PopPopulist leaders Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini continue to mirror each other with their migration policies. After writing about the controversies of the zero-tolerance policy last week, recent media reports have been flooded with the separation of migrant children from their parents while crossing the border into the United States.
Similarly, Italy’s Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini was under fire since his refusal to let the Aquarius dock in Sicily, a ship filled with hundreds of refugees rescued in the Mediterranean. The ship arrived instead to Spain today after it was welcomed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Since the barring of the Aquarius, Salvini has also turned away two more migrant ships. These decisions stemming from the Minister’s new hardline approach on migration is specifically against NGO rescue ships, seeing that other non-NGO ships carrying migrants are still permitted to dock in Italian ports.
In response to Spain’s acceptance of the Aquarius, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “We’re grateful this ordeal is over for all involved, but this incident is something that should never have happened in the first place.”
In addition to the controversies over the Aquarius, Salvini has recently proposed the creation of a census to register Italy’s Roma people to deport those who are not Italian citizens. Although he inisists it is not to individually identify the Roma, Salvini is bieng scrutinized as Italians are reminded of its history of the Fascist-era census of Jews. Fears are especially being raised due to Salvini’s history of intolerance towards the Roma.
Similar to the Italian ministers statement declaring that Italy will “not be Europe’s refugee camp”, Trump stated today that “the United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility.” It seems that both Trump and Salvini are testing the limits of populism’s hold over migration policies, vouching for extreme nationalism instead of complying by international human rights standards.
President Trump however is currently receiving heightened extreme scrutiny from many individuals and organizations, such as First and Former First Ladies Melania Trump, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. During this Father’s Day weekend, congressmen trying to visit individuals separated from their families at an ICE detention center in New Jersey were forced to wait an hour before seeing detainees, only being let in after banging on doors and dealing with local police. The list of Republicans and others speaking out against the separation policy is continuously growing, yet Trump continues to falsely accuse Democrats as the reason for the inhumane policy.
Listen the ProPublica recording:
In a statement issued during today’s press briefing by spokesperson to the U.N. Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric remarked “As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law. Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved.”
Though after receiving many questions about if the Secretary-General’s statement was issued directly towards the U.S. or not, Dujarric repeatedly noted this statement was “not a position that he has vis-à-vis, specifically vis-à-vis the United States. This is a principled position that he has for the way that migrants and refugees are treated the world over.” The lack of naming of the United States shows the U.N.’s continued trend to refuse to name culprits of crimes when the culprit is a powerful nation.