Constant Tide of Migrants at Sea, and at Turkish CemeteryBy CEYLAN YEGINSU - FEB. 13, 2016
An imam recited from the Koran at Dogancay Cemetery in Izmir as Turkish municipal workers buried the body of a migrant from Swaida, Syria, who drowned at sea. Credit Bryan Denton for The New YorkIZMIR, Turkey — City workers shoveled dirt over the two coffins, one at a time, as an imam, in plaintive and meditative tones, sang prayers in Arabic.
“Our Lord, forgive us our sins and remit us from our evil deeds,” he said.
The solemnity of the occasion was made more so for what was absent — tears, loved ones or even the names of the dead, who are each identified only by a number.
Etched on one slab of wood: 42453.
Etched on the other: 42454.
For hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled wars in the Middle East for safety in Europe, this coastal city has been a place of departure. But for hundreds of others, it has become a final resting place.
“We are now faced with entire families drowning at sea, with no one left to claim them,” said Ahmet Altan, the imam at Dogancay Cemetery, which has put aside land to bury the unknown migrants who lose their lives at sea.
As NATO dispatches warships to the Aegean Sea in a new effort to contain the flow of refugees coming through Turkey and on to Europe, the deaths keep piling up: at least 400 so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Already in 2016, more than 76,000 people — nearly 3,000 a day — have arrived in Greece from Turkey.
Bilal and Kholoud, who are Syrian refugees, with their children, from left, Rihab 10, Ibrahim, 6, and Domou, 8, in Izmir, Turkey. They survived when a boat they were on capsized in freezing water en route to Greece. Three young relatives of theirs died on the journey. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York TimesIncreased patrols by the Turkish coast guard, plummeting temperatures and stormy seas — all factors that officials believed would lead to fewer crossings — have seemed to have little effect on the numbers.
If anything, there has been a surge in departures in recent weeks, as desperate refugees have taken advantage of the lower prices that smugglers typically charge during winter, when the journey is riskier than it is in summer. Those numbers could rise further, with a new wave of what Turkish officials say is now at least 100,000 refugees fleeing heavy Russian bombing raids and a Syrian government offensive near Aleppo this week.
“We have no choice but to leave now,” said Mahdi, 36, a Syrian refugee and former teacher who prepared to make the journey with his wife and two children, ages 11 months and 3. “It’s already hard to get to Europe, and it’s going to get harder because these countries prefer that we drown than live on their lands.”
On a recent day here, Bilal, 35, a Syrian refugee who gave only his first name, set out for Greece on a rickety wooden boat with his wife and three children, ages 10, 8 and 6. When they set off, the boat, which he said had a capacity of 30 people, was packed with 36 adults and 15 children.
“The motor couldn’t handle the weight, and halfway into the journey it stopped working,” Bilal recalled. “The next thing we knew, the boat had capsized and we were all in the freezing cold water.”
His wife grabbed on to two of their children and attached their life jackets to his. He took the other child, but neither of them could swim and the strong current caused them to drift away from one another, he said.
“We were in the water for over two hours before the coast guard came, and one by one, the people around us died.”
Bilal’s son, Ibrahim, 6, started vomiting blood and his daughter lost consciousness, but the family survived. His cousin’s three young children, who were also on the boat, were among the 18 passengers who died.
“Death has become our destiny,” said Kholoud, Bilal’s wife. “Either you die in Syria from shelling or you die at sea.”
An imam in Izmir, Turkey, leads prayers for a migrant who died while trying to cross to Europe. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York TimesAt least they survived. The full extent of the humanitarian crisis can be seen at Izmir’s largest morgue, which recently exceeded capacity and is expanding its facility to make more room. Pictures of the deceased migrants show a majority of the victims to be children, some as young as 4 months.
“The hardest part of this job is receiving the children,” an official at the morgue said without giving his name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “They are at the age when they should be splashing about in the sea and playing, but instead their lifeless bodies are being washed up ashore one by one.”
He explained that once the bodies of drowned migrants arrive at the morgue, they are kept for 15 days to allow families time to claim them. If they are not identified within that period, the forensics department carries out an autopsy and records the DNA.
Each body is bathed and shrouded, in line with Islamic rites, before being sent to the cemetery where the imams carry out a full Islamic funeral.
“We decided to give the migrants their own cemetery to make the identification process as easy as possible, even after the bodies are buried,” Mr. Altan, the imam, said. “We have a whole system in place for the families to identify the bodies for up to 100 years.”
The four imams who work at the cemetery carry out an average of five funerals each a day, for Turkish citizens and migrants. They say that they are haunted by the number of unidentified migrant burials they have carried out in the past year.
“I broke down when I buried a 3-month old baby,” Mr. Altan said. “I couldn’t help myself. It’s hard to accept, because these deaths can be prevented by politicians, but they won’t stop and it’s getting worse.”
After a three-day storm here, hundreds of migrants flocked to various departure points across the coast, desperate to leave before the next wave of bad weather. Qamar, a mother of three, clutched her 5-month-old baby as she stood by the window of a cafe, her eyes fixed on the sea.
“I’m terrified for my children, but this is a gamble we have to take,” she said. “Many people die, but many more make it. God will decide what happens to us.”
Karam Shoumali contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2016, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: As Death Toll Mounts, Turkey Gives Migrants a Final Resting Place
Tempelhof Airport, Once a Lifeline for Berliners, Reprises Role for RefugeesBy ALISON SMALE - FEB. 10, 2016
The Tempelhof Airport was used by the Americans to run the airlift that saved West Berlin from a Soviet blockade. Now it is in the throes of becoming Germany’s largest refugee center. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York TimesBERLIN — The Prussians once paraded on the grounds that are now Tempelhof. Then, in the 1930s, the architect Ernst Sagebiel took what was a modest airfield and conceived the site as a gigantic entrance to Hitler’s new Germany.
Later, his brainchild — what the architect Norman Foster has called “the mother of all airports” — was used by the United States and its allies to run the airlift that saved West Berlin from a Soviet blockade.
Tempelhof’s sweep and size, as well as its location in the center of Berlin, are so impressive that everything down to the airport signs and now disused luggage conveyors remain under legal protection as a monument.
All its life, in fact, Tempelhof Airport has been writing chapters of the history of Berlin. So it was perhaps inevitable that it would land a leading role in the current one.
Today, it is in the throes of becoming Germany’s largest refugee center. For Tempelhof, that spells yet another transformation.
The new mission for the airport, which could house up to 7,000 refugees when work is completed, has thrust employees here into improvised roles. They must figure out how to shelter, feed, heat, entertain and aid the new arrivals from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
One of the hangars where refugees are accommodated in sparse 25-square-meter units formed by temporary screens, with six double bunk beds sleeping 12. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times“There is no blueprint for something like this,” said Michael Elias, who leads the company, Tamaja, that runs the refugee facilities, organizing everything from security to cleaning and the catering that delivers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“At the beginning, you can only make mistakes,” added Mr. Elias, 46, who came as a child to Germany from Lebanon.
His office looks down on one of the four gaping 52-foot-high hangars where up to 800 refugees are currently accommodated in sparse 270-square-foot spaces formed by temporary screens. Six double bunk beds sleeping 12 are squeezed into these spaces, with no room for a spare chair.
“It’s not space designed for living,” Constanze Döll, a spokeswoman, noted of Tempelhof Projekt, the city agency that is responsible for the overall development. “It’s an aircraft hangar.”
Indeed, under the Nazis, imprisoned laborers were forced to build aircraft in these hangars.
In 1948 and 1949, American C-47s brought in millions of tons of food, coal and other supplies for the Berlin airlift, in an operation that, at its height, saw planes landing every 90 seconds.
Holger Lippmann, 52, leads the Tempelhof Projekt. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York TimesMany of the aircraft scattered small parachutes with raisins and chocolates. The “raisin bombers,” as they were dubbed, are still fondly remembered in a city that has both loved and hated the Americans.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States military operated here, along with civilian flights. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the American military gradually withdrew.
As the newly united Berlin melded its western and eastern halves, various uses were discussed for Tempelhof. But, in classic Berlin fashion, none were ever really decided. In the latest referendum in 2014, Berliners rejected a plan to build 4,700 homes while leaving up to 85 percent of its vast green space open.
City planners who may have cursed that missed opportunity to build needed housing are now at least partly relieved; where permanent houses might have gone up, they can now erect prefab housing for refugees not housed in hangars.
Holger Lippmann, 52, who leads the Tempelhof Projekt, has certainly felt the effects of the airport’s evolving fate. He came to the job in the summer of 2015 as a place holder, having previously been charged, for 13 years, with selling off land the city thought it did not need.
Now he will stay at least two years and is among those interested in preserving every inch of city land to house not just refugees but the increasing number of families staying in Berlin, or moving here, squeezing housing and schools.
For Mr. Lippmann and Mr. Elias, their part in Tempelhof’s saga came suddenly. On the night of Oct. 23-24, they were told to ready a hangar for refugees.
“Back then, 16,000 or more refugees were arriving at the Bavarian border each night,” Mr. Lippmann said. “They would put them in buses, then drivers would call us from the autobahn, saying they would be in Berlin in three hours. And in that time, you have to get the fire brigade, the police, even the army, and the volunteers organized.”
Neither he nor Mr. Elias could give costs to date, or future costs, of the program. “A lot,” Mr. Elias said, when asked. Mr. Lippmann said just heating the inhabited hangars costs 20,000 euros a day, or about $26,000.
A recent visit on a fairly mild, windy day yielded glimpses of refugees, many on cellphones, others lying listless in their cramped bunks, and children being entertained by volunteers from a circus group and the charity Save the Children.
Dozens of new units, each containing a toilet, washbasin and shower for individual use, awaited hookup. They were purchased after refugees, particularly women, declined to use communal showers.
Almost each day brings a new challenge. After hundreds of women were assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Cologne by young men said to be migrants, women who work in more than 100 offices here became fearful.
Tempelhof currently accommodates up to 800 refugees and could house up to 7,000 refugees when work is completed. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times“After Cologne, we have a special sensitivity and worry,” Mr. Lippmann said.
Employees once engaged in staging money-earning events — TV galas or fashion shows, for example — in Tempelhof are now busy undoing those contracts, and assessing refugee needs.
There are still reminders of the American military presence here. A sign says this hangar was once part of “Berlin Brigade/Freedom City,” of the United States Army Aviation Department.
“High Noise Protection Required,” says another sign, in a hangar whose vastness mutes any buzz from the 800 or so refugees currently accommodated there.
The refugees have already added their own layer to Tempelhof’s archaeology: graffiti on the white walls with simple messages or flags and emblems of Iraq, Kurdistan and Afghanistan.
“I love you Syria,” says one. “Thank you Germane,” says another, with a heart, referring to Germany. Still another: “Love love love.” And a smiling face with the word “Hapee” next to it.
Ideally, Mr. Elias said, refugees should spend just a few weeks here before moving through the system. He likens Germany to a society that used to cook with just salt and pepper.
“Now,” he said, “we have a real potpourri.” The influx, he added, “is positive — society is thinking about what kind of values it holds dear.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: An Old Lifeline Reprises Its Role for Refugees .
Young Bombers Kill 58 at Nigerian Camp for Those Fleeing Boko HaramBy USAM SADIQ AL-AMIN and DIONNE SEARCEY - FEB. 10,
Suicide Bombers Strike Nigerian Camp
Two female suicide bombers killed dozens at a camp for people fleeing the militant group Boko Haram, and a third suspect surrendered to the authorities.
By REUTERS on Publish Date February 11, 2016. Photo by Jossy Ola/Associated Press. Watch in Times Video »MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — When three girls showed up Monday at a camp for people who had fled the militant group Boko Haram, they were welcomed and offered a place to sleep.
But early Tuesday morning, as the first light spread across the sprawling camp, two of the girls blew themselves up with bombs they had been concealing, killing 58 people and wounding 78.
The victims were among the more than 50,000 people who had been forced from their homes by Boko Haram’s rampages, only to be confronted with the same horror in the very place they had sought refuge.
The episode at the Dikwa camp for displaced persons follows a pattern of murderous attacks that Boko Haram has carried out since the Nigerian military began rooting the militants from strongholds across the northern part of the country.
Yet Tuesday’s attack could have been worse. One of the would-be bombers recognized her parents and siblings in the camp and decided not to detonate her device, according to Sani Datti of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Instead, the girl surrendered to the authorities and warned that future attacks were being planned for the camp, according to other emergency officials.
Since taking office, President Muhammadu Buhari has made destroying Boko Haram a chief imperative. His reorganization of the military and new cooperation with countries that neighbor the north of Nigeria has proved effective. The new offensive has scattered fighters who once dominated numerous villages.
Yet while on the run in recent months, members of the group have managed to carry out assaults across the country’s north as well as across national borders that have left hundreds dead. This month, in the village of Dalori near here, Boko Haram burned homes, massacred civilians and abducted children.
The Islamist extremist group has long used suicide bombers but increasingly has deployed women and young girls. The explosives they carry are often concealed under religious gowns. Boko Haram has been shifting tactics with bombers, hiding explosives in a bag of okra in one attack, and having attackers pretend to be mentally ill.
The group has also attacked camps established for people who have fled its violence. Last fall, a bomb killed seven people at the Malkohi camp in a neighboring state.
The attack Tuesday on the Dikwa camp was apparently carried out in revenge after Nigerian soldiers had stormed a market that Boko Haram was operating in the village of Boboshe.
Soldiers killed 100 Boko Haram members during the raid, local officials said, and freed as many as 1,000 women and girls who were being held, some as sex slaves. The women and girls were taken to the Dikwa camp.
Officials have been relocating people from the camp back to home villages that have been declared safe from Boko Haram.
Usam Sadiq Al-Amin reported from Maiduguri, and Dionne Searcey from Dakar, Senegal.
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Young Bombers Kill 58 at Nigerian Refugee Camp.
A Three-Ring Circus in Finland: Soldiers, ‘Loldiers’ and Asylum SeekersBy RICHARD MARTYN-HEMPHILL - FEB. 9, 2016
Members of the Soldiers of Odin patrolled last month in Tampere. The group of about 50 emerged in Finland’s third-largest city over the past few weeks. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York TimesTAMPERE, Finland — A surreal political circus is wheeling its way through the frosty streets of Finland’s third-largest city.
In one ring is the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right, leather-clad vigilante patrol named for a Norse deity, which has taken upon itself the task of protecting Tampere from the 1,200 or so people seeking asylum here from Syria, Iraq and other places.
In another is a troupe of clowns who skip through the streets carrying lollipops, feather dusters and toilet brushes, mocking and sometimes confronting anti-immigrant groups, including the soldiers. The clowns call themselves the Loldiers of Odin and have emerged on the scene in the past few weeks as champions of multiculturalism.
And so it goes as this industrial town — which some call Finland’s “capital of comedy” — and much of Europe grapple with the influx of newcomers from the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
It started with the Soldiers of Odin, a group that began in Kemi, a town on the fringe of Lapland near the Arctic Circle that saw thousands of asylum seekers coming through from the Swedish border in late 2015. Now the group is organized in as many as 25 cities in Finland, and a Facebook group for the soldiers has been formed in Norway.
In Tampere, members of the group patrol the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods three times a week, though, so far, their only contribution to law enforcement has been to call the police after encountering a drunken Finn.
“We are a patrol group looking out for the safety of people, the safety of women,” said the group’s local leader, a 37-year-old electrician who spoke on the condition that he be identified by only his first name, Tony.
Enter the Loldiers, to the accompanying tunes of a decrepit accordion and with one clown portraying Odin as a bearded buffoon in a dressing gown and a plastic horned faux-Viking hat. The clowns first rambled into the soldiers’ path on a recent weekend patrol, honking horns and singing nursery rhymes.
The next Saturday, the Loldiers tried to repeat the trick at a nationalist rally. The police were not amused and arrested two of the clowns for disturbing the demonstration.
Members of the Loldiers of Odin last month in Tampere. The troupe of clowns is dedicated to mocking the Soldiers of Odin and other nationalists in the country. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York TimesJussi Jalonen, a local historian who studies extreme right-wing movements, said the clown troupe was employing the art of parody in an attempt to make anti-immigration fervor and the vigilante patrols appear ridiculous.
“They are basically a performance group who are protesting — peacefully and by the means of comedy — against the extreme right,” he said.
The clowns declined to break character to give interviews, though the clown who was arrested at the demonstration said afterward that he had made the police laugh when he was taken to the station. “It was lovely,” the clown said of his arrest.
Some of the anti-immigration demonstrators dismissed the clowns as anarchists. They said that just as in Batman’s Gotham City, the heroes are the vigilantes, and the clowns are the villains.
The Koukkuniemi Center in Tampere, which hosts asylum seekers. About 1,200 men, women and children have sought refuge in the city. CreditIlvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times“They are trying to provoke the Soldiers of Odin to hit them, so they will take the blame,” said one of the anti-immigration protesters, who was waving a flaming torch and identified himself only as Jarkko, a 36-year-old construction worker. “But the Soldiers of Odin have kept their cool and have not responded to their provocations.”
The Soldiers of Odin were not visible at the demonstration, though some of the marchers said some members might have been there but not in their trademark leather jackets with images of Odin on the back.
The Soldiers of Odin say they are undaunted by the arrival of the clowns, promising more marches when the snow melts in the spring and when new arrivals are expected.
“They are not giving us trouble,” said Tony, the leader of the Tampere division of the Soldiers of Odin. “They are making trouble for themselves.”
An anti-racism march that also commemorated victims of the Holocaust last month in Tampere. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York TimesHis small vanguard of 50 soldiers emerged in Tampere over the past few weeks, playing off resentment of the elite, distrust of the Finnish news media, frustration over growing unemployment and fear prompted by a sudden influx of foreigners — all coming alongside accompanying reports of sexual assaults and terrorist attacks across the Continent in 2015.
Some members of the group, including the organization’s leadership in Kemi, according to reports in the local newspaper Aamulehti, are committed neo-Nazis, and some members hold criminal records for domestic abuse.
“They write that we are Nazis, but that is not true,” Tony said. “The group is not a Nazi group. The group is a patrol group.”
He said his group is well disciplined and imposes strict codes of conduct on members, though he declined to be specific.
The industrial town of Tampere — which some call Finland’s “capital of comedy” — and much of Europe are grappling with the influx of newcomers from the Middle East, Africa and beyond. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times“We look very carefully who comes and who doesn’t,” he said, referring to those allowed to participate in the patrols.
Out on a midnight patrol, a new soldier who calls himself Sami, 42, a paramedic and a father of four, said the group had been wrongly portrayed by the news media.
“They are making stories that put these guys in a bad light,” said Sami, declining to give his last name out of concern that reporters would call him at work or home, as he trudged through the slush, watching for trouble.
He has a black jacket, but he has not been in the group long enough to earn the Odin insignia on the back. “I don’t think that the police have enough resources,” he said.
Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen said most people in Tampere view the influx of migrants with a mix of generosity and pragmatism. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York TimesThe 1,200 new asylum seekers seem to be well aware that they are the subject of considerable controversy and fear. “Some of them are afraid of us,” said Ahmed Ramzi al-Bayati, 22, an asylum seeker from Iraq. “When they see us, they step aside.”
But he said he has nonetheless been made to feel welcome by volunteers and instances of local hospitality.
“I think they are afraid for their country,” he said of the Finns. “They don’t want anyone to demolish it after what they did to build it. No one wants that. But if they see the good side of us ...,” he trailed off and smiled.
Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen said most people in Tampere view the influx of migrants with a moderate mix of generosity and pragmatism that belies the extremism on both sides of the issues. “I hope we won’t see this polarization going any further,” she said.
Vigilante patrols “definitely are not the tradition,” she said, stressing that she “has always felt safe” in her city, but that on the other hand, taking to the streets dressed in a clown suit was “probably not my way of doing things.”
Taina Kopra, the ringmaster of the local Sorin Circus and an experienced clown teacher, reviewed videos of the clowns at a demonstration in Tampere and found their performance wanting because they were inconsistent in sticking to their characters.
“It may not be good clowning,” she said, “but it certainly seems they got their message across.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 10, 2016, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: A Three-Ring Circus in Finland: Soldiers, ‘Loldiers’ and Refugees.
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona Shifts Focus From Immigration DebateBy FERNANDA SANTOS - FEB. 9, 2016
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona greeting Claudia Pavlovich, the governor of Sonora, Mexico, in December in Phoenix. Credit Caitlin O'Hara for The New York TimesPHOENIX — When Doug Ducey ran for governor of this border state, he accused President Obama of “dithering far too long” on immigration and vowed to “fight back” against illegal border crossers, pledging to use every resource at his command: “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors.”
Now in his second year as the governor of Arizona — a state at the forefront of immigration and border issues, with a growing Latino population — Mr. Ducey, a Republican, has done none of that. He has avoided pressures from his party’s presidential candidates even after one of them, Donald J. Trump, twice visited the state to promote the “big” and “beautiful” wall he said he would build to keep illegal immigrants away if he was elected.
“I want this state to be known for what it is, the land of opportunity,” Mr. Ducey said in an interview. “So our main focus is our economy and our education system.”
But he may soon have to wade into the divisive immigration debate, which is again coloring Arizona’s legislative session and bringing angry crowds of protesters to the Capitol’s lawn and hearing rooms.
State Senator Martín J. Quezada spoke at a rally protesting immigration legislation last month outside the Capitol in Phoenix. Credit Caitlin O'Hara for The New York TimesOne bill would punish communities that offer sanctuary to unauthorized immigrants facing deportation; those communities’ share of state revenues would be withheld. Another measure would require judges to sentence undocumented immigrants to the fullest possible term in prison for whatever crime they committed. A Senate committee approved both on Feb. 3 in party-line votes.
A third bill, which would impose citizenship and legal residency requirements for municipal identification cards, cleared three Senate committees in three weeks with blanket support from Republican lawmakers, underscoring their priorities here in an election year.
“It’s tough to propose new illegal immigration bills in Arizona, because we’ve pretty much done them all,” said State Senator John Kavanagh, a retired Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer who found a second calling as a leading conservative in Arizona.
Already, the state has one of the nation’s toughest stances on illegal immigration. It has battled in state and federal courts to deny driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who were granted deferred deportation by Mr. Obama. It is home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who made a name for himself as an unapologetic pursuer of unauthorized migrants. And it ushered in a harsh new wave of immigration enforcement when it gave the police broad powers to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally — passing the “show me your papers” law in 2010.
Mr. Kavanagh was among the crucial supporters of the measure, which Mr. Ducey’s predecessor, Jan Brewer, approved. The legislation divided a state already scarred by years of targeted enforcement against Latinos, who make up one-third of the population.
The municipal identification bill, which Mr. Kavanagh also sponsored, “is primarily to protect the integrity of government ID cards,” he said, “but it does have an impact on illegal immigration, because it prevents illegal immigrants from getting one of those cards.”
Mr. Ducey has not said a word about this or the other immigration bills. But people on both sides of the immigration debate are eagerly awaiting any action he might take on the measures. They could serve as a litmus test for his positions on the subject, which, as governor, he has deftly avoided articulating.
If the bills hit Mr. Ducey’s desk, “will he sign them?” asked State Senator Martín J. Quezada, a Democratic leader in the Republican-controlled Legislature, whose district includes the Maryvale section of Phoenix, where three in four residents are Latino. “Remember, just because he can, it doesn’t mean that he should.”
Mr. Ducey is “focused on the priorities he laid out in his State of the State address” on Jan. 11, said his spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato. They include overhauling Arizona’s beleaguered foster care system and opening a corrections center to offer intensive drug treatment and other services to certain inmates in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous.
He also proposed spending $31.5 million to send 200 state troopers after drug smugglers along the border, the only border-related program he has championed so far. The scope of the effort is a far cry from the $800 million that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, also a Republican, secured from his state’s Legislature last year to extend indefinitely the deployment of National Guard troops and air and ground surveillance along the Rio Grande Valley, which has faced questions over its cost and results.
United States Border Patrol agents at a border fence in Nogales, Ariz., in 2014. Credit John Moore/Getty Images“Our goal, because of limited resources, was going after what was most hurtful, and that was why we went after the drug cartels,” Mr. Ducey said in the interview, drawing a distinction between his and Mr. Abbott’s approaches.
And while Mr. Abbott explained his plan as necessary to counter the federal government’s “apathetic response to border security,” Mr. Ducey characterized his plan for state troopers to target drug smugglers as “adding state muscle” to the 4,000 federal Border Patrol agents in Arizona.
“Where there’s an opportunity to work together to get results for the citizens of the state of Arizona, to increase public safety,” he said, “I think that’s my responsibility as governor to take advantage.”
Mr. Ducey had the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, an Obama appointee, by his side when he announced the border program from the State Capitol in November. That was a clear departure from Ms. Brewer, who is still well remembered for wagging a finger at Mr. Obama on an airport tarmac.
In an interview, Ms. Brewer said her successor should use his bully pulpit to “tell the federal government to secure our border, then we can deal with all the other problems that are upon us as a country.”
He has been handing out olive branches instead.
When Mr. Ducey met Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson early last year, he said by way of introduction, “This is a new administration, and I’d like a fresh start.” In June, Mr. Ducey led a trade mission to Mexico City, the first Arizona governor to do so in a decade, then traveled to Sonora, Mexico, three months later to attend the inauguration of his counterpart across the border.
Immigration advocates have been cautiously watching from the sidelines, unsure what to make of him just yet.
“At least he isn’t using the hate speech we heard so often from Governor Brewer,” said Viridiana González, who leads a coalition of community groups opposing Mr. Kavanagh’s bill, after a protest of the legislation last month.
State Representative Bruce Wheeler, a Democrat from Tucson who is assistant minority whip, said in an interview, “I don’t know if what we’re witnessing is a change in substance or a change of style, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Mr. Ducey made no mention of illegal immigrants as he outlined his border proposal, which he carefully framed around the heavy toll heroin addiction has exacted in Arizona.
“This is not Arizona’s problem,” Mr. Ducey said. “This is America’s problem.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 10, 2016, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Arizona May Face New Pressure After Shifting Immigration Focus.
New Jersey Mayor’s One-Man Mission to Help Cuban Migrants Draws ScrutinyBy LIZ ROBBINS - FEB. 15, 2016
Felix Roque, a pain specialist and the mayor of West New York, N.J., in his clinic office. He has established his own makeshift refugee agency, calling it La Ruta de Roque. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York TimesFelix Roque was impatient. At the end of December, Dr. Roque, a pain specialist and the mayor of West New York, N.J., canceled his appointments and got on a plane to Costa Rica.
He was a man on a personal mission: Thousands of Cuban migrants had piled up in Central America, hoping to use a Cold War quirk in immigration law to come to the United States. He aimed to pave the way.
As government officials counseled patience, and international refugee agencies said they were working on a solution, the Cuban-born Dr. Roque jumped in, spending more than $200,000 of his money helping more than 150 Cubans en route to the United States, including bringing 10 to North Jersey, with more to come.
Dr. Roque even gave a name to his makeshift refugee agency — calling it La Ruta de Roque, the Route of Roque.
“I can’t wait for the bureaucracy,” Dr. Roque, 59, said in his clinic office this month. “If you can’t help these people, let me try it.”
Government officials and international refugee officials in Costa Rica, however, view Dr. Roque as interfering, saying he was “throwing a monkey wrench” into the refugee system.
The waiting room of Dr. Roque’s office in Union City, N.J. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York TimesDr. Roque has criticized the government’s slowness and has paid out of his own pocket for food, lodging and medicine for migrants, as well as bus tickets for those who were out of money once they crossed the border into the United States.
“I jumped into the water without knowing what this was all about,” Dr. Roque, who came to New Jersey when he was 11, said. “Honest to God, I had no clue what I was doing, and I wing it.”
“I know I’m nuts,” he added, showing text messages of thanks from Cubans, “but at the end of the day, I really believe I’m making a difference.”
Some, however, say he is causing more problems than he is solving.
Roeland de Wilde, the chief of mission in Costa Rica for the International Organization for Migration, said Dr. Roque’s efforts through a third party — a Costa Rican travel agent — failed to coordinate with migration authorities or emergency management officials. He said he spoke with Dr. Roque in December and urged him to send a message to Cubans to wait for the governments to act.
This month, the Costa Rican government arranged with the Mexican government for Cuban migrants to fly to Mexico and be bused to the border with the United States.
After a dispute with the agent Dr. Roque used over the pricing of the flights, Costa Rican officials said at a news conference last week that the government was not profiting off them and urged Cuban migrants to take the official flights or the program would be canceled. Flights have since been full.
The current wave of Cuban migration traces back to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966: If Cubans set foot on American soil, they were eligible for permanent residency one year and a day later. But if they were caught on the water — traveling by boat to Florida — they had to return.
As relations between the two countries normalized, starting in 2014, some Cubans worried that their special status would end, so thousands sought to leave. Unable to apply directly for visas to the United States, many flew to Ecuador, hopscotching their way north by land to Texas. But the governments in Central America were not prepared for the onslaught. In December, Ecuador began requiring travel visas.
Alonso Alan Correa, 39, the vice mayor of La Cruz, Costa Rica, said that at the migration’s peak, his town of 7,000 absorbed 4,000 Cuban migrants, many of whom were sleeping on basketball courts in tents. He welcomed Dr. Roque’s donations of food.
“We had and have a situation that is complex to deal with, so we appreciate when people want to help in any way,” Mr. Alan said in Spanish through an interpreter. “I feel that Dr. Roque has the best intentions. I presume that he’s made some statements criticizing the way Cubans were treated. This is what might have rubbed people the wrong way.”
This is not the first time Dr. Roque has stirred controversy. In June, he was indicted by a New Jersey grand jury for accepting $250,000 in bribes in a health care kickback scheme. Other doctors were charged, too. Dr. Roque and his lawyer, Christopher Adams, said they expected Dr. Roque to be exonerated because, according to Mr. Adams, his accuser pleaded guilty to leading a criminal enterprise that illegally paid several million dollars to dozens of doctors and was “incentivized to make up stories” to reduce his sentence.
In 2013, Dr. Roque was acquitted of federal hacking charges, when he and his son, Joseph, were accused of breaking into the website of a political opponent, who was trying to start a recall movement against him. His son was given probation.
From left, Liliana Borges Fernandez, Nolvis Fernandez Garcia and Yeleine Céspedes Fernandez in the Cliffside Park, N.J., home of Pilar Montero, right, Dr. Roque’s assistant. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York TimesDr. Roque, a Democrat, was elected in 2011 as mayor of West New York, a heavily Latino town with luxury waterfront properties on the Hudson River. He promised to lower taxes, which had jumped significantly under his predecessor.
He cleaned house in his first few months, and since then he has been accused of stocking the school board with patrons and has been hit with no fewer than 20 suits from former town employees accusing him of strong-arming them into donating to his campaign or for retaliatory practices. He attributes these suits to petty vengeance.
“New Jersey politics is a blood sport,” he said.
Last May, he was elected to a second term.
Sitting beneath a near life-size painting of himself in his office, Dr. Roque dismissed suggestions that his Cuban humanitarian effort was a vanity project aimed at rehabilitating his image.
In Honduras, he arranged passage for 103 people on buses to Guatemala and then to Mexico. In Costa Rica, he paid for 38 people to sleep in hotel rooms to escape the camps. There, he attended to the injured and sick, including a 5-year-old boy, Samuelito, who needed heart medicine expedited.
This month, Dr. Roque said, he accompanied 32 Cubans in a bus he hired to cross the border from Mexico into Laredo, Tex. Samuelito was on it; Dr. Roque arranged for him to see cardiac specialists in New Jersey.
So far, only a dozen Cubans have settled in northern Hudson County, once such a magnet for Cuban immigrants who worked in its embroidery factories that it was nicknamed Havana on the Hudson. That distinction has faded along with the factories, and now, Dr. Roque said, Cubans are mostly heading to warmer-weather cities.
A family of three has moved into the Cliffside Park, N.J., house of Dr. Roque’s assistant, Pilar Montero, the de facto director of La Ruta de Roque, known as Mapi. Yeleine Céspedes Fernandez, 29, who studied as a nurse in Cuba, detailed her perilous six-month journey through nine countries with her cousin, Liliana Borges Fernandez, a lawyer, and her mother, Nolvis Fernandez Garcia.
Ms. Céspedes introduced herself to Ms. Montero at a refugee camp, and three weeks later, after they made their way to Brownsville, Tex., Dr. Roque paid for their Greyhound Bus tickets to New Jersey.
“I am eternally grateful,” Ms. Céspedes said. “If it were up to Dr. Roque and Mapi, they would bring all the Cubans here.”
The fund-raising site for La Ruta de Roque has raised just $1,325.
Dr. Roque’s wife is six months pregnant, and he admitted that she has not been pleased with his impromptu trips. He calls himself “manic,” an inveterate multitasker currently gripped by an obsession over Cuban refugees.
“I’m working for a guy — he’s a crazy guy,” said Ms. Montero, 53, a Chilean-born television producer and publicist, referring to Dr. Roque.
“But,” she added, nodding to the Fernandez family beside her, “how many people depend on him right now?”
Isvett Verde contributed reporting
A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2016, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: An Official’s Personal Quest to Aid Cuban Migrants Draws Scrutiny
The Opinion Pages | Letter
Visas for InterpretersFEB. 16, 2016
To the Editor:
On behalf of more than 10,000 translators and interpreters in the United States and abroad, the American Translators Association would like to express support for your Feb. 4 editorial “An Unpaid Debt to Afghan Interpreters.”
The bureaucratic hurdles facing the thousands of Afghan and Iraqi interpreters waiting for visas is embarrassing enough, but the decision by the United States government to retroactively apply a minimum requirement of two years’ documented employment as a United States interpreter is shameful and may damage our ability to work with local interpreters in any future theater.
Interpreting is not only one of the world’s oldest professions, but it is also one of the most dangerous. Acting as a linguistic intermediary between foreign forces and the local population can put a person in a precarious position, arousing suspicion and hostility. These brave people deserve our respect, not our disregard.
We join the call for Secretary of State John Kerry to rescind the retroactive application of the two-year employment rule and expedite the visas of our fellow Afghan and Iraqi interpreters.
American Translators Association
A version of this letter appears in print on February 16, 2016, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Visas for Interpreters.
NATO and Europe’s Refugee CrisisBy THE EDITORIAL BOARD - FEB. 16, 2016
A child being carried to shore upon reaching Greece after crossing, with other migrants, the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Credit Santi Palacios/Associated PressThe announcement last Thursday that NATO would send ships to patrol the Aegean in an effort to break up the smuggling rings ferrying desperate refugees and migrants from Turkey to Greece is, at this point, more a symbolic show of solidarity than anything else. Even so, it reflects a heightened sense of urgency about the refugee crisis and sends a strong signal that the Western alliance stands ready to help Europe cope with it.
Gen. Philip Breedlove of the United States Air Force, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said last week that the mission had “literally come together in the last 20 hours” and that he had been asked to “go back and define the mission.” Part of that mission must be to help refugees at risk. Last year, 3,800 people drowned trying to cross the sea to Europe, and more than 400 have already drowned this year, many of them children. Frontex, the European Union border agency, and the Greek Coast Guard have simply not been able to cope.
Concern for refugees’ safety was not, however, the reason Germany, Greece and Turkey — the three countries most affected by the crisis — asked NATO for help. The main concern is political: public dismay at the prospect that the tide of refugees shows no sign of abating. Last week, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened to send millions of refugees on to Europe. Turkey has already