Tuesday June 19, 2018

Lebanon Citizen Law: Marrying a foreigner strips the Woman of her Identity and property

There are about 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon and they cannot own properties and are even barred from working in 20 nominated professions, says an estimation done by UN.

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A bride blows a kiss while carrying an umbrella in a vehicle along a street in Beirut, Lebanon May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi - RTSFBLO
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BEIRUT- Nadise Moussa could have been more proud as a mother when her teenage daughter was selected for a national Lebanese team for football. But, never had she thought that the celebrations will not last long and her daughter’s dreams will be shattered.

Women like Moussa, who are married to foreigners, cannot pass on their National identity to their husbands or children. Not just that. The children cannot even inherit or own their parent’s property.

Moussa said with a deep regret, “She was selected and then told she was not allowed on the team because she is not Lebanese.” The news left her daughter devastated and she stopped playing football after that as she felt excluded and rejected in her own country.

“I have always felt like a second-class citizen, being deprived of the right to give my nationality to my children and my family, said Moussa, a lawyer, long-time activist and Lebanon’s first female presidential candidate.

A Lebanese woman during the 2006 Lebanon war. Image source: Wikipedia
A Lebanese woman during the 2006 Lebanon war. Image source: Wikipedia

According to the law, if you are married to a foreigner, the children cannot access public health or education. Not just that. Even when they are old enough, they cannot work without a permit. Moussa’s two daughters are and will be going through the same state.

According to a 2009 study, Predicament of Lebanese Women Married to Non-Lebanese, the Labanon law has affected more than 77,000 people in a negative way.

Situations are even worse for Lebanese women who got married to Palestinian men, as Lebanon Law denies any right to own properties by Palestinians in Lebanon.

The campaign to reform the nationality laws across the Middle East can be dated back to more than 14 years. Since then, most of the Arab countries including Saudi Arabia have fully or partially reformed their nationality laws, said Lina Abou Habib, the executive director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development Action.

Law imposed on Palestine workers restricts them from 20 nominated jobs. Image source: theguardian.com
Law imposed on Palestine workers restricts them from 20 nominated jobs. Image source: theguardian.com

Male politicians in particular, justify the rule of inheritance as they feel “if you reform the law then all Palestinian men will marry Lebanese women and they will never return to Palestine, thereby taking away the right of Palestinian refugees to return home,” Abou Habib said.

There are about 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon, according to the estimation done by The United Nations. They enjoy only limited rights- cannot own properties and are even barred from working in 20 nominated professions.

While many people in the nation are dealing with identity crisis, opponents argue that Lebanon law is valid as it maintains a delicate religious balance between Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ite and Druze. Opponents feel that if the women gain nationality rights, it would mean Muslims might further outnumber Christians, which will threaten the existence of Christians in Lebanon.

With the crisis in Syria now entering its sixth year, Syrian refugees are making up one-quarter of Lebanon’s population. Few also argue if women have the right to nationality, Syrian men will marry Lebanese women and will never return to Syria.

Activists, including Abou Habib interviewed for this story and have rejected the arguments and termed them as racists. He feels that these people who support this kind of law are exploiting sectarian fears in order to deny women their rights.

“There is no link between women’s nationality and the issue of Palestine or the country’s religious make-up or the Syrian crisis. At the end of the day, what is true is that the state does not recognize women as citizens,” she added.

In 1925, under the French Mandate of Lebanon, the law was issued which states that a person will only be considered Lebanese if born to a Lebanese father.

The Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil who leads Christian party- The Free Patriotic Movement, has voiced some of the loudest opposition to the reform of Lebanon’s nationality laws. He sponsored a bill in November 2015 that would grant citizenship to Lebanese expatriates but not to the spouses of Lebanese women. (Reuters)

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Why Does Trump Separate Families, A Policy Or A Law?

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection

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In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018.
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018. VOA

The Trump administration at least since April has been separating children and parents who enter the United States illegally at the border — that much is supported by the numbers. But much of everything else surrounding the practice has become mired in confusion.

Here is what we know:

In recent weeks, news stories of children in detention centers have circulated more widely, and the numbers of detained children have grown.

Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters Friday that between April 19 and May 31 of this year, nearly 2,000 (1,995) children were separated from their parents or other adults with whom they were traveling.

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection shows what appears to be humane conditions at a shelter site for children, but many worry that this video, the only video that has been released from within one of the detention centers, may not accurately depict them.

A policy or a law?

As criticism over the separation of parents and children at the border grows, the Trump administration has struggled to explain the policy.

Trump, himself, said the practice is the result of a law passed by Democrats, which has forced his administration into separating parents and children.

But there is no such law.

Rather in May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, which means that those detained entering the United States illegally would be criminally charged. This approach generally leads to children being separated from their parents because the law requires it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018, VOA

On Sunday, senior policy adviser to the Trump administration Stephen Miller told The New York Times that the crackdown “was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry. Period.”

Administration officials, including Miller and Sessions, have defended the separation of families, saying that having children does not exempt anyone from the consequences of breaking the law.

“If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. … If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

The administration has said the new practice is directed at combating a “surge” of unlawful border crossings. But the “surge” appears to be numbers marking a return-to-normal after a dip last year.

Not a new idea

Though the practice of treating all people who cross the border unlawfully as subject to criminal prosecution is new under the Trump administration, it is built on existing policies from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Amid a surge of unlawful migration from Central America to the United States in 2014, the Obama administration considered many plans to deter illegal border crossings, including separating parents and children. Ultimately, Obama decided against separations but did expand the detention of immigrant families. New facilities were opened along the border, which held women and children for long periods of time before their cases were processed.

Following widespread criticism after photos of detained women and children, accompanied by testimonies of people being held for extended periods, a federal judge in Washington effectively ruled that asylum-seeking mothers could not be held for longer than 20 days, leading to what has been called a “catch and release” system where adults were released with GPS ankle monitors tracking their movements until their cases could be heard in court.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.
=U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018. VOAU.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.VOA

But this “catch and release” system has been heavily criticized by Trump and his administration.

Also read: Trump Launched A New Attack On Mueller Probe In Russia

“This get out of jail free card for families and groups who pose as families has spread,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The word of this has spread. The smugglers and traffickers know these loopholes better than our members of Congress. I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country. This must stop,” she said. (VOA)