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Are American congregations staying negative to offer Asylum to Illegal Immigrants?


There has been a surge of illegal immigrants on American soil ever since the Central American crisis, which emerged in the late 1970’s and threatened the safety of many civilian families. The inflow of trespassers from those times never stopped, and till this date, the immigration breach still persists, especially from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, whose volatile political atmosphere fails to provide long term peace.

January 2016 saw the occurrence of many minor raids by Homeland security forces in a bid to deport those immigrants that had already appealed to the courts for asylum status, but failed to achieve it. The Democrats, however, condemned these moves and appealed to Barrack Obama to provide temporary amnesty to those innocent immigrants, which would allow them to obtain legal work permits and start a life.

In the midst of these ongoing rallies among high-ranking politicians, many religious sanctuaries have taken the issue upon themselves to try and mitigate the immigrants’ distress. Priests and reverends of these churches feel a moral obligation to provide asylum to these helpless individuals, and sometimes, even offer legal help to stand up against Border Authorities.

Southside Presbyterian Church is one stellar example of these congregations. It has been supporting the sanctuary movement ever since the 1980’s, and with the gradual growth in the number of illegal immigrants in the recent past, it has been revitalizing its efforts to help them again. Situated in Tucson, Arizona, the church is juxtaposed with the Mexican border, making it one of the first stops for immigrants from Mexico.

Rosa Robles Loreto was offered sanctuary for more than a year

According to VOA News, Southside Presbyterian Church’s reverend, Alison Harrington, says that more and more congregations feel “outraged and heartbroken” over current US deportation policies. Harrington said the Church’s flagship case was Rosa’s deportation proceedings. For a milestone 461 days, Rosa was provided sanctuary in the Church, and was finally able to roam as a free woman and meet her family in November 2015.

Even churches and synagogues as far north as New York City and San Francisco participate in this movement. The main concerns revolve around temporary housing, financial stability and protection from frequent raids in these cities. The reverends here often train immigrants to face the ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and know their rights in these matters, because, more often than not, ICE authorities take advantage of their lack of knowledge to execute swift deportation.

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Keeping the aspects of humanity aside, diaspora of many nationalities are disheartened by the fact that despite all the legal documents, they have to wait seven years, or even longer, to obtain a Green Card and legal American Citizenship, while these immigrants are offered the same rights to live on American soil through amnesties by Democratic Presidents or the sanctuary movement that seems to have gripped most congregations nationwide.

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A commentator writes, “These are not immigrants, they are illegal aliens and criminals under our law. The first amendment to the US constitution “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion.” To my way of reading it, that means an establishment of religion cannot be used as a sanctuary to prevent the apprehension of criminals. This means law enforcement agents must exercise their duty to enter these buildings and apprehend the illegal aliens with the goal of deporting them. If they have committed other crimes like felonies they may have to be tried, convicted, and imprisoned first.

It is interesting that the only justification I’ve heard from illegals and their supporters is that they do a lot of America’s work. Therefore a guest worker program with tight scrutiny over who enters, where they are, who pays for their cost, and no promise of citizenship or renewal of their contracts with the right to terminate them at any time and deport them should they become undesirables makes a lot of sense to me”, and even though his opinions sound harsh and inhuman on first glimpse, this argument against the American immigration system somewhat makes sense.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing Engineering and an intern at NewsGram.




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World could see 140mn climate migrants by 2050: Report

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions

climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
  • Three regions can witness migration due to climate change
  • The regions also include South Asia
  • It is important to take measures to control climate change

Three densely populated regions of the world, including South Asia, could see internal climate migrants of over 140 million people in the next three decades if climate change impacts continue, a new World Bank Group report finds.

The report, “Groundswell — Preparing for Internal Climate Migration”, released on Monday, finds that unless urgent climate and development action is taken globally and nationally, the three regions — Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America — together could be dealing with tens of millions of internal climate migrants by 2050.

World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA
World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA

These people will be forced to move from increasingly non-viable areas of their countries due to growing problems like water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise and storm surges.

The “climate migrants” would be an addition to the millions of people already moving within their countries for economic, social, political or other reasons, the report warns. The exodus could create a looming humanitarian crisis and will threaten the development process.

Also Read: Climate change driving dramatic rise in sea levels: NASA

However, with concerted actions — including global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and robust development planning at the country level — this scenario could be dramatically reduced by up to 80 per cent or more than 100 million people.

The report is the first and most comprehensive study of its kind to focus on the nexus between slow-onset climate change impacts, internal migration patterns and, development in these three developing regions of the world.

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions. “We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality,” Georgieva said.

It is important to control climate change now.

“Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends. It’s also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable.”

The research team, led by World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist Kanta Kumari Rigaud, include researchers and modellers from CIESIN Columbia University, CUNY Institute of Demographic Research, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Also Read: Maharashtra’s climate action plan yielded disappointments

They applied a multi-dimensional modelling approach to estimate the potential scale of internal climate migration across the three regions. They looked at three potential climate change and development scenarios, comparing the most “pessimistic” (high greenhouse gas emissions and unequal development paths), to “climate-friendly” and “more inclusive development” scenarios in which climate and national development action increases in line with the challenge. Across each scenario, they applied demographic, socio-economic and climate impact data at a 14 grid-cell level to model likely shifts in population within countries.

This approach identified major “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration – areas from which people are expected to move and urban, peri-urban and rural areas to which people will try to move to build new lives and livelihoods. “Without the right planning and support, people migrating from rural areas into cities could be facing new and even more dangerous risks,” the report added. IANS