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(Im)migration Weekly Recap, April 7-13


FILE - Then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen talks outside her home in Alexandria, Va., on April 8, 2019.

Editor's note: We want you to know what's happening, why and how it could impact your life, family or business, so we created a weekly digest of the top original immigration, migration and refugee reporting from across VOA. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team:ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com.

Trump personally confirms he sought to release immigrants in ‘sanctuary cities’

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration had considered — and is still considering — transporting and releasing detained immigrants in "democratic strongholds" which have local policies in place that aim to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation — aka, "sanctuary cities."

The comments followed a bombshell report by The Washington Post that the administration had twice sought retribution against political rivals who were unwilling to support Trump’s request for border wall funding. According to the report, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s legal department had rejected the proposal.

US Homeland Security gets a sudden makeover

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is out. So is DHS undersecretary Claire Grady. So is the Secret Service director.

It was a shake-up that caught the department by surprise, just as it was preparing to release March data on southwest border apprehensions — the highest figures to date under the Trump administration.

As VOA reported this week, the moves suggest broader changes are in order for the department. The announced appointment of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to replace Nielsen as acting DHS secretary suggests a “doubling down on policies” may already be underway.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (C) announced that the Trump administration will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors during a news conference at the border in El Paso, Texas, March 27, 2019.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (C) announced that the Trump administration will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors during a news conference at the border in El Paso, Texas, March 27, 2019.

UNHCR: Boko Haram is increasingly targeting civilians in attacks

The U.N. refugee agency said 88 civilians were killed by Boko Haram in Niger’s border areas in February. The spike in deadly attacks against civilians is increasing in frequency and intensity, UNHCR said, forcing more than 18,000 people to flee their homes. VOA reported that women and children in particular were experiencing extreme trauma as a result.

A wall to honor immigrants, old and new

The names of 775,000 immigrants are memorialized across 770 panels that form the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, facing New York’s Lower Manhattan skyline. (R. Taylor/VOA)
The names of 775,000 immigrants are memorialized across 770 panels that form the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, facing New York’s Lower Manhattan skyline. (R. Taylor/VOA)

On Ellis Island, the names of 775,000 immigrants are engraved across 770 stainless steel panels — including recent arrivals from Central America and Southeast Asia who never set foot on the former processing station.

"Everybody wants to be honored," Stephen Briganti, president and CEO of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, told VOA. "...In a small way, that's what we can do here."

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