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Article

Immigration Policy and European Union Politics  

Natascha Zaun and Christof Roos

EU immigration policies have incrementally evolved from a purely intergovernmental to a deeply integrated EU policy area. In practice, EU immigration policies and EU secondary legislation still leave significant discretion to the Member States, as witnessed by key developments in the various subfields of immigration policies—including policies on border protection, return and irregular migration, as well as labor migration and family migration policies. The key academic debates on EU immigration policies have mainly focused on explaining the decision-making processes behind the adoption of EU policies as well as their impact on national policies. While scholars find that these EU policies have led to liberalizations in the areas of family migration or labor migration, the irregular migration and border policies of the EU have gradually produced more restrictive outcomes. Policy liberalizations are usually based on the impact of EU institutions, which tend to have more liberal positions than Member States. Lowest common denominator output at the EU level, such as on the Blue Card Directive, is usually due to a resistance of individual Member States. With deeper integration of the policy area over time and qualified majority voting, however, resistant minorities have been increasingly outvoted. The stronger politicization of some areas of immigration, such as family migration, has also led the European Commission to curb its legislative proposals, as it would be much harder to adopt a piece of legislation today (2019) that provides adequate protection standards.

Article

Migrants and Refugees in Africa  

Aderanti Adepoju

Intraregional migration of cross-border workers, unskilled and temporary contract workers, undocumented migrants, highly skilled professionals, and refugees characterize the migration landscape in Africa and is reflected in distinctive and changing configurations in the different subregions: labor migration in the west and central areas, movement of refugees in the eastern and southern areas, and migration of skilled professionals from west and east to southern Africa. Migrants and refugees in Africa share a number of common features: both are caused in large part by a set of interrelated factors—conflicts, underdevelopment, poor governance, and economic and social deprivation—and movements are confined largely to the continent. Youth unemployment, a major trigger for irregular migration, together with emigration of skilled professionals, pose serious challenges for many countries; remittances from the diaspora, though a lifeline for poor families left behind, do not compensate for the loss of skills. The refugee situation is highly dynamic and fluid. The sheer numbers of refugees in Africa, their composition, and the challenges they face and the limited success obtained thus far in the search for a permanent solution require sustained efforts in what is regarded an African problem requiring essentially an African solution.

Article

Exiles in Mexico  

Pablo Yankelevich

In the Latin American milieu, Mexico stands out as a host nation for exiles. It is somewhat paradoxical that a country with very restrictive migration policies was always willing to receive victims of political persecution, and later expanded this behavior to include victims of ethnic, religious, and gender persecution, generalized violence, and natural disasters. Explaining this paradox involves considering the transformations that the 1910 Revolution introduced into Mexico’s domestic and international politics and how these transformations impacted abroad, above all in the Latin American space, projecting the idea of a nation committed to the construction of political order and just and democratic societies. Political asylum and the Refugee Status Determination are the legal instruments by which Mexico has welcomed foreigners in conditions of extreme vulnerability. The widespread use of these instruments forged the image of Mexico as a nation of exiles. Many victims of persecution entered the country under the protection provided by the instruments of political asylum and refugee status; undoubtedly, many more did so by circumventing migratory obstacles thanks to generous governmental conduct in situations of political persecution. A journey through the most important experiences of exiles in Mexico must start with the first Latin American exiles persecuted by dictatorial regimes in the 1920s, before turning to the case of the Spanish Republicans after the Civil War in the late 1930s, and then immediately incorporating European victims of Nazism during World War II. During the Cold War a second stage of exile began with the arrival of Americans persecuted by McCarthyism in the United States, and later by the influx of thousands of Latin Americans victims of new military dictatorships. This cycle ended at the beginning of the 1980s when large contingents of Guatemalans crossed the border with Mexico to protect themselves from a war of extermination launched by the army of that country. The size and the social composition of this exile obliged Mexico to draft policies for the reception of victims of persecution that led to adjustments in national legislation and strategies for collaboration with the United Nations. In the final decades of the 20th century, the redemocratization processes in Latin America led to a marked decrease in the number of victims of political persecution. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the 21st century Mexico has faced new challenges, no longer in terms of political asylum but in terms of refuge. The increasing flows of foreign migrants who, irregularly, transit through Mexican territory to reach the border with the United States and the migration enforcement policies implemented by the US government have generated a considerable increase in requests for refugee status in Mexico. This phenomenon, unprecedented in the history of the reception of victims of persecution, leaves Mexico facing an enormous challenge in terms of humanitarian protection for foreigners who flee their countries to preserve their freedom and protect their lives.

Article

Managing the Paradox of Conflictual Policy and Strategy Regarding Health of Irregular Migrants: Perspective From Europe and Africa  

Ursula Trummer, Michela Martini, and Sabelo Mbokazi

Irregular migrants belong to the most vulnerable migrant groups. Health threats associated with an irregular status are high, and access to health services is severely restricted globally. Concerning migration aspects, a common public narrative for Europe and Africa is that Africa is sending thousands of migrants to embark on an irregular life-threatening journey of migration to Europe every year. Although this is a well documented reality, it is by far not the most important migration pattern in terms of numbers and health threats when looking at Africa. It can be argued that, on the contrary, Africa is mainly characterized by south-to-south migration both for economic and humanitarian reasons, with African nation-states like Uganda being among the top three nations worldwide hosting refugees. In addition, main migration routes from Africa do not target Europe but rather other regions like the Gulf countries. Existing dialogue between Europe and Africa has great potential to fast track and develop joint policies and strategies for meaningful, affordable legal migration patterns and access to the human right to health for irregular migrants. First, a change of the rhetoric around irregular migration from Africa mainly directed toward Europe is needed. Second, existing policies and strategies regarding the health of irregular migrants need to be examined and evaluated. Within all the huge differences concerning public health systems and capacities in Europe and Africa, a common strategy to discourage irregular migration seems to be restricting the access of irregular migrants to their human right to health through national regulations. This has paradoxically created a simultaneous inclusion on grounds of human rights regulations and exclusion on grounds of national restrictions, with “functional ignorance” (health care organizations and personnel ignore the lack of residence permits and its legal implications) and “structural compensation” (facilities run by nongovernmental organizations take over public health responsibilities and health care provision) as key features. Such strategies put a lot of strain on health care providers and irregular migrants and should not be considered as a sustainable solution. Instead, action should be taken to overcome the paradox of contradictory migration and health policies by means of firewalls and structural mechanisms. An important step in this direction can be to rethink cooperation between Europe and Africa in this domain, starting with the development of a joint evidence base relevant for Europe and Africa in an interdisciplinary approach and with European and African scholars that can support proactive policy and strategy development to safeguard the human right to health for irregular migrants together with good migration governance.