Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Immigration links: US border separations, more

Links and updates from across the migration and border policy fields.

US–Mexico ocean border (Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster)
US–Mexico ocean border (Photo: Flickr/Tony Webster)
Published 20 Jun 2018   Follow @ErinHarrisAU

  • 629 migrants aboard the MS Aquarius were allowed ashore at Valencia, Spain, on 17 June, after a week-long ordeal resulting from the Italian government’s refusal to let the boat dock at any Italian port. The Aquarius, operated by Doctors Without Borders, had rescued the migrants from six overcrowded boats found adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. Italy’s new populist government was following through on promises made during its campaign to take a hard line on immigration. The boat was finally docked in Valencia after the intervention of Spain’s new socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who offered the migrants safe harbour.
  • The US policy of separating families at its southern border has sparked intense debate this week. In The New York Times, Julie Hirschfield and Michael D. Shear explain how the policy went from being deemed “too inhumane” during the Bush and Obama era, to become a reality during the Trump presidency. New York Magazine claims the policy was “always part of the plan”, and The New Yorker claims the administration has no plans in place for reuniting the families being separated. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has urged the administration to immediately halt the practice, describing it as “government-sanctioned child abuse”. The video below, from The New York Times, outlines four distinct ways the Trump administration is defending the policy.

  • Only a month after the death of an asylum seeker on Manus Island, an asylum seeker on Nauru has taken his own life after five years of detainment. This is the 12th death in the offshore facilities since they were reopened in 2012. Also on Nauru, a dying man with advanced lung cancer has been refused entry to Australia for palliative care, despite having been accepted as a legitimate refugee.
  • A new World Bank report, Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labour Markets, addresses the tension between the proven economic benefits of migration for migrants, host countries, and countries of origin, and growing opposition in destination countries, where migrants are presented as a cause of economic woe.
  • The 2018 Lowy Institute Poll, released on Wednesday, finds that, for the first time in Lowy polling history, a majority (54%) of Australians believe that Australia’s immigration rate is too high. Australians also appear to be questioning the impact of immigration on the national identity, with a majority (54%) agreeing that “Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as nation”. But a substantial minority replied, “if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation”. This suggests Australians are far more divided on this question than Americans, who when asked the same question by Pew Research Centre in 2017 had only a 29% agreement that “if America is too open … we risk losing our identity as a nation”.
  • In The Economist, an Open Borders column finds that how much you earn depends primarily upon where you live, and asks the question, “If you did not know whether you would be born in a rich country or a poor one, what kind of migration policies would you favour?”
  • The UN has forged a deal with the Myanmar government to begin the repatriation of approximately 700,000 Rohingyas who have fled the country for Bangladesh in the past year. However, in a problematic lack of transparency, the agreement has been kept secret. Meanwhile, the first rains of the monsoon season have begun to hit Rohingya refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, causing flooding and landslides. UNHCR estimates 200,000 refugees need urgent resettlement.
  • A new report from Amnesty International has found that Israel’s transfers of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants to Uganda are involuntary, cruel, and illegal. Israel’s policy of “voluntary” transfers continues, despite the suspension in April of a forced deportations policy after Israel failed to secure agreement from a third-party African country to accept the migrants.


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