Tag: #immigrationdetention

CLINIC Materials Highlighted in Education Department’s New Resource for Assisting Undocumented Students

Silver Spring, MD— Resources from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), including the Educators’ Back to School Toolkit, are featured in a new guide released Oct. 20 by the U.S. Department of Education, aimed at helping educators support undocumented students.
Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth,” is the first of two such booklets planned by the federal agency to focus on the needs of undocumented young people. It compiles basic legal information along with background material from a variety of sources and suggests resources for helping high school and college students succeed. A second guide, scheduled for release in 2016, will focus on children at the elementary and early learning levels.
The 63-page guide includes:

  • An overview of the rights of undocumented students;
  • Legal guidelines for educators;
  • Tips for teachers and other school personnel for supporting undocumented youth;
  • Information on access to federal financial aid for noncitizens;
  • A list of private scholarships for which undocumented youth might be eligible;
  • Information on federally-funded adult education programs at the local level;
  • Guidance for students and young adults in obtaining their school records for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

In addition to CLINIC’s toolkit, the guide features a link to CLINIC’s webinar for educators. All of CLINIC’s resources on DACA can be found here.
“Teachers and school personnel around the country will benefit from having material in one place that can reliably direct them in helping immigrants in their communities,” Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC Executive Director said.  “CLINIC is pleased that the Education Department collaborated with us and others who have hands-on experience in the advocacy community to create this important resource for educators. We look forward to continuing this kind of engagement and outreach to the immigrant community.” 

Source: Catholic Charities

The Emigration of Health-Care Workers: Malawi’s Recurring Challenges

One of the world’s poorest countries, Malawi faces a host of challenges, not least the status of a health-care system marked by significant shortages of doctors and nurses. Yet many Malawian health-care professionals have emigrated in search of better opportunities abroad, with dramatic effects in the early 2000s on the delivery of health-care services and a strong government response.

The global competition for health workers, with resulting migration from low- to high-income countries, has received considerable attention from policymakers in both sending and receiving countries. For a country like Malawi, which is highly reliant on international aid and has a weak health-care infrastructure, the consequences of significant emigration of health-care professionals were striking.

Health care is a highly political issue in the country of nearly 17 million people, more than half of whom live in poverty and with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US $226.46 in 2013. In the early 2000s, a drastic shortage of workers due largely to emigration severely impacted the delivery of health services, prompting the government to implement policies to reduce the flows and consider the introduction of user fees on health care, which is a cherished service in this impoverished nation.

Though the health-care system still faces significant obstacles, the emigration of much-needed health-care workers has mostly stabilized through the implementation of an action plan that increased salaries and training programs for medical professionals. Even as the government has taken steps to address this brain drain, some observers see an opportunity for “brain gain” via new knowledge transfers and remittances transmitted to Malawi by doctors and nurses abroad.

This article examines the emigration of health workers from Malawi, the government’s response, the brain drain versus brain gain debate, and recurring challenges to health worker retention.

Assessing Malawi’s Health Labor Force and Trends

Though Malawi’s first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda (1966-94), was a medical doctor, the country did not have a medical school of its own until 1991. By the early 2000s, Malawi had few native-born medical personnel, and of those significant numbers chose to emigrate. For example, in 2002, 59 percent of the 493 doctors born and trained in Malawi were working abroad, as were 16 percent of the 2,248 Malawian nurses trained in their home country. The number of nurses working outside the country may have been even higher as some emigrated to pursue careers other than nursing and were thus not recorded as they did not require qualifications validation.

Coupled with the low number of graduates from the country’s only medical school, the emigration of health workers led to significant staff shortages. In 2004, Malawi had 1.1 doctors and 25.5 nurses for every 100,000 people—meaning that the entire country had about 250 doctors. In comparison, neighboring Tanzania had 2.3 doctors and 36.6 nurses per 100,000 population in 2004, while in 2006 the regional density in Africa was 22 doctors and 90 nurses per 100,000 population. The Malawi Ministry of Health reported a nearly 80 percent vacancy rate for registered nurses in 2003 and 65 percent in 2006. With such a low density of health workers, the coverage and quality of health services were significantly constrained.

This was particularly the case because of an important disparity in the distribution of medical staff within Malawi. Half of Malawi’s doctors worked in cities in 2004, even as more than 80 percent of the population resided in rural areas.

Facing such challenges, Malawi has had little capacity to meet a minimal level of health care. This has impeded efforts to deliver the country’s Essential Health Package (EHP), which is designed to direct resources to treatment that effectively and efficiently addresses the local burden of disease. Malawi’s ability to effectively put to use international aid, on which the health sector heavily relies, has also been hampered by the lack of personnel. An April 2004 Ministry of Health report stated that the human resources situation in the health sector was ‘‘critical, dangerously close to collapse” and that the sector was ‘‘facing a major, persistent and deepening crisis with respect to human resources.”

A number of push and pull factors motivate Malawi’s health workers to emigrate. The most common destinations for Malawian health-care emigrants include the United Kingdom (Malawi’s former colonial power), the United States, and South Africa.  In 2002, 191 Malawian physicians and 171 nurses were working in the United Kingdom, while 40 doctors and 171 nurses were in the United States. Push factors include low remuneration, limited career opportunities, poor working conditions and management, political instability, violence, poverty, and work overload. In 2012, a Malawian doctor earned on average US $7,000 per year, excluding housing—and that is after the government increased salaries by 52 percent in a bid to stem emigration of medical professionals. The risk of HIV infection due to lack of appropriate protection has been another significant push factor. In 2008, the National Association of Nurses in Malawi (NONM) estimated that each month four nurses were lost to HIV and AIDS-related illness.

For many Malawians the high demand for English-speaking medical personnel and the much higher wages at destination offered better opportunities to advance their careers and support their families. The two most significant factors leading to the emigration of health workers, according to a study of sub-Saharan migration, were “the real wage gaps between sending and receiving countries, and the demographic booms in the low-wage sending countries.” Moreover, a 2008 study by researchers from Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Malawi suggested that most motivating factors prompting workers to consider leaving Malawi’s health service fell into two broad categories: factors that left staff feeling undervalued and those leading to poor quality patient care.

While Malawi has experienced high emigration rates of medical personnel, a significant inflow of international doctors and nurses has also occurred, largely to support the training of local staff or to temporarily fill staffing shortages. A peaceful, relatively inexpensive, and English-speaking country, Malawi has long been an attractive destination for foreign medical students and volunteers. Furthermore, Malawi’s severe poverty makes it dependent on financial aid and humanitarian organizations, particularly in the health sector. The international organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been present since 1986, with 586 staff in country in 2014. Partnerships with international academic institutes and health-service organizations have been critical to filling gaps in care provision historically, and as a pillar of the government’s response to health worker emigration.

Tackling the Pull Factors

As the cost of emigration of health-care professionals for Malawi and other impoverished countries became clear, international organizations and industrialized countries issued policy statements, codes of practice, and bilateral agreements to ensure the social and economic costs and benefits of migration are more equitably distributed at origin and destination. The topic of human resources for health has since gained significant focus, particularly with the adoption by the World Health Assembly in May 2010 of a Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, supported by all World Health Organization (WHO) Member States. The code frames the responsibilities between governments, recruitment agencies, and labor, seeking to balance the obligations of health workers to the country they were trained in and their right to seek employment abroad.

The Malawi Emergency Human Resources Program

Malawi has proactively sought to tackle human resource and health emigration issues. In 2004, the government launched a six-year Emergency Human Resources Program (EHRP), which was a pillar of the country’s policymaking on the provision of health care. The program aimed to raise staffing levels comparable to Tanzania, at 2.3 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants—less than WHO-recommended minimums but representing an attainable goal. The program, which cost US $95.5 million from 2004 to 2009, attracted major donor funding, notably from the UK Department for International Development (DfID), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

EHRP promoted the retention of workers through financial and other incentives and contained three main features:

  • a 52 percent salary increase for health workers in 11 professional cadres
  • measures to enhance the capacity of medical training institutions
  • the recruitment of additional expatriate-volunteer doctors and nursing tutors to fill key posts in the short term

The program provided a number of additional incentives, including allowances for medical professionals willing to serve in rural areas, housing, and transport, based on the premise that increased remuneration and benefits would encourage health workers to stay in Malawi. Moreover, Malawi sought to address long-term factors and root causes affecting the retention of workers, such as the unavailability of drugs and supplies, and poor management of and support for the health workforce. Malawi’s College of Medicine also increased the number of graduating doctors from 18 in 2004 to 51 in 2011.

Even with the increase in graduates, the government acknowledged it will continue to require the services of international volunteers, particularly in specialty areas of medicine. By 2009, 132 international personnel were recruited through the EHRP to provide clinical services and train local staff, up from 18 in 2004.

By 2009, the health worker-to-population density experienced a 66 percent increase as a result of the EHRP, rising from 87 per 100,000 in 2004 to 1,440 per 100,000. However, these levels still fell below the African regional average (1,910 per 100,000) and WHO’s critical threshold (2,500 per 100,000) for delivering essential health services. By the end of the six-year EHRP program in 2009, there was a sharp decline in migration; just 16 nurses emigrated that year, compared to 108 in 2003.

Recurring Challenges

Although the government succeeded in reaching its target of achieving staffing levels comparable to neighboring Tanzania, lifting health workers out of poverty, and discouraging some workers from leaving the health profession within Malawi, the challenges to health development remain great and the global competition for health workers represents a continuing threat to health care in Malawi. The remuneration gap for skilled medical staff between Malawi and developed countries remains a significant pull factor. For instance, in the United Kingdom, a newly qualified nurse earns GBP 19,166 (US $33,290), about ten times what a nurse would earn in Malawi.

The Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) 2011-2016 continues the 2004 EHRP.  In the same spirit, it focuses on improving the retention of health-care workers at all levels, particularly in hard-to-staff areas by “maintaining the 52 percent salary top-ups, institutionalizing a performance management incentive scheme and extending [a] housing scheme to health cadres.”

Fewer numbers of health-care personnel are leaving Malawi, but the human resource challenges that remain are “acute and complex,” according to the new strategic plan. Even with increases in the intake of nursing students and introduction of new courses, it will take many years to reach the number of staff needed to provide minimum standards of health-care delivery. In May, the Executive Director of Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), Martha Kwataine, warned that the nurse-to-patient ratio was putting patients at risk. She reported that there has been an increase in the number of nurses from 4,500 in 2010 to about 10,000 in 2015. While the nursing increases have resulted in a drop from the 76 percent vacancy rate, the health-care sector still has a 60 percent vacancy rate in nursing. The deterioration of previously strong pull factors also may be deterring departures. For example, in June 2015, the United Kingdom announced the thresholds for recruiting skilled workers from outside Europe would be raised starting in fall 2015. The Oxford Migration Observatory warned that overseas nurses are likely to be one of the first groups affected. In 2014, 454 Malawians were employed by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, including 138 professionally qualified clinical staff. Although this move could deter Malawian nurses from migrating to the United Kingdom, they may simply choose to travel to another country.

Even as Malawians continue to leave, albeit in smaller numbers, international personnel are arriving through aid and development programs. While there was no formal exit strategy in the EHRP to end recruitment of international doctors, the government sought to phase out UN-sponsored personnel as the College of Medicine began producing more graduates. The recurring challenges to retention and poor infrastructure continue to justify the need for foreign doctors. Earlier this year, the U.S. embassy in Lilongwe welcomed 11 Global Health Service Volunteers to teach and provide clinical supervision for the year, while Rotary International has sponsored 30 doctors from India to attend to patients at Kamuzu Central Hospital. International practitioners on temporary deployments, however, cannot alone solve the high vacancies in the medical sector.

“Brain Drain” versus “Brain Gain”

The trend of health-care labor emigration from low- to high-income countries has sparked an ongoing debate on the impact on the sending country’s development. Addressing the negative impacts of such emigration has been on the WHO agenda since 2004, with a code of practice for ethical standards in international recruitment of health workers adopted in 2010.

One area where health-care migration can have a positive effect on a country’s development is through the generation of remittances. Although the evidence for Malawi is limited, studies from other poor countries demonstrate the power of remittances in significantly reducing poverty, according to a 2006 study by experts Richard Record and Abdu Mohiddin. For instance, the World Bank estimated the 2014 total remittance flow to developing countries to be $436 billion, a sum three times that of official development aid (ODA) to developing countries. Malawi, however, demonstrates the opposite, receiving approximately $144 million in remittances through official channels from 2004 to 2011, according to Migration Policy Institute tabulations of World Bank data, while receiving $5.3 billion aid dollars over the same period. Still, seeing potential in the flows of health workers, Record and Mohiddin argued Malawi could achieve brain gain provided the government finds a solution to avoid paying for the training of health professionals who then take their skills abroad. Possible mechanisms include requiring migrating staff who do not work in the country’s health system for a certain number of years to reimburse training costs, or encouraging host governments to remit a new tax to the Malawi government, which would allow the country to train more health workers for both local and international needs.

On the other hand, brain gain is also considered out of reach for Malawi by some because the advantages of skills transfers are lost. There is little evidence that Malawian health professionals working abroad for several years return home to share the skills and knowledge acquired internationally. Moreover, the cost to poor countries of emigration is often seen as exacerbating already weak national health systems, challenging achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The shortage of health workers has contributed to high maternal mortality in Malawi and, because of the high level of vacancies, especially in rural areas, most clinical care is performed by nurses, not by doctors. In recent years, many stakeholders have recognized the importance of human resources in the provision of health care, in efforts to improve health outcomes, and to achieve development. Indeed, following work by WHO on the importance of health to improve human development, international attention has shifted focus to strengthening human resources. The key to improving of Malawi’s health indicators thus lies in addressing emigration as one of the main factors contributing to critical human resource shortages.

The Road Ahead

Malawi’s health sector continues to face enormous challenges beyond emigration. Doctors and other hospital staff are often accused of stealing medicines because salaries, despite the 52 percent increase, remain insufficient. Wages are also often withheld for up to a month or more as funds are unavailable to pay medical staff at public hospitals and clinics, or depleted due to corruption. And as the country increases the number of health clinics and hospitals as part of the 2011-16 strategic plan, more staff will be required, thereby doing little to dent the high vacancy rate. Retention of health workers remains a problem, not just from emigration, but from personnel leaving the public sector to work elsewhere in Malawi as the day-to-day challenges in health care become too great.

Malawi has a long, but not insurmountable, road ahead. As the successes of the earlier Emergency Human Resources Program show, if the government effectively implements the current strategic plan, Malawi may yet reach its health-sector goals.

Research for this article was supported in part by the Open Society Internship for Rights and Governance, which is funded and administered by the Open Society Institute (OSI). The views are the author’s own.


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Source: Migration Policy Ins

Ten Facts About U.S. Refugee Resettlement

The United States, which runs the world’s largest refugee resettlement program, is being called upon to welcome more Syrian refugees as Europe struggles to absorb huge flows of asylum seekers and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and elsewhere. As of October 2015, the United States had resettled approximately 2,000 Syrian refugees since the start of civil war in Syria in 2011.

Responding to these calls, the Obama administration has announced its intention to raise the annual ceiling on U.S. refugee admissions to 85,000 for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2015 and to 100,000 the following year, up from 70,000 for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2015. These policy choices have touched off intense discussions about the capacity of the United States to help respond to growing humanitarian protection needs.

As policymakers address these questions, it is worth reviewing some key facts about refugee resettlement in the United States that have often been overlooked in current debates. This fact sheet, drawn from recent Migration Policy Institute (MPI) research, analysis of U.S. government policies, and other sources, covers key questions such as refugee benefits use, employment, and educational attainment; the screening that would-be refugees have to go through before admission; and the likely integration picture for Syrian refugees.

Source: Migration Policy Ins

What’s Next for the European Asylum Crisis?

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Demetrios G. Papademetriou

Audio, Webinars October 20, 2015

An MPI Europe video chat with the outgoing head of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the current EU refugee crisis, what strategies Europe ought to be pursuing in response, and the growing role of EASO as well as its track record over its first five years.
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Video, Audio February 7, 2014

This panel discussion offered perspectives on border policy management from leading officials in the Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. governments, and showcased MPI’s publication, Managing Borders in an Increasingly Borderless World. Book co-editors Randall Hansen and Demetrios G. Papademetriou covered the volume’s findings on the continuing and evolving challenges in border management and security—terrorism, organized crime, illegal migration, smuggling, trafficking, human rights, infrastructure, corruption, and economic and political factors—and offered an analysis of effective and ineffective policies and programs. The discussion focused on North American experiences with the challenges and successes these governments have had in pursuing better, more effective, and smarter border controls and on deepening regional cooperation.
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Audio October 24, 2012

Large-scale immigration has led to unprecedented levels of diversity, transforming communities in fundamental ways and challenging long and closely held notions of national identity. Backlash against immigration has manifested itself in Europe partly through vocal criticism of “multiculturalism,” and in the U.S. as a growing tendency to conflate immigration and illegality. In response, many countries have narrowed rights to residence and citizenship and attempted to more rigidly enforce cultural conformity. These topics are explored in The Relationship Between Immigration and Nativism in Europe and North America. This discussion focuses on factors and players that contribute to this environment, an analysis on the current situation in both Europe and U.S., and a discussion on its implications for community cohesion and national identity in European countries and the U.S.
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IOM Asia Pacific

Audio September 24, 2015

This discussion, at the Bangkok launch of an MPI-International Organization for Migration issue brief, explores the social and health impacts of international labor migration on the children who remain at home when one or both their parents emigrate.
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Refugees and migrants pictured moments before rescue by the Italian Navy/UNHCR

Audio, Webinars September 18, 2015

A webinar/call with senior officials from two EU Member States, Austria and Slovenia, to discuss their differing perspectives on the current refugee crisis, and consider what is needed to ensure a unified, practically feasible response to the biggest crisis that has faced the Common European Asylum System since its inception.

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Video September 24, 2013

The Mexican-origin population in Hawai’i represents a small, but fast-growing group, that is little examined. This briefing at the State Capitol in Honolulu, organized in conjunction with the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, marked the formal release of an MPI report that presents key demographic and socioeconomic information about this population in Hawai’i.

The briefing to discuss the report, Newcomers to the Aloha State: A Portrait of Mexicans in Hawaii, featured researchers Jeanne Batalova of MPI and the University of Hawaii’s Monisha Das Gupta and Sue Haglund. The speakers discuss demographic characteristics and experiences of this population and the immigration enforcement and other policies affecting them. 

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Video, Audio September 14, 2015

A discussion, including the former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, examining the huge strains on the global protection system and how it can better respond to protracted refugee situations and other long-term displacement, focusing on the conclusions of the Transatlantic Council on Migration’s recent meeting, Beyond Asylum: Rethinking Protection Policies to Meet Sharply Escalating Needs.
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Video, Audio April 22, 2010

With nearly 500 million U.S. border crossings a year and over one-quarter of Americans possessing passports, the U.S. government faces a daunting challenge in protecting people on the move from the risks of direct attack.

This discussion follows the book release of Securing Human Mobility in the Age of Risk: New Challenges for Travel, Migration, and Borders, in which author Susan Ginsburg, MPI Nonresident Fellow and former Senior Counsel, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (9/11 Commission), argues that the nation’s approach to immigration and border security is off-kilter and not keeping pace with the scope and complexity of people’s movement around the world, nor with expectations regarding freedom of movement.

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Video, Expert Q&A September 11, 2015

Demetrios Papademetriou, President Emeritus of MPI and President of MPI Europe, explains the origins of the refugee crisis in Europe and discusses actions that Europe and other regions can take in the near and long term to address the flows.
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Video, Audio February 27, 2014

This panel discussion on unaccompanied minors focuses on a report by Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings College of the Law, A Treacherous Journey: Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System. The panel moderated by Kathleen Newland, Director of the Refugee Protection Program at MPI, includes speakers Elizabeth Dallam, KIND National Legal Services Director; Lisa Frydman, CGRS Associate Director and Managing Attorney; Karen Musalo, GGRS Director; and KIND Executive Director Wendy Young. The discussion focuses on the conclusion that children face a U.S. immigration system created for adults that is not required to consider the child’s best interests. Unaccompanied children are not provided lawyers to help them navigate the complex requirements of immigration proceedings. The report is available at www.supportkind.org and www.cgrs.uchastings.edu.
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Video, Audio, Webinars July 22, 2015

This webinar examines innovative ideas to adapt the global protection system to better meet the growing challenges of forced migration and to empower refugees through development-led responses to displacement.
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Video, Audio December 12, 2013

This panel discussion focuses on the circulation of skilled immigrant professionals and the recognition of foreign qualifications in the United States and Europe. The event brought together experts and policymakers to discuss what governments can do to improve the recognition of foreign credentials—particularly in regulated occupations where time-consuming and expensive licensing processes can delay access to skilled employment. The discussion highlights promising practices (including an example from Quebec), and identifies ways U.S. policymakers can learn from European innovations in qualifications recognition and how international cooperation can help. The event coincided with the release of the final report of a two-year research initiative funded by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, Skilled Immigrants in the Global Economy: Prospects for International Cooperation on Recognition of Foreign Qualifications.
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Video, Audio May 4, 2015

A discussion on the situation of Syrian refugees, recent developments in the region, and the U.S. humanitarian response, along with reports from recent fact-finding missions to the region by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Refugee Council USA. Speakers from both organizations, as well as a leading official in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, discuss conditions for refugees in camps and urban settings, as well as U.S. policy regarding the Syrian crisis. 
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Video, Audio May 6, 2013

A panel discussion on the release of the Regional Migration Study Group’s final report, Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration & Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, outlining its findings and offering recommendations to policymakers in the region.

The discussion includes Co-Chairs Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Eduardo Stein, former Vice President and Foreign Minister of Guatemala. Joined by MPI President Demetrios Papademetriou; Doris Meissner, Director of MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program; and Andrew Selee, Vice President for Programs, Wilson Center.

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IOM Asia Pacific

Audio March 26, 2015

Marking the release of the 12th MPI-IOM Issue in Brief, this event in Bangkok examined the emerging trends in women’s labor migration in the Asia-Pacific region, and the related opportunities and challenges. The audio does not include opening remarks and begins with the author’s presentation.
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Video, Audio April 19, 2012

The Migration Policy Institute celebrated its first decade as the authoritative, unimpeachable resource on immigration and immigrant integration analysis and policy design in the United States and internationally. From its humble beginnings, the Institute has grown both in size and influence as it strives to engage and help set smart policy that both benefits immigrants and their families, and the countries in which they settle.

You can read about the Institute’s accomplishments here.

In this video, MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou discusses the past decade and next decade of MPI’s work, engaging in thoughtful, fact-based research and analysis of migration and refugee policies in the United States and internationally, followed by comments from award recipients The Honorable Romano “Ron” Mazzoli, U.S. House of Representatives (D-KY, 1971-95); Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Foundations; and Uyen Nguyen and James Huy Bao, Co-Founders of the OneVietnam Network. MPI’s Kathleen Newland and Doris Meissner also provide remarks.   

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IOM discussion in Bangkok of ASEAN skilled labor flows. (Photo credit: IOM)

Audio December 16, 2014

This Bangkok launch of the MPI-IOM Issue in Brief A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond explored the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community and its vision of a freer flow of skilled labor. In response to the mounting evidence that migrants in the region lack the skills recognition required to put their knowledge and training to use in destination countries, ASEAN Member States are taking steps toward better qualifications recognition to prevent the resulting waste of human capital, as this discussion explores.

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Video October 28, 2009

This event served as a discussion of Talent, Competitiveness, and Migrationthe first book from the Transatlantic Council on Migration. MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou was joined by Michael S. Teitelbaum, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Carl Haub, Senior Demographer and Conrad Taeuber Chair of Public Information, Population Reference Bureau; and Joseph J. Minarik, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development.

The discussion focused on a number of key issues related to the accumulation of talent that influences both economic growth and migration trends. Panelists also touched on why certain systems have developed as they have, what various systems attempt to accomplish, and expectations for coming years. 

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Video, Audio November 18, 2014

A day-long conference in Brussels, co-sponsored by the International Labour Office and the European Commision’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, where panelists discuss the dynamics by which migrants get stuck in low-skilled work, and the role of training and employment services in helping them progress in their occupations. The conference concludes a project and series of reports prepared on the Labor Market Integration of New Arrivals in Europe
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Video, Audio March 12, 2014

This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, which examines the increasing numbers of children from Central America and Mexico who head off alone to find refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, insecurity, and abuse. The discussion provides analysis on the reasons behind the growing migration of this vulnerable population and offers recommendations. Read the report here.

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Video October 28, 2014

A discussion on the extraordinary boom in investor immigration. From the rapidly expanding EB-5 visa in the United States to Malta’s controversial “cash for citizenship” policy and a host of programs across Europe and the Caribbean, governments are increasingly offering residence rights or citizenship to wealthy individuals in return for a significant economic investment. These trends raise a host of policy questions. Which programs are most attractive for investors? Are destination countries getting a good deal? How can governments prevent the security lapses and corruption scandals that some investor programs have suffered? The webchat addresses these questions and discusses MPI’s report Selling Visas and Citizenship: Policy Questions from the Global Boom in Investor Immigration.
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Video, Audio February 19, 2014

This panel discussion, presented in cooperation with the Greek Embassy, explores how the 2014 Greek Presidency of the European Union and the United States can work to address the challenges of managing migration while meeting humanitarian obligations and nurturing economic growth. Speakers are: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Christos P. Panagopoulos; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard; MPI CEO Michael Fix; and moderator Demetrios G. Papademetriou, the President of MPI. As the 2014 Greek Presidency works to formulate the European Union’s next five-year program, two interconnected challenges have come to the fore: building a comprehensive migration system whose parts work harmoniously to meet humanitarian obligations and nurture economic growth and social cohesion, and doing so with very limited resources.

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Video, Webinars September 18, 2014

In this webinar, experts and policymakers from Europe and the United States discuss the relationship between immigration, residential segregation, community relations, and economic opportunities. This event concludes a Transatlantic Council on Migration series of papers on how cities and regions in North America and Europe can make the most out of immigration. 

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Video February 5, 2014

During this public briefing in Guatemala City (conducted in both English and Spanish), the Co-Directors of the Migration Policy Institute-convened Regional Migration Study Group, MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, presented the Study Group’s final report, Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration and Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America. The report outlines the powerful demographic, economic, and social forces reshaping Mexico and much of Central America and changing longstanding migration dynamics with the United States. The Study Group, co-chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and former Guatemalan Vice President and Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein, offers a forward-looking, pragmatic agenda for the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—focusing on new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development to strengthen regional competitiveness. 
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Integrating Migration into the Post-2015 © Joe Lowry/IOM

Audio September 18, 2014

A discussion and release in Bangkok of an MPI-IOM issue brief examining the role of migration as a driver for development in Asia and how to integrate migration-related targets and indicators into the post-2015 development agenda. The issue brief highlights three areas that require specific attention: (1) fostering partnerships to promote development, (2) promoting and protecting migrants’ rights and well-being, and (3) reducing the costs and risks of human mobility.
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Video, Audio October 21, 2013

In this panel discussion at MPI, Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and former Founding Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, discussed the state of rights protection in Europe as well as his agency’s role in this evolving arena. The FRA’s goal is to promote understanding and secure fundamental rights in the European Union, and the discussion explored the organization’s work collecting and analyzing hard-to-find data, and its strategies for using this to combat discrimination against migrants and other minority populations. Other speakers focused on the evolution of the immigrant-rights movement in the United States, with comments by Lucas Guttentag, Founder and former National Director and Senior Advisor of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and Becky Monroe, Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The speakers discussed shared challenges and opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic, a particularly relevant conversation in light of the loss of human life at Lampedusa and the deportation of a teenage Roma girl seeking asylum in France. The panel was moderated by MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix.

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Video August 13, 2014

MPI analysts and representatives from London and Detroit discuss the policies and strategies—at national and local levels—to attract immigrants into local economies and the challenges faced in doing so. The discussion focuses on two Transatlantic Council on Migration case studiesDetroit and London—as well as a report on giving cities and regions a voice in immigration policy, and the related Transatlantic Council statement Presenters address questions such as: How can national immigration policies be designed to be responsive to local human capital needs? What are the risks and opportunities associated with recruiting immigrants as a tool to reverse depopulation? How might “city visas” actually work in practice?
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Audio September 17, 2013

Diaspora engagement has become a key and accepted component in the arsenal of development strategies. The question of how to effectively and efficiently harness the force of a country’s diaspora through government intervention and policy remains one that many governments and international organizations must grapple with. Diaspora interventions tend to be organic and outside the confines of government and institutional structures. MPI’s edited volume, How Can Talent Abroad Induce Development at Home? Towards a Pragmatic Diaspora Agenda includes commentary from leading experts in the field. During this book launch discussion, volume editor Yevgeny Kuznetsov, a World Bank senior consultant and MPI nonresident fellow, discusses findings with Kathleen Newland, Director of MPI’s Migrants, Migration, and Development program; and Lev Freinkman, author of research in the volume and former World Bank senior economist. The discussion offers new insight into how governments and international organizations can effectively implement diaspora engagement strategies.
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Sara Prestianni

Audio, Webinars June 18, 2014

This MPI Europe telebriefing, releasing the brief Strengthening Refugee Protection and Meeting Challenges: The European Union’s Next Steps on Asylum, examines Europe’s current reality with respect to migration and asylum and assesses the possibilities for future development of EU immigration policy. MPI Europe Director Elizabeth Collett and brief author Madeline Garlick, a former head of policy at UNHCR Brussels, discuss the tensions surrounding asylum, the European Council agenda-setting in this area for the 2014-2020 period, and more.
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Video, Audio April 5, 2013

The Mexican story on migration is changing – with net unauthorized migration from Mexico to the United States at a standstill. Additionally, the Mexican economy continues to grow and key “push” factors in Mexico, such as demographics and lack of job opportunity, are weakening. Mexico’s transition and growing role in the global economy will continue to evolve, reshaping its role as a country of large-scale emigration.

This discussion with Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Eduardo Medina Mora, focused on these changing dynamics in Mexico, and their implications for both Mexico and the United States.

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Video, Audio May 20, 2014

A discussion with findings from an ORSAM report that evaluates the effect of the Syrian refugee crisis on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, as well as on the more than 3 million Syrians who have fled their homeland to become refugees in neighboring countries. The discussion focused on the social and economic impact of the refugees in Turkey, with remarks by the Director General of Turkey’s state-run relief agency, AFAD. He was joined by speakers for ORSAM, the Middle East Research Institute, and the Atlantic Council in a discussion moderated by Kathleen Newland, who leads the refugee protection work at MPI.
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Video, Audio May 23, 2012

During this MPI event on the role of national governments in immigrant integration, MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou leads a discussion on the complexities of managing effective immigrant immigration systems.

The discussion includes remarks and discussion from Rosario Farmhouse, High Commissioner for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue in Portugal; Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Jasenko Selimovic, State Secretary to the Minister for Integration in Sweden; Peter Sylvester, Associate Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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IOM Asia Pacific

Audio May 8, 2014

During the last seven years, many governments in the Asia-Pacific region have been actively engaged in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) not only as participants to the process but also as leaders driving its direction and continuity. To continue its success and to remain as relevant, the GFMD has to be as instrumental in shaping the reality on the ground as much as the global discourse on migration and development. This Bangkok discussion launches the MPI-International Organization for Migration issue brief, The Global Forum on Migration and Development: Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific, which explores the Asia-Pacific priorities for the GFMD 2014 and provides recommendations on how the GFMD can be a development-focused and results-oriented forum.
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Video, Audio February 27, 2012

The Migration Policy Institute has been active in the European immigration debate for nearly a decade. In recognition of MPI’s ever closer engagement with immigration policymakers and stakeholders in Europe, MPI Europe has been established in Brussels as a nonprofit research institute dedicated to the promotion of a better understanding of migration. This event marks MPI Europe’s official launch in Brussels.

MPI Europe hosts this panel discussion to explore what is driving societal discontent in Europe, the role immigration plays in this, and why there is a growing perception that immigrant integration efforts are failing. Panelists seek to answer some of the key questions posed at the most recent plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, a flagship initiative of the Migration Policy Institute, and reflect on some of the evidence produced for this meeting.

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Audio April 30, 2014

In advance of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) convening in Stockholm in May 2014, MPI hosted a conversation with H.E. Eva Åkerman Börje, Ambassador and Chair of the 2014 GFMD to discuss the forum’s agenda, policy areas that seem ripe for action, and what impact the GFMD discussions will have on the post-2015 development agenda. Also taking part in the call: Kathleen Newland, Director of MPI’s Migrants, Migration, and Development Program, and MPI Senior European Policy Fellow Gregory Maniatis.  
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Audio January 12, 2010

This panel conversation focused on the politics of citizenship and its evolving implications in Europe. Marc Morjé Howard, Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University and author of The Politics of Citizenship in Europe joined Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios G. Papademetriou to discuss citizenship in various European countries and how policies impact integration efforts.

During the discussion, Howard speaks about both the similarities between European countries and their distinct national policies when it comes to defining citizenship. Howard and Papademetriou reiterate the continuing significance of national citizenship, and suggest that citizenship will continue to grow in importance as an integration tool in the future. 

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IOM Asia Pacific

Audio March 20, 2014

This MPI event, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), discusses the critical issue of climate-related displacement in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on the vulnerability of environmental migrants and how the international legal framework can better ensure their protection.

Video May 15, 2009

Once a narrow, largely placid legal backwater, citizenship has become a dynamic policy vehicle in Europe and North America for promoting the political incorporation of immigrants. This symposium examines immigrant civic and political participation, the notion of local voting rights for noncitizens, the concept and practice of dual citizenship, and the role of citizenship in integration. 

The first panel examines approaches to local voting rights across the Atlantic, and addressed how the EU and U.S. have approached the concept of dual citizenship. The second panel examines the role citizenship policy plays in achieving integration and how the increasing reality of “transnational” lives redefines how “integration” will be understood in the future. The third panel approaches citizenship policy from a comparative perspective.

Source: Migration Policy Ins

The Academic Engagement of Newly Arriving Somali Bantu Students in a U.S. Elementary School

This report examines the findings of a two-year ethnographic study of newly arrived Somali Bantu refugee students in a U.S. elementary school (K-6) in Chicago. The Somali Bantu had been displaced in refugee camps for more than 12 years, and the children had no prior exposure to formal schooling and limited literacy skills. Upon their resettlement, a number of school districts voiced concerns about meeting the mental health and social adjustment needs of Somali Bantu students and questioned whether local schools were equipped with suitable teaching strategies. The authors led a research team that carried out observations of select classrooms and interviews with school staff over a two-year period, before coding the resulting field notes to identify key themes and patterns.

These data paint a detailed picture of students’ behavioral and academic adjustment to school, which included disruptive behavior, refusal to participate in the learning process, hoarding of classroom materials, and expressions of distress. It also outlines teachers’ experiences with the children, who found working with the Somali Bantu children particularly challenging, and often reported feeling ill equipped to cope with their academic and behavioral issues.

This study illustrates the difficulties faced by refugee students with limited formal education (LFE) when adjusting to U.S. schools, and the pressures placed on teachers and other school staff. These findings, published for the first time in this report, extend the literature on the academic engagement of immigrants to this group of LFE refugee students. Many studies that focus on behavioral, cognitive, and personal engagement and their interconnections attribute disengagement to a lack of interest and suggest that behavioral incidents are the product of this disengagement. However, in this study, LFE refugee students were disengaged not because of lack of interest but because they were unfamiliar with the culture of schooling. This study also illustrates the need to provide schools with adequate support to successfully accommodate the needs of LFE refugee students.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Somali Bantu Refugees

III. Methods

A. The Sample

B. The School

C. Data Analysis

D. Theoretical Framework and Key Concepts

E. Study Limitations

IV. Findings: The Students

A. Behavioral Incidents

B. Engagement and Disengagment in Learning

V. Findings: The Teachers

A. Challenges Presented by the Bantu Students

B. Teacher Attitudes

C. Strategies for Teaching Bantu Students

VI. Discussion and Conclusions

A. Implications for Refugees’ Academic Engagement

B. The Politics of Accommodation

Source: Migration Policy Ins

The New Latino South

We know immigrants are coming to the Southeast.  But who are they, and from where are they coming?  Seven of the nine U.S. states in which the Latino population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 are in the Southeast region.  Over one-third come from Mexico. Most immigrants are undocumented and of the undocumented, most are Latino (76.2%). As the numbers clearly show, Hispanics constitute the largest ethnic immigrant group in the Southeast.  Yet Latinos in the Southeast have been doing more than transform the statistics: socially, culturally, and economically, the mass migration of Latinos over the course of the past two decades has profoundly transformed Southeastern society.

During the 1990s, the Southeast became one of the fastest growing regions in America, resulting in economic progress and new job creation in a variety of industries.  At the same time, employers in some industries , such as food processing, faced increasing challenges to fill positions with local workers and, therefore, began recruiting immigrant workers.  Combined, the region and its economy magnetically attracted immigrants.  Not surprisingly, immigrants coming to the Southeast and other new-destination states were more likely than immigrants elsewhere to be of working age (the median age being 27), able to pick up their lives and move northward. These immigrants were also more likely to be male but, over time, many wives joined their husbands with children and other family members north of the border.  The emergence of this Latino community in the Southeast quickly became apparent throughout suburbs and cities, in the form of everything from tiendas, selling popular Latin sweets and Spanish-language newspapers, to radio programs, playing popular Latin music.  Adult Latino immigrants make up a significant part of the manufacturing, service, and construction sectors. The Latino school-age population in the Southeast grew by 322% between 1990 and 2000, which has put pressure on local officials and governments to meet and provide the social service needs for these children and their families.  In Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, Latinos now make up one out of every twelve voters

As a result of the region’s minimal pre-existing infrastructure of Spanish-language institutions and lawmakers with little experience dealing with new, growing immigrant communities, an abundance of policies and legislation have been enacted—though often not in favor of the immigrant.  Check back next week to find out more about societal changes in the Southeast and wide-spread immigrant-restrictionist sentiment.

*Lorenza Ramirez is FirstGen Fellow with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Source: Catholic Charities

Fifty Years On, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Continues to Reshape the United States

Muzaffar Chisti provided opening remarks at a symposium held by MPI on Capitol Hill to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The transcript and video of the event are available online.

October 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the seminal Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Signed into law at the foot of the Statue of Liberty by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the act ushered in far-reaching changes that continue to undergird the current immigration system, and set in motion powerful demographic forces that are still shaping the United States today and will in the decades ahead.

The law, known as the Hart-Celler Act for its congressional sponsors, literally changed the face of America. It ended an immigration-admissions policy based on race and ethnicity, and gave rise to large-scale immigration, both legal and unauthorized. While the anniversary has provided an opportunity to reflect on the law’s historic significance, it also reminds us that the ’65 Act holds important lessons for policymaking today.

The Significance of the 1965 Act, Then and Now

The historic significance of the 1965 law was to repeal national-origins quotas, in place since the 1920s, which had ensured that immigration to the United States was primarily reserved for European immigrants. The 1921 national-origins quota law was enacted in a special congressional session after President Wilson’s pocket veto. Along with earlier and other contemporary statutory bars to immigration from Asian countries, the quotas were proposed at a time when eugenics theories were widely accepted. The quota for each country was set at 2 percent of the foreign-born population of that nationality as enumerated in the 1890 census. The formula was designed to favor Western and Northern European countries and drastically limit admission of immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Southern and Eastern Europe. In major revisions to U.S. immigration law in 1952, the national-origins system was retained, despite a strong veto message by President Truman.

Building on a campaign promise by President Kennedy, and with a strong push by President Johnson amid the enactment of other major civil-rights legislation, the 1965 law abolished the national-origins quota system. It was replaced with a preference system based on immigrants’ family relationships with U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and, to a lesser degree, their skills. The law placed an annual cap of 170,000 visas for immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere, with no single country allowed more than 20,000 visas, and for the first time established a cap of 120,000 visas for immigrants from the Western Hemisphere. Three-fourths of admissions were reserved for those arriving in family categories. Immediate relatives (spouses, minor children, and parents of adult U.S. citizens) were exempt from the caps; 24 percent of family visas were assigned to siblings of U.S. citizens. In 1976, the 20,000 per county limit was applied to the Western Hemisphere. And in 1978, a worldwide immigrant visa quota was set at 290,000.

Though ratified half a century ago, the Hart-Celler framework still defines today’s legal immigration system. Under current policy, there are five family-based admissions categories, ranked in preference based on the family relationship, and capped at 480,000 visas (again, exempting immediate relatives of U.S. citizens), and five employment-based categories capped at 140,000 visas. Smaller numbers are admitted through refugee protection channels and the Diversity Visa Lottery—a program designed to bring immigrants from countries that are underrepresented in U.S. immigration streams, partly as a consequence of the 1965 Act. Though Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990 to admit a greater share of highly skilled and educated immigrants through employment channels, family-based immigrants continue to comprise two-thirds of legal immigration, while about 15 percent of immigrants become permanent residents through their employers.

Unintended Consequences

Much of the sweeping impact of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was the result of unintended consequences. “The bill that we sign today is not a revolutionary bill,” President Johnson said during the signing ceremony. “It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power.” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the bill’s floor manager, stated: “It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society.” Even advocacy groups who had favored the national-origins quotas became supporters, predicting little change to the profile of immigration streams.

Despite these predictions, the measure had a profound effect on the flow of immigrants to the United States, and in only a matter of years began to transform the U.S. demographic profile. The number of new lawful permanent residents (or green-card holders) rose from 297,000 in 1965 to an average of about 1 million each year since the mid-2000s (see Figure 1). Accordingly, the foreign-born population has risen from 9.6 million in 1965 to a record high of 45 million in 2015 as estimated by a new study from the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project. Immigrants accounted for just 5 percent of the U.S. population in 1965 and now comprise 14 percent.

Figure 1. Annual Number of U.S. Legal Permanent Residents, Fiscal Years 1820-2013

Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI), “Legal Immigration to the United States, 1820-Present,” available online.

A second unintended consequence of the law stemmed largely from a political compromise clearly intended to have the opposite effect. The original bill provided a preference for immigrants with needed skills and education. But a group of influential congressmen (conservatives allied with the Democratic chairman of the House immigration subcommittee) won a last-minute concession to prioritize admission of immigrants with family members already in the United States, believing it would better preserve the country’s predominantly Anglo-Saxon, European base. In the following years, however, demand from Europeans to immigrate to the United States fell flat while interest from non-European countries—many emerging from the end of colonial rule—began to grow. New and well-educated immigrants from diverse countries in Asia and Latin America established themselves in the United States and became the foothold for subsequent immigration by their family networks.

Figure 2. U.S. Immigrant Population by World Region of Birth, 1960-2013

Source: MPI, “Regions of Birth for Immigrants in the United States, 1960-Present,” available online.

Compared to almost entirely European immigration under the national-origins system, flows since 1965 have been more than half Latin American and one-quarter Asian. The largest share of today’s immigrant population, about 11.6 million, is from Mexico. Together with India, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala, these ten countries account for nearly 60 percent of the current immigrant population.

Figure 3. Top Ten Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups, 1960 and 2013

*China excludes both Hong Kong and Taiwan
Source: MPI, “Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups over Time, 1960-Present,” available online.

In turn, the law dramatically altered the racial and ethnic makeup of the United States. In 1965, whites of European descent comprised 84 percent of the U.S. population, while Hispanics accounted for 4 percent and Asians for less than 1 percent. Fifty years on, 62 percent of the U.S. population is white, 18 percent is Hispanic, and 6 percent is Asian. By 2065, just 46 percent of the U.S. population will be white, the Hispanic share will rise to 24 percent, Asians will comprise 14 percent—and the country will be home to 78 million foreign born, according to Pew projections.

The 1965 Act also inadvertently laid the foundation for the steep rise in illegal immigration since the 1970s. In a parallel development whose impact was not recognized at the time, Congress in 1964 terminated the Bracero program, which since 1942 had been used to recruit temporary agricultural workers from Mexico to fill World War II farm-labor shortages in the United States. In total, 4.6 million Mexican guestworkers were admitted, peaking at 445,000 in 1956. When the guestworker program ended, many former Bracero workers continued crossing the border to fill the same jobs, but now illegally. The combination of the end of the Bracero program and limits on legal immigration from the Western Hemisphere combined to fuel the rise of illegal immigration.

Implications for Today’s Debate

Introduced in January 1965 and signed into law on October 3, the Hart-Celler Act took only nine months to enact. Its swift passage through the 89th Congress raises the question of why today’s political leaders have failed for more than a decade to pass substantive immigration legislation. First, passage of the law was truly bipartisan, despite Democratic control of the White House, Senate, and House. In the Senate, the bill was approved by a vote of 76 to 18, with support from 52 Democrats and 24 Republicans. The House passed the bill 320 to 70; 202 Democrats and 117 Republicans supported it, while 60 Democrats and ten Republicans voted against it. Not only did the bill win support from the majorities of both parties in the House and Senate, in each more Democrats opposed the bill than Republicans.

Second, lawmakers approved the measure without significant floor debate—deferring to the expertise of the Judiciary committees and their immigration subcommittees to craft the proposal. Lastly, President Johnson focused his attention not on policy details or advancing the White House’s immigration agenda, but on the process of moving the bill forward through Congress. In today’s hostile political climate, congressional gridlock, and polarized, high-stakes immigration debate, lawmakers could learn from the process that led to the law’s swift passage.

The 1965 Act: A Success or Failure?

Opinions differ on whether the 1965 Act helped or harmed the country. The law’s proponents see it as a historic success and assert that the estimated 59 million immigrants who have come to the United States since its passage have made the country younger, infused it with diversity and talent, and generated prosperity and economic growth. Critics contend that high admission levels of diverse groups of immigrants have created more competition for low-skilled U.S. workers, and shattered the country’s cultural homogeneity.

Despite such misgivings, a recent major study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that post-1965 Act immigrants and their children—estimated to comprise one in four people in the United States—are successfully integrating into U.S. society. The study finds that immigrant integration increases over time and successive generations achieve strong progress in key indicators including education, earnings, language proficiency, and occupational distribution. At the same time, immigrants and their descendants as a whole still lag behind the native-born population on these indicators.

How well post-1965 Act immigrants have integrated has varied substantially, depending on their legal status, social class, educational background, and the geographic area where they settle, the study also found. Profiles of diaspora groups (comprised of immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants) from countries that have dominated post-1965 immigration flows show that many have surpassed median U.S. educational attainment levels, household incomes, and workforce participation rates. The Indian diaspora, for example—numbering 3.8 million—is significantly higher educated, more likely to be employed, and has a higher household income compared to the U.S. population as a whole. The Filipino, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Egyptian, Kenyan, and Nigerian diasporas tell similar stories, while the diasporas of other countries, such as Ghana, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Colombia are generally on par with medians for the U.S. born on most indicators. Further, the educational levels of newly arrived immigrants have been consistently improving since the 1970s, according to the Pew Hispanic Trends study. In 2013, 41 percent of recently arrived immigrants were college graduates compared to 20 percent in 1970. In comparison, 30 percent of the native-born population had college degrees in 2013 vs. 10 percent in 1970.

While the 1965 law has empowered many diverse immigrants and their families to build new and prosperous lives in the United States, its unintended consequences have clearly hindered integration for others—particularly diaspora groups whose members are more likely to lack legal status. Mexican immigrants and their descendants (an estimated 34.8 million) are far more socioeconomically disadvantaged than other diaspora groups, and have below-average educational attainment and household incomes. The Salvadoran and Haitian diasporas have a similar profile.

At heart, the current U.S. immigration debate is an unresolved cultural conversation about the nation’s identity. As the congressional policymaking process remains stalled, many of the dynamics established by the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act—for better or for worse—are likely to persist. Until there are consequential changes to the immigration system, now a half-century old, the 1965 Act will continue to shape the changing face of America.

National Policy Beat in Brief

Border Apprehensions of Unaccompanied Children and Families on the Rise. The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 9,790 unaccompanied minors and families at the U.S.-Mexico border in August, a 52 percent increase from the same period last year. Of the total apprehended, 4,632 were unaccompanied children, while the remaining 5,158 were parents traveling with young children (officially referred to as “family units”). The monthly totals are the highest since a surge of children and families arrived at the border in summer 2014, resulting in approximately 69,000 unaccompanied child and 68,000 family apprehensions in fiscal year (FY) 2014. The White House called the August increase a “surprising uptick” and a “concern.”

Meanwhile, on September 18, the Obama administration appealed an August federal court ruling in Flores v. Lynch that ordered the immediate release of families from immigration detention. The ruling found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had breached a long-standing court settlement that requires immigrant children be held only in facilities licensed to care for children, and gave authorities until October 23 to comply.

Obama Administration Increases Aid and Admissions for Syrian Refugees. On September 21, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the United States would donate an additional $419 million in humanitarian and refugee aid to those affected by the four and a half year conflict in Syria. In total, the United States has donated more than $4.5 billion to Syria relief efforts since 2012. Furthermore, the White House increased the number of Syrian refugees to be resettled in the United States from 2,000 in FY 2015 to 10,000 in FY 2016, which began on October 1. The Obama administration also raised the worldwide refugee admissions ceiling from 70,000 in FY 2015 to 85,000 in FY 2016, and has said the quota will be increased to 100,000 in FY 2017. Many observers argue that although the proposed increases are significant compared to last year’s admissions, they do not meet the global demand for resettlement of refugees fleeing war in Syria and other countries in the Middle East.

Obama Administration Revises Proposed Changes to Visa Bulletin. On September 25, the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a reversal to the Visa Bulletin changes proposed earlier in the month. The monthly Visa Bulletin provides information on when statutorily limited visas are available to be issued to prospective immigrants based on their individual priority dates (the filing date of their approved immigrant visa petitions). The proposed changes were part of the president’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration, and would have allowed certain individuals in the immigrant-visa backlog to submit their permanent residence applications before their priority dates. In anticipation of these changes, it is estimated more than 20,000 immigrants had prepared their applications for filing, which would have enabled the primary applicants and derivative family members to obtain employment authorization and travel documents. The government since said the bulletin was “adjusted to better reflect a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process.” In response to the sudden reversal, a group of high-skilled immigrants filed a federal lawsuit in Seattle claiming damages that arose from expenses related to their legal fees or medical exams.

Cuban Arrivals Rise at Texas Ports of Entry. Between October 2014 and June 2015, approximately 18,520 Cubans arrived at ports of entry in South Texas seeking admission into the United States. If the trend held, the Texas border region would have seen an estimated 24,700 Cuban migrants arrive at land ports between Del Rio and Brownsville by the end of FY 2015, representing a 60 percent increase from FY 2014. The influx is presumed to be in response to a recent decision by Cuba and the United States to normalize diplomatic relations for the first time since 1959. The change has raised concerns among Cubans that their special treatment under United States immigration law could be terminated in the normalization process. The special status of Cubans dates back to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allows Cubans arriving in the United States via land ports to be admitted and be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence after one year in the United States. No other country’s nationals are afforded similar treatment by U.S. law.

Some Immigrants with Mental Disabilities May Contest Removal under New Court Settlement. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and DHS on September 25 finalized a federal district court settlement allowing eligible immigrants with serious mental illnesses who were ordered deported to reopen their cases with the possibility of returning to the United States. The settlement applies to noncitizens with mental disabilities who were not given a legitimate competency determination and were deported after representing themselves without counsel in immigration court. Under a pair of court orders issued in 2013 and 2014, immigrants with serious mental disabilities facing deportation have a right to legal representation if they are determined not competent to represent themselves, and the government is required to provide such determinations. The settlement applies to noncitizens detained in Arizona, California, and Washington after November 21, 2011. Mental disabilities covered in the settlement include psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder.

Obama Administration Launches Naturalization Initiative. On September 17, the White House launched a public awareness campaign to encourage eligible legal permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for U.S. citizenship. Of the 13.3 million LPRs in the United States, 8.8 million are eligible to naturalize, according to recent DHS estimates. During the campaign’s first week, a variety of businesses and nonprofits hosted more than 70 citizenship outreach events, while the federal government held 200 naturalization ceremonies for more than 36,000 new citizens across the United States. Additionally, USCIS will post online U.S. civics and history practice tests for the naturalization exam that permanent residents are required to pass to become citizens. USCIS will also begin allowing credit card payments of the $680 naturalization fee. The initiative is one component of a series of executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama in November 2014.

State and Local Policy Beat in Brief

North Carolina Legislature Passes E-Verify, Sanctuary Cities, and ID law. On September 29, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed the Protect North Carolina Workers Act. The bill prohibits use of identification issued by municipalities, counties, or diplomatic consuls to establish eligibility for state benefits. It also places a ban on “sanctuary city” policies allowing local governments to limit cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of immigration laws. The proposed bill also requires that state and local government agencies only hire contractors who use the E-Verify system to check their workers’ immigration statuses. Having passed both chambers of the state legislature, the bill has been sent for Governor Patrick McCrory’s signature. The governor has not indicated whether he will sign it into law.

 Los Angeles County Unveils New PEP Policy. On September 22, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced a new policy outlining how his agency will cooperate with ICE. Under the guidelines, LA County will only comply with a detainer—a request from ICE to hold a person beyond their scheduled release for transfer into ICE custody—if it meets ICE’s detainer requirements and is not protected by the California Trust Act. The California Trust Act, enacted in 2013, bars law enforcement agencies in the state from honoring detainers, but does not protect those who have been convicted of serious crimes such as burglary, assault, sexual abuse, or felony DUI. ICE agents will also be allowed access to inmates in LA County jails being processed for release, as well as interview inmates who have committed serious crimes as defined by the Trust Act and have a high likelihood of being in the United States without authorization. The new policy is in response to a federal initiative called the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which allows ICE agents to match the fingerprints of inmates in local jails against DHS immigration databases to determine their immigration status. PEP replaced the controversial Secure Communities program in July.

Source: Migration Policy Ins

Responding to the European Refugee Crisis: What’s Next for the European Asylum Support Office?

Upcoming Event

October 20, 2015

MPI Europe Webinar

Syrian Refugees in Vienna/Josh Zakary


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

13:30 BST (London); 14.30 CEST (Brussels); 15:30 EEST (Athens); 8:30 A.M. EDT (New York)


MPI Europe Webinar

Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President, MPI Europe, and President Emeritus, MPI

Robert K. Visser, Executive Director, European Asylum Support Office (EASO)


Elizabeth Collett, Director, Migration Policy Institute Europe
With uncontrolled migration to the European Union growing by leaps and bounds and asylum applications recorded by EU Member States at an all-time high, calls for ‘solidarity’ and increased support from the EU level for Member States under pressure have grown louder. As national authorities seek to keep pace with the drastically increased demands on them, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) looks set to assume a truly integral role in the EU response. To date, EASO has largely played a supporting function, co-ordinating practical cooperation and offering information and expertise to states under pressure. But emerging EU efforts such as the newly established joint migrant registration centres or ‘hotspots’ in Greece and Italy have thrust EASO — and other EU agencies like Frontex and Europol — into the spotlight. With the enduring disparities between asylum systems across the European Union ever more stark, does the future hold a more proactive and structural role for EASO within the Common European Asylum System? And what are the strategic decisions that the European Union and its Member States must make and implement faithfully in order to manage the crisis more effectively and gradually reduce pressure on all relevant systems — from borders and reception capabilities to asylum adjudications, integration efforts, and deportationsof economic migrants. 

Join MPI Europe President Demetrios Papademetriou and outgoing EASO Executive Director Rob Visser, the agency’s first director, for a candid discussion on the role EASO has played in its first five years and its potential for the future, along with what strategies Europe ought to be pursuing with regards to the current crisis.

Source: Migration Policy Ins

Beyond the Surge: Most Unaccompanied Minors Still Await Immigration Court Hearings, Find Differing Degrees of Acceptance in U.S. Schools

WASHINGTON – Despite creation of a priority docket for dealing with the surge in arrivals of unaccompanied children from Central America, the U.S. immigration court system has yet to take up most of their cases. And even in cases where immigration judges provide some form of immigration relief, the vast majority of minors remain in unauthorized status, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) issue brief finds.

The brief, Unaccompanied Child Migrants in U.S. Communities, Immigration Court, and Schools, examines refugee resettlement data, immigration court data and policies adopted by individual school districts to offer a portrait of where unaccompanied minors are settling, how they are faring in immigration courts, what types of services are available to them and how schools are adapting to their arrival.

More than 102,000 unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border between October 1, 2013 and August 31, 2015. While steadily increasing numbers had been arriving at the border for years, the surge that began in early 2014 prompted widespread attention after systems responsible for the processing and care of these children were briefly overwhelmed.

To manage the surge in cases hitting an already overburdened immigration court system, the Justice Department in mid-2014 implemented a priority docket to move unaccompanied minors ahead of other cases. Despite that priority, 61 percent of unaccompanied minor cases initiated in fiscal year (FY) 2014 remained unresolved as of August 31. Meanwhile, the backlog for other types of cases has increased significantly—and the average wait time for a deportation hearing is now 1,071 days for an adult.

A review of immigration court data shows that access to counsel, which is not mandated or typically provided for these children, plays a huge role in case outcomes: 90 percent of unrepresented children were ordered deported, a ruling that occurred for just 18 percent of those with representation.

Of those who appear for their immigration hearings, 78 percent receive some form of immigration relief. But because the vast majority of these cases—97 percent—receives informal relief (such as administrative closure of the case) that does not confer a simultaneous grant of immigration status, they often remain unauthorized. Meanwhile, about one in six children fail to appear at an immigration hearing, and automatically are ordered removed in absentia. These in absentia removal orders usually go unexecuted. Thus, although 13,204 minors were ordered removed in FY 2014, just 1,863 were actually deported.

“Most cases are still pending in the courts, while the children wait in the United States in unauthorized status. For those cases that have been resolved, the ones that ended in an order of deportation have largely been unexecuted; and of those ending in some form of relief, many children have not received lawful immigration status,” writes author Sarah Pierce, an MPI research assistant. “The end result is similar: The children become more fully settled in the United States—while remaining unauthorized.”

While specific school enrollment data are unavailable and it is not possible to map the policies that every school has put in place to deal with child migrants, the brief offers anecdotal evidence that school districts have had disparate reactions to the influx of new students and associated costs. Some have created specialized programs to work with the newcomers, while others have come to different answers whether older students should be enrolled in K-12 classes or adult education and yet others have pushed back against their enrollment entirely.

Because they are in unauthorized status, unaccompanied migrants are eligible for few public services other than public education. For services such as health care or legal representation, unaccompanied children must depend on proactive service providers, localities, states or special federal programs that create services to meet their specific requirements. The result is a patchwork of services that fails to address many of the extensive needs of this vulnerable population.

The brief recommends that the Office of Refugee Resettlement establish a system for collecting long-term data on child migrants, including the outcomes of their immigration proceedings and their experiences in U.S. communities. It also recommends that ORR contact communities and school districts before releasing unaccompanied minors to the care of relatives or guardians already in the United States, giving them time to plan and allocate resources appropriately. 

The issue brief can be read at: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/unaccompanied-child-migrants-us-communities-immigration-court-and-schools.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more, visit www.migrationpolicy.org.

Source: Migration Policy Ins

Making a Difference: Comforting the Detained Families of Dilley

Twenty-eight years ago my mother fled her home in Nicaragua, a country embroiled in civil war. For years, her life and that of her family had been ravaged by a country with corrupt government officials and oppressed by a rebel group that brought nothing but violence to civilians like my parents.  My mother saw family members and friends killed or forced to fight for a cause they did not believe in. At one point, she was taken hostage and held at gunpoint by militant groups and forced to drop out of school. After my brother was born, my mother decided to  make her way to the United States in search of a better life. Four months ago, my mother became a naturalized citizen. Although undocumented for years, she was able to work and provide my brother and me with a safe home, education, and the resources to succeed.

My mother is the reason I wanted to go to the Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas as a volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project. Had my mom been an asylum-seeking immigrant today, she would be in the same situation as the women I encountered in the detention center.

Each woman was there because she had a fear of returning to her country of origin and it was our job, as volunteers, to discover that reason. An important task that the volunteers were charged with was preparing the mothers for their Credible Fear Interviews with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). During these preparations, I heard first-hand accounts as to why these mothers fled their country. The reasons varied from gang violence, death threats, sexual harassment, and vicious domestic violence. One woman had her entire house burned to the ground by a gang.  The life of her child was threatened unless she fled the country at once. Another woman recounted the multiple times her husband abused her, meanwhile, her daughter listened and sobbed uncontrollably while her son tried to fight back the tears at recalling the painful memories.

The most difficult aspect of volunteering in Dilley was undoubtedly the emotional toll of seeing and hearing the experiences of these women and children. What is even more heartbreaking is seeing their current conditions in the detention centers, where the haven they dreamed of is nothing but a desert wasteland. Although I witnessed a lot of sadness during my time in Dilley, I feel blessed to have experienced incredible high points as well.  I made a difference.  When a detainee recounted the pain of persecution, I did my best to console them.  I comforted the women with my words and tried to boost the confidence of their children.

These moments were what made every long hour worthwhile. Moreover, the volunteers during my week were an incredibly kind group of experts.  I am happy to say these people became my friends.  If asked if I would volunteer with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project again, I would absolutely say yes. 

I am thankful every day that my mother made the decision to leave her country in search of a better life. I know that one day, when these children grow up and realize the sacrifices their families have made, they too will be grateful. 

*Ashlynn Planco is Legalization Administrative Assistant for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) 

Source: Catholic Charities