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.
Immigrant integration is a complicated process that cannot fully be measured by any single metric. Understandings of immigrant integration have changed over time, and this article explores how the methods of measuring integration outcomes have evolved alongside these changing frameworks.
El número de inmigrantes centroamericanos en los Estados Unidos ha crecido dramáticamente. Pero las imágenes recientes de centroamericanos que llegan a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México no cuentan toda la historia. Más de la mitad de la población llegó en 2000 o antes. Este artículo ofrece datos clave sobre los 3.8 millones de inmigrantes centroamericanos en Estados Unidos.
The dramatic evacuation from Afghanistan may bring more than 50,000 new Afghan immigrants to the United States, according to government predictions. These new arrivals would join a small but growing population of Afghans in the United States, most of whom have arrived since 2010. This article provides insights into this immigrant group, many of whom arrived on the Special Immigrant Visa.
The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has prompted fears of a rollback of human rights and a new refugee crisis. This article examines the prospects for possible future Afghan displacement in the region and beyond by looking at the last four decades of forced migration from Afghanistan and new factors that could determine what happens now that the U.S. military and its allies have pulled out.
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.
Between Brexit and COVID-19, Europe’s 31-country zone of free movement has been profoundly tested. Still, the area has constantly evolved over the last 70 years, to include new groups of individuals who can freely move for work, study, or leisure, as well as cover larger geographic areas. This article examines the history and challenges to free movement, a crowning success of the European project.
Tens of thousands of migrants have gone missing in Mexico in recent years, with the country having one of world's highest rates of disappeared persons. In 2015, the Mexican government created institutions to investigate these cases and work with the missing migrants' families, who are often their most vocal advocates. This article explores the reasons why migrants disappear, as well the institutions established to investigate cases and their impact.
The European Union has tried to leverage development assistance to address root causes of migration from Africa, including poverty, instability, and conflict. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, unveiled in 2015, has supported more than 250 programs totaling nearly 5 billion euros across 26 countries, but has had only partial success addressing the underlying drivers of migration, as this article explains.
Large numbers of well-educated Iranians have left their country of birth since its 1979 revolution, in a “brain drain” that has held back Iran’s economy and cultural institutions. Iran’s isolation from the world has worsened in recent years, and a stuttering economy, currency freefall, and widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the underlying factors encouraging emigration, as this article examines.
The European Union’s landmark 2016 migration deal with Turkey offered aid and other benefits in exchange for Turkey's assistance in helping reduce arrivals of asylum seekers and other migrants. At its fifth anniversary, the EU-Turkey deal remains one criticized by human-rights advocates and has met frustration from Turkey, but in many ways created a blueprint for other externalization arrangements, as this article outlines.
Nearly one-third of all immigrants in the United States come from Asia, and Asian countries such as India, China, and the Philippines are the origin for a growing number of foreign-born U.S. residents. Compared to overall immigrants and the U.S. born, the foreign born from Asia tend to earn higher incomes, work in management jobs, and have higher levels of education, as this article explores.
Have a question about U.S. immigration trends and the country's immigrant population? This article collects in one place the most sought-after information about the world's largest immigrant population and how it has changed over time. Drawing from a wide array of authoritative data sources, this article provides an up-to-date snapshot of the immigrant population, visa and enforcement statistics, and information on emerging trends, including slowing immigration and changing origins.
For the first time in a decade, fewer international students were studying in the United States during the 2019-20 school year than the year before. This decline, brought about in part by changing U.S. policy, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article profiles the international student population in the United States, including their origins and fields of study.
The nearly 11 million Mexican immigrants in the United States represent almost one-quarter of the country’s entire immigrant population, and as such are the largest foreign-born group. But their numbers have been declining, shrinking by 7 percent between 2010 and 2019. Among recently arrived immigrants, those from China and India now outpace Mexicans for the first time.
There are 2.7 million Indian immigrants in the United States, making them the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans. This number has increased dramatically in recent years, growing 13-fold between 1980 and 2019. This article provides an overview of this population, which is more highly educated, more likely to work in management positions, and higher-earning than the U.S. born and overall immigrant population.
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America yet the most densely populated. A stagnant economy, high levels of crime and violence, and natural disasters have pushed growing numbers of people to migrate without authorization or seek asylum abroad, mostly in the United States. This article explores historical and contemporary emigration from El Salvador.
From being a source of labor emigration to the Gulf region to a destination for refugees from Syria, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere, Egypt has long experienced different forms of mobility. This article, which profiles the trends and policies that have shaped Egypt's migration history, focuses on its long-standing use of migration as a soft-power tool to achieve its foreign policy aims and as a safety valve for political discontent.
In Brazil, where the majority of colonial-era residents were African slaves and their children, millions of immigrants have joined a conversation about race and identity that continues today. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, as well as significant European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern populations. This country profile explores historical and contemporary migration patterns in Brazil.
Immigration has driven economic and social development in Australia for more than two centuries. Even as more than one-fourth of the country’s population is foreign born and Australia ranks third among top refugee resettlement countries worldwide, controversy surrounding its hardline treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat has cast a shadow on its reputation as a welcoming country, as this article explores.
Nearly 6 million Afghans fled after violence erupted in the late 1970s, primarily to Iran and Pakistan. While millions returned after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, the security situation has since deteriorated and the government struggles to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly the internally displaced. This country profile explores Afghanistan’s complex migration and displacement history as well as ongoing challenges.
Despite a widespread perception that the Trump administration has drastically slashed legal immigration to the United States, a review of the data shows that temporary and permanent admissions during the period mostly followed previous trends—at least until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This article examines trends in temporary, permanent, and humanitarian admissions during the administration, and the related policies that could take a more significant bite ahead if left unchanged.
Before entering office, President Donald Trump promised to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Yet despite his general successes in creating a more restrictive and punitive immigration system, this goal has eluded his administration. So-called “sanctuary” policies implemented by state and local governments to limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been a key reason why arrests and removals have not reached earlier peaks.
In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.
A looming furlough of 70 percent of staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could halt processing for tens of thousands of green cards, citizenship applications, and other immigrant benefits each month it is in effect. Alongside the long list of Trump administration policies slowing immigration to the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, this could contribute to a precipitous—and likely historic—decline in new arrivals to the United States.
Calls by activists to "defund the police," in the wake of a string of deadly encounters for Black community members, echo earlier demands to "abolish ICE" and reflect broader criticism of enforcement systems perceived as overly aggressive. Budgets have ballooned at federal immigration agencies and within the immigrant detention system as enforcement has become increasingly muscular in the post-9/11 period.