Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday AGOA But Why is There No Party?

Nairobi — Congratulations abounded on Capitol Hill in Washington at a 10th birthday celebration for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

"By opening the American market to almost all goods from beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries, Agoa has helped Africans use trade to fight poverty and grow their economies," US Trade Representative Ron Kirk declared.

Mr Kirk acknowledged, however, that "more can be done to help African countries make the most of the opportunities Agoa provides."

Analysts outside the US government agree that Agoa did produce significant gains for Africa in the first five years after the preferential trade programme was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 18, 2000.

Agoa was mainly intended to boost African textile and apparel sales to the United States by providing duty-free access for those products for countries that met US political and economic criteria.

The theory was that development of a textile manufacturing sector could power an overall economic takeoff in Africa just as had occurred decades earlier than in East Asia.

And there were signs that Agoa might indeed succeed in that regard.

Kenya's clothing exports to the United States, valued at $30 million in 2000, had soared to $258 million in 2005. Similar gains were enjoyed by a few other African countries that had at least a rudimentary textile manufacturing infrastructure in place at the time of Agoa's inception.

The trend has turned sharply downward in the past few years, however.

Agoa itself should not be blamed for this reversal, the independent analysts say.

"It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," observes Paul Ryberg, head of the Washington-based African Coalition for Trade.

He and other experts point to the end in 2005 of an international textile quota system that had limited exports to the United States by major manufacturing countries such as China and India. With the lifting of that lid, the Asian dynamos were able to grab even larger shares of the US market - to the detriment of countries such as Kenya that lacked economies of scale and that were hobbled by weak infrastructure.

Inhibiting factors

Mr Ryberg notes that while Bangladesh is about as distant from US West Coast ports as Kenya is from US East Coast ports, it typically takes four times longer for a Kenyan shipment of clothing to reach the United States than for a boatload of clothing from Bangladesh.

In addition, production costs are much higher in African countries than for their Asian competitors. Electricity is more expensive and less reliable, for example, owing to an underdeveloped grid.

The global recession has compounded the losses sustained by African exporters. Last year, Kenya shipped $195 million worth of apparel to the US, according to Mr Kirk's office - about $60 million less than in 2005.

Kenya has experienced a corresponding loss of apparel-sector jobs during the same period - from 32,000 to 12,000 employees, according to an Agoa information website maintained by the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa.

As severe as those losses have been, Kenya's apparel exporting sector would probably have disappeared entirely following the end of the quota system had Agoa not been in place, Mr Ryberg speculates.

Today, Agoa functions mainly as an oil-importing programme. Petroleum products now account for more than 90 per cent of all Agoa-covered trade, with three oil-producing countries - Nigeria, Angola and Congo-Brazzaville - reaping about 70 per cent of Agoa's benefits.

Competitive threats to Agoa's textile-exporting countries could meanwhile prove overwhelming if the US Congress approves a proposal to extend duty-free access to Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Paul Collier, head of Oxford University's Centre for the Study of African Economies, warned recently that such a move "would destroy Africa's much smaller apparel manufacturing sector."

He notes that Bangladesh and Cambodia already enjoy annual apparel sales to the United States of $3.5 billion and $2 billion, respectively, compared to about $1 billion for all of Africa.

Mr Ryberg suggests there is a good chance that the proposal favouring Bangladesh and Cambodia could be approved next year.

He and other lobbyists focused on Africa trade are working to block the legislation while simultaneously urging Congress to help improve Africa's infrastructure. Mr Ryberg concedes, however, that prospects for such an initiative are not promising, given the size of US budget deficits.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bahamas Ambassador pushes closer ties with African Americans

Submitted by BIS
Monday, 17 May 2010 18:40

WASHINGTON, DC -- The idea that closer ties between The Bahamas and the African American community would benefit both communities was the theme sounded by Bahamas Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Cornelius A Smith as he addressed the 7th Pan African Prayer Breakfast, which took place in the Washington DC Metro area on Saturday under the theme “From Antiquity To Global Unity.”

Hosted by the Richard Allen Community Development Corporation and the Greater Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church, the prayer breakfast and subsequent festival were designed to “build bridges of understanding and forge diverse relationships”.

Ambassador Smith co-chaired the event, along with Benin’s Ambassador Cyrille Oguin. He referred to the fact that The Bahamas is America’s closest offshore neighbour, and said he believed “the benefits of exploiting that closeness, the potential for strengthened and newly forged relationships, cannot help but profit us all.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “you yourselves know of the tens of thousands of African Americans who, because of this common heritage we share, would love nothing more than to find a way to contribute to the development of the pan-African Diaspora. Well, we – the diplomatic corps here representing our countries and that very Diaspora – are here, now, and we say “Come, let us reason together!”

In addition to discussing opportunities for trade and investment in The Bahamas, Ambassador Smith touted tourism, and made particular mention of the “Religious Tourism” initiative and the convention facilities in The Bahamas.

“It is a well known fact that Stella got her groove back on the Caribbean island of Jamaica,” he said, “but I invite you to take a “closer walk” on the peaceful beaches of The Bahamas. As you plan your next retreat, or convention, or executive board meeting, or conference, investigate the benefits of holding those events in The Bahamas.”

The Ambassador said, “It is clear that we have a common opportunity now to cement the ties between us. We can and must develop a deeper and more robust trade and investment relationship. In this way, we strengthen not only the cultural bonds between ourselves, but we also strengthen the economic bonds which will help to eradicate the poverty and hopelessness that face so many of the children of Africa.”

Members of the clergy, the diplomatic corps and elected officials, as well as leaders from civil society attended the event. As part of a so-called “Pan African Covenant for Global Unity,” the clergy pledged, among other things, to extend invitations to the participating ambassadors to speak at their congregations about their nations’ goals, dreams and people.

The diplomats in turn pledged to accept those invitations, and to assist in the planning of tours that the clergy intend to take of Africa and the Caribbean.

The group also pledged as an ensemble to create a Youth Ambassadors program, and establish an Advisory Council for continued progress and movement of the collaboration between the clergy and the diplomatic corps.

African economies to grow 4.8 percent in 2010

GENEVA — The UN forecast on Monday that African economies would grow by an average of 4.8 percent in 2010 as a global recovery is expected to lift demand for the region's exports.

"The recovery in the global economy is set to push up demand and prices of African exports of goods, in particular minerals and hydrocarbons, and services such as tourism, thus leading to stronger export earnings," the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission said in an annual report.

The report on Africa also said that foreign direct investment in the continent was expected to rise this year, helping to revive infrastructure investments which were put on hold during the global financial crisis.

However, the report warned that the continent's dependence on commodity exports and low value-added products made it vulnerable to fluctuations in price and demand.

In addition, a slower-than-expected global recovery or a relapse into a downturn would hurt African economies, it added.

African economies posted growth of 2.4 percent in 2009.

In 2010, oil-rich West Africa is expected to be the fastest-growing area with growth averaging 6.4 percent, according to the UN.

East Africa would expand 5.4 percent, followed by North Africa on 4.8 percent and Central Africa on 4.6 percent.
Southern Africa is expected to record the lowest growth of 3.8 percent, the report added.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pressure for female genital cutting lingers in the U.S.

By Stephanie Chen, CNN

(CNN) -- Fatima Mohamed, a 45-year-old Somali immigrant living in America, was faced with a question most parents will never worry about: Should my daughter be circumcised?

The United States has outlawed female genital cutting, but cultural and religious pressures to circumcise girls linger among some African and Muslim immigrant families. Mohamed says the decision was an easy one for her to make after going through the painful experience herself in Africa as a child. She strongly opposes the idea of cutting her 11-year-old daughter, an American-born Somali with long curly hair, who plays soccer and likes watching "American Idol."

But not every family in her African community in Massachusetts feels that way. Nor can they they swiftly make the decision to reject circumcising their daughters, because it's a cultural ritual integral a woman's identity, she says.

"They say they don't want to hear it," Mohamed says. "Some think I'm disrespecting my own culture. Some will say, 'You act like an American now. You forgot about who you are.' "

Female genital cutting is often a coming-of-age ritual practiced in various parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but the procedure isn't just invoking concerns in the developing world. Religious and cultural beliefs fueling female circumcision often follow immigrants and refugees who move to America. Rarely have cases of female genital cutting been documented in the U.S., but much more likely, cutting has moved underground in the U.S. and overseas, advocacy groups and doctors say.

In the U.S., an estimated 228,000 women have been cut -- or are at risk of being cut -- because they come from an ethnic community that practices female genital cutting, according an analysis of 2000 Census data conducted by the African Women's Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The Census reports there are roughly 150 million women living in the United States.

The World Health Organization estimates up to 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by female genital cutting. The WHO defines female genital cutting as a process that alters or injures female genital organs for nonmedical purposes.

There are several types of female circumcision. The most severe types require the inner or outer labia to be sewn together, a procedure performed in parts of Somalia and Egypt. Other forms include excising the entire clitoris or part of the clitoris.

Genital cutting dates back at least 5,000 years, says Marianne Sarkis, a professor of international development at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Some women desire the procedure because they believe they are dirty or unmarriageable if they are not cut, she said. There are cultures that begin cutting women as early as infancy, while some wait until adolescence.

Communities divided

Not all families in communities where female genital cutting is commonplace will want to participate. In Mohamed's immigrant community in Massachusetts, families are divided, she says. Some refuse to allow the procedure, as she does. Others say they want it, and many remain silent.

Occurrences of the practice have been documented in the U.S. In March, a Georgia mother was charged with female genital mutilation after the father noticed an infant's genitals "appeared to be have been circumcised," according to the Troup County Sheriff's Office. Officers wouldn't comment further on the family.

Several advocacy workers say the more common scenario involves sending girls back to their home country to have the ritual performed. Over the past few years, Taina Bien-Aimé, president of the women's advocacy group Equality Now, has heard several anecdotal stories of girls being sent back to have the procedure.

With summer vacation approaching, one 34-year-old mother from Senegal, living in New York City, says she knows several African families in limbo about genital cutting. One of her female friends abandoned her husband earlier this year when he asked for their 6-year-old daughter to be cut in Africa this summer. The friend, who speaks little English and is jobless, fled to a shelter with her daughter.

"A lot of them, it doesn't matter if they [the daughters] were born here, they want the procedure done," said the mother, who declined to be named out of fear of being ostracized by her community. She was also cut in Africa as a child.

National surveys determining U.S. immigrant attitudes toward female genital cutting are nonexistent, because cutting affects few American families, advocacy groups say. Neither have studies been completed to track whether parents are sending their girls to their country of origin to be circumcised. Conducting such studies, doctors and advocacy groups say, would be near impossible since most families remain hushed about the taboo topic.

Legislators, doctors get involved

In response to suspicions of genital cutting being planned in the U.S., Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-New York, and Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-California, proposed an amendment to close a loophole in the 1996 federal law banning female genital mutilation. The legislation, introduced in April, would criminalize parents who force their daughters to have the procedure abroad.

This spring, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a contentious policy statement suggesting that some physicians who work with immigrant communities that want the procedure should have the ability to prick or nick a girl's clitoral skin in order to "satisfy cultural requirements." The academy says the pricking procedure is harmless, like an ear piercing.

The pricking method is illegal in United States, but it could be effective in certain African communities in reducing harm, said Douglas S. Diekema, a Washington physician and former chair of the bioethics committee at the academy.

"We are very disappointed," said Asmaa Donahue, senior program officer at the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women in New York. "By offering to a person to do it, it undermines the education and advocacy work being done to stop it."

Despite the mixed feelings about the pricking procedure, both advocates and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that the pressure for American girls in some immigrant communities to undergo genital cutting is a reality.

"It's naive to think they don't have some equivalent of a Jewish mohel," or person who performs a circumcision, said Diekema, the academy's former bioethics chairman. "Not all circumcisions are done in the medical setting, either."

Reaching out to the immigrant community

Soraya Mire, a Somali film director and activist, works with the African immigrant population in the U.S. and knows that the pressures exist. Her 1994 documentary "Fire Eyes" chronicles her experiences with female circumcision when she was 13.

From her Los Angeles, California, home, Mire has counseled hundreds of genital cutting survivors and immigrant parents by letters and phone calls, including a few who have contemplated sending their daughters abroad to be cut. She sleeps with her cell phone tucked under her pillow, so she can answer at all hours.

"You don't have a right to do this to your children," Mire tells the immigrant community. "You are continuing the abuse."

Mire has received death threats from the Somali community. Some threats stem from her role in helping law enforcement officials in Atlanta, Georgia, prosecute the first case of female circumcision in the U.S. In 2006, Khalid Adem was convicted of aggravated battery and cruelty to children for cutting the genitals of his 2-year-old Ethiopian daughter. He is incarcerated and tentatively eligible for parole in 2012.

Back in Massachusetts, Fatima Mohamed's recollection of the genital cutting at her grandmother's rural Kenya home is clear: Her grandmother's wise voice telling her the procedure was for her own good. Sitting in a chair as the strange women pulled her legs apart. The pain of the incisions.

She was only 9 years old.

"I just thought it was something that had to be done," said Mohamed, who added that she was lucky because many Somali women undergo more severe circumcisions in which their labia are sewn together.

"They go through hell," she said.

Mohamed, too, is reaching out to Somali women in her Massachusetts community. The first step to eliminating the genital cutting, she knows, is discussing the topic. She spearheaded an organization last year called the East African Community Outreach, where part of her job is educating women about the dangers of genital cutting.

Her 11-year-old daughter is too young to comprehend genital cutting, Mohamed says. Instead, they discuss her daughter's dreams to become a pediatrician. Perhaps in a few years, Mohamed will tell her the truth.

"I would never do it to my daughter," she said. "I don't want it. This has nothing to do with religion or culture. I believe nobody should control my child."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

African influx reshapes immigration to Minnesota

Last update: May 15, 2010 - 9:59 PM

For the first time ever, the continent is the source of a majority of Minnesota's legal immigrants, with Somalis topping the list.

The flow of immigrants to Minnesota is quietly reaching record highs amid signs of what could prove to be a profound and lasting shift in their continents of origin.

For the first time ever, African nations are supplying more than half the state's legal immigrants. Four countries from that continent now stand atop the list.

Arrivals are doubling and quadrupling from countries such as Kenya and Liberia even as numbers are tapering off, for a variety of reasons, from past immigrant taproots such as India, Thailand and Russia, federal data show.

Africans say they are attracted here for the same reasons as others -- quality of life, good schools for their kids -- with the additional twist of Minnesota's reputation in parts of that continent as being receptive to immigrants with funny accents.

"Minnesota holds a very prominent place in the minds of Liberians," said Ahmed Sirleaf, of Advocates for Human Rights, a worldwide nonprofit based in Minneapolis. "I've heard people there say that Minnesota is one of the very few states where an immigrant with an accent can be hired to work in his chosen profession. In other places, most people have to stay in odd jobs.

"I don't think this movement is going to slow down or stop at some point."

At a time of severe job losses, the rise in the sheer number of immigrants, combined with their increasing likelihood of being black and Muslim, creates the conditions for a backlash.

But demographers are warning that Minnesotans should be grateful for anyone who chooses to plant stakes in the frozen north these days, at a time when Minnesota's population growth has slowed and dozens of its counties are slowly emptying.

The arrivals won't put a huge dent in the state's mostly European-origin demographics any time soon: We're still talking about 18,000 total immigrants counted last year in a state of 5.26 million. But the federal government only closely tracks a portion of the total flow, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sudanese leaders learn to strategize with local community organizers

MAY 11, 2010

Community organizers in Chicago met with a delegation of Sudanese government officials to advise the African representatives on employing grassroots organizing tactics to increase constituency engagement within their country.

One of the Chicago organizers, Alie Kabba, said, “We’re going to work with them to develop a message and platform for their issues, which really stems out of our experience in framing complex issues for public consumption.”

The Sudanese delegation, five members of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement from South Kordofan in central Sudan, was in Chicago on behalf of Northwestern University’s Sudan Good Governance Fellowship Program.

The Fellowship Program, conceived by Northwestern senior William Kalema and funded by Humanity United, brings SPLM officials to the states where they undertake a six-week program aimed at improving their governance skills and effectively implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a 2005 contract that established a fragile peace between warring Sudanese factions.

Under the peace agreement, the northern-based National Congress Party and the southern-based SPLM agreed to end the brutal 22-year civil war and set a timetable for Southern Sudan to conduct a referendum on its independence. Tuesday’s visiting delegation sought advice from experienced local community organizers on mobilizing constituencies around public policy issues for the upcoming election, slated for January 2011.

Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization, moderated the meeting.

Kabba, a native of Sierra Leone whose organization works on issues of civic participation, social justice and empowerment of African immigrant and refugee communities in Illinois, offered strategic organizing principles to the Sudanese leaders.

“In this society, you have to definitely build bridges with other constituencies,” he said. “You cannot just narrow yourself on your specific issue. You always try as much as possible to know what is affecting other communities, have a broader vision and connect your specific agenda to the broader vision. You have to align common interest with self-interest.”

As an example of building constituencies, he offered his organization's recent work to pass a bill in the state legislature protecting African hair braiders. Prior to their lobbying, Kabba explained that hair braiders were treated as cosmetologists and required to spend 1,500 hours on cosmetology training at a cost of up to $10,000 to learn techniques irrelevant to their practice.

“Since we had developed these partnerships we were able to fight the cosmetology lobby strategically,” said Kabba, who mobilized allies from the Latino, Asian-American, Muslim, Jewish and African-American communities. “And guess what? The cosmetology lobby was forced to negotiate with our organization because we had too many people now pushing this agenda.” It had become more than an African issue.

The same organizing strategies could be employed by the Sudanese officials to publicize their own plight at the hands of an unresponsive and corrupt central government, explained Wilmette-based organizer Lali Watt.

Watt suggested the African delegates promote issues like women’s rights that would resonate with Americans who otherwise might not be concerned with the complexities of government corruption on another continent.

Gail Schechter, a 25-year veteran of community organizing who coordinated Tuesday’s meeting, was thrilled with the result.

“I think it’s abundantly clear today that this was fantastic,” she said. “Alie [Kabba’s] talk about coalition building was invaluable. I think that [the Sudanese delegation is] going to learn to really share their message, which is an incredible message.”

Kabba said that he will continue to work with members of the Sudanese delegation – who are headed to Washington in a few weeks – to publicize their message in the United States. “They would like to see that there is international protection and the resources to ensure that they can continue to engage their constituents around the issues of a consultation process,” he said.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

African immigrants in the U.S. and Europe

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published May 1, 2010 7:33 AM

This year’s May Day commemorations are taking place amid escalating racist and xenophobic attacks against immigrant communities in the U.S. and Western Europe. The passage of an Arizona law that legalizes racial profiling, and the electoral campaigns by right-wing, anti-immigrant parties in Hungary, France, Italy and the Netherlands, illustrate the need to intensify efforts at building international solidarity among workers and the oppressed.

These attacks against immigrant communities coincide with the burgeoning economic crisis, which has resulted in massive layoffs of millions of workers of all nationalities and worsening social conditions in both the industrialized and underdeveloped states. The decline of the capitalist system has been characterized by massive bank bailouts, plant closings, shrinking of the public sector, budget cuts, denial of health care and the privatization of education. It has intensified the assaults on trade unions, the poor, people of color, women, lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people and other historically exploited and marginalized groups.

The immigrant rights struggle in the U.S. led to the revival of May Day in 2006. Millions of workers, led by the Latino/a communities throughout the country, challenged unjust policies that scapegoat the immigrant population, both documented and undocumented.

The conditions for immigrants of African descent, like the Latino/a communities, have been precarious in both the United States and Europe. Discrimination and repression leveled against African immigrants cannot be separated from the legacy of racism and national oppression against Black people in the U.S., who are ostensibly “citizens” of the country. This same contradiction also exists in Europe — where the conditions of immigrants must be viewed within the context of the ongoing subordinate position of people of color, who are supposed to be protected under the laws governing the various states.

African immigrants face racism in U.S.

Over the last several decades there has been a significant increase in the number of immigrants from the Caribbean and the African continent living inside the United States. Nonetheless, there was a decline in the number of Caribbean nationals who were granted naturalized citizenship during 2009. In 2008 some 131,935 people from the Caribbean gained citizenship in the U.S., in comparison to a significant decline to 84,917 in 2009. (, April 23)

This reduction in the number of people from the Caribbean becoming citizens follows a broader pattern. In 2008 some 1,046,539 overall became naturalized, while in 2009, there were only 743,715.

It is not surprising that Cuban immigrants topped the list of those from the Caribbean becoming naturalized, with 24,891. The U.S. has favored and even encouraged immigration from Cuba in the five-decades-long destabilization campaign against the island’s socialist government. But even the number of Cubans being given citizenship declined from the 39,871 who became naturalized in 2008.

The group showing an increase in naturalization is nationals from the African continent. They face discrimination and racism in the U.S.

Several years ago Laurier T. Raymond Jr., the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, stated publicly that the Somali immigrant community should look elsewhere to live. Raymond voiced sentiments of the largely white city that the presence of immigrants from East Africa would adversely impact the living standards and culture of the broader community.

Jonathan Rogers, a Portland, Maine, resident, stated: “Can you imagine a city mayor turning away hoards of new residents and their contributions to the local economy in today’s economic climate? Mayor Raymond wasn’t alone, however. Many Mainers still harbor a sentiment of distrust, disapproval and hostility toward unfamiliar immigrants.” (Portland Press Herald, April 14)

“Xenophobia can make you believe all sorts of things; that these new families are a drag on the economy, that they all live in public housing and are unemployed or that the low-income neighborhoods they may inhabit are the most crime-ridden in town.”

Rogers encourages people to “take a tour of the neighborhoods with public housing developments in Portland, many of which are home to Somalis and other East African families. Compared to areas of similar income, you will find stronger communities, more thriving social networks and more civic-minded people there than anywhere else in the city.”

The World Bank estimates that “African immigrants living abroad mostly in North America and Europe send home between $32 and $40 billion every year. This figure far exceeds the money that is given to Africa through formalized development aid channels.” (Modern Ghana News, April 5)

Despite the constructive role played by African immigrants in the U.S., numerous cases have been reported of African immigrants being harassed, brutalized and murdered by law enforcement.

The Somali community in Minneapolis has been targeted as suspects in the so-called “war on terrorism.” During President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the FBI questioned Somali student activists about an alleged plot to assassinate the president. Mosques frequented by Somalis have been infiltrated by government informants and recently there have been reports in the corporate media claiming that youth are being recruited to fight against the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.

Plight of African immigrants in Europe

Because of the impact of the world economic crisis on the African continent, many workers and youth have fled as refugees to Europe in search of employment and a higher standard of living. These workers have been subjected to gross discrimination and violence from various European governments as well as racist vigilantes.

This anti-immigrant bias has been reflected in the electoral campaigns of various right-wing political parties who have openly advocated reprisals targeting African workers who seek asylum in European states. In Hungary in April, the right-wing Jobbik party gained 16 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections.

The same sentiment is reflected in France with the growth of the racist National Front Party, and in the Netherlands, where the Party of Freedom enjoyed gains in the recent elections. In Italy the anti-immigrant Northern League has openly spread racist sentiment against workers from Africa and other parts of the world.

In January in a town in southern Italy, two African immigrant workers were shot when air guns were fired from a moving vehicle. The incident sparked mass demonstrations and a rebellion. Workers took to the streets demanding that they be treated like human beings.

The rise in racism in Europe is closely linked with the deepening economic crisis within the Western capitalist states. Deutsche Welle reports that, “Although right-wing ideology takes different forms across Europe, it shares a common strategy: exploiting the fears of voters in times of crisis.

“Right-wing populists focus on their followers’ discontent, says Wolfgang Kapust of German public broadcaster WDR. ‘They offer easy answers to complicated problems: the economic situation, unemployment or social insecurity,’ said Kapust. ‘Above all, they want to get rid of, deport or “send home” foreigners and “the others.”’” (April 12)

Workers have no borders

Inside the United States it is important that labor organizers and anti-racist and civil rights groups condemn acts of discrimination and violence against immigrant workers. These attacks are not just directed against the foreign-born and their descendants but are designed to weaken and intimidate the working class and the nationally oppressed as a whole.

The emergence of the so-called “Tea Party” movement in the U.S. represents another manifestation of an age-old phenomenon: ruling-class attempts to divide and conquer the working class and the oppressed. These angry workers and displaced middle-class whites are being encouraged by sections of the capitalist class to attack immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos/as, women, the LGBTQ communities, unions and all progressive forces.

In fostering international solidarity with immigrant workers, progressive forces inside the U.S. and Europe can build a united front against a potentially dangerous neo-fascist movement that is supported and promoted by the ruling class and its corporate media outlets.

Only a broad-based alliance of working people, immigrants and the nationally oppressed can effectively counter efforts by the capitalist class to further impoverish and politically isolate the struggles against the economic austerity imposed on the majority of people inside the United States and around the world.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Somali Man Got Green Card Through Fraud

Last Update: 5/04 6:29 pm

SAN DIEGO - A Somali man who falsely claimed in an asylum application that he had spent time in a Kenyan refugee camp and hid his arrest for sexual assault in Canada was convicted in San Diego Tuesday of possessing a permanent resident green card obtained by fraud.

According to an indictment and evidence produced at trial, Sufyaan Mohamed traveled to Canada in 1995, where he applied for, but was denied, refugee status.

In February 1998, while the defendant was still in Canada, Toronto police arrested him on charges of sexual assault and threatening death, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sabrina Feve.

According to evidence produced at trial, Mohamed fled Canada before trial and a Canadian warrant was issued for his arrest.

The defendant, now 41, arrived in the United States in late 1998 and filed an application for asylum, according to prosecutors.

But in the application, the defendant concealed both the time that he spent in Canada and his arrest there by falsely claiming that he had spent the last several years in a Kenyan refugee camp, Feve said.

Unaware of his true history, the United States granted Mohamed asylum, according to prosecutors.

According to trial evidence, the defendant later applied for a green card, falsely stating that he had never been arrested and again concealing his prior life in Canada, and the United States granted him application.

At trial, however, prosecutors presented certified records from the Toronto police and the Canadian immigration authorities documenting the defendant's history in Canada. The records included the defendant's Canadian refugee application, which contained a story of his alleged persecution in Somalia that differed substantially from the story he later told United States authorities when applying for asylum here.

Mohamed is scheduled to be sentenced July 30 by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.