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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.

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Not everyone celebrates the US holiday of Thanksgiving, but we've all got something to be grateful for in this awful year, right? So as Americans gather around the table — or the Zoom — to give thanks on Thursday, here's what a few world leaders are grateful for at the moment.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

With the transition of power formally beginning now, what can we expect between now and inauguration day?

Well, there's a couple of important deadlines between now and Inauguration Day. The first is the December 14th meeting of the Electoral College, which will make the state certifications official and will make Joe Biden officially president-elect in the eyes of the US government. Another really important date is going to be January 5th, which is when Georgia has its runoff for the two Senate seats that will determine majority control in the Senate. If the Republicans win one of those seats, they'll maintain their majority, although very slim. If the Democrats win both of the seats, they'll have a 50/50 Senate with Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote and slightly more ability to enact Joe Biden's agenda next year. Also, between now and Inauguration Day, we're going to see Joe Biden announce his cabinet and senior staff. Most of whom will probably get confirmed fairly easily early, earlier ... Excuse me, later in January or early in February. And of course, we're going to see what President Trump is going to do next. I think that it's still a little bit up in the air what his post-presidency plans are. He has yet to concede the election. So, anything is possible from him, including a lot of new executive orders that could try to box Biden in and limit his options when it comes to economic policy, foreign policy, and social policy.

What can we expect out of the Biden administration's first 100 days?

Well, the biggest priority of the Biden administration first is going to be to confirm all of their cabinet appointees, and that should be pretty easy at the cabinet head level for the most part, even with a Republican controlled Senate. It's going to be a little more difficult once you get below the cabinet head, because then you're going to start to see some more ideological tests and some more policy concerns be flushed out by Republicans in the Senate. The second thing you're going to see is Biden start to undo as much of the Trump legacy as he can, and his primary vehicle for doing this is going to be executive orders, which is a lot of what president Trump used in order to enact policy. Expect Biden to reenter the Paris Climate Accord on day one and expect him to start undoing things like Trump's immigration orders and perhaps reversing some of his decisions on trade. Yet to be determined is if Congress is going to have fully funded the government for the entire year in December in the lame-duck session, and if they haven't, Biden's going to have to work out a deal probably in March or so to do that.

Joe Biden is well known as the kind of guy who will talk your ear off, whether you're a head of state or an Average Joe on the campaign trail. But Evan Osnos, New Yorker staff writer and author of "Joe Biden: The Life, The Run and What Matters Now," thinks that reputation may be outdated. "Here he is in his eighth decade when a lot of people are, frankly, in more of a broadcasting mode than a listening mode, he's actually become a more attentive listener." Despite one of the longest political careers in modern American history, there remains more to Joe Biden than may meet the eye. Osnos spoke with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe

Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe

The 2020 US Election


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