The Economist : European governments in melt-down over an inoffensive migration compact

Symbolism trumps toothlessness
7 décembre 2018

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Commentary by Francois Crépeau : « Much ado about nothing, really. Not that the GCM is not worth anything. As a conceptual framework, it provides a useful tool to initiate international cooperation on migration issues and channel it over the coming decades. However, it is not in any way mandatory and therefore does not oblige any State to do anything any time soon. Moreover, the GCM does not deny any sovereign power to exclude dangerous foreigners or control borders appropriately. The GCM is therefore not worth the current European “meltdown”, which is caused by politics, not policy. Once again, nationalist populist politicians will use any kind of fodder to revel in myths, buttress stereotypes and stoke fears, presenting themselves as saviors. Other politicians allow them to do this by not taking a principled stand on mobility and diversity. »

It was like watching paint dry, or other people’s children play baseball. Last month Gert Raudsep, an Estonian actor, spent two hours on prime-time television reading out the text of a un migration agreement. Estonia’s government was tottering over whether to pull out of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to give it its full name. So Mr Raudsep was invited to present the source of the discord to worried viewers. Thoughts of weary migrants from Africa and Latin America kept him going, he said. “But my eyes got a bit tired.”

Mr Raudsep’s recital made for dull viewing because the compact is a dull document. Its 23 “objectives” are peppered with vague declarations, platitudes and split differences. Partly in the spirit of other global agreements like the Paris climate deal, it encourages states to co-operate on tricky cross-border matters without forcing them to do anything. It urges governments to treat migrants properly, but also to work together on sending them home when necessary. At best it helps build the trust between “sending” and “receiving” countries that is the foundation of any meaningful international migration policy.

None of this has prevented European governments from melting down over it. In the end Estonia resolved its row ; it will join more than 180 other countries in Marrakesh on December 10th-11th to adopt the compact. But so far at least ten others, including seven from Europe, have followed the lead of Donald Trump and pulled out of a deal that they helped negotiate. The agreement is agitating parliaments, sparking protests and splintering coalitions ; Belgium’s is on the verge of collapse. More withdrawals may follow.

To read the full article, please click here.

The New York Times : Denmark Plans to Isolate Unwanted Migrants on a Small Island

7 décembre 2018

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“They are unwanted in Denmark, and they will feel that,” the country’s immigration minister, Inger Stojberg, said about a government plan to house unwelcome foreigners on a remote island. Photo Credit : Emmanuel Dunand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Commentary by Francois Crépeau : « Populism reigns, with an Australian inspiration. The Danish authorities posit that such arrangement cannot be considered a detention centre as the doors of the buildings are open. But this type of Nauru-style warehousing with an avowed deterrence and punishment objective will still be experienced as detention by the migrants. Hopefully, the European Court of human Rights will intervene and find this “containment” inhuman and degrading treatment for people who have committed no crime. Many thanks to Dieynaba and Elizabeth. »

COPENHAGEN — Denmark plans to house the country’s most unwelcome foreigners in a most unwelcoming place : a tiny, hard-to-reach island that now holds the laboratories, stables and crematory of a center for researching contagious animal diseases.

As if to make the message clearer, one of the two ferries that serve the island is called the Virus.

“They are unwanted in Denmark, and they will feel that,” the immigration minister, Inger Stojberg, wrote on Facebook.

On Friday, the center-right government and the right-wing Danish People’s Party announced an agreement to house as many as 100 people on Lindholm Island — foreigners who have been convicted of crimes but who cannot be returned to their home countries. Many would be rejected asylum seekers.

The 17-acre island, in an inlet of the Baltic Sea, lies about two miles from the nearest shore, and ferry service is infrequent. Foreigners will be required to report at the island center daily, and face imprisonment if they do not.

To read the full article, please click here.

The New York Times : They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

After crossing the Rio Grande, three immigrant women were picked up by a Border Patrol agent. Their relief soon turned to terror.
12 novembre 2018

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Commentary by Francois Crépeau : « The more one represses undocumented migration, the more one pushes such migrants into the hands of criminals, be they smuggling rings, human traffickers, unethical recruiters, exploitative employers, greedy landlords, corrupt officials or deranged individuals. Violence begets violence. Zero-tolerance policies only lead to a growing underground economy and unaccountable violent behaviour, as we have learned from the inefficient but lethal “war on drugs”. In effect, zero-tolerance policies entrench and subsidise the exploitative employers as they do for the drug cartels. Since 99.9 % of undocumented migrants are not criminals, one needs to tackle the phenomenon of undocumented migration with harm-reduction policies, reducing the pull factors such as underground exploitative labour markets (through actively repressing exploitative employment), taking into account all the parameters of each case (doing case management as social workers do for residents), focusing on the well-being of individuals (empowering them to defend their rights) and punishing the real culprits, i.e. all those who take advantage of the precariousness in which such migrants find themselves »

MCALLEN, Tex. — The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend’s mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

“I only asked him why he was doing this,” she recalled. “Why me ? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days.”

 To read the full article, please click here.

Soirée-performance ROBAA, 30 mai 2017

10 novembre 2018
Centre des Arts Visuels, Université Fédérale de Pelotas (RS- Brésil)

Réalisée dans le cadre de l’exposition Onde são/estão os ossos, de Michel Peterson, tenue en juin 2017.

Curateurs : Helene Sacco et Cláudio Tarouco de Azevedo

To see the video, please click here.

The Guardian : 3,121 desperate journeys : Exposing a week of chaos under Trump’s zero tolerance

15 octobre 2018

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Commentary by Francois Crépeau : « An excellent analysis, with lots of cool infographics, of why, on immigration issues as it is the case on other complex social issues, zero-tolerance policies must be replaced by harm-reduction policies. »

On 6 April 2018, the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued a memoto federal prosecutors along the US-Mexico border directing them “to adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy” for violations of a federal law barring “improper entry” into the country. “You are on the front lines of this battle,” Sessions wrote, as if rallying his troops against an invading army.

Over the next six weeks, the collateral damage of the Trump administration’s policy was revealed : some 2,654 children were taken from their parents or guardians in order to fulfill the mandate that they be prosecuted for a criminal misdemeanor. As of 27 September, 219 children whose parents had already been deported remained in government custody.

They came to the US seeking a better life. They ended up behind bars. Thousands of documents analyzed by the Guardian provide the most comprehensive picture yet of what happened to immigrants prosecuted under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

To read the full article, please click here.