3 min read

Squid Game, Afghan refugees and the UK's new nationality bill | Borderline Brief #1

A weekly curation of news for global citizens: immigration, free movement, globalisation and more.
Squid Game, Afghan refugees and the UK's new nationality bill | Borderline Brief #1

⏱ This is a 2-minute read.

IMMIGRATION & ASYLUM

  • 🇵🇱 🇧🇾 Afghan migrants have become a political football between Poland and Belarus. Thousands are trapped between the two countries and denied the right to claim asylum as winter descends.
  • 🇬🇧 The UK's hosting of Afghan refugees appears a chaotic mess. About 7,000 Afghans airlifted out two months ago remain in hotels and could be there for months, local authorities are left to fend on their own with no budget or information, and the much vaunted Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, loudly announced this summer and promising to take in 20,000 Afghans, still isn’t open.
  • 🇺🇸 🇲🇽 US authorities encountered migrants attempting to cross into the country unauthorised 1.66 million times in fiscal year 2021. Yes, it's a record on paper but those headlines don't tell the full story because the data is iffy. But most vitally, in the US and elsewhere, the pandemic nearly shuttered all legal migration routes. It did not however end people's need or desire to move.

FREE MOVEMENT & TRAVEL RIGHTS

  • 🇺🇸 The US is changing its entry rules on 8 November. Instead of the country you come from, restrictions will be based on your vaccination status. It's good news for Europeans, less so for much of the Global South.
  • 🏝 The paid digital community Nomadlist broke down who digital nomads are exactly. It is an unsurprisingly super privileged bunch (and admittedly a self-selecting sample.)

GLOBALISATION

  • 🇰🇷 South Korea's Squid Game is Netfix’s most popular show ever with an estimated 1.4 billion hours of watch time, 95% of it outside the country. Welcome to the era of local-global TV.

THINGS THAT WORK

GOOD READS

LONG STORY SHORT: 🇬🇧 The UK’s Nationality and Borders Bill

  • The bill at the committee stage in the House of Commons seeks to further criminalise asylum seekers who arrive by sea without pre-authorisation if they have been through a “safe country” before. That’s a dubious legal argument that would essentially have all of them seek asylum in France.
  • The Home Office says it favours refugees waiting their turn to come in through official resettlement schemes. But those schemes are down to a sliver of a trickle – a grand total of 661 people in the year ending June 2021. Plus see above the Afghan situation. So don’t come “illegally,” but don’t come legally either.
  • Other provisions include protection for British officers who do not observe the duty of rescue at sea, and x-rays to be used to verify the age of an applicant. Silver lining: the bill closes loopholes that deprived of full citizenship some Britons born in overseas territories.
  • Multiple NGOs, lawyers, entities of the UN and the EU have warned the UK’s new immigration policy will embolden human traffickers and break international law.
  • How did the Home Office get so mean? It embraced the "hostile environment," a technique originating in counterterrorism that aims to make life so hard for immigrants they opt to leave or never even arrive. I recommend reading Colin Yeo's Welcome to Britain and Amelia Gentleman's Windrush Betrayal. I've covered it extensively on the podcast with both authors and in the episode below.
Episode 34: Wtf is going on at the Home Office? with Daniel Trilling
It’s scandal after scandal for one of Britain’s biggest ministries and an obstacle course for immigrants who encounter it. Why is the Home Office like this?

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