Latest Work

Terror Report Adds to Border Security, Immigration Debate

As the Trump administration seeks to improve its vetting of immigrants, the government on Tuesday released a report saying the overwhelming number of people convicted on international terrorism-related charges in federal court were foreign-born.

The report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments comes as President Donald Trump calls on Congress to eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery and “chain migration,” citing recent terrorist attacks in New York City and elsewhere committed by people admitted into the U.S. through these immigration programs.

The data may include persons who never entered the United States. International terrorism as defined in the report includes people who were convicted in federal court of or conspiracy to commit overseas terrorist attacks against Americans, the use of weapons of mass destruction and providing support to foreign  terrorist organizations.

Between Sept. 11, 2001 and the end of 2016, at least 549 people were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in federal courts, the report said. Nearly half, or 254 people, were not U.S. citizens and another 148 were foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens and 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.

“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality — our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a news release. “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.”

The administration and key players in Congress are trying to work out a deal that would bolster border security and end what’s known as chain migration and the use of Diversity Immigrant visas, as part of an effort to protect about 700,000 undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from deportation. In chain migration, or family-based immigration, U.S. citizens can petition to have their spouse, parents, children and siblings to get a visa or green card.

“Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds,” Sessions said.

The government annually grants about 50,000 visas through the Diversity Visa lottery, which is aimed at people from countries with historically low levels of immigration to the U.S. Senior administration officials did not state how many people annually come to the U.S. through family-based immigration.

The senior administration officials cited countries such Australia and Canada, which they say have a more merit-based immigration system that provides immigration visas to foreigners their based on their education, job, or language qualifications. GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia are sponsoring legislation (S 354), endorsed by Trump, that would shift to a merit-based immigration system.

In fiscal 2017, DHS officials encountered 2,554 people on terrorist watch lists traveling to the United States who were blocked from entering. The overwhelming majority, or 2,170 people, were trying to enter the U.S. by air, 335 were attempting to come by land and 49 by sea.

The top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees denounced the report, saying it does not factor in the threat from homegrown extremists or the rise of domestic terrorism.

“This misleading report relies on manufactured data to perpetuate a myth that immigrants — specifically, those from Muslim countries — are dangerous elements within our country.  The Administration then uses these falsehoods as reasoning and license for policies that promote the continued abuse of our rights and civil liberties,” said Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the respective ranking members of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees.

Jeff Sessions proposes for police to take more money from citizens

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday that he is pushing forward with a new directive to encourage law enforcement agencies to seize more money and property from those who break the law.

“We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture — especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said in his remarks to the National District Attorneys Association.”No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”

https://www.circa.com/story/2017/07/24/politics/jeff-sessions-proposes-for-police-to-take-more-money-from-citizens

The Justice Department pushed back on Chicago’s sanctuary city lawsuit

The Department of Justice (DOJ) pushed back on Sunday against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s (D) announcement that his city would file a lawsuit over sanctuary jurisdiction policies the following day.

“Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate,” Emanuel said. “Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated. And Chicago will never relinquish our status as a welcoming city.”

https://www.circa.com/story/2017/08/07/politics/the-justice-department-pushed-backon-chicago-sanctuary-city-lawsuit

Contestant Halima Aden wears hijab, burkini to inspire others

While most Americans were still recovering from Thanksgiving feast over the holiday weekend, Halima Aden was making history.The 19-year-old St. Cloud State University freshman walked across the Miss Minnesota USA pageant stage Saturday night draped from head to toe in a blue-embroidered burkini and a bright yellow headscarf. During the two-day beauty pageant, Aden showed only her face, making her the first contestant to wear a hijab and a burkini in the pageant. To learn more read my article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/entertainment/minnesota-pageant-contest-aden-hijab-trnd/index.html

In Virginia, ex-felons find empowerment in the voting booth

By the age of 16, Muhamad As-saddique Abdul-Rahman was already a felon. Thirty-seven years later, he is ready to be called something else — a voter. Abdu-Rahman has dedicated his life to make sure everyone has the right to vote in the state of Virginia.  To learn more read my article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/05/politics/virginia-felons-voting-rights/index.html

An Airbnb for those who need it the most

The moment Amr Arafa saw the footage of Petra Laszlo, a Hungarian reporter tripping a refugee father carrying his small child as he ran to the Hungarian border, he knew this time clicking and sharing the video would not be enough. Months after Amr Arafa saw the video he created EmergencyBNB, a website that provides free shelter for the worlds most vulnerable people: refugees and domestic violence victims. To learn more read my article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/emergencybnb-refugees-domestic-violence-trnd/index.html

Borderland Coffee Project

Experts say in 30 years nearly half of the land in Nariño, Colombia will not be able to produce coffee, which will leave  over 40,000 families unemployed …This  project examines  how local coffee farmers are fighting global climate change with the help of the Catholic Relief Services.

76 yea old Luis Señunes is one of the many people that receive assistance from CRS. Luis has been a coffee farmer all his life and hopes to one day pass it down to his sons and daughters. However he fears that if the impact of climate change worsens he will no longer have something to pass along.
76-year-old Luis Señunes is one of the many people who receives assistance from CRS. Luis has been a coffee farmer all his life and hopes to one day pass it down to his sons and daughters. However he fears that if the impact of climate change worsens he will no longer have something to pass along.
Coffee farmers give the red bracelet to people picking coffee in order to remind them what color the coffee bean needs to be in order to be harvested
Coffee farmers give the red bracelet to people picking coffee in order to remind them what color the coffee bean needs to be in order to be harvested
Coffee Farmers are using cost effective methods to drying their coffee beans like the one in the photo. This method is called " los secadores".
Coffee Farmers are using cost effective methods to drying their coffee beans like the one in the photo. This method is called ” los secadores”.
Many coffee experts in Latin America gather together at coffee farms in Pasto to observe possible solutions to climate change
Many coffee experts in Latin America gather together at coffee farms in Pasto to observe possible solutions to climate change
"La Riolla" first started to appear in Colombia in 2008. Since than the fungus has spread throughout the country destroying many coffee farms
“La Riolla” first started to appear in Colombia in 2008. Since then the fungus has spread throughout the country destroying many coffee farms
This coffee farmers has been working with coffee for 15 years. This kind of work is passed down through generations and is considered a source of pride for many people here
Precilla  has been working on coffee farms all her life . This kind of work is passed down through generations and is considered a source of pride for many people here

For more information about this project featuring photos and an article find more here: http://pulitzercenter.org/projects/coffee-catholic-climate-colombia