The view from here: what immigration attorneys who are immigrants themselves are seeing

Within the immigration system, lawyers “are the only ones between [the clients and] absolute chaos,” said Maya Okafor (name changed to protect her identity), a former immigration attorney. “They’re the only ones standing in the way.”

Okafor discussed being a target. The current administration is “looking for attorneys who are breaking the rules. They’re calling us ‘dirty attorneys’ who are helping people do bad things,” Okafor said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Oct. 12, 2017 remarks to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The English Learning Center celebrates!

The English Learning Center, a school for adult immigrants and refugees, celebrated the end of its spring term on April 25th with a party honoring the hard work of students and volunteer teachers. Students brought a wide variety of food, from tostadas to sambusas to French silk pie, and they entertained the crowd with their singing, dancing, and yo-yoing talents. Teachers spoke about how much they have learned from their students, and the ELC staff recognized the students for their hours of attendance over the last year. When the party was over, true to the dedicated nature of all of the students, one woman asked for homework to study over the short break between terms. Continue Reading

MOVIES | Pray the Devil Back to Hell

The rebels fought for resources. Charles Taylor fought to stay in power. Young boys were recruited to fight in a war they barely understood. And the women of Liberia, they fought for survival, theirs and Liberia’s. Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a gripping, tear-jerking, yet empowering story of the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity of our survival instinct to triumph over the greatest challenges. Continue Reading

Karens celebrate New Year and growing community

A celebration was held by the St. Paul Karen community on Saturday, January 3rd, to mark the beginning of year 2748 of the Karen era. Traditionally held on the first day of Thalay month, the actual date of the Karen New Year fell on December 27th this year. Several hundred people gathered for the all-day event at the Boys and Girls Club on the East side of St. Paul. Continue Reading

The lost children of Laos: Advocating for liberation of detained Hmong youth

Worn fabrics and remnants of personal belongings hang from the ceiling bars, impeding the flow of sunshine through tiny windows. The mixed, stagnating stench of food, urine, human waste, and unwashed bodies permeates the air of the cramped living space where people have to eat, toilet, and sleep. Small and fragile silhouettes peer through the light wondering what lies beyond the bars, guards, and locks. For hundreds, this is childhood. Instead of waking in a bed of their own, the children wake stiff and sore from a rough, blanketless night’s sleep. Continue Reading