Afghan Family, Visas in Hand, Detained in Los Angeles

Los Angeles International Airport (photo: Patrick T. Fallon / Reuters)

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the U.S. government was detained after flying into Los Angeles, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed Saturday.

By Nicholas Kulish / The New York Times via The Seattle Times
March 5, 2017

“I’ve never, ever heard of this happening. They go through so many layers of security clearance, including one right before they get on the plane.”
— Becca Heller, Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the U.S. government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed Saturday.

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Saturday evening issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the mother and children from being transferred out of the state. The order, by Judge Josephine L. Staton of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, arrived as they were about to be put on a plane to Texas, most likely bound for a family detention center there, lawyers said.

The scene at the airport was “chaotic, panicked, it was a mess,” said Lali Madduri, a lawyer with the firm Gibson Dunn, which is representing the family pro bono. “The whole time the children are crying, the woman is crying. They can’t understand what’s going on.”

Continue reading “Afghan Family, Visas in Hand, Detained in Los Angeles”

Banksy’s Bethlehem Hotel with the “Worst View in the World”

An Israeli watchtower seen from one of the rooms of the Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (photo: Dusan Vranic / Associated Press)

Welcome to the “Walled Off Hotel,” the hotel with “worst view in the world.” Please be mindful of the million-dollar art on the walls.

By Russell Goldman / The New York Times
March 3, 2017

The elusive British street artist Banksy has decorated the interiors of the Walled Off Hotel, a nine-room guesthouse in the West Bank city of Bethlehem whose windows overlook the barrier that separates the territory from Israel.

Among the rooms decorated by the artist, who has earned a following for tagging walls around the world with witty illustrations and dark political commentaries, is the “Banksy Room.”

In the room, a mural on the wall above a king-size bed depicts a Palestinian and an Israeli locked in combat — only they are having a pillow fight.

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We are Using the Wrong Timeline for the Jewish State

Foreign ministers 100 years apart: Arthur Balfour of Britain and John Kerry of the U.S. (photos: Mondoweiss)

In his parting speech, former Secretary of State John Kerry described a future of a “one-state” scenario — Palestinians living in enclaves without rights — but he was actually describing the situation of today.

By Jonathan Ofir / Mondoweiss
January 3, 2017

“I say [the two state solution] was not born because I think that there was not one Prime Minister in Israel who ever really intended it. Because if there had been a PM who would have really intended it, then they would first of all stop with the settlements. And no PM has ever stopped with the settlements.”
— Gideon Levy

In his recent speech titled “Remarks on Middle East Peace,” US Secretary of State John Kerry offered a wide historical symmetric trajectory including “milestones” which Kerry believes “illustrate the two sides of the conflict and form the basis for its resolution.”

His three-point trajectory was based upon three dates: 1897, 1947 and 1967.

It started out 120 years ago, 1897, with the First Zionist Congress in Basel, “by a group of Jewish visionaries, who decided that the only effective response to the waves of anti-Semitic horrors sweeping across Europe was to create a state in the historic home of the Jewish people, where their ties to the land went back centuries – a state that could defend its borders, protect its people, and live in peace with its neighbors. That was the vision. That was the modern beginning, and it remains the dream of Israel today,” as Kerry appraises.
Continue reading “We are Using the Wrong Timeline for the Jewish State”

I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House

(photo: Leah Varjacques / The Atlantic)

When President Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days.

By Rumana Ahmed / The Atlantic
February 23, 2017

Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a “weakness” is dangerous. It is false.

People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true — American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of justice and equality.

In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman — I was the only hijabi in the West Wing — and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.

Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this — or because of it — I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.

I lasted eight days.

Continue reading “I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House”

Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

Israeli comedy show host’s scathing indictment implores Israeli society to “wake up.”

March 3, 2017

An Israeli comedy show host’s searing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral on social media, raking in over 5,000 shares in the two days since it was posted on the show’s Facebook page on Monday.

In the video, Assaf Harel of “Good Night With Asaf Harel” castigates Israelis for ignoring the occupation and claims that Israel is an apartheid state.

“Good Night,” which was aired by Channel 10, was one of Israel’s most controversial shows on mainstream television in recent years. In one instance, the show was fined after Harel ridiculed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exploiting his brother’s death for political gain.

The episode was “Good Night’s” last, as the show was not renewed for another season due to poor ratings, even though the show has gained a strong following on social media.

[Read the original article here . . . ]

Lawyers Try to Delay “All-American” Argentine’s Deportation

Diana Hodges places a sticky note that calls for freeing 22-year old Daniela Vargas, a Argentine native who has lived in the United States since she was seven years old, on the office doors of lawmakers at the Capitol. (photo: Rogelio V. Solis / AP)

By Sarah Smith / AP via The Seattle Times
February 3, 2017

“Immigrants like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream — they should not be pushed further into the shadows.”
—  Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Before she was arrested following an immigration protest, Daniela Vargas dreamed of earning her college degree in Mississippi, then becoming a math professor and soccer mom, driving three kids around in an SUV.

Now the 22-year-old friends describe as all-American girl may be deported without a hearing to Argentina, a country she hasn’t seen since she was 7, when her parents fled a collapsing economy and violated a visa waiver program to find work in the United States.

Her attorneys said they filed a motion Friday with the Department of Homeland Security to allow Vargas, now detained in Louisiana, to remain in the U.S. until they can make her case before a judge. Meanwhile, her friends canvassed the state Capitol building, leaving notes seeking help from lawmakers.

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Governors of Mexico Support Seattle “Dreamer”

Daniel Ramirez Medina
(photo: Daniel Ramirez Medina / via AP)

Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old Mexican, was detained on Feb 10 by federal agents who initially came to arrest his father.

By Gene Johnson / AP
February 4, 2017

“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work.”

The governors of Mexico have written to an American court to express support for a Seattle-area man who has been detained for weeks despite his participation in a federal program to protect people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The National Conference of Governors of Mexico sent the letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue, who is overseeing the case of Daniel Ramirez Medina. Ramirez, a 23-year-old Mexican, was arrested February 10 in a Seattle suburb by immigration agents who initially arrived to detain his father, identified as a previously deported felon.

“On behalf of Mexican nationals brought to the United States as young children by their parents, the Governors of Mexico would like to express our support and admiration for the daily struggle they endure in their effort to succeed, attain an education and shape their future and their communities’ future through hard work,” the letter reads.

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Find Your Lane: A Free Activism Engagement Fair

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Are you ready to join the resistance but don’t know where to sign up?

Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Location: Metropolist, 2931 1st Ave S, Seattle
Information: Event website

Event Details

Are you ready to join the resistance but don’t know where to sign up? Has Trump and Bannon’s assault on social justice, human rights, the environment, and the rule of law galvanized you to get involved, but you don’t know how?

On Wednesday, March 15, Find Your Lane presents an activism fair. Hear some inspirational words from lifelong activist and former Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and Randy Engstrom, Director of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, then meet with up to twenty organizations on hand to describe what they do and how they do it, answer your questions and recruit you!

Whether it’s helping refugees, fighting racism and intolerance, or reclaiming the electoral landscape, there are people working on it, and they need your help. Find your lane and get active!


Worldwide Peace Vigil In Memory of Srinivas Kuchibhotla


Srinivas Kuchibhotla, right, poses with his wife Sunayana Dumala in Cedar Rapids. (photo: Deccan Chronicle)

Please join our brothers and sisters for a Peace Vigil in honor or Srinivas Kuchibhotla, slain last week in Kansas.

Update: See photos of the rally here.

Date: Sunday, March 5, 2017
Time: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Crossroads Park, 16224 NE 8th St, Bellevue, WA
Information: Event website

Event Details

We South Asians of Greater Seattle are uniting against hate. We are hosting a event called #WeBelong Peace Vigil: In honor of the Late Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died in a hate crime in Kansas last week. Leaders, faith communities, organizations across the city will gather at Crossroads Park 16244 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, from 3:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 5th.

It is a gathering of peace, to be resilient, to persist, to speak up and most importantly to state that we belong here and we are not complacent. We can not let fear dictate us. We also want to honor our brothers and sisters who risk their lives to protect this delicate fabric of society.

Two minutes of silence will be observed around the world: in Hyderabad, London, Chicago, New York, San Fransisco, Albuquerque, and many more cities.

This event is support by a growing list of local organizations below.

  • Tasveer
  • ACLU Washington
  • ACT NOW – Seatle
  • Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee (WASITRAC)
  • National Federation of Indian American (NFIA)
  • Federation of Indian Associations
  • Indo American Friendship Forum Foundation
  • Indian Association of Western Washington
  • Washington Telangana Association (WATA)
  • Washington Telugu Association (WATS)
  • The Kiran Anjali Project
  • Americans for Refugees & Immigrants
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • Bo M. Karlsson Foundation
  • Indian American Muslim Council
  • API Chaya
  • One America
  • Seattle Tamil Sangam
  • India Arts & Heritage Society
  • Sikh Center of Seattle Gurudwara
  • Wing Luke Museum
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)
  • Oriyas of Greater Seattle
  • Pratidhwani
  • Kerala Association of WA
  • Jewish Family Service
  • Khalsa Gurmat Center
  • Sahyadri Kannada Sangha
  • Shruti Seattle Music Band
  • Ithna-asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest (IMAN)
  • CRY Seattle

Dreamer to be deported without court hearing

(photo: Imani Khayyam / Jackson Free Press)

Daniela Vargas, an aspiring math teacher, was detained after speaking an immigrants’ rights event, as ICE calls arrest “targeted immigration enforcement.”

By Matt Kessler / The Guardian
December 3, 2017

“I don’t understand why they don’t want me. I’m doing the best I can. I mean, I can’t help that I was brought here but I don’t know anything else besides being here and I didn’t realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for five hours. I was brought here. I didn’t choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know.”

A 22-year-old who was detained as she was leaving a press conference on immigrants’ rights Wednesday will not get a court hearing before she is deported, her lawyers said.

Daniela Vargas was in the process of renewing her application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama administration program that temporarily protects from deportation undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. Vargas was an aspiring math teacher who went to college while under the program. And Bill Chandler, an immigrants’ advocate who knew Vargas well, said she had a receipt showing that her application was being processed.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement on Wednesday that the action was part of “targeted immigration enforcement.” On Thursday, the lawyer Nathan Elmore said ICE had indicated it would pursue immediate deportation against Vargas without allowing her to first have a court hearing. Vargas’s lawyers have filed a petition challenging ICE’s decision.

“ICE is supposed to target undocumented immigrants who commit crimes,” said Elmore. “Convicted criminals. Daniela doesn’t fit into any of these categories. Is this where you want your tax dollars directed?”

Continue reading “Dreamer to be deported without court hearing”