Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Non-Citizen News Roundup

Greece police roundup immigrants this week, via LA Times
There's a lot going on in world of non-citizens this week!

Greece: Last week I noted the alarming news out of Athens, where police arrested some 500 people during an "immigration sweep" in the Capitol that they announced would be continued regularly. Amnesty International has added their voice to the growing concern about the practice, noting:
There are no appropriate facilities at Greece's borders for the identification of those in need of international protection, such as victims of torture and unaccompanied or separated asylum-seeking children.
Detaining people arbitrarily in massive "sweeps" without the necessary protective measures for persons entitled to different forms of protection violates Greece's international obligations and contributes to stigmatization of a group that is already at risk in the country. I said it before and I'll see it again: Greece would be far better off using the resources needed for such massive police actions on clearing through their backlog of immigration cases and regularizing the status of those who are entitled to it.

USA: Despite the Obama administration's ambitious new immigration guidelines for LGBTI persons, they aren't out of the water on gay immigration issues yet. A class action suit filed Monday by 5 same-sex couples will challenge DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) - a 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Since immigration and citizenship are the realm of the federal government, the impact is that even couples who marry legally (e.g., in NY) cannot access immigration benefits such as a green card for the foreign partner. Obviously this causes many heart-rending situations where a married couple may have to constantly fear that one spouse will be deported.

The case is being brought by a non-profit called Immigration Equality, and I will definitely be following it closely here as it proceeds through the legal system. This could be a landmark case for immigration equality in the United States and since the Obama administration has already announced that they consider DOMA to be unconstitutional it could be a slam dunk. I'm excited about this one, guys!
Immigration Equality: Taking our Case to Court

Ghana/ Liberia: There's been talk for years (at least since 2008) of Ghana activating the cessation clause and closing down refugee camps housing Liberians who fled during years of civil war. (Recall that they cessation clause of the 1951 Convention comes into effect when the situation that produced the potential for refoulement to the home country ceases to exist.) Annnnd now the talk continues, with the Ghanaian government planning to activate the cessation clause June 30th but hoping that most refugees will opt for voluntary repatriation before then. For many of the refugees who have lived in the country for years, returning to Liberia is simply not an option, and they will seek options to regularize their status before being kicked out. I'll be sure to post developments. 
Relief Net: Days numbered for Liberian Refugees

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