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Immigration Policy & Law

Immigration Policy & Law

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Immigration legislative and administrative policies, legal statutes and court decisions, and regulations collectively shape nations' immigration systems—from visa allotments and immigrant-selection mechanisms to immigrant integration programs, border controls, and more. As international migration has increased in size and spread and as a number of nations are more flexibly adjusting their immigration systems, the research offered here examines the many permutations of immigration policy and law, often with a comparative lens.

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Policy Briefs
December 2014
By  Guntur Sugiyarto and Dovelyn Rannveig Mendoza
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Recent Activity

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After years of gridlock, increasing pressure from immigrant advocates, and several delays in 2014, President Obama announced sweeping executive actions to provide deportation relief to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The plan sparked a political firestorm among Republicans who vowed to use all tools at their disposal to block the actions, ensuring that immigration will continue to be a flashpoint for the remainder of the president's term.

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In 2014 governments in Europe, North America, and Australia reacted to significant mixed flows of humanitarian, economic, and family-stream migrants with a range of new policies. These came as some migrants presented themselves to authorities for processing rather than trying to evade U.S. or European border controls, with the knowledge that backlogs and little political will for the removal of vulnerable populations might allow them to stay for extended periods.

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Fears regarding the spread of the deadly Ebola virus following an outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone prompted governments around the world to regulate travel from and within West Africa. Travel bans, airport health screenings, closed borders, and traveler quarantines were among the policies implemented. International organizations argue such restrictions drive possibly symptomatic travelers to illegally bypass borders and encourage dishonesty in the exit screening process.

Policy Briefs
December 2014
Skilled labor migration is particularly important for developing countries seeking growth and looking to fill skills shortages. How can Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) facilitate “freer” flows of skilled migration? This joint policy brief with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) explores the challenges and prospects for cooperation.
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Increasing numbers of Westerners heading to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist organizations like ISIS have governments concerned about possible attacks at home by returning fighters. Several thousand fighters from Europe and other Western countries are believed among the foreign nationals involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Lawmakers scrambled in 2014 to respond with new policies, including seizing passports, stripping citizenship, and criminalizing travel to "no go" zones.

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Mass cases of exploitation and abuse of migrant workers have drawn international scrutiny and criticism of the kafala system in Gulf Cooperation Council countries and private recruitment practices in Southeast Asia. With Qatar under scrutiny amid a frenzied construction boom in advance of the 2022 World Cup, international organizations and human-rights groups in 2014 stepped up their campaign for worker protection reforms.

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In recent years emigration from Mexico has declined, the country's stable economy has drawn an increasing number of international migrants, and the pace of transmigration to the United States has quickened. Amid these changing realities, punctuated by a spike in migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014, Mexico is confronting a new role as migration manager: balancing increasing enforcement and protection of migrants' rights.

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2014 marked the quiet demise worldwide of the traditional points system for selecting skilled immigrants. Canada, which in 1969 invented the points system, in 2015 will join other countries in adopting a hybrid system that places more emphasis on a demand-driven system. This article examines how following the economic crisis, governments have revamped, hybridized, or ended such programs.

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