Migrations back to the global agendaMigration 12 March 2023
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Numerous boats carrying migrants have arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to the Italian news agency Ansa, the Coast Guard rescued all the migrants aboard one of the boats that sank near Lampedusa. In just one night between midnight and Thursday morning, approximately 900 migrants arrived on the island in 21 boats.
Two migrant boats in distress were reported on Wednesday, and 14 bodies were recovered by the Tunisian coastguard after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Sfax. The refugees and migrants come from Central Africa, West Africa, and the Middle East and were taken to the Lampedusa reception centre, which is currently overcrowded with over 1,800 people, surpassing its maximum capacity of 300. Italy’s ruling coalition has implemented new regulations, including limits on NGOs rescuing migrants at sea.
According to the Italian Ministry of Interior, as of March 10th, over 17,592 migrants have arrived by sea in Italy, compared to 5,976 during the same period in 2022. In parallel to this potential crisis, over Atlantic, critics have raised concerns about the immigration policies of the Biden administration, stating that they are not primarily aimed at restoring the international right to seek asylum but rather focused on enforcement measures to discourage migrants fleeing authoritarian regimes and economic crises from entering the United States.
However, the administration has resorted to increasingly restrictive measures to manage the high number of border crossings, which has been exacerbated by incessant Republican criticism. Additionally, the impending expiration of the public health measure, Title 42, on May 11th, which allowed authorities to quickly expel migrants, has prompted the administration to implement stricter policies. Biden’s plan to address immigration has multiple components. Firstly, it involves expanding the use of a government app for migrants to apply for a humanitarian exemption to Title 42, which has significantly limited access to asylum since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the administration has established legal pathways for individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to qualify for a two-year stay in the United States. However, those who cross the border illegally from these four countries will be expelled to Mexico and will not be eligible for the humanitarian parole program. In addition to these occurrences in Lampedusa and in the USA, this week, the UK government unveiled a new bill aimed at curbing the flow of migrant boats crossing the English Channel from France.
However, it remains uncertain whether the proposed legislation aligns with international law. In recent times, there has been a surge in the number of people arriving in the UK via small, unseaworthy boats after paying human traffickers. Unfortunately, several boats have capsized, and some have resulted in fatalities. The proposed bill is intended to discourage such trips and disrupt the human traffickers’ illegal activities. The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, has expressed its opposition to the bill, stating that if approved, it would constitute a “blatant violation” of the Refugee Convention. The agency has called on lawmakers to reconsider the proposed legislation and instead explore more compassionate and effective policy alternatives.
According to CNN, the government has made agreements with third countries, including Rwanda, where refugees would be sent to seek asylum. The policy has faced widespread criticism, and legal challenges have prevented any individuals from being sent to Rwanda, despite the government’s initial enthusiasm for the policy. Nevertheless, such actions are considered unethical and do not constitute the principles of modern humanity.
Written by: Nenad Stekić