Washington: Four Indian-Americans are among 38 individuals being honoured for having “helped advance and enlighten our society, culture, and economy” as “Great Immigrants: The Pride of America” by Carnegie Corporation of New York.
As a July 4th American independence day “Salute to Great Immigrants Who Help Make America Strong” and their accomplishments, the corporation for the tenth year is taking out a full-page public service ad in The New York Times.
In addition, the Corporation recognizes new citizens with a companion website at greatimmigrants.org, which includes the stories of many other naturalized citizens, video and audio recordings, and interactive quizzes.
The four Indian-Americans being honoured are: Preet Bharara, the US Attorney of Southern District of New York; Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College and Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership and Development; Madhulika Sikka, Vice President and Executive Editor, Mic (India) and Abraham Verghese, Physician, Professor, and Author (India).
“Our founder, Andrew Carnegie, came to this country as the son of impoverished immigrants and grew up to become one of the greatest contributors to American industry and philanthropy,” said Vartan Gregorian, President of the Corporation.
“His devotion to US democracy stemmed from his conviction that the new infusion of talent that immigrants bring to our country keeps American society vibrant.”
The 38 Great Immigrants honoured this year come from more than 30 countries around the world, and represent leadership in a wide range of professions, the corporation said.
Celebrating “naturalized US citizens whose contributions are vital to the fabric of our nation and the strength of our democracy,” it noted that nearly nine million legal permanent residents are currently eligible to naturalise and become US citizens.
Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” (IANS)
Migrants have arrived in Tijuana and other border cities in caravans of thousands, while others come in small groups of a dozen or so. They have often walked for days through Central America, then ridden buses or gotten rides on trucks through the vast expanses of Mexico. In border cities like Tijuana, they find help in shelters run by charities.
Asylum seeker Angela Escalante is here with her husband and 7-year-old son.
“The situation is very bad, there are no jobs,” she said of her country of Nicaragua, blaming political violence there on President Daniel Ortega. “There’s no security so you can’t safely walk the streets,” she added.
New arrivals say they also face violence from cartels and local drug gangs.
“It was around 14 years ago they killed the brother of my grandfather and a son of my grandfather, and because of this, they are still pursuing us,” said Jorge Alejandro Valencia, 19, from Michoacan state on Mexico’s western coast. He said the criminals later killed his grandfather, and they now are threatening his sister.
Many migrants have been exposed to violence, said Gordon Finkbeiner of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, from “organized crime groups that are along the route. What we see and what we attend to is mostly situations of high levels of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder.”
A 23-year-old Honduran, newly arrived in a shelter, said a gang demanded he sell drugs, and he could see no escape except to leave his country. He asked not be identified, saying that the gangs monitor Facebook and if his identity is revealed, the gang would target his family.
US citizens wait, too
Africans and Haitians, who relocated from their countries to Venezuela, and Central Americans from Central America’s northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, all wait in the city’s shelters. Every case is different, and many are complicated.
A woman from Honduras has a 12-year-old son with U.S. citizenship and displays his passport. The boy, named Jimmy, was born in the United States but returned to Honduras with his mother when she was deported.
A middle-aged man named Efren Galindo was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas. Two years ago, he was deported and nearly killed by Mexican drug cartels, he explained as he displayed scars on his back and shoulder.
“I’ve been 46 years, [nearly] my whole life over there,” Galindo said, pointing northward to the United States. “I’m married to an American citizen. I have four American sons, an American daughter and 16 grand babies,” he added.
To be granted asylum, petitioners must demonstrate a credible fear of persecution or torture, and show that they are not only fleeing poverty. Those who have been deported from the United States face added restrictions. Many having been barred from returning for five, 10, 20 years or more.
The U.S. immigration system, meanwhile, is overwhelmed, with a backlog worsened by the recent 35 day partial shutdown of the U.S. government in a dispute between Democrats in Congress and U.S. President Donald Trump over a border wall. U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services said in a statement Jan. 21 that it faced “a crisis-level backlog of 311,000” asylum cases that had yet to be interviewed for credible fear.
The backlog of all immigration court cases was more than 800,000 in November, according researchers at Syracuse University.
Many detention facilities that house illegal entrants are temporary, according to Border Patrol Agent Tekae Michael on the border south of San Diego.
“I know ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is completely overrun,” she said. “We don’t have enough immigration judges to be able to process efficiently and effectively and swiftly.”
Mexico is granting temporary papers to Central Americans, and volunteers from U.S.-based groups like San Diego’s Border Angels bring supplies to the shelters. Mexican businesses are making donations.