Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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An Immigration Advocate's Need-to-know for Policy Change: A Conversation with the APA's Katherine B. McGuire

June 27, 2023

This policy brief is based on a conversation with Katherine B. McGuire, chief advocacy officer of the American Psychological Association (APA) and a special guest at the Baker Institute Migration Initiative's "Conversations on Immigration" event on April 25, 2023. McGuire suggested that, instead of losing sight of their goals, immigration reform advocates learn to navigate today's political environment and use opportunities to push for progressive legislation on immigration by engaging with policymakers on both sides of the aisle as well as their constituents. According to McGuire, immigration reform advocates should work toUnderstand the political landscape at both the federal and state levels.Find common ground with members of Congress.Soften resistance at the state level.Educate the American public on the harmful mis- and disinformation about immigrants through storytelling, a powerful tool to prime the political landscape for change — the key objective of advocacy work.

Civic Engagement

Building the Welcome Corps, an Alternative Pathway for Refugees: A Conversation with Craig Damian Smith

June 20, 2023

In early 2023, the Joe Biden administration announced a new program allowing for private refugee sponsorship called the Welcome Corps. The administration is calling it the "boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades," as it aims to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans to act as private sponsors to at least 5,000 refugees from around the world in the program's first year.This brief outlines a conversation with Craig Damian Smith, who has worked in the Canadian context of private refugee sponsorship and is the co-founder and executive director of Pairity — a data-driven platform that facilitates global refugee resettlement and community sponsorship and evaluates outcomes around refugee integration and social cohesion within receiving communities. Pairity is currently partnering with the U.S. government and other actors to establish the Welcome Corps.

Revamping the TN Visa To Get Workers Where the US Needs Them

June 7, 2023

The importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy — with or without documents — is well established. But despite the important participation of immigrants in U.S. labor markets, especially in certain sectors, labor shortages have been a growing problem for the U.S. economy for some time. This was the case even before the pandemic, mainly due to an aging workforce and a decline in national fertility rates, but also due to a fall in immigration rates (which accelerated under the Trump administration). All of these factors have led to fewer people participating in the workforce. Consequently, with fewer individuals available to work, there are fewer people contributing to producing goods and services in the U.S., which caps economic growth. This labor force scenario does not bode well for the ongoing dynamism of the U.S. economy, demanding ever more workers. More closely linking immigration and labor markets may suggest possible solutions to both the problem of migration and the need for additional workers.

More Humane Immigration Policies Will Reduce Migrant Trauma: A Conversation with Dr. Alfonso Mercado

May 25, 2023

Hostile immigration enforcement policies and anti-immigrant actions against refugees and asylum seekers are causing trauma to migrant families and exposing them to dangerous living conditions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. In recent years, stress from the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the negative effects of these policies on the health of migrants.This policy brief outlines a conversation held with Dr. Alfonso Mercado, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. He has conducted extensive clinical work in migrant tent encampments at the U.S.-Mexico border, and on Feb. 28, 2023, he met with migration policy experts and community leaders to discuss the detrimental mental health effects of the ongoing migrant crisis there. The conversation focused on the impact of key policies, such as the use of Title 42 on migrants' mental health and well-being.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

How an Overlooked Visa Category Can Help Solve the US Labor Problem

April 4, 2023

This brief explores the potential of the TN visa — a category of work permits created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 and preserved in its successor, the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) in 2020 — to aid in solving the growing structural problem of labor shortages in the United States, as well as the country's deepening immigration crisis. Specifically, it outlines modifications that could be made to the visa's eligibility parameters in 2026 — when the USMCA reaches its mandated review date — to provide an important, albeit partial, solution to two urgent issues facing the United States today: 1) key weaknesses in the country's labor markets, including demographic shifts that are shrinking the U.S. workforce, and 2) the need to promote legal, orderly immigration to the United States.

Gender and Migration in Egypt: Searching for the Independent Migrant Woman’s Voice

March 22, 2023

This policy brief draws attention to the limited representation of independent Egyptian migrant women and discusses the likely factors behind the absence of women's voices in the field. It also highlights the positive impacts that can stem from Egyptian women's migration, including higher remittance flows and the empowerment of women in Egyptian society. Finally, the brief concludes with a number of recommendations for both researchers and Egyptian policymakers.


Sudanese Women on the Move in Cairo Defy Stereotypes

March 21, 2023

Against the perception of people on the move as helpless and passive, this brief draws on the stories of 12 Sudanese females residing in Ard El-Lewa, a densely populated informal urban area in Cairo with a substantial presence of Sudanese. This ethnographic fieldwork was conducted between January and June 2021. Admittedly, these stories do not represent whole communities of people on the move. But they are a glimpse into the lives of the Sudanese women I collaborated with, interviewed, and observed through fieldwork. More importantly, these stories showcase how people on the move are not mute victims. This brief demonstrates that the stories and voices of people on the move should be noticed and reflected, and that people on the move should have a leading say regarding the contexts and conditions that affect them, as well as how they are represented.


Migrant Women in Morocco: Improving Sexual Health and Tackling Gender-based Violence

March 20, 2023

In this policy brief, we summarize our research on the sexual and reproductive health of women migrants in Morocco, as well as their history of violence and utilization of support services. Our findings show a high prevalence of SGBV among women migrants in Morocco, poor utilization of support services, as well as significant SRH issues. We recommend improving access to adequate information about existing protection and support services, establishing and strengthening support networks, improving research and data collection on SGBV and the barriers to access services, improving coordination mechanisms between actors in migrant health and protection, and promoting transparency and accountability.

Health, Place, and Space: Adolescent Female Refugees in Palestinian Camps

March 19, 2023

Female Palestinian refugee adolescents living in camps face enormous challenges that influence their health. Studies have shown the spatial and physical contexts of people's lives — where and how they live — determine their health, meaning that refugee health cannot be fully understood in isolation from the spatial and physical contexts that shape and sustain health conditions and community environment. Chronic disease, mental health issues, health conditions, and behavior are all affected by spatial and physical factors such as neighborhood socioeconomics, social environment, and the physical (built) environment, all of which are amplified inside refugee camps, including Palestinian camps. Place and space take into account the social relations and social construction of a community as well as the personal experience of spatiality, temporality, and materiality that influence the process of shaping the health status of individuals, especially refugees. This study investigates the construct of space in Palestinian camps in Jordan and the West Bank, and its effect on the health of female adolescents living in these camps. We examine how place and space influence and shape the health status of refugees. To do this, we consider the social relations and social construction of these refugee communities as well as individual refugees' personal experiences of spatiality, temporality, and materiality.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers; Women

Gender and Security in Lebanon During and Post-COVID-19: The Case of Migrant and Refugee Women

March 18, 2023

Lebanon continues to navigate the country's most devastating political, economic, and financial crisis in its post-independence history. The layered and intersectional implications of this crisis have been felt hardest by the country's most vulnerable and marginalized communities — predominantly the country's millions of refugees and migrants. Whether in the areas of social inequality, unemployment, statelessness, homelessness, or food insecurity, Lebanon's refugee and migrant communities have been struggling to attain basic human rights.This brief examines how these intersectional factors exacerbate the insecurity and inequalities experienced by migrant and refugee women in Lebanon. It also looks at how the country's economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are compounding matters for this vulnerable population. Finally, it offers recommendations for a comprehensive approach to combat gender inequalities that equips women in conflict settings with the health care and economic support they need.

Migrant Workers; Refugees & Asylum Seekers; Women

Intersecting Vulnerabilities: Syrian Refugee Women and Turkey’s Agricultural Workforce

March 17, 2023

This brief explores how Syrian refugees who are women and children gain access to employment and how their vulnerabilities influence their integration into Turkish labor markets, specifically the agricultural sector. This analysis incorporates the concept of "intersectional vulnerabilities," or the interconnected disadvantages created by social categorizations such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and social status. It also highlights the interconnectedness between women's activities in the realms of production-paid work and unpaid domestic responsibilities by focusing on how the feminization of Syria's agricultural labor force in Turkey is built on the intersectional vulnerabilities of women and children.Finally, this brief examines how Syrian female labor is institutionalized through paid and unpaid activities that are directly related to production of low-cost crops that can compete in international markets or that support lower wages for domestic consumers.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers; Women

Marriage as a Durable Solution? How Syrian Refugee Women Use Marriage for Self-resettlement

March 16, 2023

It is estimated that Egypt has hosted about 500,000 Syrian refugees since 2011. However, most of these refugees are not included in official UNHCR statistics, which only count 119,665 registered Syrian refugees. Limited awareness of registration opportunities, concerns over potential social stigmatization, and fear of being recorded in government databases are among the reasons why there is a discrepancy in the numbers of Syrians in Egypt. Syrians who came to Egypt arrived in an economically troubled country and a politically polarized atmosphere, where they faced a lack of opportunities and a high cost of living.This brief is based on fieldwork conducted in Egypt during the summer of 2017 investigating Syrian refugee women's strategies of self-resettlement, mainly through such marriages, a practice I call "marriage for refuge." In contrast to existing narratives that view this type of marriage as exploitative, I demonstrate how the concept of "marriage for refuge" offers a better lens through which to analyze the relationship between forced migration and marriage.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers; Women