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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.

Changing Climate, Changing Migration: How Climate-Linked Food Insecurity Shapes Migration

Reliable access to food—or lack thereof—can affect an individual’s decision to migrate. Climate change has the ability to exacerbate food insecurity, especially for farmers and others who live off the land, which can have repercussions for human mobility. In this episode we talk with Megan Carney, an anthropologist and director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Regional Food Studies, to examine the role of food security in the connection between climate change and migration.

Changing Climate, Changing Migration: Talking Money: Climate Finance and Migration

Billions of dollars are being spent on projects to help communities mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, including those at risk of being displaced by environmental events. This episode features Timo Schmidt, from the Migration Policy Institute Europe, in a discussion about the growing field of climate finance and its implications for migration management and displacement prevention.

 

Moving Beyond Pandemic: Could Curbing Globalization Prevent Future Pandemics?

Posted in Mobility and Security, International Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on December 17th, 2020

Pre-COVID-19, we lived in a hyper-global world. There were 1.5 billion international tourism trips annually, nearly 40 million flights, and 272 million international migrants. This raises a provocative question: Does international mobility contribute to the spread of pandemics? In this episode, we speak with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn of the Center for Global Development. Drawing on their research of global pandemics dating as far back as 1889, they make the case that limits on cross-border mobility delay the arrival of pathogens by a matter of days at best. Instead, they argue that the greater success is achieved with domestic measures, not permanent limits on international mobility.

Changing Climate, Changing Migration: Purposeful and Coordinated: Climate Change and Managed Retreat in India

Confronting environmental change, whole communities sometimes relocate from one area to another. This purposeful, coordinated movement, while currently rare, is referred to as managed retreat. In this episode Architesh Panda, from the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, explains how this climate adaptation strategy works in India.

Moving Beyond Pandemic: What’s Next for Global Migration? Gazing Into the COVID-19 Crystal Ball

Posted in Labor Migration, International Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on December 9th, 2020

With news that viable COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, what might 2021 hold in store for the global movement of people, whether for tourism, business travel, or more enduring forms of migration? Alan Gamlen, associate professor of human geography at Monash University in Australia, tackles some of the big questions in this episode, including whether cities will be reshaped by immobility and if countries will need less labor migration. He paints a picture of a world with lower levels of mobility for the next few years, punctuated by periodic spikes.

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. 

Un Diálogo con Miembros de Coalición por Venezuela

En el evento “Diálogo con organizaciones de migrantes y refugiados venezolanos” expertos de MPI hablaron con la red más grande de organizaciones de migrantes y refugiados venezolanos en las Américas, quienes integran y articulan acciones en defensa y promoción de los derechos humanos, las libertades y los valores democráticos, así como enfrentan la emergencia humanitaria que atraviesa Venezuela y la crisis de migrantes y refugiados venezolanos en los países donde viven.

En dicho diálogo, algunos de los representantes de las organizaciones que conforman la red en Norteamérica, Centroamérica, Sudamérica y el Caribe, compartieron la manera como se coordinan, las acciones que se llevan a cabo y las dificultades, retos y desafíos que atraviesan. También, se abrió un espacio para que el público pueda hacer preguntas y dialogar con las organizaciones.

Moving Beyond Pandemic: The COVID-19 Shock to the System of Human Mobility and the International Response

Posted in International Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on October 28th, 2020

The pandemic has been a huge shock to the international mobility system, from the chaotic way that countries closed their borders in March 2020, leaving countless travelers and migrants stranded, to the freezes imposed on visa processing, which halted much international migration. As the world reopens, how does global governance need to be improved to restart human mobility safely and securely? In this episode, we speak to Elizabeth Collett, Special Advisor to the International Organization for Migration’s Director General to get a global overview of what is happening with migration and mobility and discuss the challenges and opportunities the pandemic poses for global governance.

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: Human Smuggling in an Age of Pandemic

Posted in Mobility and Security, International Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on October 21st, 2020

As COVID-19 chilled global mobility, harmed economies, and sparked border closures and travel bans around the world, the pandemic has had an effect on the shadow migration world. In this episode, we speak with Matt Herbert, an expert in irregular migration and human smuggling, about how the public-health crisis has scrambled the decision-making calculus for would-be migrants, pushing many into more dangerous routes. We also examine the business models of smugglers who facilitate many irregular movements.

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.

Moving Beyond Pandemic: Australia and the ‘Biosecure Border’ in the Age of COVID-19

Posted in International Migration, Moving Beyond Pandemic by migrationpolicy on September 30th, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Australia has worked to develop a “biosecure” border, using hard travel lockdowns, internal borders, and quarantine to stem spread of the virus. Is it working? We talk to Brendan Dowling of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Esclareciendo el Panorama: Una mirada a los datos sobre migrantes y refugiados venezolanos en América Latina y el Caribe

Alrededor de 5 millones de venezolanos dejaron su país debido a la actual crisis política y económica en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, de los cuales, al menos, 4.3 millones se movilizaron a otros países de América Latina y el Caribe. Este flujo masivo de población proveniente de Venezuela, que comenzó en el año 2015, ha generado desafíos de política migratoria y de integración para los países de acogida. Adicionalmente la pandemia del COVID-19 le ha agregado una nueva capa de complejidad. Ahora, los países receptores se enfrentan al reto de gestionar una crisis de salud pública, mientras que, al mismo tiempo, gestionan las necesidades de los venezolanos en situación de movilidad humana y de las comunidades de acogida.

Dados estos retos que enfrentan los países de la región, existe una necesidad apremiante de datos detallados sobre las características y vulnerabilidades de esta población. OIM está trabajando para llenar dichos vacíos utilizando La Matriz de Seguimiento de Desplazamiento (DTM por sus siglas en inglés) para reunir datos intersectoriales mediante evaluaciones detalladas en todos los países de América Latina y el Caribe. Así, la DTM es una herramienta que se ha convertido en la principal fuente de información primaria para el diseño de políticas públicas tanto para los países de acogida, como para los países de tránsito de los flujos de migrantes y refugiados provenientes de Venezuela. Dicha herramienta, recolecta datos de la demografía de los migrantes, sus actividades económicas, sus condiciones de salud, su acceso a servicios de salud, detalles de sus viajes, y los desafíos con los que se han encontrado mientras viajaban. A partir de la información que arroja dicha herramienta, un grupo de investigadores del MPI han elaborado un perfil regional de los migrantes y refugiados venezolanos que viajaron a través de 11 países de América Latina y el Caribe durante 2019. De esta forma, se esclarece el panorama de la situación de los migrantes y refugiados y da cuenta de las variaciones de un país a otro en cuanto las características de estos migrantes y refugiados y sus experiencias cuando viajan y establecen una nueva vida en otro país.

En este webinar expertos de la región, incluyendo OIM Director General Antonio Vitorino Eduardo Stein, Representante Conjunto ACNUR-OIM para Refugiados y Migrantes Venezolanos, discutirieron acerca del perfil demográfico de los refugiados y migrantes venezolanos en Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Perú, Trinidad y Tobago y Uruguay. La conversación explora las necesidades de la población, los cambios en los patrones de movilidad, los diversos instrumentos políticos que se han diseñado desde los países para gestionar este flujo y las importantes implicaciones políticas para la planificación a futura. Lo anterior, particularmente, en un nuevo contexto de pandemia mundial y las consecuencias sociales, políticas y económicas que lo acompañan y que tienen una serie de implicaciones para los refugiados y migrantes venezolanos y las comunidades de acogida.

Enhancing the Social and Economic Inclusion of Refugees through Local Development Strategies

Humanitarian and development actors in low- and middle-income countries that host refugees have focused many of their recent interventions on integrating newcomers into national development strategies and promoting access to public services nationwide. But how do these efforts play out at the local level?

This MPI Europe conversation explores how development actors can work with local authorities to enhance the social and economic inclusion of refugees. Subnational authorities have been at the forefront of hosting refugees; while their capacity can be narrow, they often have first-hand experience in managing relations between host and refugee communities. During this webchat, experts discuss partnerships between local authorities, the UNHCR, and development actors that are aimed at integrating refugees in local governance mechanisms. These experiences suggest that improvements for refugees often start at the local level, where general principles agreed upon in international fora are being tested. 

This discussion involving representatives from the World Bank, UNHCR, and Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat explores three main questions: How can development and humanitarian actors engage with local institutions to promote refugee inclusion? How has the involvement of refugees in local institutions materialized and what are the ways to ensure this participation leads to tangible changes? Finally, in fragile environments, how can discussions on refugee inclusion enhance the engagement of other groups that have traditionally been marginalized in refugee-hosting regions (e.g., internally displaced persons, ethnic minorities, or returnees)?

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.

Migrants in Africa & COVID-19: From Emergency Measures to Inclusive Social Protection Systems

Most African states closed their borders in attempt to contain COVID-19, resulting in a loss of livelihood that has been devastating for many, including migrants, in the absence of a community-based safety net. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports migration flows in West and Central Africa were nearly halved between January and April 2020, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded and requiring assistance with shelter, health care, and food. Already under pressure to deliver health services and emergency safety nets for their citizens, host countries often lack the capacity and the resources to support migrants, especially the ones who are in transit or informal workers without legal status. As a result, assistance for migrants during this public-health crisis has often come from international organizations such as IOM, civil-society actors, or diasporas.

The coronavirus crisis has also raised longer-term questions about social protection systems in Africa and which dimensions should be set up and prioritized for funding. In many ways, the pandemic has confirmed the pressing need for social protection for everyone, particularly in terms of health care, as vulnerabilities in one group can affect overall community wellbeing. But the looming economic crisis also risks limiting the appetite of host governments and development aid donors for more ambitious protection systems for non-nationals, which may ultimately reduce the benefits of regional and continental free movement regimes that African countries have been working towards for a decade.

This MPI Europe discussion with the Acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa for the International Organization for Migration, along with representatives from the African Union and International Labor Organization explores what emergency measures have been deployed by African governments and aid actors in response to COVID-19 to assist migrants in need. The panelists also examine what the health crisis says about social protection systems, the incentives for inclusionary systems for all, who should support these mechanisms in times of crisis, and how to make (at least some of) these measures sustainable.

Beyond the Border: U.S.-Mexican Migration Accord Has Ushered in Sweeping Change in Mexico in Its First Year

Following months of rising Central American migration through Mexico to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments on June 7, 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. The accord effectively marked a new era in the development of Mexico’s immigration enforcement and humanitarian protection systems. To avert the imposition of tariffs on Mexican goods threatened by President Donald Trump, the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to deploy its recently created National Guard to combat illegal immigration and accepted the expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico) along the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border. In turn, the Trump administration agreed to expedite asylum processing for migrants waiting in Mexico under MPP and committed to addressing the conditions driving migration by investing in economic development efforts in southern Mexico and Central America.

While the full effects of the U.S.-Mexico cooperation agreement will take years to unfold, the Migration Policy Institute has assessed the changes during the accord’s first year. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers Andrew Selee and Ariel Ruiz Soto engaged in discussion with former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Gerónimo Gutiérrez, and journalist Angela Kocherga about the changes it has sparked. The panelists also discussed how the agreement, coupled with U.S. policies designed to narrow access to asylum, has increased demand for humanitarian protection in Mexico, exposed significant weaknesses in the systems for protecting vulnerable migrants and exacerbated precarious conditions for migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. As both countries face mobility challenges due to COVID-19, speakers explored how these changes may affect the future of U.S.-Mexico relations. 

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

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