•   
  •   
  •   

US Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them.

06:30  03 december  2019
06:30  03 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Jazz hold off late rally, beat undermanned Warriors 113-109

  Jazz hold off late rally, beat undermanned Warriors 113-109 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Mike Conley had 27 to help the Utah Jazz beat the undermanned Golden State Warriors 113-109 on Friday night. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17 points for the Jazz, and Rudy Gobert had 19 rebounds and seven blocks. Utah shot 51% from the field and outrebounded Golden State 48-37. Alec Burks scored 20 points to lead the Warriors. Omari Spellmen added 18 while Glenn Robinson III and Ky Bowman chipped in 17 apiece.BOX SCORE: JAZZ 113, WARRIORS 109Golden State rallied from a 21-point deficit and cut it to 111-109 with 22.8 seconds left on back-to-back baskets from Burks and Robinson.

SALT LAKE CITY —Apiel Kuot had survived war, sexual assault and life — first as an orphan, then as a single mother — in an east African refugee camp. But Utah terrified her.

a person standing in front of a fence: Apiel Kuot, a 28-year-old refugee from present-day South Sudan, at her home in Midvale, Utah, last month.© Kim Raff for The Washington Post Apiel Kuot, a 28-year-old refugee from present-day South Sudan, at her home in Midvale, Utah, last month.

She would never be welcome there, others in the camp had told her when she learned she would be resettled 9,000 miles away in a place where her black skin could mark her as an unwanted outsider. White people, she was warned, would try to steal her young children.

“I was so scared,” the 28-year-old recounted. Then she laughed. Three years on from her arrival, “life is beautiful. Utah is a wonderful place, the best place in the world for me.”

How much did Mike Pence know about pressure on Ukraine? Testimony suggests effort to flag concerns

  How much did Mike Pence know about pressure on Ukraine? Testimony suggests effort to flag concerns When Mike Pence and Volodymyr Zelensky met in a windowless conference room, the stalled aid was the first issue the Ukraine president raised.Nearly $400 million in U.S. military assistance that Ukraine was desperate for as a counter to Russian aggression had been on hold for weeks.

The admiration is apparently mutual.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

This fall, President Trump signed an executive order that, for the first time, gives states and cities the authority to veto refugee resettlements. The move alarms refugee advocates, who fear a wave of xenophobic demagoguery as governors and mayors seek to prove their anti-immigrant credentials by banning new arrivals.

That still may happen, adding to the strain on a once world-class resettlement program that has been crippled by cuts since Trump took office.

But in Utah — deeply conservative, deeply devout, predominantly white Utah — the response has been altogether different. The governor, a Republican who aligns with Trump on most issues, wrote the president a letter in late October.

Read the House Intelligence Committee’s full impeachment report

  Read the House Intelligence Committee’s full impeachment report The following is the full impeachment report on President Trump that the House Intelligence Committee released on Tuesday afternoon.The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election. As described in this executive summary and the report that follows, President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign.

He didn’t want to keep refugees out. He didn’t want to reduce their numbers. He wanted Trump to send more.

“We empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert wrote. Such newcomers, he added, have become “productive employees and responsible citizens.” They have been an asset to Utah, he said, not a liability.

Republicans in the state legislature quickly backed up their governor, daring to defy a president who has repeatedly shown an unwillingness to tolerate intraparty dissent. So did Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation. So did Republicans in city halls. Democrats across Utah added their support.

“I have to be honest: I don’t have any idea why it’s a partisan issue nationally. It’s never been one here,” said Brad Wilson, the state’s Republican speaker of the House. “Regardless of political party, we value these people.”

Oklahoma boosts playoff hopes after beating Baylor for its fifth Big 12 title in a row

  Oklahoma boosts playoff hopes after beating Baylor for its fifth Big 12 title in a row Oklahoma stayed in College Football Playoff position by beating Baylor for the Big 12 title. The Sooners must wait on results from SEC and Big Ten.The Sooners, who captured their fifth conference title in a row, were ranked sixth in the playoff committee's rankings last week. But with a loss by No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 title game and the potential loss of No. 4 Georgia to LSU in the SEC title game later Saturday, Oklahoma looks poised to move into the fourth spot.

Until recently, that was true for the United States as a whole. Leading the world in providing refuge to people fleeing war or oppression was long a source of bipartisan pride. From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every president in recent decades had sought to bolster the program, identifying it as a way to generate goodwill and prestige internationally while strengthening bonds in communities at home.

But not Trump. The president in September cut the annual number of new arrivals to a maximum of 18,000, a record low. He has repeatedly attacked refugees, suggesting they may be a “Trojan horse” intent on violence or a Muslim takeover. At an October rally in Minnesota, his supporters booed his mention of Somali refugees, then cheered when the president announced he had given states and cities the chance to block them from moving in.

“Believe me, no other president would be doing that,” Trump declared.

Yet as Utah’s response shows, there may be limits to how far even a Republican state and local officeholders are willing to go in following Trump’s nativist brand of politics. While many in Utah support the president’s attempts to crack down on undocumented immigrants, they draw a line at his stance toward people who have come to the United States legally after waiting their turn and undergoing thorough vetting.

Opinion: Why this year's College Football Playoff is the best in its history

  Opinion: Why this year's College Football Playoff is the best in its history With three unbeaten teams and a combined 51 wins and just one loss from the top four, this is college football's best postseason class ever.But there's never been a postseason quite like this: four teams, three unbeaten, carrying a total of 51 wins against just one loss, heads and shoulders above the rest of the Bowl Subdivision. In bringing together No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma, this year's College Football Playoff class represents the dream scenario in deciding the best team in the sport.

Since September, when Trump authorized the veto, reactions from state capitols and city halls have been more hospitable toward refugees than hostile.

Some leaders, such as the Republican governor of North Dakota, have affirmed their states want to continue receiving refugees as long as municipalities agree. Others, such as the Democratic governor of the swing state of Colorado, have said they will welcome any refugees that other states reject.

Only four years ago, in the wake of terrorist attacks in Europe that came amid a historically large influx of asylum seekers, 31 governors said they were opposed to allowing in Syrians asking for refuge.

This time, no governor or major city leader has taken Trump up on the offer to enact a ban — at least not yet. (Officials have until June to decide.)

Refugee advocates say the early responses reflect a softening of attitudes locally that is not always reflected in the hard-line stances of Trump or the hyperpartisan warfare of Washington.

“At the state level, it’s turning,” said Nazanin Ash, vice president of global policy at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). “There’s a definite movement toward embracing refugees.”

In Utah, the embrace is nothing new. The state’s 3 million-strong population is nearly 90 percent white, and it reliably goes Republican, with voters generally favoring the party’s policies on abortion, taxes and gun rights. Utah last sided with the Democrat in a presidential contest more than half a century ago.

Winners and losers from the final College Football Playoff rankings

  Winners and losers from the final College Football Playoff rankings Among the winners and losers from the College Football Playoff rankings, the field plus Virginia and Baylor had good day. Not so for Utah and Georgia.It'll be No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson will meet in the Fiesta Bowl. In the end, the only debate centered on which deserved to end up No. 1, and thereby avoiding a matchup in the semifinals against the defending national champions.

But the state is considerably less enamored of Trump than its GOP-loving reputation would suggest. In 2016, he won less than half the vote. Nearly a quarter of Utahns opted for native son Evan McMullin, a self-described “independent conservative” who had once worked at the United Nations’ refu­gee agency and who urged the United States not to close its borders to those most in need.

Utah’s population includes about 60,000 refugees, hailing from places such as Somalia, Congo, Syria, Iraq and Vietnam. Under Trump, the number of new arrivals has dropped precipitously, from 1,245 in 2016 to 421 last year. Still, Utah punches well above its weight, taking in more people per capita than large states such as California, Texas and New York.

When hatred toward refugees is running high elsewhere in the United States, it is not unusual for employees arriving at the IRC’s Salt Lake City office to find it has been tagged overnight not with slurs but with hearts and messages of affirmation.

“We don’t even know who’s doing it,” said executive director Natalie El-Deiry.

When the governor spoke out forcefully in defense of refugees, and against Trump’s cuts, no one was surprised. Jackie Biskupski, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City, said there are many issues on which she and the governor disagree. But refugees are not among them.

“It’s not a partisan issue in Utah,” said Biskupski, whose city of 200,000 is at the heart of a metro area that is the landing spot for most of the refugees who come to Utah. “I’m very grateful and proud of that.”

The GOP's bottom-line Trump defense: Get over it

  The GOP's bottom-line Trump defense: Get over it Analysis: Ultimately, most Republicans said Monday at the Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearing, they saw no evil and heard no evil — except when it came to Trump rival Joe Biden.Trump's fellow Republicans mounted a vigorous defense that held — all at once — he didn't do it, nothing he did was wrong and that they will impeach his rival for doing the same thing (even if it's not really the same thing) if the president eventually loses to that rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biskupski, who has three refugees on her staff at city hall, said there are many reasons support in Utah is nearly universal.

The state’s roaring economy generates a constant demand for new workers that refugees help to meet. There are well-funded systems that provide job training, language instruction and other support to refugees to ensure a successful integration. And the diversity that refugees bring is welcomed, adding vitality and variety to the state’s arts and cultural scene.

Biskupski said it is also impossible to ignore the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Nearly two-thirds of the state is Mormon. The group traces its presence in the territory that became modern Utah to a mid-19th-century flight from persecution in the eastern United States. That history helps shape its approach to refugees.

“It’s in the DNA of a lot of the residents of Utah, having pioneer forefathers who were driven from their homes because of their religious beliefs,” said Rick Foster, who manages the church’s global network of welfare operations, including support for refugees. “There’s an acute sensitivity to individuals who are suffering a similar plight.”

a person standing in front of a building: Apiel Kuot with her children, Nyantir, 11, and Aliet, 6, in Midvale.© Kim Raff for The Washington Post Apiel Kuot with her children, Nyantir, 11, and Aliet, 6, in Midvale.

Of course, escapes from persecution are a common thread in the ancestry of many Americans, from the Mayflower on down. But the Mormons make that narrative central to their teachings and connect it directly to the struggles of those seeking protection today.

Church leaders emphasize that refugees of all backgrounds are welcome — a departure from racist church policies of the recent past, including a ban on blacks in the priesthood that did not end until 1978.

The high percentage of young Mormons who perform missionary work abroad plays a role, as well. Utah may be landlocked, far from any international border. But its population has a comfort and familiarity with foreign cultures.

Trump denounces charges as Democrats announce articles of impeachment

  Trump denounces charges as Democrats announce articles of impeachment Trump lashed out against Democrats on Twitter after they announced articles of impeachment accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.In social media, television interviews, and public statements, Trump and his aides denounced the impeachment charges as baseless and politically motivated, and claimed he would be vindicated in a Senate trial.

“You walk down the street in Provo and you can ask people whether they speak a second language,” said Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), a member of the Mormon church. “Ninety percent of them will say yes.”

When Trump slashed refugee admittance numbers, which had peaked under the Obama administration at 110,000 annually, Curtis was among a small minority of Republican members of Congress who wrote to the president to object.

Curtis said he did not receive a response from the White House. The governor’s office declined to comment on its communications with the White House in response to Herbert’s letter. But in the past, the administration has defended its refu­gee cuts, saying they were necessary to focus attention on asylum seekers arriving at the Mexican border.

Curtis did not support Trump in 2016, opting for a write-in candidate instead. But he has voted with the president about 95 percent of the time in Congress. In an interview, he said he “regrets” that the refugee issue has become politicized while declining to criticize Trump for his part. “I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole,” he said.

Others are more blunt.

“The administration is trying to create division where none existed,” Aden Batar said.

Batar is the 52-year-old director of the refugee program at Catholic Community Services of Utah, one of two organizations, along with the IRC, that resettles new arrivals. He is also a refugee from Somalia who has raised four children in Utah after moving there a quarter-century ago.

“I’m a Muslim, but religion doesn’t divide us,” Batar said. “Catholics, Muslims, Jews, LDS. You name it, every religious organization here is helping refuges.”

When Batar was resettled in the small city of Logan, more than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, “there was no one who looked like me,” he said. “But no matter where you go in Utah, the community is very welcoming, very accepting.”

The politicians back up that attitude with funds and policies designed to allow smooth resettlements.

Unlike in states where refugees get only a few months of support, new arrivals in Utah have a case manager who helps guide them for two years. When refugees take their driver’s license test, an interpreter can come along for the ride. A state-run training center links new arrivals with available jobs and helps them boost their skills — everything from cooking to coding.

“My goal is not to put people into low-wage, dead-end jobs. It’s to put them on a career path,” said Asha Parekh, director of the state-funded Utah Refugee Services Office. Since the training center opened four years ago, the average wage for refugees in the state has risen from around $8 an hour to over $12, with graduates finding work in fields such as information technology and manufacturing. A half-dozen recent arrivals are in training to join the police force.

But the state’s support can do only so much when the White House’s cuts run so deep.

Parekh said that she now has far more employers looking for workers than there are refugees to fill those jobs.

Batar has had to downsize his staff in recent years as the number of new arrivals in Utah has fallen. The governor’s request notwithstanding, next year’s total could be even lower given the reduced federal cap. That is even as the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide climbs higher, to more than 70 million.

When Batar scans the schedule of upcoming arrivals, it is mostly a blank slate.

“We have the capacity — the volunteers, the jobs, the donations, the housing. We don’t have any shortage of resources,” he said. “We just don’t have the refugees.”

For some recent arrivals hoping to reunite with relatives waiting for their turn to come to the United States, that has been devastating.

Halimo Ahmed Hassan, 50, had to leave her son behind when she fled her native Somalia and, in 2014, came to the United States. She said he had been vetted to join her by the time Trump took office. But the president’s decision to implement a travel ban on people from Somalia, as well as six other nations, scuttled those plans.

Now, with so many people in line for so few resettlement slots, Hassan has no idea when she and her son, now 16, will be together again.

“I think about him all the time,” said Hassan, wiping away tears with the hem of her pink hijab. “All the other people in America have helped me. I don’t know why the president isn’t helping.”

a man and a woman sitting in a room© Provided by The Washington Post

Kuot, the 28-year-old who feared her children would be kidnapped when she first landed in Utah, has faced no such torment. Her children are with her, they speak fluent English and they are thriving in the public schools.

It is a far cry from her own childhood: She was born in present-day South Sudan and was a refugee in Kenya by the age of 4, her early life marked by violence, poverty and persecution.

Now she drives a minivan and lives in a two-bedroom apartment. “I feel safe,” Kuot said.

She is working part time as she raises her children, hones her computer skills and advances toward her GED. She plans to enroll in medical training and, someday soon, have a job in which she can assist others.

“People in Utah helped me and they didn’t even know me.” she said. “Why wouldn’t I do the same for people I don’t know?”

griff.witte@washpost.com

Trump denounces charges as Democrats announce articles of impeachment .
Trump lashed out against Democrats on Twitter after they announced articles of impeachment accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.In social media, television interviews, and public statements, Trump and his aides denounced the impeachment charges as baseless and politically motivated, and claimed he would be vindicated in a Senate trial.

Topical videos:

usr: 3
This is interesting!