E.g., 06/18/2024
E.g., 06/18/2024
Refugee & Asylum Policy

Refugee & Asylum Policy

Tens of millions of people around the globe have been forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disaster, or persecution, seeking refuge either within or beyond the borders of their country. Humanitarian protection, whether for refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced persons (IDPs), represents a key policy area for many major immigrant-receiving countries as well as nations bordering locations where war, political upheaval, or natural disaster have disrupted daily life. The research offered here relates to the law and practice of protecting refugees and IDPs in areas of conflict as well as in industrialized nations, with a focus on secure solutions and effective institutional arrangements for comprehensive protection.

Recent Activity

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Migrants on a boat

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.

South Sudanese refugee girl

Millions of displaced people were unable to return home in 2017, and countless others found themselves newly displaced. Targeted violence in Myanmar caused more than 624,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, and conflict in South Sudan drove at least 668,000 abroad. Some first-asylum countries, such as Uganda and Turkey, were largely accommodating, while others, such as Jordan and Lebanon, pressured refugees to leave.

Syrian family on a plane

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.

AfghanRefugees ZsuzsannaGal UNHCR

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.

MetroCaracas EneasDeTroya Flickr

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.

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UAC Webinar Train UNHCR
Audio
June 25, 2014

The flow of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico to the United States has surged 90 percent since last year, with government officials predicting that it might reach 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year in September—and perhaps 130,000 next year. This telebriefing discusses factors behind the flows as well as short- and longer-term policy options for improving how the U.S. immigration system interacts with this population with distinct needs.

_LampedusaMigrants
Audio
June 18, 2014

This MPI Europe telebriefing, releasing the brief "Strengthening Refugee Protection and Meeting Challenges: The European Union’s Next Steps on Asylum," examines Europe's current reality with respect to migration and asylum and assesses the possibilities for future development of EU immigration policy.

EventPH 2014.5.20 Syrians on the Edge The Status of Refugees in Neighboring Countries
Video, Audio
May 20, 2014

A discussion with findings from an ORSAM report that evaluates the effect of the Syrian refugee crisis on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as on the more than 3 million Syrians who have fled their homeland to become refugees in neighboring countries.

EventPH 2014.03.20 Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration  A New Paradigm
Audio
March 20, 2014

This MPI event, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), discusses the critical issue of climate-related displacement in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on the vulnerability of environmental migrants and how the international legal framework can better ensure their protection.

EventPH 2014.03.20 Children on the Run An Analysis of First Hand Accounts from Children Fleeing Central America
Video, Audio
March 12, 2014

This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, which examines the increasing numbers of children from Central America and Mexico who head off alone to find refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, insecurity, and abuse.

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Recent Activity

Reports
November 2020

Around the world, governments are grappling with how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also managing the economic fallout of policies put in place to stop the virus’ spread. Global migration has dropped sharply amid border closures and travel restrictions. This reflection takes stock of policy responses to the pandemic thus far, and of the challenges (and some opportunities) on the horizon for migration systems, labor markets, and integration of newcomers.

Video, Expert Q&A, Audio
November 9, 2020

What actions might the incoming Biden administration take on immigration, whether to unwind some of the most restrictive Trump policies or advance an affirmative agenda of its own? And what challenges and opportunities will the Biden administration face? MPI experts analyze the campaign pledges and prospects ahead, for everything from reversing the Remain in Mexico program and cuts to legal immigration, ending border wall construction, and reviving DACA and refugee resettlement, as well as new policies such as legalization.

Policy Briefs
November 2020

Joe Biden pledged during his campaign to reverse some of the most restrictive immigration actions undertaken during Donald Trump’s four years in office. While some actions can be undone with the stroke of a pen, others will take more time. This policy brief outlines the incoming administration’s top immigration priorities, examines challenges and opportunities ahead, and previews MPI policy ideas that could improve the immigration system and advance the national interest.

Audio, Webinars
October 27, 2020

En dicho diálogo, algunos de los representantes de las organizaciones que conforman la red en Norteamérica, Centroamérica, Sudamérica y el Caribe, comparten la manera como se coordinan, las acciones que se llevan a cabo y las dificultades, retos y desafíos que atraviesan.

Policy Briefs
October 2020

Consistent with its world view of immigration as threat, the Trump administration has shut down meaningful access to asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, expelled more than 205,000 arrivals during the pandemic, and constructed hundreds of miles of border barriers. Yet these strategies cannot succeed over the long term, given realities. This road map sketches what an effective border management system would look like.

Articles

Even as the number of people making the dangerous journey through the Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe has declined since the migration and refugee crisis of 2015-16, the rate of deaths has increased. This article evaluates the role of Europe's hardening approach to trans-Mediterranean migration and the criminalization of search-and-rescue operations by nongovernmental organizations.

Commentaries
October 2020

The EU Pact on Migration and Asylum represents a last-gasp effort by European leaders to devise a plan that keeps all 27 countries at the table, at a time when growing numbers are refusing to accept asylum seekers under the existing redistribution mechanism. Can the pact’s concept of solidarity à la carte work? The pact may well be the last step before an abyss in which each country determines the fate of migrants and refugees, practically guaranteeing future conflict.

 

Articles

In the United States, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on immigration. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have offered sharply diverging policy positions, and the outcome of the election is sure to have profound consequences for the U.S. immigration system. Yet this partisan divide is relatively new. Just two decades ago, the parties were much more united on immigrants’ role in the U.S. economy and society.

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