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July 4 Brings Mixed Feelings for Some Minority Communities in USA

July 4 is Independence Day of USA How do you celebrate during what some people of color consider troubling times?

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Chief Arvol Looking Horse, a spiritual leader of the Great Sioux Nation puts on his headdress for an interfaith ceremony at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D. As cities and towns host July 4th parades and fireworks shows, some minority residents are expressing mixed feelings about the holiday used to reaffirm the country's founding based on equality and civil liberties. VOA

As many in the United States celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, some minorities have mixed feelings about the revelry of fireworks and parades in an atmosphere of tension on several fronts.

How do you celebrate during what some people of color consider troubling times?

Blacks, Latinos and immigrant rights advocates say the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, recent non-convictions of police officers charged in the shootings of black men, and the stepped-up detentions of immigrants and refugees for deportation have them questioning equality and the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States.

Filmmaker Chris Phillips of Ferguson, Missouri, says he likely will attend a family barbecue just like every Fourth of July. But the 36-year-old black man says he can’t help but feel perplexed about honoring the birth of the nation after three officers were recently cleared in police shootings.

FILE - Protestors rally during a Black Lives Matter demonstration, July 10, 2016, in Cincinnati. More than a thousand protested against the shootings of black men by police officers.
Protestors rally during a Black Lives Matter demonstration, July 10, 2016, in Cincinnati. More than a thousand protested against the shootings of black men by police officers.

Police shootings

Since the 2014 police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, officer shootings — of black males in particular — have drawn scrutiny, sparking protests nationwide. Few officers ever face charges, and convictions are rare. Despite video, suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted last month in the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man. The 32-year-old school cafeteria worker was killed during a traffic stop July 6, almost a year ago.

“Justice apparently doesn’t apply to all people,” said Phillips, who saw the protests that roiled his town for weeks following Brown’s death. His yet-unreleased documentary “Ferguson 365″ focuses on the Brown shooting and its aftermath. “A lot of people have lost hope.”

Unlike Phillips, Janette McClelland, 55, a black musician in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said she has no intention of celebrating July Fourth.

“It’s a white man’s holiday to me. It’s just another day,” McClelland said. “I’m not going to even watch the fireworks. Not feeling it.”

McClelland, who grew up in Los Angeles before the urban unrest of the 1960s, said she fears cities may see more violence amid a feeling of helplessness. “I’m praying and trying to keep positive,” she said.

FILE - protesters rally outside a federal courthouse in Detroit. Protesters rallied in hopes public outcry will again delay the deportation of Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo from the United States to Mexico.
protesters rally outside a federal courthouse in Detroit. Protesters rallied in hopes public outcry will again delay the deportation of Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo from the United States to Mexico.

Immigration

Immigration was a key issue during the presidential campaign for both parties. Since then, President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up enforcement and instituted a scaled-back partial travel ban that places new limits on entry to the U.S. for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries. The temporary ban requires people to prove a close family relationship in the U.S. or an existing relationship with an entity like a school or business. On Friday, the administration announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would arrest people — including relatives — who hire smugglers to bring children into the U.S. illegally.

Patricia Montes, a Boston resident and immigrant from Honduras, said she’s grateful for the opportunities and security the United States has given her. Yet this year, she doesn’t know how to approach the Fourth of July holiday.

“I fell very conflicted,” said Montes, an immigrant advocate. “I mean, what are we celebrating? Are we celebrating democracy?”

Montes said it pains her to see children fleeing violence get turned away and deported back to Central America without due process. She also is disturbed by recent immigration raids in Latino and Muslim communities that spark more fear and uncertainty.

In Texas, Latino activists have been protesting a state law that forces cities and towns to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. In New Mexico and Michigan, immigrant advocates have been rallying on behalf of Iraqi refugees facing deportation.

“There’s a lot not to be proud about when celebrating the Fourth of July,” said Janelle Astorga Ramos, a University of New Mexico student and daughter of a Mexican immigrant. “Even though it’s a time to celebrate as a country and (for) our unity, it’s definitely going to be on the back of our minds.”

Despite those problems and concerns, Ramos said her family will recognize the holiday and visit Elephant Butte, New Mexico, a popular summer destination. “This is our home,” Ramos said.

Isabella Baker, a 17-year-old Latina from Bosque Farms, New Mexico, said she’ll celebrate the holiday based on her own views of patriotism.

“More people are standing up because of the political climate,” Baker said. “That makes me proud.”

America Indians and their supporters protest outside of the White House, March 10, 2017, in Washington, to rally against the construction of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline.
America Indians and their supporters protest outside of the White House, March 10, 2017, in Washington, to rally against the construction of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Pipeline protest

For months, members of the Standing Rock Sioux were at the center of a protest against an oil pipeline in North Dakota. A protest camp was set up. The tribe said the Dakota Access oil pipeline plan could pose a threat to water sources if there was a leak and cause cultural harm. Police made more than 700 arrests between August 2016 and February 2017. The Trump administration approved the final permit for the $3.8 billion pipeline, which began operating June 1. The pipeline moves oil from western North Dakota to a distribution point in Illinois. Four Sioux tribes are still fighting in federal court to get the line shut down.

Ruth Hopkins, a member of South Dakota’s Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe, said Native Americans have always viewed the Fourth of July with ambivalence, and this year will be no different.

However, there will be celebrations.

Her Lake Traverse Indian Reservation holds an annual powwow on July 4 to honor veterans as a way to take the holiday back, she said.

“Also, a lot of people up here use fireworks and the holiday to celebrate victory over Custer for Victory Day,” said Hopkins, referring to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeating George Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Still, the holiday comes after tribes and others gathered in North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its fight against the pipeline, Hopkins said. Because of that, water and land rights remain on peoples’ mind, Hopkins said.

Gyasi Ross, a member of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation and a writer who lives on the Port Madison Indian Reservation near Seattle, said all the tensions this Fourth of July are a blessing because it has awakened a consciousness among people of color.

“The gloves are off,” Ross said. “We can’t ignore these things anymore.”

However, Ross said he wants his young son to be hopeful about the future. They will likely go fishing on the Fourth of July.

“I still worry about getting shot or something like that,” Ross said. “All this stuff is so heavy to be carrying around.” (VOA)

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Immigration Predictions for 2019 in the United States

The reduction in the legal number of immigration in the country will also bring big reduction to the rate at which international students are given visa

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immigration, US
Immigration in the United States is no more the way it used to be in the past; it has had a lot of changes in the past two years which makes it more difficult for potential migrants all over the world.

Immigration in the United States is no more the way it used to be in the past; it has had a lot of changes in the past two years which makes it more difficult for potential migrants all over the world. Most of these changes were predicted by experts of immigration since 2017 before the changes started rapidly in 2018. President Trump has made it very clear that he has started a big reformation at the immigration sector, his claims have made a lot of immigrants think twice before applying for the United States visa or traveling to the country. In early 2019, the country was rocked with a government shutdown all over the country due to the argument that occurred among the Congress over the idea of President Trump to build a wall which would cost billions of dollar at the border of the country with Mexico.  Later in the year after the commencement of the wall, many other laws have been amended, which include the ESTA which would be decided in 2020 if it will be stopped or not. The border patrol has also been strengthened with the increment in salaries of officers and purchase of new arms and ammunition for them. As a lot of immigration policies and laws have been amended within two years, predictions of laws that may come up and laws that could be amended in 2019 should be discussed because there are lots of immigration law amendments that are still under deliberation in courts all over the country and the Congress. Below are things that could happen to the United States immigration laws and policies in 2019:

Reduction in the legal figure of immigration – The legal number of immigration in the United States have been stable over the years; the country gives visa to thousands of people all over the world as it has a huge legal immigration figure. With the introduction of new immigration policies and a lot of ongoing deliberation, there is a probability that the number of visas that the country gives yearly will be reduced to half of the former figure or even lower than that. Ban has been placed on a few countries of the world in the United States, which means visa cannot be given to citizens of such countries except in very special cases. The visa lottery has also been canceled in many countries that were entitled to in the past years. These are great signs that the number of visas given has been reduced drastically and will be reduced more.

Retrieval of citizenship – Immigrants who are fortunate to have naturalized to become United States citizens over the years, should be aware that their citizenship is not permanent and could be stripped off. The deliberation to cancel the ESTA and some other immigration laws backingnaturalization in the country will strip some people of their United States citizenship if successfully canceled.

immigrants, US
It is predicted that it will become very difficult for immigrants who live in the country with expired visas as new immigration laws concerning short term visas will be enacted. Pixabay

Increase in deportations and visa denials –  The changes in policies in the country has made it clear that there is a very high probability that the number of visas given to immigrants will reduce which implies that the number of visa denials will increase drastically. It is also obvious that the number of immigrants that are deported yearly in the United States will increase to a very high number due to the strict laws against illegal immigrants that live in the countries. It is predicted that it will become very difficult for immigrants who live in the country with expired visas as new immigration laws concerning short term visas will be enacted.

The question, when do I need US visa? Is for everyone to except citizens of visa waiver program countries because they will need to register for ESTA online before they can gain access into the USA.

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Reduction in the admission of international students – International study is another way in which immigrants gain access to permission to travel to the United States. The number of international students in the country has been alarmingin the past two years, which makes it one of the possible immigration loopholes that the country may check. In the past, international students are favored when it comes to visa interview because of their motive of going to the United States. The reduction in the legal number of immigration in the country will also bring big reduction to the rate at which international students are given visa.

Stopping the entrepreneurship visas – Entrepreneurs who have a business that worth five hundred thousand dollars or more are usually given visas due to their involvement in the economy of the country. This type of visa may be canceled in 2019 because the cancelation of this type of visa is being deliberated upon in the Congress.