The slow and uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic prompted new patterns of movement in parts of the world in 2021. New conflicts also erupted, ongoing crises smoldered, and migrants were often stuck in the middle. Our annual Migration Information Source Top 10 countdown reviews what we consider to be the year's most important migration trends and events.
The Biden administration's court-ordered restart of the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols, known informally as the Remain in Mexico policy, puts it in the awkward position of reviving a program it is simultaneously still trying to end. The Trump-era program forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait out the duration of their U.S. immigration court hearings in Mexico and was only questionably successful at deterring unauthorized arrivals.
South Africa hosts the most immigrants of any African country. Yet it faces conflicting pressures, including the legacy of apartheid, a steady outflow of well-educated South Africans, and the need to juggle bilateral labor mobility schemes at a time of economic insecurity and high unemployment. This article traces these pressures and how they have developed over time.
More than half of all immigrants in the United States are naturalized citizens. The number of new naturalizations has fluctuated from year to year, hitting a decade-long low in fiscal year 2020, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising processing times. This article provides information on naturalized citizens in the United States, including historical trends and socioeconomic characteristics.
Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have fled their country since 2018, amid repression and a renewed government crackdown. In neighboring Costa Rica, many migrants have encountered a robust system for protection and integration, yet they still face stigma and discrimination in their daily lives. This article explores this dynamic along one of Central America's most important migratory routes.
U.S. immigration arrests have declined to the lowest level in years. Going forward, new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidelines could further shape how authorities arrest and deport unauthorized immigrants and noncitizens who have committed crimes. This article describes how the Biden administration prosecutorial discretion guidance marks a sharp turn from the approach taken by the Trump administration.
Climate change promises to profoundly impact all aspects of human society. This special issue of the Migration Information Source and a companion podcast, Changing Climate, Changing Migration, examine how the effects of environmental change are shaping migration across the globe, now and in the future.
Whether as migrant-sending or migrant-receiving locations—or both—many countries have rich, complex international and internal migration histories. MPI's online journal, the Migration Information Source, offers profiles of more than 70 nations. Written by leading scholars, these profiles delve into countries' migration histories, demographics, policymaking, and more.
There are more refugees than ever globally, but each year only a tiny share get selected for resettlement to new countries. This “resettlement gap” has grown due to political pressures in resettlement countries and procedural challenges throughout the process, as this article explains.
Vietnamese immigrants are among the largest foreign-born groups from Asia in the United States. The first significant arrivals came at the end of the Vietnam War; more recent immigrants from Vietnam have been more likely to come through family sponsorship programs. This article examines different dimensions of this immigrant population.
In 1980, more than 2.5 million Ethiopian refugees lived in other countries. Now, Ethiopians are more likely to migrate for labor reasons, particularly to the Middle East and southern Africa, and meanwhile the country has become a refuge for humanitarian migrants from its neighbors. This article traces the history of migration from, to, and through Ethiopia.
The chaotic arrival of thousands of Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2021 was the culmination of a journey through the Americas that began for many a decade ago. This article examines how Brazil became a refuge for many after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, and how Haitians then moved on to Chile and other countries as conditions changed, and then onward again further north.
After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the U.S. immigration system was retooled to have a strong national security focus. This restructuring had dramatic effects on government operations and resource allocations, not to mention on the lives of immigrants and the U.S. born alike. Twenty years on from 9/11, this article examines the changes put in place or accelerated as a result of the attacks.
Gang violence is a major driver of migration, particularly from Central America to the United States. But governments on both sides often rely on outdated and static understandings of gangs and their membership. This article explains the history of groups such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 and why they are relevant for immigration policy.
Trade between China and Africa has ballooned, reaching nearly $200 billion in 2019. Yet many of the migrant entrepreneurs and traders who contribute to this relationship live in precarious positions in both China and Africa. This article explores the informal systems navigated by many migrants in both regions and the policies that drive the precarity in which many of these traders live.
Canada is one of the world’s top countries for resettling refugees, relying on individual Canadians and nonprofit groups—not the government—for much of this resettlement. This article examines Canada’s unique system of private sponsorship, which has become a model for other countries as they seek to increase capacity for refugee resettlement at a time of record global need.
Countries across the globe have considered novel ways for diasporas to directly invest in national development by purchasing diaspora bonds. Israel has raised billions through its Israel Bonds over the last 70 years, and India has had some success with its diaspora bond efforts. But other countries have faced challenges, as this article explores.
A disproportionate number of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to the United States come from Honduras, driven by government corruption, impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and hurricanes that have devastated communities and livelihoods. This article examine the multiple factors behind migration from the country, drawing from interviews with migrants en route.
The number of Central American immigrants in the United States has grown dramatically, amid political corruption, violence, and natural disasters in their native countries. But recent images of Central Americans arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border do not tell the whole story, with more than half the population arriving in 2000 or earlier. This article offers key data on the 3.8 million Central American immigrants in the United States.
The United States is home to the largest population of Iranian migrants in the world. More than half of Iranian immigrants in the United States live in California. This article explores key details of this immigrant population, which is older, more highly educated, and has significantly higher median household incomes than the U.S.-born and overall immigrant populations.
The United States and Canada share the world's longest land border and similar cultures. But Canadians account for a tiny and shrinking share of all U.S. immigrants. Canadian immigrants tend to have higher educations and be older than other immigrant groups. This Spotlight explores the history and features of the Canadian immigrant population in the United States.
The United States historically led the world in refugee resettlement, but was surpassed by Canada in 2018—and U.S. refugee admissions fell to a record low 12,000 in 2020. With the country now on course to rebuild resettlement capacity, this article examines the U.S. refugee and asylee populations and how they have changed over time, including key demographic characteristics.
Immigrants from the Dominican Republic are the fourth-largest Hispanic immigrant group in the United States, and number nearly 1.2 million people. This population has increased almost tenfold since 1960, but remains mostly concentrated in just a few metro areas. This article provides an overview of Dominican immigrants in the United States.
The recent rise in xenophobia in Hungary stands in marked contrast with the country's rich migration history. After 390,000 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in 2015, the government of Viktor Orbán issued policies to significantly limit migration and enacted a law criminalizing humanitarian assistance to migrants. This country profile examines Hungary’s migration past and present, tracing the country’s multicultural heritage to the current wave of anti-immigrant sentiment.
Since regaining its independence in 1989, the Czech Republic has transformed from a country of emigration to one of rising immigration, amid growing labor market needs. Even as Czechia received few asylum seekers during the 2015-16 European migration crisis, the country has taken a harder line on immigration, and public opinion and political stances have grown more negative towards immigrants and refugees.
The Netherlands has witnessed a rise in far-right populism, challenging its reputation as a humanitarian haven. Yet, public fears equating immigration with a rise in religious extremism do not necessarily reflect the facts. This profile explores historical and contemporary migration in a country where population growth relies largely on immigration, and analyzes to what extent policymaking has been shaped by rising populism.
Swedish asylum policy has taken a restrictionist turn since the country received a record-breaking number of asylum seekers in 2015 and after electoral gains by the nationalist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats pushed the governing coalition to a harder line. Still, other aspects of the country’s migration policy remain welcoming, as this country profile explores.
Indonesia, which has a long history as a major origin for migrant labor in the Asia-Pacific and beyond, more recently has reluctantly found itself a transit and destination country, including for asylum seekers. Still, policymakers remain focused on protection of its nationals abroad rather than on assuring the status of Chinese and other foreigners in the country. This country profile explores Indonesia's rich migration history.
Results from the 2020 census show that the U.S. population has been growing at its slowest rate since the Great Depression. Reduced immigration has been one component of this sluggish population growth, which could pose a problem for the United States as people age and strain public retirement systems. This U.S. Policy Beat article examines how immigration fits into the country's demographic puzzle.
During his first 100 days in office, U.S. President Joe Biden took more than three times as many executive actions on immigration as predecessor Donald Trump. While rising encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border have captured major attention, Biden has been remarkably active in areas that have received far less attention, including interior enforcement. This article explores the administration's actions during its first three months.
The number of unaccompanied child migrants at the U.S. southern border has risen, presenting President Joe Biden with challenges similar to those faced by his predecessors in 2014 and 2019. This article examines the previous episodes and evaluates how Biden is mirroring or deviating from previous presidents' responses.
President Joe Biden has grand ambitions to reshape the U.S. immigration system, but his administration has run into early stumbling blocks in rolling back the strict enforcement regime of his predecessor. Administrative resistance, a tangled web of legal agreements signed by the Trump administration, and anxieties about a possible uptick in immigrants and asylum seekers at the border have posed early challenges to Biden’s agenda.
The Biden administration has set the pace for what could be the most active first 100 days on immigration policy by any White House in recent memory—even that of predecessor Donald Trump. The efforts, which represent a dramatic break from the Trump administration's view of immigration as threat, are likely to meet stiff opposition on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This article evaluates Biden's early actions and what they suggest about the White House's ambitions on immigration.