E.g., 07/06/2020
E.g., 07/06/2020

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

South Sudanese refugee girl
Syrian family on a plane
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Metro in Caracas
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Elderly Cuban man with flag
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As seemingly endless waves of asylum seekers and migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, politicians from across the political spectrum invoked forceful anti-immigrant rhetoric that resonated in some quarters. Mainstream politicians began co-opting the tougher, more enforcement-laden language of far-right groups as all parties sought to reassure voters in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris.

Child migrants traveling alone to Europe or the United States face similar dangers and are particularly at risk of abuse and trafficking. The arrival of tens of thousands of such children in Europe and the United States have overwhelmed accommodations as well as legal and integration processes. Furthermore, the unprecedented flows have sparked heated public debate in a number of cities.

Systemic corruption has flourished in South Africa's asylum system due to large backlogs and rising demand. Though apartheid's end ushered in a progressive refugee law, inefficiency, administrative justice violations, and corruption have narrowed the humanitarian protection channel. Asylum seekers and refugees often face the stark choice of paying bribes to access services or risking deportation.

The United States is the largest refugee resettlement country in the world, with 69,933 newly arrived refugees granted protection in 2015. This article delves into the most recent refugee and asylum data in the United States, including top countries of origin, states of settlement, age, gender, and more for humanitarian arrivals.

Japan is one of the world's most generous contributors to humanitarian appeals, yet accepts a very small number of asylum seekers—indeed only 11 were granted refugee status in 2014. Even as Japan has witnessed a record number of asylum applications, the approval rate has declined. This feature explores Japan's low acceptance of asylum seekers, including institutional barriers and negative public perceptions.

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Recent Activity

Audio, Webinars
December 12, 2017

To reflect on the outcomes of the stocktaking meeting in December 2017 on the progress made towards conceptualizing the Global Compact for Migration, MPI hosted a conversation with Eva Åkerman Börje, from the office of the UN Special Representative for International Migration, and Ilse Hahn, from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Reports
November 2017

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.

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Nearly 6 million Afghans fled after violence erupted in the late 1970s, primarily to Iran and Pakistan. While millions returned after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, the security situation has since deteriorated and the government struggles to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly the internally displaced. This country profile explores Afghanistan’s complex migration and displacement history as well as ongoing challenges.

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Owing to their uniquely preferential treatment under U.S. immigration law, Cubans for decades have been among the largest immigrant groups in the United States. In 2016, nearly 1.3 million Cubans lived in the United States. This Spotlight provides a data snapshot of this immigrant group, which is highly concentrated in Florida, significantly older than the overall U.S. population, and less likely to be proficient in English.

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