Immigration Gets Tough In India

Grind for September 6th
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

– Mark Twain

Not Fair

The Headline

India publishes list of citizens to root out illegal immigrants

The Grind

The Indian government this week published an updated version of its National Register of Citizens (NRC), a list of individuals known to have arrived in Assam state before March 25th, 1971 – the day neighboring Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan.

The controversial list, which excludes 1.9 million people, was created in 1951 to determine who was born in Assam (and is therefore Indian) and who was not.

Individuals whose names do not appear on the list have 120 days to argue their case. Families that fail to provide proof of lineage are deemed illegal foreigners. Some have been declared foreigners due to differences in spellings of names or ages.

Those who lose their appeals in the courts face indefinite detention.

“I’d rather die than go to a detention center,” said Assam resident Asia Khatun, whose entire family was absent from the list. Scores of people have committed suicide since the process to update the NRC started in 2015.

The Details

Illegal immigration from Bangladesh, which shares a 2,400-mile long border with India, has been a major concern for years. According to government estimates, there are more than 20 million illegals living in India.

In addition to the NRC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has detained thousands of people and is holding them in temporary shelters located inside prisons.

“People whose names are not on the final list are really anxious about what lies ahead,” says author Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty. “One of the reasons is that the Foreigners Tribunal does not have a good reputation, and many people are worried that they will have to go through this process.”

Since 1964, India’s courts have deemed more than 100,000 people foreigners. A recent investigation shows that Muslims are more likely to be declared foreigners and that in up to 78% of rulings, the accused did not appear in court and was unaware that a trial was being held.

As it stands, Bangladesh is refusing to accept deportees.

Turning A New Leaf

The Headline

DEA to expand opportunities for researchers to study marijuana (finally)

The Grind

As more states vote to legalize marijuana, the DEA has finally agreed to expand the number of authorized growers.

The announcement is a promise that dates back to 1968, when the US government decided to allow a single facility in Mississippi to grow and study marijuana.

That means researchers were limited to studying low-quality “Mississippi ditch weed.”

“We have a situation where there are thousands of different phenotypes of cannabis being sold throughout the regulated market, the illicit market, and that’s the material we would like to work with,” says Sue Sisley, a marijuana researcher at the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI).

“Scientists want to understand or be able to replicate what patients are using in the real world because patients are claiming to have these transformative experiences with cannabis.”

The Details

The DEA in 2016 said it would expand the number of authorized growers to 33, but ignored all applications. This summer, the SRI sued the DEA and demanded a response by August 28th.

Two days before the deadline, the agency posted an announcement in the Federal Register:

“DEA is making progress is the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research…and will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite necessary next steps.”

According to the notice, the DEA is working on a new set of rules before it approves new growers.

“Now we just need to keep the DEA’s feet to the fire and make sure they follow their own timelines they laid out in today’s public notice,” says Sisley. “It’s going to take a long time to get access to newly cultivated cannabis material for research, but at least that door is now kicked open.”

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