The Future of Migration Policy in a Volatile Political Landscape (Transatlantic Council Statement)
In many corners of Europe and the United States, a wave of support for politicians touting populist and nativist platforms has rocked the foundations of mainstream politics. These populists have tapped into a deep sense of grievance among voters who feel they have lost out amid globalization, labor-market volatility, and rapid social change. Importantly, while many discussions of nativist populism have focused on electoral gains and losses, these actors’ influence on policy and public narratives—particularly in the area of immigration—runs much deeper.
This Council Statement, which caps a series on immigration policymaking in a volatile political landscape, explores the social and political factors that have bolstered support for populism, how these forces are reshaping immigration policy from within and outside government, and how other political actors are responding. It also lays out recommendations for how to reclaim a lost political middle ground and fashion a new consensus around immigration.
“If mainstream actors are to restore public trust in immigration policy,” the authors conclude, “they will need to acknowledge the uneven distribution of the benefits and costs of immigration and globalization writ large, and demonstrate that they are taking concrete steps to redress this inequality.” These steps should include creating new channels to engage members of the public in policy decisions, redoubling efforts to communicate complex policy issue without either overpromising or stoking fears, and investing in communities that have been hit hard by economic and fiscal crises.
II. Drivers of Populism
III. Influence of Populism on Immigration Policy
IV. How Are Mainstream Political Actors Responding?
V. Recommendations: Principles for a New Equilibrium