News from the Week of July 22nd

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From January to June of 2017, 10,267 immigrants came to the United States on special immigrant visas. Over the same period in 2018, the number fell by more than half, to 4,166. Matt Zeller, a veteran who credits Janis Shinwari, an Afghan interpreter, with saving his life after an ambush attack in Afghanistan, said of the SIV decline, “These are the most heavily vetted immigrants. Republicans talk about merit-based immigration. I’m not going to get involved in the greater immigration debate, but how much more merit do you need than saving American lives?”  

Dr. Welton Chang, an Iraq war veteran and naturalized American, traveled to Greece to witness the movement of refugees and the work that non-profits are doing to help. “I was not born in a country ravaged by war and was therefore able to come to America under normal circumstances,” he wrote in his blog. “However, it seems that we are misattributing the character of these young children and refugees to the conditions that they came from—a common but tragic cognitive bias.” 

A Swedish woman halted the deportation of an Afghan refugee who had been seeking asylum. Elin Ersson was moved to “do the right thing,” so she stood up on an airplane she and the refugee both happened to be on, stopping the plane from taking off. Ms. Ersson said it was her "firm belief that no-one should be deported to a land in war.” Eventually the Afghan individual and Ms. Ersson were let off the plane, accompanied by security personnel.  

“Military Veterans serving Military Veterans” is the motto of the Trilogy at Vistancia Veterans Club. The club, founded in 2015, has 158 members, canvassing all the branches of service, including military allied forces from England and Canada. The group is engaged in programs such as the Veterans Outreach Center, where they provide home-cooked meals for homeless veterans. They also support the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall, and Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade program.  

Alphonso Davies, a refugee who grew up in Canada, will now play soccer for the European mega-team, Bayern Munich, on a deal of record proportions. Alphonso is the son of Liberian parents who fled their war-torn country to escape death. He was born in a Ghanian refugee camp housing 42,000 inhabitants where food and clean drinking water were scarce. His parents eventually enrolled in a refugee resettlement program through which they moved to Canada when Alphonso was six. Just last year, at the age of 17, he obtained his Canadian citizenship. 

Pablo Villavicencio, an Ecuadorean immigrant detained by ICE after making a pizza delivery to Fort Hamilton, was released from an immigration detection center on a judge’s orders. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty said Villavicencio, who was being held at a New Jersey facility can remain in the United States while he exhausts his right to try to gain legal status. “He has no criminal history,” the judge wrote. “He has paid his taxes. And he has worked diligently to provide for his family.”