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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.

How Will the Pandemic Reshape Public Health for Migrants?

The COVID-19 public-health crisis exacerbated longstanding migrant vulnerabilities ranging from heightened exposure to infection to disproportionate barriers in accessing health services. However, the pandemic also triggered innovations in migration and health policy that may ultimately improve conditions for some migrants—including regularization, increased health-care benefits, and increased use of digital tools to improve health literacy and information provision. The acute understanding that public health requires coverage for the entire community has renewed interest in tackling issues faced by marginalized populations.

With COVID-19 likely to significantly reshape health-care systems in Europe and worldwide, there is a window of opportunity to test new strategies to tackle longstanding migrant health disparities, and ensure that structural changes accommodate the complex needs of diverse populations. What lessons can be learned from strategies that arose during the pandemic and can they inform more inclusive health care post-pandemic? This webinar features experts and policymakers assessing the most promising strategies to ensure migrant health after the pandemic, as well as the related challenges and opportunities. 

Speakers highlight key findings from the ApartTogether study about the impact of the pandemic on migrants, reflect on the implications of the public-health crisis for migrant health, examine practical strategies that countries such as Portugal have taken, and discuss the most pressing challenges and issues facing migrants in European public-health systems today. This webinar is part of the Integration Futures Working Group initiative supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.  A related report from the project — Healing the Gap: Building Inclusive Public-Health and Migrant Integration Systems in Europe — also addresses some of the topics raised on this webinar. 

Opening More Avenues for Protection for Refugees

As of mid-2020, more than 20 million refugees were displaced to another country and under the mandate of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. While some may eventually return to their countries of origin or integrate locally into their host community, for the most at risk, resettlement remains a critical tool to secure legal status and access to fundamental rights in a third country. However, the number of resettlement places made available remains far below the level needed and plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This global scarcity in resettlement places has been paralleled by innovation. States have shown creativity in designing resettlement programs and in growing access to protection via complementary pathways, including educational and employment ones. The Three-Year Strategy (2019–2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways, launched following the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, aims to achieve more resettlement opportunities for refugees, as well as better access for refugees to complementary pathways. To support the goals of the Three-Year Strategy, the Sustainable Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Initiative (CRISP), led by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), provides support to states and key stakeholders to establish, expand, or renew resettlement programs and advance complementary pathways of admission.

This Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar marked the launch of a report that sets out a series of recommendations for how UNHCR, national governments, civil society, and other partners can most effectively support the growth of resettlement and complementary pathways in the years ahead. The webinar highlighted the recommendations developed by MPI Europe in collaboration with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub showcased in the report, which was commissioned by UNHCR with CRISP support.

Immigrant Detention to a More Effective U.S. Immigration Custody System

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigration Enforcement by migrationpolicy on September 9th, 2021

The sprawling U.S. immigration detention system has long been controversial for its conditions of care, number of immigrants and asylum seekers detained, and costs. Prioritizing detention also has distorted the broader immigration enforcement system by causing a backlog in the immigration courts that must handle cases of detained migrants over those of the 3 million-plus nondetained people who then wait years for decisions, including those with compelling claims for asylum and other forms of relief. Responding to these conditions and likely future immigration realities both at U.S. borders and the interior necessitates rethinking the role and nature of the immigration custody system, steering it away from a punitive, detention-centered approach towards a more effective and fair approach. This represents an opportune moment for action given the substantial reduction of individuals in detention due to COVID-19, coupled with the Biden administration’s pledge to reimagine the custody system. This discussion focuses on a report - https://bit.ly/2WhJy52 - from its Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy initiative that examines how the U.S. government can shift from jailers to case managers in ways that serve the national interest. Report authors lay out current conditions and costs in the system, along with their vision for a reimagined immigration custody system, including areas for congressional action and change in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The conversation covers priorities for custody determinations in a redesigned system, alternatives to detention, and how deterrence can ultimately be achieved when the immigration system’s border and interior enforcement, custody, supervision, and asylum adjudication measures are all effectively working together.

Labor Migration Governance in West Africa in the Wake of the Pandemic

Posted in Labor Migration, International Migration by migrationpolicy on September 9th, 2021

COVID-19 has dramatically curtailed opportunities to migrate in West Africa, with far-reaching economic consequences. In 2019, about 10 million West Africans lived in other countries in the region or internationally, and migration has traditionally been a driver for development for the region through remittances, knowledge transfers, and other forms of diaspora engagement. Now, ongoing border closures and travel restrictions coupled with new public-health measures have added an extra layer of complexity to migration management in the region. Competing policy priorities arising from the pandemic have also threatened to sideline recent national efforts to strengthen migration governance and the lifting of barriers to mobility under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement. In the cases of Ghana and Senegal, efforts to translate migration policy goals into practice were proving challenging even prior to the pandemic. Among the stumbling blocks: how to build mutually beneficial ties between origin countries and their diasporas, how to balance governments’ commitments to better regulate worker recruitment despite constraints on resources, and how to move the needle on issues such as promoting freedom of movement within ECOWAS while protecting local workers and business. In the wake of the pandemic and related economic downturn, migrants’ potential to support recovery efforts make addressing these questions even more critical. On this webinar speakers discuss a recent policy brief "Deepening Labor Migration Governance at a Time of Immobility: Lessons from Ghana and Senegal" https://bit.ly/2UOPEcZ . Experts and government officials from the region and Europe explore the importance of labor migration for West Africa, related policy efforts by the Ghanaian and Senegalese governments, and how development agencies can best support African countries in resuming mobility and enhancing the development benefits of labor migration.

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