Tag: foreign relations

BrooklynImmigration NewsPolish

Feeling Disrespected: Poles React to Obama’s Shift on Missile Defense

When the Obama administration recently announced its decision to scrap the Bush-era plan for an anti-missile shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic many Poles were not surprised. It simply confirmed what they had been expecting.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski meets with reporters in New York. Photo Karolina Szczepanska

Polish President Lech Kaczynski meets with reporters in New York. Photo Karolina Szczepanska

Last fall then-President-elect Obama expressed doubts about the system, and members of the Polish community in the U.S. anticipated that he wouldn’t feel obligated to respect agreements signed in 2008 by the previous administration.

“The US has its own problems now and they do whatever is best for them,” said Grazyna Bulka, east coast director of a Chicago-based shipping company, Polamer Inc. Bulka feared the system would have infuriated Russia, and was relieved to

learn that it had been abandoned.

“Poles love America so much and the U.S. really doesn’t care about us much,” lamented Emilia Sroczynska, a small business owner from Brooklyn, who favors the anti-missile system. “They remember us only when they need us, but they abandon us as soon as they don’t. To me it’s just another disappointment.”

Whether they supported or opposed the Bush plan to place ten ground-based interceptors on Polish soil, many agreed that Obama’s decision to scrap the deal proved that the U.S. considers Poland a second-class ally.

But what truly embittered Poles was the timing of the announcement, widely interpreted either as ignorance or insensitivity to Poland’s history by the Obama administration. (more…)

Immigration NewsImmigration ReformMexico City

Disappointment in Mexico as Obama Says Immigration Reform Will Have to Wait

Obama and Calderón had a bilateral meeting on Sunday in Guadalajara. (Photo: Alfredo Guerrero/Mexican Presidency)

Obama and Calderón had a bilateral meeting on Sunday in Guadalajara. (Photo: Alfredo Guerrero/Mexican Presidency - Click to visit Flickr page)

The summit of the “Three Amigos” (the presidents of the U.S., Mexico and Canada) in Guadalajara brought no good news for Mexicans on the immigration front. The headline in Monday’s Mexico City newspaper El Universal summed it up: “Neither immigration reform nor does Canada eliminate visas.” At a press conference at the summit President Obama said that Congressional action on immigration reform will have to wait until next year.

With a raging drug war south of the border, trade controversies and the U.S. Congress occupied with other matters, Mexican President Felipe Calderón apparently did not even intend to push the issue of immigration with his American counterpart, Barack Obama, in their private meeting on Sunday.

Also at the summit, Canada, which recently started requiring all Mexican visitors to obtain a visa, said it has no intention of going back on that decision, which has incensed Mexicans, already sensitive on the issue.

According to El Universal, Obama told Calderón that the White House has a full plate right now, which makes it impossible to deal with an immigration reform bill.

The Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhán, narrated the encounter, saying Obama told Calderón that “if the rest of the legislative agenda in the U.S., in Congress, moves in the right direction, space could open up between November and March. But evidently, right now, the immigration reform bill is not ready at this time to be introduced in Congress.” (more…)

Immigration News

U.S.-Cuban Immigration Talks Resume, Outlook Unclear

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor

After six years of stalled negotiations, the U.S. and Cuba have started talking again about immigration issues affecting the two countries.

A meeting held Tuesday at UN headquarters in New York City is the most recent signal from the Obama administration that Washington wants to set a new tone with Havana. In April, the administration lifted restrictions on Cuban immigrants that wish to visit or send remittances to the island.

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Tuesday’s encounter was the first time Cuban and U.S. diplomats sat at the same table to talk about immigration issues since President George W. Bush suspended the negotiations in 2003.

Bush had cited failures by the Cuban government to honor previous immigration accords such as ensuring that Cubans with U.S. visas obtain permission to leave Cuba, and that Cubans who have fled the island and are caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally are accepted back by the Cuban government and treated justly.

A brief statement issued by the U.S. State Department after yesterday’s meeting said that it, “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to promote safe, orderly, and legal migration.” (See the full text below) (more…)

Immigration NewsLatinoRadio

Stunning Comeback in Mexican Elections: FI2W’s Diego Graglia on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show

Feet In 2 Worlds web editor Diego Graglia was interviewed Tuesday on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York public radio.

Together with David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute and assistant professor of political science at the University of San Diego, Diego spoke about the mid-term elections in Mexico, where the PRI, the party that controlled the country for seven decades until 2000, has made a stunning comeback.

You can listen to the interview below or go to the show’s webpage.

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl070709epod.mp3]

The election had a turnout rate of less than 50% and it saw almost 6% of voters casting nullified ballots as a protest against the political party system.

In a poignant gesture in this age of democratized communications, Twitter user @priscilliana decided to vote for the social network’s Fail Whale:

(Photo: Priscilliana/TwitPic -- Click on image to visit.)

(Photo: Priscilliana/TwitPic -- Click on image to visit.)

BrazilianImmigration News

Brazilian High Court Judge Reverses Decision to Return Son to American Dad

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNEWz reporter
David and Sean Goldman. (Photo: BringSeanHome.org)

David and Sean Goldman. (Photo: BringSeanHome.org)

After nearly five years of an international custody battle that has drawn the attention of the Obama administration and members of Congress, American model David Goldman flew to Brazil a few days ago to finally be reunited with his son Sean.

On Monday, June 1, Brazilian federal judge Rafael de Souza Pereira Pinto, of Rio de Janeiro, ruled that Sean should be handed to the local American Consulate in 48 hours. In an 82-page ruling, the judge also determined that Sean could travel to New Jersey accompanied by his Brazilian relatives.

Once in U.S., the judge determined, in the first two weeks Sean would spend days with the Brazilian part of his family, and nights with Goldman. After that period, the 9-year-old boy, whose Brazilian mother died while giving birth to a baby girl last September, would stay with his father indefinitely.

But that ruling lasted less than 24 hours.

(more…)

Immigration News

Change Comes… at Least Internationally: Cuba Will Discuss Immigration With the U.S.

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Cuba-pa-pa! by Brainless Angel/Flickr

Photo: Brainless Angel/Flickr

If some parts of the Democratic constituency –civil rights groups, for example– are starting to doubt President Barack Obama’s commitment to real change, Latin America is continuing to see signs that its relationship with the U.S. may be altered in the next months and years.

Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on migration and other issues, an openness from both sides that seemed unthinkable less than five months ago, when there was another tenant in the White House. The talks, in fact, were suspended under President George W. Bush in 2003.

The Washington Post reports this morning that

Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on immigration and has signaled its willingness to cooperate on issues including terrorism, drug trafficking and even mail service, a sign that the island’s communist government is warming to President Obama’s call for a new relationship after decades of tension, U.S. officials said Sunday.

(more…)

Immigration NewsPolish

Illinois Congressman Asks Obama to Add Poland to Visa Waiver Program

Rep. Mike Quigley (D.-Ill.), a newly elected congressman from Chicago, has wasted no time in addressing a key concern of the Polish community in Illinois’ 5th district.

Last Friday, Quigley called on President Barack Obama to support Poland’s plea for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program — a matter we reported on last week.

Poland has proven to be an indispensable ally in the global campaign against terrorism,” wrote Quigley in a press release.

Including Poland in the Visa Waiver Program will have positive security, economic, and bilateral effects.

In addition, there are thousands of Polish-Americans in my district alone who would benefit by making it easier to have a loved one visit them, not to mention the local businesses that would benefit from tourism dollars.

We owe it to a country that has stood by us, and to the people who would like to visit the United States.

Quigley, a former member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, won the special election held on April 7, 2009 to replace Rahm Emanuel after he vacated the seat in order to serve as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff.

One of Quigley’s rivals in the race was Victor Forys, a Polish immigrant who, despite the large percentage of Polish Americans in the 5th district (17% of all residents), ended up fourth in the special Democratic primary.

Immigration News

Latin American Leaders, Media Hail New Relationship With the U.S.

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Western Hemisphere presidents pose for the Summit of the Americas official photo. (Photo: AFP)

Western Hemisphere presidents pose for the Summit of the Americas' official photo. (Photo: AFP)

Four years ago, President George W. Bush arrived in Mar del Plata, Argentina, escorted by U.S. Navy ships and hounded by thousands of demonstrators who rejected a U.S. initiative to create a hemispheric free trade zone. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Bolivian then-presidential candidate Evo Morales joined football star Diego Maradona and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in a parallel demonstration that filled a soccer stadium with anti-Bush, anti-U.S. slogans.

This past weekend, the Summit of the Americas met in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and the mood was much calmer. When it was over, many in the Latin American news media joined their nations’ leaders in hailing what they described as the start of a new era in inter-American relations.

Latin American columnists this morning confirmed the consensus emerging from Trinidad over the weekend: the region is ready for a rapprochement with the U.S.

“Few times had a gringo president arrived in a summit of the American continent like Barack Obama did last Friday in Trinidad and Tobago,” Colombian newsweekly Semana said. “The president had solved a great number of the things his Latin American colleagues were going to ask from him.” Semana mentioned Obama’s statements in favor of immigration reform, his vows to help Mexico fight drug cartels and last week’s softening of U.S. policy towards Cuba.

(more…)

Immigration NewsLatinoMexico City

Deported Immigration Activist Reminds Obama of Plight of the Children of the Undocumented

MEXICO CITY — As President Barack Obama arrived in Mexico City Thursday, a small group of immigration activists demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy on leafy Paseo de la Reforma, close to downtown. They were there to demand comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. and a stop to immigration raids and deportations.

Children who are U.S. citizens but now live in Mexico because of their parents’ deportations were there. After President Obama said at his speech in the Democratic National Convention last year that no one “benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child,” activists had hoped he would stop deportations that break up families with an executive order. That has not happened.

The Pew Hispanic Center said this week that 73% of the children of undocumented immigrants were born in the U.S. and are U.S. citizens.

One of the protesters present was Elvira Arellano, who became known nationwide when she fought a deportation order in 2006 by seeking sanctuary inside a Chicago church. Arellano was finally deported in 2007 and now runs a shelter for deported women and children in Tijuana while continuing to work for immigration reform from the other side of the border. She came to the embassy with her 10-year-old son, Saúl, a U.S. citizen.

You can watch a slideshow on the Arellanos below or, for higher quality, go to our YouTube channel.

Immigration NewsMexico City

Drug Wars, Immigration on the Agenda as Clinton Heads South: Mexico Hails "New Age Of Cooperation" With U.S.

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

One day after the U.S. announced it will beef up security along its southern border, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Mexico today to discuss drug-related violence and economic issues. Clinton’s counterpart, Patricia Espinoza Castellano, said at a Mexico City press conference yesterday that the American measures are “coherent with the fight against organized crime.”

Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinoza - Photo: AP

Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinoza. (Photo: AP)

Clinton’s visit comes in advance of a trip by President Barack Obama himself, who will travel south in April to meet Mexico’s head of state, President Felipe Calderón. In response to news of growing drug cartel-related violence in Mexico –and recently in some American cities close to the border– the Obama Administration seems determined to engage and cooperate much more closely with Mexico than the Bush Administration did.

The security measures announced yesterday include sending more immigrations, customs, anti-drug and gun law enforcement officers to the border. In response Espinoza, the Mexican foreign minister, expressed hope for a renewed, closer relationship with Mexico’s northern neighbor.

Espinoza added that the security issue will feature prominently during Clinton’s visit, which she called the start of “a new age of cooperation between both governments.”

She also stated that her government will talk to Clinton about U.S. immigration policies. “We have insisted on an end to raids and to the separation of families (through deportations),” she said. (more…)