More Auntie Zeituni news: Bush administration lifted rule. But why?

Update Feb. 3rd:  More here on Auntie.

Updating the news from earlier today, the Associated Press now tells us:

The Bush administration quietly withdrew in the weeks after Barack Obama’s election a new rule requiring high-level approval before federal agents nationwide could arrest fugitive immigrants. The future for Obama’s aunt, who had been living in the country illegally, will be determined at an immigration court hearing in April.

…The directive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement expressed concerns about “negative media or congressional interest,” according to a newly disclosed federal document obtained by The Associated Press. The department lifted the immigration order weeks later, on Nov. 26.

And then on December 17 a judge stayed Auntie’s deportation order, and reopened her asylum case on December 30. Her hearing will be April 1 in Boston.

ICE, the immigration agency, doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing.

The immigration directive was lifted weeks after the election, according to an internal e-mail provided Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel previously had told the AP the directive was still in place, and the White House told the AP late Sunday that Obama would consider whether to overturn it.

And does anyone have an explanation why the order was put in place at all and then lifted? It seemed that Bush wanted to spare Obama possible embarrassment, but then why lift the order?

The AP article is on the MSNBC web site and has a number of links to previous stories on Auntie Zeituni, including the Obama campaign’s reaction to the first news about her.

LOL! Four arrested in Somaliland thought to be Americans

Update!!!!   The Jawa Report is now saying they have captured 11 more Somali-American terrorists, for the hot news go here.


Well, what do you know.  Maybe they have been found!   Just when Somali Mommy and Daddy in Minneapolis are wondering what happened to their  kids (former refugees), it turns out that American “terrorists” are being arrested in Somaliland.  Could they be four of our missing youngsters?  (Hat tip to a Tennessee friend)

Hargeisa (Somalilandpress – 25th Jan 2009) – Somaliland security forces arrested five people after they raided a house in Hargeisa. The suspects consist of four men who are said to be from the United States and a woman from Mogadishu, all five suspects were taken into custody yesterday.

The article in the Somaliland Press is really short, but here is a little more news:

Local newspapers reported today that the woman who came from Mogadishu rented a villa in Hargeisa days before the four men arrived from the US. Members of the security forces had received a tip about the terrorist suspects and were ready to move in and arrest them.

So, assuming they are American Somalis, will our State Department now be in a position to get them back?  Good luck with that.  We will be watching!

By the way, FOX News at noon today was reporting the original missing men story we first reported two months ago.

Are you feeling powerless? Maybe this is why.

Philip K. Howard has an article in the Wall Street Journal today that explains a great deal about the state of our society. It’s called “How Modern Law Makes Us Powerless.” He begins:

Calling for a “new era of responsibility” in his inaugural address, President Barack Obama reminded us that there are no limits to “what free men and women can achieve.” Indeed. America achieved greatness as the can-do society.  …

And then he comments:

But there’s a threshold problem for our new president. Americans don’t feel free to reach inside themselves and make a difference. The growth of litigation and regulation has injected a paralyzing uncertainty into everyday choices. All around us are warnings and legal risks. The modern credo is not “Yes We Can” but “No You Can’t.” Our sense of powerlessness is pervasive. Those who deal with the public are the most discouraged. Most doctors say they wouldn’t advise their children to go into medicine. Government service is seen as a bureaucratic morass, not a noble calling. Make a difference? You can’t even show basic human kindness for fear of legal action. Teachers across America are instructed never to put an arm around a crying child.

He points out that the rights that now count are the rights of those who disagree, instead of the focus on personal freedom we used to enjoy.  And here’s the nub of it, the reason I am posting the article:

Here we stand, facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, and Americans no longer feel free to do anything about it. We have lost the idea, at every level of social life, that people can grab hold of a problem and fix it. Defensiveness has swept across the country like a cold wave. We have become a culture of rule followers, trained to frame every solution in terms of existing law or possible legal risk. The person of responsibility is replaced by the person of caution. When in doubt, don’t.

If you read RRW regularly, you see how often Ann urges you to act on your beliefs. Start a blog, write something, tell somebody, organize.  But maybe you think it’s not worth it; that you are powerless.

Of course, it’s not just the explosion of litigation and regulation that makes us feel powerless. We are lied to by the media and have difficulty uncovering the truth in many matters. Our elected representatives often pay no attention to our wishes. Or they themselves have little power against the elites who control much of society. There are a thousand reasons to feel powerless. And maybe Ann can comment on how Alinsky’s rules are intended to make us feel (and be) even more powerless.

But diagnosing a problem puts you at least halfway to the cure. Read the whole article, and decide that you will not be controlled by outside forces. You can figure out in what spheres you can act, and what you want to accomplish — and then you can act.

Obama’s Auntie Zeituni is back in the news

Barack Obama is not just the first black president — he’s also probably the first president to have an aunt who is an illegal alien. And George W. Bush made sure to protect her before he left office. The Associated Press reports:

The Homeland Security Department still is requiring high-level approval before federal immigration agents can arrest fugitives, a rule quietly imposed by the Bush administration days before the election of Barack Obama, whose aunt has been living in the United States illegally.

The unusual directive from the Homeland Security Department came amid concerns that such arrests might generate “negative media or congressional interest,” according to a newly disclosed federal document obtained by The Associated Press.

The directive makes clear that U.S. officials worried about possible election implications of arresting Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama’s late father, who at the time was living in public housing in Boston. She is now believed to be living in Cleveland.

We reported on Auntie Zeituni here, here, here and here.

The AP goes on:

Obama’s aunt was instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya. The East African nation has been fractured by violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

Despite the deportation order, Onyango traveled to Washington last week for her nephew’s inauguration. News organizations observed her attending an inaugural ball at Washington’s Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, a historic luxury hotel, with her immigration lawyer, Margaret Wong.

Obama is playing it cool. (That’s his M.O. — act cool as a cucumber, and do what he likes out of the spotlight.) The AP again:

Obama has said he didn’t know his aunt was living in the United States illegally and believes that laws covering the situation should be followed. The White House said late Sunday that Onyango’s lawyer, Margaret Wong, contacted Obama’s lawyer to confirm Wong’s role in the case.

“They agreed at the time that the case should proceed in the ordinary course, with neither the president nor his representatives having any involvement,” the White House said.

She’s fighting the deportation order, of course. Although she has broken the law, here’s what ICE is concerned about:

ICE has since said it is investigating whether any laws or rules were broken in the disclosure about Obama’s aunt.

If laws were broken, I’m sure some lawyer will contact Auntie Zeituni to help her with a lawsuit. Maybe a personal lawsuit against whoever disclosed her illegal status. That might be the AP:

The AP was first to disclose Onyango’s illegal status Oct. 31, hours after the Homeland Security directive was issued.

I applaud the Associated Press. Lately their news dispatches are often more like opinion pieces (leftist, of course), but they have done stellar reporting on the Auntie Zeituni matter. The Times (UK) broke the story about Auntie’s existence but the AP has stayed on the story without bias. Kudos to the writers of this article, Ted Bridis and Eileen Sullivan.

In one of my earlier posts I linked to a Victor Davis Hanson piece about the meaning of the Auntie Zeituni matter, called How Many Laws Can One Break? It’s worth reading again.

Update: See the new item on Auntie Zeituni later in the day here.

Thailand’s “dump-at-sea” policy on illegal aliens drawing reporters like sharks

It has been fascinating over recent weeks to watch a story grow into an international crisis.   That is what has happened with the Rohingya boat men story.  For new readers, reports surfaced at the end of December that hundreds of Rohingya Muslim men were being detained by the Thai military as they arrived on beaches in Thailand seeking by some accounts a better life, and by other accounts have a darker mission—joining the Muslim insurgency in the South of Thailand.

The explosion in the story came as a result of the apparently now true allegation that the Thai military is hauling them back to the sea in boats without paddles resulting in hundreds perishing at sea.

To get you up to speed, check out this Christian Science Monitor article a couple of days ago (thanks to all who sent it).  A little background from the CSM:

Thailand has long been a magnet for millions of economic migrants as well as refugees escaping persecution in Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Human traffickers often play a role in transporting both groups, exposing those on the run to egregious abuses. Thailand has a mixed record on hosting refugees.

Most Rohingya, who are denied legal rights in Burma, begin their journey in Bangladesh, where more than 200,000 live in unofficial camps. A further 28,000 are registered with the UNHCR. From there, men pay smugglers for passage across the Indian Ocean to Thailand, usually as a transit stop to reach Malaysia, a Muslim country with a sizable Rohingya population. Some Bangladeshis also travel there.

Now, CNN has sent a team of reporters to the region, so get ready for stories far and wide.   CNN has obtained photos of the ‘dump-at-sea’ that they must have received from someone inside the Thai military.  I’m not defending the Thai military when I say this, but if the photos are legit,  it was really stupid of them to photograph the hauling out to sea event.

This (below) is from CNN and it has a bit of new information for those of us following the story on a regular basis.  CNN says the Thai military is protecting the local Thai villagers (you know, kind of like what our military should be doing on the Mexican border).

The Rohingya, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, have been fleeing their country in rickety boats for years, in search of a better life.

In Thailand, many instead have found deprivation and the possibility of desertion far off shore, according to the CNN investigation.

The source who provided CNN with photos of refugees in a boat being towed out to sea stressed that the Thai army had given the refugees food and water, but he also confirmed that the boats had been pulled for more than two days into international waters before they were set adrift.

His account directly contradicts briefings by senior Thai army sources who denied any such operation was undertaken.

A source in the Thai military, after extensive questioning, did confirm to CNN that the Thai army was operating a dump-at-sea policy. But the source defended it, insisting that each boatload of refugees was always given sufficient supplies of food and water.

That source claimed local villagers had become afraid of the hundreds of Rohingya arriving each month, and that they were accusing the refugees of stealing their property and threatening them.

Beware, as the world economy continues to tank, there will be more of this—economic migrants flowing across borders—and more demand that the US and western countries take them in.

That is what this media drumbeat is working up to.

For more on the Rohingya, see our extensive archive here.