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E.g., 03/04/2024
Refugee & Asylum Policy

Refugee & Asylum Policy

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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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Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
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Commentaries
January 2019
By  Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce
VenezuelansCucutaStreets ProveaONG Flickr
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U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.
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Sign left by No More Deaths activists in Arizona
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Migrants returning to Ethiopia
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With more than 2.2 million Syrians who have already sought refuge abroad and more than 4 million others displaced internally, the challenges that the international community are facing from the Syrian humanitarian crisis continue to mount.

United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff talks to MPI about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and the role of UNHCR in assisting countries that have taken in large numbers of Syrian refugees. One looming concern: how will UNHCR and other actors change their refugee crisis-response models and mechanisms to adapt to this and future emergencies?

Burma, a resources-rich yet impoverished nation also known as Myanmar, rejoined the international community in 2011 after a military junta loosened its grip. Before the Southeast Asian nation opened its borders, Burmese migrated primarily for low-paid, clandestine work in Thailand but also as a result of violence and natural disasters. This article explores how the country’s recent transition has impacted Burmese migration flows.

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This Q&A explores the dire medical emergency and refugee health concerns resulting from the ongoing Syrian crisis. Source Editor Amber French conducts a Q&A with Dr. Fadi Al Khankan of the Syrian Expatriates Organization and MPI's Kathleen Newland, both panelists at the January 14, 2013 MPI event unveiling the International Rescue Committee's report, Syria: A Regional Crisis.

Many countries, and in particular the United States, have begun granting asylum claims filed on the basis of sexual orientation in the past few decades. Despite the efforts by U.S. and other governments to reinforce protection for LGBT refugees, this community remains a marginalized group.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
January 2019

Faced with the arrival of more than 3 million Venezuelans fleeing economic collapse and political upheaval, Latin American countries have responded with creativity and pragmatism. But as the migration spurred by the crisis stretches on, there is a need to look beyond facilitating legal entry and granting temporary status to plan for the long term. This brief explores the policy response thus far and challenges ahead.

Commentaries
January 2019

What President Trump calls a border crisis is in fact a crisis in the asylum system—one worsened at every turn by his administration’s harsh policies and rhetoric. Rather than spend $5.7 billion on a wall, it would be far more effective to use the money to retool an overwhelmed asylum system, adapt outmatched border enforcement infrastructure to respond to the changing composition of arrivals, and work cooperatively with Mexico to tackle the factors propelling Central Americans to flee.

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With an estimated 3 million people having fled the failing Venezuelan state, and predictions another 2 million could join them in 2019, the capacity of South American neighbors to welcome the arrivals became increasingly stretched in 2018. While the region has largely maintained generous reception policies, there were signs during the year that its tolerance was being tested.

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2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.

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The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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