The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit 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. It aims to meet the demand for pragmatic and thoughtful responses to the challenges and opportunities that large-scale migration, whether voluntary or forced, presents to communities and institutions in an increasingly integrated world.
Founded in 2001 by Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Kathleen Newland, MPI grew out of the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Headquartered in Washington, DC, MPI has an office in New York, with a presence in the United Kingdom. In 2011, MPI established the Brussels-based Migration Policy Institute Europe, which builds upon the work that MPI has done for years in Europe.
|The Migration Policy Institute Europe is an independent research institute based in Brussels that aims to provide a better understanding of migration in Europe and the European Union.|
MPI is guided by the philosophy that international migration needs active and intelligent management. When such policies are in place and are responsibly administered, they bring benefits to immigrants and their families, communities of origin and destination, and sending and receiving countries.
MPI’s policy research and analysis proceed from four central propositions:
- Fair, smart, transparent, and rights-based immigration and refugee policies can promote social cohesion, economic vitality, and national security.
- Given the opportunity, immigrants become net contributors and create new social and economic assets.
- Sound immigration and integration policies result from balanced analysis, solid data, and the engagement of a spectrum of stakeholders—from community leaders and immigrant organizations to the policy elite—interested in immigration policy and its human consequences.
- National policymaking benefits from international comparative research, as more and more countries accumulate data, analysis, and policy experience related to global migration.
MPI publishes a respected online journal, the Migration Information Source, which provides fresh thought, authoritative data, and global analysis of international migration and refugee trends. A unique online resource, the Source, which counts internationally recognized migration scholars among its authors, offers country profiles, feature stories, policy updates from Capitol Hill, and dispatches from foreign correspondents around the globe. The Source is an ideal tool for policymakers, journalists, researchers, and NGOs looking for accurate information on international migration.
MPI's work is organized around four research pillars:
- Migration Management
- Refugee Protection and International Humanitarian Response
- North American Borders and Migration Agenda
- Immigrant Settlement and Integration
The international migration system now includes almost every country in the world. Many of them are relatively new to large-scale migration and have not developed the institutions, laws, and policies needed to manage migration flows optimally. Economic, humanitarian, social, and political priorities often dictate contradictory policy directions or conflict with international obligations. MPI uses the extensive expertise of its directors and staff to assist governments and civil-society organizations to develop solutions to these migration problems. MPI's work addresses the following questions:
- How to organize an immigration agency within governmental structures
- How to address a migration/refugee emergency
- How to balance domestic security with immigration demands
- How to redirect immigration policy to reflect changing economic or demographic realities
- How to protect human rights (including the right to seek asylum) while implementing border controls and other programs to regulate entry
- How to manage the impact of immigration on disadvantaged sectors of domestic society
- How to enforce domestic labor, immigration, and anti-trafficking laws without increasing the vulnerability of immigrants.
In addition, MPI is examining countries that, in the past two decades, have made relatively abrupt transitions from countries of emigration to countries of immigration. MPI and MPI Europe are also engaged in the European debate on immigration and asylum policies. MPI and MPI Europe policy analysts participate in high-level policy forums as well as analyze European policy developments, bringing to the European debate relevant experiences and best practices from other regions, and working with European officials and civil-society organizations to put forward practical options for more constructive migration management.
The parameters of refugee protection have changed dramatically in recent decades, leaving an international regime in considerable disarray as the new century begins. States increasingly are reluctant to offer the traditional, asylum-based protections to people threatened by armed conflicts or systematic persecution. Alternative methods of protection—such as safe havens, in-country monitoring, and temporary admissions—have been tried and mostly found inadequate, or even disastrous. At the same time, the mingling of refugee and unauthorized immigrant streams has spurred states to institute tough new entry-control measures that have made it difficult for refugees to gain access to safe territory.
MPI is employing a combination of legal and social science research to track new developments in thinking, law, and practice in the realm of refugee protection. The Institute works with civil-society organizations, NGOs, international organizations, and policymakers to devise workable alternatives that relieve tensions between the needs of refugees and sovereign states.
MPI is working closely with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other international organizations, governments, and NGOs to clarify some of the interpretive issues that are making consistent application of refugee law difficult. These questions include:
- When does a refugee cease to need international protection, and how may states respond to changes in circumstance that warrant cessation?
- What degrees and kinds of relationships should be considered when attempting to reunify refugee families, and what are states obliged to do to restore family unity?
- What is the meaning of "particular social group" in the context of the 1951 Refugee Convention?
In addition, MPI works on implementation of refugee protection—in particular the physical and administrative barriers that prevent would-be refugees from gaining access to full and fair asylum adjudication. Because the most secure form of refugee protection is permanent resettlement in a safe and prosperous country—a solution that currently is available to only about 1 percent of the world's refugees—MPI studies the U.S. resettlement program, the world's largest, to assess its success.
The Migration Policy Institute provides a location and an intellectual framework for discussion of concrete steps toward the cooperative management of migration and common borders in North America. MPI's work starts with the assumption that borders are integrated social and economic zones that should be viewed as resources rather than barriers. MPI's initial focus on bilateral (U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada) discussions among public and private-sector representatives have expanded to include Central America. The issues on the policy agenda include:
- A new migration relationship between the United States and Mexico that reduces illegal migration by combining legal, permanent immigration with well-designed programs for temporary work that protect the labor and social rights of temporary workers and the domestic labor force. The discussions also focus on development in Mexico.
- The gradual realignment of border relations toward cooperative rather than unilateral enforcement efforts, as well as a comprehensive review of employer sanctions.
- Dissemination of information about and gradual implementation of promising ideas and practices about joint discharge of border responsibilities along the U.S.-Canadian border and the U.S.-Mexican border.
A similar set of discussions with Canadian officials and private-sector actors have led to joint seminars and publications on management of the northern border. There, the focus of policy discussion is less on irregular migration than on facilitation of trade, legal movement, security, and the development of border regions as unified economic zones in the context of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Few countries make systematic efforts to integrate immigrants and refugees into their social and political fabric and fewer still can claim success. When such failure coexists with incomplete economic incorporation, immigrants and refugees are marginalized. When marginalization becomes entrenched, it leads the host community to view immigrants as net "consumers" of public assets, rather than contributors to and creators of new assets, and as social and political liabilities, rather than as potential resources. The goals of this research pillar are to better understand the process of incorporation and devise ways to effectively address this civic engagement challenge. Integration is a two-way process in which both the newcomers and the host societies are changed. Therefore, MPI's examination of immigrant settlement and integration focuses on the interactive effects of international migration on receiving communities and immigrants themselves. The Institute's research focuses on the following three areas: labor market access, social mobility, and civic participation and social cohesion. The Institute works in close collaboration with researchers, advocates, and current and former government officials to identify, develop, test, and evaluate local experiments in meaningful integration and civic engagement ideas.
A Decade of Accomplishments
MPI celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012. In the decade since its founding, MPI has played an influential role in the immigration policy discussions that have taken place in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and beyond—providing an evidence-based, pragmatic, nonideological approach to sound migration management and immigrant integration policymaking designed to benefit all stakeholders. The Institute’s work has been advanced through the publication of more than 300 reports and books; testimony before the U.S. Congress, national parliaments and blue-ribbon commissions; hundreds of public briefings; and countless private meetings and convenings with key government and civil-society leaders around the world. To read more about MPI's accomplishments over its first decade, click here.