The number of people around the world forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution reached its highest total since World War II, with more than 51.2 million fleeing their country or displaced within it, the UN refugee agency reported in 2014. An estimated 13.6 million people have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq alone, constituting what the UN High Commissioner for Refugees dubbed a mega-crisis.
After years of gridlock, increasing pressure from immigrant advocates, and several delays in 2014, President Obama announced sweeping executive actions to provide deportation relief to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The plan sparked a political firestorm among Republicans who vowed to use all tools at their disposal to block the actions, ensuring that immigration will continue to be a flashpoint for the remainder of the president's term.
In 2014 governments in Europe, North America, and Australia reacted to significant mixed flows of humanitarian, economic, and family-stream migrants with a range of new policies. These came as some migrants presented themselves to authorities for processing rather than trying to evade U.S. or European border controls, with the knowledge that backlogs and little political will for the removal of vulnerable populations might allow them to stay for extended periods.
Fears regarding the spread of the deadly Ebola virus following an outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone prompted governments around the world to regulate travel from and within West Africa. Travel bans, airport health screenings, closed borders, and traveler quarantines were among the policies implemented. International organizations argue such restrictions drive possibly symptomatic travelers to illegally bypass borders and encourage dishonesty in the exit screening process.
New migration patterns at the U.S. Southwest border, including a shift in border crossers from primarily Mexican men to Central American families, and from the California and Arizona borders to the Rio Grande Valley, have important implications for U.S. border policy and enforcement strategies, raising questions of what consequences might deter unauthorized Central Americans while still meeting international obligations to protect vulnerable migrants.
Increasing numbers of Westerners heading to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist organizations like ISIS have governments concerned about possible attacks at home by returning fighters. Several thousand fighters from Europe and other Western countries are believed among the foreign nationals involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Lawmakers scrambled in 2014 to respond with new policies, including seizing passports, stripping citizenship, and criminalizing travel to "no go" zones.
Mass cases of exploitation and abuse of migrant workers have drawn international scrutiny and criticism of the kafala system in Gulf Cooperation Council countries and private recruitment practices in Southeast Asia. With Qatar under scrutiny amid a frenzied construction boom in advance of the 2022 World Cup, international organizations and human-rights groups in 2014 stepped up their campaign for worker protection reforms.
In recent years emigration from Mexico has declined, the country's stable economy has drawn an increasing number of international migrants, and the pace of transmigration to the United States has quickened. Amid these changing realities, punctuated by a spike in migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014, Mexico is confronting a new role as migration manager: balancing increasing enforcement and protection of migrants' rights.
2014 marked the quiet demise worldwide of the traditional points system for selecting skilled immigrants. Canada, which in 1969 invented the points system, in 2015 will join other countries in adopting a hybrid system that places more emphasis on a demand-driven system. This article examines how following the economic crisis, governments have revamped, hybridized, or ended such programs.
With a range of policies in 2014, China sought to address changing large-scale migration patterns within the country and beyond. This year included promises to reform the hukou registration system and thus enable an estimated 100 million internal migrants to access social services in the cities where they live, schemes to entice the return of emigrant professionals, and crackdowns on corrupt officials who send their families and money abroad.
Migration to the United States from the Korean peninsula, largely from South Korea, owes its roots to political, military, and economic factors, with an estimated 1.1 million Korean immigrants in the United States. Korean migration to the United States has stalled in recent years, and even declined, with a small but growing number of immigrants and their U.S.-born children returning to Korea, as this article explores.
This country profile analyzes Ecuador's migration trends and examines how remittances and return migration have become an important policy focus for a country with an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million nationals living abroad, chiefly in the United States, Spain, and Italy. As waves of emigration occurred, the country also has experienced significant inflows of refugees and economic and lifestyle migrants.
While immigration and the Latino vote may not have been decisive in the 2014 midterm elections, the Republican takeover of the Senate come January 2015 and increased majority in the House have significant implications for the outcome of the immigration debate. This article examines the changing dynamics and the president's intent to proceed with executive action to shield some of the unauthorized immigrant population from deportation.
Pacific Islanders with criminal convictions have found themselves deported from Australia, New Zealand, or the United States, which have shifted their immigration enforcement priorities in recent years. This article explores the significant barriers to reintegration that criminal deportees in Pacific Island countries face upon their return, including difficulty accessing community networks and jobs.
From 1980 to 2013, the sub-Saharan African immigrant population in the United States increased from 130,000 to 1.5 million, roughly doubling each decade between 1980 and 2010. This profile provides up-to-date demographic information for sub-Saharan immigrants including location, educational attainment, workforce participation, and much more.
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, with three cases diagnosed in the United States, has generated tremendous public fear and anxiety in the United States and other countries. The Obama administration has restricted air travel from West Africa to five airports with enhanced screening, amid calls for a complete travel ban. The Policy Beat examines the use of U.S. immigration controls to halt the spread of disease.
Recent surges in the arrival of unauthorized migrants with possible humanitarian claims have prompted the United States and the European Union to consider in-country and offshore processing for some refugee and asylum applications. As this article explores, some of the questions raised about the feasibility of such programs include their consistency with humanitarian law and their effectiveness in reducing unwanted entries.
In 2013, 11.6 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of the total foreign-born population, making Mexicans the largest immigrant group in the country. Using the latest data, this Spotlight examines the Mexican immigrant population by size, location, language ability, workforce participation, and more.
Drawing on a case study of two Hmong refugee populations from Laos that were resettled in a major Texas city and a German village, this article explores the different approaches to immigrant integration found in the United States and Germany as well as the outcomes for the Hmong and their sense of belonging in their new communities.
As Central American child migrant flows have returned to their precrisis level, challenges remain concerning the fate of tens of thousands of newly arrived children and families now residing in the United States pending immigration court hearings. Meanwhile, Congress has declined to authorize new funding to address the situation.
Between 1960 and 2012 the share of Canadians in the U.S. foreign-born population declined from 10 to 2 percent, while the actual number of Canadian immigrants has remained remarkably steady. Using the most up-to-date statistics, this profile examines the Canadian immigrant population by size, age, location, college education, and more.
Central American migrants have long hopped freight trains known as "La Bestia," or the beast, to get through Mexico en route to the United States. While Mexico has been accused of turning a blind eye to this traffic, U.S. outcry over the surge of unaccompanied child migrants has drawn new attention to the use of the trains. This article highlights the journey aboard the trains, the dangers faced by migrants, and responses by the Mexican government and others.
The once-tiny population of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States has grown to become the country’s sixth largest foreign-born group in the span of several decades, with the first wave beginning at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. This data profile examines the Vietnamese immigrant population by size, recency of arrival, top states and cities of settlement, college education, sending of remittances, and much more.
When Congress returns from recess in September, lawmakers will need to pick up where they left off on approving an emergency spending bill to address unaccompanied migrant children at the border. This article previews upcoming battles in Congress and analyzes how the recent border crisis is changing the broader immigration debate in the United States.
Turkey’s migration identity has shifted from being principally a country of emigration and transit to becoming a destination for immigrants and people fleeing conflict. In response, Turkish policymakers recently enacted a comprehensive migration and asylum law that took effect in April 2014. This article examines the new law, which is intended as a significant step toward managing both legal and irregular migration to Turkey, including humanitarian migration.