Top 10 Migration Issues of 2009 from the Migration Policy Institute

Photo by Benny Lim
1. The Recession’s Impact on Immigrants (pictured above) – The recession that began in the United States two years ago and spread to most other parts of the worlds has had a deeper and more global effect on migration than any other economic downturn in the post-World War II era. Among the immigrants most affected are those in North America, Asia, and Europe.
2. Enforcement Tactics Shift in the Obama Era — But What About Immigration Reform? – In the absence of congressional action on any broad immigration reform, the election of President Barack Obama was expected to lead to changes in US immigration policy at the executive level.
3. Buyer’s Remorse on Immigration Continues – The global recession has caused countries that once welcomed foreign workers by the tens and hundreds of thousands — particularly Spain — to rethink generous immigration policies as unemployment rates have risen.
4. What the Recession Wasn’t – Some speculated that increasing unemployment could prompt thousands of immigrants to head home and citizens of hard-hit countries to assault immigrants for taking “their” jobs and causing other problems. However, no country in 2009 has seen a mass exodus of immigrants due to the recession, and immigrants have not been systematically attacked.
5. Recession Prompts Some Governments to Cut Immigrant Integration Funding – Commitments to immigrant integration have proved hard to keep in Spain, Ireland, and some US states as governments reexamined their recession-battered budgets in 2009.
6. Canada Bucks the Trend and Keeps Immigration Targets Steady – Despite the highest unemployment rate in nearly a decade, Canada chose to leave untouched its long-standing points system and the number of immigrants admitted for permanent residence.
7. The World Is Talking about Climate Change and Migration – Discussions about climate change and migration ramped up in 2009, in large part due to a number of conferences and reports surrounding the highly anticipated United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.
8. More Countries Entering into Post 9/11-Era Information-Sharing Agreements – Over the past year, long-standing discussions and negotiations have resulted in several new information-sharing initiatives that seek to boost security while facilitating travel for legitimate travelers.
9. Some Relief for Immigrants in the Developing World – South Africa, Brazil, and Costa Rica — all destinations for migrants from the region — sought to make the lives of immigrants a little better in 2009.
10. Asylum Seekers Unnerve Governments – As violence flared from Afghanistan to Iraq to Mexico this year, hundreds of thousands fled over land and by boat in search of safety. Asylum seekers’ main destinations — Europe, Australia, and Canada — were not new, but the governments in these countries took a harder line in 2009.
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