Executive Summary for September 8th

We review the latest news related to refugees, including U.S. conservatives using spending bill in a bid to halt refugees, E.U.-Turkey visa deadline extended and Ukrainian sailors used for “luxury” migrant passages.

Published on Sep. 8, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

U.S. Republicans Eye Spending Bill as Means to Stop Refugees

Some conservative U.S. lawmakers are seeking a moratorium on admitting Syrian refugees by threatening a government spending bill. They are offering to support a spending measure in return for a freeze on refugee entries.

The Syrian refugee issue is the latest rider to be attached to the annual bill that must be passed by September 30 to keep the federal government open. The ultra-conservative “Freedom Caucus,” which has used the bill as a hostage to previous causes, has now targeted the White House’s program to resettle Syrians in the U.S.

John Fleming, a Republican representative and caucus member, said that limiting arrivals of Syrian refugees was a “high priority” for the group. “We should not be allowing refugees from terrorist regions of the world, without proper vetting,” he told reporters.

E.U.-Turkey Deal Propped Up by New Visa Deadline

Turkey has accepted a new year-end deadline for an E.U. visa waiver for its citizens. The move temporarily props up the bloc’s migrant deal with Turkey.

E.U. foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini is due in Turkey on September 9 amid concerns that one of Ankara’s key demands will not be met. The recent coup attempt and crackdown that has followed make it less likely than ever that the E.U. will waive visas for Turks coming to the bloc.

Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim reportedly accepted a new year-end deadline on the visa issue, which is seen as a threat to Turkey’s cooperation in the refugee crisis.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently kept up the pressure, warning: “If our demands are not satisfied, then readmissions of migrants will no longer be possible.”

Gangs Using Ukrainian Sailors to Offer Luxury Passage

People smugglers are turning to Ukrainian sailors to get migrants into Europe. Italian police arrested two suspected traffickers who packed 50 Pakistani men onto a 39ft (12m) sailboat.

It was the latest incident involving professional Ukrainian sailors and a luxury vessel, a senior police official told Reuters on September 7.

Smuggling gangs are turning to yacht captains and sailboats in order to offer “luxury passage” at around $8,000 per person to would-be migrants.

“It’s a growing phenomenon,” said the official, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.

Most migrants trying to reach Europe risk the Mediterranean in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats. An estimated one in 42 of them die on the journey.

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