The Future of Migration Policy in a Volatile Political Landscape
November 2017 Meeting
Governments in many parts of the world are grappling with growing—and often volatile—skepticism about immigration. Even in places that have been relatively protected from the effects of the global refugee crisis, nativist voices are gaining support and anti-immigration platforms have proliferated. Populist politicians on both the political right and left are gaining support from disaffected voters who feel “left behind” by mainstream parties that are thought to no longer represent them or their core concerns. Though some recent elections have been more heavily colored by this skepticism than others, one thing is clear: societies are increasingly divided over immigration and its effects.
While populism is nothing new, several forces have magnified its influence. These include the fragmentation of mainstream political parties; the unfettered (and unvetted) spread of information and ideas through new media platforms; new forms of socioeconomic dissatisfaction related to labor-market changes (many of which lead to greater inequality); and the rapid influx of visibly and culturally different newcomers in cities and towns largely unprepared for their arrival. As opportunistic politicians seize on this sense of loss (both real and perceived), the big question is how it will affect societal institutions and future policy.
The eighteenth plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council examined whether and how this new political reality has changed immigration policymaking, exploring the different dimensions of public reactions to immigration, how public and societal institutions are adapting, and whether this shift in the political landscape will have a lasting impact on immigrants and the societies in which they live. Read the concluding Council Statement.
The individual papers presented at the meeting are available below:
In the Age of Trump: Populist Backlash and Progressive Resistance Create Divergent State Immigrant Integration Contexts
As long-simmering passions related to federal immigration policies have come to a full boil, less noted but no less important debates are taking place at state and local levels with regards to policies affecting immigrants and their children. As states are increasingly diverging in their responses, this report briefly examines how some of the key policies and programs that support the long-term integration success of immigrants and refugees are faring in this volatile era of immigration policy change.
The Growth of the Radical Right in Nordic Countries: Observations from the Past 20 Years
Though hardly new to most Nordic countries, radical-right parties have grown in popular support and political power in recent years. This report analyzes the role immigration has played in their rise and recent electoral fortunes in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. It also examines the strategies other parties have adopted in an attempt to limit their growth.
The Impact of Populist Radical-Right Parties on Immigration Policy Agendas: A Look at the Netherlands
While commentators proclaimed the 2017 Dutch election results a rebuff of radical-right populism, this report makes clear that electoral success is not the only way to influence policymaking. Taking the Netherlands as a case study, it examines how radical-right parties in Western Europe have shaped immigration policy agendas and outcomes by rewriting narratives and forcing mainstream parties further to the right.
U.S. Immigration Policy under Trump: Deep Changes and Lasting Impacts
President Trump has made reshaping the U.S. immigration system a top priority. Yet the fragmented nature of policy-making in the United States—with power split between branches and levels of government—has made it difficult to pursue some of his most ambitious proposals. This report explores the evolution of migration policy under Trump, and what these changes may mean in the long run.
Shifting Tides: Radical-Right Populism and Immigration Policy in Europe and the United States
Even as populist radical-right parties have experienced mixed electoral success, their ideas have gained traction in Europe and the United States. This report analyzes the economic, political, and social factors behind the rise in support for the radical-right agenda, and the impact of this trend on immigration policymaking and the broader political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Search of a New Equilibrium: Immigration Policymaking in the Newest Era of Nativist Populism
In many recent European and U.S. elections, candidates touting nativist populist and anti-immigrant platforms have enjoyed rising support. As populism moves from the fringes into the mainstream, this report takes stock of the economic and social forces driving its rise, the diverse ways populists are influencing immigration policymaking, and what it will take to build a new center around immigration and integration issues.
When Facts Don’t Matter: How to Communicate More Effectively about Immigration’s Costs and Benefits
Emotionally charged and anecdotal narratives about immigrants often seem to drown out arguments made on the basis of robust data and evidence. Why is that? This report explores how new technologies, the human brain, and political communication are reshaping the role of facts in public debates. The report concludes with an examination of what it takes to make the “expert consensus” resonate with skeptical publics.
TRANSATLANTIC COUNCIL STATEMENT: The Future of Migration Policy in a Volatile Political Landscape
Nativist populism is both symptom and driver of the challenges facing many societies in Europe and the United States. And, as this Transatlantic Council Statement explores, it is reshaping political landscapes and immigration debates. Rebuilding public trust in governments’ ability to manage migration will require that policymakers actively address social and economic divisions and provide a credible alternative to populism.