On August 31, 2021, President Joe Biden announced the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. By the end of August, the United States completed one of the biggest airlifts to date, evacuating more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan, including US citizens and permanent residents. As of September 14, 2021, approximately 64,000 Afghan evacuees have arrived in the United States.
Since the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program’s inception in 2007, approximately 75,700 Afghans – 21,500 principal applicants and their 54,200 family members – have been granted SIVs as of June 2021. About 18,000 principal SIV applications are pending, but there are only 13,000 unclaimed SIVs available for principal applicants.
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.
The Summer 2021 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is thematically sorted into four sections. The first section has articles about migration outcomes, health, and work. The second section discusses onward migration, destination preferences, and (im)mobility. The third section is about legal status, naturalization, and resiliency. The fourth section examines refugee policies, public opinion, and crisis. Lastly, this edition includes four book reviews, which are free to access.
In the context of the US return to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, President Joseph Biden issued an executive order (EO) requiring a multi-agency report on climate change and its impact on human mobility. The report is to focus on forced migration, internal displacement, and planned relocation. Among the issues the EO stipulates will be addressed are the international security implications of climate-related movement; options and mechanisms to protect and, if necessary, resettle individuals displaced by climate change; proposals for the use of US foreign assistance to reduce the negative impacts of climate change; and opportunities to work collaboratively with others to respond to these movements. The order is a welcome step towards providing greater protection in the face of escalating impacts of climate change. It could also become a blueprint for other countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global human mobility dynamics. This IMR Dispatch examines the historical, bidirectional links between pandemics and mobility and provides an early analysis of how they unfolded during the first nine months of the COVID-19 emergency. Results show, first, that international travel restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus are not a panacea in and of themselves. Second, our analysis demonstrates that the pandemic, government responses, and resulting economic impacts can lead to the involuntary immobility of at-risk populations, such as aspiring asylum-seekers or survival migrants. In a similar fashion, stay-at-home measures have posed dire challenges for those workers who lack options to work from home, as well as for migrants living in precarious, crowded circumstances. Moreover, global economic contraction has increased involuntary immobility by reducing both people’s resources to move and the demand for labor. Third, we show that people’s attempts to protect themselves from the virus can result in shifting patterns of mobility, such as increases in cross-border return migration and urban-to-rural movements. Drawing on international guidance for measures to combat pandemics and relevant frameworks on mobility, we propose approaches to alleviate the burden of travel restrictions on migrants and people aspiring to move, while still addressing the need to contain the pandemic and lessen its repercussions.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future. In this episode of CMSOnAir, Joan Rosenhauer, the Executive Director of JRS-USA, shares how JRS is adapting its advocacy for a new administration and transforming its programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also shares stories about the “proactive, resilient, hopeful” refugees she has met through her work with JRS.
The Spring 2021 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition is thematically sorted into three sections. The first has articles about immigrant integration, civic engagement, and institutions. The second discusses immigration enforcement, securitization, and social dynamics. The third examines migration across time, focusing on settlement, mobility, and family.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) data indicates that there are approximately 281 million people living outside of their country of origin and they represent 3.6 percent of the global population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that by mid-2020, the world’s population of forcibly displaced people and refugees surpassed 80 million. International migrants and the forcibly displaced have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to border closures, travel restrictions, unemployment, and xenophobia, racism, and stigmatization. They have been among the world’s most vulnerable persons to the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences.
In its Climate-Induced Migration Initiative, CMS seeks to explore the connection between climate change and migration, provide analysis of international efforts to address climate-induced migration, and share policy ideas that address the challenges of communities most affected by environmental degradation.