Original Articles

Original Articles

Refugees, Development, Debt, Austerity: A Selected History
Global policymakers agree that a major challenge facing refugees is their treatment as a short-term humanitarian problem rather than also as a long-term development challenge. This paper agrees that refugees constitute a development challenge, but it argues that certain development policies have contributed to the status quo of refugee poverty and marginalization in the first place. The paper places particular emphasis on policies of austerity and of laissez-faire. In their stead, it argues in favor of policy approaches that are egalitarian and redistributive, and that emphasize refugees’ economic and social rights.

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Immigration and the War on Crime: Law and Order Politics and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) continues to shape debates on the relationship between immigration and crime. This paper considers the ways in which the War on Crime — specifically mass incarceration policies — reshaped the immigration debate. Through a historical analysis of the policies leading up to IIRIRA, this paper sheds light on the under-studied role that crime politics of the Republican and the Democratic parties alike played in shaping IIRIRA by linking unauthorized migration with criminality and laying the groundwork to track, detain, and deport broad categories of immigrants, not just those with criminal convictions.

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Strengthening the Global Refugee Protection System: Recommendations for the Global Compact on Refugees
With a record 65 million displaced persons in the world, the United Nations has launched a two-year process to develop a stronger protection regime for refugees, the Global Compact on Refugees. This paper draws from the Center for Migration Studies’ special collection of papers on strengthening the global refugee protection system to outline broad themes and specific recommendations that the Global Compact on Refugees should adopt. The recommendations fall into five areas: (1) responsibility sharing for the protection of refugees; (2) filling in protection gaps, such as the use of temporary protection measures for populations fleeing natural disaster; (3) balancing and replacing deterrence strategies with protection solutions, such as the adoption of model processes that ensure safe and voluntary return; (4) refugee resettlement, including the goal of resettling 10 percent of the global refugee population each year; and (5) building refugee self-sufficiency.

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DHS Overestimates Visa Overstays for 2016; Overstay Population Growth Near Zero During the Year

This paper compares US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates for visa overstays in fiscal year 2016 with estimates from the Center for Migration Studies (CMS). It finds that DHS has overstated the number of people from roughly 30 counties who have overstayed their temporary visas, half of them participants in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In particular, the DHS estimates for 2016 include significant numbers of temporary visa holders who left the undocumented population, but whose departure could not be verified. Thus, the actual number of visa overstays in 2016 was about half of the number estimated by DHS.  The paper also shows that the population growth of visa overstays was near zero in 2016 after adjusting DHS estimates to account for unrecorded departures. The country-specific figures in this paper should help DHS improve verification of departures of temporary visitors and also to reassess decisions about admission to the VWP.

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The Mixed Motives of Unaccompanied Child Migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle

This paper examines the mixed-motive migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America’s Northern Triangle states (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Using data from a 2016 survey carried out in 10 shelters for unaccompanied child migrants run by a Mexican government child welfare agency, the paper identifies the immigrating minor’s motives, which are oftentimes mixed. Some of the key findings include:

  • Around one-third of the child migrants surveyed had mixed motives, including both forced and voluntary reasons for migrating.
  • Violence appears most often as a reason for migrating among minors with mixed motives, as opposed to the search for better opportunities, which appears more often as an exclusive motive.
  • Significant differences between the three nationalities are observed: relatively few Guatemalan minors indicated violence as a motive, and few displayed mixed motives, as opposed to Hondurans, and especially Salvadorans.
  • The minors fleeing violence, searching for better opportunities, and indicating both motives at the same time were largely mature male adolescents. The minors mentioning family reunification as their sole motive were predominantly girls and young children.
  • Violence was the motive that mixed the most with other motivations.

The results indicate that binary formulations regarding forced and voluntary migration are often inadequate. The implications of these findings include the need to consider forced reasons for migrating in the context of mixed-motive migration, the need for in-depth, individual asylum screening, and the need for more flexible policy approaches that are inclusive of mixed-motive migration.

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Thrive or Survive? Explaining Variation in Economic Outcomes for Refugees
Despite a growing literature on the economic lives of refugees, much of that work has lacked theory or data. The work that has been quantitative has generally focused on the economic impact of refugees on host countries rather than explaining variation in economic outcomes for refugees. This paper seeks to explain variation in economic outcomes for refugees by asking three questions about the economic lives of refugees: 1) what makes the economic lives of refugees distinctive from other populations; 2) what explains variation in refugees’ income levels; and 3) what role does entrepreneurship play in shaping refugees’ economic outcomes? To answer these questions, the paper draws upon extensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted in Uganda. The quantitative data set is based on a survey of 2,213 refugees in three types of contexts: urban (Kampala), protracted camps (Nakivale and Kyangwali settlements), and emergency camps (Rwamwanja). The paper concludes that supporting refugees’ capacities rather than solely addressing their vulnerabilities offers an opportunity to rethink assistance in ways that are more sustainable for refugees, host states, and donors.

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Making Immigrants into Criminals: Legal Processes of Criminalization in the Post-IIRIRA Era
Criminalizing immigrants has underpinned US immigration policy over the last several decades. This paper examines the processes of immigrant criminalization in three contexts: 1) the legal history that has produced the current situation, 2) enforcement programs and practices at the border and interior, and 3) the consequences for immigrants and their families living in the United States. In examining such processes, this paper extends the discussion of the criminalization of immigrants beyond the existing literature, on two basic counts. First, it focuses on legislative changes that paved the way for the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) in 1996, which was a crucial year for the criminalization of immigration. Second, this paper documents how the criminalization of immigrants turns people and indeed whole communities, into law enforcement objects through specific programs and practices, and how immigrants experience this in their family, school, and work lives.

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Proposals for the Negotiation Process on the United Nations Global Compact for Migration
Projected for adoption in 2018, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (“the compact”) will address how United Nations member states should respond to international migration at the national, regional, and international levels, as well as issues related to migration and development. This paper examines the main elements of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which called for the establishment of the compact. It argues that participants in the compact’s negotiation process should aim to balance the concerns of states with the needs and rights of migrants. The paper also analyzes documents by the Special Representative for the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants that should inform the compact. Lastly, the paper makes recommendations on the content of the compact. It recommends that the compact should define state protection responsibilities related to mixed migrant and refugee flows; embrace the role of civil society, the private sector, and academic institutions; outline an institutional framework for implementation; and establish a mechanism to fund migration policies for states and a mechanism to review migration policies.

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Matching Systems for Refugees
The paper addresses how to match refugees — who have been approved for resettlement — to particular areas, arguing for the importance of accounting for refugee preferences. It finds that matching systems between refugees and states or local areas are emerging as one of the most promising solutions to this question. This paper describes the basics of two-sided matching theory used in a number of allocation problems, such as school choice, where both sides need to agree to the match. It then examines how these insights can be applied to refugee matching in the context of the European Union, and explores how refugee matching might work in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

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Local Immigration Enforcement and Arrests of the Hispanic Population
Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was added to the INA by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), allows the federal government to enter into voluntary partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law. This paper explores the effects of implementation of the 287(g) program in Frederick County, Maryland on the arrests of Hispanics. Using data from individual arrest records from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office which has a 287(g) agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and from the Frederick Police Department which does not, the paper analyzes the changes in arrests by the two agencies before and after implementation of the 287(g) program in 2008.

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