The first two years of the Trump presidency have brought about a dramatic decline in the admission of resettled refugees. The United States resettled 92,000 refugees in 2016, the last year in which the annual resettlement ceiling was set by the Obama administration. By contrast, 33,000 refugees were resettled in 2017, and as of September 2018 only about 20,000 refugees have resettled in the US. It has been reported that the resettlement ceiling for 2019, which is to be set shortly, could be as low as 25,000 admissions. Read More
As families continue to endure separation after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a less visible group of refugees has been abandoned by the Trump Administration with little recourse and dimming hope. In early 2018, approximately 100 Iranian refugees were denied resettlement to the U.S., stranding them in Vienna, Austria, where they had been awaiting final approvals through the U.S. Resettlement Program for over a year. Their denial was made “as a matter of discretion.” They have exhausted their savings and now have no clear path forward. President Trump’s policies have made these refugees’ already precarious lives even more so.
On 3 October 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously against Spain in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain, stating that the country had violated the prohibition of collective expulsion (Article 4 of Protocol No.4) and the right to an effective remedy (Article 13) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The judgment was issued by the Chamber (first instance) and therefore, is open to appeal to the Grand Chamber, during the three-month period following its delivery.
The massive influx of Afghan refugees to Iran started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Until 1992, Iran was exemplary in welcoming refugees. It granted 3-4 million Afghans work permits, free education and subsidized healthcare. Afghans could stay in Iran indefinitely. In 1992 Iran stopped granting permanent residence rights to Afghans, even though in the subsequent years, civil war and the reign of the Taliban have caused an increase in involuntary migration.
Since 2004 Iran has undertaken different measures to curb and decrease the number of refugees.
The State Department has issued guidance regarding the admission of refugees following the Supreme Court's decision in the Trump Executive Order cases. The guidance includes the narrow interpretation of "bona fide relationship with a person" adopted for the visa ban provision (fiancés are in; grandparents are out).
Human Rights Watch has published an important report, Pakistan Coercion UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees. The report details the return of 365,000 Afghan refugees (out of a total of 1.5 million registered refugees) from Pakistan in the second half of 2016. It condemns the forced nature of the returns and strongly criticizes UNHCR for not speaking out against the Pakistan government’s actions.
The term "Hot Returns" refers to the "push-back" operations against migrants authorized by the Spanish government in Ceuta and Melilla. After many years denouncing the situation faced by migrants attempting to irregularly cross into Spain through Ceuta and Melilla, attention is now focused on the N.D. and N.T. v. Spain case currently before the European Court of Human Rights. This is the first time an international court will have the opportunity to rule on the legality of the Spanish Government's actions along the Spanish-Moroccan border.
There will be much to report about Donald Trump’s Executive Orders relating to immigration enforcement and refugees over the coming weeks and months. Receiving most attention at the moment are the literally dozens of court cases challenging the ban on the admission of persons from seven predominantly Muslim countries and suspension of the U.S. refugee program. Yesterday, the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a decision by a Seattle, Washington district court granting a nationwide Temporary Restraining Order that suspended enforcement of these aspects of one of the Executive Orders.