politics of immigration
Rights groups in Malaysia are calling for the release of thousands of detained refugees and asylum-seekers, after a deadly incident in the northern state of Penang April 20. Six Rohingya refugees were reportedly struck by vehicles and killed when hundreds fled a detention center after breaking through barriers and attempted to escape across an adjacent highway.
Some 36,400 Afghan refugees lack a clear path to US citizenship or permanent residency, according to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Jan. 28. The report surveys the immigration status of more than 76,000 Afghan refugees now under the supervision of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), a DHS-coordinated program aimed at resettling Afghans within the United States. OAW, initiated on Aug. 29, is the domestic counterpart to Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), the military effort to evacuate select Afghan citizens after their country fell to the Taliban that month.
The US Supreme Court this month heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order.
More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained on Jan. 10 when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the "culmination of a disastrous situation," and Médecins Sans Frontières called on the EU to "stop supporting...an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya." The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers.
The Danish Court of Impeachment, or Rigsretten, on Dec. 13 sentenced former immigration minister Inger Støjberg to 60 days in prison. The decision follows a rare impeachment trial in February, in which she was found to have ordered the illegal separation of married asylum-seeking partners while in office. The Rigsretten found Støjberg to be guilty of violating Section 5 (1) of the Ministerial Accountability Act, which holds that a minister will be punished if she or he, intentionally or through gross negligence, "neglects the duties incumbent on him under the constitution or legislation, in general, or according to the nature of his position."
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Dec. 2 that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy for asylum-seekers also known as "Remain in Mexico." The announcement follows an August US Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration.
Australia has dispatched some 100 police and military troops to the Solomon Islands following days of rioting and looting in the capital Honiara. Papua New Guinea has also sent in troops, and Fiji says a contingent is en route. Calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, protesters attempted to set the parliament building ablaze, and torched and looted shops, causing millions of dollars in damages. The looting centered on the city's Chinatown, where three charred bodies have been found amid the ruins.
The Greek trial of 24 aid volunteers accused of people-smuggling got off to a shambolic false start on Nov. 18. The defendants were members of Emergency Response Center International (ECRI), an NGO that performed rescue activities in the Aegean Sea and provided humanitarian assistance to people in Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos between 2016 and 2018. Human rights groups say the accusations are part of a broader trend of governments across Europe criminalizing people providing humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers and migrants. They have called on Greece to drop the charges, describing the case as "absurd."