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Executive Summary for April 19th

We review the latest developments related to refugee issues, including reports of another mass drowning in the Mediterranean, demands from Turkey on the visa-free E.U. deal and the issue of undocumented immigration raised in a landmark case at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Published on April 19, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Up to 400 Refugees Reported Drowned in Mediterranean

As many as 400 refugees are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean, attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, according to a report by BBC Arabic that quotes the Somali ambassador to Europe.

As the Independent reports, the refugees are believed to have been fleeing to Italy from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea , via Libya, in four boats, overnight on Sunday. One of the boats, overloaded with people, reportedly sank.

Reuters says that the figure includes between 200 and 300 Somali citizens, quoting Somali information minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir, who said “there is no clear number since they are not traveling legally. The boat may have been carrying about 500 people, he added, and “most of them had died.”

At least 41 survivors have been transferred to the southern Greek city of Kalamata. Two hundred and forty of us set off from Libya but then the traffickers made us get on to a bigger wooden boat around 30m [100ft] in length that already had at least 300 people in it, Abdul Kadir, a Somali, told the BBC.

E.U. Refugee Deal Hinges on Visas, Turkey Says

Turkey will no longer honor the E.U. refugee deal unless Europe upholds its promise to allow Turkish citizens to travel there without visas , Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday.

The pact, which is seeing the E.U. take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey, was also designed to offer Turkish citizens visa-free travel by June and progress in its E.U. membership negotiations .

But as Reuters reports, Brussels says that Turkey meets only 19 out of 72 criteria for the visa waiver scheme – regarded as a highly controversial move among many policymakers – and wants it to fully comply before it can be granted. However, Davutoglu has said that only 17 criteria remain to be fulfilled.

Daily refugee arrivals in Turkey have dropped sharply since the E.U. deal came into effect, but Turkey still has an overwhelming refugee population. As the Telegraph reports, pressure is growing on the Turkish town of Kilis , close to the Syrian border, which has seen its population soar in recent months and weeks.

Undocumented Migrants Issue Opens at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Monday to hear the first oral arguments in a landmark case, dubbed the United States vs. Texas, that may determine the future of undocumented immigrants in the country.

At stake is President Obama’s effort to offer temporary protection from deportation to 4 million undocumented immigrants, as ABC News reports. The court is considering the legality of the move, which also has implications for whether a president has the right to set such a policy.

The move has been on hold for more than a year, after it was challenged by Texas and 25 other states, the Huffington Post reports. After Monday’s hearing, there was a 4-to-4 divide in the court.

U.S. immigration policy has been consistently at the heart of the election debate. As Refugees Deeply reports today – the day that New York goes to the polls in the presidential primary – refugee resettlement programs are also falling short in New York City , with refugees from the Middle East failing to receive the same kind of acceptance as other immigrant communities.

Recommended Reads

Top image: A Syrian refugee takes water from a volunteer worker in a train at the station in Tovarnik, Croatia, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

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