E.g., 10/31/2020
E.g., 10/31/2020

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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With global displacement at a post-World War II high, the international community made some advances on refugee protection in 2016, but there were also steps backward. The United Nations held the first-ever refugee summit and some countries, including the United States and Canada, increased their resettlement commitments. Meanwhile, conflict intensified in some hotspots and publics turned against refugees, as this Top 10 article explores. 

While Europe and the United States saw terror attacks in 2016 carried out by radicalized immigrants or members of the second generation, policy responses varied on either side of the Atlantic. The perceived security threat posed by refugees was the main concern in the United States. Meanwhile, European debates centered more on concerns over loss of control of migration flows and lack of social cohesion.

Smugglers and migrants adapted their paths in light of changing conditions in 2016, including the construction of walls and closure of borders. Cuban and Haitian migrants increasingly chose to make their way to the United States through South and Central America rather than by sea. Meanwhile, migrant flows to Europe have splintered into a wider range of routes, seeking new openings through the Western Balkans.

2016 saw the emergence of a "whole-of-society" approach to the refugee crisis, with a number of new actors, including many from the private sector, engaging with humanitarian protection issues in creative ways. This engagement and the energy and diversity of these partners, in the tech sector and beyond, creates both opportunities and challenges for governments and more traditional civil-society organizations.

With weeks to spare, the Obama administration met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September 2016, and announced plans to increase the overall refugee ceiling to 110,000 in fiscal 2017. However, opposition continues to mount in Congress, statehouses, and on the campaign trail, with Republicans citing security concerns in calling for lower numbers or additional screening, as this article explores.

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Video, Audio
May 9, 2013

With global mobility on the rise, the international community is finally grappling with the challenge of stranded migrants, which is one of the main agenda items for the High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development in the UN General Assembly in October 2013.

Video, Audio
December 14, 2012

The event discussion, which touched on the intersection of race and immigration, focused on the demographics of Black immigrants (both African and Caribbean) in the United States and their children, their educational success, and the implications of the recently released volume’s findings for research and public policy.

Audio
October 1, 2012

The conference offers thoughtful, evidence-based law and policy analysis and discussion of cutting-edge immigration issues.

Video, Audio
July 30, 2012

MPI is pleased to host a discussion with experts from both KIND and the Women’s Refugee Commission, focusing on the causes of the increase in unaccompanied minor migrants, the situation these minors face once detained or apprehended, and the challenges confronting both nongovernmental organizations trying to provide aid and the U.S. government agencies responsible for processing minors through the system. 

Video, Audio
May 15, 2012

This discussion on the current global challenges of protecting refugees with Volker Türk, who directs UNHCR’s Division of International Protection, and Kathleen Newland, Director of the Refugee Protection Program was organized around three main themes: protection gaps, burden-sharing, and reducing statelessness.

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Recent Activity

Articles

The deepening of Venezuela's social, economic, and political implosion has resulted in the fastest movement of people across borders in Latin American history. Neighboring countries have responded with a patchwork of policy measures, though the scale and growing diversity of Venezuelan arrivals have challenged regional actors, as this article explores.

Reports
July 2018

European countries have ramped up their investments in helping refugees find work and integrate into society. Yet little hard evidence exists of what programs and policies work best. This report proposes a new framework for thinking smartly about integration programming, using cost-benefit analysis to look beyond short-term, economic outcomes to also measure indirect benefits through a social-value concept.

Reports
July 2018

While commentators proclaimed the 2017 Dutch election results a rebuff of radical-right populism, this report makes clear that electoral success is not the only way to influence policymaking. Taking the Netherlands as a case study, it examines how radical-right parties in Western Europe have shaped immigration policy agendas and outcomes by rewriting narratives and forcing mainstream parties further to the right.

Articles

Though the Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a major victory by upholding its much-contested travel ban, less noted has been the fact that the ruling left an opening for future challenges to the policy of barring groups of foreign nationals from the country. This Policy Beat explores the evolution of the travel ban, the justices' arguments for and against, and changes in visa grants from travel-ban countries.

Reports
June 2018

Though hardly new to most Nordic countries, radical-right parties have grown in popular support and political power in recent years. This report analyzes the role immigration has played in their rise and recent electoral fortunes in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. It also examines the strategies other parties have adopted in an attempt to limit their growth.

Reports
June 2018

As maritime arrivals climbed in 2015, EU policymakers struggled to mount a coordinated response. A range of ad hoc crisis-response tools emerged, but many officials worry that if another migration emergency were to hit Europe, the European Union may still be unprepared. This report traces the evolution of the EU response to the 2015–16 crisis and lays out recommendations to lock in progress and shore up weaknesses.

Commentaries
June 2018

European leaders have settled on a recurring proposition to address the ongoing political crisis on migration: the creation of asylum processing centers beyond EU borders. The plans championed by various EU leaders are diverse, the details fuzzy. What they have in common is a near-universal focus on shifting responsibility for dealing with refugees and migrants upstream, as this commentary examines.

Commentaries
June 2018

Even as some pundits assess President Trump's temporary end to family separation as a defeat, the deeper reality is being lost: The administration’s plan to detain all asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, including families, is now on its way to completion. The “catch-and-release” that Donald Trump rails against is, at least in part, effectively over for now, though the price tag is a long way from being tallied, as this commentary explains.

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