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In Getting Refugee Integration Right, Policymakers Must Take Care to Ensure Integrity of Asylum & Migration Systems, New MPI Report Explains
Press Release
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In Getting Refugee Integration Right, Policymakers Must Take Care to Ensure Integrity of Asylum & Migration Systems, New MPI Report Explains

WASHINGTON — As the immediate pressures of the migration and refugee crisis have begun to abate in Europe, policymakers have refocused on two goals: anticipating and preventing the next crisis and ensuring that newcomers—and the communities in which they settle—have the tools to succeed. These two objectives are deeply interdependent, as a new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration explains.

Getting integration right is the linchpin on which all future asylum and immigration policies will be built, the report, Rebuilding after Crisis: Embedding Refugee Integration in Migration Management Systems, makes clear. But the path to the successful achievement of integration objectives is not always a clear one for policymakers. They must navigate increasingly complex public sentiments, colored by skepticism and even anger about the real and perceived prioritization of the needs of newcomers at the expense of other investments. At the same time, they must make tough choices about how best to ensure the integrity of asylum and migration systems—that is, the ability of governments to design and implement systems based on rules and consistent principles; retain control over arrival numbers and procedures; and communicate the choices and tradeoffs inherent in these systems to their publics.

“Preserving the integrity of the system as a whole … can present a particularly complex paradox,” write MPI President Emeritus Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Senior Policy Analyst Meghan Benton and International Program Associate Director Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan. “While it hinges strongly on sound integration outcomes, it is simultaneously threatened by the investments needed to foster integration if they are perceived as unfair, counterproductive or designed in a way that is not obviously anchored in the broader society’s values and concerns.”

The Council Statement offers a number of recommendations as policymakers seek to embed refugee integration within a system-wide plan that addresses how integration measures fit together with other pieces of the migration management puzzle.

“Integration is the policy and political terrain on which immigration succeeds—or fails,” the authors write. “When done well, it unlocks the benefits of immigration for receiving societies, communities and economies, while at the same time improving the opportunities available to those who seek protection or a better life for themselves and their children. By the same token, when integration fails—or publics perceive it to have failed—it contributes to declining public trust in the governance of migration and ultimately undermines support for immigration.”

In a new commentary for Europe’s World, the policy journal of Friends of Europe, Papademetriou examines how spontaneous migration flows test other fundamental aspects of governance in Europe. The piece, The Migration Crisis Is Over: Long Live the Migration Crisis, looks ahead to future migration challenges and ways in which to anticipate and minimize them. "Everyone needs to understand that while the immediate test of leadership is dealing with the causes and consequences of the 2015-16 migration crisis, the true challenge for Europe in the decades ahead will be mass migration from Africa," Papademetriou writes. "Much larger public and private resources must be invested in creating opportunities for Africans to stay and build lives in their own countries. Otherwise Europe will find itself taking more extreme steps to protect itself, with less success."

Read the Council Statement here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/rebuilding-after-crisis-embedding-refugee-integration-migration-management-systems.

For earlier reports in this Council series on the post-crisis challenge of ensuring the social and economic inclusion of refugees and migrants, visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/transatlantic-council-migration/other-side-asylum-and-resettlement-coin-investing-refugees.

And for a library of all past Council Statements, visit: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/transatlantic-council-migration/council-statements.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels. MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration is a unique deliberative body that examines vital policy issues and informs migration policymaking processes across the Atlantic community.