The Week Ahead: Aug. 8-12

Assistant Director of Communications

August 8, 2016


“The idea that we have people that go outside the current system is just the logical outgrowth of a broken system, something that doesn’t work. When you can apply for a visa and over the course of your lifetime not be granted that visa for no good reason, the system’s broken.”
–         Stan Lockhart of IM Flash Technologies and a member of the Utah State Board of Education, Aug. 7


Immigrant U.S. Olympians, Refugees Compete in Rio
With the 2016 Olympics under way, many immigrant athletes are among the Americans to watch in Rio, and this year’s competition also features a team that comprises refugees.

As the American Immigration Council points out, 47 Team USA competitors were born outside the country. They include four U.S. Army members born in Kenya who have become citizens and will compete in track and field, a shooting competitor who represented Albania at the 1996 Atlanta games and later fled to the U.S., and a runner born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia after his parents fled Sudan.

In addition, this year’s Olympics feature 10 refugees who are competing as their own team. One standout story is that of Yusra Mardini, a swimmer originally from Syria who last August helped swim her small boat to safety after it broke down between Turkey and Greece. Twenty refugees were aboard a dinghy built for six.

The refugee team has received a warm welcome in Rio.

Our summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration is posting every other week during Congress’ summer recess. The latest:


HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Houston leaders seek to make Houston ‘Welcoming City’ for immigrants
By Brooke A. Lewis
August 3, 2016
When Jose Sic moved to Houston from Guatemala, he just wanted a better life for his family. Fleeing from poverty and seeking a better education, Sic worked many odd jobs before starting his own business, maintaining various soccer fields across Houston.
“I came here to make more money for myself and have a better foundation, but I also came to respect and love this country,” Sic said in Spanish.
At a news conference, Sic, an undocumented immigrant, spoke on behalf of community leaders, who were announcing Houston’s initiative to become an official “Welcoming City” for immigrants.
Leaders from different communities said they will develop a plan in the coming months to improve the lives of immigrants moving to Houston. Several cities across the country have been dubbed welcoming cities, but Houston is just the second city in Texas to take on such a role. Austin was the first.
“Everyone who comes here has the same aspiration and its simple, to earn, to learn and to belong,” said Angela Blanchard, CEO and president of Neighborhood Centers.
“Each of us is responsible in this city to build that on-ramp to opportunity.”
Read more:

PBS NEWSHOUR: Amid anti-immigration wave, some small towns welcome refugees with open arms
By Tim Henderson, Stateline
Aug. 5, 2016
RUTLAND, Vermont — Mayor Christopher Louras sees trouble ahead for this small city of about 16,000 at the foot of the Green Mountains.
“It’s a strong, vibrant community but unless we do something to stem the population decline, we’re going to be in big, big trouble,” Louras said. “And it’s not just Rutland. Rutland is a microcosm of the state and small towns around the country.”
But the mayor sees a quick fix. He’s asked Vermont’s resettlement agency to send refugees to Rutland, and says they would help fill vacant housing and entry-level jobs to keep the economy moving.
It’s an approach small towns from Montana to Georgia are increasingly considering as they grapple with shrinking and aging populations.
The mayors of Central Falls, Rhode Island; Clarkston, Georgia; and Haledon, New Jersey, joined big-city mayors last year in signing a letter saying they had accepted Syrian refugees and would take more. And as some governors and members of Congress called for a halt to the arrival of refugees from Syria, the mayors of Normal, Urbana and Evanston in Illinois; Socorro, Texas; and Clearfield City, Utah, signed a letter that noted “the importance of continuing to welcome refugees to our country and to our cities.”
Read more: