This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Separating Children From Their Parents at the Border--Historical Perspective

Thanks very much to Professor RubĂ©n Rumbaut for linking me to an excellent op-ed in today's by Susan Martin, who is Donald G. Herzberg professor emerita of international migration at Georgetown University, and thus a person to whom we should pay close attention. Her article details the awful similarities between what the Trump administration is doing to Central American immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border with what the U.S. did to Jews trying to flee the Holocaust in Germany. This is not pretty.
Watching the Trump administration decimate U.S. refugee and asylum programs is not only horrific; it is a mistaken return to the equally unenlightened and dangerous refugee policies of the 1930s and early 40s. In both cases, administrative actions were used to deny admission to thousands of refugees and asylum seekers. The most notorious example of the earlier era is the refusal of the U.S. to allow the German St. Louis ship to disembark its passengers prior to the Holocaust.
She describes the way in which the U.S. government set up a variety of tests that had to be met before German Jews could apply for refugee status--tests that under the circumstances were essentially impossible to meet. 
The Trump administration is using its own labyrinth of administrative processes to keep refugees from gaining protection in the U.S. As of June 15, the number of refugees resettled from abroad is only 15,383; three-quarters of the way into the federal fiscal year, this number is on track to be the lowest since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. That’s not just because of a presidential determination to admit only 45,000 a year, but because of often unnecessary “extreme vetting” procedures that have slowed resettlement to a trickle.
Here is what people are fleeing, and this description is from the U.S. State Department:
The State Department’s own annual Human Rights Report confirmed that El Salvador’s response to rape and other sexual violence was inadequate to protect victims, noting that “laws against domestic violence remained poorly enforced, and violence against women, including domestic violence, remained a widespread and serious problem.” It also cited rapes and sexual assault committed by police officers, which serve as further evidence that the government is unwilling and unable to protect women in such marriages from persecution. For the attorney general, these findings were insufficient.
Keep in mind that, as my son, Professor Greg Weeks, has pointed out--"Before the U.S.-funded war in El Salvador, there was no MS-13 and very few Salvadoran migrants." This whole terrible situation in Central America didn't just happen on its own--we were very much complicit.

Professor Martin does a nice job of summing up where we are:
The Trump administration’s misuse of authority against refugees and asylum seekers should be of concern to all Americans, regardless of party affiliation. This country was founded by refugees fleeing their homes because of their religious and political beliefs. As we celebrate Thanksgiving each year, we recognize the welcome offered to the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock after facing persecution at home. Many of us are the descendants of refugees and others who fled violence and repression and found a safe refuge in this country. Should we not offer the same opportunity to those who will otherwise face persecution, torture, or death at home?
Yes, we should. 

1 comment:

  1. John,

    The largest gathering of Anglicans (and some Episcopalians) around the world is taking place right now in Jerusalem. Jason Mandryk has given a really impacting plenary talk on demographics of religion with some striking predictions. I know you will need to listen to the whole talk to interact with it, and I know you don't naturally find religion to be important (as a Californian, of course), but I would really love to hear you comments on this important talk. This is the largest gathering of Anglican Christians in over 50 years. After the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches the Anglican Communion is the largest single Christian community in the world (80 million).