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Migration Policy Institute Podcasts

MPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

Surviving vs. Thriving: The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Adult Education for Immigrants and Refugees

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on October 31st, 2018

It is generally recognized that successful long-term immigrant integration requires a broad understanding of U.S. culture and systems, combined with strong English proficiency and other basic skills. For the past 50 years, English instruction classes provided via state adult education systems have been the default mechanism to meet immigrants’ English acquisition—and, to a limited extent, integration—needs. However, this federal-state partnership system meets less than 4 percent of adult learner needs nationally and suffers from serious flaws in the nature and design of instruction when viewed through an immigrant integration lens. Leeway within the system to support successful integration has steadily narrowed in recent years, particularly with passage in 2014 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which instituted mandatory performance measures for adult education programs that focus mainly on employment outcomes and the attainment of postsecondary credentials, placing no value on other essential integration skills or topics.

Taking stock of weaknesses in the WIOA-driven design of most current programming, MPI analysts draw on research from the integration, adult education, and postsecondary success fields in arguing for the adoption of a new “English Plus Integration” (EPI) adult education program model. Seeking to make more effective use of immigrant adult learners’ time in a formal program, the model would maintain a central focus on English language acquisition while also building skills and critical systems knowledge to support continued learning long after program exit and speed integration success along multiple individual and family dimensions.

On this webinar, MPI analysts Margie McHugh and Catrina Doxsee engage in a discussion with Art Ellison, former Bureau Administrator, New Hampshire Bureau of Adult Education, and former Policy Committee Chair, National Council of State Directors of Adult Education; Charles Kamasaki, Senior Cabinet Advisor, UnidosUS, and Resident Fellow, MPI; and Alison Ascher Webber, Director of Strategic Initiatives, EdTech Center at World Education, on strategies for implementation of this new model that will weave together supports and strengths from a range of intersecting fields.

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Administrative Power: Building an Invisible Wall Around the United States

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response by migrationpolicy on October 24th, 2018

In its first year and a half, the Trump administration tested the limits of its power to reduce immigration, targeting longstanding humanitarian programs and scrutinizing immigration benefits. These unprecedented actions included deciding to end Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure for nationals from seven countries, attempting to terminate DACA, introducing new limitations on applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, releasing several iterations of the much-litigated travel ban, slashing refugee resettlement numbers, tightening visa screening guidelines, and changing H-1B processing. Many of these actions, as well as the way decisions have been implemented, have been challenged in the courts. In a discussion moderated by CLINIC Director of Advocacy Jill Bussey, CARECEN Executive Director Abel Nunez, International Refugee Assistance Project Staff Attorney Julie Kornfeld, and Council for Global Immigration Director of Government Affairs Rebecca K. Peters discussed the legal questions presented in litigation, as well as the consequences of these actions domestically and abroad.

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Chilling Effects at the Border and in the U.S. Interior

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on October 24th, 2018

Whether at the border or in the interior, the government is taking a hardline stance: separating arriving migrant families in a bid to deter future flows from Central America; stepping up pressure on “sanctuary” jurisdictions; increasing focus on denaturalization; and releasing a public-charge ruling that could deter vast numbers of legal immigrants and their U.S.-citizen dependents from accessing public benefits. What legal and political issues do these policies raise? What is their impact likely to be? And how are immigrant communities and their representatives reacting? Muzaffar Chishti, Director of MPI's office at NYU School of Law, moderated a discussion on these issues between "The New Yorker"'s Staff Writer Jonathan Blitzer; Ur Jaddou, Former Chief Counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; James F. Peterson, Judicial Watch Attorney; and Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the New York City's Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. The panel was opened by remarks from Georgetown Law Center Dean William Treanor.

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Systematic Plan to Narrow Humanitarian Protection: A New Era of U.S. Asylum Policy

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on October 24th, 2018

The administration has acted strongly and quickly to restrict the pathways to seek and gain asylum in the United States. In Matter of A-B the Attorney General overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals case in an attempt to eliminate domestic and gang violence as grounds for granting asylum. Such serious harm is often one of the central reasons why asylum seekers, especially from Central America, flee. Other new policies include criminally prosecuting asylum seekers who cross the border unlawfully for the first time; pushing back families without valid visas who seek asylum at ports of entry (despite laws that allow people to apply for protection at legal crossing points); detaining families, including pregnant women, while they pursue an asylum claim; and imposing case completion quotas on immigration judges so that they issue asylum and other immigration decisions more quickly. Whither asylum? This panel--including Georgetown Law Professor Andrew I. Schoenholtz; Dilley Pro Bono Project Managing Attorney Shalyn Fluharty; Immigration Reform Law Institute Director of Litigation Christopher J. Hajec; and U.C. Hastings College of the Law Bank of America Chair Karen Musalo--discussed the legal issues underpinning the asylum system changes and the immediate and longer-term effects of the administration’s actions on the U.S. asylum system. They also considered whether the new policies are in conflict with the international treaties to which the United States is signatory and other international law obligations.

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State of Play: Immigration Center Stage

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on October 24th, 2018

Immigration has played an uncommonly prominent role in elections and on Americans’ TV screens since the 2016 presidential campaign. Recent coverage has been non-stop due to family separations and zero-tolerance policies at the border. Heading into a highly contested election season, campaign strategists contend that immigration is the single issue that could move the conservative base and save GOP majorities in Congress. Yet polling shows a larger share of people say immigration is good for the nation than at any point since 2001. What role is immigration likely to play in the November mid-terms? Underneath national debates, the immigration landscape continues to fracture under the pressure of communities embracing different policies of cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, protection of vulnerable immigrants, and more. The federal government is pushing back by threatening to withhold federal dollars and heading into court to challenge state and local policies it views as harmful. This panel--with MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, Democratic Political Strategist Maria Cardona, the New Center's Co-Chair William A. Galston, Vox Senior Reporter Dara Lind, and Barry Jackson, Former Chief of Staff for Speaker Boehner and Senior Staff to President George W. Bush--assesses these and associated political and policy trends.

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USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna keynotes 15th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on October 24th, 2018

L. Francis Cissna, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), delivered the keynote at the 15th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference on October 1, 2018. In his remarks, he discussed his priorities for USCIS; the proposed public charge regulation; USCIS's role in the administration of the U.S. asylum and refugee admission system, including recent developments and operational challenges; policy changes surrounding the adjudication of applications and notices to appear; and USCIS's work in identifying cases that may be referred for denaturalization.

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The Next Frontier in Immigrant Integration Policy? Using Behavioral Insights to Foster Social Cohesion

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by migrationpolicy on October 16th, 2018

Can tiny tweaks in how public policy is designed and how services work really “nudge” us to become better citizens? An increasing number of governments think so. Policymakers have used behavioral insights—an interdisciplinary, research-based approach to policy design grounded in understanding how people make choices in practice—to great effect to inspire people to become organ donors, encourage them to pay their taxes on time, and more. 

But while behavioral insights have been adopted in everything from education to health policy, their application in the field of immigrant integration has so far been limited. Could this method be used to promote social mixing and reduce inequality between those with and without a migrant background? Emerging experimental and real-world evidence suggests a range of ways a behavioral lens could to help policymakers reach their integration goals, from fostering open-mindedness among young people and reducing classroom segregation to encouraging immigrants to become citizens. 

On this webinar, speakers—Meghan Benton, MPI Assistant Director for Research in the International Programme; Antonio Silva, Behavioural Insights Team Senior Advisor; Laura Gonzalez-Murphy, New York State Department of State Director of Immigration Policy and Research; and Will Somerville, Unbound Philanthropy UK Programme Director and MPI UK Senior Fellow—explored what untapped potential behavioral insights may hold for integration policy, and how policymakers can start fitting this approach into their work. The webinar marked the release of an MPI Europe-Behavioural Insights Team report, Applying Behavioural Insights to Support Immigrant Integration and Social Cohesion, produced under the framework of MPI Europe's Integration Futures Working Group. 

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Preparing Newcomers for the Jobs of Today and the Labor Markets of Tomorrow

Getting recently arrived immigrants and refugees into work has long been considered the lynchpin of successful integration, with the legitimacy of migration and asylum systems often linked to positive economic outcomes. Spurred in part by the European migration crisis, significant social innovations and public-sector investments have focused on assessing newcomers’ existing skills, matching them with available jobs, and providing training to those in need. But with labour markets increasingly characterized by technological disruption and the flexible but precarious "gig economy," this model risks being severely upended.

This Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar marks the release of two publications produced in the framework of its Integration Futures Working Group. Jobs in 2028: How Will Changing Labor Markets Affect Immigrant Integration in Europe? examines possible scenarios for how social, economic, and technological trends could affect jobs, labor market policy, education and social policies, and migrant integration. The second report, Tech Jobs for Refugees: Assessing the Potential of Coding Schools for Refugee Integration in Germany, explores the potential of coding schools for refugees to help alleviate skills shortages and provide a pathway to work—for more than only a high-skilled minority. Join the experts for a discussion of key questions: How can governments equip newcomers—and indeed citizens—with the skills to thrive in the job markets of the future? How can governments prepare public services and contribution-based benefit schemes for a changing world of work? And for those unable to find work, what are the alternative ways that newcomers can meaningfully and measurably contribute to society?

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The U.S. Asylum System in Crisis: First Steps for Rescue

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response by migrationpolicy on October 3rd, 2018

The United States has a long tradition of offering humanitarian protection to those in need. Yet in recent years, a confluence of factors has led to a large and growing backlog of asylum cases, with many applicants waiting years for a decision. This slowdown has both harmed those eligible for protection and invited misuse, with some claims filed to secure the right to remain in the country and receive the work authorization granted when cases are delayed.

Faced with a system in crisis, the Trump administration has taken a number of actions to narrow access to asylum in the United States. These include largely eliminating gang and domestic violence as grounds for asylum and introducing a “zero-tolerance” approach to border enforcement that entails prosecuting all first-time border crossers, including adult asylum seekers, for illegal entry—a policy that for a time led to the separation of apprehended parents from their children.

This webinar marks the publication of an important MPI report that analyses the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to a crisis point and proposes common-sense steps that can be implemented now to jump-start rescuing it. The report co-authors, Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman, and T. Alexander Aleinikoff, and commentator Eleanor Acer from Human Rights First discuss the findings and measures that focus on the affirmative asylum system as the path to restoring timeliness and fairness to the system, while also deterring abuses. 

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