Migration & Coronavirus: A Complicated Nexus Between Migration Management and Public Health
T. Alexander Aleinikoff, University Professor and Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Associate Director, International Program, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Alan Kraut, University Professor of History, American University, and MPI Nonresident Fellow
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, MPI, and former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Governments around the world have adopted significant migration management measures to try to contain and halt the spread of COVID-19. Border closures, travel restrictions, prohibitions on arrivals from certain areas, and heightened screening have been among the leading policy responses, initially to try to block COVID-19 from crossing borders and later, as the pandemic became a global one, as part of a raft of mobility restrictions seeking to mitigate further spread. The success of these restrictions in stemming the initial breakout of public health threats across international borders as well as their role in mitigating "community spread" within affected states is a matter of dispute. More clear, however, is that internal measures—such as business closures and "lockdown" orders—are likely to be borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable, including refugees, unauthorized populations, and other immigrants.
This webinar, organized by the Migration Policy Institute and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed the state of play around the globe and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. Experts compared the current response (and rhetoric) to what has been seen during prior major public health crises in the United States and internationally, and discussed how this is likely to affect future mobility and international cooperation on issues such as humanitarian protection.