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Executive Summary for July 4th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including a U.S. judge ruling against the blanket detention of asylum seekers, a compromise deal in Germany with large potential repercussions in Europe and the U.N., and World Bank chiefs’ visit to refugees in Bangladesh.

Published on July 4, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

U.S. Judge Rules Against Blanket Detention of Asylum Seekers

A U.S. federal judge ordered the government to stop the effectively blanket detention of asylum seekers in five locations. While the government denies any such policy, parole rates have plunged from 90 percent to near zero under the Trump administration.

Under a 2009 directive, people who demonstrate “credible fear” of persecution and are not a threat or flight risk should be considered for release from immigration custody while their asylum applications are heard. D.C. judge James Boasberg said the directive was “honored more in the breach than the observance”; his preliminary injunction ordered authorities to individually interview asylum seekers to consider them for release.

German Government Reaches Compromise Over Border Controls

German chancellor Angela Merkel hailed a deal to set up transit centers on Germany’s southern border as a “good compromise” with her conservative political allies. Her clash with the CSU over unilateral border controls had threatened to bring down the coalition government.

The deal foresees increased deportation of migrants who have already registered elsewhere in Europe before they enter the country. It still needs to be sanctioned by the other coalition partner, the Social Democrats, and countries will need to agree to receive deportees. Neighboring Austria warned it may take similar measures on its southern borders with Italy and Slovenia.

A Deeper Look

The New York Times: Merkel, to Survive, Agrees to Border Camps for Migrants

“Although the move to appease the conservatives exposed her growing political weakness, Ms. Merkel will limp on as chancellor. For how long is unclear. The nationalism and anti-migrant sentiment that has challenged multilateralism elsewhere in Europe is taking root – fast – in mainstream German politics.”

Jeremy Cliffe: Deal in Berlin (Twitter Thread)

“Merkel has prevailed politically while sticking to her red lines. But the reality is complicated: could the authoritarian precedent about to be created on the Bavarian-Austrian border ultimately undermine the liberal, multilateral order she seeks to preserve?”

On U.N., World Bank Chiefs’ Visit, Refugees Urge Inclusion in Deals

Rohingya refugees urged the heads of the United Nations and the World Bank on a visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh not to return them without rights. At a press briefing, some held up signs saying: “Include Rohingya in agreements about Rohingya.”

An unpublished memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.N. refugee agency and Myanmar’s government meant to prepare for eventual returns was leaked last week; it did not contain guarantees of Rohingya freedom of movement or citizenship in Myanmar. U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres assured refugees the MOU was a “first step” to test the sincerity of concessions from Myanmar.

On the same visit, President Jim Yong Kim said the World Bank wants to provide more resources to Bangladesh for hosting refugees, following the recent announcement of up to $480 million in grants to Bangladesh, beginning with a $50 million grant for Bangladesh’s health sector.

Recommended MustReads

Wired: Europe Is Using Smartphone Data as a Weapon to Deport Refugees

“Across the continent, migrants are being confronted by a booming mobile forensics industry that specializes in extracting a smartphone’s messages, location history and even WhatsApp data. That information can potentially be turned against the phone owners themselves.

Columbia Journalism Review: Politics Pushes Central American Voices Out of Child Separation Coverage

“A search of dozens of stories and op-eds about the child separation crisis in print and electronic media yielded no prominent Central American scholars or advocates.”

U.K. Parliament Home Affairs Committee Report: The Windrush Generation

“A change in culture at the Home Office over recent years as a consequence of political decisions has led to an environment in which applicants appear to have been automatically treated with suspicion and scepticism and forced to follow processes that appear designed to set them up to fail.”

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