Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

School segregation in Europe ‘form of discrimination’

September 12, 2017


© AFP/File | The open-air classroom in northeast Paris for migrants waiting for a decision by the French government on their asylum claim

STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (AFP) – School segregation in Europe is “one of the worst forms of discrimination”, the region’s top rights watchdog said in a report published Tuesday.

Many European countries continue to exclude disabled children, Roma children and migrants or refugees from mainstream schools, according to the report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

“School segregation harms children’s learning opportunities and is a clear injustice against minority and other vulnerable groups of people, which also perpetuates their marginalisation,” said Nils Muiznieks.

Countries have an obligation to combat segregation in schools, but the reality is very different, the report said.

Political leaders and education authorities can sometimes be reluctant to bring about changes that alter the existing privilege in education, it added.

The report made a series of recommendations aimed at the leaders of the 47 Council of Europe member states, including strengthening the law.

“The legislation should be comprehensive and explicit enough to address situations in which tradition, freedom of choice, parental consent or urban segregation serve to legitimise discrimination and high concentrations of Roma children, children of migrant background or children with disabilities in specific schools,” the report said.

A move towards more inclusive education systems will also require a change in attitude.

Parents of the majority population often prefer to send their children to schools without minority and migrant groups.

The report also called for a ban on the use of tests as a selection tool and suggests assigning the best teachers to the most difficult schools.


Photographers Respond to Trump’s Comments on Sweden — Protecting The Image, Ignoring Many of the Facts

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s leading photographers are launching a new exhibit and publishing a book in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of the country’s immigration policy.

During a rally in Florida in February, Trump said that terrorism was growing in Europe, and “look what’s happening last night in Sweden.” But the comment baffled many Swedes because there had been no extraordinary trouble that night in Sweden, a country welcoming to immigrants.

Publisher Max Strom commissioned “Last night in Sweden” in an effort to present a more diverse and multi-faceted portrait of Sweden.

Photographer and publisher Jeppe Wikstrom told The Associated Press before the exhibit’s opening that “we felt we had to react because we didn’t recognize Sweden at all in his words.”

The crowdfunded book hits the shelves Tuesday.


German aid to migrants creating pull effect: minister — Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes

September 9, 2017
© AFP/File | Many migrants see Germany as their dream destination

BERLIN (AFP) – German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned Saturday that Berlin’s generous offer of benefits for asylum seekers was a siren call for migrants.

“The benefits for refugees in Germany are quite high compared to other EU countries. This is part of the pull effect towards Germany,” de Maiziere, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in an interview with the Rheinische Post regional daily.

Under Merkel’s impetus, Germany welcomed more than a million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, all of them ushered in by Maiziere’s interior ministry.

His comments on Saturday, two weeks ahead of legislative elections, were roundly criticised by the far-left Die Linke party and the German Greens.

Aid for refugees “cannot be reduced below the subsistence minimum,” argued Katrin Goering-Eckardt, head of the Greens parliamentary group.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats “are ready to do anything” for votes, she added.

Die Linke deputy Jan Korte said that Maiziere was seeking to “disfigure the right to asylum”.

De Maiziere on Saturday stressed the need to harmonise asylum procedures for European nations, an issue already broached at EU-level.

The European Union needs “a truly homogenous asylum system,” he said.

An asylum seeker arriving in Germany has the right to housing and up to 390 euros ($470) per month to cover food, clothing and other expenses.

Daca: Trump ‘to scrap’ amnesty for young immigrants

September 4, 2017

BBC News

Rocio, a Daca programme recipient, at a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, September 1, 2017
Many recipients of the Daca programme have taken to the streets to defend it. Reuters photo

US President Donald Trump has decided to scrap a programme that protects young undocumented immigrants, according to reports.

He will give Congress six months to draw up legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), sources quoted by US media say.

The decision, first reported in Politico, is considered a compromise amid strong support for the scheme.

However, the sources cautioned that Mr Trump could still change his mind.

He is due to formally announce his decision on Tuesday.

The Obama-era Daca programme protects hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” from deportation and provides work and study permits.

According to Politico, the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning.

Mr Ryan last week urged the president not to scrap the scheme, arguing it left many young people “in limbo”.

“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home,” he said.

Young immigrants and supporters walk holding signs during a rally in support of Daca in Los Angeles, on September 1, 2017
President Trump has previously said he “loves” the Dreamers. AFP

Mr Ryan is one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers and business leaders to speak out against scrapping the programme.

While campaigning for office, Mr Trump took a hard-line on immigration and scrapping Daca was one of his core promises.

But since then he has said he finds the subject “very, very tough”.

He said he intends to show “great heart” in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, “incredible kids”.

On Sunday, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Thanks to Dreamers’ courage & resolve, #DACA has allowed thousands of young people to contribute to our society. We’re better for it.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican Representative from Florida, also took to Twitter to vent her frustration, saying: “After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his ‘great heart,’ @POTUS slams door on them. Some ‘heart’.”

What is Daca?

The Daca programme protects roughly 750,000 people in the US from deportation and provides temporary permits for work and study.

In order to qualify for Daca, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security.

Where do America’s undocumented immigrants live?

They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honourably discharged from the military.

In exchange, the US government agrees to “defer” any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.

The majority of so-called Dreamer immigrants in the US are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Merkel has no regrets about opening Germany’s borders

August 28, 2017
ANGELA Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again if she had the chance to turn back the clock to 2015 as she continues her election campaign.

PUBLISHED: 12:30, Sun, Aug 27, 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34, Sun, Aug 27, 2017

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel said she would open Germany’s borders to migrants all over again

The German Chancellor said she still backed her decision to allow more than one million migrants to enter  since 2015, despite coming under fire for the so-called open doors policy and being relentlessly heckled at recent election events.

On the campaign trail  has been booed by protestors furious at her decision to completely open Germany’s borders during the .

But a defiant Mrs Merkel, who hopes to secure a record fourth term, says she would do the same again.

And she risked further outrage by announcing she will continue to push for the fair distribution of migrants across Europe rather than letting Italy and Greece shoulder the load purely “because of their location”.

I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again

Angela Merkel

Today she struck a defiant tone as she vowed she would do things the “same way again” if she could turn back time.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Mrs Merkel attacked countries which have not followed Germany’s open-door policy.

Mrs Merkel said: “I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again. It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.

“Those kinds of extraordinary situations happen every once in a while in a country’s history. The head of government has to act and I did.”

She said more countries should help take in migrants and said it was unfair Italy and Greece were being hit the hardest simply “because of their geography”.

Mrs Merkel said: “That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed.”

Her decision to open the borders contributed to a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which pollsters say could win up to 10 per cent in the September election.

Mrs Merkel has had to contend with loud and sustained heckling from demonstrators strongly opposed to her migrant policies so far on the campaign trail.

Angela MerkelGETTY

A poster reading ‘Merkel must go’ at a recent German election campaign event

Angela MerkelGETTY

Angela Merkel has defended her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter Germany

The volume and intensity of the protests have been especially strong in her home region in formerly communist eastern Germany. But the 63-year-old Chancellor said she would not be kept away from areas where animosity towards her runs high.

She said: “We’re a democracy and everyone can freely express themselves in public the way they want. It’s important that we don’t go out of our way to avoid certain areas only because there are a bunch of people screaming.”

Support for Mrs Merkel and her party has recovered somewhat after the influx of refugees slowed in 2016 to 280,000 and fell even further to about 106,000 in the first seven months of this year.

Four weeks before the September 24 election, an Emnid opinion poll on Sunday showed Mrs Merkel’s conservatives would win 38 per cent, or 15 points ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). That is up from 32 per cent in February but well below the 41.5 per cent her party won in the last election in 2013.

“Never Trump” Gang Calls for ‘Shadow Government’ to Undermine Trump

August 27, 2017

Writing in the New York Times, of course, Wehner declares “what’s required now is a comprehensive, consistent case by Republican leaders at the state and national levels that signals their opposition to the moral ugliness and intellectual incoherence of Mr. Trump.”

“Rather than standing by the president, they should consider themselves liberated and offer a constructive, humane and appealing alternative to him,” Wehner writes in his “Sunday Review” column. “They need to think in terms of a shadow government during the Trump era, with the elevation of alternative leaders on a range of matters.”

He says “this approach involves risk and may not work” and predicts it will provoke “an angry response” from the “Breitbart-alt-right-talk-radio part of the party.”

“So be it,” Wehner continues, adding that “Republicans who don’t share Mr. Trump’s approach have to hope that his imploding presidency has created an opening to offer a profoundly different vision of America, one that is based on opportunity, openness, mobility and inclusion.”

He calls for a “new intellectual infrastructure to address what may prove to be one of the largest economic disruptions in history” and implores “people in positions of influence” to “appeal to moral idealism.”

Wehner believes “confrontation is inevitable” and urges anti-Trump Republicans to go all-in because “half-measures and fainthearted opposition are certain to fail.”

Using the tired threat that every establishment “pundit” reflexively spews when the Republican establishment does not get what they want on issues like amnesty for illegal immigrants and other corporatist or neoconservative policies, Wehner warns that if Republicans do not “make a clean break with” Trump, “it will be generational.”

Wehner—the insufferable elitist who also bashed Tea Party conservatives nearly every chance he got during President Barack Obama’s tenure to enable the legacy media to use him as their go-to useful moron—never mentions that his establishment Republicans friends in Congress and former boss George W. Bush lost blue-collar Reagan Democrats, young voters, people of color, and the conservative base with their oh-so-brilliant neoconservative foreign policy agenda, crony capitalism and excessive spending at home that turned Washington into the nation’s boomtown, and support for policies like No Child Left Behind and comprehensive amnesty legislation.

While Wehner’s “Never Trump” allies like Bill Kristol have been plotting behind the scenes to “oust” Trump in 2020, Wehner may be proposing a “shadow government” because he realizes that, as a House Republican apparently told him,” anti-Trump Republicans are “never going to have a majority of people against him [because Trump’s voters still make up the biggest faction in politics].”


REPUBLICAN lawmakers have seen the Trump disaster coming for a while now. They simply have no clue what to do about it.

A couple of months ago — before we learned that Donald Trump Jr. wanted to spend quality time with people he believed represented the Russian government, before the president publicly humiliated his attorney general and was abandoned by top business executives, before he claimed “some very fine people” were marching in Charlottesville, Va., alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists — a Republican member of Congress I spoke with called the president a “child king,” a “self-pitying fool.”

Even then, the words that came to mind when some congressional Republicans described the president were “incompetent” and “unfit.” There were concerns about his emotional stability. “There’s now a realization this isn’t going to change,” one top Republican aide on Capitol Hill said. Yet there is the simultaneous realization, as a House member told me when talking about Republicans in their home districts, that “we’re never going to have a majority of people against him.”

Maybe, but for now this presents Republican members of Congress who are privately alarmed by Mr. Trump with a predicament. Regardless of what he does, a vast majority of his core supporters are sticking with him. A recent Monmouth University poll found that of the 41 percent of Americans who currently approve of the job he’s doing, 61 percent said they cannot see Mr. Trump doing anything that would make them disapprove of him. Mr. Trump was on to something when he said in January 2016, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

The political problem facing Republicans is that Mr. Trump’s presidency is a wreck. His agenda is dead in the water. A special counsel is overseeing an investigation of his campaign. The West Wing is dysfunctional. And President Trump is deeply unpopular with most Americans.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll illustrates the dilemma Republican politicians face. It found that 28 percent of polled voters say they approved of Mr. Trump’s response to Charlottesville. But among Republican voters, the figure was 62 percent, while 72 percent of conservative Republicans approved.

The more offensive Mr. Trump is to the rest of America, the more popular he becomes with his core supporters. One policy example: At a recent rally in Phoenix, the president said he was willing to shut down the government over the question of funding for a border wall, which most of his base favors but only about a third of all Americans want.

Much of this mess is of the Republican Party’s own making. Let’s not forget that Mr. Trump’s political rise began with his promulgation of the racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was not a natural-born American citizen. The Trump presidency is the result of years of destructive mental habits and moral decay. So there’s no easy solution for responsible Republicans. But there is a step they have to take.

They need to accept, finally, the reality — evident from the moment he declared his candidacy — that Mr. Trump is unfit to govern. He will prove unable to salvage his presidency. As the failures pile up, he’ll act in an even more erratic fashion.

The mental hurdle Republicans have to clear is that in important respects the interests of the Republican Party and those of Donald Trump no longer align. The party has to highlight ways in which it can separate itself from the president.

So far the response of many Republican leaders to Mr. Trump’s offenses has been silence or at most veiled, timid criticism. The effect is to rile up Trump supporters and Mr. Trump himself without rallying opposition to him. It’s the worst of all worlds.

What’s required now is a comprehensive, consistent case by Republican leaders at the state and national levels that signals their opposition to the moral ugliness and intellectual incoherence of Mr. Trump. Rather than standing by the president, they should consider themselves liberated and offer a constructive, humane and appealing alternative to him. They need to think in terms of a shadow government during the Trump era, with the elevation of alternative leaders on a range of matters.

This approach involves risk and may not work. It will certainly provoke an angry response from the Breitbart-alt-right-talk-radio part of the party. So be it. Republicans who don’t share Mr. Trump’s approach have to hope that his imploding presidency has created an opening to offer a profoundly different vision of America, one that is based on opportunity, openness, mobility and inclusion.

This requires a new intellectual infrastructure to address what may prove to be one of the largest economic disruptions in history. People in positions of influence need to make arguments on behalf of principles and ideas that have for too long gone undefended. They must appeal to moral idealism. And the party needs leaders who will fight with as much passionate intensity for their cause as Mr. Trump fights for his — which is simply himself. There’s no shortcut to forging a separate Republican identity during the Trump presidency. Half-measures and fainthearted opposition are certain to fail.

If Republicans need more encouragement to break with Mr. Trump, they might note that the president, who has no institutional or party loyalty, is positioning himself as a critic not just of Democrats but also of Republicans. During his rally in Arizona, he went out of his way to attack both of that state’s Republican senators, including one battling brain cancer. He followed that up with tweets attacking the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Republican lawmakers.

A confrontation is inevitable. The alternative is to continue to further tie the fate and the reputation of the Republican Party to a president who seems destined for epic failure and whose words stir the hearts of white supremacists.

We are well past the point where equivocations are defensible, and we’re nearly past the point where a moral reconstitution is possible. The damage Mr. Trump has inflicted on the Republican Party is already enormous. If the party doesn’t make a clean break with him, it will be generational.

Germany’s Angela Merkel: ‘Refugees must be distributed fairly’

August 27, 2017

Chancellor Merkel has called in an interview for EU countries to show solidarity in taking in refugees. But she said her decision to open Germany’s borders in 2015 was one she would take again in the same circumstances.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

In an interview published on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel again defended her resolution two years ago to provide refuge to those fleeing from warfare in Syria and other countries.

“I would take all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” she told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying they had been necessary to “avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”

However, she admitted that EU law at the time had been inadequate for dealing with the enormous refugee influx that ensued. She criticized the so-called “Dublin Regulation” on refugees, which requires those seeking asylum to register in the first EU state they enter.

Read more: Angela Merkel from A to Z: the many faces of the chancellor

Migration flows in the Mediterranean 2017 ENGMediterranean countries bear the brunt of the migrant flows

Unfair burden for Greece and Italy

The regulation means that EU countries on the Mediterranean are forced to take in the overwhelming majority of migrants, most of whom come via the sea route.

“It is unacceptable that Greece and Italy should have to carry the burden alone only because they have the geographical location that they do and the refugees land in them,” she told the Welt am Sonntag.

Instead, refugees should be distributed among the EU member states in solidarity, she said.

Calls for redistribution of refugees in the bloc according to a quote scheme have previously met with considerable resistance, particularly from eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary.

Holidays at home?

Merkel however also called for harsher measures to be taken against asylum seekers if it was discovered that they had gone on holiday in their countries of origin, as recent reports have suggested.

“Taking holidays in the country in which you are being persecuted is not on,” Merkel said, adding that if it did happen, it could be a reason to re-examine any decision to grant asylum to those involved.

The chancellor also spoke about the issue of EU cooperation with Libya on refugees, which has come under vehement criticism from human rights groups who say migrants in the largely lawless North African country have been subjected to abuse of many kinds.

Migrants in sea off Libya Migrants often have difficulties after setting off from Libya

Merkel said that she wanted to provide the Libyan coast guard “with the necessary equipment to do its work,” which under a recent agreement means trying to prevent migrants leaving Libyan territory. She said the EU-Libya deal aimed at preventing human trafficking, which had led to many deaths.

But she said that at the same time, the EU “of course considers it to be of the greatest importance that the Libyan coast guard adheres to the rules of international law, both in dealing with refugees and migrants and with non-governmental organizations.”

If doubts were to arise about Libya’s behavior in this regard, the reports would be investigated, Merkel said.

Defiant Merkel Takes on Protestors at Rowdy Campaign Rally — “Some believe the problems in Germany can be fixed by screaming – but I don’t think so.”

August 26, 2017

QUEDLINBURG, Germany — Chancellor Angela Merkel stood up to rowdy protestors who tried to drown out her campaign speech with deafening jeers and whistles in the eastern town of Quedlinburg on Saturday, telling them that their angry shouts would not solve Germany’s problems.

Amid chants of “Merkel just go” and “Liar, liar” that demonstrators strongly opposed to her refugee policies kept up for the entire 30-minute address, Merkel departed from her stump speech three times.

“I hope you were able to understand some of that even though some of you out there kept on yelling,” a glum-looking Merkel said near the end of her speech to 1,500 people.

“Some believe the problems in Germany can be fixed by screaming – but I don’t think so and the majority of the people here don’t think so either,” said Merkel, who is seeking a fourth term in office and is the heavy favorite to win the Sept. 24 election.

“Some people can’t do anything else but scream and shout – but we’re not going to let them lead us astray.”

Even though Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats are far ahead of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in opinion polls, some conservative voters are angry that she has opened Germany’s borders to more than a million refugees since late 2015.

That anti-Merkel sentiment and the surge of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other troubled regions has fueled the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which pollsters say could win up to 10 percent in the September election.

Some of the anti-Merkel signs in the crowd read “Go to the Muslims”, “Get lost Merkel”, and “Save the constitution from Merkel”, and bore the AfD label. One large white banner with blood-like red marks on it read sarcastically: “Thanks Merkel”.

It was only the second campaign appearance by Merkel in formerly communist eastern Germany, where anti-foreigner sentiment is especially pronounced. Last week she faced jeers and shouts of “Traitor” while speaking in Annaberg-Buchholz.

In Saturday’s speech Merkel made it clear that refugees were welcome in Germany even though she conceded there could not be a repeat of the influx.

“Diversity makes us strong in Germany and that’s something we want to maintain,” she said.

(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

Immigrants fear harassment in Trump’s America so much it’s started to damage the economy

August 25, 2017

The Independent

Apparel and footwear companies are seeing the biggest pinch

By Clark Mindock New York

The Independent 

Major US retailers are seeing a decline in revenues in predominantly Hispanic areas in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, a concerning trend as the holiday season approaches.

Many Hispanics in the US aren’t leaving the house except to buy essential goods as a result of strict immigration policies imposed by the Trump administration. Worried they’ll be harassed by immigration or law enforcement officials if they are seen in public, Hispanic consumers are cutting back on discretionary spending, according to community groups, research firms, and retailers.

That consumer hesitance is affected America’s second-fastest-growing ethnic group, and is worrisome for companies that are already struggling across the economy. Retailers in border towns have been impacted more than most.

“They are staying home. They are going out less often, particularly around border towns in the United States,” Target CEO Brian Cornell recently said at a conference, according to Reuters. Mr Cornell was referencing a report composed by retail consultants NPD Group, which noted the decline in Hispanic discretionary spending.

The drop has been most noticeable in apparel and footwear sales, two areas where Hispanic shoppers make up a significant portion of buyers. In the first half of 2017, there was a double digit (“high teens”) drop in sneaker sales — a trend that impacts such major retail giants popular with Hispanics like Nike, Skechers, and Vans.

“It’s certainly a good litmus test of how the holiday season is going to shake out,” Marshal Cohen, an analyst with NPD Group, said, remarking that back-to-school footwear sales had seen a double digit drop compared to a double digit rise last year. “That’s how powerful certain segments are, certainly the Hispanic market.”

Hispanic spending hasn’t dropped in every segment, however. But, while there has been a rise in spending on essential items, it is more timid of an increase than seen recently under the past administration. Nielsen consumer spending firm notes that consumer essential sales to Hispanics rose by just 0.6 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to 2.9 per cent during a similar period the year before, and 6.2 per cent the year before that.

Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File | A boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said
BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania’s coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up.

The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said.

“They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers,” Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP.

The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said.

On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking.

EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures.

Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing.

This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy.