Bowling Green police department helps refugees stay warm

As record-setting cold descends on the United States, the Bowling Green, KY police department brought a special gift to Karenni refugees crowded together in what has previously been described as substandard housing, here

Police arrived in squad cars bearing 150 warm winter coats for the refugees living at the Lover’s Lane Apartments on New Years Day.

Cindy, who helped coordinate the project,  reports from Bowling Green:

The refugees said they were all so happy when the police arrived and to receive their gifts.

The refugees in return, gave them homemade gifts from their native culture and made them a small meal.

Some refugees were surprised that a caseworker for the International Center was in attendence since tensions between refugees and the resettlement agency have been evident for months.

Refugees must adjust their immigration status at the end of first year in the US

I mentioned this story back in early December, here, but I don’t think I had the link for the report that must have spawned the story (or is certainly part of the political campaign). Here is a link to the Human Rights Watch report provactively titled “Jailing Refugees” which says refugees are being detained by ICE and face deportation if they fail to update their immigration status. 

The report claims that no one advises refugees to do this necessary paperwork.  So where are the government contracted resettlement agencies?  Isn’t this part of their job? 

Each year, the US government sends officials to refugee camps overseas to interview thousands of people displaced by persecution and conflict, classifies a select number as refugees in need of resettlement, and brings those refugees to live in the United States.

After one year in the United States, every resettled refugee is required to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, more familiarly known as a “green card.” However, refugees’ limited English, ignorance about the requirement, confusion over the legal process, and lack of resources, as well as the government’s failure to notify them of the requirement, often prevents them from timely filing to adjust their legal status. In some parts of the country, the consequence of not applying can be lengthy, indefinite and arbitrary detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The purpose of this report is to encourage legislative and policy changes that will eliminate the potential for indefinite detention of resettled refugees for failure to file for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status after one year in the US.

Instead of eliminating detention, why not write a law that specifically says resettlement agencies (or state refugee agencies) are responsible for this notification requirement.   It might also force resettlement agencies to keep track of refugees they resettle—something not presently required.

Refugees are supposed to notify Homeland Security when they move, but I wonder how many actually do.

Stop Honour Killings blog is one you should know about

This month-old story came to my attention last night.  It is the story of an honor killing of a young woman named Rifqa—murdered by family members in a “refugee” camp in the Gaza Strip.

Here is the post, and then I recommend exploring the blog, Stop Honour Killings.

On Friday afternoon, 27 November 2009, Rifqa Ghazi ‘Abdullah Salama, 29, from al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City, was killed allegedly “to maintain family honor.”

According to police sources in al-Shati, at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 27 November 2009, the woman’s brother, two uncles and two cousin strangled her using a wet towel while she was sleeping at home near Hmaid intersection in al-Shati refugee camp. The police initiated an investigation into the murder and arrested the 5 accused persons. Initial investigations indicate that the woman was killed allegedly to “maintain family honor.”

Sources of the forensic medicine department at Shifa Hospital reported that the woman was strangled by a wet towel.

According to PCHR’s documentation, the number of people killed allegedly “to maintain family honor” since the beginning of 2009 has amounted to 10 (7 women, two men and a child) in 8 crimes. One of these crimes was committed in the West Bank, whereas the rest of the crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR must be the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, here.