*** *** Taking Care of Refugees Is a Moral Duty

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14/2/17 Mary Sanchez USA, Snowden; Kansas City Star

President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order halting the resettlement of refugees in America and banning travelers from seven Islamic countries has raised concern not only among liberals, civil libertarians and jurists. It has also led a group of prominent evangelical Christian leaders to remonstrate publicly with the president who rode to office in large part on the votes of their flock.
More than 500 of the nation’s most prominent evangelical pastors, authors and other worthies signed a letter asking Trump to reconsider the order. The letter, published in the Washington Post as a full page ad, reminded the president of the Bible’s story of the Good Samaritan, in which “Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.”
The letter added that “compassion and security can co-exist,” yet while Americans quarrel about policy, innocent people die. “For the persecuted and suffering every day matters, every delay is a crushing blow to hope.”
It’s heartening, amid the wasteland of cynicism that our politics has become, to see church leaders going out on a limb, challenging not only Trump but all Christians to attend to central call of their faith — “to serve the suffering” — even though it involves sacrifice and risk.
The clergy are looking at the big picture. Many are involved in the web of agencies across the nation doing the important work of settling refugees, and they see the dimensions of the current crisis, which are being missed by many Americans: We are in the midst of the largest global migration upheaval since World War II. At least 60 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their native counties, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit group that has been aiding refugees for more than a century.
So it’s not a great time for America, long a beacon to the world’s oppressed, to close its doors.
The headline-grabbing portions of Trump’s orders banned Syrians altogether, singled out seven predominantly Muslim countries and temporarily halted all resettlement for four months. But Trump also halved the number of refugees that the United States will allow into the country in 2017, from 110,000 to 50,000. Nearly 30,000 have already arrived, so the door really is shutting.
That decision, perhaps even more than the portions of his order facing court challenges, could cripple the network of agencies that have been helping resettle the world’s displaced people for generations. Indeed, some could be forced to cut staff or shut down.
Resettlement work is labor and time intensive. It’s social work, largely, with case managers helping refugees move into apartments, get training and find jobs, enrolling children in school and helping people learn English. Refugees arrive in their host cities often with little more than official documents stuffed in a plastic bag.
Refugees are not immigrants in the typical sense. They don’t leave their countries simply in search of better economic prospects. Under a 1980 U.S. law, refugees must prove they have been persecuted or have reason to fear it due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or association with a particular social group. Essentially, refugees must prove they are fleeing for their lives.
There is a strain of ethnic nationalism in American politics that does not care about the plight of the world’s refugees and intends to limit immigration to the U.S., legal and undocumented alike, only pretending to differentiate between the two. Trump came to power as the avatar of this ideology.
Opponents of immigration offer all sorts of bogus critiques of refugee resettlement. They accuse social services agencies of using refugees to greedily get federal funding; they argue our refugee policies are Cold War relics, no longer needed, and that in any case they don’t aid the most urgent cases.
Here’s the statistic that ought to make us all pause: Fewer than 0.1 percent of the world’s displaced people — yes, those seen on the news floating precariously toward European shores and trudging for miles with their children strapped to their backs — are ever resettled through refugee networks. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, most live marginal lives in urban areas as unrecognized residents, while many others languish for years in primitive and unsafe camps.
That sheds damning light on Trump’s refugee policy. Amid incredible human suffering, the U.S. president has deemed that we should do less, not more.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/14/taking-care-refugees-moral-duty

USA, Migrants and Refugees

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Snowden: ‘Finally: Irrefutable Evidence That I Never Cooperated with Russian Intel’

11/2/17; NBC News Common Dreams staff

“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country, you know what we used to do to traitors right?” Trump has said.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has spoken on a report suggesting Vladimir Putin is considering sending him back to the US as a “gift” to President Donald Trump, claiming the story proves he is not a spy.
“Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel,” Snowden said. “No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they’re next.”
U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a “gift” to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a “spy” and a “traitor” who deserves to be executed.
That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.
Snowden’s ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, says they are unaware of any plans that would send him back to the United States. “Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern,” Wizner told NBC News.
Then candidate Donald Trump, speaking about Snowden at a Republican primary debate in March 2016, said: “I said he was a spy and we should get him back. And if Russia respected our country, they would have sent him back immediately, but he was a spy. It didn’t take me a long time to figure that one out.”
Previously, Politico reported on a Trump appearance on FOX News in 2013:
Repeatedly calling Edward Snowden a “traitor,” Donald Trump alluded to the death penalty on Monday while discussing the NSA leaker.
“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country, you know what we used to do to traitors right?” Trump said on “Fox & Friends.”
“Well, you killed them, Donald,” host Eric Bolling said.
Trump said Snowden is doing tremendous damage to the country and that the United States must get him back.
“This guy is really doing damage to this country, and he’s also making us looks like dopes,” Trump said. “We can’t allow this guy to go out there and give out all our secrets and also embarrass us at every level. We should get him back and get him back now.”
In an interview streamed on Twitter in December, Snowden said being forced to return to the U.S. would be a human-rights violation but would also put to rest to accusations that he is a Russian spy.
“A lot of people have asked me: Is there going to be some kind of deal where Trump says, ‘Hey look, give this guy to me as some kind of present’? Will I be sent back to the U.S., where I’ll be facing a show trial?” Snowden said.
“Is this going to happen? I don’t know. Could it happen? Sure. Am I worried about it?
Not really, because here’s the thing: I am very comfortable with the decisions that I’ve made. I know I did the right thing.”

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/02/11/snowden-finally-irrefutable-evidence-i-never-cooperated-russian-intel

USA, Non-spying