The Capitol in a calmer time

I remember, on the day the Twin Towers fell, listening to the radio as the announcer described the scene, certain that I must be misunderstanding what I heard. I had that same sensation yesterday, watching the images of an armed mob storming the Capitol, our beautiful Capitol, at the behest of a man who has come close to fracturing our democracy. …


A projection of one of twelve former refugees whose images merge with that of Admiral Farragut in Madison Square Park (January 2020)

Today is World Refugee Day; in Washington DC it is wet and gloomy. Our “You Are Welcome Here” sign on the front lawn is battered and dripping wet, but still standing, That may be symbolic of the refugee movement in the United States, which has been pummeled for three years by the Trump administration’s deliberate attempt to destroy America’s refugee and asylum system. In response to such hatred, artist and teacher Krzysztof Wodiczko sought to create a piece of art that would convey the resilience, hope, and courage of the world’s refugees.

As he has noted, there are rarely monuments…


Closing the Border to Asylum Seekers Won’t Stop Coronavirus

The Trump administration has closed the northern and southern borders to many non-citizens, with some exceptions, including those entering the U.S. for commercial purposes. Asylum-seekers are not on this list of exceptions. Instead, the administration plans to turn back anyone seeking asylum, a direct violation of our laws and our international treaty obligations. Even in the time of pandemic, shuttering our doors is not the answer.

A coalition of public health experts and human rights organizations have urgently pressed the administration to take a different path, especially along the southern border…


October 2019: a child’s toy in the tent camp along the International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico

The holidays remain one of the few times when people who don’t necessarily share opinions share a meal; this can be stressful but also an opportunity for building common ground. I’m a fan of the idea of “talking turkey” over the Thanksgiving dinner table, but this year, I’ll be staying close to home, sharing a quiet meal with my husband and daughter. She came home early from college after suffering a significant concussion last week, and our Thanksgiving plans quickly changed from a major trek to the Midwest to a simpler and low-key affair. …


Broken Ovens, Apple Pie, and Refugees: A Thanksgiving Tale

As American as . . .

My husband was making Thanksgiving pies very late on Sunday night to send to family in Wisconsin. As he went to put an apple pie in the oven, something went pop, and the oven stopped working. We turned to our neighbors, who graciously allowed us to use their oven, despite the late hour, and let us use their home again the next day to bake another pie. Crisis averted, pies overnighted, and all was once more right in the kitchen. Our neighbors to the rescue. …


President Trump with some of the 30,000 people attending the White House Easter Egg Roll 2018

Dear Mr. President:

With only days to go in the fiscal year, the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. for Fiscal Year 2018 is 20,918, less than half the 45,000 refugee admissions you authorized. Instead of trying harder in Fiscal Year 2019, your administration appears to be giving up, announcing that you will only authorize 30,000 admissions for the coming year.

In a world where over 25.4million people have been designated as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 30,000 is not enough. Even when we look at the number of refugees designated for resettlement — only…


Fourth of July celebrations in Boise will be a somber affair this year, overshadowed by the tragic stabbing of nine people at a child’s birthday party. The birthday girl, Ruya Kadir, a three year old refugee from Ethiopia, died from her wounds. Eight other people, five children and three adults, refugees from Iraq, Syria, and Ethiopia, were also stabbed, multiple times, by a man who had been kicked out of the apartment complex where the birthday party was taking place. At this time there is no evidence of a hate crime. …


Family Separation is the Latest Example of the Casual Cruelty of Trump’s Immigration Policy

The administration’s latest immigration move is the cruelest yet: the wholesale separation of children from their parents at the border. Apparently, Trump and his advisers believe that this strategy will result in a political win in Congress on his legislative goals of building a border wall, cutting legal immigration and restricting access to asylum. Similarly, Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen told the National Association of Sheriffs that, in essence, separating parents from children at the border is the natural consequence both of enforcing current laws…


As a child, one of the greatest pleasures of the Christmas season came when the local stations began to run the old holiday movies — It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife — comfortable classics with messages of love, family, and resilience. As I got older, a few other movies made it into my personal top ten list — Whitney and Denzel’s remake of The Bishop’s Wife, A Christmas Story, Die Hard (even Rotten Tomatoes says it’s a Christmas movie) and the goofy but endearing Elf. As is so often the case…


Why the Fate of DACA Depends on A Clean Dream Act

(This post originally appeared on the NAFSA: Association of International Educators website; follow the link to our action site, Connecting Our World, where you can get updates and action alerts on immigration, international exchange and other pressing issues)

On September 5, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, phasing it out over the next six months to press Congress to act on a legislative solution before March 5, 2018. From that day forward, DACA expirations will not be renewed; roughly 1,400 individuals will lose…

Mary Giovagnoli

Former DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy 2015–2017; immigration attorney and immigration policy analyst.

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