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  • A Canadian proposal at the NAFTA negotiations to liberalize migration across borders got shot down by the US.

  • Latin American governments have recently called for a radical liberalization of migration law worldwide.

  • Canada is in a potential position to take advantage of the DREAMers, if they are forced to leave.

  • Québec premier Philippe Couillard wants to encourage Anglos to move back to the province. Global News reports.

  • The resettlement of LGBTQ refugees is especially complicated. VICE reports.

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  • Hamilton's Christ Church is striving for continued viability, in part through selling off vacant land for condos. Global News reports.

  • Edmonton's Accidental Beach, a byproduct of construction berms on the North Saskatchewan River, has gone viral. Global News reports.

  • Meagan Campbell of MacLean's looks at how the refugee crisis did, and did not, effect the garlic festival of border city Cornwall.

  • The successful integration of a Syrian refugee family of chocolatiers in the Nova Scotia town of Antigonish is nice. The Toronto Star carries the story.

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  • At VICE, Tayte Hanson writes about his experience suffering from body dysmorphia in the gay porn industry.

  • Jeff Leavell, also at VICE, writes compassionately about the gay bar patrons he's seen who have self-medicated much too much.

  • This older Jezebel post, noting shared circumstances made US Muslims more gay-friendly than evangelicals, matters.

  • The latest John Ibbitson article looks at how LGBTQ Chechen refugees in Canada need continued support in their new home.

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  • At CBC, Don Pittis notes--in this time of a refugee crisis--Canada is economically able to handle more newcomers.

  • I really do want to see this origami diorama tomorrow at the CNE.

  • In this year of free national park admissions, Lauren Krugel notes how Parks Canada prepared for the surge.

  • Atlas Obscura notes that, after almost three decades, the Trans-Canada Trail is finally complete, from coast to coast.

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Earlier today at my blog, I linked to an article published earlier this month in the Toronto Star. In "Fleeing to Canada, asylum seekers’ old lives revealed in the scraps found along New York’s Roxham Rd.", journalist Allan Woods looked at the debris discarded by refugee claimants fleeing potential threats in Trump's America.

There were airplane boarding passes and luggage tags from Haiti, Florida, Ethiopia, Salt Lake City and New York; Greyhound bus tickets from Albany and Indianapolis; a Delaware driver’s licence and a U.S. Social Security number; Florida detention records; immigration documents from Orlando; and medical laboratory test records for a Delaware man.

Dampened by rain and dried by sun, the scraps of papers discarded while fleeing for a new life in Canada offer insight into the journeys made by asylum seekers. They may have been thrown away as simple garbage from a life abandoned or been purposefully left behind for fear of complicating an expected refugee claim in Canada.

Canadian officials said this week that there have been about 250 people crossing each day at Roxham Rd. in the past few weeks, with a one-day peak of 500 about a week ago.

About 85 per cent have been Haitian nationals worried that the U.S. government intends to get rid of a special immigration designation, known as a Temporary Protected Status, that prevents deportation back to Haiti and nine other countries.

Among them is the Baptiste family — mother Sophonie, father Michel and son Colby — who stepped off a Greyhound bus at 6 p.m. Wednesday along with an elderly grandfather, an aunt and a cousin after deciding to leave behind the life they had built over the past decade in Queens, N.Y.

In Haiti, they ran a successful home renovation business that was abandoned over fears of kidnapping. Colby Baptiste said he was employed by Honda and was a registered real estate agent in New York before the family decided to seek refuge in Canada.

Pushing them to take that decision was a letter they received from immigration authorities advising them to prepare for the expiration of their Temporary Protected Status and an eventual return to Haiti.

With tears welling in her eyes, Sophonie Baptiste said she saw Canada as a more generous and open country and was confident her family would be able to rebuild once again.


More recently, the Star carried Mike Blanchfield's Canadian Press article interviewing some of the people fleeing.

The Francois family are among nearly 7,000 asylum seekers — most of them Haitian — who have flooded across the Quebec-New York state border since mid-July when the Trump administration announced it might end their “temporary protected status,” which was granted following Haiti’s massive 2010 earthquake. They are among the first few hundred the government has relocated to this eastern Ontario processing centre.

Few here have heard of Justin Trudeau and no one says they saw his now-controversial January Twitter message welcoming immigrants facing persecution. The tweet was heavily criticized by the Conservative opposition for sparking the American exodus.

But many here say they uprooted their new American lives because of something more primal: they were driven by fear of the anti-immigration politics of President Donald Trump.

“I decided to come to Canada because the politics of migration in the United States changed,” says Haitian-born Justin Remy Napoleon, 39. “I was scared. I came here to continue my life.”

Like Frank Francois, Napoleon says he feared deportation over Trump’s policy shift, so he left his adopted home in San Diego, flew to the eastern seaboard and boarded a bus for the northern border. It wasn’t the first time he decided to start over in another country. He left Haiti in 2006 for the Dominican Republic and then went to Brazil.

Napoleon says he dreamed of coming to Canada from as far back as his time in Haiti. When he crossed the border earlier this month, “I thought I was entering a paradise.”


The eastern Ontario city of Cornwall, close to the Québec and New York borders, has--as reported by, among others, Global News--been scrambling to find housing for hundreds, even thousands, of people.

Const. Daniel Cloutier, a Cornwall police spokesman, says almost 300 Haitians have arrived recently and, so far, there have been no problems and none are anticipated.

About 3,800 people crossed into Quebec in the first two weeks of August following the 2,996 who crossed in July after the Trump administration said it was considering ending “temporary protected status” for Haitians in the U.S. following their country’s massive 2010 earthquake.

Last week, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a temporary shelter would be set up in Cornwall.

The newcomers are being housed at the Nav Centre, which is run by Nav Canada, the private non-profit corporation that owns and operates the country’s civil air navigation service. The military is erecting tents on its grounds.

The centre sits on more than 28 hectares of parkland abutting the St. Lawrence Seaway and is billed as a government conference centre with all the amenities of a luxury resort. Its website boasts 560 “comfortable” rooms, as well as a swimming pool, sauna, fitness centre and outdoors sports fields.


Amy Minsky, also at Global News, reported that many of the refugee and asylum candidates who came to Canada have been misled by false rumours, carried on social media.

Amid the federal government’s assurances it has everything under control at the Canada-U.S. border, where thousands of would-be refugees are crossing over in droves, is an aggressive campaign to combat one element seen to be behind the most recent wave: the viral spread of potentially deliberately misleading information about Canada’s refugee and asylum systems.

The Liberal government has said it is aware of misinformation spreading via instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and through other social media platforms.

Much of the misinformation has targeted the Haitian population living in the United States with “temporary protected status” granted to more than 50,000 Haitians, primarily in the wake of 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 222,570, injured another 300,000 and displaced almost 100,000.

With that status likely to expire without renewal in mere months, however, many have packed their bags, made their way to Champlain, N.Y., and walked across to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. – seemingly, according to the Canadian government, encouraged by false information.

“The misinformation that Haitians in the United States, for example, could get permanent residency easily in Canada if they have temporary protected status in the United States. That’s completely untrue,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said in an interview with Global News.

“Those [are the] kinds of myths we’re working really hard to dispel, and we’re engaging all available means to attack that misinformation.”

Videos on YouTube are also spreading misinformation about Canada’s system.


At VICE, meanwhile, Cole Kazdin described how fraudsters in the United States are taking advantage of refugees and immigrants there desperately trying to legalize their status.

When Andrea Mora took her grown daughter Karla to get her green card two years ago, she could barely contain her excitement on the drive to the immigration office. "The happiness…" Mora tells me in Spanish. "We were looking so forward to the interview." Finally, she would have her entire family together in the US.

But instead of walking out of the immigration office with a green card, Karla was given a deportation order on the spot. She was a victim of the sort of misinformation and sometimes deliberately misleading advice that experts say is all too common among immigrants looking for permanent resident status.

Mora, who asked that I change her name, came to the US 11 years ago from Costa Rica to be further from her alcoholic husband and closer to her eldest daughter, who is married to a US citizen. After being sponsored by her daughter, Mora now has resident status. She was hoping to sponsor her younger daughter, Karla, who came to the US on a tourist visa. So she borrowed money from friends to get the $5,000 to pay a notario—a term for a notary or immigration consultant—who advised her and helped them fill out the paperwork to apply for Karla's residency.

But notaries don't have law degrees. The one that Mora saw not only filled out the paperwork incorrectly, she also promised an outcome—a green card—that attorneys familiar with the case say would never have been possible.

Those errors led to her interviewer at the immigration office not just turning her application down but telling her to leave the country. Heaping injury upon injury, the notario's high fees meant that Mora is still paying back the friends who lent her money two years ago.


I wonder if anything similar is going on in Canada.
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  • Wired features an article talking about what Burning Man, and Black Rock City, teaches us about how cities work.

  • At The New Republic, Colin Kinniburgh talks about some strategies to fight gentrification, some potentially useful and others not.

  • Bloomberg View observes that China's Pearl River Delta--briefly, most of urban Guangzhou from Hong Kong up--is set to have a huge property boom.
  • Bloomberg describes how Algeria, hostile to taking on debt, is going through a period of deep austerity.

  • Open Democracy looks at how the Belarusian language, despite improvements, is shut out of the country's education system.
  • This Toronto Star article describing the detritus left by refugees fleeing New York just before they get to Canada is very sad.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.

  • Bruce Dorminey shares one man's theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.

  • Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with "amepotu" for American potato.

  • Language Hat takes
  • Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to "fisk" the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.

  • Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.

  • Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian's shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city's Muslims and/or Arabs.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?

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  • CBC reports on a straight Summerside couple who are painting rainbows around the Island's second city against hate.

  • Maureen Coulter writes in The Guardian about Pride week in Charlottetown, the start coinciding with my visit. I can scarcely imagine.

  • Katerina Georgieva notes the coming one-year anniversary of the arrival of the Abdulhey family from Syria on PEI.

  • Was a U-Boat sunk off the Island coast, by Tignish, in 1943? Millicent McKay reports on the latest search.

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  • In the Toronto Star, Emma Teitel wonders how long Church and Wellesley will last as a hub as the queer community develops and migrates away.

  • Trevor Corkum, also in the Toronto Star, explores the important role of the Glad Day Bookshop in modern Toronto's gay and literary scenes.
  • Brian Bradley tells the story of Craig Russell, an early drag queen who became a star and started a still-living cultural tradition of drag performances in Toronto.

  • In NOW Toronto, Vaughn Grey tells the story of how he successfully escaped Jamaica to claim refugee status in Toronto.

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  • Daily Xtra's Arshy Mann and Evan Balgord report on how the Jewish Defense League plans on marching in Toronto Pride. Grand.

  • Spacing's Shazlin Rahman reports on the Jane's Walk she organized around sites of significance to Muslims around Bloor and Dufferin.

  • The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung and Raju Mudhar reported earlier this month on the happy reunification of a Syrian couple with their cat.

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  • Craig S. Smith notes the profound cynicism of Kellie Leitch in using one Syrian refugee's abuse of his wife to criticize the entire program.

  • CBC's Carolyn Dunn notes that the story of the Trinh family, boat people from Vietnam who came to Canada, will be made into a Heritage Minute.
  • James Jeffrey describes for the Inter Press Service how refugees from Eritrea generally receive warm welcome in rival Ethiopia.

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  • Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.

  • Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.

  • Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.

  • Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.

  • Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at two brown dwarf pairs, nearby Luhman 16 and eclipsing binary WD1202-024.

  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting panspermia would be easy in the compact TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers notes the shouted and remarkably long-range vocal telegraph of early 20th century Albania.

  • Language Hat links to a fascinating blog post noting the survival of African Latin in late medieval Tunisia.

  • The LRB Blog notes the observations of an Englishman in Northern Ireland that, after the DUP's rise, locals are glad other Britons are paying attention.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that refugees in the US end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

  • Spacing reviews a fascinating-sounding new book on the politics and architecture of new libraries.

  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms through which organizations can learn.

  • Window on Eurasia talks about the progressive detachment of the east of the North Caucasus, at least, from wider Russia.

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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of the South Sudanese refugee exodus into Uganda.

  • blogTO shares an ad for a condo rental on Dovercourt Road near me, only $1800 a month.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Crooked Timber uses the paradigm of Jane Jacobs' challenge to expert in the context of Brexit.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the fishers of Senegal and their involvement in that country's history of emigration.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares an image comparing Saturn's smaller moons.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy comes out in support of taking down Confederate monuments.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Chechens are coming out ahead of Daghestanis in the North Caucasus' religious hierarchies, and argues that Putin cannot risk letting Ukraine become a model for Russia.

  • Arnold Zwicky looks at various bowdlerizations of Philip Larkin's famous quote about what parents do to their children.

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Torontoist features, as part of its weekly Immigrants in Toronto feature, an interview with El-Farouk Khaki, an out queer Muslim who is also a leading refugee lawyer.

I was born in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We had to leave when I was seven because my dad had been part of the independence movement. We lived in England for three years before we came to Canada. When we first arrived in Toronto, we were put up in a homestay. It was a Jewish family. And so my first religious service in Canada was actually Purim in a synagogue, and I went to a Jewish school with one of the kids for a week and a half. And that was an amazing experience for me because I have a fairly Semitic nose, and as a Muslim kid in London in the public school system, I was always being teased about it. And so being in a Jewish school, I had nobody teasing me about my nose.

After 10 days, we went on to Vancouver, and that’s where I finished my elementary school, went to high school, university, and law school, but I came back to Toronto in 1989. I came here for work. And I stayed. I was offered a job at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
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  • James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.

  • D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.

  • Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.

  • The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell's autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.

  • The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.

  • The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.

  • Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.

  • Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.

  • Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.

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  • blogTO notes a threat to some of Liberty Village's historic buildings through development.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at planetary formation around close binary SDSS 1557, which includes a white dwarf.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye announces a new book project, They Played the Game, which looks at how different baseball players overlooked in our history might have become stars had things gone differently.

  • Language Hat looks at the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the exploitation of Syrian refugees by Turkish garment manufacturers.

  • The LRB Blog examines the phenomenon of myth-making regarding Sweden.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a website sharing the stories of cartographers.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the chaos that Trump will be bringing to American immigration law.

  • Peter Rukavina talks about his experience as a library hacker.

  • Supernova Condensate is optimistic about the potential of Space X to actually inaugurate an era of space tourism.

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  • Antipope's Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.

  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage's evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.

  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.

  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.

  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.

  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta's comet.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.

  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.

  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

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Anthropologist Nadia El-Shaarawi, writing at Savage Minds, describes her experiences interviewing Middle Eastern candidates for refugee status and frames them in the context of the anti-refugee sentiment and exclusionary state structures.

As a volunteer legal advocate working with refugees who were seeking resettlement, I learned to ask detailed questions about persecution. These were the kind of questions you would never ask in polite conversation: Who kidnapped your best friend? Were they wearing uniforms? What did those uniforms look like? Where did they hit you? Did you pay a ransom for her release? How did you identify her body? Questions like these, which refugees are asked over and over as part of the already extreme vetting that they undergo to be granted asylum and resettlement, are personal, intimate, painful. They demand a precise and consistent command of autobiographical detail and the strength to revisit events that one might otherwise want to forget. They try to get to the heart of what happened to a person, what forced them to leave everything behind.

On a more cynical level, these questions try to catch a person in a lie, to identify those who are not “deserving” of refuge. The answers are checked and cross-checked, asked again and again across multiple agencies and organizations. In separate interviews, family members are asked the same questions. Do the answers match up? Do the dates and places make sense? Were you a victim of persecution? Are you who you say you are? While these questions and their answers shape the narrative of an individual resettlement case, there is a way in which they don’t get to the heart of what happened to a person, why someone was forced to flee, cross at least one border to enter another state, and is now seeking resettlement in a third country.

Vetting, extreme or otherwise, is about inclusion and exclusion. But before someone even gets to the arduous, opaque process of being considered for resettlement in the United States, decisions are made at the executive level about who to include in a broader sense. While the Refugee Convention provides protection for any person with a “well-founded fear of persecution” on specific grounds, this has never been the full story of the US refugee program, where a presidential determination each year decides how many refugees will be resettled, and from where. Some die-hard advocates and detractors aside, refugee resettlement has historically had bipartisan support and mostly stays under the radar of public attention, except, it seems, in moments where it becomes a reflection of broader anxieties and struggles over belonging and exclusion.

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