Dear Community Members,
After spending two weeks in Greece (and missing the chance to be in correspondence with you), I’d like to update you a bit on Greek refugees. Many of the camps have been closed, generally because of unliveable conditions (regarding safety, health, food, medical care, etc.). The refugees, in those camps, have been placed in apartments. It was not possible to meet with them, and I did not want to push my presence onto anyone. I did meet with a large group of Syrian refugees, in a housing complex near Thermopylae in the Peloponnese. They seemed basically healthy (but I am no doctor nor nutritionist), although they were extremely shy and quiet. They did seem eager to return smiles and to shake hands (well, really, to touch hands). It is impossible to comprehend or accept the level of failure of the U.S. to fulfill even a fraction of its responsibility to resettle refugees here – we have the resources, and we are not “out of room”.
Also, a big thank-you to Rosemary Hart for stepping in, so effectively, during my absence, as well as to all those who took care of helping immigrants living here and to all those who took care of financial assistance and consulting for them. This was such a great group effort!
PREEMPTIVE LOVE: It is exciting to notify you of a new student chapter (IU) of a great national organization, Preemptive Love. This national coalition, stretching across Iraq, Syria, the U.S., and beyond, working together to unmake violence and create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. On the attached Events of Interest, please see their Syrian Culture and Cooking Night this coming Monday evening (Oct. 28). www.preemptivelove.org
FURNITURE: Thanks to the generosity of our members, we now have the following items available at no cost: infant car seat with seatbelt, child car seat with seatbelt, sofabed in good condition, floor lamp, table lamp, and a desktop Xerox machine. If you or an organization is in need of any of these items, please let me know.
CONCERT ON LOVE AND EXILE: from the Director of Community Engagement for Indiana University’s Singing Hoosiers. Their Fall concert is coming up, and its themes surround that of Love and Exile. They have established a great partnership with Zeshan Bagewaldi and will be performing his song Brown Power (see below) with him. Their organization feels that it is extremely important to put action behind the words and messaging of Brown Power, and the Bloomington Refugee Support Network was invited to co-sponsor this beautiful event.
CAREER IN HEALTH CARE: Robert Moore, of MCCSC has notified us of the following class, as well as other critical services, all of which are free.
There will be an adult education class, helping attendees to become certified and employed as home health aides. This training is in partnership with Elders Journey. For registration and further Information: Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Call (812) 330-7731 to sign up!
Also, their partners at WorkOne (www.workonesouthcentral.org), the IU School of Social Work, Ivy Tech, and the military branches offer supportive services to help immigrants achieve their goals:
Career advising and employment placement
Child care voucher applications
Placement into further training
NOTE: The BRSN has volunteer drivers and interpreters available to accompany immigrants to these classes.
BROWN POWER MOVEMENT:
A movement in the 1960s that advocated for Brown Power, rights for Mexican-Americans and Immigrants in general. The movement was derived from the Civil Rights Movements as it fought for the equality of a minority. For further information, go to https://www.sutori.com/story/brown-power-movement–j2HrsCdSH9YpysPavqJ7f5fC
ADVOCACY: (A) It seems that the federal government is staying busy creating more burdens and obstacles for immigrants and refugees. Thanks to Christie Popp, C. W. Poole, and ACLU, the following items of great concern have been brought to our attention. We hope you will contact U.S. legislators, as well as Attorney General Barr and President Trump (let us know if you need addresses or phone contacts).
(B) DELAY IN
EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION: Under current law, asylum-seekers may petition for
employment authorization documents if 150 days have passed since they filed
their full asylum application, unless they are responsible for any delays in
the process, and they have not received a decision on their applications. Asylees
have the immediate right to work with or without the documents, though many
choose to obtain the documents for purposes of convenience or to identify
themselves, according to USCIS.
Even the 150-day wait time can put asylum-seekers in dire financial straits: “homeless, unable to feed themselves and their children, and struggling to get health care,” according to an April report from Human Rights First.
(C) DOJ INCREASES POWER OF AGENCY RUNNING IMMIGRATION COURT SYSTEM
Under the interim rule announced Friday, the agency’s director will have the power to issue appellate decisions in immigration cases that have not been decided within an allotted timeframe. It also creates a new office of policy within EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) to implement the administration’s immigration policies. For more information, google EOIR Immigration.
Millions of aspiring Americans apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) each year. But under a previously unknown national security program known as the “Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program” (CARRP), the government excludes many applicants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities from these opportunities by delaying and denying their applications without legal authority. Learn more about CARRP and how it has harmed the naturalization process: aclusocal.org/en/carrp
In closing, the BRSN continues to assist immigrants and refugees with financial needs, employment referrals, food and other necessities, drivers, interpreters, hosts and, simply, a hand in friendship. As always, we are so grateful to all of you who have done so much in financial and volunteer assistance. Because of you, immigrants, traumatized and battered in their home country and on their trek to the U.S., are able to have a basically safe home for themselves and their children, and a community that welcomes them.
Enjoy the beautiful autumn,
Diane Legomsky, Chair, Bloomington Refugee Support Network