E.g., 04/01/2020
E.g., 04/01/2020

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.

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.

Metro in Caracas

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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Audio
February 8, 2016

Analysts discuss how private sponsorship programs for refugees, used by Canada and a handful of other countries, could alleviate some of the pressure from the European refugee crisis by allowing individuals, groups, businesses, and other entities to sponsor individual refugees for resettlement.

Audio
January 27, 2016

The Special Representative on International Migration for the UN Secretary-General, Peter Sutherland, and the former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, T. Alexander Aleinikoff, preview upcoming high-level humanitarian protection and migration summits in 2016, focusing on likely agendas and what tangible results might occur.

Video, Audio
October 27, 2015

In this webinar, the authors of three papers on the experiences of refugee children present their findings, with a focus on how such experiences affect their mental health and education.

Video, Audio
October 22, 2015

This webinar examines the challenges facing educators and policymakers in Europe and the United States as they attempt to meet the needs of immigrant and refugee students who arrive during their middle and high school years.

Video, Audio
October 20, 2015

An MPI Europe video chat with the outgoing head of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the current EU refugee crisis, what strategies Europe ought to be pursuing in response, and the growing role of EASO as well as its track record over its first five years.

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Recent Activity

Articles

The Trump administration’s latest effort to narrow the ability to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a legal roadblock within days of implementation, as has been the pattern for much of its immigration agenda. This article examines the actions on asylum, which alongside deployment of active-duty military to the border, are among measures taken to seek to reduce the flow of Central Americans to the United States.

Video, Audio
November 20, 2018

Marking the U.S. release of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, this discussion looks at different ways education policymakers, teachers, and civil society have responded to the educational needs of migrants and how to address the challenges that sometimes inhibit children from participating meaningfully and equally in education programs. 

Video, Audio, Webinars
November 15, 2018

In advance of the December 2018 adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which includes a commitment to facilitate the return and reintegration of migrants, this webinar examines the policies, practices, and contextual factors that make compulsory returns such a difficult issue for international cooperation. Speakers also discuss the programs that are being implemented to make reintegration of returnees sustainable.

Articles

Despite long study of famine, there is a remarkable lack of research about the linkages between mass starvation and migration. Among the unanswered questions: Does migration mitigate starvation or worsen it? With famines returning, most notably in war-torn Yemen, after a period of decline, the need for knowledge is essential. This article examines the causes and migration patterns of great famines from the 19th century onward.

Articles

In less than two years as Attorney General, Jeff Sessions oversaw wide-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system. Even as the zero-tolerance policy, fights with "sanctuary" cities, and DACA termination might be more visible, Sessions' enduring legacy may be his muscular use of a little-noted authority, which he wielded to significantly reshape immigration and asylum policy by referring immigration cases to himself.

Reports
November 2018

In many recent European and U.S. elections, candidates touting nativist populist and anti-immigrant platforms have enjoyed rising support. As populism moves from the fringes into the mainstream, this report takes stock of the economic and social forces driving its rise, the diverse ways populists are influencing immigration policymaking, and what it will take to build a new center around immigration and integration issues.

Commentaries
November 2018

Asylum reform, not the "shock-and-awe" deployment of thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with the migrant caravan, represents the real path to addressing the current realities of mixed economic and humanitarian migration flows, as the person who presided over the last reform of the U.S. asylum system in the mid-1990s explains in this commentary.

Articles

Uganda is the third largest refugee-hosting nation in the world, with more than 1 million refugees arriving in the last two years. Amid strong public solidarity for displaced neighbors, the government has emphasized the right to employment, enterprise, and free movement for refugees despite the country's poverty and limited resources. Can this generous "Uganda model" be sustained? This article explores the challenges and opportunities.

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