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People taken into custody for illegal entry into the U.S. sit in one of the cages at a detention facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018 (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector photo via AP).

Behind the Aquarius and Family Separation, a Decade of Policy Failures on Immigration

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In Europe and the U.S. this week, callous government treatment of asylum-seekers triggered public outrage and political tensions, which may be enough to soften policy in the short term. Unfortunately, that will not meaningfully address the underlying causes of the migration crises that have become the new political ground zero on both sides of the Atlantic.

Long-simmering tensions within the European Union boiled over when Italy’s new populist government refused to allow the Aquarius, a ship carrying rescued asylum-seekers from North Africa, to dock at an Italian port last week. The Aquarius was left stranded in the Mediterranean for days before it was able to dock Sunday in Valencia, Spain. Viewed through a narrow legal lens, the Italian authorities’ decision to turn the ship away did not violate international law, as the asylum-seekers had not been rescued in waters under Italy’s jurisdiction. But from a humanitarian perspective, it warrants the moral indignation it provoked in Italy and abroad. ...

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