Arizona Republic reporter does old-fashioned investigative work on Arizona rape case

Remember the case we told you about here in July?  It is the horrible story of an 8-year-old Liberian refugee girl being raped by neighborhood boys (also Liberians) and then if that wasn’t traumatic enough for the child, her parents blamed her.  Ultimately, social services removed her from the home and later the parents were arrested on various child abuse charges.

But, as interesting and as thorough as this article is, the more incredible thing for me was to see the amount of work the reporter, Daniel Gonzalez, put into the report! 

For this story, reporter Daniel González reviewed hundreds of pages of court documents and police records and attended several juvenile-court hearings. The dialog in the story was adapted from police records and transcripts of interviews conducted by police. He also drew from numerous reports about sexual violence and Liberian refugees as well as from conversations with experts named in those studies.


In addition, González interviewed more than a dozen Liberian refugees and immigrants living in the Phoenix area, refugee resettlement workers and rape experts in Phoenix and Liberian consular officials in Chicago. And he talked with residents and managers of the apartment complex where the girl lived.

There was a little touch of political correctness in this article, but all in all it was very informative.  Maybe there is hope afterall for the return of good old-fashioned investigative reporting.

I do have one question though about the story.  My understanding is that not all Liberians are here under the Refugee Resettlement Program but are here in a special category—Temporary Protected Status—making their continued residency here even more tenuous.

Now, Mr. Gonzalez, maybe you would like to do some work on that van crash near Tucson that killed Burundian refugees last summer.

An honest look at second-generation Latinos

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies recommends this unusually honest article in the Washington Post — Struggles of the second generation, by N.C. Aizenman. Subtitled “U.S.-born children of Latino immigrants fight to secure a higher foothold,” it starts off with a personal story like almost all Washington Post articles, but soon proceeds to the problems:

Whether they [the second generation of Latino immigrants] succeed will have consequences far beyond immigrant circles. As a result of the arrival of more than 20 million mostly Mexican and Central American newcomers in a wave that swelled in the 1970s and soared during the 1990s, the offspring of Latino immigrants now account for one of every 10 children, both in the United States and the Washington region.

Largely because of the growth of this second generation, Latino immigrants and their U.S.-born children and grandchildren will represent almost a third of the nation’s working-age adults by mid-century, according to projections from U.S. Census Bureau data by Jeffrey S. Passel, a demographer with the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

Not since the last great wave of immigration to the United States around 1900 has the country’s economic future been so closely entwined with the generational progress of an immigrant group. And so far, on nearly every measure, the news is troubling.

Second-generation Latinos have the highest high school dropout rate — one in seven — of any U.S.-born racial or ethnic group and the highest teen pregnancy rate. These Latinos also receive far fewer college degrees and make significantly less money than non-Hispanic whites and other second-generation immigrants.

The reporter points out that their parents, the original immigrants, started out with very little education so although their children have made gains they are still far behind.  Here’s the one piece of good news in the article:

Perhaps the only yardstick by which the second generation has achieved unambiguous success is the one that has stirred the most public controversy: English proficiency. Despite fears among some people that English usage is diminishing in the Latino community, census data and several studies indicate that by the second generation, nearly all Latinos are fluent in English and that by the third generation, few can even speak Spanish.

Much of the article traces the life of one second-generation young man, a high-school dropout and former gang member. He now has two children with his wife or girlfriend and has settled down. But he earns very little, can’t see a better future, and thinks of leaving it all. This is not a perky immigrant story by any means, and I am grateful to the Washington Post for publishing it.

Palestinian “refugees” are thriving

You know the story of the pitiful Palestinians, right? Crowded in concentration-camp-like conditions, dependent on handouts from the UN and developed countries, focused only on hatred of Jews.

Not so, according to a stunning story  by Tom Gross at National Review today. (It first appeared in the Wall Street Journal Europe.) It begins:

It is difficult to turn on a TV or radio or pick up a newspaper these days without finding some pundit or other deploring the dismal prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace or the dreadful living conditions of the Palestinians.

….Nothing could be farther from the truth. I had spent that day in the West Bank’s largest city, Nablus. The city is bursting with energy, life, and signs of prosperity, in a way I have not previously seen in many years of covering the region.

As I sat in the plush office of Ahmad Aweidah, the suave, British-educated banker who heads the Palestinian Securities Exchange, he told me that the Nablus stock market was the second-best-performing in the world so far in 2009, after Shanghai.

You probably haven’t heard about the increased ease of movement, either:

And perhaps most important of all, we had driven from Jerusalem to Nablus without going through any Israeli checkpoints. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has removed them all since the Israeli security services (with the encouragement and support of Pres. George W. Bush) were allowed, over recent years, to crush the intifada, restore security to the West Bank, and set up the conditions for the economic boom that is now occurring.

Oh, so crushing terrorists makes a place safer, does it? Imagine that. There’s a lot more about the prosperity of the West Bank, and how Israelis are helping to bring it about, with training by agricultural and other experts. And:

Two weeks ago, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.

It’s not just this reporter’s impressions either. Here’s an official figure:

Palestinian economic growth so far this year — a year dominated by economic crisis elsewhere — has been an impressive 7 percent according to the IMF, though Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad, himself a former World Bank and IMF employee, says it is in fact 11 percent, partly helped along by strong economic performances in neighboring Israel.

So why did Palestinian president Abbas turn down an Israeli offer last year to create a Palestinian state? You’d never guess from reading the mainstream media.

In June, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas had told him why he had turned down Ehud Olmert’s offer last year to create a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank (with three percent of pre-1967 Israeli land being added to make up the shortfall). “In the West Bank we have a good reality,” Abbas told Diehl. “The people are living a normal life,” he added with a candor he rarely employs when addressing Western journalists.

Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went farther in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren’t ready to do so by themselves yet.

And the conclusion:

The truth is that an independent Palestine is now quietly being built, with Israeli assistance. So long as the Obama administration and European politicians don’t clumsily meddle as they have in the past and make demands for the process to be completed more quickly than it can be, I am confident the outcome will be a positive one.

Israelis and Palestinians may never agree on borders that will satisfy everyone. But that doesn’t mean they won’t live in peace. Not all Germans and French agree who should control Alsace Lorraine. Poles and Russians, Slovenes and Croats, Britons and Irish, and peoples all over the world, have border disputes. But that doesn’t keep them from coexisting. Nor — so long as partisan journalists and human-rights groups don’t mislead Western politicians into making bad decisions — will it prevent Israelis and Palestinians from doing so.

But I suppose we’ll continue to hear the pitiful pleas for more aid to help out in the financial crisis. In fact, my Google alert on Palestinian refugees is full of such stories, but this inspiring story of reality on the ground has not appeared there.

In Canada it’s an “uphill situation” for Somalis…

….so say those participating in a conference on refugees in Windsor, Canada.  When listing the five ‘C’s’ that affect Somalis’ lives, Ibrahim Absiye, a Somalian refugee, and executive director of CultureLink, a Toronto-based settlement agency, leaves out an important one—crime.  But, it will all be o.k. if only all the extended families left in Somalia could come to Canada too!

Absiye believes family reunification is the number one issue affecting Somalian refugees. He said many Somali-Canadians still have loved ones in their native country, and occurrences such as the Dec. 3 suicide bombing in Mogadishu can have a profound impact on them.

“Almost everyone here has family members back home, and they would like to be reunited,” Absiye said. “When something happens back home, it affects the community here.”

There are other challenges as well, Absiye said.

“I talk about the five Cs… Communication — which is the language. The climate — it’s damn cold here! The colour of your skin. The cultural shock. And computers.”

And there are still other, more dire challenges. Here in Windsor, two of the city’s unsolved [unsolved because Somali community members don’t help authorities!] shooting deaths have involved young Somalis, both as suspected killer and as victim.

Mohamud Abukar Hagi, a Somali national, remains wanted by police as the prime suspect for the Dec. 22, 2007 shooting death of Luis Acosta-Escobar on downtown Pelissier Street. Hagi was 25 at the time of the crime.

In an unrelated incident this year, Somali-born Mohamed Mohamed Yusuf was shot dead on Sept. 27 — also on downtown Pelissier Street. Yusuf was 23. His killer has not been found.

Although dismayed to hear of such incidents, Absiye said these crimes are also evidence of the family reunification issue on Somali-Canadians. “The young people are integrating faster than the parents. There is a big gap in communication in every home.”

“In every house, we can see two languages… This gap creates inter-generational conflict,” Absiye continued. “This whole thing is another result of the overwhelming settlement process.”

How about all those drug and gang-related Somali murders in Edmonton we told readers about yesterday, here, lack of family reunification behind those too?

Or, how about those Canadian Somali youths going back to Somalia to join the Jihad—just hankering for family reunification too?

Canada Category!  We should have done this long ago—make a category for posts on Canadian immigration issues.   I’ve done so now, and will go back a bit and re-cateogorize posts on Canada.

Chicago: Student blog provides a look inside refugee program

This blog, Refugee Outreach, turned up in my alerts this morning.  I didn’t go back to the beginning but it appears to be a group of students in an Anthropology Class, maybe at Loyola in Chicago, who are chronicling their experiences volunteering to help refugee families.  There is nothing earth-shattering here, but anyone interested in understanding the refugee program better should read through this.

However, since we had addressed the overload of refugees and lack of proper care of refugees in Chicago previously, here, I was especially interested in the blog entry about an eviction notice involving refugees resettled by the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago (ECAC).

The blog entry is entitled, “Situation gets real” and is dated 11/18/09:

This week at our family’s house was probably the first time we had a bad experience. Usually it’s all laughter, chatter and homework. This time was quite different. We get to their apartment, and “hang out” (a term we’ve been trying to teach the daughter for a while now) for a bit. After a few minutes, they hand us a few papers and ask if we would explain them.

Kate and I casually pick up the papers and see that it’s a copy of the daughter’s report card. We explain her grades and decide to talk to the teacher due to a discrepancy in grading. Then we go to the next sheet of paper, and much to our dismay, it was an eviction notice. I don’t think I’ve ever been more unsure of what to do in my entire life. I felt so helpless. Kate and I did what we could. She notified the ECAC and Dr. Amick. 

We decided that it would be best if they went directly to the ECAC the next morning and showed them the letter. I suggested that maybe we should go with them. We tried to explain the severity of the situation without scaring the bejesus out of them, even though I knew Kate and I were very afraid.

For the next few days I was stressed out beyond belief. Usually the things I stress out about are silly compared to the severity of this situation. I was genuinely sad, afraid, confused and most of all, I felt so helpless. There really was nothing much Kate or I could do but wait, and the wait was probably the worst part.

But, good news a week later—saved from eviction for now and a grant to start a business:

After being stressed out about the eviction situation, we get some amazing news!! Alex and Dr. Amick let us know that everything is going to be ok. They also let us in on a wonderful idea they have thought about in order for our family to make money. The mother in our family knows how to sew and embroider very well and they are willing to give her a grant in order for her to start her own business. When I read the e-mail, I was ecstatic! It felt like a giant weight had been lifted.

Not only had I been worried about the eviction situation, but I was worried about the job situation as well. As of now, there has been no income, and since the mother knows very little English, I was afraid that she would have lots of trouble finding a job. Not only is she going to potentially have a job, but she is going to do something that she loves! I am so excited for this project to get started!

We went to the fabric store today with Alex and another representative from the ECAC to buy some fabric with the money that we raised and that our class was so generous to allow us to use. Thanks guys!

Soon, she is going to receive a donated sewing machine and her little business will start! I can’t wait to see what she can create!

Semester is over, does that mean the students just disappear? One student does say she hopes to continue helping her family after the holidays.  That is good to hear.