Things That Matter

Australia Plans To Welcome Thousands Of Latin American Refugees Since The US Has Failed Them

Australia is known for its tough immigration policies (hey, when President Donald Trump praises your tough antics you know you are not necessarily on the right side of history, right?). Even if a key element of the political discourse for decades has been border protection when it comes to illegal immigration, Australia has also been welcoming to people from all around the world in its refugee and humanitarian programs. The problem is that neighboring regions have faced terrible cases of genocide and suffering, and people in dire situations have tried to reach Australia by boat. 

So the fact that the nation is now taking Latin American refugees from crisis zones such as Venezuela and Central America is a welcome development on Australia’s geopolitical stance on migration. 

Australia is currently governed by a conservative party that has used fear of illegal migration as a political tool.

The Liberal Party, led by the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has long held a tough stance on illegal migration coming from South East Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, and from Middle Eastern war-ravaged countries. The government has spent millions in advertising campaigns in Australia and overseas. The intake of legal migrants is high if we take into account that the country has less than 30 million people. However, the processes are increasingly complicated. 

Getting to Australia illegally is almost impossible for refugees: if they are caught they are sent to offshore detention centers.

Credit: APP

The only ways to migrate to Australia illegally are through boat or by overstaying a visa. The country is facing increasing international criticisms over its handling of undocumented migrants and refugees, as most of them are sent to the offshore detention centers of Naru and Manus island in the Pacific. These detention centers have been deemed as inhumane by human rights advocates. 

Most of the Latin American community in the country has migrated legally.

This has been done either by applying for a permanent residency from their home country or once they are in Australia as students or professional workers. There was a big wave of South American refugees in the 1970s, who were escaping totalitarian regimes in countries such as Chile and Argentina. In fact, the migrant group with the highest level of educational degrees is Mexicans, as most arrived in Australia to do a Masters degree or a PhD. 

Latin America is facing crises on many fronts, so Australia will be accepting refugees on a humanitarian basis.

As part of its humanitarian program, Australia will welcome refugees from conflict zones in Latin America in its 2020 intake. This was revealed by executive director of the New South Wales Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Survivors of Trauma and Torture (STARTTS), Jorge Aroche, who is Uruguayan-Australian and told SBS News: “I understand that we will have people from Latin America through the refugee program. We still don’t know where they are going to come from if they go to NSW or other parts of Australia”. The Australian refugee program places incomers in particular areas depending on the socioeconomic needs of each place. 

Australia takes in over 18,750 refugees a year and in 2020 this figure will include an increased number of Latin Americans.

Aroche painted a dire situation in the continent, not only in Venezuela but also in countries such as Brazil and Colombia, where right-wing governments are crushing dissent. He said: “There are situations that are very worrying, as is the case in Brazil where there is a president who has publicly talked about torture as something positive and that the process of persecution and state terror that took place in Brazil has to be celebrated. We have also seen worrisome things in Colombia for quite some time and in Venezuela, the situation has deteriorated and there have been a lot of human rights violations and possible cases of torture”. In recent years most refugees come from Central Africa, Myanmar, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. 

The hot spot: Central America.

Credit: APP

We have discussed widely on the humanitarian crisis faced by millions of Central Americans today, and that will also be a priority of the humanitarian program, as Aroche says: “”In Central America, there are a lot of human rights violations, both at the state level and in armed groups, often associated with drug trafficking or gangs, who exercise power through terror”. Once in Australia, refugees enter the public health system (yes, there is healthcare for all permanent residents and citizens) and those who are survivors of severe trauma after being tortured or experiencing a war situation receive psychological care. 

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The Trump Administration Raised Fees For Immigration Cases Including For Refugees

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Raised Fees For Immigration Cases Including For Refugees

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In its continuing campaign against immigrants and refugees, the Trump administration has increased the costs of immigration proceedings – in some instances by more than 80%. These new fees could make the cost of seeking asylum protection in the U.S. or becoming a citizen out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants.

The new fees are seen as little more than an additional tool used by the administration to further limit immigration to the U.S. and make life more difficult for those seeking to call the U.S. homes.

The Trump administration announced major changes to the fees charged for immigration proceedings.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced it would dramatically increase the fees for U.S. immigration services on everything from refugee asylum requests to naturalization services. The new fee structure, released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is expected to take effect on October 2.

The new fees are seen as little more than an additional tool used by the administration to further limit immigration to the U.S. and make life more difficult for those seeking to call the U.S. homes. It will also have an outsized impact on business that hire foreign workers.

The agency, which has closed offices and suspended most services during the pandemic, has said it faces a significant revenue shortfall that could trigger furloughs. Earlier this year, the agency requested $1.2 billion in emergency funds from Congress.

The U.S. will now be one of just a few countries that actually charge refugees to file asylum requests.

Credit: Gregory Bull / Getty Images

With the new fee charged to refugees and asylum seekers, the U.S. will become one of just four countries that actually charge for this application. The new fee for asylum is a blatant attack on the most vulnerable among us and is another way for the administration to target and restrict protections for those fleeing their home countries.

The $50 application fee for asylum applications now puts the U.S. in the same ranks as Iran, Fiji, and Australia. The new rule would also raise the cost for an asylum applicant to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) from the current zero to $490, one of many policy changes to discourage potential asylum applicants. DHS commented, “DHS does not believe that the EAD fee is unduly burdensome for asylum seekers.”

However, one asylum officer who spoke with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity said the fee was discouraging.

“The larger problem is that humanitarian applications by their nature should be free,” the officer said. “The idea of charging people who are fleeing — and not helping if they don’t pay up — is disgusting.”

Another asylum officer said it will cost the agency more to collect the fee than $50, “which doesn’t come close to covering the cost of adjudicating an asylum application.”

Other fees – from green card replacements to citizenship applications – will also be going up.

The new fee changes impact several categories of services offered by USCIS that will impact our community. Two of the most common types of visas issued by the agency (L and H-1B visas) will increase by 75% and 21% respectively.

The L visa – which is used for short term work in the U.S. – will increase from $460 to $805. The fee for an H-1B petition (which is used by employers to hire highly-skilled workers) will rise from $460 to $555.

For season workers in the U.S., of which there are hundreds of thousands, their fees will also increase by almost 50%. The current fee for these visas is $460 but the H-2A (season agricultural) will rise to $850 and the H-2B (seasonal non-agricultural) will rise to $715.

USCIS would increase the cost of the application (N-400) to become a U.S. citizen by more than 80%, rising from $640 to $1,160 (for online filings, although a separate $85 biometrics fee would be eliminated). 

The new increased fees come as the agency faces a financial crisis that many say are of its own making.

Many are concerned about the timing of these fee increases because USCIS is in the midst of historic mismanagement, that has face the agency from a substantial surplus to a deficit so severe USCIS has requested a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, held a July 29, 2020, oversight hearing that helped explain how the Trump administration caused the financial problems at USCIS through its policy choices on immigration.

“Under the Trump Administration, USCIS has issued a flurry of policies that make its case adjudications more complicated, which reduces the agency’s efficiency and requires more staff to complete fewer cases,” testified Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “There are dozens if not hundreds of such policies.” 

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People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

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