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Trump Won’t Give Up on Asylum Ban

Plus: Boris Johnson’s coming clash with the EU, protest crackdowns in Moscow and Hong Kong, and the other stories we’re following today.

By , a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
Central American migrants, part of a group of 87 people deported from United States, wait on a van before being transported to a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 22.
Central American migrants, part of a group of 87 people deported from United States, wait on a van before being transported to a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 22.
Central American migrants, part of a group of 87 people deported from United States, wait on a van before being transported to a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 22. EDUARDO JARAMILLO CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The Trump administration pushes back against a court ruling barring new asylum restrictions, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets up a clash with the European Union, and authorities try to head off weekend protests in Moscow and Hong Kong.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.


The White House Wants to Keep Asylum Seekers South of the Border

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The Trump administration pushes back against a court ruling barring new asylum restrictions, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets up a clash with the European Union, and authorities try to head off weekend protests in Moscow and Hong Kong.

We welcome your feedback at morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.


The White House Wants to Keep Asylum Seekers South of the Border

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that it would fight a federal court decision to stop the near-ban on asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border. On Wednesday, a federal judge in California blocked the rule, which would require those seeking asylum in the United States to apply first in a country they passed through along the way.

Increasingly, Mexico is becoming that country: U.S. authorities have continued to expand the “remain in Mexico” program, sending those already awaiting asylum applications across the border to Mexico. Hundreds of Central American asylum seekers were bussed to the Mexican city of Monterrey this week, the Associated Press reports.

Threats to Guatemala. The United States has already upped its threats this week against Guatemala, where the high court has prevented President Jimmy Morales from signing a “safe third country” agreement. NPR reports that the Trump administration is now considering a travel ban against the country unless it escalates its immigration enforcement—similar to the pressure it put on Mexico in June.

A meeting south of the border. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is set to meet Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on Saturday to discuss migration, as both countries face continued pressure from the Trump administration to slow migrant flows.


What We’re Following Today

Boris Johnson set to challenge EU. In his first days in office and his first speech to Parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already set up a clash with the European Union as he pledges to negotiate a new departure deal by Oct. 31. (The European Union has repeatedly refused to renegotiate the agreement.) Johnson has also promised to get rid of the Irish backstop—an insurance policy intended to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by keeping both within the EU Customs Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit, raising concerns among the Irish government. The British pound continues to fall.

Authorities try to stop rally in Moscow. A large—and unauthorized—protest demanding fair local elections is planned for Saturday in Moscow, though Russian authorities have done their best to put a stop to it. Police raided several opposition figures’ homes on Wednesday and a court has already sentenced the activist Alexei Navalny to 30 days in prison for calling the protest. A similar rally on July 20 drew 20,000 people, and thousands more said they would participate in the next one. The city council election is set for September.

And Hong Kong police nix a march against mob violence. Hong Kong’s police have stopped plans for a weekend protest in the Yuen Long district, where suspected Triad gang members attacked people in a train station on Sunday, targeting anti-government demonstrators. The incident raised people’s fears of increased violence amid the city’s ongoing political crisis. The police have already been criticized for their delayed response to the attacks.

U.S. wants to “accelerate efforts” to end Afghanistan war. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have agreed to push forward quickly with efforts to end the war in Afghanistan. The announcement came amid a meeting between the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Ghani in Kabul, where violence continues to flare. Three bombs hit the capital on Thursday, killing 11 people.


Keep an Eye On

Tunisia’s presidency. President Beji Caid Essebsi, who led Tunisia’s successful transition to democracy after the 2011 Arab Spring, died on Thursday at the age of 92. The speaker of the parliament was swiftly sworn in as interim president and now has 90 days to hold a new presidential election. That’s a “challenging feat,” said Sarah Yerkes, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Parliamentary elections are already set for October 6.

Essebsi’s own party, Nidaa Tounes, could meet its end, Yerkes said. Furthermore, a controversial electoral law could bar certain candidates from running: “Essebsi failed to sign [the law] before his death, leaving its status, and thus the status of some popular presidential candidates like television magnate Nabil Karoui in limbo,” she said.

Imported trash wars. This week, Sri Lanka became the latest country to return trash imported from a Western country—with customs officials complaining that more than 100 containers of metal recycling sent from Britain included hazardous medical waste. In recent months, Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia have shipped waste back. China banned plastic waste imports last year, disrupting flows in the region.

The next governor of Puerto Rico. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned early on Thursday after weeks of protests over offensive leaked messages between him and his aides. He named his justice secretary, Wanda Vázquez Garced, to serve the rest of his term. But she has already been criticized for failing to tackle corruption within Rosselló’s administration, the Associated Press reports.

Turkey’s energy grab. Turkey has dispatched several gas exploration ships—escorted by naval vessels—to the disputed waters around Cyprus, seeking its own riches amid an energy boom. While the aggressive behavior isn’t new, it certainly isn’t helping calm tensions in the region as confrontation rises between the United States and Iran, Keith Johnson reports. 

For behind-the-scenes analysis on stories like this, subscribe to Security Brief Plus, delivered on Thursdays.


Odds and Ends

Pakistan plans to put its first astronaut into space by 2022, its science and technology minister said on Thursday. The announcement comes after neighboring India launched its first lunar mission this week. Pakistan will begin choosing the astronauts next year.


Foreign Policy Recommends

A series of prolonged blackouts have disrupted Venezuelans’ lives this year amid the country’s political and economic crisis. Zooming in on the day-to-day impact of the power outages, Christine Armario of the Associated Press visits a historic Caracas building to share its residents’ experiences. Nina Goldman, deputy copy editor


Tune In

Later today on FP’s podcast, First Person: Filmmaker Alexandria Bombach’s documentary, On Her Shoulders follows Nadia Murad, a survivor of the Yazidi genocide in northern Iraq. Murad has since won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize and the film has been widely celebrated. Bombach sits down with deputy editor Sarah Wildman for an intimate look at what we ask of survivors and when we ask them to speak.


That’s it for today.

For more from FP, subscribe here or sign-up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or typos to morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com

Audrey Wilson is a senior editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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