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The Hidden Refugee Crisis in the Western Hemisphere

Starts and Stripes

Courtesy William Billard/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on 1 November 2016.

While much attention is rightly focused on Syria and the Middle East, there are a growing number of refugees in the Western Hemisphere.

The largest group comes from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. For each of the past three years between 300,000 and 450,000 Central Americans have fled north. Of these, between 45,000 and 75,000 are unaccompanied children; another 120,000 to 180,000 families (usually a mother with children); and between 130,000 to 200,000 single adults. These numbers peaked in May and June 2014 when more than 8,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S. border each month. 2016 numbers are again rising, with August inflows higher than ever before.

These migrants are fleeing violence (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are some of the most dangerous nations in the world), poverty, and the economic devastation wrought after three years of record droughts. They are pulled to the United States through personal ties. One study of interviewed minors found 90 percent had a mother or father in the United States. Many of these U.S. residents from Honduras and El Salvador came on temporary protected status (TPS) visas, meaning they can live and work legally in the United States but may not sponsor other family members (including their children).

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Come Fly with Me: Airports and Geographies of Rendition

C-130 Hercules prepares for landing during KEEN SWORD 2015 at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Image: US Air Force/Flickr.

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 18 December 2014.

A recent Senate intelligence committee report on the use of torture concluded that the CIA has mislead the American public and by implication the wider world. Although fiercely contested by former members of the George W Bush administration, the report served as a reminder about the extensiveness of torture – or specifically the geographies of torture. The process of finding, transporting, imprisoning, questioning, torturing and archiving the treatment of suspects/illegal combatants/terrorists involved a great deal of labor. » More

The Eclipse of Europe: Italy, Libya, and the Surveillance of Borders

Image: Flickr.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by E-IR on 30 March 2014.

Bilateral Agreements between Italy and Libya: Security without Human Rights

Not much has been said about the Ministerial Conference held in Rome on the 6th of March 2014, where foreign ministers, high-level delegations from Libya, and representatives from international organisations gathered to discuss the current situation of Libya. At the forefront of the conference were the economic ties between Libya and its partners, the disarmament of paramilitary groups necessary to defend those ties, the patrolling of borders, and the subsequent issue of illegal migration. These last two points come as no surprise, given that Libya is among the signatories of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) protocol to prevent human trafficking. Yet not even a word was spent on the life-straining conditions of Libyan migrants who ­– despite coming from countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Togo, and Mali – are not regarded as potential asylum-seekers, but rather considered “illegal” and “unwanted” people, as they were under the Gaddafi regime. » More

Deportation Mania

Leaving Switzerland behind bars, image: Nicolas Macgowan/flickr

Zurich Airport, 18 March 2010. A Nigerian immigrant, convicted of drug dealing died shortly before boarding the plane on which he was to be deported to his home country. As a consequence, deportation of illegal immigrants was stopped. Diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Nigeria became strained.

Of the 1800 Nigerians who immigrated to Switzerland last year, only 1 percent were granted asylum. The rest are asked to leave the country. Those who refuse to move are deported forcefully.

Last week the Swiss government announced that a memorandum of understanding  with Nigeria had been signed, allowing for “special flights” to be resume on 1 January 2011. A Nigerian state secretary insisted that Nigeria agreed “voluntarily” and his Swiss counterpart talked of a “win-win-situation.”

What’s the deal? » More