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MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration Convenes to Examine How to Curb Influence of ‘Bad Actors’ in International Migration
Press Release
Friday, May 31, 2013

MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration Convenes to Examine How to Curb Influence of ‘Bad Actors’ in International Migration

DHS Secretary, Leading Immigration Policymakers for Canada, Mexico, EU and Norway Are Among Participants

WASHINGTON — Illegal migration and the unlawful employment (and exploitation) of migrants continue to thrive despite massive government investments in immigration controls on both sides of the Atlantic. This is in large part due to highly adaptive "bad actors"— smugglers, traffickers, unscrupulous employers and others — who facilitate and profit from illegality.

The Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, a unique deliberative body that brings together top policymakers and thinkers in Europe and North America to examine vital policy issues and inform migration policymaking processes, is meeting in Washington from May 30 – June 1 to examine the role of these bad actors.

This 8th plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council, which convenes twice yearly, aims to identify innovative, practical policy solutions that curb the influence of these bad actors by shrinking the gray area in which they operate.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is taking part in Thursday’s closed-door session of the Council, whose meetings take place under the Chatham House rule to allow greater information sharing among senior government leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, top researchers, opinion shapers and key leaders from the NGO community.

Other attendees include Thor Arne Aass, director general of the Department of Migration in the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security; Robert K. Visser, executive director of the European Asylum Support Office; Malcolm Brown, executive vice president of the Canada Border Services Agency; and Les Linklater, Citizenship and Immigration Canada assistant deputy minister for strategic and program policy.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs Antonio Vitorino and former UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke, all of whom are members of the Transatlantic Council, also are participating, as is Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan.

While pathways to illegal entry have become more difficult, dangerous and costly, deterring workers seeking jobs and greater opportunities across borders, especially where there is a demand for their labor, has lagged behind. The reality is a growing “market” for ever more sophisticated and creative means to circumvent border controls and post-entry enforcement efforts.

“The costs of society’s failure to deter and prevent illegality are far reaching,” said MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou, convenor of the Transatlantic Council on Migration. “They include the exploitation and abuse of individual migrants and trafficked persons; the degradation of labor standards; strains on local communities that must absorb unauthorized populations and provide essential health and social services; and the persistent loss of social cohesion. As a result, public trust in government’s ability to manage large-scale immigration has hit an all-time low in most nations on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The Council’s deliberations will focus specifically on where and how countries should invest their limited resources in order to deter and disrupt these various facilitators of illegality. “Bad actors cannot be eliminated but their influence can be reduced substantially,” Papademetriou said. “The goal therefore is to evaluate the fiscal, social and political benefits of each tool against its costs, and help governments consider how to prioritize their investments to deliver optimal good governance outcomes.”

Read more on the Transatlantic Council on Migration’s mission and research, including its earlier work on management of borders and migration here


The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.