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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.

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.

Mission Critical: The Evolution of U.S. Homeland Security in the 21st Century

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on November 18th, 2020

Created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the largest reorganization of the federal government since World War II, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was designed to coordinate and execute a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism. DHS was also tasked with carrying out all functions of the 22 federal agencies and entities that were entirely or partially folded into the new department, ensuring that those not directly related to protection of the homeland were not diminished nor neglected. With a portfolio covering everything from cybersecurity and protection of the nation’s maritime waters to facilitation of trade and emergency management, DHS is arguably the largest federal agency with the most disparate policy goals.

What does it mean to “secure the homeland” in the 21st century? What lessons can be drawn from the U.S. government efforts to do so? And how do DHS work and operations on migration and border security figure into the equation?

With the department well into its second decade and on the precipice of a new presidential term with some of its component agencies pulled into the polarization around immigration and border security, this Migration Policy Institute discussion with the editors and authors of Beyond 9/11: Homeland Security for the Twenty-First Century examines these questions. Leading security experts, Juliette Kayyem, Chappell Lawson, Alan Cohn, and Christian Marrone assess the department’s evolution and how it organizes its operations and work on migration and border management. They offer crucial strategic lessons and detailed recommendations on how to improve the U.S. homeland security enterprise.

Does Climate Change Cause Migration? It’s Complicated

Posted in Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Response, Changing Climate, Changing Migration by migrationpolicy on November 17th, 2020

The relationship between climate change and migration is long and complex. Human civilizations have been affected by environmental conditions for centuries, but we should be wary of arguments that huge numbers of people are inevitably destined to migrate in response to specific climate threats. In this episode, we chat with Alex de Sherbinin of Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network about what the research shows – and doesn’t show.

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. 

What Is Immigration Policy Expected to Look Like in a Biden Administration?

What actions might the incoming Biden administration take on immigration, and what challenges and opportunities does it face? Migration Policy Institute experts analyze the campaign pledges and prospects ahead, for everything from unwinding the Remain in Mexico program, ending border wall construction, and reviving DACA, as well as the Biden camp’s affirmative vision for change, including legalization.

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?

Lessons from the Pandemic: Weaknesses in K-12 Teacher Education Policies Fuel Inequities Facing English Learners

Posted in Immigrant Integration by migrationpolicy on October 22nd, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of education. It is widely expected that English Learners (ELs) will suffer disproportionate impacts from school closures and the subsequent challenges of trying to engage in remote learning. Some of these challenges are rooted in long-standing system weaknesses that fuel inequities facing EL students, such as persistent shortages of EL instructional specialists and insufficient preparation of general education teachers to meet the needs of a growing EL population. With many EL teachers sidelined in the move to remote and socially distanced learning, concerns about whether ELs have meaningful access to the K-12 curriculum are more palpable than at any time since the legal frameworks to safeguard their rights to an equitable education were created.

In this webcast, MPI's Julie Sugarman engaged Hunter College TESOL Professor Laura Baecher, Teach Plus's Roberto J. Rodríguez, and SupportEd's Diane Staehr Fenner in a discussion on the role that weaknesses in existing EL teacher education and professional development policies have played in schools’ uneven response to the pandemic, and lessons for future reform. They also address how pre-service teacher education and in-service professional development for teachers already in the field have adapted to the present circumstances and how district and state policies can better support teacher development and appropriately leverage EL teacher expertise in remote and in-person instructional contexts.

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.

Centering English Learners in Schools’ Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted in Immigrant Integration by migrationpolicy on September 29th, 2020

Since school buildings closed their doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, English Learners (ELs) have faced significant barriers to participating in remote instruction. These include circumstances related to many immigrant families’ limited capacity to support home learning as well as more structural challenges such as inadequate digital learning resources.

But responses to the pandemic should also cause schools and local and state education leaders to reflect on their system’s capacity to equitably support ELs’ linguistic, academic, and socioemotional development. Implementing remote learning has exposed long-standing weaknesses in many districts’ approaches to teacher professional development, multilingual supports for parents with limited English, and building meaningful connections with immigrant families and communities.

In this webinar, Julie Sugarman and Melissa Lazarín, authors of a report from MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy discuss key challenges to meeting ELs’ needs during the pandemic and the policies and practices school systems will need to put in place to support them and their families through the public-health and education crisis, as well as when schooling returns to normal. In addition, presenters, Californians Together's Shelly Spiegel-Coleman and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools's Molly Hegwood, provide examples of centering ELs in planning for school year 2020­­­–21, including how to document supports for ELs in a district’s continuity-of-learning plan and how one district incorporated EL needs into its virtual learning plan.

The U.S. Immigration Policymaker-in-Chief: The Long History of Executive Authority over Immigration

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on September 12th, 2020

The inability of Congress to enact any meaningful legislation on immigration during the past quarter-century has left the United States with a long-outdated immigration system that works for very few, leaving the president with enormous influence and control over U.S. immigration policy. While President Obama’s decision to protect DREAMers via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was praised by some as an overdue action amid congressional stalemate, it also was the subject of major legal challenge and was criticized as presidential overreach.

Well into its fourth year, the Trump administration has undertaken more than 400 executive actions on immigration. President Trump has been able to dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration system through regulatory, policy, and programmatic changes, and his executive actions have prompted extensive advocacy and litigation in response.

Is executive action on immigration a recent development? And has it always been as controversial as it seems today? Two leading legal scholars, Adam B. Cox and Cristina M. Rodríguez, tackle this question in their book, The President and Immigration Law (Oxford University Press). 

In this webinar, these scholars join Elena Goldstein from the New York State Office of the Attorney General, and MPI's Muzaffar Chishti and Sarah Pierce for a discussion that examines the Trump administration’s substantial use of executive power to change the country’s course on immigration, and how the president’s role in immigration policy is a inevitability that should be carefully considered and reimagined in any blueprint for immigration reform or strategy for activism on immigration.

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.

Excluding Millions: How Trump Administration Changes to the Decennial Census Could Leave Out U.S. Citizens and Immigrants

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on August 29th, 2020

In July 2020, the Trump administration announced it is excluding unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 Census data used to reapportion representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. The plan is to match Census data with administrative records to identify the U.S. citizens or lawfully present noncitizens in the Census, excluding all others. At a time when the once-a-decade Census collection has already been greatly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and shortened by a month, the administration’s actions are raising questions about the accuracy of the 2020 Census, and concerns about a potential undercount and under-representation of immigrant and other hard-to-reach communities across the United States.

Drawing on evidence of past data-matching exercises, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has estimated that up to 20 million U.S. citizens could incorrectly be lumped together with unauthorized immigrants. With the Census counts shaping not only congressional apportionment, but also billions of dollars in federal spending, and government and private-sector planning, the 2020 Census continues to face more legal challenges than any prior Census.

This conversation, featuring a former U.S. Census Bureau director and other top experts, examines how the many challenges facing the 2020 Census could affect the count and representation of immigrant communities, the difficulties inherent in data matching to determine legal status, and the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the administration’s actions.

 

A Bumpy Path to U.S. Citizenship: A Survey of Changing USCIS Practices

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on July 16th, 2020

Even as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to approve the lion’s share of naturalization applications it receives, the agency’s average processing times have risen significantly in recent years. The backlog of citizenship cases has grown in 2020, with the naturalization process grinding to a halt for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it will swell further if USCIS furloughs two-thirds of its staff in August amid a projected $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

Nine million immigrants are eligible to become U.S. citizens but have not done so for a variety of reasons. A more recent element has been added to the mix: increasingly strict scrutiny of applications by USCIS officers as the agency shifts its focus from customer service to fraud detection, as traced in a Migration Policy Institute report, A Rockier Road to U.S. Citizenship? Findings of a Survey on Changing Naturalization Procedures. The report traces the agency’s evolving adjudication standards and procedures for citizenship applications during the Trump administration, drawing on a nationwide survey of naturalization assistance providers. The report findings were shared during this MPI webinar, which features officials who oversaw the citizenship process during prior administrations, as well as the study’s lead researcher and the executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which administered the survey.

In this interesting conversation moderated by MPI’s Doris Meissner, the discussants—MPI Director of Research for U.S. Programs Randy Capps, ILRC Executive Director Eric Cohen, and former USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez—examine the increasing obstacles to citizenship as a result of changing USCIS practices, and the effects the pandemic-related shutdown and USCIS financial turmoil could have on the ability of would-be Americans to take the oath of citizenship in the months ahead.

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.

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