Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Lessons From the Rise of America’s Irish

March 15, 2018

They arrived dirt poor and uneducated in the 1840s. After decades of struggle, they achieved prosperity.

Riders pass St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City during the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 2017.
Riders pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City during the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17, 2017. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

Every year in the runup to St. Patrick’s Day, the Census Bureau releases a demographic profile of Irish-Americans. For anyone familiar with the arduous history of the Irish in this country, the progress report is an annual reminder of America’s ability to assimilate newcomers in search of a better life.

It was the potato famine that began driving large numbers of Irish to leave home in the late 1840s. This migration, along with mass starvation and disease, would eventually cost Ireland around a third of its population. Some went to Great Britain, but the overwhelming majority came to America. Today the number of Americans of Irish descent (32.3 million) is nearly seven times as large as the population of Ireland (4.7 million).

The peasants fleeing Ireland had a shorter life expectancy than slaves in the U.S., many of whom enjoyed healthier diets and better living quarters. Most slaves slept on mattresses, while most poor Irish peasants slept on piles of straw. The black scholar W.E.B. Du Bois wrote that freed slaves were poor by American standards, “but not as poor as the Irish peasants.”

The Irish who left for America were packed into the unused cargo space of wind-driven ships returning to the U.S., and the voyage could take up to three months, depending on weather. These cargo holds weren’t intended to carry passengers, and the lack of proper ventilation and sanitation meant that outbreaks of typhus, cholera and other fatal diseases were common. Emigrants slept on 3-by-6-foot shelves, which one observer described as “still reeking from the ineradicable stench left by the emigrants of the last voyage.”

In 1847, 19% of the Irish emigrants died on their way to the U.S. or shortly after arriving. By comparison, the average mortality rate on British slave ships of the period was 9%. Slave-owners had an economic incentive to keep slaves alive. No one had such an interest in the Irish.

The 19th-century immigrants from Europe usually started at the bottom, both socially and economically, and the Irish epitomized this trend. Irish men worked as manual laborers, while Irish women were domestic servants. But not all ethnic groups rose to prosperity at the same rate, and the rise of the Irish was especially slow. They had arrived from a country that was mostly rural, yet they settled in cities like Boston and New York, working “wherever brawn and not skill was the chief requirement,” as one historian put it. In the antebellum South, the Irish took jobs—mining coal, building canals and railroads—considered too hazardous even for slaves.

In the 1840s, New York City’s population grew 65%. By midcentury, more than half of the city’s residents were immigrants, and more than a quarter of those newcomers had come from Ireland. At the time, half of New York’s Irish workforce and nearly two-thirds of Boston’s were either unskilled laborers or domestic servants. “No other contemporary immigrant group was so concentrated at the bottom of the economic ladder,” writes Thomas Sowell in his classic work, “Ethnic America.”

It wasn’t just a lack of education and urban job skills that slowed the progress of the Irish in America. So did social pathology and discrimination. The Irish were known for drinking and brawling. Irish gangs were common. When an Irish family moved into a neighborhood, property values fell and other residents fled. Political cartoonists gave Irishmen dark skin and simian features. Anti-Catholic employers requested “Protestant” applicants. Want ads read: “Any color or country except Irish.”

Yet none of these obstacles proved insurmountable. Charitable organizations, such as the Irish Emigrant Society, emerged. Temperance societies formed to address alcoholism. The Catholic Church took a leading role in tackling poverty, illiteracy and other social problems through the creation of orphanages and hospitals and schools. For millions of Irish immigrants, the church was not simply a place of worship. It was the focal point of the community.

According to the Census Bureau, today’s Irish-Americans boast poverty rates far below the national average and median incomes far exceeding it. The rates at which they graduate from high school, complete college, work in skilled professions, and own homes are also better than average. What’s so remarkable about this social and economic trajectory among the Irish is how many times it has been replicated among other immigrant groups.

Whether this kind of upward mobility is still possible today given the changes to our economy and culture is an open question. My guess is that it’s still possible but more difficult—not because of our modern economy, but because of our modern attitudes toward assimilation. The type of Americanization of newcomers that once was encouraged is now rejected by activists who push for bilingual education, Spanish-language ballots and the like. The multiculturalists have turned assimilation into a dirty word. Perhaps they’re the ones we should be deporting.

Appeared in the March 14, 2018, print edition.


Germany’s future interior minister Horst Seehofer vows to increase deportations — Announces “master plan” — “The new broom sweeps clean”

March 11, 2018

The incoming interior minister has said he has a “master plan for faster asylum procedures, and more consistent deportations.” He also said there was a need for a strong state to protect Germany’s liberal values.

CSU chief Horst Seehofer talking to reporters

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s designated interior minister, said he plans to put in place a “master plan” to speed up asylum procedures and ensure consistent deportations in comments published on Sunday.

“The number of deportations must be increased significantly. We need to take tougher action, especially in the case of criminals and perpetrators among asylum seekers,” Seehofer told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Seehofer, who has been critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, said decisions on asylum applications must be made in a few months rather than in a year or more.

Read moreOpinion: An ‘upper limit’ on refugees — by any other name

‘Strong state’

The head of the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) vowed to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy toward criminals.

“We want to remain an open-minded and liberal country. But when it comes to protecting our citizens, we need a strong state. I’ll make sure of that,” Seehofer said.

The future interior minister called for effective video surveillance at every hot spot in the country.

“There has to be a consensus throughout Germany that we will no longer tolerate lawless zones,” he said.

Seehofer will take over the newly renamed and enhanced Interior, Construction and Homeland (“Heimat”) Ministry in the upcoming coalition government.

Read moreA deeper look at Germany’s new Interior and Heimat Ministry

ap/aw (Reuters, dpa)

German free-meals charity bars new migrant clients — No room at the inn

February 22, 2018


© dpa/AFP/File | Refugees, mainly rejected asylum seekers, hold a banner reading ‘Justice we need’ as they face police officers at a train station in southern Germany

BERLIN (AFP) – A German food bank said Thursday it would temporarily stop accepting new non-German clients, citing a huge influx of migrants that was displacing locals in need.”We want the German granny to be able to keep coming to us,” said Joerg Sartor, chairman of the charitable group that serves free meals to the poor in the western city of Essen.

He said especially German elderly people and single mothers had been gradually displaced over the past two years as the share of migrants had risen to three-quarters of recipients.

More than 1.2 million asylum seekers have come to Europe’s biggest economy since 2015, more than half from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, in mass influx that sparked a xenophobic backlash.

The website of the “Essener Tafel” charity said it had taken the step in order to avoid frictions between needy locals and foreigners that could harm acceptance of the newcomers.

“Since the number of foreign citizens among our clients has risen to 75 percent in recent years … we are forced to only accept customers with German identity cards in order to facilitate proper integration,” it said.

The charity announced the change in December and implemented it in mid-January, but it was only widely reported on Thursday, initially by the newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ).

The group, like hundreds of similar charities nationwide, collects surplus food that would otherwise be discarded by supermarkets and other businesses to prepare and serve it to the poor.

Typically, people have to register to qualify for regular free meals by proving that they are recipients of unemployment or other social benefits.

Sartor told the WAZ daily that his charity would maintain the additional demand that new clients show German identity papers to register “until the balance is restored”.

Amnesty slams Trump-led ‘politics of hate’

February 22, 2018


© AFP/File / by Dario THUBURN | Amnesty took particular aim at the US president’s “transparently hateful” executive order banning entry to citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.

LONDON (AFP) – The “politics of demonization” provided fertile ground for human rights abuses in 2017, exemplified by the response of Europe and Donald Trump’s US to the refugee crisis, rights group Amnesty international said Thursday.The British-based group in its annual report took particular aim at the US president’s “transparently hateful” executive order banning entry to citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.

“Throughout 2017, millions across the world experienced the bitter fruits of a rising politics of demonization,” said the report, which was launched this year for the first time in the United States.

It accused leaders of wealthy countries of approaching the refugee crisis “with a blend of evasion and outright callousness”.

“Most European leaders have been unwilling to grapple with the big challenge of regulating migration safely and legally, and have decided that practically nothing is off limits in their efforts to keep refugees away from the continent’s shores,” it added.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty singled out Trump for criticism, saying the travel ban “set the scene for a year in which leaders took the politics of hate to its most dangerous conclusion”.

– Praise for Florida teens –

Amnesty also said Myanmar’s military crackdown on Rohingya insurgents, which prompted an exodus of nearly 700,000 Rohingya people into neighbouring Bangladesh, was the “ultimate consequence of a society encouraged to hate, scapegoat and fear minorities”.

“This episode will stand in history as yet another testament to the world’s catastrophic failure to address conditions that provide fertile ground for mass atrocity crimes,” said the report.

It took aim at President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, accusing him of a harsh crackdown on critics of his war on drugs.

“The ability to voice out and to criticise and to check government is constricted and has become more dangerous,” said Amnesty’s Philippine section director Jose Noel Olano.

Tirana Hassan, director of crisis response at Amnesty International, said: “When it comes to conflict, crisis and mass atrocities we have seen zero moral or legal leadership coming from the international community.”

The group highlighted recent elections in Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands, where “some candidates sought to transpose social and economic anxieties into fear and blame”, as evidence that the “global battle of values reached a new level of intensity” in 2017.

The report also accused governments of exploiting national security and terrorism concerns “to reconfigure the balance between state powers and individual freedoms”.

“Europe has continued to slip towards a near-permanent state of securitization,” it warned.

“France, for example, ended its state of emergency in November, but only after adopting a new anti-terror law.”

However, Amnesty said that it was possible for “ordinary people” to take back the initiative, noting the Florida students demanding more gun control after the Parkland school massacre.

“There is no better example of that than what we’ve seen with the kids in this country standing up against gun violence in the last few days,” Shetty said.

In Britain, the non-governmental organisation said that Brexit legislation currently making its way through parliament threatens to “significantly reduce existing human rights protections”.

– ‘Avalanche of online abuse’ –

The report also praised the #MeToo campaign for drawing attention “to the appalling extent of sexual abuse and harassment”.

But it warned that Internet giants were part of the abuse problem, and that they had too much power in shaping narratives and propagating “Fake News”.

“The avalanche of online abuse, particularly against women, and the incitement of hatred against minorities, drew weak and inconsistent responses from social media companies and scant action from governments,” it said.

“These concerns are compounded by the extreme concentration of control in only a handful of companies over the information people view online.”

It added: “The capabilities deriving from this to shape public attitudes are immense, including virtually unchecked potential for incitement to hatred and violence.”

It said that the “willingness of prominent leaders to tout ‘fake news’… coupled with attacks on institutions that act as checks on power, show that free speech will be a key battle” in 2018.

“We must refuse to accept narratives of demonization and build instead a culture of solidarity,” it concluded.


by Dario THUBURN
Respect for human rights seems to be in decline almost everywhere and for many, many reasons…..
A few examples from the last 24 hours are linked below.

Israel’s Immigration Crisis Is a Lesson for Trump

February 2, 2018


By Zev Chafets

A state founded as a haven for the displaced may deport 40,000 job-seeking Africans.
On the right side of the wall.

 Photographer: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

In his first State of the Union message on Tuesday, President Donald Trump again made his controversial case for building a wall along the southern border of the U.S. Back in 2016, his opponents scoffed at the feasibility of such a grandiose project, he had. But when asked about it by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto he was ready for the question. “Look at Israel,” was his response, “Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works.”

It does. In 2006, thousands of penniless, undocumented Sudanese and Eritreans, most of them young men, began crossing Israel’s border with Egypt. Bedouin coyotes led them on a harrowing journey through the Sinai desert and dropped them off. The migrants made their way to the working class neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, where they found cheap housing and off-the-books jobs.

Work was plentiful. Word spread. Soon Israel found itself facing what looked like an unstoppable flow of undocumented migrants. Employers were happy to hire cheap manual workers. Slumlords made a killing from renting overcrowded apartments. But most citizens, especially in Tel Aviv’s working-class neighborhoods, were unhappy with the influx of rootless foreign migrants.

Bringing the Jewish diaspora back to the Holy Land is the essence of Zionism. In Israel’s 70 years of independence it has welcomed Holocaust refugees, embattled Jewish communities from the Muslim Middle East and, more recently, over a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

But these latest newcomers from Sudan and Eritrea were different. They were, to put it simply, not Jews. They fell outside Israel’s mission statement. Increasingly, the public came to see them as a problem.

Israel is a problem-solving country. In the fall of 2010, it began building a wall along its 152-mile border with Egypt. It was completed within four years. Built mostly of steel, the wall reaches a height of 25 feet in some places, and is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic sensors, cameras and detection technologies. The whole project came in at less than half a billion dollars. The border is now virtually impassable to undocumented workers as well as smugglers and drug traffickers.

But, once you have sealed off the border, Israelis learned, you are still left with the illegal immigrants who are already on your side of it. This is an issue the U.S. will have to contend with if and when it builds its wall. Israel is dealing with it now.

There are an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 Sudanese and Eritreans in the country, mostly in the Tel Aviv area. Until now they have been allowed to stay on renewable two-month visas. But they are now being notified that these permits will not be renewed. On April 1, they will face three choices: They can return to their countries of origin. They can go to prison. Or they can accept resettlement in a third country.

Those who take option number three will receive a $3,500 stipend and a one-way ticket. In the past, most voluntary deportees have been gone to Ghana or Rwanda. So far those countries — which are paid $5,000 per capita by Israel — have not publicly agreed to take more migrants. Still, some Israeli officials are confident that Rwanda, at least, is on board.

Not everyone will be deported. About 10,000 children and their parents will be exempt. They are the Israeli version of the U.S. Dreamers, although their future status is unclear. Some 2,000 bona fide humanitarian refugees from Darfur are also staying. But single men of working age who are presumed to be economic migrants — an estimated 65 percent to 70 percent of the Sudanese and Eritrean community — have two months to decide their next destination.

Those two months promise to be turbulent. Left-wing political parties and activists — with the moral and financial support of “progressive” American Jewish organizations — have been mobilizing. Demonstrations are already taking place. Some of the protestors have deployed the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” gesture, an American import. Others have been clad in chains. This is a campaign designed for television.

The pictures won’t look good, especially if the police use force to disperse angry crowds. Israel — which has long been accused of apartheid by Palestinian propagandists — is sensitive to charges of racism. In their defense, officials cite the fact that in recent years, Israel has deported more illegals from the former Soviet Union than from Eritrea and Sudan. They argue that Rwanda is a safe destination where the United Nations is active in overseeing refugees.  And they contend that the $3,500 stipend the deportees receive is generous enough to cover two years of living expenses.

This rebuttal may be true, but it doesn’t change the likelihood that Israel’s image will take a hit. Prime Minister Netanyahu is highly attuned to foreign public relations, but his first concern is the opinion of voters, who strongly support Israel’s right to control its own borders and to remove illegals. This sentiment is not limited to members of his Likud party or religious nationalists. Last month, Tel Aviv University released the results of a two-year survey on the willingness of Europeans to give asylum to foreign refugees. Israel (counted as a European country in the survey) placed second-to-last, above only the Czech Republic.

American opinion seems to be hardening as well. In Tuesday’s speech, Trump proposed allowing Dreamers to remain in the US, but insisted on ending the visa lottery and closing down so-called chain immigration — positions that have strong public support according to a Harvard-Harris poll published in late January (That poll also revealed a majority want to decrease legal immigration and give preference to those with qualifications that can contribute to the economy.) Significantly, the president did not tell Congress what he proposes to do with the many millions of undocumented non-Dreamers in the U.S.

Some will be deported, as they have been all along. In 2017, federal immigration officers removed 226,000 people in the country illegally, down slightly from the last year of the Barack Obama administration. Israel’s planned operation pales in comparison, but it will provide a real-life example of a post-wall removal policy. The scale, sensitivities and complexities are completely different, of course, but Trump has proven to be a close student of all things Bibi. Presumably he will be watching.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Zev Chafets at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tobin Harshaw at

Bipartisan, Centrist Senators Outflanked Party Leadership to End Shutdown

January 23, 2018

Bipartisan group grew frustrated by party leaders’ standoff over immigration; some lawmakers and White House officials were surprised fight fell to Senate and not House

Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government.
Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The 2018 government shutdown may go down as one of the shortest, and much of the credit for that is going to a bipartisan group of senators who wrested control from their own leadership.

Inside the Capitol, Democrats attributed their decision to allow the government to reopen to a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to bring an immigration measure to the Senate floor if an agreement can’t be reached before Feb. 9. Outside the Capitol, progressive activists attributed the reversal to the lack of a plan for how to stand firm.

“Democrats went into battle and then buckled and weren’t ready for it,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “There should have been an outside game that was planned.”

How Senate Democrats got to the point of charging forward on Friday night and then pulling back on Monday morning is the story of a Republican party more organized than the Democratic insurgents and centrists in both parties who challenged the partisan rhetoric of both Mr. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)., forging a path forward during meetings where one senator nearly broke a glass elephant with a “talking stick.”

A shutdown could be repeated in several weeks if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on a sweeping range of immigration policies, including protecting those children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.

This article is based on dozens of interviews with lawmakers, administration officials and advocates.

That the Senate would become the focal point of the shutdown surprised some of Washington’s top officials, who saw greater risks in the House.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump dialed into a meeting of the Freedom Caucus, a group of staunch House conservatives, and warned: “We’re one party and we control the House, Senate and White House,” said one senior administration official with knowledge of the call. “Shutting down the government is not productive to us gaining leverage on the issues we care about.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the call “sent a very clear message” and added: “That was the best work he did.” The House passed a short-term extension of government funding later that day.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Some Senate Democrats, many of whom expected the spending bill would fizzle in the House, weren’t fully prepared for the shutdown fight now upon them.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) was pushing a three-week spending deal—shorter than the measure that passed the House—and a commitment by Mr. McConnell to take up immigration legislation. Centrist Democrats, crowded around Mr. Schumer’s desk on the chamber floor, wanted to back the Graham fix.

Mr. Schumer sided with the liberal wing of his caucus, saying there was no guarantee Mr. McConnell would allow the legislation to pass, people familiar with the matter said. The Democratic caucus was also still steaming over Mr. Trump’s controversial remarks about African immigrants.

On the other side of town, Mr. Trump was smarting over Mr. Schumer’s characterization of a lunch in which they had discussed immigration issues, including funding for a border wall.

Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning.
Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning. PHOTO: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It took the president by surprise that Schumer would mischaracterize the meeting that badly that quickly,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “The president decided: That’s the end of those negotiations…That’s when we first realized that we might go to a shutdown.” Mr. Schumer has stood by his recollections of the meeting.

Later that evening, Mr. Mulvaney spoke with the president, who said for the first time he thought a shutdown was likely. “OK, what’s going to happen?” Mr. Trump asked. He told him: “Make sure we keep open as much of the government as we can.”

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, all but five Democrats lined up behind their leader and blocked the spending bill on a procedural measure that needed 60 votes. The government officially shutdown at 12:01 a.m.—before the final vote, 50-49, was gaveled to a close.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump largely receded from public view, save for a few tweets touting the nation’s economic gains and criticizing Democrats for their role in the dispute that the White House said was “holding our troops hostage and our border agents hostage.” His re-election campaign ran ads that claimed Democrats were “complicit” in murder perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally.

Democrats, meanwhile, found their offices inundated with phone calls.

“I called and left messages at their offices,” Gregg James, the vice president of a Minnesota branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, said of his efforts to reach Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Tina Smith (D., Minn.) He said he understood their concerns about immigration but that “we never feel shutting down the government is the right thing to do.”

Senate Republicans and Democrats alike were also growing frustrated with their leadership. A group of nearly two dozen members began meeting in the offices of Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) to hash out a solution.

“It is a pretty poor excuse to sit here and say: We can’t deal with President Trump,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), a member of the group, said on the Senate floor. “We don’t have to deal with President Trump. We are the U.S. Senate. We can make our own decisions.”

The Collins-led sessions began to grow. At one meeting, the senators used a Native American “talking stick” as a way of designating which member would speak at any given moment.

A gift to Ms. Collins from Sen Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), its use wasn’t without drama, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Alexander at one point nearly broke a glass elephant with the talking stick during a dispute with Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) The senators eventually switched to using a basketball, tossing it to the next person due to speak. And Mr. Alexander apologized to Mr. Warner.

On Monday morning, the bipartisan group gathered with muffins, bagels and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. “We had so many people in the office that we were running out of chairs,” Ms. Collins said.

One issue that helped bond the group was the frustration vented toward their own leaders, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer.

“I don’t believe that either leader on either side should have the powers that they have,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), said Monday, complaining that it was too easy for leaders to force their conferences to block deals. “We weren’t going to be beaten into submission.”

Ms. Collins met privately with Mr. McConnell on Monday morning and urged him to make a stronger statement about his commitment to moving the immigration bill. “So that’s what happened, really,” Ms. Collins said.

Midday Monday, 28 Democrats who had initially voted to block government funding changed their positions and cleared the way for passage of the spending bill.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at, Rebecca Ballhaus at and Byron Tau at

Merkel and Austria’s Kurz clash over migrant quota

January 17, 2018


© AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel andAngela Merkel new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stressed the ‘close cooperation’ between the two nations

BERLIN (AFP) – Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz clashed over immigration in their first meeting Wednesday, with the seasoned German chancellor saying Vienna’s resistance to sharing out refugees across the bloc was “wrong”.Kurz, at 31 the world’s youngest leader after forming a government with the far right last month, said following talks with Merkel that the debate about mandatory migrant quotas “took up too much space”.

“I’m convinced that the solution to the migrant problem lies with decent border protection and stronger help in countries of origin,” Kurz told reporters after he was received in Berlin with military honours.

While Merkel echoed those priorities, she also chided the member states that have refused to take in their share of migrants and refugees under the European Union’s quota system.

When external border protection fails, “it cannot be, in my view, that there are some countries that say ‘we don’t want to participate in European solidarity’,” she said.

“I believe that’s wrong.”

Austria has sided with countries such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic that reject the scheme, agreed by a majority of EU leaders in 2015, to share 160,000 migrants around the bloc to help frontline states like Greece and Italy.

Just some 32,000 were relocated by the end of 2017.

Kurz, who was foreign minister at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis, was one of the fiercest critics of Merkel’s contentious decision in 2015 to open Germany’s borders to those fleeing conflict.

The move prompted an influx of nearly 900,000 asylum seekers to Germany that year alone, although arrivals have slowed significantly since then.

Kurz came to power after taking over the conservative People’s Party (OeVP) last year and yanking it to the right, with a hardline stance on immigration.

His government is the only one in Western Europe to feature the far right after he struck an alliance with the controversial Freedom Party (FPOe).

Merkel stressed the “close cooperation” between Germany and Austria and their shared positions on many issues.

She said she would judge the new government in Vienna “by its actions”, but added that she would be watching closely.

“We will keep an eye on everything else — perhaps I will a bit more than I would have otherwise done. But what matters are actions,” she said.

Trump says ‘I’m not a racist,’ keeps door open for DACA deal — “Do not let it define the moment.”

January 15, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump insisted on Sunday “I‘m not a racist” in response to reports that he had described immigrants from Haiti and African countries as coming from “shithole countries.”

Image may contain: 2 people, suit
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy arrive for dinner at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump also said he was “ready, willing and able” to reach a deal to protect illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported but that he did not believe Democrats wanted an agreement. He tweeted earlier on Sunday that the existing program would “probably” be discontinued.

The debate over immigration policy became increasingly acrimonious after it was reported on Thursday that the Republican president used the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries in a private meeting with lawmakers.

The comments led to harsh recriminations from Democrats and Republicans alike, with some critics accusing Trump of racism, even as bipartisan talks continued in the U.S. Congress to seek a bipartisan compromise to salvage the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Asked by a reporter in Florida whether he was a racist, Trump said: “No. I‘m not a racist. I‘m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Trump has threatened to end DACA, but he seemed to keep the door open for a deal when he told reporters before dinner on Sunday night: “We’re ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA, but I don’t think the Democrats want to make a deal…. The Democrats are the ones that aren’t going to make a deal.”

Efforts to extend the program are further complicated because it could make a funding bill to avert a government shutdown due Friday more difficult.

“DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our military,” Trump said earlier on Twitter.


A U.S. judge ruled last Tuesday that DACA should remain in effect until legal challenges brought in multiple courts are resolved.

“I hope that we are actually going to work on fixing DACA,” said Representative Mia Love on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday. “We cannot let this derail us.”

Love, whose parents are from Haiti, had criticized Trump for his remarks and called on him to apologize.

Trump denied making the disparaging remarks on Friday, although U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, who was in the White House meeting, said the president had used the term. One participant at the meeting on Sunday denied that Trump used the term and another said he did not recall Trump making such comments.

Asked on Sunday whether his inflammatory remarks made it harder to get a DACA deal, Trump said: “Did you see what various senators in the room say about my comments? They weren’t bad.”

Lawmakers hope to reach an immigration deal before Jan. 19, when Congress must pass a funding bill or the government will shut down. Some Democrats insist that the DACA question be addressed by then.

Lawmakers are trying to combine some form of relief for DACA immigrants along with enhanced border security, including a wall along the Mexican border, sought by Trump. The president’s inflammatory comments left lawmakers struggling to find a path forward.

“I hope we can move beyond that. What was reported was unacceptable. But what we have to do is not let that define this moment,” said Republican Senator Cory Gardner on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

Republican Senator David Perdue, who was at the same White House meeting and had said he did not recall whether Trump made the comment, was more explicit on Sunday. He called the new stories a “gross misrepresentation.”

“I‘m telling you, he did not use that word,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

However, Republicans and Democrats have both said they either heard Trump say it, or heard directly from colleagues who did.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake said on Sunday he was told about the remarks by colleagues who attended the meeting, before the news reports emerged.

“I heard that account before the account even went public,” he said on “This Week.”

One of Trump’s top advisers, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, said on “Fox News Sunday” she did not recall if Trump used “that specific phrase.”

She also appeared to rebut Trump’s remarks from earlier in the day. “DACA is not dead,” she said.

Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Pete Schroeder, David Lawder and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Sandra Maler

Immigration Talks Muddled Amid Trump’s Vulgar Comments About “Shithole Countries”

January 12, 2018

Trump uses term ‘shithole’ to describe countries of some would-be immigrants, according to two people briefed on meeting

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy on Tuesday in the White House.
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy on Tuesday in the White House. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump questioned why the U.S. would admit people from “shithole countries” Thursday, roiling discussions over a bipartisan Senate deal to protect young undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Trump made the comments at a private White House immigration meeting that included a bipartisan group of lawmakers, asking why the U.S. would want to admit people from Africa, the source of many diversity lottery applicants, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why do we want all these people from these shithole countries here? We should have people from places like Norway,” the president said, according to these two people. Mr. Trump also expressed dismay with granting a legal status, in particular, to people from Haiti. One person said he asked, “What do we want Haitians here for?”

White House spokesman Raj Shah didn’t confirm or deny those comments, which were reported earlier by the Washington Post. “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” he said. “President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

A big question in Washington: What is going to happen next for the Dreamers? The legal reprieve for these young undocumented immigrants starts to run out in March. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains the likely scenarios. Photo: Getty

The back-and-forth came as a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to give a path to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers and make other immigration policy changes. They presented their plan at the White House, but it was met with opposition from conservative lawmakers who also attended the meeting. And Marc Short, the White House legislative-affairs director, said more work was needed. “There’s a long way to go,” he told reporters.

The White House and lawmakers in both parties say they want to reach an agreement, but many conservative Republicans are demanding a long list of immigration-policy changes that Democrats oppose. It was unclear whether Mr. Trump would be willing to sign something into law over their objections.

Democrats have some leverage as their votes are needed to keep the government running past next Friday. It was unclear whether they would be willing to force a partial shutdown over the immigration dispute.

The agreement reached in the Senate gives Mr. Trump much but not all of what he has requested, according to Senate aides. It allocates $1.6 billion toward a border fence, which he asked for in 2018. It ends the diversity lottery that he has slammed. And it imposes some modest new limits on the ability of citizens and green-card holders to sponsor relatives.

It also gives Dreamers a 10-to-12-year path to citizenship, gives their parents three-year work permits and gives green cards to people who have been living in the U.S. for years under Temporary Protected Status programs that Mr. Trump is ending. One of those TPS program benefits Haitians, which is what prompted Mr. Trump’s comment about Haiti.

Mr. Trump’s optimism about reaching an agreement and flexibility about what should be in it has drawn fire from immigration hard-liners. They fear he is too willing to sign legislation aiding the young people who had been protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he ended in September.

Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham voiced the views of many of them on Wednesday when she said, “I don’t want to use the word ‘betrayal’ yet, because we haven’t reached the end of the line here…. But I am extremely concerned.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal he isn’t worried about the pressure, saying, “my base is with me.” He also said he is motivated by desire to help the affected young people, not politics.

“I’m doing it from the standpoint of heart, I’m doing it from the standpoint of common sense,” he said. He added that the Dreamers were hard workers with jobs. “We need workers in this country.”

He also said that he would pursue payment for his border wall from Mexico, as he promised, but as part of broader negotiations over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico has repeatedly said it won’t pay for the project.

DACA offers safe harbor from deportation and work permits for some 690,000 young people. Mr. Trump announced in September he was ending the Obama-era program, and protections for young immigrants start to expire in large numbers in March.

The six senators in the bipartisan group said they had reached an agreement after four months of effort. But their work came under immediate fire from more conservative members of Congress. Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) complained that it fell short of the $18 billion that the administration requested last week for a 10-year plan for a wall along the southern border.

Mr. Cotton and two other conservative Republicans issued a statement saying the bipartisan accord “isn’t serious” and saying there is no urgency to reach agreement by next week. “It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to, potentially, millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior,” said Sens. Cotton, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and David Perdue (R-Ga.).

Two people familiar with the day’s events said that Sens. Dick Durbin (D. Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) had expected they would be the only lawmakers meeting with the president and were surprised to see several other more hawkish lawmakers in the room. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on who invited the others.

The Senate negotiators also included Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, as well as GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

“I’m hopeful—I think we can get there. We’ve just got to keep working,” Mr. Graham said earlier as he and Mr. Durbin arrived at the Capitol after the meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House.

Mr. Short, the White House legislative-affairs director, said the White House preferred that the negotiations be run by a different bipartisan group consisting of the No. 2 lawmakers in each party, in each house of Congress. That would have the effect of tilting the orientation in a more conservative direction.

Republicans have cautioned that any deal reached by the bipartisan group may not be able to win support from the rest of the party. The hope among the group is that Mr. Trump would be willing and able to sell it Republicans.

That will be a challenge. Mr. Cotton, who takes a tough line on immigration, called the deal presented to the White House a “pine needle of a proposal” and said he wouldn’t support it.

Mr. Trump has demanded that a DACA agreement include security improvements, including some version of his promised border wall; new limits on the rights of U.S. citizens and green card holders to sponsor family members for immigration here; and limits on the visa lottery, which randomly awards 50,000 green cards each year to people from countries that are underrepresented in the immigration system.

At the White House earlier in the week, a large group of lawmakers and Mr. Trump agreed to negotiate legislation including those three areas, plus help for the so-called Dreamers.

Write to Laura Meckler at and Siobhan Hughes at

Appeared in the January 12, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Vulgarity Roils DACA Deal.’


An image from the “NBC Nightly News” broadcast on Thursday.

Lester Holt opened the “NBC Nightly News” on Thursday with a parental warning: “This may not be appropriate for some of our younger viewers.”

His counterpart at “ABC World News Tonight,” David Muir, described President Trump “using a profanity we won’t repeat.”

And Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, stammered as he delivered a report from Washington. “I noticed, Wolf, you hesitated to use that word,” he told the network’s anchor, Wolf Blitzer. “I hesitate to use it myself.”

Media outlets on Thursday took the unusual step of allowing the word “shithole” to be used in print and on air, after a report that Mr. Trump had used the term to describe African nations and Haiti during a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration.

The unexpurgated expletive appeared, in capital letters, on the graphics known as chyrons that dominate the lower portion of the screen on CNN and MSNBC. (Fox News spelled the word with asterisks.) It showed up on smartphone push alerts sent by The Washington Post, which broke the story, and The Associated Press.

Mr. Acosta, on CNN, the first network to broadcast the term without asterisks, said the word several times on-air, even as Mr. Blitzer opted for the more chaste “S-hole.”

It is exceedingly rare for the country’s biggest news organizations to publish a quote that includes an expletive; usually, they employ a censored or blanked-out version. On Thursday’s network evening newscasts, NBC News was the only organization that quoted Mr. Trump in full. Anchors at ABC and CBS used the word “blank” instead.

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Study: Only better integration in Germany will reduce migrant crime rate

January 3, 2018

Only better integration options will reduce the risk of increased crime rates among migrants, a study has found. The study also linked a rise in crimes Lower Saxony with an increase in migrant arrivals.

Integration course in Germany (picture-alliance/dpa/J.Stratenschulte)

Leading German criminologists have say the best chance of preventing violent crime among migrants is to offer more integration options like language courses, sport, and practical apprenticeships.

The study, released to news agency DPA and carried out by criminologists at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences at the behest of the German Family Ministry, researched the increase in violent crime recorded in Germany over the past two years.

The study also suggested a link between an increase in reported violent crimes in Lower Saxony and a significant increase in migrant arrivals in the state.

Üolice witnessed an increase of 10.4 percent in reported violent crimes in 2015 and 2016, of which 92.1 percent was attributable to migrants. But the study’s authors, Christian Pfeiffer, Dirk Baier, and Sören Kliem, also warned that part of the increase was due to the fact that violent crimes committed by migrants were twice as likely to be reported compared to those committed by German nationals.

The study also pointed out that a third of all victims of crimes committed by refugees are other refugees. “There will also be a significant number of unknown cases here,” Kliem told DW in an email. “These people also deserve our full attention. Especially the particularly vulnerable group of refugee women and children.”

Creating incentives – to stay or leave

The authors suggested a range of incentives that could help refugees to integrate – or to leave the country if their immigration status meant they were unlikely to be granted permanent residency. “For this it would be advisable to invest public money that could help those affected to promote their professional qualifications,” said Kliem. “At the same time money should be invested in development aid in the countries of origin so that people a) are not driven to flee and b) the returnees do not lack prospects in their home countries.” Kliem also stressed the need for a new immigration law that would clarify who could enter the country and for what purpose.

“The first priority needs to be language, language, language,” Baier told DW. “Because that always serves integration into a society, and if you don’t have the language it just becomes enormously difficult to be part of society.”

Read more: Germany’s empty refugee shelters: Sensible backup or waste of money?

But Baier also underlined that the study’s conclusions didn’t mean that the state should simply throw more money at the problem. “At the end of the day it’s society itself that is being challenged to integrate refugees on this scale,” he said. “We’ve already seen a lot of this: families looking after individual refugees, volunteers joining help organizations.”

But this “total society” approach also brought its own problems. “What we know is that many these volunteers are often not well-supported,” Baier added. “People need a certain preparation for the task of helping refugees integrate – and I think local governments could help there – maybe something like a short introduction from social workers.”

Not enough women

Another contributing factor was the age of the migrants. According to the study, men between the ages of 14 and 30 are more generally more likely to commit violent crimes than those in other age brackets.

The study said the 14 to 30 age bracket formed the largest of its kind for migrants in Lower Saxony, suggesting that in turn contributed to the link between the rising rate of violent crime and the increase in migrant arrivals in the state.

Read more: Why are sexual assaults in Bavaria on the rise?

The authors also noted that there was a significant difference in the criminal migrants’ country of origin, saying men from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were significantly less likely to commit a violent crime than those hailing from North Africa.

Another contributing factor to the rise in crime was the lack of women among the refugees – overall, the researchers found that less than a quarter of refugees were women, which was leaving many refugees left in groups of men without their wives, mothers, or sisters. The study found that this increased the danger that men were “orientating themselves towards violence-legitimating manliness-norms.”

“From criminological research we know that one reason why young men grow out of criminality is because they start families, or have steady relationships,” Baier added.

One of the authors argued that this was one reason why Germany should aim reunite more refugee families – by flying in the wives, siblings, and children of refugees already here. The German government recently suspended this policy. “Stopping family reunification already seems questionable from an ethical and a constitutional perspective,” Kliem said. “But from a criminological perspective there is a lot that speaks in favor of family reunification. An intact family is an important protective factor for many areas of life, and certainly also for successful integration.”

Crime stats

The findings reflect earlier reporting that violent crime had increased significantly during the migration crisis. However, other studies have refuted links between increased crime rates and migrants.

Since 2015, more than one million migrants have arrived in Germany, many of them fleeing war and extreme poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Read more: Migrants committing fewer crimes, according to BKA report

The increased arrival of migrants in Germany was in part due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door policy towards Syrians fleeing a devastating war in their country that has left more than 300,000 people and more than half the country displaced.