U.S. must go on taking refugees, EU
migration chief to say in Washington
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[February 07, 2017]
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European
Union's top migration official will tell the new U.S. Homeland Security
Secretary John Kelly in Washington on Wednesday that the United States
cannot shut its doors on refugees despite President Donald Trump's
The EU's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, will be the
first senior Brussels official to visit Washington since Trump's
inauguration more than two weeks ago.
Much of this time has been dominated by uproar over Trump's decision to
stop allowing refugees into the United States and barring almost any
travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, a move he said was needed
to ensure his nation's safety.
The EU is also trying to curb immigration after some 1.6 million people
arrived in the bloc in 2014-2016, an uncontrolled influx that caught it
unprepared, triggered bitter political disputes between member states
and raised security concerns.
The bloc has resorted to tightening its borders, rejecting labor
migrants more stringently and tightening asylum rules for refugees.
These measures, however, do not go anywhere near Trump's ban on
refugees, which the EU has criticized.
"Refugee resettlement is a global responsibility and it cannot be
shouldered by just a handful of countries," Avramopoulos told Reuters on
the eve of his talks with Kelly.
"Nations with a long experience in this field, having hosted millions of
migrants and refugees, I hope will continue playing their responsible
leading role," he said in emailed comments.
Should the United States rescind more permanently the international law
obligation to help people fleeing war or persecution, it would leave the
EU under even more pressure.
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European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris
Avramopoulos addresses a news conference at the EU Commission
headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 8, 2016.
REUTERS/Francois Lenoir -
Separately on Tuesday, a European court cast doubt on the bloc's
strategy to deal with the migration crisis, by saying EU countries
cannot refuse entry to people at risk of torture or inhuman
Avramopoulos and Kelly will also discuss security during their first
face-to-face meeting that comes at a delicate time for the
transatlantic relationship, with the EU worrying Trump could turn
his back on America's European allies.
"Democracy, equality, the rule of law – these are all values we
share with the US. Of course our openness should not come at the
expense of our security – but our security objectives should never
come at the expense of our fundamental values of openness and
tolerance either," Avramopoulos said.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Alison Williams)
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