US Opinion and Commentary

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In Merkel, Obama Finds Like-minded Ally

Posted April 25th, 2016 at 12:09 pm (UTC-4)
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They are both calm, cool and collected. Neither are prone to melodrama; rather, they look for practical solutions. And they have both demonstrated maturity by getting past a nasty spat prompted by revelations that the U.S. government was listening in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations for several years. Shortly after arriving in Germany on Sunday for his final visit, Obama praised Merkel for sticking to a welcoming policy towards migrants even as Europe capitals have been shaken by deadly terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS: “What’s happening with respect to her position on refugees here, in Europe. She is on the right side of history on this,” he said. In return, officials say Obama hopes to get more support to fight ISIS militants, and for a trade deal with the European Union. As the president winds down his two-terms in office, he seems driven to secure America’s best friends and raise the public discourse during a particularly pugilistic American election season that will determine his successor.

Containing the Chaos of Migration

Posted April 13th, 2016 at 12:16 pm (UTC-4)
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It takes a lot to uproot oneself (and family), arrange travel via a trafficker, step onto a boat with a few possessions and no guarantees.They are called migrants or refugees—or both. Whichever term comes to mind, they are all people, many looking to improve their lot in life. But most, experts say, are running from instability and violence. According to the United Nations, the recent wave of migrants represents the largest dislocation of people since the Second World War. The estimated number of migrants in Europe runs in the hundreds of thousands, up to over a million registered asylum seekers. Thus, the term “migrant crisis,” which is useful shorthand, but doesn’t allow for the scale and scope of human suffering involved. As Europe struggles to cope with the influx (via the sea from Turkey or Libya into Greece or Italy, for the most part), America is bracing for the expected spillover.

Europe’s Migrants Face Struggles Anew With Deportations

Posted April 4th, 2016 at 2:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Just days before Greece began deporting migrants to Turkey under a deal to ease Europe’s migrant crisis, Amnesty International released a report alleging the forced return of Syrians in Turkey back to the very war zone they fled. Not all of the migrants stuck in temporary centers on the coast of Greece are Syrian, but they are migrants nonetheless — vulnerable, stateless and subject to abuse. Fears that terrorists (Syrian migrants are the most likely to be targeted as such) are among them have been stoked from Europe to the United States, while others are protesting what they say is an inhumane policy. Every single person who is now deemed a “migrant” has a story, a compelling reason for leaving their homes, often under dangerous circumstances that are hard to imagine. Migration is a fact of life, historically documented. More than 100 years ago, America was the destination point for those hoping for a better life. Now it’s Europe’s turn. After deadly terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe — Paris and Brussels — the basic human desire to create a better life is colliding head on with rising fears that terrorist groups like ISIS can attack at any time and in any place.

Strengthening The Global Response to Refugee Crises Worldwide

Posted February 1st, 2016 at 5:19 pm (UTC-4)
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Amid waves of migrants, many fleeing war in Syria, President Obama is set to host a summit on the crisis during the UN General Assembly in September

Meeting An Unprecedented Migrant Challenge

Posted January 14th, 2016 at 2:14 pm (UTC-4)
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“My colleagues and I in the State Department’s Population, Refugees and Migration bureau cannot recall another time as challenging.” Anne C. Richard

Refugees Another Casualty of Paris Attacks

Posted November 18th, 2015 at 3:54 pm (UTC-4)
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A group of American governors has declared it will not settle any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees the U.S. government has pledged to accept. But that position only amounts to an empty threat. State governors cannot make such decisions legally.The attempt to refuse refugees, which President Barack Obama described as a “dark impulse,” reflects a sense of fear following the devastating attacks by Islamic State militants across Paris. And it cuts to the heart of America’s historic identity: to be a country that welcomes those in great need whose lives are threatened. Despite the president’s vow to continue that tradition, others are pointing to shocking terrorist attacks at a soccer match, a concert and Parisian cafes as reason to tighten up America’s borders, lest just one terrorist slip by.

The Urgent Need for American ‘Exceptionalism’

Posted November 18th, 2015 at 1:03 pm (UTC-4)
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“Americans have been warned before and responded well to President Franklin Roosevelt’s wise belief that the only thing we have to fear “…is fear itself.” Fear would have us retreat. Fear would have us withdraw a helping hand. Fear would deny hope to those who have none.” Kevin Enochs

Battered Greece and Its Refugee Lesson

Posted September 21st, 2015 at 9:34 am (UTC-4)
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Greece has made me think about everything statistics don’t tell you. No European country has been as battered in recent years. No European country has responded with as much consistent humanity to the refugee crisis.

The Best Way the US Could Help Syrians: Open the Borders

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 3:03 pm (UTC-4)
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The US’s real shortcoming isn’t an undue hesitancy to help Syrians by dropping bombs. It’s our refusal to let Syrians help themselves by allowing more refugees to move to the United States — a solution that would certainly work, would carry little in the way of short-term financial costs, and that would likely provide a powerful boost […]

Syria’s Refugees are Human Beings: Why the U.S. has a Moral Duty to Help Them

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 10:46 am (UTC-4)
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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne Richard recently told NPR that America’s stance regarding Syrian refugees was “very rapidly going to change.” One would hope so, because it’s hard to imagine the U.S. doing much less. To date, America has welcomed fewer than 2,000 refugees.

The Death of Aylan Kurdi and the Need For a Moral Policy on Refugees

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 10:04 am (UTC-4)
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These refugees and migrants are mostly innocent victims of political failures, from the war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State to incessant insurgencies and political oppression in Africa. The world should not compound those failures with a moral one.

Europe’s Migrant Crisis Could Be Ours

Posted September 3rd, 2015 at 3:12 pm (UTC-4)
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The picture of the lifeless body of Syrian boy face down on a beach in Turkey seemed to jolt the world. Yes, a crisis is unfolding in parts of Europe where migrants from the Middle East and Africa are risking their lives to escape crises back home. While Europe confronts the reality of this influx, some warn the United States should be taking note. This could become a U.S. problem, with its roots in policies that attempted to keep America safely out crisis zones.

Magical Thinking on Migrants

Posted May 11th, 2015 at 2:46 pm (UTC-4)
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A far better (and obvious) way to put the smugglers out of business is to make migration from Libya to Europe safe and legal.

A Somalian Solution to the Perilous Exodus

Posted May 11th, 2015 at 12:10 pm (UTC-4)
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As long as Somalia’s thousands of young people are stifled by poverty and condemned to hopeless, endless waiting, they will continue to risk their lives seeking better opportunities on the other side of the Mediterranean.