As the United States and the European Union balance security needs with
refugee protection, they have engaged in different approaches to resettlement
programs. Gregor Noll, professor of International Law at Lund University
in Sweden, and Joanne van Selm, a senior policy analyst at the Migration
Policy Institute, explore these transatlantic differences in the latest
edition of MPI’s Insight series, Rediscovering Resettlement.
The report examines whether increasing the numbers of refugees who have access to resettlement may help resolve some of the refugee protection challenges faced on both continents. The report also evaluates the extent to which resettlement can respond specifically to current worldwide protection challenges.
The authors found that through its resettlement program, the United States accepted 916,000 cases between 1992 and 2001. Meanwhile, only seven countries in the European Union conduct resettlement programs, admitting a total of 47,000 people between 1992-2001. However, when resettlement figures were added to the number of accepted asylum seekers, the E.U. and U.S. granted comparable protection (3.7 admissions per 1,000 inhabitants for the E.U. and 3.8 admissions for the U.S.).
The publication provides insight into differences in transcontinental definitions, selection criteria, and the roles that government agencies and nongovernmental organizations play in screening and integration. It also investigates important tensions in refugee resettlement including:
We found that while on both sides of the Atlantic resettlement is being discussed, the starting points are different,” Van Selm said. “They type of resettlement policy that would be most appropriate and most beneficial to refugees is different in the United States and the European Union because of historical admissions policies and current debates about asylum and security.”
The authors conclude that resettlement is not a panacea for the perceived asylum crisis, as more asylum seekers will continue to arrive, needing protection. However, because resettlement creates a rapport between a destination state and refugee at the earliest stage of protection, extending its use may give governments better information to make decisions on individual cases and protect refugees from smugglers.
Ultimately, the authors recommend that policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic could collaborate strategically on resettlement programs, without necessarily using the same program models, to best assist those who have fled their countries in need of protection.
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