Immigrant Investor Programmes: Navigating Economic and Political Tensions

By: Madeleine Sumption, Migration Observatory Director

Immigration policies offering residence rights to wealthy investors have existed for decades. Australia, New Zealand and the United States have all had special programmes admitting immigrant investors for over 25 years. Historically these routes have been small and attracted relatively little attention in policy circles.

Maltese PassportBut over the last few years, the investor immigration field has become rather active. The US EB-5 investor programme, a little used immigration route until the mid-2000s, suddenly took off in 2008 and is now for the first time bumping against its 10,000-person cap. Several EU countries have started to offer temporary residence permits in return for investments in property or other assets. Most controversially, “citizenship by investment”—previously the terrain of a handful of Caribbean islands taking cash donations in return for passports—arrived in the European Union with a programme announced by Malta in 2013.

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Posted in labour markets, migration, policy, The Migration Observatory | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Foreign fighters: time to recognise and study a new type of migration

By: Franck Düvell, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher

On 30 October 2014, the Washington Post reported the flow of over 15,000 foreigner fighters to Syria and probably also to Iraq. They suggested that each month around 1,000 people travel to Syria, mostly with the intention to join the fights, and thus to join the killing. A map shows the countries where these people have been coming from and their numbers: Tunisia (3,000), Saudia Arabia (2,500), Jordan (2,089), Morocco (1,500), Lebanon (890), (Russia (800), Libya (556), UK (488), France (412), Turkey (400), Egypt (358), Pakistan (330), Belgium (296), Algeria (250), Australia (250), Germany (240) (Washington Post). About 5,000 came from the Middle East, another 5,000 from Northern Africa and 3,200 from Western and Northern countries. In total, 53 countries are listed, suggesting a global phenomenon.

This information is based on sources from the CIA, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and the Soufan Group research (2014). How accurate these figures are is certainly disputable, national estimates are sometimes higher. For instance, German sources refer to ‘at least 600’ (Der Stern 16/1/2015), and French sources to 930, people who went to Syria and Iraq (RFLRL 25/1/2015). A related feature is the return of fighters to the countries where they have been coming from. The returnees may be disillusioned and they may be traumatised but they may also be radicalised and aiming at taking the fight back to the perceived enemy countries in the west. In the UK ‘about 250 are believed to have returned’ (BBC News, 14/11/2014), in Germany, their number is put at 200 (Der Stern 16/1/2015).

A figure of a Shooting ManHowever, foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq are not isolated occurrences; foreigners also join fights in other parts of the world. Most notably, in Ukraine, Russians and other nationalities are joining the separatists to fight against the Ukrainian central government (BBC News 1/9/2014). Foreign fighters are also reported from the conflicts in Libya (All Africa 6/1/2015). The current situation is not new.,In the recent past volunteers have joined foreign guerrillas and fights in other countries, like in the 1980s and 1990 in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Palestine and Kurdistan, and more recently in Afghanistan and Chechnya. For instance, some German leftists joined the PLO or PFLP, the PKK or the Sandinistas and FMLN and others. Most of these, however, were individual cases and there was no large scale trend. Historically there are numerous cases of volunteers and mercenaries joining fights like French and Germans who joined the American independence forces.

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The Life of a Multiple Migrant

By: Ayumi Takenaka, Research Officer

As immigration has grown in volume, so has its complexity. Today, people do not simply move once and settle. They increasingly keep on moving, twice or more, not just between their country of origin and destination, but to multiple destinations. This onward migration, or multiple migration, is supposedly on the increase, according to the burgeoning research on the subject.

Why multiple migration may have grown

moving boxIn theory, it makes sense. Once one migrates, subsequent movements become easier (just like learning new languages). Networks established through initial migration reduce the risk of re-migrating, while newly acquired experience provides more options to venture out further. Financial and legal resources  gained through initial migration also help.  This may particularly be true when initial migration is directed from poor countries to richer ones. Acquiring citizenship in the initial rich country opens up possibilities to move on to other (rich) countries, as does familiarity with labor market practices in the “First World.” Since more and more destinations adopt stricter immigration policies favoring the skilled and educated, this also facilitates the multiple movements of the resourceful.  Resource-constrained migrants, on the other hand, may also find it necessary to navigate the systems of multiple countries to reach their preferred destinations.

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Posted in emigration, Flows and Dynamics, immigration, journey, migration, policy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Migration and the political

By: Dace Dzenovska, Departmental Lecturer in the Anthropology of Migration

This blog was first posted in the series “Migration and Citizenship”, a collaboration with Politics in Spires, on October 30 2014. 

Ever since the collapse of second-world socialisms as “actually existing” political alternatives to global capitalism, the political terrain has shifted considerably. Old political subjects, such as class, seem to have disappeared or waned in significance, while new political subjects are elusive. Political action consists of seemingly unorganised and spontaneous mass events without clearly articulated agendas or of practices of daily life that have subversive political effects. Both forms of political action are often invested with hope that they will somehow enable alternatives to the currently predominant forms of organising collective life.[1]

This political desire also attaches to migration. Some years ago, Étienne Balibar wrote of immigrants as “today’s proletariat” (2004: 50). More recently, Dimitris Papadopoulos, Vassilis Tsianos and Niamh Stephenson (2008) have written about clandestine migration as imperceptible politics, namely as a social practice that does not have an explicit political goal, but that brings about large-scale shifts in the political field. The prevailing sentiment in activist circles seems to be that if migration is disruptive, as mainstream political elites suggest, then this disruption might as well be put to different political ends. Thus, for example, a group of scholars and activists working on borders recently occupied the discursive terrain by introducing new keywords in migration and borders, such as “militant investigation”, “counter-mapping” and “bordering” among others (Casas Cortes et al. 2014).

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The roots of radicalism: Family, society and the solace of religion

By: Morwari Zafar, DPhil in Anthropology, COMPAS/School of Anthropology

This blog was first posted on Opedspace, 24 November 2014

Have you ever been so heartbroken that you joined the conservative faction of a local mosque? Khalid did, because he felt he had no other way to cope.

For the children of some immigrant families, negotiating among cultures and sub-cultures compounds perceptions of isolation, inadequacy, and a desire to belong to something meaningful. Radicalism is not necessarily a collective response to assimilation or economic impediments; it can also be an individual response to social class and status. Media reports treat motivations among radical youth with a sense of cognitive dissonance: Why do American, French, or British youth from standard, middle class families turn to religious fundamentalism? As the holy grail of policy discussions, the answer won’t be in the singular. Rather than fixate on the external appeal of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, a glance at the effect of internal household pressures reveals greater insights.

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Posted in Citizenship and Belonging, immigration, integration, migration | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment