Global Migration

January 17, 2020 • Volume 28, Issue 3
Can governments head off another crisis?
By Sarah Glazer


Two asylum-seeking migrants from Central America (AFP/Getty Images/Herika Martinez)
Two asylum-seeking migrants from Central America cross the Rio Grande into the United States on June 12. The global migrant population totaled nearly 272 million in 2019. (AFP/Getty Images/Herika Martinez)

The world is witnessing the highest numbers of migrants on record, nearly 272 million in 2019, more than triple the number in 1970. Advocates of immigration restrictions say migrants steal jobs and sometimes abuse a system designed to provide asylum for the truly persecuted. But human rights advocates say nations are shirking their responsibility to provide refuge to those experiencing persecution and violence. Citing a broken system in which asylum-seekers sometimes disappear into the United States, the Trump administration is limiting those who can seek asylum. It also is taking aggressive steps to end what President Trump calls a “very serious crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrant advocacy groups say Trump has manufactured a crisis, and statistics show illegal immigration from Mexico is in a long-term decline. Governments often seek to stem migration by providing aid to improve the economies of origin countries. Experts say the solution is not so simple, because it takes at least a generation before rising income encourages people to remain at home.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Refugees and Asylum
Jan. 17, 2020  Global Migration
Jun. 26, 2018  Refugee Crisis
Aug. 16, 2017  Refugees
Jul. 31, 2015  European Migration Crisis
Mar. 2009  Aiding Refugees
Jul. 09, 1999  Global Refugee Crisis
Feb. 07, 1997  Assisting Refugees
Oct. 27, 1989  The Politics of American Refugee Policy
May 30, 1980  Refugee Policy
Aug. 26, 1977  Indochinese Refugees
Apr. 11, 1962  Cuban Refugees
Feb. 25, 1959  Doctrine of Asylum
Jan. 08, 1958  Palestine Arab Refugees
Oct. 12, 1954  Assimilation of Refugees
May 03, 1950  Right of Asylum
Nov. 27, 1946  Immigration of Refugees
Apr. 14, 1938  Resettlement of Refugees
Civil Rights: Hispanic Americans
Congress Actions
Emergency Preparedness
Federal Courts
General Employment and Labor
Global Issues
Humanitarian Assistance
Immigration and Naturalization
International Law and Agreements
Latin American Conflicts
Maternal and Child Health Care
Outsourcing and Immigration
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Supreme Court History and Decisions
War and Conflict
Work and the Family