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Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Women’s Labour Migration from Asia and the Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The number of women migrants in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise, both absolutely and proportionately: in 2013 women comprised nearly half (48 percent) of overall migrants to the region and 44 percent of migrants from the region, in line with global trends. Earlier it was thought that out-migration of women mostly takes place in the context of associational migration, including marriage, but a larger share of female migrant workers are now migrating on their own as a result of a variety of economic and cultural factors in both sending and receiving countries.

The gendered dimensions of migration both within and from the region have implications for migration flows and trends as well as for migrants themselves. The majority of female migrant workers in the region work in low-skilled, women-dominated occupations in the domestic, hospitality, health-care, and garment and entertainment sectors, and many skilled female professionals from the region must take up substandard employment due to skills mismatch and lack of recognition of their qualifications. With the Millennium Development Goals set to expire at the end of 2015, the formulation of the next development agenda offers a window of opportunity for better support of gender equality and women’s empowerment across the developing world.

This Issue Brief, one in a series by MPI and the International Organization for Migration, looks at the trends and patterns in female labor migration in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the key policy challenges relating to female migration that governments in the region face. It also examines the significant financial and social impacts of female migrant workers and recommends best practices for policymakers looking to capitalize on these gains while supporting the rights and welfare of migrant women and their families.

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Protection in Crisis: Forced Migration and Protection in a Global Era
Source: Migration Policy Institute

More than 51 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced today as refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced persons. According to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to be recognized legally as a refugee, an individual must be fleeing persecution on the basis of religion, race, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, and must be outside the country of nationality. However, the contemporary drivers of displacement are complex and multilayered, making protection based on a strict definition of persecution increasingly problematic and challenging to implement.

Many forced migrants now fall outside the recognized refugee and asylum apparatus. Much displacement today is driven by a combination of intrastate conflict, poor governance and political instability, environmental change, and resource scarcity. These conditions, while falling outside traditionally defined persecution, leave individuals highly vulnerable to danger and uncertain of the future, compelling them to leave their homes in search of greater security. In addition, the blurring of lines between voluntary and forced migration, as seen in mixed migration flows, together with the expansion of irregular migration, further complicates today’s global displacement picture.

This report details the increasing mismatch between the legal and normative frameworks that define the existing protection regime and the contemporary patterns of forced displacement. It analyzes contemporary drivers and emerging trends of population displacement, noting that the majority of forcibly displaced people—some 33.3 million—remain within their own countries, and that more than 50 percent of the displaced live in urban areas. The author then outlines and assesses key areas where the international protection system is under the most pressure, and finally examines the key implications of these trends for policymakers and the international community, outlining some possible policy directions for reform.

The Development of EU Policy on Immigration and Asylum: Rethinking Coordination and Leadership

March 20, 2015 Comments off

The Development of EU Policy on Immigration and Asylum: Rethinking Coordination and Leadership
Source: Migration Policy Institute

While policymakers in the European Union are working on a European Agenda on Migration to address the short- and long-term migration and asylum challenges facing the region, it has become clear that the modus operandi of the European institutions is ill equipped to respond in either a timely or comprehensive manner. The process for developing, implementing, and reviewing legislation has failed to ensure coherent, robust outcomes. Furthermore, immigration as a topic has outgrown the Home Affairs portfolio, and as such needs to be addressed in a more cross-cutting fashion, involving multiple spheres of government.

During the reorganization of the European Commission in late 2014, the Home Affairs portfolio was renamed and restructured as the new Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), reflecting the high priority of the topic for the new president and other leaders. However, the change has yet to be substantiated with deeper reconfiguration to the supporting framework on coordination, which must be strengthened for existing policy to be sustained and effective new policy created.

This policy brief addresses the underlying mechanisms of policymaking around migration and asylum at the European Union level and identifies areas in which the EU institutions must reform if they are to ensure that the policy solutions designed in Brussels have the desired effect on the ground. The brief highlights the need for stronger leadership and coordination on immigration policy—which still lacks a coherent, comprehensive approach beyond the Home Affairs domain—as well as for the allocation of resources, political and otherwise, to effect real change, both within the European Union and with third countries.

Not Adding Up: The Fading Promise of Europe’s Dublin System

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Not Adding Up: The Fading Promise of Europe’s Dublin System
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The chief purpose of the European Union’s Dublin Regulation—adopted as the first element of the new Common European Asylum System (CEAS) in 2003 and recast in 2013—is to act as a mechanism that swiftly assigns responsibility for processing an individual asylum application to a single Member State. It seeks to ensure quick access to protection for those in need while discouraging abuses of the system by those who would “shop” for the Member State with the most favorable asylum practices or reception conditions. As long as separate national asylum systems exist within a European area without internal border controls, Dublin—or a mechanism like it—will remain a necessary element of any European approach to asylum.

However, as implemented, the Dublin system is largely failing to achieve its two primary goals. Low effective transfer rates and a persistently high incidence of secondary movement among asylum seekers have undermined the efficiency of the Dublin system. In addition, asylum advocates have criticized Dublin for procedural delays in the evaluation of protection claims, which may disrupt family unity and put vulnerable individuals at risk. Crucially, the regulation does not recognize or address the main factor underlying the Dublin system’s problems: despite the harmonization efforts of the CEAS, essential differences remain in the asylum procedures, reception conditions, and integration capacity of EU Member States. These differences invalidate Dublin’s core assumption that asylum applicants will receive equal consideration and treatment regardless of where they submit their claims.

This report examines the key criticisms of the Dublin system as it stands now, with special attention to those that address the efficient operation of the European asylum system and the ability of applicants to quickly access asylum procedures and protection. The report then evaluates the potential of the recently adopted recast of the Regulation (Dublin III), and concludes by recommending several topics for consideration during the European Commission’s scheduled 2016 review of the Dublin system.

Building Skills in North and Central America: Barriers and Policy Options toward Harmonizing Qualifications in Nursing

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Building Skills in North and Central America: Barriers and Policy Options toward Harmonizing Qualifications in Nursing
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Amid aging populations and the growth of chronic diseases, the demand for skilled health-care professionals is on the rise in the three countries of North America. In the United States alone, an estimated 5.6 million vacancies for health-care professionals at all skill levels will open up between 2010 and 2020, and the numbers in Canada and Mexico tell a similar story. At the same time, the countries of Central America, particularly El Salvador and Guatemala, are facing a critical nurse shortage.

Thus far, regional approaches to increasing the supply of qualified nurses have been rare. One promising yet underexplored avenue is the harmonization of nurse qualifications across the region, a process by which countries that face similar health-care challenges work together to develop an understanding of one another’s training and education systems, identify gaps between these systems, and create strategies to bridge these gaps over time.

This report explores the policy implications, benefits, and challenges of harmonizing nursing qualifications in North America. The payoffs of such cooperation are substantial: it can decrease brain waste and deskilling among nurses, increase the quality of care in all countries involved, and expand opportunities for nurses to practice where their skills are needed and to take advantage of new job opportunities in medical tourism and tele-health. However, as the report discusses, policymakers and private-sector actors must first overcome a range of obstacles to harmonization. Challenges include differences among the countries involved in the educational requirements of entering into nursing programs, dispersal of decision-making power among a patchwork of institutions regulating the nursing profession, and administrative barriers to recognition of qualifications—the flurry of red tape that nurses must pass through to take up nursing again after moving across borders.

A Profile of Immigrants in Houston, the Nation’s Most Diverse Metropolitan Area

March 12, 2015 Comments off

A Profile of Immigrants in Houston, the Nation’s Most Diverse Metropolitan Area
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Houston is the most diverse, rapidly growing major U.S. metropolitan area, and immigration has contributed greatly to its growth and diversity. In 2013 the Houston metro area was home to 6.3 million people, of whom 1.4 million were foreign born—an increase of nearly 60 percent from 2000, which is nearly twice the national growth rate. Its immigrant population ranked fifth largest among U.S. metropolitan areas and third in the numbers of Mexican, Vietnamese, and Honduran immigrants. By the time of the 2010 Census, Houston’s population did not have a majority racial or ethnic group: non-Hispanic whites represented 40 percent of the total population, Latinos 36 percent, Blacks 17 percent, and Asians 6 percent.

This report provides an overview of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of Houston’s immigrants, along with their naturalization rates, legal status, and potential eligibility for immigration benefits such as citizenship or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The report finds that Houston’s strong labor market and growing economy provide a solid foundation for the integration of immigrants and their children. At the same time, Houston has a relatively low-wage economy, and the low incomes of Houston’s immigrants—particularly Latinos—may present barriers to their integration and access to legal assistance, health care, and other needed services.

Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the authors tabulate numbers of immigrants potentially in need of community-based immigration assistance. The report finds that an estimated 350,000 legal permanent residents, most of them from Mexico and Central America, are eligible for naturalization but have not yet applied. In addition, nearly half of the metro area’s 400,000 unauthorized immigrants are potentially eligible for either DACA or the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

Understanding Transnational Dynamics in European Immigrant Integration Policy

March 5, 2015 Comments off

Understanding Transnational Dynamics in European Immigrant Integration Policy
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Although measuring immigrant integration outcomes in destination countries is a difficult task, European Union Member States increasingly recognize that the expected results have thus far failed to materialize. In a political and economic climate that tests social cohesion and labor market resilience, a fresh approach to integration across the European Union is urgently needed—one that ideally takes into account the complexity of the three-way process between the migrant, origin country, and country of destination.

In light of this recognition, policymakers and other actors are beginning to look at the transnational picture: specifically, the role that origin countries can play in the integration process. Migrant-sending countries can play a part in this process by actively engaging their nationals abroad and devoting resources to interventions among emigrants in destination countries. At the same time, while the willingness of origin countries to support integration outcomes can inject new life into a policy area that often comes across as tired, it must also be recognized that they cannot overcome bad integration conditions at destination.

This policy brief explores the transnational dynamics at work behind the scenes of integration policy, including wider sociopolitical factors in origin and destination countries that can make identifying successful integration policies difficult. It also examines the relative effect of origin- and destination-country factors on integration outcomes, and treats the origin country as an integration actor that actively or passively supports—or hinders—integration outcomes for its nationals abroad. The brief argues for the importance of coordinating with and engaging sending countries as equal partners in the integration process in order to ensure that policy changes in one place do not negatively impact initiatives from another.

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