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Americans are inundated with news about building a wall along the southern border with Mexico and caravans of Southern and Latin Americans seeking asylum in the United States.
While debates rage on about which people should be admitted to the United States and how, this is not a solely North American phenomenon.
European countries are facing their own challenges in regards to immigrants and refugees seeking a new life in Europe.
These debates are not likely to go away anytime soon, as the UN Refugee Agency estimates there are upwards of 68.5 million displaced people around the world.
This number will grow as climate change continues to raise sea levels, displacing people in low-lying coastal areas.
Join us this week on Noon Edition as we discuss immigration and refugees.
Elizabeth Dunn, Associate Professor in the Department of International Studies at Indiana University, Member of the Board of Directors for Exodus Refugee Immigration, and Member of the Executive Board of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network
Erik Kirschbaum, correspondent for Reuters International News Agency
John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent for NPR
Elizabeth Dunn believes that it’s important for us to better understand why people are taking refuge in the first place.
“One of the things you have to think about to begin with is why people are on the move and one of the things that we’ve found out is that the nature of war has changed,” Dunn says. “It’s affecting civilians, it’s affecting people in urban areas now in ways that 30 years ago it would not have.”
Erik Kirschbaum says that the issue of refugees has had major political ramifications in Germany and the European Union.
“There was a wave of humanitarian support in the beginning, most people were really behind [taking in refugees], but that led to tensions in the rest of the EU because a lot of Eastern European Countries in the EU did not want to take in refugees,” Kirschbaum says. “So there were some fissures opening up in the EU that have gotten worse and worse over the years and now some tensions in Germany as well and that’s one of the reasons that Chancellor Merkel has come under pressure in her own party and recently had to give up control of the party leadership and announced she won’t be running again in 2021.”
John Burnett says that the US is seeing similar surges in immigrants and refugees.
“More than 25,000 individual family members crossed into the US just last month alone. That’s an amazing figure, it’s a record figure,” Burnett says. “Now the largest group of migrants who are coming into the US are these family members who are fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala because of the gang control in their neighborhoods extorting everyone, and then they’re also fleeing poverty, like food insecurity in rural Guatemala.”