Thursday, March 8, 2018

Q Toon: Spirit of St. Louis

The government of Israel has decided to deport some LGBT asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda, where they face likely persecution.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Mar 8, 2018

In Uganda, it’s illegal – “against the law of nature” – to be LGBT, and this may put the deported migrants in harm’s way.
In Rwanda, the legal situation is murkier but there are recorded instances of harassment, physical abuse and arbitrary arrests, said Shira Kupfer, adjunct professor and head of a program for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers coordinator by The Aguda – LGBT Task Force. 
“If you deport LGBT refugees to one of these countries, you’re putting them at danger to them, to their lives,” Kupfer told the Jerusalem Post. ...
 In an asylum application from 2016, an LGBT migrant said he was raped and assaulted in his country of origin because of his sexual orientation, Haaretz reported. 
In that case, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommended asylum, however, the Interior Ministry refused to grant refugee status.
This is not a case of antigay bias on Israel's part. Indeed, Israel's record on LGBT rights is head and shoulders above any of its neighbors. Moreover, Israel rejects 99% of asylum requests overall. In these cases, which actually involve refugees from Eritrea and Sudan rather than the countries to which Israel is sending them, the Israeli government claims that the asylum seekers are fleeing poverty and war, not antigay persecution.

Which just makes shipping them to countries where they will face antigay persecution all the more reprehensible.

Drawing this week's cartoon, I wrestled with the problem of how much explanation of the MS St. Louis I needed to include. I can't include links to reference material in my cartoons (well, I could do that here on line, but hyperlinks don't work as well in print).

In some quarters, the story of the ship on which 900 German Jews attempted to flee Nazi persecution in 1939, only to be turned away from Havana, then Miami, forcing their return to Europe, is well known. But most Americans have never seen "Voyage of the Damned," let alone been taught about one of the darkest stains on U.S. immigration policy, pre-Trump.
Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, some passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never responded. The State Department and the White House had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must "await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." ... 
Roosevelt was not alone in his reluctance to challenge the mood of the nation on the immigration issue. Three months before the St. Louis sailed, Congressional leaders in both US houses allowed to die in committee a bill sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner (D-N.Y.) and Representative Edith Rogers (R-Mass.). This bill would have admitted 20,000 Jewish children from Germany above the existing quota.
Happily, most of the St. Louis's passengers were able to disembark in England, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, but World War II would soon envelop most of the continent. Of the 532 passengers trapped in Nazi-occupied Europe, 254 would not survive the war.

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