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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.

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.

Green Cards and Public Charge: Who Could Be Denied Based on Benefits Use?

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

Even before the Trump administration’s public-charge rule took effect on February 24, there was evidence of sizeable disenrollment from public benefit programs by legal immigrants afraid that use by themselves or their U.S.-born children could doom a future application for legal permanent residence.

These “chilling effects” result from confusion about which benefit programs and populations are considered under the new public-charge determination, or fear that the government could change the rules in the future. Yet the number of noncitizens who could be deemed ineligible for a green card based on existing use of a public benefit is very small, as a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis shows.

On this webinar, MPI experts, Julia Gelatt, Mark Greenberg, and Randy Capps, released their estimates of the populations that could be deemed ineligible for a green card based on existing benefits use. During the webinar, the experts also discussed the far larger consequences of the public-charge rule, through its chilling effects and imposition of a test aimed at assessing whether green-card applicants are likely to ever use a public benefit in the future. This wealth test holds the potential to reshape legal immigration to the United States in far more significant ways than any other measure taken by the administration to date. 

None of the comments on this webinar should be considered as legal advice; instead, all information and content provided are for general informational purposes only. Individuals with concerns or questions should consult with an attorney.

Expert Podcast: Understanding How English Learners Count in ESSA Reporting

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

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states must report a wide range of information about their students’ English language arts and math standardized test scores, graduation rates, and more. They must also break these data down to show how students with certain characteristics—subgroups including racial/ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and English Learners (ELs)—are doing. This wealth of data is meant to help policymakers, practitioners, and community members identify schools that need to do a better job of helping ELs learn. But for this to be possible, it must be clear who states are including in the EL subgroup—something that varies across types of data and that is not always clear marked on state student performance reports or online dashboards. This podcast features a discussion between the Migration Policy Institute’s Margie McHugh and Julie Sugarman about how to understand the varying composition of the EL subgroup, and why understanding these technical differences matters when making decisions about how ELs and schools are faring. They also talk about different groups of ELs: newcomers, students with interrupted formal education, and long-term ELs, and data collection around these different subgroups. The related report can be found here: 

Employment Services for Refugees: Leveraging Mainstream U.S. Systems and Funding

A key goal of the U.S. refugee resettlement program is to help refugees rapidly find employment. While refugees do work at high rates, and entry-level jobs are often available in today’s tight labor market, service providers sometimes struggle to help refugees into jobs that provide long-term career pathways and upward mobility.

Such challenges are compounded by the pressures and challenges of the current environment around refugee resettlement, in a context of greatly reduced refugee arrivals, strains on local resettlement organizations—many of which have ended or reduced operations—and uncertainty about which states and counties will be resettling refugees in the years ahead. Under these circumstances, two activities can be key parts of a broader strategy for sustaining and improving employment services for refugees: Partnerships with experts in workforce development strategies, and access to federal workforce development funding.

On this webinar MPI's Essey Workie is joined by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock from the National Skills Coalition, Washington State Refugee Coordinator Sarah Peterson, and Karen Phillippi, Director of New American Integration in the Office of Global Michigan for a discussion on what these approaches can look like in practice. They explore the possibilities for collaboration between refugee resettlement and mainstream workforce services, and funding streams such as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, SNAP Employment and Training funds, Pell grants, and more to help refugees find better jobs. State leaders in Michigan and Washington State also share how they have leveraged such funding to support their refugee employment services.

16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference- Volleying among the Branches of Government: DACA, TPS, Asylum, and Other Policies That Hang in the Balance

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigration Enforcement by migrationpolicy on November 4th, 2019

In an unprecedented era of executive branch policy-making in the immigration arena, the nation’s federal judiciary has been called to decide a raft of major cases that hold the lives of more than 1 million recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status in the balance, and govern the conditions of care for children in immigration detention and the ability to apply for asylum. The administration’s action on the "public charge" rule may end up in the courts as well, and the fallout from the controversy of including a citizenship question on the 2020 census remains unsettled. What are the legal underpinnings, the stakes, and the possible outcomes as the nation’s courts, from district courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, hear and rule on a consequential portfolio of legal challenges? And what is or will be Congress’ response given the dynamic interplay of litigation and executive action? This panel tackles these big questions.

Speakers include:

  • Kim Johnson, Director, California Department of Social Services
  • David Shahoulian, Chief Counsel, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Cecillia Wang, Deputy Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Muzaffar Chishti, Director, MPI's office at New York University School of Law

16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference- The Humanitarian and Migration Crisis Originating in Central America: The Need for Regional Approaches

In recent years, the humanitarian and migration crisis in the three Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has resulted in increasing international migration, particularly of women and children as well as unaccompanied minors. Most of them cross the Guatemala-Mexico border to head towards the United States, while some migrate to countries in the region, such as Costa Rica. Many are fleeing serious violence carried out by gangs and other non-state actors, though the search for better livelihoods and family reunification with relatives already in the United States plays a role as well. Governments do not control territories where gangs and drug cartels rule, nor are they able to protect women and girls from domestic abuse and other forms of violence or insecurity. Natural disasters, climate change, food insecurity, and poor economic conditions exacerbate the situation for vulnerable people. This panel discussed the best ways for governments, international organizations, and NGOs in the region to address this crisis, particularly in terms of root causes and the protection of families and children.

Speakers include:

  • Chiara Cardoletti-Carroll, Deputy Regional Representative for the United States of America and the Caribbean, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
  • Anthony Fontes, Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University
  • Maureen Meyer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights, WOLA
  • Andrew Schoenholtz, Professor from Practice, Georgetown Law; Director, Human Rights Institute; Co-Director, Center for Applied Legal Studies

16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference- Drawing a New Line: Recent Changes in U.S.-Mexico Border Policy

Under the current administration, U.S.-Mexico border polices have dominated headlines, becoming both the symbol and testing ground of hardline immigration policy. Family separation, the deaths of children in immigration custody, and the detention of men, women, and children in unsafe, overcrowded conditions have stirred national concern.

The asylum system alone has been hamstrung by “metering” that slows entry to a trickle, enormous court backlogs, the wholesale return to Mexico of asylum applicants awaiting their court appearances, and policies that attempt to force applicants to first seek protection in other countries.

This panel explores what these policies have meant to asylum seekers and the communities that straddle the 2,000-mile-long line. Topics include family separation, Remain in Mexico, the wall, state and local work, and more. The panelists also considered whether the administration is achieving results with its efforts to reshape overall enforcement, the responses from local border communities, and related litigation.

Speakers include:

  • Dylan Corbett, Founding Director, Hope Border Institute
  • Sue Kenney-Pfalzer, Director Border and Asylum Network, HIAS
  • Joel Rose, Correspondent, National Desk, National Public Radio
  • Anna Gallagher, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference- State of Play: Central to the Trump Administration’s Record, Immigration Looms as the Major 2020 Issue

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigrant Integration by migrationpolicy on November 4th, 2019

From Donald Trump’s first utterances as a presidential candidate in 2015 to the hundreds of policy actions undertaken during his administration, immigration has loomed as the major touchstone for his political base. It is the issue to which the president and his administration return again and again. Chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border resulted from a sharp uptick in flows, as well as outmatched policies, infrastructure, and resources. Now, a growing number of Americans cite immigration as one of the most crucial national issues. Yet Congress remains incapable of even small-bore fixes, continuing its nearly two-decade inability to undertake substantive immigration legislation. Vast differences exist among Republican and Democratic politicians and other stakeholders—from “build the wall” and narrowing humanitarian protections on one side, to #AbolishICE and pressing to decriminalize illegal crossings on the other.

Whither immigration as high-stakes elections approach in 2020? In this lively State of Play conversation, political and policy experts will explore the politics of immigration, the pitfalls for both political parties, and the potential for a post-election pause in the brinkmanship, along with what other pressing challenges may converge to force action in Washington.

Speakers included:

  • Casey Christine Higgins, Former Assistant to the Speaker for Policy and Trade Counsel for former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI); Senior Policy Advisor, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP
  • Lomi Kriel, Immigration Correspondent, Houston Chronicle
  • Lorella Praeli, President of Community Change Action and Vice President of Community Change
  • Julia Preston, Contributing Writer, The Marshall Project
  • Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI

Chronicling Migration in the 21st Century Through One Family’s Journey

The story of global migration as a force shaping economies, politics, and cultures around the world is typically told via analysis of data and policies, with a focus on trends rather than individuals. Yet at the end of the day, migration is the most human of phenomena, and one that has been around as long as humans have been on the planet. This discussion with award-winning New York Times reporter Jason DeParle traces the arc of migration and its impacts through the life of an extended family of Filipino migrants that he has followed from the slums of Manila to the Houston suburbs over three decades.

Marking the launch of DeParle's new book, A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century, this conversation with MPI's Andrew Selee and the World Bank's Dilip Ratha explores migration at both a global and very personal level.

As he chronicles the story of three generations of a Filipino family, DeParle documents the personal, cultural, and economic challenges and opportunities the family faces, whether as migrants or those remaining behind. His reporting and analysis on immigration trends, the costs and rewards of migration to both sending and receiving communities, and examination of the political and economic questions surrounding migration offer the opportunity for a rich discussion. 

Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy: Building a Responsive, Effective Immigration System

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigrant Integration, Labor Migration, Mobility and Security by migrationpolicy on August 15th, 2019

The U.S. immigration system is widely acknowledged as being broken. Despite multiple attempts, solutions have proven elusive for administrations and Congress for more than two decades. The evidence of dysfunction is in every direction: Vastly oversubscribed categories for employment visas, deep disagreement between Washington and many state and local governments about immigration enforcement and policy priorities, political paralysis over what to do about a long-settled unauthorized population, years-long caseloads tied up in the immigration court system, sharp pullbacks in refugee admissions and other humanitarian programs, and, most recently, a protracted migration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

As the United States is mired in inaction, its legal immigration system resting on laws dating back to 1965 and 1990, other major immigrant-destination countries have created flexible, modernized immigration systems. What changes are needed to overcome the failings of the current system and meet U.S. economic and security interests in the decades ahead? What values and principles should guide future immigration policymaking?

To answer these and similar questions, the Migration Policy Institute is launching a major new initiative—Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy—that aims to generate a big-picture, evidence-driven vision of the role immigration can and should play in America’s future. This multi-year initiative will provide research, analysis, and policy ideas and proposals—both administrative and legislative—that reflect new realities and needs if immigration is to continue to be a comparative advantage for the United States as a society. Key topics will include employment based-immigration, humanitarian programs, and immigration enforcement.  

Historically, immigration policymaking and legislation have only succeeded through across-the-aisle cooperation and consensus-building. This initiative is animated by a commitment to re-energizing such bipartisanship in shaping and advancing feasible solutions.

At this event, marking the initiative's launch, MPI's Doris Meissner is joined in a conversation with former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Cecilia Muñoz, former Director of White House Domestic Policy Council.

Will Immigration Reform Ever Succeed Again? The Legacy of IRCA & Its Enduring Lessons

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigrant Integration, Immigration Enforcement by migrationpolicy on June 26th, 2019

Over the past two decades, efforts at immigration reform have failed again and again in Congress, leaving the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), together with its “follow-on” bill, the Immigration Act of 1990, as the most recent comprehensive immigration reforms to have made their way into law. And it appears that, at least for the foreseeable future, IRCA may retain that title amid vast partisan and ideological gulfs over immigration that seem unbridgeable despite near-universal recognition that the current system is badly broken.

So what happened in the politics of the 1980s that enabled passage of a major reform to the country’s enforcement, legal immigration, and employment systems? Is it possible to reconstruct the political conditions and coalitions that permitted the law’s passage, or has too much changed?

And what is IRCA’s real legacy: Did its passage mark the beginning of the potent pro- and anti-immigration movements that are central actors in today’s politics?  Did it, as some argue, poison the well for future immigration reform, or, conversely, did it represent sound policy? And what lessons do IRCA’s enactment and implementation offer today’s policymakers, scholars, and advocates?

This provocative, thoughtful discussion featured Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Resident Fellow Charles Kamasaki's book, Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die. Kamasaki is joined by other veterans of the IRCA debate, MPI's Doris Meissner and Muzaffar Chishti, for a conversation on these questions, the lessons that can be learned, the intended and unintended consequences, and how the 1986 law’s legacy has shaped contemporary politics surrounding immigration.

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.

A Mirror for the Nation? The Changing Profile of Mexican Immigrants in Texas

Posted in US Immigration Policy by migrationpolicy on May 9th, 2019

While much of the U.S. debate on immigration from Mexico has focused on low-skilled immigrants, recent data suggest that the share of college-educated immigrants among recent Mexican arrivals is rising considerably. Texas is home to the second-largest U.S. population of highly skilled Mexican immigrants, a reflection of its proximity and deep economic ties to Mexico.

At this discussion experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and demographic differences and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. The panelists engaged in a discussion on what these findings mean for Texas and its metro areas, causes behind the changing trends, and implications for immigration policy. They also examine the opportunities that addressing “brain waste”—the underutilization of college graduates’ skills—presents for the Texas economy and more broadly for the nation.         

Children of Immigrants and Child Welfare Systems: Key Policy and Practice

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Immigrant Integration by migrationpolicy on April 23rd, 2019

Like other children, those born to immigrants can enter into a state’s child welfare system when there are reports of abuse or neglect by a parent or other caretaker.  Children with unauthorized immigrant parents may also intersect with the system if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests, detains, or deports a parent.

The increased numbers of children of immigrants in the United States (the vast majority U.S. born), along with developments in immigration policy and enforcement, have important implications for state and local child welfare agencies. Some jurisdictions have responded by developing specialized policies and practices, but there are significant variations around the country. To better understand state and local child welfare systems’ policies and practices for working with immigrant families, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) conducted discussions with administrators in 21 states and counties and reviewed relevant literature.

This webinar showcases the release of an MPI report, drawn from this research, that describes key policy issues for child welfare agencies and promising agency approaches. During this webinar, report authors MPI's Mark Greenberg and Ann Flagg of American Public Human Services Association, provide an overview of issues of intersection between immigration and child welfare systems and describe their findings regarding child welfare policies and practices to address the needs of children of immigrants and their families. Director of Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services Tom C. Rawlings and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Deputy Director Roberta Medina also share their perspectives and discuss key issues they are facing, and the report authors discuss their recommendations, with examples relating to organizational structure, training, language access, licensing of providers, screenings for immigration-status issues, interactions with foreign governments, and more.

Is U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Migration Possible?

Posted in US Immigration Policy, Migration in Mexico and Central America by migrationpolicy on April 17th, 2019

Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. President Trump has accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop illegal migration, while the Mexican government is emphasizing the need to address root causes in Central America driving human movement. After President Trump’s threat to “close the border” if the Mexican government did not do more, tensions between the two countries appeared to subside. However, these tensions—and the rising number of unauthorized crossings at the border and of asylum seekers in both countries—has put the issue of migration front and center in the relationship between the two countries again.

In fact, migration patterns between the two countries have changed dramatically over the past decade. While there is still considerable legal migration from Mexico to the United States, illegal immigration has dropped to a fraction of what it was only 15 years ago, and the overall number of Mexicans living in the United States is actually dropping. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in Mexico continues to rise and may well be over 1 million, making it by far the largest U.S.-citizen community anywhere in the world. The two countries face shared migration flows from Central America, Venezuela, and other parts of the world, which they increasingly need to find ways of managing in collaborative ways, and both face important challenges for integrating immigrants into the labor market, schools, and society at large.

Can Mexico and the United States find common cause around migration or are the perspectives and interests of the two countries too different to make cooperation possible? How will the two governments respond to the current change in migration flows from Central America? And what creative thinking is possible in the future?

This discussion of the current trends and future possibilities—with experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI)—examines migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and other regions, as well as ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, create new approaches to labor migration, address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.

Speakers: 

Alan Bersin, former Assistant Secretary for Policy and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Policy Consultant, Covington

Silvia Giorguli, President, El Colegio de México

Carlos Heredia, former Mexican Congressman, and Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE)

Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Claudia Masferrer León, Professor, Center for Demographic, Urban, and Environmental Studies, El Colegio de México 

Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Policy Program, MPI

Gustavo Mohar, former Mexican Undersecretary of Migration, Population, and Religious Affairs

Andrés Rozental, former Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister and founding President, Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (Comexi) 

Andrew Selee, President, Migration Policy Institute    

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.      

Promising Strategies for Reintegration of Migrants Returning to Mexico and Central America

The highly politicized debate over a U.S.-Mexico border wall and intense focus on Central American caravans traveling across Mexico have elevated tensions about the best methods to manage regional migration while providing humanitarian protection to those who qualify. The composition of regional migration flows has changed significantly during the past five years, with U.S. apprehensions of migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) at the U.S.-Mexico border typically outpacing those of Mexican migrants, and migration shifting from predominantly single males to families and unaccompanied children. The Trump administration’s increasing arrests and removals of Mexicans and Central Americans who have lived illegally in the United States for years and its decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans and Hondurans are putting pressure on home-country governments to expand reception and reintegration service capacity.

This Migration Policy Institute (MPI) webinar focuses on reception and reintegration services for returning migrants, along with the heightened pressure policymakers in Mexico and Central America are facing to design systems and programs that support both returnees and the communities in which they settle. Authors of a year-long study of reception and reintegration services in Mexico and the Northern Triangle discuss the findings of their fieldwork. They focus on the differing reintegration needs of individual migrant groups, promising reception and reintegration programs, and ongoing challenges for origin communities in welcoming returnees. They also unveil short- and long-term policy recommendations to improve reintegration strategies, with the goal that successful reception and reintegration will reduce migration flows from Central America and Mexico.

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