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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.

Pushing Borders Outward: The State of Asylum Globally Five Years After the EU-Turkey Deal

In the five years since the European Union turned to Turkey to keep asylum seekers and other migrants from reaching European soil in exchange for a variety of economic and other considerations, governments around the world have increasingly externalized their migration controls and asylum proceedings. They have done so by pushing their borders outward through arrangements with transit and origin countries, as well as by implementing barriers that make it harder to access protection. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges by providing a public-health rationale for border closures and entry limitations. The five-year anniversary of the EU-Turkey deal provides an opportunity to examine how the accessibility of asylum and protection globally has changed.

In this discussion experts considered the extent to which externalization strategies, such as the EU-Turkey agreement or deals with Libya and now-rescinded U.S. agreements to send asylum seekers to Central America, have become the dominant strategies deployed by countries of asylum. How have the impacts of these policies been felt, both by asylum seekers and host and transit countries? And what can be done to ensure refugees continue to have access to protection and asylum procedures?

This event marks the launch of an initiative led by MPI and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, “Beyond Territorial Asylum: Making Protection Work in a Bordered World.” The initiative aims to redesign the global protection and resettlement infrastructure in a way that is more equitable, flexible, and sustainable. 

A Year of Pandemic: The State of Global Human Mobility & What Is on the Horizon

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed mobility and cross-border movement in 2020, decimating tourism and business travel, severely curtailing labor migration, and dampening all forms of migration, including refugee resettlement. Since the onset of the public-health crisis, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has tracked the hundreds of travel restrictions, border closures, and health-related travel requirements imposed by governments globally. An IOM-Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report draws from the IOM database to sketch the state of mobility across world regions in 2020, and the range of mobility-related strategies used to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus.
 

This two-panel discussion, featuring introductory remarks by IOM Director General António Vitorino, examines how the pandemic reshaped border management and human mobility in 2020 and what the lasting impacts may be throughout 2021 and beyond. The first panel examines the government actions and regional and international coordination undertaken in 2020, including “travel bubbles” and immunity passports, along with how policymakers balanced health and economic concerns and the needs of vulnerable populations and unprecedented logistical issues in their responses. The second panel explored what policymakers should consider as the world enters into a new, uneven phase marked on the one hand by rising vaccinations, but on the other by the spread of new COVID-19 variants and additional mobility restrictions as caseloads rise in some regions. Speakers discussed what it may take to reopen fully, a possible new border infrastructure focused on public health, what regional and international coordination efforts are showing promise, and a look ahead to major decisions that will need to be made in 2021.

The Future of Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Pathways: Strengthening Sustainable and Strategic Humanitarian Solutions for Refugees

Posted in Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response, International Migration, European Migration by migrationpolicy on February 23rd, 2021

As one of three durable solutions traditionally available for refugees, third-country resettlement is an important part of the international commitment to refugee protection and support. Yet the vast majority of refugees in need of resettlement as a durable solution in 2021 are unlikely to be resettled. In 2020, amid a global pandemic, resettlement numbers reached a record low: only 22,770 (1.6 percent) of the 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement were resettled. In a recent paper, The Future of Refugee Resettlement & Complementary Pathways: Strengthening sustainable and strategic humanitarian solutions for refugees, Church World Service (CWS) argues that resettlement can and should be a humanitarian program to find protection for individuals and strategically contribute to the resolution of situations of forced displacement. However, achieving these goals will require political, structural, and operational changes. In particular, CWS makes the case that complementary pathways represent untapped opportunities for refugees to improve their lives through migration and proposes several key recommendations to advance complementary pathways and resettlement in the future.

This joint event organized by MPI and CWS, one of nine U.S. refugee resettlement agencies, brings together experts in the field to discuss the paper. As its primary author, Katherine Rehberg, Deputy Vice President of the Immigration and Refugee Program at CWS, presented the key findings and recommendations. The discussion then turned to the European Asylum Support Office’s work to foster closer international cooperation on resettlement submissions and processing, as well as what those experiences hold for wider cooperation between countries on resettlement processing, particularly outside the European Union. In addition, the conversation focused on what is required to implement complementary pathways at an international level.

A Way Forward on Migration Under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union?

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by migrationpolicy on February 9th, 2021

Portugal assumed the rotating EU Presidency in January 2021 and has prioritized progress on the Migration and Asylum Pact proposed by the European Commission last September. The pact tackles many of the most intractable issues in the management and governance of international migration, including how to manage mixed migration flows that have presented a near-existential challenge for the European Union. With the pact generating a great deal of interest across sending and receiving countries alike, all eyes will be on Portugal as it tries to make progress on issues ranging from managing external borders better, offering protection to asylum seekers with legitimate claims, relocating refugees and asylum seekers, and returns.

Borrowing from U.S. debates on immigration about “comprehensive” versus “piecemeal” reforms, the key questions are how much Portugal can achieve over the next six months, what it should prioritize, and where the Portuguese Presidency can find support for its ambitions. How can Europe manage the external, EU-wide, and even domestic aspects of this policy area more effectively and avoid the policy and political minefields set over the past six years? Will Europe be able to come together on this issue and give meaning to the often-used notions of “solidarity” and “responsibility sharing”? Or will the centrifugal forces on this issue grow and imperil the bloc’s ability to speak and act with one voice on difficult issues?

This MPI-MPI Europe webinar brings together senior officials from the European Union, Germany (the last holder of the presidency) and Portugal to take stock of where the conversations on the pact stand as Germany passes the baton on this issue to Portugal, and Portugal’s plans for taking forward the negotiations. The discussion focuses on two questions: (1) what lessons can be learned from the German Presidency’s work last fall on the pact and what are Portugal’s priorities for making progress on it, and (2) how can European policymakers make the case for greater solidarity on migration and asylum issues?

Welfare States and Migration: How Will the Pandemic Reshape a Complex Relationship?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe was facing a set of interlocking challenges—a rise in spontaneous migration, an aging population, and a changing labor market—all of which put pressure on public finances. The public-health crisis has further exacerbated the situation, imposing huge costs on governments as they scramble to safeguard employment and protect vulnerable groups, including migrants disproportionately affected by job losses. Will this "perfect storm" rock the foundations of European welfare systems in the long term, and how? Will welfare states manage to adapt, and if so, what are the most promising innovations? How can governments close gaps in the social safety net, while laying the groundwork for economic recovery and long-term sustainability?  

This two-part MPI Europe event, moderated by MPI's Meghan Benton, examines these important questions. In the first session, veteran migration thinkers Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Grete Brochmann will reflect on the implications of this current moment for European economies and societies, and the role of immigration. The second session, with Jacopo Mazza, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre, highlighted research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on the fiscal and demographic impacts of migration. MPI Europe's Liam Patuzzi and Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, along with European University Institute's Martin Ruhs explored the pandemic’s particular effects on migrants and refugees, gaps in the social safety net, the role immigrant integration policy can play in maximizing the benefits of migration, and smart ideas that governments are implementing to ensure immigration is an economic and demographic asset for the future.

The Post-Pandemic Ascent: The Role of Migration in Emerging from the Economic and Labor Market Turmoil

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, globally interconnected economies and societies are navigating uncharted waters. The pandemic and its aftermath present policymakers with two crucial challenges: how to manage the spread and hopefully eradication of the disease and how to deal with the economic devastation caused by stay-at-home orders, travel bans, and other measures taken to halt the spread of the virus. Currently migration and mobility have come to a relative standstill. Will migration levels return to pre-pandemic levels? And as most countries’ labor systems and economies are linked to immigration, might this public-health crisis result in a fundamental realignment of economic relationships? Will it stimulate a rethink of migration systems, where policymakers seriously re-examine the role and composition of the foreign-born workforce and approaches to immigrant integration? Or post-pandemic, will countries just revert to their previous approaches to migration, or possibly surge further towards protectionism and restrictionism?

This Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) discussion highlights the impact of the coronavirus on migration and mobility systems, and findings from OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2020 on recent developments in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and some non-member countries. As policymakers grapple with a way forward, speakers--including Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Jean-Christophe Dumont, and Jonathan Chaloff--share their perspectives on the opportunities for innovation, what labor demands may emerge, the role of migration in North America and Europe at this challenging point in history, and whether this moment can be the catalyst for rebuilding of economies and societies that provide the best outcomes for both the native born and immigrants alike.  MPI's Meghan Benton moderated the discussion. 

COVID-19, the Withdrawal Agreement and Citizens’ Rights: No Time to Waste

Posted in Labor Migration, International Migration, European Migration by migrationpolicy on October 27th, 2020

With the Brexit transition period quickly coming to an end, the United Kingdom and EU Member States are in a race against time to finalize and start implementing their withdrawal agreement plans on citizens’ rights. But during what should have been a critical planning period, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reoriented priorities and brought additional strains for both governments as well as EU nationals in the United Kingdom and UK nationals in the European Union.

This MPI Europe webinar explores how governments’ withdrawal agreement implementation plans have been affected by COVID-19, and the potential implications on citizens’ rights at the end of the transition period and beyond. Experts including, MPI's Meghan Benton and Aliyyah Ahad, Marina Fernandez from the University of Oxford, Nastasja Fuxa from the European Commission, UK Citizens Rights' Deputy Director
Andy Heath, Identity Malta Agency CEO Anton Sevasta, and Betty Sieperda and Yoram Vanmaekelbergh from the Netherlands Government, tackle the following questions in their conversation:

  • Which populations are most at risk of being left behind at the intersection between Brexit and the pandemic?
  • What contingency measures could mitigate these vulnerabilities and keep implementation timelines on track?
  • How can governments do smart outreach to groups that may have more immediate health and economic concerns, or are increasingly isolated either at home or overseas?
  • How can governments in the European Union capitalize on the lessons from past regularization programs to get a jump start on implementing the withdrawal agreement before January 2021?
  • And what actions and investments are needed for the post-registration period, e.g. the monitoring of UK and EU nationals’ ability to access rights as stipulated under the withdrawal agreement?

Moving Beyond Pandemic: Is Airport COVID-19 Testing Ready for Takeoff?

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on October 6th, 2020

Austria’s Vienna airport was an early adopter for in-airport COVID-19 tests, with results turned around within a few hours, sparing those with medical certificates from a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Can this serve as a model for restarting business travel and tourism? We talk to Vienna airport official Peter Kleemann to learn more.

Climate Change and Migration: Converging Issues, Diverging Funding

Posted in International Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by migrationpolicy on June 30th, 2020

While climate change and migration remain high on political agendas in Europe, the exact link between the two remains uncertain. Without clarity on how different climate events might lead to more human mobility (or conversely, immobility), it is difficult for migration policymakers and development actors to align their efforts and ensure they are spending resources wisely. Investments in climate adaptation, for instance, which aim to build communities’ resilience to cope with environmental stress, have only recently begun to take human mobility into account. And so far, adaptation activities make up only a small part of Europe’s formidable climate spending.

The COVID-19 pandemic only adds to the urgency of finding innovative financing tools for climate adaptation and migration. Many of the adaptation strategies policymakers previously applied to support communities affected by sudden-onset floods or slow-onset desertification are now obsolete, for example as physical distancing requirements have complicated evacuation and relocation. And because the issue cuts across different policy portfolios, it is difficult to assign clear responsibilities. 

This MPI Europe discussion, with MPI Europe's Hanne Beirens, University of Liège's François Gemenne, GIZ's Dorothea Rischewski, and the European Investment Bank's Moa Westman, explored different migration policy options related to climate adaptation and the evolving landscape of climate finance tools. Speakers also examined what funding gaps and opportunities exist for collaboration with partner countries and what funding instruments might address the most pressing needs. The conversation also explored the implications of COVID-19 for migration and climate adaptation funding approaches.

Rethinking and Restarting: What should the returns process look like post-pandemic?

COVID-19-related border closures, travel restrictions, and uncertainties as to how to safeguard the health of returnees and their receiving communities have paralyzed the migrant-return system across the globe. With a few notable exceptions, such as the United States and Sweden, most countries have halted the return of rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants, including overstayers, to their countries of origin until further notice. Authorities have paused or postponed return or removal orders, shifted to automatic renewal of immigration permits and, in some cases, opted to release migrants awaiting their return from closed detention centers (e.g., in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom).  

As countries move into different phases of reopening, the question of when and how to return migrants will become increasingly pressing. How feasible will the transfer of migrants be between countries that are at different points on the containment curve? How politically desirable is it to press certain countries to readmit their citizens when the coronavirus is already testing the limits of their infrastructure?

Furthermore, the return process was already plagued by problems of low return rates, controversial returns, and overly ambitious reintegration goals.

Part of MPI Europe's webinar series exploring what the migrant-return and reintegration process might look like in the post-COVID period, this webinar highlights the opportunity the restart offers countries to rethink and improve their return and reintegration operations. Before turning to the reintegration process later this summer, this first webinar in the series showcases speakers from Belgium's Fedasil, the French Office of Immigration and Integration, and the International Organization for Migration discussing the counselling of (potential) returnees to increase the uptake of voluntary return – a return option that is generally seen as more humanitarian, practical, less expensive, and sustainable.

Humanitarian Protection in an Era of Pandemic

The rapid closures of borders around the world have been among the most dramatic migration-related effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 130 countries have introduced entry restrictions at their borders, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates. While these closures have virtually suspended leisure and business travel across the world, the effects are proving even more severe for refugees and migrants fleeing danger. Crossing an international border to a country of safety and filing an asylum claim is no longer possible in many places—a seismic shock to the foundations of a post-World War II international protection system that relies on the goodwill of national governments to grant access to their territory for those in need.

The pandemic has also placed into stark relief the unique vulnerabilities forced migrants now confront in the face of outbreak. The reception facilities where many asylum seekers live while awaiting a verdict on their claim invite outbreaks, even in high-income countries with well-run asylum and reception systems. Infection is likely to spread even more rapidly in severely overcrowded facilities, such as the camps on the Greek islands and informal settlements in Mexican border cities where migrants awaiting U.S. asylum hearings are massed. In developing countries where access to proper health care is limited even for nationals, the consequences of the pandemic could be disastrous for refugees who often live in densely packed housing with poor sanitation. At the same time, the suspension of resettlement operations by IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has closed off a crucial lifeline for the especially vulnerable.

Speakers on this webinar consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected—and perhaps, remade—the global protection systems. Meghan Benton, Director for Research of MPI’s International Program, is joined by MPI colleagues, Kathleen Newland, Hanne Beirens, Sarah Pierce, and Susan Fratzke, for a free-flowing conversation regarding the effects of the pandemic on asylum systems in Europe and North America, as well as those in developing regions, where 85 percent of refugees remain. In addition to considering the immediate effects the crisis has had on national asylum systems and on refugees themselves, the conversation looks ahead and begin to assess the implications for the principle of asylum and access to protection in the future.

View MPI's resources on COVID-19

Expert Podcast: Meeting Seasonal Labor Needs in the Age of COVID-19

Governments are facing urgent pandemic-related questions. One of the more pressing ones: Who is going to harvest crops in countries that rely heavily on seasonal foreign workers? In this podcast, MPI experts Hanne Beirens, Kate Hooper, and Camille Le Coz, examine ways in which countries could address labor shortages in agriculture, including recruiting native-born workers and letting already present seasonal workers stay longer. Catch an interesting discussion as border closures have halted the movement of seasonal workers even as crops are approaching harvest in some places.

 

Migration & Coronavirus: A Complicated Nexus Between Migration Management and Public Health

Governments around the world have adopted significant migration management measures to try to contain and halt the spread of COVID-19. Border closures, travel restrictions, prohibitions on arrivals from certain areas, and heightened screening have been among the leading policy responses, initially to try to block COVID-19 from crossing borders and later, as the pandemic became a global one, as part of a raft of mobility restrictions seeking to mitigate further spread. The success of these restrictions in stemming the initial breakout of public health threats across international borders as well as their role in mitigating "community spread" within affected states is a matter of dispute. More clear, however, is that internal measures—such as business closures and "lockdown" orders—are likely to be borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable, including refugees, unauthorized populations, and other immigrants.
 
This webinar, organized by the Migration Policy Institute and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed the state of play around the globe and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. Experts compared the current response (and rhetoric) to what has been seen during prior major public health crises in the United States and internationally, and discussed how this is likely to affect future mobility and international cooperation on issues such as humanitarian protection.

Speakers included:

Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, MPI, and former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Associate Director, International Program, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, University Professor and Director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, and former Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Alan Kraut, Distinguished University Professor of History, American University, and MPI Nonresident Fellow

View all MPI resources related to COVID-19.

Seasonal Worker Programs in Europe: Lessons Learned and Ways Forward

Posted in Labor Migration, European Migration, Migration Policy Institute Europe by migrationpolicy on February 28th, 2020

Across Europe, employers with seasonal labor needs in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, and tourism often rely on hiring workers from other countries. Some, such as Germany, source these workers from other EU Member States, especially in Eastern and Central Europe. Others rely on programs that recruit seasonal workers from non-EU countries such as Morocco. While low-skilled workers generally have limited opportunities to legally migrate to the European Union, seasonal migration forms an important exception.

Designing and implementing seasonal worker programs that are responsive to labor market needs but also prioritize the well-being of seasonal workers and deter overstays remain challenging. Likewise, while studies point to the potential development contributions of seasonal migration for origin countries, policymakers can struggle to translate this potential into practice. 

As the European Union prepares to review the implementation of its Seasonal Workers Directive, as well as countries such as the United Kingdom continue to explore new approaches to selecting seasonal workers, this webinar features findings from a policy briefSeasonal Worker Programs in Europe: Promising Practices and Ongoing ChallengesOn this webinar MPI Policy Analyst Kate Hooper was joined Concordia CEO Stephanie Maurel and Jan Schneider, Head of the Research Unit at the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), for a discussion recent trends in European seasonal migration programmes and best practices.

This webinar is part of a project by MPI Europe and the Expert Council’s Research Unit on mobility options to Europe for those not in need of protection, supported by the Mercator Foundation.

Turning the Tide: Addressing the Long-Term Challenges of EU Mobility for Sending Countries

Posted in Immigrant Integration, Labor Migration, European Migration by migrationpolicy on December 5th, 2019

More than a decade after EU eastern enlargement, some eastern Member States are still grappling with the consequences of large-scale emigration for their communities, economies, and societies. Emigration may come with certain advantages: it can relieve pressure in situations of high unemployment, generate remittances, and allow mobile EU citizens to pursue better job opportunities and living conditions. In the long run, however, brain drain, demographic decline, and eroding tax bases can put a massive strain on countries of emigration, and may even trigger a downward spiral that ultimately stands in the way of EU convergence.

Amid ongoing debates about the costs and benefits of free movement, this Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar examines evidence from the EU-funded REMINDER (Role of European Mobility and Its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and EU Reform) project on different types of East-West mobility. Among the topics of discussion: mobility of care workers, short-term cross-border movement in frontier regions, and return migration to countries of origin—and their impact on sending countries’ communities and societies. Speakers--MPI's Meghan Benton and Liam Patuzzi, Bernhard Perchinig of International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and Marcin Wiatrów from the Polish Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Policy--examine big-picture trends of East-West migration; consider possible policy responses at regional, national, and EU levels to alleviate some of the challenges; and reflect on realistic actions that could be taken under a new European Commission.

Legal Migration Pathways to Europe for Low- and Middle-Skilled Migrants

Against a backdrop of large-scale spontaneous migration flows towards Europe, facilitating legal migration is often called for as an alternative to irregular migration for individuals and groups not in need of international protection. Moreover, with populations aging and workforces slated to shrink over the next few decades in many European countries, policies that can efficiently recruit migrants to meet labor and skills shortages will be at a premium. While the conversation to date has focused on high-skilled migrants, short-to-medium term projections suggest that demand may also grow for low- and middle-skilled workers in sectors such as health and elder care, manufacturing, and construction. But the changing political environment around migration means that the space for reforms to legal migration policies has narrowed in many countries. At the national level, for example, policymakers must strike a fine balance between accommodating employer demand for more flexible and responsive selection policies and meeting their obligations to protect and promote the labor market participation of local populations. And while expanding legal migration pathways is a common theme of negotiations with third countries, both political and practical considerations (such as how to test demand and scale up initiatives) have stymied efforts to deliver on this pledge.

This event hosted by MPI Europe and the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration includes a discussion of research into legal migration pathways for work and training for low- and middle-skilled migrants not in need of protection.

Speakers consider several questions:
• What opportunities for work or training in Europe can low- and middle-skilled third-country nationals access? What policies and programs have been tried and tested at EU and Member State levels and how successful have they been?
• What practical reforms can governments consider to their selection policies to ensure they are primed to assess and respond to fast-changing labor market needs? What lessons can we learn from bilateral partnerships on legal migration in this regard?
• What role can the European Union play in supporting efforts by Member States to reform or expand their legal migration channels? Where is the European Union’s added value most keenly felt?

“Legal migration for work and training: Mobility options to Europe for those not in need of protection” is a project of the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration in cooperation with MPI Europe, and is funded by Stiftung Mercator.

On the Wrong Path? Protecting the European Union’s External Border in the Western Balkans

The European Union’s more stringent controls on its external border are having serious effects for its near neighbors. In Bosnia, thousands of people trying to make their way to EU Member States last year had their paths blocked at the Croatian border. Many spent the winter in Bosnia, a country ill-equipped to deal with their needs. Bosnian authorities have struggled to adapt, even with help from international agencies and the European Union, with whom they signed an agreement in January to facilitate joint operations and so-called "rapid border interventions."

With thousands more migrants potentially traveling through the Western Balkans this year, this MPI Europe webinar explores the implications of the buttressed EU border on the bloc’s neighbors. Is this another example of the European Union outsourcing its toughest political issues on migration control? How can the European Union support efforts to address irregular migration in neighboring countries, many of which are already struggling with complex economic and political challenges? If the incoming crop of EU leaders continues these policies, what are the tradeoffs and considerations that they must weigh? In a conversation led by MPI Europe Acting Director Hanne Beirens, Save the Children International Senior Advocacy Adviser Karen Mets, Central European Initiative Project Manager Ugo Poli, and Peter Van der Auweraert, International Organization for Migration Western Balkans Coordinator, address these and other questions on this webinar.

Embarking on the Next Journey: Innovations in Predeparture Orientation Programs for Refugees

As the number of resettlement countries grows across Europe, Latin America, and Asia, the question of how to better prepare resettling refugees, as well as receiving communities, for what lies ahead is more pressing than ever. For resettling refugees, adjusting to their new lives can be particularly difficult. Often, they have lived for long periods in remote regions or refugee camps, with no or little formal education and limited knowledge of how to navigate bureaucracies. Equally, receiving communities may lack the information and support they need to welcome new neighbors. While predeparture orientation alone can neither guarantee a smooth transition nor expedite integration, it holds the potential to increase refugees’ confidence in their decision to resettle and to improve their ability to start life anew in an unfamiliar place. If done effectively, orientation can make a difference for refugees’ well-being and be an investment in receiving-community social cohesion.

While the potential benefits of such preparation are clear, it is far less obvious how exactly to make the most out of the limited time at hand before refugees depart. It can be challenging to strike a delicate balance between conveying key messages and skills for the next steps ahead while meeting refugees’ own information needs. What do resettling refugees need to learn before departure, and what information can wait until after arrival? Who is best placed to deliver predeparture orientation, and how can information be shared in the most accessible and credible way? And how can receiving communities best be supported in welcoming newcomers? To answer these questions, this Migration Policy Institute Europe webinar examines concrete and innovative practices of how to better design and implement predeparture orientation programs from the perspective of a diverse range of actors.

This webinar draws from the report, Preparing for the Unknown: Designing Effective Predeparture Orientation for Resettling Refugees and features remarks from the report authors, a refugee who went through resettlement process and now serves as a mentor for those being resettled in The Netherlands, and the head of the resettlement and integration support unit at IOM Norway. The report was produced in the framework of the European Union Action on Facilitating Resettlement and Refugee Admission through New Knowledge (EU-FRANK) project and lays out guiding principles for effective orientation programs for Member States as they decide or rethink what support they offer to refugees before arrival.

“Merit-Based” Immigration: Designing Successful Selection Systems

The U.S. administration is calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, looking to Canada and Australia as potential models. An immigration proposal under consideration by the administration would adjust the composition of legal immigration, giving greater preference to skills over family ties. Much of the advanced industrial world—from Germany and the European Union to China and other Asian states—is also grappling with how best to attract and retain highly skilled immigrant workers as a means of enhancing human capital and economic competitiveness.

The conversation between Jean-Christophe Dumont, Head of the International Migration Division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Migration Policy Institute (MPI) President Emeritus Demetrios G. Papademetriou focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change. The discussion relied on recent MPI and OECD research on this topic, focusing primarily on the Canadian and Australian selection systems. MPI’s Julia Gelatt commented on the conversation from a U.S. policy perspective, discussing how lessons from abroad could apply to the United States.

International vs. National Protection for Refugees: Diverging Trends?

The global response to the rising challenge of refugee displacement has been marked by two contradictory trends. First, at the international level there has been a recognition of the gravity of the problem and a move toward responsibility sharing and global governance of refugee situations—most notably through the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees in December 2018. At the same time, a very different trend is emerging among countries in the Global North as a number of governments have actively narrowed their protection frameworks, tightened asylum policies, and limited the rights of refugees through laws and policies, effectively strengthening barriers to movement for those who are seeking refuge or asylum.

This conversation explores the factors behind this divergence between the international community and national policies and what it means for cooperation at the international level.  MPI’s Kathleen Newland discusses what has been accomplished through the Global Compact on Refugees and what its implementation is likely to accomplish. Mary Giovagnoli, of Refugee Council USA, examines how protection policy has shifted in the United States and the implications this has for the ability of the international community to respond to global refugee needs. David Scott FitzGerald shares insights from his book, Refuge beyond Reach, regarding how asylum policies in high-income democracies have been adapted to shut down most legal paths to safety for refugees through a range of deterrence methods that, while complying with the letter of their international commitments to refugees, do not adhere to them in spirit.      

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