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Hardline migration and asylum policies in the United States and Australia in 2018 hit turbulence when their effects on the most vulnerable—young children—provoked widespread public revulsion and prompted a retreat, at least temporarily. Still, public outcry over the treatment of child migrants and asylum seekers often runs up against the intractability of the problems facing governments and the lack of good solutions.
As industrialized countries are adopting harder-edge immigration and asylum policies to deal with real and perceived crises, humanitarian actors have sought to blunt the effects of those policies by launching rescue missions at sea, rendering direct aid to migrants in need, and offering legal assistance. A concerted pushback to this resistance emerged in 2018, with governments using legislative, legal, and other tools to fight back.
Questions of how, when, and under what conditions migrants and asylum seekers can be returned to their origin countries have featured prominently in international discussions of migration in 2018. Crucially, so too has an increased interest on the part of both destination and origin countries in making reintegration assistance more effective to help ensure that return is sustainable.
Faced with absorbing vast numbers of asylum seekers who headed to Europe during the 2015-16 migration crisis and the ongoing arrival of much smaller, but steady flows of Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border, EU Member States and the United States in 2018 took or explored significant steps to narrow asylum and harden policies.
Despite the major focus by media and publics on a handful of refugee crises around the world, displacement situations worsened during 2018 in a number of countries that received much less attention, including the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan—where unending conflict, new displacement, rising starvation, and an Ebola outbreak made already complex situations even more dire.
Swedish asylum policy has taken a restrictionist turn since the country received a record-breaking number of asylum seekers in 2015 and after electoral gains by the nationalist, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats pushed the governing coalition to a harder line. Still, other aspects of the country’s migration policy remain welcoming, as this country profile explores.
Over 3 million Venezuelans have fled in response to the deepening political and economic crisis in their country, becoming one of the largest and fastest outflows anywhere in the world. Senior officials from Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, which are home to more than half of these Venezuelan migrants and refugees, discussed their countries' responses to this migration and other experts talked on the broader trend across the region and the prospects for future policy responses.
A discussion on the vital new research project, ChildMove, that explores the experiences of young refugees and migrants who have traveled across Europe unaccompanied by their families.