Refugee Protection

Refugee Protection

Getting Refugees Out of Afghanistan

Many comparisons have been made in the past few weeks between the evacuation of Americans and Vietnamese from Saigon in 1975 and the exit from Afghanistan in 2021. Although many of these comparisons are valid, the commentaries miss a more apt point of comparison—the global response to the flight of Indochinese refugees in 1979. The refugee crisis had been growing since 1978 when the communist government in Hanoi increased internal relocations and expulsions of ethnic Chinese citizens from its territory. By the end of 1979, more than 450,000 ethnic Chinese had left Vietnam. They were joined by political prisoners, family members of those who had fled in 1975, and others opposed to the governing regime. At the same time, departures from Laos had also increased, as did movements to the Thai-Cambodian border after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge government and the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam.

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A New Migration Law in Chile Threatens Venezuelans Seeking Protection

Linda,* a Venezuelan former teacher in her thirties, is one of the more than 200,000 Venezuelans in Chile with irregular status. She lives in fear of deportation and of being separated from her 8-month-old daughter, a Chilean citizen by birth. In April 2021, Chilean President Sebastán Piñera signed a new migration law that expedites deportations and makes it more difficult for migrants to adjust their status.

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Migration Management and Changes in Mobility Patterns in the North and Central American Region

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, changes have occurred in the regional dynamics of international migration and in the ways governments manage human mobility. This article argues that the migratory system connecting the three northern countries of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) with Mexico and the United States has not been accompanied by regional management of migratory flows. Instead, a succession of government plans and projects reveals a perspective marked by the effects of the “externalization” of US borders, leading to more complex migration routes and increased vulnerability of migrants. The article discusses how externalized control policies influence migratory spaces, routes, and timelines, and leave many stranded in transit countries before they eventually arrive at their intended destinations. Reconsidering the process of mobility in light of migration management policies would appropriately enlarge the traditional economic, social, cultural, and environmental factors that affect migration strategies.

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The Next Presidential Determination on Refugee Resettlement: The Time to Act is Now

On Friday, April 16, President Joseph Biden issued a long-awaited “Memorandum for the Secretary of State on the Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021.” The Emergency Presidential Determination (PD) failed to deliver on the president’s promise to raise the ceiling on refugee admissions from the historically low level of 15,000 set by President Trump to 62,500 during this fiscal year, and it caused more obfuscation than illumination of the president’s goals. The White House’s attempt to correct itself hours later led to still more confusion.

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Charting a Course to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program

This report analyzes the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. Its design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.

This study finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because its infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the main challenges of subsequent administrations, Congresses, and USRAP stakeholders will be to rebuild, revitalize, and regain broad and bipartisan support for the program. This article also recommends specific ways that USRAP’s programs and services can be strengthened.

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Fear and Borders within the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The northern border of Mexico is a space of reception and containment for migrant families and individuals, who find themselves in conditions of great precariousness and practically null resources. Few migrants have material resources or social connections in Tijuana. The Casa del Migrante offers support to those waiting to cross the border. This wait can be prolonged indefinitely due to asylum and border control policies, a reality exacerbated by COVID-19 and related policies.

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Venezuelan Returnees Face Corruption and Abuse, and Leave their Country Again

Margarita E. de Lopez, 63, a former journalist, traveled for 38 hours to reach her home in Caracas, Venezuela. She walked along irregular pathways (trochas) in Colombia and then took a bus through Venezuela, which was stopped 22 times to allow Bolivarian security forces to collect bribes from each of its 45 passengers. Although the number of Venezuelan returnees has decreased since September 2020, returnees and those fleeing Venezuela share the same experience of crossing the irregular paths and risking their lives, their few belongings, and savings.

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Venezuela Designated for Temporary Protected Status

On March 8, US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas announced that he is designating Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period, until September 2022. CMS estimates that there are 275,000 undocumented Venezuelan nationals living in the United States as of March 8, 2021 who could benefit from this status

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How the Asylum Backlog Affects Torture Survivors and What the Biden Administration Can Do to Fix It

One of the most pernicious aspects of the changes to the asylum processes promulgated under the Trump administration is substituting the first-in, first-out (FIFO) policy for the last-in, first-out (LIFO) one. Individuals who had already been waiting for years for an asylum interview have to wait even longer. Until they obtain asylum, individuals cannot petition for visas for their immediate relatives who are often still facing danger. In many ways, this is the “other family separation” crisis, but it remains unseen by most policy makers and the general public.

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How President Biden Can Make His Commitment to Refugees a Reality

In an Executive Order signed on February 3, 2021, President Joe Biden promised a thorough review of the US refugee admissions program as well as the Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) under which Afghans and Iraqis endangered by their association with the US government are admitted. He also announced that the United States will resettle 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022 and consult with Congress to increase this year’s admissions quota as a down payment. These promises offer hope to thousands of refugees who have been awaiting resettlement, often for years and still more often in precarious settings. Fulfilling this promise will not come easily, however. The new administration has scant time to rebuild a program that the Trump administration sought to destroy.

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