LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Defining terms in immigration debate

I’m responding to a letter published on July 14 entitled “Misuse of language, logic for expedience” referring to my letter entitled “U.S. treatment of asylum seekers is ‘inhumane.’” The writer disputes a few things that I wrote and has prompted me to further research.

Asylum can be applied for from within the country of origin but can be sought by refugees crossing the U.S. border. Wikipedia’s article “Asylum in the United States” notes the three priorities for granting asylum. “Priority One” states that asylum may be granted for “security concerns, danger of refoulment (being returned to the source of danger), danger to threats of attack, persecution for political, religious, or human rights activities.”

The responding writer denies that persecution in the U.N. 1951 Convention or in the 1967 Protocol takes into account “danger.” www.merriam-webster.com defines “to persecute – to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict.” Persecution by definition includes DANGER.

It’s true that poverty was not mentioned in U.S. law but was included in international standards introduced by the U.S. In addition, the writer tries to differentiate between “…forced to flee…” and “…chose to leave….” If one is being persecuted, therefore endangered, one would expect that person to “leave” as one’s only option. One can search www.justice.gov ina101 (a) (42) for a more complete U.S. definition of refugee.

On July 20, Joel Rose, an NPR journalist, reported on the effects of A.G. Sessions’ new restrictive qualifications regarding claims of persecution as grounds for granting asylum. (A-B-, 27, I&N Dec.227 (A.G. 2018)) Rose’s report, “Denied asylum, but terrified to return home,” cites one example: a woman with a scarred left arm and her left hand with four fingers cut off by a gang for not paying “protection.”

Sessions requires that ANY appeals for asylum be referred to HIM. “Matter of A-B-, 27, I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018).” shows HIS decision regarding an appeal that basically denies asylum to victims of domestic abuse or gang violence. Such violence no longer qualifies as “persecution” of “allowable social groups.”

He also requires that the initial decision to return applicants to their home countries is up to the officers doing the initial interviews. This is contrary to the above U.N. standards. Has this administration now decreed that asylum-seeking refugees are criminals as the responding writer suggests?

In my letter I referred to a June 23 MSNBC “AM JOY” report by journalist Mariana Atencio, eyewitness to refugees shackled at the ankles awaiting court hearings. It is considered a misdemeanor if one crosses our borders illegally for the first time. Search www.cpoa.org “Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal Hold Federal District Wide Shackling Policy Unconstitutional” to verify that routine shackling was ruled unconstitutional.

Again, from www.merriam-webster.com, a misdemeanor is a crime less serious than a felony. Only a judge can decide the extent of criminality of refugees but routine shackling is uncalled for and cruel. Even felons can avoid routine shackling under this ruling.

The writer is correct that those referred to as “Native Americans” did migrate by crossing the Bering Strait between 16,500-14,000 years ago as noted by the www.nps.org (National Park Service) website. While this has been long accepted, the article still refers to this as a theory. Archeologists have yet to find human remains predating these “paleoamericans.” Given this writer’s position that … “every second generation is a native,” these migrants and their descendants are surely more native than any European migrants from the 15th-17th centuries or any alive today. Like him, I am a native like several generations before me.

I have always endeavored to present evidence and facts calmly, particularly in this response, in order to eliminate whining or ranting.

May God Save the U.S.A.

Alan Gaddis
Dover

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