WHEN PEOPLE BECOME PAWNS

A political outcry over migrant children separated from their families at the United States’ southern border. Germany’s coalition government on the brink of collapse. Italy squabbling with its neighbors over who should accept boatloads of asylum seekers. The searing politics of immigration policy are all over the news again in recent days.


And yet around the world, increasingly anti-immigrant governments are taking differing approaches to coping with unwanted arrivals — each has its political upsides and pitfalls.​

The US approach is based on deterrence: The Trump administration believes that a get-tough policy on prosecutions at the border — the grounds for the recent separation of migrant children from their families — will discourage other migrants from attempting to enter the country illegally. Time will tell if it has worked, but the downside is a moral backlash at home against an inhumane policy and a loss of (already tenuous) credibility in making human rights claims against other countries abroad. Trump, for his part, seems unconcerned about either — his administration has doubled down, and a majority of GOP voters support him.

Meanwhile in Europe — where the idea of setting up camps for people brings dark echoes of the not-so-distant past — governments are looking to outsource the problem. In the face of a growing anti-immigrant backlash in some countries, EU leaders are considering a proposal to house migrants in special “hubs” outside of Europe, where their asylum claims would be processed. The proposal emulates earlier deals between the EU and Turkey, and Italy and Libya, aimed at corralling migrants before they reach EU borders. The upside for European governments is that migration becomes someone else’s problem. The downside is being at the mercy of the goodwill (as in Turkey) or political fragility (as in Libya) of their outsourcing partners.

On the other side of the world, Australia combines the two approaches. A zero-tolerance migrant policy diverts so-called “boat people” — largely refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — to internment camps in other countries: one on the tiny island nation of Nauru nearly 2,000 miles from Aussie shores and, until its recent closure, another on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The grim outposts are a deterrent of their own, but they are out of sight, out of mind for Australian voters. In ruthless political terms, Australia’s strategy — which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees last year called contrary to “common decency” — has worked. Boat arrivals have plunged after Australia began its offshoring policy and aggressively turning back migrant voyagers. As in the cases above, apart from the sheer human cost, the political downside is lost moral authority.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Syria is quickly turning into US President Donald Trump's most significant foreign policy blunder to date. It's looking like it might be for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, too.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced a fresh wave of sanctions on Turkey, in a bid to get Erdogan to halt his invasion of Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. Yes, you may recall, that's the same invasion that the US green-lit last week by withdrawing American troops from the area.

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Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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What's the update at the Syria-Turkey border?

Well, it is increasingly in the hands of Assad and the Russians, who the Kurds have flipped with. The United States withdrawing some troops away from the border, the Turks coming in, but they going to be limited in how much they can do given the fact that ultimately, Assad and Russia has most the firepower and Turkey does not want that fight.

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