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Executive Summary for April 26th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the U.S. Supreme Court being unlikely to overturn Trump’s travel ban, a Greek border guard revealing mass pushbacks and ICRC saying it’s ‘flooded’ with Syrians missing family members.

Published on April 26, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

U.S. Supreme Court Unlikely to Overturn Trump Travel Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to uphold a Trump administration travel ban. Early consideration by the court’s justices indicated an unwillingness to overturn the restriction on a number of mainly Muslim countries.

The eagerly awaited hearings will decide whether President Trump’s signature policy will stand in what would be a victory for his anti-immigration agenda.

Lower courts have challenged the ban as arbitrary, citing evidence from the campaign trail, where Trump promised a Muslim ban. They say the order is based on religion, not national security.

To quash the ban, its opponents will need one of Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Anthony Kennedy, both conservatives, to take their side. The initial hearing suggested neither was inclined to treat the travel ban differently from past executive orders restricting immigration.

Justice Elena Kagan invoked a hypothetical president who campaigned on an anti-Semitic platform and then tried to ban visitors from Israel.

Defending the ban, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that such a scenario was unlikely, to which Kagan replied, “This is an out-of-the-box kind of president in my hypothetical,” to laughter.

Greek Border Guard Appears to Confirm Mass Pushbacks at Evros

A Greek border guard has suggested pushbacks at the land border with Turkey may be the real reason for reduced refugee flows.

Cooperation between Greece and Turkey at the Evros border has broken down recently amid tensions.

The interview with Greek daily Kathimerini confirms that refoulement, which is against international law, has been happening on a large scale. It also undermines the idea that the E.U.-Turkey deal that confines asylum seekers on the Greek islands was responsible for the sharp drop in refugee arrivals since 2016.

At least 6,000 asylum seekers have crossed the land border since the beginning of the year. The unnamed border guard said that a breakdown in cooperation at the Evros river between the Turks and the Greeks was responsible for the higher number.

“Now the pushbacks which happened – and the truth is that they happen at night – have stopped. However, many we catch we don’t send back on the same (river) boats, we transfer them to the police station where they no longer fit.”

If Evros has effectively been blocked by illegal practices, as the interview and other reports suggest, it would mean the controversial deal to trap refugees and migrants on the Greek islands has not been the deterrent that its political supporters maintain.

Greece’s highest court struck down the geographic restriction this month, only for the government to reinstate it in anticipation of passing new legislation to reinforce the bar.

Red Cross Flooded With Requests From Syrians Missing Family Members

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been “flooded” with requests for missing Syrians. About 13,000 requests in the past six months have come from Syrians seeking missing family members.

ICRC head Peter Maurer, speaking at the U.N. headquarters in New York, said that before then the organization had only “requests in the hundreds.”

Maurer suggested the requests have probably arisen from Syrians returning to parts of the country where there is no active combat and concerns about family members.

He also said the ICRC had been “slightly more proactive” recently on the issue of missing Syrians. But numbers of reunifications remain in the low 50s, he added.

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