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Executive Summary for October 13th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including the E.U. making migrant smuggling its top security priority, a shift to increasingly deadly routes across the Sahara and the U.S. Attorney General’s call for a tougher asylum system.

Published on Oct. 13, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

E.U.’s Top Security Priority is Stopping Smuggling

The European Union’s top security priority in the coming years will be to stop the smuggling of migrants, a senior European official said.

“For the upcoming [E.U. policy] cycle, the areas with the biggest number of member states participating are first [against] the facilitation of illegal migration,” said Erkki Koort, chair of the internal security group at the European Council, referring to the upcoming “cycle” from 2018 to 2021.

The next priority is human trafficking, followed by drug trafficking, while weapons trafficking and child sexual exploitation were lower on Koort’s list, the E.U. Observer reported.

Migrants Take Riskier Routes Through Deadly Sahara

Migrants are taking more dangerous routes across the Sahara desert, where their deaths mostly go unrecorded, according to United Nations officials.

Many cross the desert on their way to the North African coast where they plan to take boats to Europe.

The death toll on the Sahara crossing may be at least double that of drownings in the Mediterranean – where 2,700 people have died this year – according to Richard Danziger of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “But we really have no evidence of that, it’s just an assumption. We just don’t know,” he said.

A crackdown on smugglers in Niger has made them more likely to abandon migrants in the desert, said Giuseppe Loprete, with the IOM in Niger. “Right now they are looking for alternative routes, I think at least equally dangerous,” he said.

“When you plug one hole, other holes are going to open up,” Danziger said.

U.S. Attorney General Calls For Tougher Asylum Procedures

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions urged Congress to tighten the U.S. asylum system, keeping asylum seekers in custody and imposing penalties for “baseless” claims.

Sessions also called for the U.S. to increase the threshold standard of proof that asylum seekers have a “credible fear” of going home and to make it easier to send them back to “safe third countries.”

The Trump administration has asked Congress to reform the asylum system in exchange for legislation to regularize the status of people formerly protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which President Donald Trump recently canceled.

Human-rights groups said the attorney general had mischaracterized fraud in the asylum system. “These individuals are not criminals; they are mothers, teenagers and children desperate to escape violence and persecution,” said Human Rights First director Eleanor Acer.

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