Rebuilding Community After Crisis: An Updated Social Contract for a New Migration Reality
February 2019 Meeting
Surging mixed flows of economic, humanitarian, and family migrants arriving in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere have created unprecedented challenges for destination countries. But they have also sparked intensive investments and creative experiments. As the migration crisis gives way to a new political reality, policymakers have a rare opportunity to take stock of what has been learned from the world’s largest natural experiment in migration. The twentieth plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration considered how the fundamental tenets of integration and building strong communities have changed in light of seismic political, demographic, and sociocultural shifts. Read the concluding Council Statement.
In exploring how the migration crisis has recalibrated the challenge facing governments, reports presented at the meeting focused on three key questions:
- How has the new migration reality changed assumptions about successful labor market integration? How has rising demand for housing created gaps and barriers in the integration process? What are the most promising fast tracks and nontraditional pathways to success in new societies? Where have policies help smooth the integration process, and where are they struggling to keep up with new evidence on newcomers’ trajectories?
- What defines successful integration for the most vulnerable newcomers? Older migrants, women caring for family members, and asylum seekers suffering from trauma may struggle to enter the labor market at all. What are the most appropriate investments for these groups to ensure that they can meaningfully participate and add social, if not direct economic, value to their new communities?
- What does a new social contract look like in the aftermath of the migration crisis? How does rising immigration interact with other social and economic trends such as population aging and labor market change? How can governments balance the need to protect and strengthen welfare-state institutions against misuse and perceived unfairness with their obligations towards vulnerable newcomers? How can they reassure skeptical and anxious residents who feel left behind?
The individual papers presented at the meeting are available below:
Creating a Home in Canada: Refugee Housing Challenges and Potential Policy Solutions
One of the major challenges Canada faced during its extraordinary push to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees during a four-month period was to find housing for these newcomers. This report explores how the government, resettlement case workers, and private citizens tackled this challenge—balancing cost and location, access to services, and more—and how lessons learned can improve refugee housing practices for other countries going forward.
Volunteers and Sponsors: A Catalyst for Refugee Integration?
Rising numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and North America have been matched by an equally unprecedented outpouring of public support. How can service providers most effectively harness this volunteering? This report considers where community members can add the most value to integration efforts and offers recommendations for how policymakers can facilitate the effective engagement of communities in integration initiatives.
Integrating Refugees and Asylum Seekers into the German Economy and Society: Empirical Evidence and Policy Objectives
As the top destination in Europe for asylum seekers in recent years, Germany has rolled out a number of integration policy changes. Based on an early look at how newcomers’ integration is progressing, the report finds the policies have had ambiguous implications. The report also provides insights into the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the asylum seeker and refugee population.
Beyond Work: Reducing Social Isolation for Refugee Women and Other Marginalized Newcomers
As migrant- and refugee-receiving countries in Europe, North America, and beyond prioritize services that are focused on employment, language instruction, and civic integration, newcomers who are not in the workplace are at high risk for social isolation. As a result, societies should reconsider what successful integration looks like for vulnerable newcomers who will never find traditional employment or who need a longer-than-average timeline to get there.
TRANSATLANTIC COUNCIL STATEMENT: Rebuilding Community after Crisis: Striking a New Social Contract for Diverse Societies
Addressing the deep-rooted integration challenges unearthed by large-scale migration and rapid social change will require a combination of strategies. Governments in Europe and North America must create a new social contract for increasingly diverse societies that are confronting cycles of demographic, economic, and other disruption. This report sketches a blueprint for an adaptive process oriented by skill needs rather than national origins and that draws on efforts across policy portfolios.