Refugees

Congressman Paul Tonko and RISSE Operations Director Francis Sengabo
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Volunteers and staff at an Albany organization that provides assistance to refugees and immigrants are struggling to keep up with the demand for services. Today, the organization got a visit from their member of Congress, Democrat Paul Tonko.

Today's Panel presents a conversaton about immigration.

Immigration has been a touchstone of the U.S. political debate for decades, as policymakers weigh competing economic, security, and humanitarian concerns. Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform for years.

Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed executive orders on border security, interior enforcement, and refugees. In mid-2017, Trump rescinded two programs created by President Obama to shield undocumented children and their parents from deportation. Most recently, a “Zero-Tolerance” policy was implemented causing children to be separated from their parents at the border.

Voice Theatre in Woodstock, NY creates new productions and explores relevant dimensions of classic works.

They join us to today to talk about their Spring Reading Series at the Golden Notebook on May 3, 10, and 17 at 7p.m. They will also tell us about the Voice Theatre refugee program with high school students and undocumented, unaccompanied refugee kids aged 12-17.

Shauna Kanter, Wally Carbonne and Maryanne DiPalma join us.

The Frontline logo
wikipedia.org/Public Domain

The perilous journey of a refugee across often dangerous seas and hostile mountains and valleys can be video accounts to tell that story. PBS Frontline Managing Editor Andrew Metz will return to his alma mater, Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, this Saturday for a free screening of the movie Exodus, which includes smartphone videos taken by refugees. Exodus and its sequel Exodus: The Journey Continues were directed by James Bluemel who will also be at Hamilton this weekend. 

After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. Through the eyes of volunteer rescue workers called the White Helmets, "Last Men in Aleppo" allows viewers to experience the daily life, death, and struggle in the streets, where they are fighting for sanity in a city where war has become the norm.

The film is nominated for a 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary and is currently available to view on Netflix. It will also air on PBS on March 1. Director, Feras Fayyed, joins us.

From an award-winning, “meticulously observant” (The New Yorker) writer, Helen Thorpe, comes a powerful and moving account of how refugee teenagers at a Denver public high school learn English and become Americans.

The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

Helen Thorpe is an award-winning journalist who lives in Denver, Colorado. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Texas Monthly, and 5280.

Congressman Peter Welch meets with immigrant and refugee community
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch held a roundtable discussion in Winooski this morning with refugees and immigrants who have settled in the Burlington area.  The Democrat wanted to learn about their challenges during the resettlement process and what contributions they feel they are making to their new home.  The roundtable comes at a time of national debate over immigration policy.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey
Courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey

President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees left many people upset and scared.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Nita Lowey speaks with WAMC’s Alan Chartock about what comes next.

Refugee Family Gets Settled In The Hudson Valley

Feb 2, 2017

The first family under a refugee resettlement program in the mid-Hudson Valley has arrived. The Congolese family landed at JFK Airport this week amid President Trump’s travel ban. Members of the welcome team said they held their breath until the family made it through customs.

As protests erupted over the weekend against President Trump’s immigration and refugee bans, communities in Massachusetts are responding to the president’s proposed crackdown on sanctuary cities. Trump signed an executive order threatening to strip federal funds from communities that harbor undocumented immigrants.

A Refugee Family's Arrival To Poughkeepsie Is Immiment

Jan 27, 2017

The arrival of the first family under a refugee resettlement program in the Poughkeepsie area is imminent. This comes as President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order halting the nation’s refugee resettlement program for 120 days.

Downtown Historic District, Rutland, Vermont
Sfoskett/Wikimedia Commons

During the annual meeting Vermont Council on World Affairs this week the mayor of Rutland, Vermont, says he's committed to refugee resettlement.

Rutland, VT
Doug Kerr-Dougtone/Flickr

The Obama administration has screened and admitted more than 12,000 Syrian refugees, and thousands more are due to arrive in the coming year. In what has been a controversial plan, the city of Rutland, Vermont is preparing to receive 100 refugees beginning early next year.  The group that coordinates resettlement of the refugees in Vermont is opening an office in the city and is seeking staff ahead of the refugees’ expected arrival.

WAMC, Allison Dunne

Church World Service held a public meeting Thursday night in Poughkeepsie to offer some details about a refugee resettlement program for the mid-Hudson Valley set to begin early next year. Following a presentation, some residents raised questions and concerns.

Courtesy of Church World Service

An alliance of college and faith-based organizations in the mid-Hudson Valley will discuss details of a refugee resettlement program for the Poughkeepsie area Sunday.

Refugees, primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, disembark on the island of Lesvos, Greece.
Ashley Gilbertson

A photographer who spent the past year covering the refugee crisis in Germany, Greece and the Balkans will detail what he saw during a talk at Williams College tonight. Working for UNICEF, Ashley Gilbertson spent time with people fleeing Syria and Afghanistan as they attempted to reach European nations and integrate into those societies. Some of his work was published in the New York Times. WAMC spoke with Gilbertson about his experience.

Hundreds of people turned out for the meeting Monday at the Berkshire Athenaeum.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

Hundreds of people turned out for a meeting Monday about bringing refugees, likely from Syria and Iraq, to Pittsfield.

Havana
Mark Williamston / Getty Images

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about the uncertainties facing Cuba’s young people in 2016, and about a public lecture happening next week in Charlemont, Massachusetts on Cuban immigration and on the recent rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba.

Peter Purdy of the Charlemont Forum joins us this morning. Also here is Carlos Eire, the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of Religion and History at Yale University and the author of Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy. Carlos will be speaking at The Charlemont Forum in Charlemont, MA, on Wednesday, June 22nd. The speech is entitled: “Migration, Resistance or Reform: Cuba’s Uncertain Future." 

Art Feder, farm child, on a makeshift tractor with its creator, farmer Genie Lucine, ca. 1939.
Larry Fader collection

In the early part of the 20th century, hundreds of recently arrived Eastern European Jewish families lived on farms in upstate New York. Their descendants are holding a reunion this October in Rensselaer County.

Rutland, VT
Doug Kerr-Dougtone/Flickr

A Vermont refugee official says the city of Rutland was one of a number of communities across the state that offered to host Syrian refugees who will be coming to the United States in the weeks and months to come.

  In recent years, politicians in a handful of local communities and states have passed laws and regulations designed to make it easier to deport unauthorized immigrants or to make their lives so unpleasant that they’d just leave. The media’s unrelenting focus on these ultimately self-defeating measures created the false impression that these politicians speak for most of America. They don’t.

Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees, and America at Its Best by Susan E Eaton reminds us that we each have choices to make about how to think and act in the face of the rapid cultural transformation that has reshaped the United States.

Herbert London: Europe’s Migration Cancer

Jan 27, 2016

Roberta Flack, years earlier, sang what has become the Europeans theme song “Killing Me Softly.” Despite the reported wilding spree of at least a thousand North African refugees who groped women at the New Year celebration in Cologne, Germany, despite allegations of two rapes, despite condemnation by Prime Minister Merkel, the mayor of the city has requested that women monitor their “code of conduct.” Apparently German authorities will contest to their last breath that tolerance dedication will not yield. This is the tolerance that kills, softly at first and violently in time.

  The year was 1922: World War I had just come to a close, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and Asa Jennings, a YMCA worker from upstate New York, had just arrived in the quiet coastal city of Smyrna to teach sports to boys. Several hundred miles to the east in Turkey’s interior, tensions between Greeks and Turks had boiled over into deadly violence.

Turkish soldiers proceeded to burn the city and rape and kill countless Christian refugees. Unwilling to leave with the other American civilians and determined to get Armenians and Greeks out of the doomed city, Jennings worked tirelessly to feed and transport the thousands of people gathered at the city’s Quay. With the help of naval officer Halsey Powell, and a handful of others, Jennings commandeered a fleet of unoccupied Greek ships and was able to evacuate a quarter million innocent people.

    

  Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary.

In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there.

Wars in the Middle East are creating huge flows of refugees. If war creates refugees, we either have to have a way to stop the wars or a policy about refugees. Just saying we will or won’t let people in is a decision, not a policy. One must think past those decisions to the enormous consequences.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

The world continues to debate how to handle the growing international refugee crisis. When refugees do arrive, they are left to tackle the challenges associated with setting up a new life in the United States. They often need help learning English, seeking out government services, or finding a job. One organization operating out of Albany is doing the important work behind the scenes to help migrants find a foothold in their new community. In the fifth part of our winter series on unsung locals, WAMC's Lucas Willard reports on a refugee who is dedicated to helping others.

  The Paris attacks horrified the world.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the U.S. strategy against ISIS must be sharpened. 

One year after President Obama announced new executive actions on immigration, his administration is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the new policies.

The executive actions in question — the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, as well as an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA — would have affected millions of immigrants.

Last week, President Barack Obama said the U.S. would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the war in their home country by 2016. Jill Peckenpaugh, director of the Albany field office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), says the Capital Region is ready to support an influx of potential refugees or migrants, should they come. 

  The refugee crisis in Europe has confounded much of the world. 

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut representative Joe Courtney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that his office worked with a Syrian refugee family a couple of years back.

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