Monthly Archives: August 2019

Rumors the US will stop admitting any refugees

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North Korean Joseph Kim lost his father to starvation, his mother to prison, and his sister was sold off. He was homeless and starving by age 12 and dreamed of “living a day with three meals.”

Kim managed to escape North Korea and made it to the U.S. as a refugee.

Recently, reports have emerged that the Trump administration is considering lowering the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to zero.

“Living up to our moral responsibilities and principles is how we sustain and preserve our humanity. And improving the quality of other people’s lives, including those of refugees, helps our own lives,” Kim wrote in a recent essay in the Catalyst.

Many faith groups have pointed out that the rumored cut would effectively eliminate the country’s refugee resettlement program altogether, according to Politico.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement site still states, “U.S. policy allows refugees of special humanitarian concern entrance into our country, reflecting our core values and our tradition of being a safe haven for the oppressed.” But the latest rumors from within the Trump administration have thrown this core value into question, especially for the religious groups that have traditionally worked as partners with the federal government to serve refugees once they arrive in the United States.

Last year, the U.S. officially accepted the lowest number of refugees since 1980,  when their refugee admissions program was established. Only a couple years back (2017), a ceiling of 110,000 was set by former President Barack Obama before Donald Trump took office.

[Deseret News]

North Korean soldier defects after crossing DMZ

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South Korea has detained a North Korean soldier who crossed the heavily guarded demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas.

He was detected by thermal imaging equipment, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC). The unidentified man was an active-duty soldier who expressed interest in defecting to Seoul, said the JCS.

The man was first detected late at around midnight on Wednesday near the Imjin river, which flows from North Korea into South Korea across the DMZ on the west of the peninsula. He was picked up by South Korean troops and taken into military custody.

While dozens of people escape North Korea every year, defections across the DMZ are extremely dangerous and rare. In November 2017, a North Korean soldier was shot at 40 times by his fellow troops as he crossed the zone, but lived to fulfill his escape.


North Korea’s missile tests raise stakes for Trump’s personal diplomacy with Kim

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North Korea’s return to missile testing after a long hiatus raises the stakes for President Trump ahead of planned nuclear negotiations, undermining his claim that his personal relationship with dictator Kim Jong Un has reduced the threat from North Korea and made Asian allies safer.

The short-range weapons are a threat to U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, or potentially to U.S. forces in the region. North Korea says its testing is a warning to South Korea, which is resuming joint military exercises with the United States in August and is also acquiring American F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The challenge from Kim to Trump is also clear and appears aimed at squeezing concessions from the U.S. leader when negotiators meet after months of delay. That session is expected soon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

In an interview Wednesday evening on Fox Business Network, national security adviser John Bolton said the tests do not break a pledge Kim made to Trump that he would not test intercontinental ballistic missiles. He added a note of caution, “You have to ask if, when, the real diplomacy is going to begin, when the working-level discussions on denuclearization will begin.”

Trump downplayed a similar launch last week, saying many nations test short-range weapons. “My relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good one, as I’m sure you’ve seen,” Trump said Tuesday, hours before the latest launch. “We’ll see what happens. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I know one thing: that if [Hillary Clinton] was president … you would be in a major war right now with North Korea.” Trump added, “I have a good relationship with [Kim Jong Un]. I like him; he likes me,” Trump said Tuesday. “We’ll see what happens.”

Kim’s calculation may be that the tests unnerve and weaken both the United States and South Korea, but that Trump would not retaliate by canceling talks or taking other actions so long as Kim does not directly confront or insult him.

[Washington Post]