International Mobility and Migration in the Age of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics
May 2020 Meeting
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries closed their borders to nonessential travel and scaled back visa and immigration case processing. Yet a number of critical sectors such as agriculture and health care rely on foreign workers, raising the prospect of looming labor gaps. Border closures and processing delays have also dramatically narrowed access to international protection, with resettlement operations put on hold and the ability to file and in turn process asylum claims fundamentally curtailed.
This virtual convening of the Transatlantic Council on Migration explored the pandemic’s effects on international migration and mobility, and the factors governments should consider as they reopen their borders and migration channels.
Among the questions discussed during this meeting:
- What restrictions on migration and mobility have governments put in place to date, and what are the different scenarios or timelines for lifting these? How have social-distancing measures affected visa and immigration case processing?
- Where is the impact of travel restrictions or border closures being most keenly felt in the labor market, and what exemptions (if any) are in place for essential workers?
- What steps are governments and the private sector taking to manage the health risks associated with travel?
- How can governments manage the impact of border closures and processing delays on refugees and asylum seekers, and ensure this does not create additional vulnerabilities for those stuck in limbo?
- How are public-health concerns, coupled with the onset of a severe economic downturn, reshaping conversations about immigration? Are we facing the risk of an even more seismic populist backlash?
The following reflection draws from an early, skeletal version written for this convening:
Managing the Pandemic and Its Aftermath: Economies, Jobs, and International Migration in the Age of COVID-19
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, by MPI President Emeritus Demetrios G. Papademetriou, 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.