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Looking back after one year in office, it is striking how just closely the Trump administration’s actions on immigration have hewed to priorities Donald Trump outlined in an uncommonly detailed policy speech in August 2016. This report revisits those pledges to assess where the administration has made the most and least headway, and what its policy agenda ahead might look like.
In 2016, nearly 1.2 million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region lived in the United States. MENA immigration has picked up in recent decades, owing to war and worsening economic prospects. This article offers the latest data on the MENA population in the United States, which is more likely to come via humanitarian routes and less likely via family reunification than the foreign-born population overall.
Following the arrival of large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers in Europe from 2015 onwards, many nontraditional actors—from tech start-ups to social enterprises—pioneered solutions to foster the social and economic inclusion of newcomers. This conference reflects on how innovations for refugee inclusion can grow beyond pockets of good practice and inspire large-scale, long-term change.
European leaders in 2017 pursued migration partnerships with North African countries, seeking to stem maritime arrivals across the Mediterranean. Italy struck a deal with Libya to provide support in cracking down on illegal migration and smugglers, while Germany signed cooperation agreements with Egypt and Tunisia. Meanwhile, widespread reports of migrant abuse in Libya are prompting questions about the limitations and human costs of these partnerships.
The global refugee resettlement landscape changed dramatically in 2017, as the United States began to step back from its role as global leader on resettlement. The Trump administration reduced the 2018 refugee admissions ceiling to the lowest level since the program began in 1980. While other countries increased their commitments or launched new programs, this was not enough to make up for the gap left by the United States.
Governments on the receiving end of migrants and refugees reinforced their commitment to returns in 2017, sending or coercing migrants to move back to impoverished or violent homelands. The Dominican Republic pushed out some 70,000 Haitians and native born of Haitian descent, while more than 500,000 Afghans left Iran and Pakistan. Though many of these migrants chose to return, in practice the line between forced and voluntary returns is blurry.
Migration surged throughout South America in 2017, challenging governments to keep up with inflows. Brazil, Colombia, and Peru worked to process record numbers of Venezuelan asylum applications, and launched special visa programs for some new arrivals. While the government responses have been largely welcoming, the illegal immigration of Haitians provoked more restrictive policy reactions in Chile and Argentina.
With 1 million people forcibly returned to Afghanistan in 2016 alone, the nature of return policies and reintegration assistance from European governments and others merits significant attention. This report examines the implications that returns present for those who are returned, Afghan society, and the migration-management and development objectives of the countries that are initiating the returns.