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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Refugee aid groups criticize Biden

Refugee aid groups criticize Biden for stumbles in evacuating 'desperate' Afghans

As most Americans absorbed the shock of the Taliban's full takeover of Afghanistan over the weekend, officials at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service followed the rapidly deteriorating situation with resignation, knowing it could have gone differently.

In May, leaders at LIRS, one of several faith-based agencies contracted with the U.S. government to resettle refugees in the United States, sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting it remove Afghan civilians (and their families) who have worked with the U.S. before its planned troop withdrawal. 

Anyone familiar with the "bureaucratic maze" that is the country's Special Immigrant Visa process knew the State Department visa office wouldn't be agile enough to respond to the urgent need for evacuations, said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of LIRS.

"We've been screaming from the rooftops for months now that we need to get these allies to Guam or another U.S. territory," Vignarajah said.

You can read more of the story here.

More background:


Holy waters: Prayer and protest against Line 3 pipeline at Mississippi headwaters 

Last summer, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy traveled to Mississippi to report on a local fight to stop construction of a huge plastics manufacturing complex planned for a Black majority district of a Louisiana parish north of New Orleans.

"In southern Louisiana, the river serves industry's purpose," Schaeffer-Duffy writes in a commentary for EarthBeat. "More than 140 oil refineries and petrochemical facilities crowd an 80-mile stretch of waterway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Communities adjacent to the plants suffer from high rates of cancer, respiratory ailments and mysterious rashes. The ecosystems have not fared so well either. Driving out of New Orleans each morning, I passed exhausted estuaries full of leafless trees."

Activists, many of them women, have been fighting these hazardous incursions for years. 

"They face a formidable foe: environmental racism, compounded by Louisiana's history of granting exploitative multinationals hefty tax exemptions and the willingness of locals to sacrifice their health for the benefits of high-paying work," she writes.

You can read more at EarthBeat here.

More background:

  • Read a profile of Sharon Lavigne, founder of the faith-based group Rise St. James, who is at the forefront of a campaign to thwart construction of the Formosa Plastics complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana.


More headlines

  • At Global Sisters Report, read about a new study that gets its data from on-the-ground practitioners working in Good Shepherd ministries — practitioners who live with the realities of what girls experience every day in Asia and the Pacific.

  • ICYMI: A U.S. District Court judge blocked the Department of Homeland Security from formally ending the Trump administration's Migration Protection Protocols, known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

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