Tag Archives: immigration

Banning Immigration to Fight Terrorism?

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump sparked controversy this week when he argued that the United States should ban immigration by Muslims, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Many key officials in the Republican Party—and in particular from most of Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination—were quick to jump on his comments. But Trump’s supporters widely supported his position.

While Trump asserts that the ban is necessary to protect the United States from further terrorist attacks, many security officials warned that such a ban could play in to recruiting messages by the Islamic State and others, thus undermining US national security. A statement by the Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, observed that,

There are, as I said before, there are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today, as there are people of many faiths. I’m not aware of any particular new training as a result of this. We’ll check and see if there are Muslims specifically serving in those particular areas that you mentioned. But I would just make the larger point that — that we don’t have — the United States doesn’t have any issue, and certainly the Department of Defense, anything that creates tensions and creates the notion that the United States is at odds with the Muslim faith and Islam would be counterproductive to our efforts right now, and totally contrary to our values….We have troops serving that follow the Muslim faith. And, again, without wading into politics, anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the ISIL narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.

What do you think? Should the United States take steps to prevent Muslims from entering the United States, as Trump suggests? Or might such moves undermine US national security, as Cook argues?

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Pope Francis’ US Visit

Pope Francis ended his four-day visit to Cuba and entered the United States to begin a six-day visit yesterday. The Pope’s visit to the United States includes many high-level meetings with the President, Congressional leaders, and others.  Controversially, the Pope also plans to canonize Rev. Junípero Serra, elevating Father Serra to sainthood. The move is a controversial one, opposed by many Native American communities across the United States, because of Serra’s work in spreading Christianity as a part of Spanish colonization of the Western United States.

During his visit, Pope Francis in expected to address a wide variety of topics, including the need to confront global climate change, tackling global poverty, and expanding care for migrants and refugees. But his message has also stirred opposition, particularly from congressional Republicans, who argue the Pope’s message is just ”socialist talk” and request the Pope limit himself to spiritual rather than secular affairs.

What do you think? Will the Pope’s visit to the United States have an impact on US policy with respect to issues like climate change and immigration? Why? And if not, what do you think his visit will accomplish?

Dealing With Immigration in Europe

The European Union is currently in the midst of an historically unprecedented wave of immigration. In 2014, more than 130,000 people sought refugee status in Europe. Fewer than 25,000 of those qualified for some form of protection (as an asylum seeker or refugee). And this year, tens of thousands of migrants have sought to enter Europe. Many are fleeing warzones—like those immigrating from Syria—while many more are economic refugees.

Thousands of migrants have already died trying to reach Europe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) has stated that the European Union has a “clear responsibility” to aid refugees seeking to immigrate, but the response from many European Union Member States has been to close down immigration possibilities. But several tensions play out. While the European Union has rules governing immigration, many of the governments of the Member States oppose the EU’s policies and have refused to enforce them. Further, many far-right anti-EU parties have used the European Union’s immigration policies as a focal point for mobilization, increasing anti-EU sentiment.

What do you think? What steps should the European Union take to address the refugee crisis it current faces? How could the EU address the concerns expressed by many Member States, particularly those in Eastern and Southern Europe, around the financial costs imposed by the EU’s immigration policy on Member States?

The Campaign Politics of Immigration

Donald Trump, who is one of fifteen candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, doubled down on controversial comments he made nearly two weeks ago. In announcing his candidacy, Trump asserted that Mexican immigrants to the United States are disproportionately responsible for drug trafficking, rape, murder, and other crimes, asserting

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Trump’s comments were widely criticized as racist, triggering a wave of backlash. Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States, cancelled its planned broadcast of Trump’s Miss Universe contest. NBC ended its business relationship with Trump, who had hosted The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice for the network. Macy’s cancelled its distribution of Trump’s clothing line. And the Republican Party sought to distance itself from Trump.

Trump’s comments highlight the difficulties posed by immigration from Mexico for the Republican Party. As it seeks to expand its reach into the Latino community, moderate Republicans have sought to develop positions that bring Latinos into the party. But Trump’s comments resonate with the more conservative Republican electorate that vote in the primary elections. Trump’s comments could also present challenges for a future Republican president in dealing with Mexico.

What do you think? How might Trump’s comments affect US-Mexican relations? Why?

Dealing with Xenophobia in South Africa

As the economic situation in South Africa deteriorates, anti-foreigner violence has intensified. Migrants and refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere have been subject to attack. Hundreds of refugee have fled their homes. Foreign shopkeepers have seen their stores attacked and destroyed. And at least three foreigners have been murdered in recent days.

Protests erupted in the port city of Durban last week, as immigrants marching on city hall to demand protection and an end to the violence were met with anti-immigrant demonstrations. Violence intensified after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini allegedly told migrants to go home. Many South Africans believe immigrants drive down wages and increase unemployment, which currently stands at almost 25 percent—and is considerably higher among young South Africans. And while prosecutors announced 17 arrests over the weekend to address the violence, many immigrants continue to live in fear of further attack, seeking refuge in sports stadiums and police stations.

What do you think? How should the South African government address the xenophobic violence plaguing the country? What parallels can you draw between the debate over immigration in South Africa and that of the United States? And what might be done to address questions surrounding immigration in both countries?

Updates to Recent Stories

Two quick updates on recent stories:

Two interesting developments on the situation in Haiti occurred late last week. First, the Obama administration announced it would grant Temporary Protected Status in the United States. This has the effect of temporary suspending deportation proceedings against the estimated 30,0000 Haitians currently pending in the United States. A number of groups have been campaigning for TPS for Haiti.

The International Monetary Fund announced it would make available $100 million in credit for the government of Haiti to fund relief efforts. While the government could certainly use assistance, the debt forgiveness group Jubilee has condemned the use of long-term loans to finance relief efforts, arguing that this will only exacerbate Haiti’s debt problems.

Finally, with respect to the French identity debates, Time magazine on Monday published a story on the problem many French citizens now face in proving their citizenship. According to the story, many people born to French parents abroad are having difficulty proving their citizenship under strict new rules designed restrict the ability of foreigners to obtain French citizenship. Some French citizens have been asked to prove the nationality of their parents and grandparents, providing original birth certificates to support their claims. The policy has been condemned, however, as running the risk of creating new populations of stateless persons.

Five Stories You Might Have Missed

Recent data about the U.S. economy indicates that the current crisis is worse than economists had believed. On Wednesday, the government announced that initial jobless claims spiked unexpectedly, reaching the highest levels since 1982. About 667,000 people made initial claims fro the week ending February 21, sending the total number of unemployed people in the United States over the 5 million mark for the first time in the country’s history. The official unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent, the highest level since 1992. Consumer sentiment also fell to record lows in February, as housing prices fell precipitously. Housing prices declined 18.5 percent over 2008, and have declined 26.7 percent from the peaks of July, 2006.  Although the Federal Reserve is forecasting an economic contraction of 0.5-1.3 percent this year with an unemployment rate of between 8.5 and 8.8 percent, many economists are offering more dire predictions, calling this the worst downturn in U.S. post-World War II historyThe U.S. economy shrank by an annualized 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 (its worst performance since the recession of 1982).

And now for five important stories outside the ongoing economic crisis:

1. On Friday, President Barack Obama announced a plan that would see the majority of U.S. forces withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010.  Obama’s plan was greatly coolly by anti-war Democrats, who were disappointed that the plan did not accelerate the drawdown in forces. Congressional Republicans appeared more supportive of the president’s plan.

2. The Bangladeshi army has reaffirmed its support for the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after an attempted mutiny by paramilitary forces was put down earlier this week. On Wednesday, a paramilitary force of border guards—the Bangladeshi Rifles—mutinied over a pay dispute, but violence quickly spread throughout the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. The government was able to reassert control over the region as members of the Bangladeshi Rifles surrendered. At least fifty people are believed dead in the fighting, and the whereabouts of 168 officers who were in the building where the mutiny began are still unaccounted for. The discovery of a mass grave in the building has led to speculation that the number of dead will rise. 

3. Tobias Billström, who is slated to become president of the European Union when Sweden takes over the position from the Czech Republic in July, has indicated that immigration reform will be on the agenda. Immigration and asylum have long been controversial issues in European politics, as countries have vastly different policies. But E.U. member states have been hesitant to transfer responsibility for coordinating policy to Brussels. Billström has suggested that the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg would have final discretion over asylum cases.

4. The new power-sharing government in Zimbabwe appears to be making good progress in addressing the economic meltdown in the country. According to the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe has made an impressive start on addressing the problems it faces. The ADB has called on Zimbabwe to make progress on repaying its external debt as a precondition for securing more outside assistance. The new Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangarai, has said that Zimbabwe urgently needs $5 billion in foreign assistance to repair the economy. Meanwhile, the power sharing agreement itself appears to be at risk, as President Robert Mugabe’s party has been accused of creating its own parallel government, effectively attempting to bypass the power-sharing agreement. Further, members of the opposition party remained jailed, and the push for land reform has intensified.

5. In an attempt to address growing concerns of farmers over poor forecasts, the government of Argentina has agreed to increase protectionist measures, including waiving some export tariffs and granting subsidies to small producers. Longstanding drought conditions in the country have led to declining yields, and farmers are forecasting the worst harvest in forty years. The crisis has exposed deep political divides in Argentina, resulting in a weakening in the ruling alliance and the resignation of four senators and two deputies over policy differences.