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DACA on the Brink

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American dreamers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Since the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program affecting nearly 800,000 undocumented young (im)migrants, the backlash of many devastated by this decision continues to wage on with political and social action. The DACA program was first introduced by the Obama administration around 5 years ago to allow children of immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age relief from deportation and a visa to work. The turbulent time period from the initial announcement from the Trump administration to rescind the program that protected thousands of undocumented students, is finally being taken to the Supreme Court. In the words of poet Langston Hughes- “what happens to a dream deferred?”

The protests that have taken place nationwide with powerful slogans such as “education not deportation” have symbolized the spirit of the original American dream, and how people across the states are standing with these DACA recipients and not letting their fates fall into the hands of the hegemonic current administration. An administration who seem to be adamant on reversing the programs established during Obama’s presidency. Since it was first announced that the program would be retracted, the public was encouraged to send texts and make calls to their local lawmakers in solidarity and resistance. In terms of public outcry, demonstrations have already lead to the arrest of countless amount of protesters. These protesters feel it is their “moral responsibility” as Walter Johnson a Harvard professor stated, when dozens of professors were arrested in September. Since it first surfaced that DACA was set to be canceled,  protesters have risked their own freedom in civil disobedience to stand up to the injustice of a repeal that would jeopardize the lives of more than just the ‘daca-mented’ youth. The complete cease of DACA will ripple throughout communities and families.

The original dream of the (im)migrants who came to the United States and brought their children was to create a better life than the one they had in their own countries. The epitome of the American dream as imagined by James Truslow Adams in his book the Epic of America (1931)  is “a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Adams is attributed to coining the term the “American Dream” and the United States has a deeply rooted history of being founded by immigrants. However, marginalized individuals within the United States share a different narrative of the attainment of this dream.

The “DREAM” movement for immigration reform began with the nine young activists in July 22nd of 2013, wore caps and gowns as they tried to reenter the United States after seeing grandparents and family members they hadn’t seen since when they had first arrived to the United States. In Latinx culture this is manifested as familismo, which is the cultural value that is a deep attachment to nuclear and extended families. The caps and gowns that the DREAM 9 wore in their grassroots movement represented the outstanding adversaries that undocumented students have to face in education, in a time where the country has been polarized over a comprehensive plan for immigration reform. The people eligible for DACA at the time that it was first introduced in June 2012 had to meet a certain amount of criteria, such as being in the United States for 5 consecutive years and not holding a criminal record as this could disqualify them from the program. Those eligible for DACA also had to be enrolled in school, or hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Under DACA, the type of liberties that the applicants under this program were able to do was to work, and obtain a driver’s license while also protecting people from deportation. For some of the undocumented youth living in the United States, some of them weren’t even aware of their status until attempting to apply to universities or trying to apply to jobs. Some of the effects of this program can’t even be quantified, but some research from the Center of American Progress  by Tom K. Wong of UC San Diego has studied the upward mobility of dacamented youth. The research shows that 80% of annual earnings increase for those under DACA equating to an average of $20,000 to one of  $36,000. In the same studies they found that 16% bought homes, and 65% had bought their first automobile. This immigration program made specifically for people who had arrived before the age of 16, and were enrolled in high school or had a high school equivalent diploma, was later met with opposition. The opposition to this immigration program began during the Obama administration, but legislation against DREAMers has been going on for about 15 years.

The Dream Act is a bill passed in August of 2001, known as the Development, Relief and Education for Alien minors act. The bill was passed as a multi-phase process that would lead to the legalization of 11 million (im)migrants in the United States. However, during the George Bush Era, it couldn’t break 60 votes in the Senate with Democrats and Republicans divided on immigration reform. Today, the amnesty being proposed is for a ‘Clean Dream Act’ in hopes of reaching a bipartisan solution for the 2.1 million (im)migrant youth and adults that came to the U.S. at a young age. The proposed bill would qualify those who entered the U.S. before 18 conditional residence status, lawful permanent status after 8 years, and after these 8 years would be eligible for citizenship after 5 years (with a faster track to citizenship for DACA recipients). The Clean Dream Act hopes to create a path to citizenship, immigration reform without using young (im)migrants as bargaining chips that can harm communities. After the rescind of DACA, Trump called on Congress a couple of months to provide a permanent fix. As the year comes to a close, Democrats feel they have run out of time for this act to be included in the spending bill. Waiting until March does not seem a feasible option for some economists, who estimate detrimental effects to the U.S. economy with enormous job losses estimated at around 30,000 per month (ThinkProgess). The numbers cultivated of the economic impact are an estimated $460 billion in gross domestic products that these DACA recipients can generate.

For now, this decision has disheartened many feeling that it will affect the political, social, and economic sphere of the United States and potentially risk the livelihoods of millions of (im)migrants.

First- generation Mexican American graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara.

Americas

Biden’s Department of Justice: parents as domestic terrorists

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In recent developments in the United States, US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, and the FBI have put under the FBI radar parents as potential domestic terrorists. You heard it right. This is now a new formal legal policy contained in memos of the Department of Justice trying to reign in parents discussions on Biden’s new school curricula. They are not going after potential outbursts but outright terrorism. 

This is an attack on freedom of speech in the sense that parents have the right to discuss and disagree with the new Biden school curricula. This is where the issue originated: parts of Biden’s new school curricula are not accepted by many parents and if they disagree, the FBI treats them now as potential domestic terrorists as a matter of policy. Apart from a First Amendment case, this is also a case for international human rights law and I reported the development to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech this week hoping to get a statement.

The Department of Justice is referring to some constitutional provision on “intimidation of views” to override and take down one of the most firmly established rights, the right to freedom of speech, in quite frankly a ridiculous interpretation. Those parents that dare to speak up against controversial parts in the new text books could be investigated for domestic terrorism. This is the most incompetent interpretation on limitations of freedom of speech I have seen in awhile. 

Garland and the FBI have totally lost their marbles. The woke discussion is not funny to me anymore. It increasingly looks like a woke tyranny that has nothing to do with rights and equality anymore but simply serves as a vehicle to empower the FBI to run wild against regular people. This lunacy needs to be stopped.

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Iran poll contains different messages for Biden and Raisi

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“It’s the economy, stupid.” That is the message of a just-published survey of Iranian public opinion.

However, the substance of the message differs for newly elected hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the Biden administration as Mr. Raisi toughens his negotiating position and the United States grapples with alternative ways of curbing the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme should the parties fail to agree on terms for the revival of the 2015 international agreement.

Iranians surveyed last month by Iran Poll and the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies were telling Mr. Raisi that they are looking to him to alleviate Iran’s economic and other problems and have little hope that a revived nuclear agreement will make the difference, given lack of trust in US and European compliance with any agreement reached.

The Iranians polled seemed in majority to endorse some form of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s notion of a “resistance economy” as a way of blunting the impact of the US sanctions imposed by former President Donald J. Trump after he walked away from the nuclear agreement in 2018. Some 65 per cent of the responders said they favoured a self-sufficient economy; 54.2 per cent expected the economy to at least improve somewhat in the next three years.

A large number expressed confidence that Mr. Raisi would significantly lower inflation and unemployment, increase Iran’s trade with other countries, control the pandemic and root out corruption.

Meanwhile, 63 per cent suggested that Iran’s economic situation would be the same, if not better, if there were no return to the agreement and the government continued to pursue a civil nuclear programme. The figure seemed at odds with the 80 per cent who said Iran’s economic situation would improve if Iran and the United States returned to the agreement and both fulfilled their obligations under the deal.

The divergence may be a function of the fact that the poll, unsurprisingly, indicated that Iranians (64.7 per cent) had little trust in the United States living up to its commitments even though they expected the Biden administration to return to the deal (57.9 per cent). As a result, 73.1 per cent of those surveyed said Iran should not make concessions given that world powers would not live up to commitments they make in return.

At the same time, 63 per cent blamed the troubled state of the economy on domestic mismanagement rather than US sanctions. Only 34.4 per cent believed that the sanctions were the main cause of their economic difficulty. Iranians pointing the finger at the government rather than external forces was also reflected in the 60.5 per cent of those polled blaming Iran’s water shortages on mismanagement and bad policies.

The poll suggested that by emphasising domestic mismanagement, Iranians were going to judge Mr. Raisi on his success or failure in countering the debilitating effect of the sanctions even though 77.5 per cent of those surveyed said that the sanctions had a negative or somewhat negative impact on the economy.

Implicitly, Iranians were holding former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responsible for the mismanagement given that Mr. Raisi only took office in August. Rated very favourable by 61.2 per cent of Iranians surveyed in 2015, Mr. Rouhani’s favorability dropped to 4.6 per cent in the most recent poll. By contrast, the favourable views of Mr. Raisi soared from 38.3 per cent in 2014 to 77 per cent last month. IranPoll and the Center have been conducting annual of surveys since 2014.

Mr. Raisi may have taken pleasure from that but more importantly, the poll implicitly suggested that he does not have much time to produce results before his significant public support starts to wane.

Of those polled, 66.7 per cent expected Mr. Raisi to improve Iran’s international standing, 55.7 per cent said he would be in a better position to negotiate with world powers, and 45.2 per cent predicted that he would enhance Iran’s security. Those expectations may have been to some degree validated in the public’s mind by last month’s acceptance of Iran’s application for membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that groups China, Russia, India, Pakistan and several Central Asian states.

The survey results seemed to suggest that ordinary Iranians were framing their message to the United States differently from the assessment of prominent scholars and analysts. The divergence may well be one primarily of timing but nonetheless has implications for policymaking in Washington. The message of the respondents to the poll was one of immediate impact while analysts and scholars appear to be looking at the middle term.

Without referring to the poll, Vienna-based economist and strategic consultant Bijan Khajehpour argued this week, seemingly contrary to the poll, that “mismanagement and the Covid-19 pandemic have both contributed to Iran’s poor economic performance in recent years, but it remains that US sanctions…will be the key factor in determining Iran’s future prospects.”

Mr. Khajehpour went on to say that “high inflation, capital flight and the erosion of household purchasing power alongside mismanagement of resources and the deterioration of the country’s infrastructure have the potential to spark more protests and further undermine the already faltering legitimacy of the Islamic Republic in the eyes of the public.”

No doubt, the jury is out on how Iranians respond if and when Mr. Raisi fails to live up to their expectations. If the past is any indication, Iranians have repeatedly taken to the streets at often substantial risk to liberty and life to make their discontent with government performance evident as they did with the low turnout in this year’s election that brought Mr. Raisi to power.

The risk of renewed protests was reflected in the fact that responses to various questions regarding the electoral system, the limited number of presidential candidates (because many were barred from running), and the public health system showed that it was often a slim majority at best that expressed confidence in the system.

Add to that the fact that 68 per cent of respondents to the poll said that the objectives of past protests had been a demand that officials pay greater attention to people’s problems.

Yet, at the same time, they were telling the United States that its efforts to generate pressure on Iranian leaders to moderate their nuclear and regional policies by imposing harsh sanctions had for now backfired. Iranians were backing a tougher negotiating position by the Raisi government.

Ultimately that could be a double-edged sword for Mr. Raisi. He has to prove that he can be tough on the United States and simultaneously improve the lives of ordinary Iranians. Failure to do so could have in Mr. Khajehpour’s words “unpredictable consequences.”

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Gallup: World’s Approval of U.S. Govt. Restored to Obama’s Record High

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President Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the United States of America addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

On October 19th, Gallup issued their “2021 Rating World Leaders” report and finds that “Six months into the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is largely restored in the world’s eyes. As of early August 2021, across 46 countries and territories, median approval of US leadership stood at 49%, matching the record high rating when former President Barack Obama first took office in 2009.”

Their year-by-year graph is shown of the global approval-ratings of the Governments of Germany, U.S., China, and Russia, by the populations of 44 countries, and of 2 territories (Hong Kong and Taiwan were included in their surveys because the U.S. Government wants to conquer both of those Chinese provinces, so as to weaken China). That chart clearly displays the following fact: thus far (six months into Biden’s Administration), the world viewed Biden as favorably as Obama, and far more favorably than Trump (even though Biden has been continuing almost all of Trump’s foreign policies). Apparently, the global public views Biden as being like Obama because his Party is the same as Obama’s, and his rhetoric also is similar. Though Trump’s international policies have been continued with little (if any) significant change under Biden, the world still has been viewing Biden as being like Obama (whom the world still views as having been the best world-leader during his Presidency), instead of like Trump (whom the world still views as having been the worst world-leader during his Presidency). Obama is still viewed far better than Trump, though (for example) two U.S-and-allied-banned news-sites had published, two days earlier, on the 17th, with full documentation, the major (but banned) news-report titled “First of over 200 bodies being exhumed from Lugansk mass grave. One of Obama’s atrocities.” It had been submitted to 200 news-media, and only those two published it.

Perhaps the world’s population is more swayed by rhetoric, and by Party-labels, than by a national leader’s actual policies (which, perhaps, they’ve not even known about — after all, how many know about those mass-graves?).

The Gallup surveys were done actually in 106 countries and in those two Chinese provinces that the U.S. Government wants to control, but “U.S. Leadership Approval” has, as-of yet, been calculated by Gallup only in these 46. Of the 108 total lands, 23 were in Africa, 38 in Europe (including Europe’s largest and most populous country, Russia), 30 in Asia, and 17 in “The Americas” (not including U.S., whose Government these surveys by Gallup have actually been designed to serve).

Remarkably, “While Germany and the U.S. had previously been vying for the top spot in the Americas, Germany’s leadership safely led the other countries in 2020, with a median approval rating of 50% in 2020. Russia earned higher approval ratings than China or the U.S., with a median approval rating of 41%. The U.S. and China earned similar, and far lower, approval ratings, of 34% and 32% respectively.”

Also: “Germany’s leadership continued to be the most popular in Europe, with a record-high median approval of 62% in 2020. China, Russia and the U.S. have all lost favor in Europe in recent years, and in 2020 they were all on equal footing, with approval ratings of around 20%.”

Furthermore, in Asia: “U.S. Leadership Image Still Mired at Record Lows” and these are lows that previously had been shown during the G.W. Bush and Trump Administrations; so, the U.S. Government’s rhetoric under Biden does not, at least yet, seem to be persuading Asians as much as was the case under Obama. Perhaps the Biden Administration will need to employ less-blatantly-hostile rhetoric against China than it has been using, in order to be able to get much support from Asians against China.

And, regarding Africa, “Ratings are not yet available” that are sufficient to determine whether or not, as has been shown since 2007, “the U.S. remained strongest worldwide in Africa,”or else changed up or down.

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