E.g., 11/29/2020
E.g., 11/29/2020

International Program

International Program

Travelers arrive at a U.S. airport wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic
Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Around the world, governments are grappling with how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also managing the economic fallout of policies put in place to stop the virus’ spread. Global migration has dropped sharply amid border closures and travel restrictions. This reflection takes stock of policy responses to the pandemic thus far, and of the challenges (and some opportunities) on the horizon for migration systems, labor markets, and integration of newcomers.

Syrian refugees receive COVID-19 tests from IOM before resettlement to Europe
Muse Mohammed/IOM

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a range of (im)mobility challenges that the international community has few tools to address. This policy brief examines the valuable guidance offered by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration on short-term emergency response and the longer-term reopening of international migration. It also considers how the pandemic is affecting the relationship between migration and development.

Venezuelan migrants and refugees at the border between Colombia and Ecuador
Angela Wells/IOM

More than 4 million Venezuelans have moved to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, raising concerns about how these arrivals are affecting receiving communities. Some politicians and pundits have asserted that migration is leading to an increase in crime—a claim this issue brief finds misplaced based on examination of official data from Chile, Colombia, and Peru.

Venezuelans waiting at the Peru border for their documents to be processed
Muse Mohammed/IOM

As Latin American and Caribbean countries face a dual challenge—managing large-scale Venezuelan arrivals alongside the COVID-19 pandemic—reliable data on the characteristics of newcomers are essential to policymaking. This MPI-IOM fact sheet offers a profile of refugees and migrants in 11 countries in the region, including their demographics, labor market participation, remittance sending, access to health care, trip details, and intention to return to Venezuela.

Falk Lademann

Most EU Member States closed their borders to travel from neighboring countries in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. While internal borders in the Schengen zone largely reopened in time for summer holidays, there is a lingering sense they could snap shut anew. Though the reflexive introduction of border controls speaks to an inherent lack of trust between states, the 2015-16 migration crisis offers lessons on how to begin to rebuild trust, as this commentary explores.

Jens-Olaf Walter

COVID-19 has chilled many forms of human movement, from travel to temporary and permanent migration, refugee resettlement, and returns, among them. While a safe restart of travel is a precondition for a return to economic and societal normalcy, restarting mobility will not be like flicking a switch, particularly amid disagreements over the costs societies can and should absorb in the name of protecting public health, as this commentary explains.

Recent Activity

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Two years on, the Australia-Cambodia refugee relocation agreement—the first of its kind involving a traditional resettlement country relocating refugees to a country with no resettlement track record—has proven to be underwhelming in its outcomes. Only five refugees have been voluntarily relocated under the deal, of whom just one remains in Cambodia. This article explores where the deal went wrong and what lies ahead for Australia’s detained asylum seekers.

Although long one of the world's top migrant destinations, only in the recent past has Germany come to acknowledge and adjust to its role as a country of immigration. Its welcoming approach—a relatively new development—has been put to the test amid massive humanitarian inflows beginning in 2015. This country profile examines Germany's history on immigration and highlights current and emerging debates.

Ciudad del Este

In contrast to increasingly restrictive approaches to migration in the global North—and recent skepticism towards Europe's free mobility project—South America is taking steps in the other direction, toward free movement for regional migrants. This article examines the emerging South American model and discusses its implications for migration in the region and for free movement in general.

News of the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America has raised alarm bells, resulting in scattered calls for tighter restrictions on international entries to the United States. Evidence shows, however, that closing borders and restrictions on international travel tend to have little impact on the spread of infectious diseases. This feature article explores the linkages between public health and migration in the Americas.

Movements of migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean have shown to be highly fluid, adapting quickly to changing conditions at origin, transit, and destination. This article examines the shifts in flows across the three major Mediterranean routes since 2008 and the complex web of often interconnected factors underpinning these movements.

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Video, Audio
October 27, 2016

Marking the release of All at Sea: The Policy Challenges of Rescue, Interception, and Long-Term Response to Maritime Migration, this book discussion explores the different facets of maritime migration and the challenges governments, civil society, the private sector, and international organizations face in tackling this issue together. Presenters discuss the overwhelming Mediterranean crisis and movements across the Bay of Bengal/Andaman Sea, the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, in the Caribbean, and the waters around Australia; and the particular challenges for policymakers in each of these cases.

Audio
October 26, 2016

One month ago, world leaders gathered at the United Nations for a summit to discuss movements of refugees and migrants, however the absence of concrete commitments in the resulting New York Declaration disappointed many observers and the slow progress on multilateral cooperation around migration has particular salience for the European Union, since the arrival of more than 1 million asylum seekers to Europe in 2015. This panel brings officials together from a range of institutions mandated to consider the future of cooperation, whether bilaterally, regionally, or at the global level, and asks: What is possible, what is desirable, and what is likely?

Audio
September 30, 2016

MPI experts discuss outcomes from the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, the Leaders Summit on Refugees, and related private-sector meetings and how these efforts may gain momentum to change international responses to the complex threats refugees and migrants face.

Video, Audio
September 28, 2016

Back from a recent trip to the region, Human Rights Watch researchers discuss the situation of refugees at the Dadaab camp in Kenya and findings from on-the-ground interviews, along with recommendations for the Kenyan government and international community. 

Audio
September 16, 2016

This discussion focuses on how governments and actors in the Mediterranean region can work together to expand durable solutions for refugees and coordinate efforts to build welcoming communities for newcomers.

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
May 2019

While nationalist and Euroskeptic parties emerged from the 2019 European Parliament elections controlling nearly one-quarter of seats, it would be wise to avoid reading too much into these results. Sweeping policy change is unlikely on the two key issues that have dominated these campaigns: immigration and revolutionizing the European Union from within.

Reports
May 2019

Since the mid-1990s, Australia has moved away from a focus on family reunification to place greater emphasis on workers coming via temporary and permanent channels. The evolution of the country's points-based model for selecting economic migrants and move to a predominately employer-driven system offer lessons for other countries that seek to develop a tailored and targeted immigration selection system.

Video, Audio
May 17, 2019

With the U.S. administration calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, this conversation focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change.

Reports
May 2019

Refugees encounter a range of challenges after resettlement—from adjusting to a new culture and language, to finding a job. Many resettlement countries invest in predeparture orientation to help refugees develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to face these challenges. This report explores the many forms these programs take, highlighting important design questions and key elements that effective programs share.

Reports
April 2019

Since its launch in 2015, the Express Entry system has changed how economic immigration to Canada happens and how it fits into public and political debates. And while it has proven successful in cutting through application backlogs, some challenges remain. This report looks at how and why this points-based system was introduced, what its impact has been, and how it could be further finetuned.

Video, Audio
April 16, 2019

Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and MPI discuss current trends, policies, and politics surrounding migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and the U.S.-Mexico relationship, ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, possible new approaches to labor migration, ways to address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.

Video, Audio
April 10, 2019

MPI's Kathleen Newland, Refugee Council USA's Mary Giovagnoli, and David Scott FitzGerald, author of Refuge beyond Reach, discuss how and why international and national responses to the rising challenge of refugee displacement are diverging. They examine what lies ahead for the Global Compact on Refugees and how adjustments to asylum policies in many high-income democracies are narrowing the paths to protection.

Reports
April 2019

National systems for selecting skilled foreign workers have evolved in two directions: Points-based systems in which governments select economic immigrants based on labor and human-capital considerations and demand-driven ones that rely heavily on employer involvement. This report explores these two models—and their convergence—and offers tips for designing selection systems that are flexible, transparent, and effective.

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