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"Make Me Smart” Newsletter

The U.K. is seeking to “offshore asylum”

Ellen Rolfes Apr 19, 2024
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Want fewer migrants at your doorstep? Send them somewhere else. Many lawmakers in the United Kingdom think that is the solution to the uptick of migrants arriving on British shores. That’s why they want to start booking one-way flights to Rwanda for asylum-seekers, who would remain permanently in the east African country, even if they’re granted refugee status. And legislators are on the cusp of passing a law that would let them do so.

When former Prime Minister Boris Johnson floated the idea of sending migrants to Rwanda in 2022, he said it would “save countless lives” and deter illegal immigration. But theU.K. Supreme Court blocked the government from moving forward in November because it said that Rwanda wasn’t a safe country for processing or resettling refugees.

Enter the Safety of Rwanda bill, which is likely to become law this week or next.It declares Rwanda a safe countrybecause lawmakers say so. That would, in theory, allow the government to start sending some asylum-seekers already in the U.K. on an involuntary 4,000-mile journey.

Rwanda has become a popular destination for “offshoring” migrants — that is, sending people to third countries while their asylum claims are processed or to live permanently. Denmark struck a similar deal with Rwanda last year. Israel sent 4,000 asylum seekers there between 2013 and 2018, before abandoning the policy due to human rights concerns. (Several other countries, including Australia, Spain and the United States have also sent migrants to destinations besides Rwanda.)

Unlike other offshoring policies, the U.K.-Rwanda plan is more akin to mass deportation, the Economist notes, because “Britain’s responsibility to the asylum-seekers would end once they landed in Rwanda, which would then be responsible for granting them asylum, should they choose to claim it.”

Processing asylum claims takes time and money. Wealthier countries have tried to reduce their caseloads by creating policies they think will make them less attractive destinations. Offshoring asylum claimants is one such strategy, though it comes with its own costs. Even though no asylum-seekers from the U.K. have been sent to Rwanda, the British government has already paid Rwanda hundreds of millions of pounds.

Why are asylum claims on the rise? Some asylum-seekers are, in fact, fleeing violence or persecution due to new wars and conflicts, but many economic migrants may also be misusing the process to temporarily access work opportunities. The U.S. received 920,000 asylum applications during its 2023 fiscal year, 12 times more than a decade ago. There were more than 3 million cases pending at the end of 2023.

The U.S. denies migrants caught traveling by boat any access to asylum; migrants are either sent back to their origin countries or resettled in a third country. The government used Guantanamo Bay as a processing site for 46,000 Cuban and Haitian migrants in the 1990s, something the Biden administration has considered renewing if Haitians flee recent gang violence for the United States.

Smart in a shot

The chart described below.
Click on the photo above to see how your sleep compares with other Americans. (Gallup)

Are you groggily reading this newsletter in the wee hours of Friday morning? We were groggy writing it! Most Americans are sleeping less while wishing they slept more.

A Gallup poll released this week found that 57% of adults say they’d feel better if they had more sleep, up from 43% 10 years ago. That aligns with the fact that only about a quarter of people who responded said they were getting eight hours or more of beauty rest as sleep experts typically recommend.

There’s no clear reason why we’re not getting the rest we need. But it may be tied to America’s reverence of productivity — a.k.a. hustle culture — and where rest has become perceived as “wasted time” or a sign of laziness.

Ironically, a worker’s productivity dips when they don’t prioritize rest. One study found workers who sleep less than six hours a day lost productivity — equivalent of six workdays a year — because they were out sick or they were working at a sub-optimal level. People who sleep seven to nine hours a night only lost an average of 3.7 working days. All tallied, those productivity losses cost the U.S. economy between $280 billion and $411 billion every year.

So your boss should really care whether your work is getting in the way of sleep. At the very least, they should try to set a good example by not sending work emails at 3 a.m.

The Numbers

Samsung reclaimed its place at the top of the smartphone market, shipping more phones than any other brand, including Apple. Let’s do the numbers.

12 years

Apple and Samsung have competed against each other for market dominance since the early days of smartphones. For 12 years, Samsung beat Apple by shipping more phones worldwide. That changed in 2023, when Apple briefly overtook its South Korean rival at the end of last year. But numbers from the first quarter of 2024 show Samsung back at the top.


Samsung’s share of the global smartphone market was 20.8% in the first quarter, the International Data Corp. reported; Apple’s was 17.3%.


The number of iPhones shipped fell nearly 10% year-over-year, according to IDC.  Blame a faltering economy, declining sales in China, or as Quartz puts it, a lack of “oomph” in the latest iPhones.

289.4 million

The overall smartphone market is stronger than ever, with 289.4 million phones shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2024. While Samsung and Apple dominate, especially here in the U.S., many smaller rivals are coming to eat their lunch, and consumers who have been loyal to one brand may be tempted to stray.

None of Us Is as Smart as All of Us

Tell us what’s making you smarter at smarter@marketplace.org. We’d love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.

Geography is destiny

Writer Ellen Rolfes (hi!) is reading a Business Insider story about how the work-from-home job market has cratered  and what that means for remote workers who left big cities during the first few years of pandemic.

The internet under the sea

Editor Tony Wagner recommends this Verge story about the network of ships that stand by to repair the 800,000 miles of underwater cables on the ocean floor that the world depends on to stay connected.

Producer Dylan Miettinen recommends this data visualization from The Pudding, which unpacks the social, environmental and (surprise, surprise!) economic factors that impact the course of people’s lives from their teenage years into adulthood.

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