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Executive Summary for March 15th

We review the latest developments on refugee issues, including efforts by U.S. Congress to limit President Obama’s resettlement plan, German chancellor Angla Merkel’s setback in the latest polls over refugee policy, and rising tensions between Greece and Macedonia over returning asylum seekers.

Published on March 15, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

U.S. Congress to Curb President Obama’s Open Refugee Plan

U.S. congressmen are challenging President Barack Obama’s pledge to welcome Syrian refugees through a new reform bill on resettlement.

The proposed legislation will “give state and local governments the power to decide if refugees are to be resettled within their communities and gives Congress, not the president, the authority to set the overall refugee ceiling for each year,” according to WND News.

The U.S. Congress has been angling to stem the flow of Syrian refugees since November 2015, despite President Obama’s threats to veto such bills. Expressing through tweets that “slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values,” he has been a vocal proponent of taking in more refugees.

Critics of Obama’s Syrian refugee plan have warned of continuing flows into the country, often citing fears of terrorism. But the administration cannot admit many more than 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016, due to guidelines set by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The U.S. has admitted fewer than 2,200 Syrian refugees since March 2011, according to government figures.

German Election Results Challenge Merkel’s Refugee Policy

German chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to stand by her refugee policy despite the anti-immigrant Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) gaining political ground over the issue.

Last Sunday’s polls resulted in AfD entering the German Parliament with significant victories in three regions, according to a Guardian report.

“The refugee question requires a European solution – a sustainable solution – and that solution requires time,” admitted Chancellor Merkel during a press conference, while claiming that AfD’s victory did not pose an “existential threat” to her party, the Christian Democrats.

Amid the continuing arrival of asylum seekers in Europe, anti-refugee sentiment is gaining public support and the recent victory of AfD is proof, media reports have claimed.

German public broadcaster ZDF conducted a survey in which 60 percent of respondents said they believed Germany could not cope with the large numbers of new arrivals, according to a Reuters report.

Tensions Rise as Macedonia Sends Back Refugees to Greece

Border police in Macedonia (FYROM) expelled thousands of refugees entering through the border with Greece, leading to more tensions between the neighboring countries. Meanwhile, some of the returnees claimed that FYROM used violence to turn them back, regional media outlets reported.

Athens and Skopje lashed out against each other over the incident, with Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Poposki accusing Greece of “organizing” the move. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras claimed that the refugees’ entry was triggered by “misinformation” on borders and continued to admonish Macedonia’s decision to close the border.

Recommended Reads

Top image: A train enters the northern Greek border post of Idomeni, turned into a makeshift migrant camp, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

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