We are one (literally)

A new format for Borderline's first birthday. This week, the EU settlement scheme, Refugee Week, Kamala Harris, the G7 and the Fastly outage. Tuck in.

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

There's actual news below the fold, promise.

Borderline is one year old this week. I didn't plan a big celebration. It was a soft launch then, and it's a soft anniversary now. This is not a loud business. It's still finding its fit, its format and certainly its business model. It's on its third redesign and half a dozen pivots. (Did you notice? I'm trying something new today with the newsletter.) My topic is often uncomfortable, usually unsellable. I've been giving myself a hard time for not making more of it, while I have struggled most days to put in a full day. My mind wanders, my breaks stretch, my to-do list travels, too little changed, from one week to the next. One minute out of the pandemic stateside and hustle porn is promptly back on social media. Those posts make feel angry on a good day, inadequate on most.

I was never good at granting myself much compassion, but I have it for this creation. Borderline is not a rocketship of a startup or a unicorn of the creator economy. Forbes won't hear of us. But it has been a friend. It has led me gently by the hand out of severe burnout. It has been a school of podcasting and immigration policy, interviewing and even coding. It has been a vessel and an excuse to make wonderful connections. I have built it independently, but I have not been alone. Media artisans form a real community and many (they may not know it) have helped and inspired me: Thomas Baekdal, Tanmoy Goswami, Adam Tinworth, Ad Wondje, Adam Thomas, Ana Milicevic, Jonn Elledge, Lauren Razavi, Nicola Slawson, Simon Owens, Azeem Azhar, everyone at London Writers Salon... (Click through to all their newsletters, seriously.) Guests have generously shared their expertise and their platforms. Some were friends, others have become it. Twitter friends at least.

Most of all, you, dear readers and listeners, are making it all possible by giving me that most precious of currencies – your attention. Some have even parted with actual currency, which is even better validation and more convincing to my landlord. Thank you. To all of you who have expressed appreciation and admiration for Borderline, I ask just one thing: Tell other people.

  • Tweet this or simply forward this email to your friends and let them know about us. Word-of-mouth is the best way to grow and reach good, decent, smart folks like yourselves. Just 46 more signups before I reach the next plan level on Ghost and I can't wait for that hefty bill.
  • Consider a membership at just £5 a month to help me keep doing this work. You'll get the podcast early and in fuller edits, behind-the-paywall content, the ability to comment on the site, access to a weekly call with me and soon a community platform (is Discord any good?).
  • Is that too much? You can also just buy me coffee.

"It's never enough" has long been my work motto. It can be paralyzing but today, it feels like a promise. Onward to year 2...

🎧 On the podcast, I spoke with Daniel Trilling about wtf is going on at the Home Office. Coming up next to close out this particular GB-obsessed cycle, Amelia Gentleman on the Windrush scandal three years on.

News for the global citizenry

Current events and things to know for a good global life

🇪🇺 There's only two weeks left to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, as well as for British citizens living in France, Malta, Luxembourg and Latvia to secure their post-Brexit rights. People know by now, you'd think. But yesterday in a Facebook group, I came across a woman who thought she was covered by an old permanent residency card and only found out she and her two children needed to apply for settled status asap. The devil is in the fine print. If you are or know an EU citizen living in the UK, or someone who might be, especially if they are a child, in care or somehow vulnerable, be kind and have a polite check in with them.  They can apply here. There are very few cases where people don't need to apply, and you're better off applying for nothing than the reverse. There will be little recourse after 30 June. Here's where we stand.

🗽 It's Refugee Week here and on Sunday, World Refugee Day. Made up holidays are worth diddly squat, but it's an opportunity to educate yourself on the, er, generous legal routes "good refugees" are supposed to follow. Check out episode 26 with Ty McCormick on one family's 30-year quest for a place to call home. Then read about the short life and long journey of Artin Iran Nezhad (🇬🇧), a 15-month-old boy whose body was found on a beach in Norway after his entire family drowned trying to cross the Channel. They were a Kurdish family of five living in poverty and fear of persecution in Iran. They were too poor to hire the 'safer' smugglers that would deliver them to English shores to seek asylum. Artin was a cheerful boy who liked to play with water.

“If we as asylum seekers have no legal way to reach safety we have no choice but to use the illegal way. That is what the family who drowned were forced to do. I wish they can rest in peace in the next world.”

I've been into making annotated charts lately, after the Home Office released its quarterly data. Here's another reality check and more charts here.

The future is global

Looking further ahead at the big ideas shaping our interconnected world

🇺🇸 When Vice-President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala, she had a simple message for Central Americans envisaging the trek to the US border: "Do not come." The harsh tone was a reminder that the Democratic administration, for all its campaign rhetoric, has not so far softened much of the immigration policy of the Trump era (🇺🇸). "There are legal methods by which legal migration can and should occur," Harris said. Yes, and showing up at the border of a safe country and asking for asylum at the first opportunity is one. I doubt the US administration imagines an unkind speech will be a more effective deterrent than cartels, smugglers and the desert sun. The audience for Harris' speech was at home. So, it turns out, is her problem. It is epitomized by the 25 richest Americans who, according to a stellar ProPublica investigation (🇺🇸), paid a true federal income tax rate of 3.4% between 2014 and 2019. Some years, some paid $0. If you want to stop people reaching out for a better life in a wealthier country, and if you want to prevent the poorer people there feeling put out by new arrivals, don't tackle migration. Tackle inequality.

🌅 Is the sun rising again in the West? The G7 summit in Cornwall was the occasion of much "The West: hot or not?" commentary. In The New Statesman, Jeremy Cliffe offers a thorough history of the concept (🇬🇧) and three options for its future: Westlessness, Westfulness or Westishness? I'm not sure the neologisms will survive, but the frame is helpful. It might also be moot, even dangerous. As Hassan Damluji told us on the podcast, "When it comes down to it, this West versus not West is just a way of dividing the world into people like me and people not like me. And that is not how you bring people together." On France Inter, radio columnist Pierre Haski echoed that feeling (🇫🇷). Allow me to translate:

The defense of democracy, in a world where it is threatened, is too important a task to be left to privileged countries alone, who have not always been so respectful of the values they profess. If it should be the cause of the West alone, democracy would be in serious danger. It will only be truly defended, especially in the face of China's opposing values, if it becomes truly universal – which the G7 is not.

👾 During the Fastly outage which took down multiple websites including gov.uk for more than an hour, 5 million Europeans had no means of proving their legal status in the UK. Imagine if this lasts even just a day, while your future employer or landlord is deciding whether to take you on... (Like I wrote, the flaws in the EU settlement scheme are just starting to show.) The absence of physical documents in an increasingly digitized immigration system doesn't just create a practical risk. It puts power and control over one's identity and rights firmly into the hands of the state. One can quite literally no longer hold them. If you've ever had to question where you belong, you know the calming effect of thumbing a passport with the right stamps.

The (border) wall

This is where you can make your announcements. Got a promotion? Need help on a project? A newsletter to pimp? Want to propose marriage to another Borderliner? Reach out. (I reserve the right to publish only what's relevant to this community and does not create a conflict of interest for me.)

📚 Meet me on Goodreads! I keep track of every book discussed on the podcast and other relevant reads, with reviews. I'd love your contributions to the reading list.

🏴‍☠️ Noticed the flags next to third-party news articles? It serves two purposes: to help you quickly identify the language it'll be in and to check myself on the diversity of my sources. I inhale British, French and US media. Do send recommendations for good sources of analysis and commentary in your own countries.

Something good

❤️ Osime Brown, a young autistic man who was threatened with deportation and the subject of a massive public campaign, has won his fight (🇬🇧).

Something else

🐶 On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Nobody knows you're a human with feelings either. Taylor Lorenz's account of burnout among young social media stars (🇺🇸) hit home. The demand to endlessly create new content is exhausting, the abuse is constant. There is no annual leave here, no sick days. I feel for them and I recognize it. (Borderline will be taking a summer break in a few weeks, FYI.)


Isabelle Roughol Twitter

Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.