Category Archives: United States

Transatlantic Trends: Immigration Survey 2011 / US and European Public Opinion

Transatlantic Trends has released a public opinion survey: “The results of the 2011 Transatlantic Trends: Immigration survey captures U.S. and European public opinion on a range of immigration and integration issues.  The most important highlights of this year’s survey show

  • 1) there is a remarkable stability of general immigration opinions over time,
  • 2) the public supports European Union burden-sharing on migration resulting from the Arab Spring and increasingly favors European responsibility for setting immigrant admissions numbers, and
  • 3) the public tends to favor highly educated immigrants but still prefers immigrants with a job offer.

Now in its fourth year, Transatlantic Trends: Immigration (TTI) measures public opinion on immigration and integration issues on both sides of the Atlantic. The countries included in the 2011 version of the survey were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain…. [***]

Key Findings of the Survey – General Perceptions – Stability in Public Opinion: Basic public stances on immigration have not changed notably in the last year, even in Europe where the perceived threat of movement resulting from the Arab Spring was a central issue. Immigration remained a second order concern for the public, following the economy and unemployment. Perceptions of immigration as a problem or opportunity have changed little since 2008, the first year of the survey. In 2011, 52% of Europeans and 53% of Americans polled saw immigration as more of a problem than an opportunity, with the strongest pessimism in the United Kingdom (68%)…. [***]

Forced Migration, the Arab Spring, and Burden-sharing – Sympathy for Forced Migration for Various Reasons. The public was sympathetic to the plight of migrants forced to flee their homes for a number of reasons: to avoid persecution, armed conflict, and natural disaster. Fewer but still a majority of respondents were also in favor of accepting migrants seeking to avoid poverty. Respondents in Spain (76%), Italy (68%), and the United States (64%) were the most supportive of those fleeing poor economic conditions, compared to a European average of 58%.

Key Findings of the Survey – Forced Migration, the Arab Spring, and Burden-Sharing – Dealing with the Arab Spring:  Europeans in general were very open to helping countries in North Africa and the Middle East experiencing the turmoil and aftermath of the Arab Spring with either trade (84% in favor) or development aid (79% in favor), though they were wary of opening their labor markets to migrants from the region (47% in favor) and would prefer that migrants who were admitted stay only temporarily. Eighty percent of European respondents supported European burden-sharing to cope with the flows emanating from the region….[***]”

Click here for TTI Key Findings statement.

Click here for TTI Report.

Click here for TTI Topline Data.

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Filed under Analysis, Data / Stats, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, News, Reports, Spain, UK, United States

Office of Legal Counsel (US Dept of Justice) 1994 Legal Opinion, “Whether the Interdiction of Undocumented Aliens Within United States Territorial Waters Constitutes an Arrest Under Section 287(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act”

This post will be of little interest to most people, but I wanted to give an online home to this US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) legal opinion issued on April 22, 1994 [22 April 1994 OLC Opinion] and which we obtained last month pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to OLC in September 2009.

The legal opinion, “Whether the Interdiction of Undocumented Aliens Within United States Territorial Waters Constitutes an ‘Arrest’ Under Section 287(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” concludes that “[t]he interdiction within the territorial waters of the United States of illegal aliens entering or attempting to enter the United States is not an ‘arrest’ of such aliens within the meaning of INA § 287(a)(2).”

By concluding that an interdiction within US territorial waters does not constitute an arrest under US immigration laws, the 1994 legal opinion re-affirmed a 1993 OLC legal opinion that aliens interdicted within the 12 mile territorial sea zone are not entitled to hearings before an immigration judge which in turn means that such aliens are not able to seek protections under US immigration law, including protection against refoulement. The 1993 memo stated, inter alia, that “the State Department has advised us of its view that the United States’s international law obligations under the Protocol do not require it to provide … hearings to aliens who have merely arrived in its territorial waters.”

This rationale was extended by a 1996 OLC legal opinion to interdictions that occur within the “internal waters” of the US.  “Internal waters” under US law include such bodies of water as “the straits between the Florida Keys [and] portions of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Since 1992, the US has maintained the position that its obligation to apply Article 33 non-refoulement protection does not extend to persons encountered outside US territory in international waters.  While asserting it is not obligated to extend Article 33 protection to persons encountered in international waters, within the 12 mile territorial sea, or within internal waters, the US does extend Article 33 protection to interdicted migrants on a discretionary case-by-case basis.

Click on this link, 1994 OLC Opinion, for newly released 1994 OLC legal opinion: “Whether the Interdiction of Undocumented Aliens Within United States Territorial Waters Constitutes an ‘Arrest’ Under Section 287(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” Memorandum from Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice (22 April 1994).

Click here for 1993 OLC legal opinion: “Immigration Consequences of Undocumented Aliens’ Arrival in United States Territorial Waters,” Memorandum from Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice (13 October 1993).

Click here for 1996 OLC legal opinion: “Rights of Aliens Found in US Internal Waters,” Memorandum from Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice (21 November 1996).

Click here for Executive Order No 12807 (29 May 1992) containing, inter alia, US interpretation of its Article 33 obligations in regard to persons encountered in international waters.

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HRC Adopts Resolution on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing North Africa; Calls for Inquiry Into Allegations of Failures to Rescue Boats in Distress

The UN Human Rights Council, 17th Session, on Friday, 17 June, adopted a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.13) on Migrants and Asylum Seekers Fleeing from Events in North Africa.  The Resolution recalls states’ obligations under human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law, including the obligation of non-refoulement and called for ships patrolling the Mediterranean Sea to provide assistance to non-seaworthy boats leaving North Africa.

The Resolution also calls for “a comprehensive inquiry into the very troubling allegations that sinking vessels carrying migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the events in North Africa were abandoned to their fate despite the alleged ability of European ships in the vicinity to rescue them, and welcomes the call made by the Council of Europe in this regard on 9 May 2011.”  [NB – this quoted text is taken from a 15 June version of the Resolution and may not reflect the final approved language. frenzen]

The Resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 14 against, and no abstentions:

In favour (32): Angola; Argentina; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chile; China; Cuba; Djibouti; Ecuador; Gabon; Ghana; Guatemala; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Malaysia; Maldives; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Qatar; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Thailand; Uganda; Uruguay and Zambia.

Against (14): Belgium; France; Hungary; Japan; Norway; Poland; Republic of Korea; Republic of Moldova; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom and United States.

Excerpts from the Afternoon 17 June summary of the HRC meeting:

“OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), introducing draft resolution L.13, said the African Group recognized that due to the recent crisis situation in North Africa, migrants had suffered great hardship. Migrants were fleeing, not flowing out of North Africa. People were running away because their lives were at risk. Other root causes for migration did not apply in this case.  This resolution had been difficult to establish. Nigeria thanked all partners for their efforts in developing the draft resolution. The information emanating from North Africa was such that while neighboring countries did quite a lot in accommodating migrants, there were substantial difficulties in traveling from North Africa. Some people had even died at sea. Nigeria took note that some countries did provide assistance through their offices of migration or other mechanisms. The hardship suffered by migrants should be investigated in order to clarify the problems that arose and ensure this situation was not repeated. Nigeria believed that the Special Rapporteur, working with the High Commissioner, would be able to provide information about how to deal with such a situation in the future. The African Group would appreciate if the draft resolution would be approved by consensus.


ANDRAS DEKANY (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the European Union had assisted greatly with the humanitarian effort in Libya. From the outset the European Union had been at the forefront of humanitarian response. The European Union had been active in repatriating third country nationals.  This had been vital in reducing the stress on neighboring countries. The draft text was circulated late. The European Union had engaged in a constructive spirit on the text, while retaining a specific focus that would address the issue at stake in a more balanced and legally accurate manner, notably when referring to issues related to refugee law and law of the sea. It noted that this was particularly true with regard to PP7 and operative paragraphs, which introduced new language that was not consistent with public international law. The resolution did not capture the multi-dimensional aspects of the problem. There was no reference to the overall human rights situation in the region, and therefore the root causes of the plight of migrants.  The resolution did not refer to the responsibility of criminal traffickers and continued to characterize the situation in an unbalanced way. The European Union and its Member States had continued to observe the principle of non-refoulement. Not a single refugee had been subjected to refoulement. The European Union called for a vote and noted that it would vote against the resolution.

EILEEN CHAMBERLAIN (United States), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote on L. 13, said the United States shared concern for the migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the violence in Libya. A resolution requiring countries to recognize their obligations under international law and support victims of violence and migrants from Libya was important.  However, this resolution assigned the sole responsibility to countries of destination and avoided reference to the root causes of the problem. The draft resolution used language that misconstrued State obligations and responsibilities regarding those migrants and asylum seekers. The sponsors had delayed introduction of the draft resolution, thus allowing only a restricted period to review and provide comments on the draft resolution. The United States regretted that the manner the resolution was developed belied its importance and sent the wrong message to the Gaddafi forces.”

Click here for UN News Centre summary.

Click here for the AFTERNOON 17 June 2011 summary of the HRC meeting.

Click here or on this link [ L.13 Document As Received ] for Resolution “document as received.”

Click here for Resolution “document as issued.” [NB – this may not be the final approved version.]

Click here  or on this link [ L.13 Oral Revision ] for Resolution “oral revision.”

Click herehere or here for final versions of resolutions when available.  [HRC Extranet registration may be required.]

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Filed under Hungary, Libya, Mediterranean, News, OHCHR, Statements, United Nations, United States

Follow-Up Report and Analysis Regarding Failure to Rescue Disabled Migrant Boat Resulting in 61 Deaths

UNHCR today released more information from three Ethiopian survivors of the migrant boat that left Tripoli on 25 March with 72 passengers and which, after becoming disabled and running out of food and water, washed ashore in Libya over two weeks later with only nine survivors.

Additionally, the Bruxelles2 blog in a recent post, “Un navire de réfugiés non secouru ? Retour sur un drame non élucidé,” has provided detailed analysis regarding the possible identities of the helicopter and warships that failed to render assistance to the migrant boat after it had become disabled.  (See more on this below.)

From UNHCR’s statement:

“[One surviving] refugee said that military vessels twice passed their boat without stopping, and that a military helicopter dropped food and water onto the boat at some point during the journey. The first boat refused their request to board. The second only took photos, he said. The man was not able to identify where the vessels came from.

UNHCR staff met with the three in Shousha camp in Tunisia. One spoke Arabic, while the others spoke Oromo. UNHCR interviewed the Arabic speaker. He said that they paid smugglers US$800 to make the journey. The passengers were expected to operate the boat on their own.

According to the refugee, when water ran out people drank sea water and their own urine. They ate toothpaste. One by one people started to die. He said that they waited for a day or two before dropping the bodies into the sea. There were 20 women and two small children on board. A woman with a two-year-old boy died three days before he died. The refugee described the anguish of the boy after his mother’s death.

After arrival on a beach near Zliten, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, a woman died on the beach from exhaustion. The remaining 10 men walked to the town of Zliten where they were arrested by the Libyan police. They were taken to a hospital and then to a prison where they were given some water, milk and dates. After two days another survivor died.

After begging jail staff to take the remaining survivors back to hospital, they were taken to a hospital in al-Khums city. Doctors and nurses were said to have given the group water and told them to leave. They were returned to the prison and then taken to Twesha jail near Tripoli. Finally Ethiopian friends in Tripoli paid the prison US$900 to release the men. UNHCR is now providing them with assistance in Tunisia.”

Bruxelles2 notes that the survivors’ reports that the helicopter that dropped supplies had an “Army” marking on it would tend to suggest that the helicopter did not belong to France (“Marine”), Italy (“Marina”), the U.S. Navy (“Navy”), or the Royal Navy (“UK Navy”).  Bruxelles2 believes it is plausible that an “army” helicopter belonging to the US or UK could have been operating in the area, but US Army helicopters tend to be marked “United States.”  According to Bruxelles2 some British army helicopters do carry the “Army” marking.  (One other possibility I would note is that the survivors could simply be mistaken about the marking – they recall clearly that a military helicopter hovered over them and dropped supplies, but incorrectly remember, misread, or assumed that the marking on the side of the helicopter said “Army”.)

Bruxelles2 also suggests that there are other warships that might appear to be an aircraft carrier, especially when viewed from a small migrant boat.  Bruxelles2 points in particular to “the USS Kearsarge (LHD3), [an] amphibious ship [that] regularly hosts (and welcomed during the operations – which the U.S. Navy confirms) AV-8B Harrier vertical takeoff [aircraft].”

Bruxelles2 also notes that the time period when the migrant boat was disabled and drifting was a period when there was a shifting of commands for the multiple European and US naval and air forces operating off Libya.  NATO took command of the maritime embargo on 23 March; the no fly zone and the air attacks were initially under the control of an ad hoc coalition (France, UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, Denmark); full command did not shift to NATO until 31 March and even then it took several days for the transfers of command to occur; and some military vessels continued (and continue to this day) to operate under independent national command.

In short, NATO may be fully correct when it says that a vessel under its command during the time period in question did not encounter the disabled migrant boat.  Further investigation into responsibility is needed.

Click here for UNHCR statement.

Click here for Bruxelles2 post. (FR)

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Filed under Analysis, France, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, UK, United States

Annual number of asylum applications in select countries, 2004-2009

From Migration Policy Institute’s MPI Data Hub: annual number of asylum applications in select countries.  I copied the data for years 2004-2009 below.  Click here for the data for the years 1980-2009, footnotes, and source information.

Countries of destination 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Australia 3,201 3,204 3,515 3,980 4,771 6,170
Austria 24,634 22,461 13,349 11,921 12,841 15,830
Belgium 15,357 15,957 11,587 11,114 12,252 17,190
Canada 25,750 20,786 22,868 27,865 34,800 33,250
Denmark 3,235 2,260 1,918 1,852 2,360 3,750
Finland 3,861 3,574 2,324 1,505 4,016 5,910
France 58,545 49,733 30,748 29,387 35,404 41,980
Germany 35,613 28,914 21,029 19,164 22,085 27,650
Greece 4,469 9,050 12,267 25,113 19,884 15,930
Ireland 4,765 4,325 4,315 3,985 3,866 2,690
Italy 9,722 9,548 10,348 14,057 30,324 17,600
Netherlands 9,782 12,347 14,465 7,102 13,399 14,910
Norway 7,945 5,402 5,320 6,528 14,431 17,230
Spain 5,535 5,254 5,297 7,662 4,517 3,000
Sweden 23,161 17,530 24,322 36,373 24,353 24,190
United Kingdom 40,620 30,815 28,335 27,880 31,315 29,840
United States 44,972 39,240 41,101 40,449 39,362 38,968

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Filed under Australia, Belgium, Data / Stats, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, United States

US Govt Chartered Ferry to Attempt Evacuation of US Citizens from Tripoli Wednesday Morning, 23 Feb.

The US State Department issued a statement that a US government charted ferry will attempt to dock at the “As-shahab Port in central Tripoli, located on the sea road across from the Radisson Blu Mahari Hotel, [and depart] for Valletta, Malta on Wednesday, February 23. Processing of passengers will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. local time.  U.S. citizen travelers wishing to depart should proceed as soon as possible after 9:00 a.m. to the pier and arrive no later than 10:00 a.m.”

Click here for full US Embassy Tripoli Warden Message.

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WikiLeaks 2008 US Cable: Death of Key Libyan Official Hampers Counter-Migration Efforts / Malta’s Efforts to Negotiate Readmission Agreement With Libya On Hold

This cable reports comments made by Malta’s Ambassador to Libya, Joseph Cassar, about the negative impact caused by the death of Fawzi Ghariba, Director of International Cooperation for Libya’s Port Authority-equivalent, on Maltese efforts to coordinate migration control and SAR operations with Libya.  The cable was written in May 2008 by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, Chris Stevens, and is titled:  “Death of Key Libyan Official Hampers Counter-Migration Efforts.

Ambassador Cassar was reported as saying that the death of Fawzi Ghariba six weeks earlier “had negatively impacted the GOL’s responsiveness on illegal migration issues at a critical time.”  Cassar said Ghariba “played a key role in finalizing recent Malta-Libya and Italy-Malta bilateral cooperation agreements on migration issues [and that he] was an energetic and efficient operator and one of the only GOL officials who approached illegal migration with any sense of urgency.  Cassar “said efforts to finalize … a readmission agreement under which migrants found to have entered Malta illegally could be returned to their country of departure (Libya) rather than their countries of origin, had been frozen since Ghariba’s death.”

Most of the Cable’s text follows:



2.(SBU) Maltese Ambassador Joseph Cassar pulled P/E Chief aside for a conversation on illegal migration as the latter penned a message in the condolences book for the recently deceased Sir Anthony Mamo, the first President of Malta. Saying it had been “a bad week”, Cassar noted that more than 70 illegal migrants had made landfall and requested asylum in Malta during a single 48-hour period earlier this week. More than half of the 70 individuals claimed to have departed from Libya’s coast, prompting Valletta to task its embassy in Tripoli to reiterate requests that the GOL increase patrols in its Search and Rescue area (SAR). Cassar noted that more vessels transporting illegal migrants appear to be calling via satellite telephones to claim distress and request assistance immediately after entering Malta’s SAR. He suggested that they did so to mitigate the chance that they would founder before being rescued.


3.(SBU) Cassar said the GOL’s response to the Maltese demarche had been “disappointing”. He noted that the unexpected death six weeks ago of Engineer Fawzi Ghariba, former Director of International Cooperation for Libya’s Port Authority-equivalent and a key interlocutor on counter-migration efforts, had negatively impacted the GOL’s responsiveness on illegal migration issues at a critical time. (Note: Launches from Libya of vessels transporting illegal migrants typically increase in spring/summer months to take advantage of improved weather and sea conditions. End note.) Describing Ghariba’s operating style as “American”, he said the late official played a key role in finalizing recent Malta-Libya and Italy-Malta bilateral cooperation agreements on migration issues (reftel). More importantly, Ghariba was an energetic and efficient operator and one of the only GOL officials who approached illegal migration with any sense of urgency. In several cases, Ghariba had galvanized the GOL to deal with migration issues and prompted disparate GOL entities to coordinate their efforts through the force of his personality. On instructions from Valletta, Cassar has asked the GOL several times when a successor to Ghariba might be identified; however, the GOL has demurred, saying it would be unseemly to rush to appoint a replacement.


4.(C) Cassar said Malta has focused on enhancing training for Libyan CG officials patrolling Libya’s SAR area. He said efforts to finalize an agreement to provide such training, as well as a readmission agreement under which migrants found to have entered Malta illegally could be returned to their country of departure (Libya) rather than their countries of origin, had been frozen since Ghariba’s death. (Comment: A number of European countries have been pursuing similar readmission agreements with the GOL. All have encountered significant difficulty in attempting to finalize those, suggesting that factors other than Ghariba’s death may bear on Malta’s efforts. End comment.) He encouraged the U.S. to continue focusing on training and material assistance for Libya’s CG. (Note: Two Libyan CG officers are scheduled to participate in upcoming training programs at a facility in Malta that uses a U.S. Coast Guard curriculum. End note.) Suggesting that he did not agree with Valletta’s position that equipment donations [i.e., by wealthier EU countries like Italy] to Libya to combat illegal migration be predicated on the GOL “taking greater responsibility” for its SAR, Cassar described the Libyan CG’s equipment needs as “considerable”….”

Click here and here for full Cable.

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Filed under Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, United States

WikiLeaks 2009 US Cable: EU-Libya Framework Agreement Hangs on ICC, Trade, Migration

This cable provides the views of the US Embassy in Tripoli as of July 2009 regarding the EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations.  A round of EU-Libya negotiations took place on 13-14 July 2009.  The cable was written by the US Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires at the time, Joan Polaschik, and is titled:  “EU FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT HANGS ON ICC, TRADE, MIGRATION.”

According to the cable, Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala “railed against language stating that the [EU and Libya] agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations.”  Negotiations on migration issues however went more smoothly according to the cable: “the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations [on migration] were a ‘step forward’ and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Excerpts from the cable:

“1.(C/NF) Summary: The latest round of EU-Libya Framework Agreement negotiations hit snags over sensitive political issues and were slowed by Libya’s inefficient technical bureaucracy. The Libyans denounced the International Criminal Court and decreed that any language similar to the Rome Statute was off limits. Trade talks stalled when the Libyans announced that they had not examined the draft paper (presented in early 2009) and were unable to produce trade statistics from 2007/2008 or provide data on the Libyan tariff system. Talks on migration went more smoothly than expected, but significant issues remain before the agreement could be given to member states for approval. EU diplomats in Tripoli are skeptical that the EC will be able to get an agreement that can be implemented by both sides within the remaining two rounds of talks….


2.(C/NF) Representatives of the European Commission (EC) based in Brussels conducted the latest round of Framework Agreement negotiations July 13-14 in Tripoli with sessions focused on political dialogue, trade and commerce, and migration. Diplomats from EU member states — participating as observers to the EC-Libya negotiations — said that discussions on the political framework were particularly heated. Libyan negotiator Mohammed Siala railed against language stating that the two parties agreed to discuss crimes against humanity in an international context, angrily stating that any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or text similar to that of the Rome Statute would cause a total breakdown of the framework negotiations. According to the UK embassy, nothing in the political dialogue paper is binding on either party and is merely agenda-setting for future discussions. EC negotiators were not/not pushing for Libya to accede to the ICC….


4.(C) … On migration, the chief EC negotiator told EU diplomats that the negotiations were a “step forward” and that more progress was made than expected with no major objections from either side on the draft as presented….”

Click here or here for the full Cable.

Click here for a post regarding an earlier US cable discussing the state of EU-Libya framework negotiations in 2008.

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WikiLeaks 2009 US Cable: Italian Ambassador to Libya questions sincerity of Libya’s commitment to combatting illegal migration

This US Department of State cable, released by WikiLeaks on 1 Feb 2011, was written by Gene Cretz, US Ambassador to Libya.  The cable is entitled “The Frogman Who Couldn’t Swim: A Cooperation Cautionary Tale.”  (The cable’s title refers to an incident where Libya sent a member of its Public Security organization who was unable to swim to Italy for training in underwater explosives detection and demolition.)

The cable was written on 17 February 2009 in the same month that the provisions of the Italy-Libya agreement relating to Italy’s maritime push-back practice took effect and three months before the first major interceptions and forcible returns of hundreds of migrants to Libya which occurred in May 2009.  If the US Ambassador’s reporting in the cable is accurate, it would suggest that Italy’s Ambassador to Libya at the time did not believe that Libya was about to begin cooperating with Italy on illegal migration.  Though the cable does point out that comments made by the Italian Ambassador “pre-dated the early February visit to Libya by Italy’s Minister of the Interior, Roberto Maroni, who signed an MOU to implement earlier agreements on counter-migration and counterterrorism cooperation.”

Excerpts from the Cable:


2. (C) At a recent meeting hosted by the U.K. Ambassador to discuss counterterrorism engagement efforts, Italian Ambassador Francesco Trupiani expressed profound frustration with difficulties Italy had encountered in trying to cooperate with the GOL on counterterrorism and combatting illegal migration (Italy views the two issues as being linked).  Italy was alarmed by the marked increase in the number of illegal migrants that had arrived in Italy – primarily on the island of Lampedusa – from Libya.  By way of example, he offered that 1,300 Tunisian illegal migrants traveled from Libya to Italy in 2007.  In 2008, 5,900 Tunisians made landfall in Italy after departing from Libya’s coast.  The number of migrants from Somalia – “a derelict state” – who had arrived in Italy increased from 5,110 in 2007 to 31,764 in 2008.  The number of Nigerians had increased threefold and featured a heavy contingent of prostitutes and narco-traffickers.


3. (C) Noting that smuggling illegal migrants was highly profitable, that the GOL claimed to exercise tight control over travel within Libya, and that senior regime officials traditionally had a direct stake in highly lucrative enterprises (licit and otherwise), Trupiani said it was “implausible” that large numbers of illegal migrants had transited Libya without at least the tacit consent of GOL officials.  The substantial increase in the number of illegal migrants meant a corresponding increase in the amount of money involved.  He speculated that there could be a “logical nexus” between smuggling of illegal migrants, arms trafficking and movement of terrorists, and lamented that no one appeared to be holding the GOL accountable for its failure to more effectively address those inter-related problems.  Worse, the GOL appeared to be deliberately delaying engagement with Italy and other European partners to leverage negotiations for a Libya-EU Framework Agreement (EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner was in Tripoli February 9-10 for the latest round of negotiations).


6. (C) Trupiani was not optimistic that bilateral cooperation would improve in the near term. (Note: Our exchange with Trupiani pre-dated the early February visit to Libya by Italy’s Minister of the Interior, Roberto Maroni, who signed an MOU to implement earlier agreements on counter-migration and counterterrorism cooperation (further details septel).  End note.)  He cited lack of human capacity and rampant corruption and nepotism as limited factors….”

Click here or here for the full cable.

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Filed under European Union, General, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, United States

DIIS Seminar on Political Asylum in the 21st Century (19 October, Copenhagen)

DIIS (Danish Institute for International Studies) is holding a seminar on 19 October: Political Asylum in the 21st Century.

The seminar will be conducted by Carol Bohmer, Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Government at Dartmouth, and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, DIIS Project Researcher, external lecturer in international refugee law at the University of Copenhagen, and author of the forthcoming book entitled “Access to Asylum: International Refugee Law and the Globalisation of Migration Control” (April 2011).

Description: Few issues have remained as politicized as asylum in the past few decades. Most nations recognize the moral and legal obligation to accept people fleeing from persecution, but political asylum applicants in the twenty-first century face restrictive policies and cumbersome procedures. Competing discourses of protection and control are predominant in present day asylum rhetoric. Governments need to address the conflicting needs of the state to protect their citizens from terrorists and the influx of hordes of unwelcome economic migrants, while at the same time adhering to their legal, moral and treaty obligations to provide safe haven for those fleeing persecution. Satisfying these conflicting goals at the same time may ultimately prove impossible, yet states continue to struggle to find ways to appear to meet both. How do they do it?  This seminar will attempt to answer that question and illustrate the sometimes absurd effects of this process. The seminar will further compare different policy approaches, notably the cases of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Denmark.

Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Register online no later than Monday, 18 October 2010 at 12.00 noon.

Click here for more information.

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Filed under Colloques / Conferences, Denmark, European Union, UK, United States

Joint US–Senegal Maritime Patrols

U.S Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman/Released

The United States Coast Guard recently completed a joint mission in cooperation with a Senegalese Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET).   Such patrols have been conducted with several other African countries.   The US Coast Guard operations were conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. Military’s Africa Command and are a part of the ongoing African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP).   While it is unclear whether this particular joint mission resulted in the interception of migrants, the US military article refers to numerous vessels stopped and searched for a variety of reasons, including narcotics interdiction.  The US vessel involved in this recent joint operation, USCGC Mohawk, frequently patrols the Haitian and Bahamian coasts as part of the US “Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations.”

Click here for US Military article.

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Filed under Eastern Atlantic, News, Senegal, United States

European–US–African Joint Military Exercises

16 years after withdrawing its military forces from Equatorial Guinea, Spanish armed forces members are now present in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Nigeria.  Spanish forces recently completed a three week multinational military exercise known as Flintlock 10 along with forces from other EU countries (France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands), the US, and 7 African countries.  Flintlock 10 was conducted in coordination with the US military’s Africa Command, Africom. (If you are not familiar with the US Military’s Africa Command, a quick look at its “2009 Posture Statement” will give you a feel for its very very extensive activities within Africa.)

Spain’s decision to resume a military presence in Africa was identified in its Africa Plan (“el Plan África”), adopted in 2006, which was intended to provide “‘a comprehensive approach to relations with neighbouring continent,’ sa[id] one expert, ‘but [also to] respond[ ] to the urgent need to curb the wave at the source of illegal immigration.’”  (Click here for the 2009Plan África.)

A joint maritime military exercise known as Exercise Phoenix Express 2010 began last week.  This exercise includes training of the Moroccan and Senegalese military by US and Spanish military personnel.  According to an Africom press release, Moroccan and Senegalese Maritime Interdiction Operations Teams are being trained on tactics, techniques, and procedures associated with Maritime Interdiction Operations.  Last month Spanish and US naval forces were involved in similar training exercises off the coast of Senegal under Africom’s Africa Partnership Station.

The current exercise, according to Africom, includes a focus on maritime interdiction operations.  Participating forces “will track and board suspect vessels carrying suspicious cargo, and Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Automated Identification Systems, along with MIOs like SARs and Visit, Board, Search and Seizures will be performed.”

Click here for El Pais article about Spain’s military’s return to Africa.

Click here and  here for Africom press releases.

Click here for US Naval Forces Africa press release.

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Filed under Eastern Atlantic, Mauritania, Mediterranean, News, Senegal, Spain, United States

US Navy Ship Rescues Stranded Somalis

US Navy Photo

A US Naval vessel participating in counterpiracy operations off the Somali coast rescued 30 Somali men, women, and children approximately 100 miles of the Somali coast on 25 March.  The Somalis had been drifting for four days after their boat’s motors stopped working.  The Somalis were returned to Somalia.

Click here for article.

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Filed under Gulf of Aden, News, Somalia, United States, Yemen

Haitians Prepare for Boat Journey to US

The Los Angeles Times reports on the construction of a boat in Cap Haitien, Haiti and preparations being made by some earthquake survivors to flee the country for the US.

“When builders finish the boat in a few days, it will set sail with … at least 40 others for the United States. If they survive the 600-mile crossing, and aren’t intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard, they’ll soon be walking the streets of opportunity.  …  The boat is being built on a narrow, secluded waterway that feeds into the bay, out of sight of Haitian coast guard patrols and U.S. ships that [the ship’s builder] said he’s spotted on the shimmering blue sea just outside the bay.”

Click here for article and here for photos and audio.

Click here for Christian Science Monitor article regarding recent US preparations for possible surge of Haitian boat people.

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Filed under Caribbean - West Indies, Haiti, News, Turks and Caicos, United States

US to Haitians: Don’t Rush to the Boats

While there have been few, if any, Haitians attempting to leave Haiti since the 12 January earthquake, and while the US has deployed a significant naval force in Haitian waters for the purpose of providing humanitarian relief, the deployment of the US Coast Guard vessels serves the dual purpose of discouraging boat people.

The US Air Force is flying a C-130 plane along the Haitian coastline broadcasting AM radio messages to Haitians on the ground – among the pre-recorded Kreyol language broadcast is a message from the Haitian Ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph:

“Listen, don’t rush on boats to leave the country.  If you do that, we’ll all have even worse problems. Because I’ll be honest with you: If you think you will reach the U.S. and all the doors will be wide open to you, that’s not at all the case.  And they will intercept you right on the water and send you back home where you came from.”

The US is also erecting tents and other facilities at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba in preparation for the mass detention of thousands of Haitians should there be a sudden surge in departures from Haiti.

The research office of the US Congress has issued an updated report on Haitian migration warning of possible mass migration:

“There are growing concerns that the crisis conditions in Haiti may result in mass migration from the country. Not only has there been massive displacement of people caused by the earthquake, but observers of the situation warn of potential and widespread lawlessness as well as outbreaks of disease. These health, safety, and security factors—individually or in combination—could trigger an exodus of Haitians seeking refuge in nearby countries, including the United States. At least five federal agencies now handle Haitian migrants: DHS’s Coast Guard (interdiction); Customs and Border Protection (apprehensions and inspections); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (detention); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (credible fear determination); and DOJ’s EOIR (asylum and removal hearings). DHS would take the lead in handling a potential mass migration and has long had a set of operational plans in place to respond to such a situation. In her TPS announcement, Secretary Napolitano warned of the consequences of Haitians fleeing to the United States.

At this moment of tragedy in Haiti it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation…. It is important to note that TPS will apply only to those individuals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.

The balancing of DHS’s border security and immigration control responsibilities in the midst of a humanitarian disaster poses a unique challenge.”

Click here and here for articles.

Click here for US Congressional Research Service Report.

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Filed under Caribbean - West Indies, Haiti, News, Reports, United States