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Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

As of 2013, approximately 1.02 million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region resided in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of the nation’s 41.3 million immigrants. Migration from the MENA region to the United States, motivated mainly by political instability in the region and economic opportunities abroad, began in the 18th century and has occurred in three phases.

EU — Into the Mainstream: Rethinking Public Services for Diverse and Mobile Populations

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Into the Mainstream: Rethinking Public Services for Diverse and Mobile Populations
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Amid rapid economic and social diversification of Europe’s urban areas, the concept of “mainstreaming” immigrant integration—the idea that integration policy requires a whole-of-government approach and a shift away from group-targeted policies—has swept through policy circles and become embedded in policy parlance at the highest levels. Despite its intuitive appeal, however, few agree on its precise definition.

The ethos of mainstreaming can provide a guiding force for governments seeking to reform public services to meet the needs of diverse populations, but in practice remains problematic due to widespread differences in uses across different countries and contexts. Furthermore, mainstreaming has not been rigorously tested on the ground, and it is not clear whether it is well understood outside integration circles or whether it is helping or hindering policymakers as they design public services to accommodate mobility and diversity.

In response to these trends, the UPSTREAM Project sought to examine how governments at all levels are contending with new integration challenges and whether this can be described as a move toward the “mainstreaming” of integration policies. Building on previous research, this project represented the first systematic attempt to analyze how mainstreaming was being developed at the local level, and how its prinicples were being applied within mainstream settings such as schools.

This final report is a synthesis of the five country case studies from the UPSTREAM Project—France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom—plus research at the European Union level. It examines how the five countries and the European Commission are employing the idea of mainstreaming, and whether it has helped improve how public services address mobility and diversity. It then highlights promising practices in the fields of education and social cohesion policy, and concludes with a discussion of the role of the European Union within this debate, arguing for a more coherent approach to integration that takes account of the continuum of integration needs.

Beyond Asylum: Rethinking Protection Policies to Meet Sharply Escalating Needs (Transatlantic Council Statement)

June 5, 2015 Comments off

Beyond Asylum: Rethinking Protection Policies to Meet Sharply Escalating Needs (Transatlantic Council Statement)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

There is a growing recognition among policymakers and humanitarian actors alike that the global refugee system is failing both those it was designed to protect and the communities providing protection. With global forced displacement at levels unseen since World War II—and more than half of refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in protracted displacement situations of five years or more—it has become clear that current protection mechanisms are not offering effective and efficient access to refuge for those in need.

In December 2014, MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration convened its thirteenth plenary meeting in Brussels to examine these growing strains on the global protection system. The Council’s deliberations highlighted the need for both national governments and international actors to respond proactively to instability and the inevitable displacement as it occurs, and to look beyond the traditional instrument of territorial asylum.

At the meeting, participants identified three primary policy goals for moving beyond the traditional care-and-maintenance model of protection: invest in sustainable livelihoods and better living conditions for both refugees and host communities in the crisis region; widen legal channels for protection and consider alternative ways for refugees to submit claims or move onward; and build fair and efficient asylum adjudication, reception, and return policies. The pursuit of these goals can facilitate the development of an innovative, comprehensive protection system to better meet the needs of today’s refugees and host communities.

Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State
Source: Migration Policy Institute

While the languages spoken by English Language Learner (ELL) students in the United States are very diverse, Spanish is the most common first or home language, spoken by 71 percent of ELL students. This fact sheet, drawing upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Department of Education, describes the home languages spoken by ELL students at national and state levels.

Chinese was the second most common language spoken in ELL students’ homes representing 4 percent of ELLs, followed by Vietnamese (3 percent) and French/Haitian Creole (2 percent). A language other than Spanish was the top language spoken by ELLs in five states: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, and Vermont. In 19 states and the District of Columbia, more than three-quarters of all ELL students spoke Spanish.

An accompanying spreadsheet provides the top five languages of ELLs by state, as well as their number and share by language.

Revolution and Political Transition in Tunisia: A Migration Game Changer?

June 2, 2015 Comments off

Revolution and Political Transition in Tunisia: A Migration Game Changer?
Source: Migration Policy Institute

With more than 1.2 million Tunisians living abroad in 2012 out of a total population of 11 million, Tunisia is, and has long been, a prime emigration country in the Mediterranean region. Dating to the country’s independence in 1956, Tunisian emigration has been heavily dominated by labor migration to Western Europe, especially to the former colonial power, France. From the mid-1970s onwards, Libya emerged as a destination for migrant workers, while family migration became the main entry pathway to traditional European destinations.

In the 1980s, Italy became increasingly attractive for low-skilled Tunisian workers due to its geographical proximity and the absence of immigration restrictions. After Europe restricted its visa regime and strengthened border controls in the early 1990s, permanent settlement, irregular entry, and overstaying became structural features of Tunisian emigration. More recently, soaring unemployment among tertiary-educated youth has triggered new flows of student and high-skilled emigration, especially to Germany and North America.

From Refugee to Migrant? Labor Mobility’s Protection Potential

May 21, 2015 Comments off

From Refugee to Migrant? Labor Mobility’s Protection Potential
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Refugee protection—both asylum in the country of first refuge and resettlement to a third country—is a humanitarian endeavor, distinct from economic or labor migration. As victims of persecution, under international law refugees are entitled to specific protections, above all from forcible return, and the humanitarian nature of refugee protection is fundamental. However, what is less clear is the degree to which the right to move freely both within and beyond a country of first asylum can or should be encompassed within the international community’s understanding of what refugee protection involves.

Over the years, there has been growing international recognition that continued movement and migration often play an important role in shaping refugees’ lives after their initial flight, even without the formal legal channels to do so. The economic restrictions placed on refugees in many countries—including prohibitions on the right to work and limitations on movement away from camps—lead many individuals to pursue irregular secondary migration after being granted refugee status, in search of economic opportunity and sometimes even basic physical security. In light of this reality, pursuing labor mobility policies for refugees may make sense for both political and humanitarian reasons, offering the chance to enhance refugee protection while reducing the many costs associated with long-term refugee crises.

This report considers the extent to which labor migration is being used—or could be used in the future—to strengthen the international refugee protection regime and facilitate durable solutions for more refugees. The report also outlines two possible ways that policymakers could facilitate refugees’ freedom of movement: initiatives that take advantage of existing migration pathways and regional freedom-of-movement protocols, and development of temporary and permanent refugee-focused labor migration programs.

Rethinking Global Protection: New Channels, New Tools

May 11, 2015 Comments off

Rethinking Global Protection: New Channels, New Tools
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Today’s refugee protection regime, established in the aftermath of World War II, is ill-equipped to meet the protection needs of contemporary displacement situations. Recent crises in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic, Iraq, and elsewhere have put the international protection system under unprecedented strain, with numbers of displaced people at highs unseen in decades. At the same time, strengthened border security in prosperous countries has left few legal channels for forcibly displaced people to enter their borders to apply for asylum, work, or join family members—making dangerous irregular migration the only option for many.

While there is no reference to humanitarian assistance in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, this has become the default response to refugee crises—with limitations that are now inescapably clear. The governments of western industrialized countries are spending huge amounts of money on systems that are not producing the results—in terms of safety, security (both personal and national), protection of human rights, and economic advancement—desired by their citizens as well as by displaced people.

This report explores the main sources of strain on the existing system of protection, and examines the two most promising avenues for strengthening the system: development- and mobility-focused approaches. It makes the case for a robust, cooperative international effort to go beyond humanitarian assistance and incorporate new tools and new channels for the protection of the displaced.

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