well-Founded Fear"....the musical?

"Take Me America" is a rock musical hailing from the Village Theater that follows the story of 7 refugees seeking asylum in the U.S and the immigration officials assigned to their cases.

Many modern musicals are known for their attempts at tackling challenging and controversial issues. It's why plays such as "Rent" and "The Producers" are so well-known. But who would have thought that a documentary on asylum law would be the inspiration for one of these pieces?

In case you don't know, "Well-Founded Fear" is a documentary that gives insight into the process of seeking asylum in the U.S. While I'm sure the directors/producers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini expected that this piece would yield mixed reactions, I'm sure they never anticipated that its content would be used in musical theatre.

I have yet to see "Take Me America", so I'm afraid I can't really say whether the play is tasteful or offensive. That being said, I can't help but feel conflicted in my reaction to merely knowing this musical is out there. It is possible that this may be an effective means of bringing asylum troubles to the American public and making more people aware of the struggle for asylum and asylum law. However, this musical also has the potential to be insensitive, offensive, and highly accurate. Is it acceptable to find humor in someone else's persecution? And the fact is that many, if not the majority, of asylum seekers have been persecuted in some sense.

But we do need to bring the issue to the attention of the American public. And musical theater has worked in promoting other issues. Could it do the same for the issue of asylum as well?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

February 6th is International Day of Zero Toleration to Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is possibly one of the worst practices and I am just appalled at the statistics of women who undergo the procedure every year. According to an article on Population Reference Bureau, 100 million to 140 million women worldwide undergo FGM/C and more than 3 million girls are at risk for cutting each year on the African continent alone. I really cannot wrap my mind around these numbers. I spend my day to day worrying about completing my assignments, but women across the world are fleeing from FGM. Below are two pictures of the tools that are used for FGM. I saw some frightening, explicit, traumatic pictures of women undergoing the surgery but I won't post those. While I read Fauziya Kasinga's experience in 'Do they hear you when you cry,' her descriptions of FGM and the tools used remained in my mind for a very long time. Seeing these pictures provides more perspective-can you imagine how dirty and unsterile these instruments are?  

FGM is classified into four types: clitoridectomy (partial of total removal of the clitoris), excision (partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora), infibulation (a covering seal narrows the vaginal opening), and other (including any harmful procedures such as pricking, piercing, incising, etc). Despite its negative and harmful effects, ranging from infection to death, this practice is still taking place. Why? Because it is a tradition. Because it guarantees and maintains a girls' innocence and it prevents promiscuity. There is a lot of international response to this issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been increased advocacy and increased international involvement. In Mauritania, a country located in West Africa, 72% of their women have been cut and there is a consensus amongst doctors to stop this practice. 34 Muslim clerics and scholars in Mauritania declared a religious decree against FGM/C and that it is clearly against Islam and should be discontinued. The government also agrees with this decision. In 2010, Ugandan's parliament passed a bill that outlawed FGM/C and convicted offenders to have 10 years in prison and if a girl dies during the act, then those involved will receive a life sentence. Although this law a huge step, FGM/C is still being performed in rural areas in Uganda. Obviously, there are many challenges. In Sierra Leone, 94% of their women have been cut. Four female reporters were abducted by FGM/C supporters and accused the reporters of insulting their practices and traditions. Again, these statistics are scary. This practice must come to a stop. More countries in Africa and the Middle East have to outlaw such procedure.  


As if I am not already fed up with US Immigration Law. This article is mind blowing. I read the headline and was in complete disbelief. I actually read it and about 3 times to make sure that I was reading it correctly. I believe the most shocking part of this story is "Mangione, a 27-year law enforcement veteran, wore a gray jumpsuit with 'federal prisoner' on the back in court Wednesday, and his hands and feet were shackled..." He was a 27 year law enforcer, keywords LAW ENFORCER. In my mind law enforcers should apply all areas of the law not just in the area they specialize in or work in, I mean that is just my opinion. I also think it is ironic that immigrant detainees walk around with "prisoner" on their backs and in some cases none of them have committed crimes aside from illegally entering the US.

That's just my take on the situation. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Housing, a Human Right?

There have been many cases of Roma families in Serbia who are being forced to leave their homes. They are being evicted by the Serbian government, but the government is not doing anything in return to help resettle these families. The families are told simply to go look for jobs, but there is no help from government agencies to send them in the right direction. Due to recent problems with the economy, there just aren’t enough jobs around, and families are being told to leave their property and remove all of their possessions. Serbian authorities have failed to seek out adequate housing solutions for these families. Recent evictions have caused many families to start living on the streets, collecting trash to sell, and often, starve.

This video is a campaign from Amnesty International to help take action against this injustice. Their main premise centers around the idea that ‘housing is a human right.” When thinking about universal declaration of human rights and learning about protecting people from persecution, the idea of housing seems rather interesting. Should it be considered a human right or are we pushing the limit?

Kenya: UN expert urges durable solutions for internally displaced persons

Kenya has experienced several waves of internal displacement in recent years, including an estimated 600,000 people that were uprooted by the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential elections.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs said that any strategy must include the adoption of a policy and legislative framework, consistent with international and regional standards. It must also include capacity building, including in technical aspects such as registration, profiling, and assistance and protection programme management; prevention and mitigation of internal displacement; and durable solutions.

Kenya’s government authorities need to step up and address this disaster that is taking control over its people. They also need to join forces with the international community to collect more reliable sources to be able to give more attention to vulnerable groups, such as children.

How can the International Community Curb Anti-Gay Laws in Cameroon?

This use of criminal law to punish private sexual activity between consenting adults contravenes international human rights laws that Cameroon has signed and ratified,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

In the last six months, the Cameroon Government has violated the human rights of its homosexual community: “Discriminatory laws that target individuals on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity create a climate of fear for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals,” said Parfait Behen, the president of Alternatives Cameroun.

According to an Amnesty International article, at least ten individuals have been arrested under law that discriminates based upon sexual orientation. Once detained, the supposed homosexuals tortured and treated very poorly while in custody:
“These laws allow police and other actors to target individuals for harassment or violence with impunity, said Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of IGLHRC.

Fortunately, five human rights groups - Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), L’Association pour la Défense des Droits des Homosexuel(le)s (ADEFHO), and Alternatives Cameroun - joined the fight to urge the Cameroon Government to release all individuals detained under discriminatory law. Despite pressure from these groups, Cameroon's discriminatory practices are not likely to fade all that quickly; resulting in increasing torture and ill-treatment of the homosexual community.

What can be done, if anything, to pressure the Cameroon Government to stop these discriminatory practices? Does the burden fall on developed nations, such as the United States, to pressure the Cameroon Government? Or, is the solution to help homosexuals in Cameroon attain formal "refugee" status; and help them re-locate? What should be done?