For some it’s “welcome,” others “go away”

Roundup: Recent news on the refugee and immigrant crisis

1 November 2016

As the global refugee and migrant crisis continues, in particular the plight of Syrian refugees, there have been a number of developments around the world in recent weeks, ranging from removal of migrants, to new perspectives on accepting U.S. refugees, to continued efforts to block immigration out of fears of terrorism. Here’s a roundup of recent news on the crisis, as it reflects the various impacts on communities and their struggles.

The prime minister of Australia was hit by criticism after proposing a law that would prohibit refugees arriving by boat and seeking asylum from setting foot on Australian soil, and instead force them to be sent elsewhere, the New York Times reported. Refugee advocates spoke strongly against it.

French authorities last week began clearing some 7,000 refugees from a refugee camp in “squalid” conditions at the port of Calais, on the English Channel. Some 1,200 official were deployed to remove the migrants, including reportedly many from Sudan, who were to be sent to processing centers in France where they could seek asylum if eligible.

Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that it is assisting French authorities in closing the camp known as “The Jungle,” to look after safety, inform people about their human rights, and look after those with special needs and hundreds of unaccompanied children.

In light of the 2016 presidential campaign, Atlantic writers James Fallows and Deborah Fallows released a video documenting their travels around the United States and the views of residents absorbing an influx of immigrants, as part of their American Futures project, revealing the benefits that immigrants can bring.

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees could be deported by the EU in the near future, as the result of an agreement between the EU and the Mosul, Afghanistan, government, part of a $15 billion aid deal from the EU to help rebuild the country. “But the deal seems to ignore the obvious. For those seeking to leave Afghanistan, rebuilt bridges, roads, and power plants have little bearing on their calculation. Many are simply trying to avoid death,” reported Emran Feroz.

In 2016, with two months left this year, the United Nations reported, the rate of death of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to find safety in other nations has worsened drastically: Last year one in 269 refugees died, while in 2016 thus far one in 88 refugees crossing have died. At least 3,740 lives have been lost since January. “This is the worst we have seen,” said William Spindler, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

As part of it’s series Next America: Communities (theatlantic.com/projects/next-america-communities), The Atlantic ran a piece by Alexia Fernández Campbell reporting on the struggles of refugees in the U.S. to find a place and a leg up in society, in particular Minnesota’s large Somali immigrant community, in the face of anti-terrorism programs such as the White House’s Countering Violent Extremism. Unemployment among those already granted asylum, she pointed out, is a more pressing problem, not radicalized immigrants.

There was also a profile piece on the increase in asylum-seekers in Germany, including those from Iran, attending Christian churches in Germany and some converting.

On a lighter note, among profiles in the news, some refugees have taken their lives and translated them into new artistic creations. Here’s a short video profile of one Syrian teen-ager using rap music to express his feeling on the refugee experience.

And President Obama a few week ago shared the welcoming letter from a young U.S. boy — who had seen the heartwrenching, viral image of the boy in an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria, this summer after being pulled from the rubble — as an example of families and residents of the U.S. who do want to reach out and help refugees.

But efforts continue to block refugees and immigrants from settling in the U.S. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has wanted to stop Syria refugees from settling in his state by withholding federal funds for organizations that assist refugees. But in early October the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had unanimously agreed that Pence could not do that, that it was discriminatory, and there was no evidence that Syrian refugees were coming to the U.S. to commit terrorism.