University of British Columbia
Symposium on the Migration Dynamics of North America Before, During, and After Covid-19
Migration has profoundly affected and continues to shape the social, cultural, demographic, and economic dynamics of Canada, the United States, and Central America—especially the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. And its influence will only grow stronger in the years ahead. In the meantime, however, the manner in which would-be immigrants from the region (and beyond) attempt to enter Mexico, the United States, and periodically, Canada, is fueling political crises in these countries, affects adversely the capacity and quality of protection regimes in the region, and complicates relationships and interactions within the North American region. In that sense, the migration facts on the ground and policy responses to them in North America embody and reflect many of the global dynamics—and challenges—of migration today.
Today’s regional migration story is occurring simultaneously with sweeping demographic, economic, and social changes both across Mexico and Central America, but also the United States and, perhaps to a lesser degree, Canada. These changes are altering the dynamics of the region’s migration system in ways that force a re-examination of long-established political axioms about the effectiveness of unilateral actions, and even sovereign prerogatives, in controlling unauthorized migration, each nation’s responsibility for protection, and most fundamentally, how to achieve and ensure the goals of safe, legal, and orderly migration that have become the mantra of government officials, analysts, and activists alike. And as if these challenges are not complex enough, they are reinforced by the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political forces that threaten to get out of control as publics lose confidence in their governments’ ability, and often will, to manage migration—and borders—in ways that both adhere to the rule of law and pursue pragmatic and cooperative solutions.
Among the questions the symposium will address:
- Who are these newest migrants and why did they choose to migrate now?
- What are the responses in targeted destination countries and how consistent are they with international obligations with regard to protection?
- What happens to these newcomers and the families and communities they leave behind?
- How are they received and incorporated in the communities in which they become part?
- How can governments all along the migration arc best manage the flows?
- How can governments in the region, working closely with the private sector and civil society, give definition and voice to a proactive regional vision of migration management that focuses on citizen security, human-capital development, and opportunity?
- What will be the response to and likely impact of such migration on the post-pandemic economic recovery and how will it affect and reshape the political context that surrounds migration within the region?
- How can countries in the region build and maintain robust legal immigration systems that meet international obligations toward those seeking protection, treat newcomers fairly and humanely, maintain commitments to family (re)unification, meet economic and labor market needs, and promote international competitiveness.
Co-sponsored by the University of British Columbia (Killiam Connection Award program and the Centre for Migration Studies), the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, the Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM