The Atlantic

The World Bargain on Asylum Is Unraveling

The United States isn’t the only country struggling to deal with a surge in people seeking refuge.
Source: Christinne Muschi / Reuters

In one sense, the Trump administration’s actions against migrants fleeing violence and deprivation in Central America have made the United States a glaring global outlier.

“The U.S. is the only country I know of that has experimented on any kind of serious scale with deliberately detaining children as a deterrent to their parents,” said David FitzGerald of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego. He was referring to the government’s now-reversed practice of separating kids from parents facing criminal prosecution for entering the United States illegally. (When it comes to those seeking asylum from persecution, as many Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans have been in the United States, countries typically keep families united and may not detain them so long as parents post a bond or can be monitored by the government while their cases are resolved. The United States has also experimented with solutions like this, though the Trump administration has favored housing migrants in detention centers.)

But more broadly, in wrestling with how to deal with unauthorized migration and particularly a surge in asylum-seekers at the border in recent years, the United States has plenty of company around the world. “Everybody’s struggling with this,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration expert at the Bipartisan Policy

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