Comparing the Proposals of 2013 Reform of the United States on Illegal Immigration

Undocumented immigration in the USA has historically been one of the hottest topics in the US politics, and has become one of the main pillars of election debates in the last four presidential elections. While each presidential administration has outlined various mechanisms to combat illegal migration, the pace of family reunifications and the new demands for low-skilled labor force have created unprecedented high volumes of undocumented population in the USA, that today accounts for estimated 11 mln. undocumented migrants — roughly 3.5% of the US total population.

Two immigration reform proposals were put into public debate in early February, 2013 in the USA– one by a bi-partisan group of democrat and republican senators, and the other by President Obama. Both proposals offer four components: (a) improvement of border control, (b) control on employers hiring illegal migrants, (c) earned citizenship to those migrants already in the country, and (d) promoting a legal migration policy (White House 2013; Bipartisan Framework 2013). Let’s compare both proposals.

Border Control: Despite doubling the number of border control guards, the US border crossings by illegal immigrants are still a vital problem. During 2009-2012 annually in each fiscal year law enforcement officers have removed around 47,000 migrants illegally crossing the border, whereas this number was up to around 70,000 persons for the fiscal year 2012. And in 2012 this was just 17% of the total of 400,000 removals due violations of law by immigrants. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement n.d.).

The bipartisan proposal takes a hard stance and sees part of the solution of border control in increased surveillance and higher number of aerial unmanned vehicles to guard the border. Both the President Obama’s and the bipartisan proposals offer to strengthen the border control infrastructure, improve the partnership between the law enforcement and border communities by increasing the funding and border control personnel, giving more training on civil rights and liberties to the staff of the Department of Homeland Security. Obama also aims to create new criminal penalties to combat trafficking and criminal networks on passport and visa fraud, increase the number of immigration court judges and their staff, and to deport criminals when their sentences end with no possibility to re-enter (White House 2013).

The bipartisan proposal also offers to track temporary entries in the USA by fostering the entry-exit registration–to identify whether migrants have left the country or not, something that perhaps sounds better on paper that is effective in practice.

One is left to wonder to what extent intensive investment in the border control will have tangible impact on undocumented migration. The 17% percent due to border violations, as stated earlier, can indicate that the border control does not have sufficient capacity to capture those who cross the US border illegally, which on its turn may explain the low percentage of border violators among those apprehended. Yet, a more plausible explanation is that most migrants enter the US legally, and then overstay their visas. This is especially true for those migrants who arrive not from Mexico, but from countries that do not share a border with the USA– such as illegal migrants from Asia, such as China, Vietnam, or Eastern Europe, the post-Soviet states, Middle East, etc. This also means that the stricter border control would have only limited impact. This is already evident in the same 2012 fiscal year statistics of immigration removals: the proportion of those who re-enter illegally is larger than those caught at the border– 21% of those removed were persons who were deported and then re-entered and were caught in the USA. Thus, the migration reform should be directed at finding flexible visa regimes that could regulate mobility of persons and prevent them from seeking an illegal entry or a stay in the destination country.

Employment of Undocumented Migrants: The Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA) of 1986, one of the achievements of President Regan administration, made it illegal for companies to knowingly hire migrants who were in the country illegally (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012a). Since then employers are subject to a monetary penalty of $375 to $16,000 for per violation (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012a). However, as illegal immigration has expanded in the USA since then, it became clear that employment documents were easily falsifiable, and the mechanisms to punish employers were inefficient. Until 2006 no employer was punished for hiring an undocumented migrant (Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited in Washington Post 2013), whereas during Obama Presidency only in fiscal year 2012 more than 370 businesses were sanctioned for violations of illegal hiring (Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2012b).

Today there are estimated 11 million. To fight against employers who hire illegal migrants, both proposals offer to introduce a mandatory electronic system for employers –connected to the federal database– to verify whether the migrant is allowed to work in the USA. Obama will fight against illegal hirings through a “labor law enforcement fund” he suggests to create. Moreover, both proposals offer to create a fraud and tamper resistant social security card for employment authorization, and increase the penalties for hiring illegal migrants.

Citizenship and Permanent Residency: Since deporting 11 million illegal migrants is not realistic, both proposals offer very similar mechanisms for the integration of undocumented migrant. Moreover, the US citizenship or permanent residency statuses are made pre-conditional on a probationary status before an immigrant can be eligible to apply. These provisions sounds attractive to undocumented migrants in the USA as these changes will finally create a legal platform for rights and civic citizenship of migrants, and create prospects for their social mobility in the society. Namely, naturalization, or what Obama has called in his proposal “pathway to earned citizenship”, is pre-conditional for immigrants first giving up their undocumented status and registering, submitting biometric data, going through a criminal background check and paying penalties and dues they owe to the USA. This will give migrants no more than a provisional legal status. Those wishing to be considered for permanent residency, must also pay taxes, learn English language and only after five years, consistent with the current procedure, they will be eligible to apply for citizenship. Funding will be provided to appropriate agencies to conduct regular audits for fraud prevention. In the bipartisan proposal, these immigrants on probationary status (that were previously undocumented migrants) will not be eligible for federal public benefits, have to also show history of work and current employment before they become eligible to apply for permanent residency.

In Obama’s proposal children of undocumented migrants will be eligible for earned citizenship by either going to college or serving in the Army for 2 years.

The bi-partisan proposal calls for preferential treatment of undocumented migrants in the agriculture sector. Given the high demand for labour force in the agriculture and due to the delays in getting a guest-worker status, majority of workers in the US agriculture sector are undocumented. The report by the American Farm Bureau Federation (2006) stated that the “[US] agriculture is the most dependent on migrant labor”, and the production of up to 5-9 billion US dollars of import-sensitive commodities “would be lost”, and 10-20 percent of fruits and vegetables would have to be imported from other countries. Given these considerations, undocumented migrant-workers in the agriculture “will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population… and earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program”– states the bipartisan proposal.

Family Re-Unification and High-Skilled Labor: Both President Obama’s and the bipartisan proposals offer several facilitated mechanisms for family or employment-sponsored immigration. To get rid of the backlog visas that hinder family reunification, Obama offers to temporarily increase annual visa quotas and to double the annual country caps for family sponsored immigration; and create additional visas for employment-sponsored immigration system. This is in addition to encouraging permanent residency visas for foreign entrepreneurs and investors. Both proposals acknowledge that graduate students educated in the USA in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM programs) should be eligible for automatic green card: in Obama’s terms a green card should be “stapled” to the diplomas if persons have found an employment in the USA. This latter clause is a big change from the past practice when only jobs in the academia qualified for a green card application without a quota, otherwise, the recent Ph.D. or Master’s graduates were subject to a quota system on green card if their post-graduate job was outside of the academic sector.

What to Conclude? The most important achievement of both proposals is that finally both the liberal and conservative policy-makers have offered similar mechanisms to solving migration policy gaps in the United States. While the bi-partisan proposal lays out the major principles around which the immigration reform should be designed, the Obama proposal is somewhat more concrete and offers specific steps to four issues mentioned above. As a shortcoming, both proposals rely on an even increased public spending and expanded bureaucracy to combat migration (primarily on tracking entry-exit of temporary migrants, border control and surveillance, document fraud, etc). Yet the only real solution to undocumented migration is the improvement of the visa system and the reduction of paperwork and bureaucracy on obtaining a family reunification or guest worker visas– the two main sources of US illegal migration.

Both proposals also stop short of mentioning any further steps for migrant integration. In both proposals the target seems to be only at the entry points– entry into the US border, entry into the US labour market legally, entry into the US citizenship body. Yet, none of the proposals mentions how to ensure that migrants not only obtain a legal/documented status at entry stage, but also be able to retain their membership to the US society and not become marginalized. When only 17% of immigration removals from the US are due border violations for fiscal year 2012, another appalling 55% comprise aliens caught for committing criminal offences in the USA– i.e. felons or repeat offenders (Immigration and Customs Enforcement n.d.). Can there be a stronger indicator that more policies should focus on marginalized migrants and aim to create opportunities for their integration into the US society?

Yet the US immigration reform remains unbalanced: Ironically, neither proposals mention any simplification for obtaining permanent residency or citizenship for already legal migrants in the USA who have lived in the USA for many years as lawful nor tax-paying citizens, some have even been educated in the USA. Despite their contribution and investment in the US society these persons and their families, by following the established procedure, may get permanent residency or citizenship even later than the undocumented migrants who have lived in the shadow of the US society and economy. The bureaucratic rules and procedures will remain unchanged for these already legal migrants.

What Lessons Can European Policy-Makers Learn? Border control reforms are not sufficient for combating undocumented migration. Migrants will always find alternative ways to enter the country. Moreover, if visa policies are not harmonized with labour-market demands, such as the timely issuance of work visas or work-permits, the labour demand will continue to encourage undocumented migration. And finally, as number of migrants increases globally, family reunification more than ever becomes an important factor for migrants. Thus, all migration policy reforms in Europe should pair stricter border controls with creating facilitated travel and mobility regimes for migrants to prevent migrants from seeking illegal alternatives of travel. Visa facilitation initiatives are a good starting point, but not enough. Integration of migrants at destination countries andat sending countries is as important as creating flexible visa regimes for travel. Integrated migrants are more likely to contribute to social institutions both in home countries and in destination countries. Integration in home countries reduces the chances of a migrant to overstay their visas in the host country. Integrated migrants who obey laws also socialize about migrant culture future potential migrants, such as their children and future generations. These steps can achieve larger positive systemic outcomes than any “dry” border control policy ever will.

 

Shushanik Makaryan, Research Assistant to CARIM-East

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


References:

American Farm Bureau Federation. 2006. Impact of Migrant Labor Restrictions on the Agricultural Sector, February, 2006.

Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. 2013. Authors: Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (n.d.) Removal Statistics: Factsheet, February 6, 2013

Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 2012a. Form I-9 Inspection Overview: Fact Sheet, August 1, 2012. Downloaded on February 6, 2013.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 2012b. Worksite Enforcement: Fact Sheet. May 23, 2012. Downloaded on February 6, 2013.

Washington Post. 2013. Why Immigration Reform in 1986 Fell Short?, February 3, 2013, by Karen Tumulti, Feb. 4, 2013

White House (The). Office of the Press Secretary. Factsheet. Fixing our Broken Immigration System so that Everyone Plays by the Rules. January 29, 2013.

 

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Between Solidarity and the Priority to Protect – Where Refugee Relocation meets Refugee Resettlement

As resettlement in Europe continues to evolve, its effectiveness in responding to humanitarian emergencies and long term refugee situations beyond EU territory has been challenged by difficulties which are related to how EU Member States answer the question – What does the resettlement of refugees consist of?

Solidarity of Member States with third states is perhaps best demonstrated through resettlement while relocation is an example of internal Member State solidarity. There is a need to define both of these terms. It has been made clear by the Commission in its Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme (page 3) that, unlike resettlement which is considered a humanitarian enterprise concerned with solidarity with third countries, relocation is a ‘burden sharing’ exercise, at the heart of which is solidarity between EU Member States north and south.

The Know Reset project has considered how this defined difference does not prevent Member States from allowing overlap between these two distinct undertakings. The importance of access to protection for refugees prompted the EU to begin to explore more feasible methods by which refugees may be taken by Member States and given protection. These refugees did not therefore have to gain access to Union territory. This resettlement was widely regarded as being in solidarity with the European neighbourhood – especially non-Member States to the south.

As resettlement evolved the idea of this external solidarity became somewhat confused by expressions of internal solidarity. Those persons who gained access to Member State territory through ‘irregular’ means and later became refugees have, in certain circumstances, been relocated to other Member States. Most of these clandestine arrivals have been to Mediterranean Member States who have found themselves under intense strain from such migration. As an act of solidarity, Member States have taken refugees from their fellow Member State.

The following is a table of those EU Member States which have relocated under the EUREMA programme in Malta according to the EASO report on that programme. This relocation programme is an intra-European initiative which takes internationally protected individuals from one Member State and finds another Member State willing to accept these individuals.

Member States Relocation Resettlement
Austria  
Belgium  
Bulgaria    
Cyprus    
Czech Republic  
Denmark  
Estonia    
Finland  
France
Germany
Greece    
Hungary*    
Ireland
Italy  
Latvia    
Lithuania    
Luxembourg
Malta    
Netherlands
Poland*  
Portugal
Romania*    
Slovakia*    
Slovenia  
Spain  
Sweden  
UK

*Denotes Member States which have committed to relocate refugees as part of the EUREMA programme but have yet to do so.

Relocation from Malta is on-going and uptake in participation has increased. The word which arises time and time again among the States which participate is solidarity. The States which participate are, more often than not, northern EU Member States. They are not on the receiving end of the heavy migration flows which reach the southern, Mediterranean Member States. On that basis, relocation from the Mediterranean to their own State is seen as an act of solidarity.

The tension arises through certain Member States, typically those which are most experienced in resettlement, calling into question whether relocation comes at the expense of resettlement. Resettlement undoubtedly remains the preferable response to those most in need. The priority to protect those who have not been able to gain access to European territory should remain the primary objective in the view of certain Member States.

Malta, the home of the EASO, has been the venue of the aforementioned EU relocation pilot project – EUREMA. An emerging role of the EASO is in evaluating the relocation pilot project as can be seen from the EASO’s September newsletter.

It has become clear that there may be a risk of using relocation as a substitute for resettlement. This is a misperception that the EU, Member States and the EASO must be mindful of in participating in refugee relocation in Europe. The friction between relocation and resettlement indeed points to the greater challenges in achieving a functioning and effective solidarity within the Common European Asylum System.

In July of 2012, the EASO released a fact finding report on intra-EU relocation activities from Malta. Respondents to the report expressed “mixed” views on relocation:

“While a number of participating States maintained that voluntary ad hoc relocation measures with Malta were a concrete tool for demonstrating intra-EU solidarity, and generally assessed them positively, other States feared that …relocation …could act as a pull factor for irregular migration…”

“…concerns were expressed about the possible implication of relocation on the resettlement quotas in the EU. It was stressed that intra-EU relocation should not be confused with resettlement of refugees from third countries.”

The EASO here underline what must be a pivotal consideration if the resettlement of refugees in Europe is to increase quantitatively and qualitatively. As part of our research we have recorded reaction to relocation across the twenty-seven EU Member States. Interesting perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of relocation have been gathered and provide an insight into State behaviour.

Differing attitudes were identified among Member States toward relocation – some advocate for it, certain States are opposed to it and still others seem not to differentiate completely between relocation and resettlement.

Of those States which express doubt as to the use of relocation, a Swedish opinion on the matter was expressed in an interview by Know Reset with a political adviser to the Swedish Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy.[1] That adviser stated that Sweden is doubtful as to the use of relocation; it was stated that the places used for relocation should instead be used for resettlement from outside the EU. The interviewee went on to state that there were alternative measures of solidarity which could be pursued if Member States wanted to express their solidarity. Finland is of a similar disposition to their Scandinavian neighbours. Finland and Sweden represent two traditional resettlement countries. Both States have well established and large resettlement on a programme basis. Another interesting emerging viewpoint from our research in Scandinavia is that the Member States to the north often do not accept that reducing the pressure on its southern counterparts should be a legitimate aim. This sentiment should be considered in the context of the northern Member States believing that they already take a considerable share of the so-called ‘burden’ of refugee numbers. This is interesting when it is considered how often intra-EU solidarity is proffered by certain Member States as a reason for pursuing relocation.

Slovakia does not conduct resettlement but has announced that it intends to participate in relocation. Hungary is in a similar position. Lithuania committed in 2011 to relocate from Malta but that declaration has yet to be implemented. A trend for certain States is emerging that if they do not participate in resettlement, they may instead be involved in relocation. The overwhelming reason given for this is that of solidarity with EU partners to the south. If those countries were not involved in relocation, would they be resettling refugees? This question is impossible to answer definitively however a tendency has emerged for newer Member States, which are oftentimes new to refugee resettlement as well, to primarily pursue relocation as an avenue of EU solidarity in terms of refugee intake.

Finally, there also exists a grey area in between preferences for resettlement and preferences for relocation. Ireland and France typify this intermediary position. Refugees whom arrive to the State as part of a relocation regime may be included in the quota of that State for refugee resettlement. The need to differentiate between relocation and resettlement is particularly salient in this context.

The overwhelming message to be gleaned is that the relocation of refugees within Europe must not come at the expense of resettlement. Resettlement, the humanitarian enterprise, underlines the priority to protect. Taking refugees from third States beyond the Union which are host to much larger numbers of refugees is taking the most vulnerable and giving them an opportunity that they otherwise will not receive. Protection must be the priority and as difficult as conditions are within certain Member States for refugees, if they are at least properly protected then it is still a fortunate situation in comparison to the precarious position of many refugees in camps across the world.

The EASO can play a role in ensuring that relocation is not carried out at the expense of granting resettlement to those refugees who are eligible for resettlement and who are still at risk and should be a protection priority. National authorities should also be aware of the distinction and the importance of not putting protection priorities behind the commendable desire to express solidarity with other Member States. This balance must always be at the forefront of any consideration of relocation.

This article is based on the results of the research led within the framework of the KNOW RESET project.

The Know Reset team recently teamed up with the EASO Monitor blog in considering the EASO’s growing role in resettlement in Europe. The thanks of the Know Reset team goes to Dr. Neil Falzon and everyone at Aditus and the EASO monitor for the original collaboration.

Frank Mc Namara, Research Assistant to Know Reset.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


 
[1] In an interview with Know Reset’s Swedish researcher – Alina Ostling.


Challenging the Myth of the Undesirability of Low-Skilled Labour in the EU

When EU countries visualise an ideal immigrant, a highly-skilled and educated immigrant comes to mind. For many, the highly-skilled and skilled represent the only ´legitimate´ form of immigration. EU immigration policy in its current form is characterised by three main dimensions: attracting highly-skilled workers, deterring irregular migration, and promoting the integration of third country nationals. The EU approach is one of increased migration management so that Europe receives legal migration, particularly in sectors that are lacking in personnel. The increased emphasis on cooperation both with countries of origin and between Member States, as reflected in the Global Approach to Migration adopted in 2011, is part of this drive to more efficiently manage migration. EU migration policy is therefore implicitly based on the assumption that low-skilled labor is no longer needed, and indeed, would be harmful to the European economy at a time of economic crisis and high unemployment, especially among youth. Low-skilled workers receive little attention at the EU level, with the exception of seasonal workers and in some bilateral agreements with individual EU countries. But is low-skilled immigration always unwelcome? A case study of low-skilled employment in the Italian dairy industry reveals that immigrants from the Punjab region of India have successfully inserted themselves into this sector of the Italian economy, without ´stealing´ jobs from native Italians.

How did Immigrants Manage to Enter into the Dairy Sector and convert it into an economic niche?

The dairy industry in Italy is the most important sector of Italian agriculture, with an annual turnover of 15 billion Euros in 2011 (all dairy products), including 2 billion Euros worth of cheese exports[1]. In Italy, dairy consumption is ´recession proof´, with Italians continuing to consume dairy products, including high-quality DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) dairy products, despite the slowing of the Italian economy. Indeed, 87% of Italians consider their national DOP cheeses to be the foundation of the ´Made in Italy´ brand[2]. Indians have thus inserted themselves in a sector that is not only economically important, but also key to Italian identity. Dairy work has since become a Punjabi niche market, with 90% of the workers in this sector estimated to be Indian[3]. According to 2008 data from Istat, (the Italian Institute of Statistics), 42.9% of Indians work in the agricultural sector in the Lombardy region, compared to only 2.8% of the total foreign population, showing a marked tendency for Indians to concentrate in agriculture, particularly in Northern Italy.

The socioeconomic context leading to the Italian exodus from cow milking provides the background necessary to understanding how a low-skilled immigrant group has been able to enter and dominate a key domestic industry. A number of factors led to this Italian exodus from the dairy sector. The mechanisation of the industry beginning in the 1950´s led to a sharp reduction in the number of jobs available, forcing Italian youth to look for work elsewhere[4]. Secondly, the economic boom that Italy experienced in the post-war period led to new aspirations that working in the cascine (dairy farms) could not fulfill. In particular, the houses on the cascine were increasingly abandoned in favor of more modern urban housing[5]. Finally, the low social status associated with cow milking was an additional incentive to look for other work, even when the salary was raised and working conditions improved considerably with mechanisation. Male bergamini (cow milkers) could not find local marriage partners and had to resort to finding spouses from other Italian regions[6]. This native exodus from dairy milking led to demand for a reliable and steady source of labour that could replace Italian workers. In the region of Lombardia, the agricultural sector is distinguished, unlike in other parts of Italy, by the need for a specialised, stable and ´regular´ (i.e. legally documented) workforce that is highly available, in order to be able to adapt themselves to the demanding rhythms of a dairy farm and avoid high turn-over, which would harm productivity. Immigrant labour from India has met this demand for specialised labour that does not require a high level of education. The need for a dependable, ´regular´ workforce has meant that work in the dairy industry has avoided the systematic abuses and severe exploitation characteristic of Italian agriculture in other regions. Sources from the largest Italian union, the CGIL (Conferazione Generale Italiana di Lavoro), have indicated that the vast majority of immigrant workers in this sector possess legal contracts.

The Italian dairy industry is therefore a good example of the continuing need for low skilled third country labour in certain sectors of the European economy. Nor is it the only example: the area of geriatric care is another sector in which immigrant labour has proved to be critical, without harming national employment. While EU expansion can absorb some labour shortages, it cannot be assumed that all occupations will benefit from EU enlargement. In the UK, where migration policy has been completely closed to low-skilled workers (including in the case of temporary labour shortages), restaurant owners, especially from the ´ethnic´ restaurant sector, have raised concerns about the unfairness of a points-based immigration system that only considers skilled workers who possess formal qualifications[7]. The need for low-skilled labour is structural and continues to exist despite high rates of unemployment across Europe. In the case of the Italian dairy industry, native workers have spurned this sector despite its relatively high salaries, as well as other perks, such as free accommodation and ample opportunity to earn more via working overtime. The current thinking that accepts that third country nationals are needed in certain high skilled occupations in order for Europe to remain competitive, must also be extended to specific low-skilled sectors. EU migration policy should therefore take into consideration a sectoral approach when seeking to attract third-country nationals to the EU. Promoting only highly-skilled migration misses out on a number of sectors that need low-skilled immigrant labour in order to continue to thrive. Creating more opportunities for legal low-skilled migration can also contribute towards preventing irregular migration. Low-skilled does not mean ´no skill´, and can also be a pathway to other forms of employment, particularly entrepreneurship, in the future. Indeed, an increasing number of Punjabis who initially worked in the dairy sector are now establishing their own small businesses across Northern Italy.

 

Kathryn Lum, Research Assistant to CARIM-India

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


 

[1] No author, “Assolatte: il fatturato dei latticini italiani ha raggiunto nel 2011 i 15 miliardi di euro”, June 18 2012, accessed January 21 2013, http://www.beverfood.com/v2/news+notizia.storyid+5341-assolatte-il-fatturato-dei-latticinio-italiani-ha-raggiunto-nel-2011-i-15-miliardi-di-euro.htm

[2] No author, “Nel 2008 l´industria lattiero-casearia si conferma il primo settore alimentare italiano”, June 16 2009, accessed January 21 2013, www.assolatte.it/assolatte/download1.jsp?file=/assolatte/images/

[3] European Journal, “Italy: Sikh Cheese Producers”, Deutsche WelleEnglish,  September 20 2008 08:12, accessed March 13 2012, http://www.podcast.tv/video-episodes/italy-sikh-cheese-producers-4887664.html.

[4] Gardani et al. Turbani che non turbano: Ricerca sociologica sugli immigrati indiani nel cremonese. Provincia di Cremona: Osservatorio provinciale sull´immigrazione, 2002, 1-71. (see p. 30).

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid. (see p. 31).

[7] Grimwood, Gabrielle. Immigration: Points-Based Immigration and the Restaurant Trade. London: House of Commons Library, 2009.


Labour Emigration from the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood: How to get the numbers right?

Executive Summary

EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) highlights the importance of evidence-based policymaking which, in turn, depends on the accurate measurement of migration in the EU and its neighbourhood. This short piece gives a brief insight into the problems associated with statistical data collection on labour emigration from the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood to the EU and the need for its reform.

Background

EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)[1] highlights the importance of evidence-based policymaking which depends on the accurate measurement of migration in the EU and its neighbourhood. The knowledge tools included in GAMM – such as mapping instruments, impact assessments and migration profiles – need credible sources of data on migration to enable policymakers to make informed decisions.  In the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood[2] (hereafter, referred as the ‘region’), statistics on labour emigration are usually derived from administrative sources, which have remained largely unchanged since their creation in the post-Soviet era. The other sources are represented by specific one-off small-scale surveys conducted by governmental or international agencies.

Main challenges with the statistical data collection on labour emigration

  • Administrative sources

    Firstly, administrative sources, such as the registration of labour migrants on the basis of official labour contracts, tend to be largely incomplete and scarcely usable. In Belarus, for example, labour movements are not classified by country of birth/nationality which makes it impossible to detect the nature of flows. In Graph 1 (see below), the administrative data on flows of labour migrants in Belarus indicate that 5,522 labour migrants departed Belarus in 2011. However, in the same year, only in Poland, 10,788[3] first residence permits for work reasons were granted to Belarus citizens. Though these flows are not entirely comparable, the magnitude of the gap in the statistical data is quite striking.

Graph 1: Arrival and departures of labour migrants from and to Belarus on the basis of official labour contracts and agreements (1994-2011)

Graph.-1

Source: Registration cards for labour migrants, Belarus (Bobrova and Shakhotska 2012[4]), Visit CARIM-East[5] website for more details

Moreover, administrative sources do not capture migrants at the destination point. It is often the case that in the semi-open border regimes (as is the case in the EU and CIS[6]) circular migrant workers do not apply for work permits, especially if performing seasonal or temporary work. Therefore, there movements are lost in the administrative statistics. For example, Belarusians do not need a work permit to work in the Russian Federation, and thus, they are simply absent from the statistics (as depicted below in Graph 2). Similarly, the number of permits issued to Moldovan labour migrants in Russia is below estimations (if compared for example with the Moldovan Labour Force Survey).

Graph 2: Temporary work permits issued to Eastern Partnership[7] (EaP) country citizens in the Russian Federation (2007-2010) *

Graph-2

*Notes: Migrant workers from Belarus are not included in the statistics as they do not need work permits in the Russian labour market in accordance with the Agreement between Belarus and the Russian Federation on the establishment of the Interstate Union.
Source: Federal Migration Service (FMS), Russia. For more details, visit CARIM-East database www.carim-east.eu

Finally, administrative sources have complicated procedures and contradictory legal norms.  For example, in Armenia, the Population Register only provides for the possibility of registration at a place of permanent residence (de jure population) but excludes the possibility to register at a temporary place of residence (de facto population). Due to the complicated procedure of registration and de-registration, migrants do not have any incentive for complying strictly with the rules of registration. This primarily means a significant underestimation in emigration and immigration flows. Similarly, in Russia, the absence of a legal time criteria makes it difficult to separate temporary stay from permanent residence. This implies that large numbers of immigrants prefer to register as temporary migrants (i.e. in their place of stay), though the duration of stay may last several years. Unfortunately, temporary migrants’ registrations are not processed by official statistics, implying that their numbers are unknown.

  • Specialized surveys

    The only information on emigration in most EaP countries is to be found through specialized surveys such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS). They usually collect a wealth of information that allows for some basic analysis of migration trends and characteristics in the region.

    However, there are three main problems with these surveys. Firstly, apart from LFS, surveys tend to be one-off undertakings and differ in methodology or objective, ruling out any possibility for comparison in time and space. This can be seen in the case of the survey conducted by the Ukrainian State Statistics Service in 2008 in cooperation with the Ukrainian Centre for Social Reforms, the Open Ukraine Foundation, IOM, and the World Bank. This survey was repeated in 2012 and, thus, there might be a potential for some comparisons. Also in 2008, a survey was conducted in Georgia on the topic of “Development on the Move: Measuring and Optimising Migration’s Economic and Social Impacts”[8]which was a joint project of the Global Development Network, and the Institute for Public Policy Research. If not repeated with the same methodology, the data from the survey will become out-dated and useless for the future studies.

    The second problem with surveys is the heterogeneity of the applied definitions of migrationwhich makes comparison of the received data difficult. Different definitions of migrants (e.g. based on country of birth/citizenship/previous residence criteria) are often used interchangeably and applied to migration analysis.

    Finally, a key concern to be highlighted is that surveys usually take only a small sample of migrants leading to issues of statistical representativeness.

Good source of statistics = Effective migration policy?

It is clear from the above discussion that the statistical data collection system in the region is in need of urgent organizational and structural reform with functional expansion, better financial support and more human resources. More specifically, the following reforms should be implemented:

  • Currently, the most useful and updated data on labour emigration characteristics in the region is gathered by labour force surveys. However, at the moment, only Moldova has a special segment in its survey dedicated to emigration. It would be beneficial for other countries in the region to conduct similar surveys regularly in their territory with special modules that capture out-migration of household members as well as return migration.
  • Both EU and the Eastern Neighbourhood countries would benefit from specific efforts bridging the results of their respective labour force surveys and making sense of the circular mobility captured by this source at both ends of migration. Possible gaps and inconsistencies, if identified, should be further examined by focused surveys.
  • There should be the establishment of harmonized Population Registers in all the countries in the region.
  • More centralized mechanism for the gathering of emigration data and better coordination should be conducted between the various state agencies responsible for emigration-related issues
  • Qualified methodical assistance and consultations with foreign  research institutions should be provided so that the data collected meets the international requirements for international migration statistics

Please Note: The above discussion is drawn from MPC’s explanatory notes on ‘Statistical Data Collection on Migration’. To read the detailed notes, visit: http://www.carim-east.eu/publications/explanatory-notes/statistical-data-collection-on-migration/

Anna di Bartolomeo, Research Assistant to CARIM East, CARIM India and CARIM South

Neha Sinha, Policy Analyst to the MPC

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


[2] For the purpose of this paper, the analysis of the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

[3] Source: Eurostat

[5] CARIM-East is part of the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) and is the first migration observatory focused on the Eastern Neighbourhood of the European Union. The project covers all countries of the Eastern Partnership initiative (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and the Russian Federation www.carim-east.eu

[6] CIS refers to  the Commonwealth of Independent States which is a regional association of former Soviet Republics

[7] The Eastern Partnership Initiative (EaP) is an institutionalised forum between the EU and the post-Soviet states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine


Healing a neighbourhood: Potential EU responses to the Syrian refugee crisis

Syria in turmoil

The internal armed conflict in Syria continues endlessly with its cohorts of fleeing people. In addition to an estimated 20,000 civilian deaths, 2.5 million people have been afflicted, 1.2 million internally displaced and nearly 450,000 have sought asylum outside their homeland[1]. By mid-January 2013, the UN estimates that over 4 million people will be in need and the number of refugees will exceed 700,000[2]. Amidst this backdrop, how will Europe respond to the crisis in its neighbourhood?

The facts: How many Syrians fleeing the country and to where?

Neighbouring countries of Syria, except Israel, have assumed the bulk of the refugee burden. Turkey (123,747), Lebanon (97,152), Jordan (94,566) and Iraq (56,982) are accommodating the vast majority and thousands await registration. In North Africa, UNHCR has registered 9,734 Syrian refugees, and tens to hundreds of thousands are claimed to reside without UNHCR registration[3].

Only a tiny proportion of those fleeing Syria have been admitted within European borders. Although total numbers are unknown – due to the particularly clandestine nature of irregular stay and entry, and unavailable EU statistics – some facts regarding Syrians in the EU can be discerned:

  • Syrian asylum applications within Europe have increased since the beginning of the conflict, but remain small (Table 1).
  • The increase in Syrian asylum applications is concentrated in a few countries. Five in the EU (Germany with 8,435 asylum seekers recorded in 2011 and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2012; Sweden: 3,780; Belgium: 955; the United Kingdom: 915; and Austria: 825) and one outside the EU (Switzerland: 1,745)[4].
  • Recorded Syrian entries to Europe have increased since the beginning of the conflict, but remain small. The vast majority of Syrian entries were recorded at the Greek-Turkey land border (Table 2).
  • There was a negligible increase in Syrians applying for immigration in the EU. In 2010,7,829 Syrians applied for a first permit of residence and 8,106 in 2011 (2012 data is unavailable) indicating that applying for immigration in the EU has not been an access route to Europe for Syrians , at least in the first year of the crisis. Sweden, the only country providing data for 2012, suggests that change may have recently occurred: first residence permits granted in Sweden to Syrian nationals were 140 per month in average in 2010, 167 in 2011, but 274 in 2012 (January – June), almost twice their number before the crisis.

Table 1. Syrian asylum claims in EU by quarter

Quarter Applications
Q1-11 1,510
Q2-11 1,725
Q3-11 2,750
Q4-11 2,935
Q1-12 3,000
Q2-12 4,013
Q3-12 4,560

*Data compiled from EUROSTAT

Table 2. Recorded irregular Syrian entries into Europe by quarter

Quarter Irregular Entries
Q2-11 274
Q3-11 602
Q4-11 614
Q1-12 715
Q2-12 2,024

*Data compiled from Frontex FRAN Quarterly Report, various issues.

The EUs response to the crisis

In addition to political efforts aimed at assisting the Syrian people – i.e. actions that hasten a democratic transition– the EU has taken several actions regarding the crisis:

Humanitarian aid

By 16 November 2012, the EU and its Member States had provided an approximate €288 million in assistance to those within and outside the country.[5]

Granting protection 

Syrian asylum seekers have been granted the highest percentage of positive decisions out of the top 30 nationalities applying for asylum in the EU. EUROSTAT reported that in Q2 2012, 4,390 out of 4,765 applications were positively granted protection – 1,595 refugee status and 2,755 subsidiary protection – meaning that almost all were granted some form of protection.[6] Levels of protection vary across Europe. In Germany, the vast majority of Syrians who apply for asylum are granted subsidiary protection. In Sweden, most Syrians who apply for asylum will automatically be granted a temporary residence permit for three years.[7] Norway and Denmark are granting ‘tolerated stay’ to Syrians. Other countries, like Greece and Eastern European states, have higher rejection rates of Syrian asylum claims when compared to the rest of Europe.[8] Other discussions have focused on providing shelter – albeit temporary – as EU and Greece considered providing shelter, if necessary, for 20,000 Syrian refugees on the islands of Crete and Rhodes.[9] Most EU Member States have refrained from forcibly repatriating Syrians back to their country.[10]

Consideration of a Regional Protection Programme (RPP)
The EU has considered implementing a RPP that could enhance “the capacities of the authorities and of the organisations dealing with international protection and refugee issues with a view to meeting the longer term challenges they will face and providing durable solutions.” [11]

Increased border security
In July 2012, Greece with the assistance of Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office) dispatched 1,800 border guards to the Greek-Turkey Evros border and placed 26 floating barriers along the river. More than 80% of Syrians crossing into Europe in the first quarter of 2012 did so through this border.[12]

Healing a neighbourhood: What other actions could the EU take?

Most countries involved in the conflict are acutely linked to the European Union, not only through Association Agreements, but also through their involvement in a progression towards a more peaceful, stable and prosperous region. At a time when unprecedented changes are occurring in the region, the EU could grasp this situation as an opportunity to show its responsibility to burden sharing and its commitment to mutually improving both shores of the Mediterranean. In order to continue efforts at resolving the Syrian crisis, the EU could:

  • Increase refugee resettlement for those who have been affected by the Syrian crisis and are the most in need. The EU has not publicly acknowledged the need for Syrian resettlement and has instead focused on providing assistance to third host countries. The EU could encourage resettlement as it has done in other refugee-producing conflicts (Iraq).
  • Continue positive asylum procedures throughout the EU, and grant prima facie recognition including provision of sufficient assistance.
  • EASO could take a more active role. EASO could provide and analyse clear data regarding Syrian refugees and coordinate MS’ efforts at providing protection to Syrians. It could in particular advice Member States about the right status to be granted to Syrians and on how to assist Syrians already within the EU.
  • Continue to work with its international partners to find a political and humanitarian solution to the Syrian crisis.

Christine Fandrich, Research Assistant to the MPC

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


[1] UNHCR Syria Regional Refugee Response, and the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department of the European Commission, ECHO.

[2] UN News Centre (9 November 2012) Retrieved from:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43458&Cr=syria&Cr1=&Kw1=syria&Kw2=deaths&Kw3=

[3] UNHCR Syria Regional Refugee Response. See also:  Fick , M. (2012 , October 18). Un: 150,000 syrian refugees have fled to egypt. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10488910; and UNHCR. Syria situation regional roundup. (2012, October 23). Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=50866f729&query=syriansegypt.

[4] EUROSTAT.

[5] For detailed provision of EU humanitarian assistance, see: ECHO Factsheet Syria (16 November 2012).

[6] EUROSTAT.

[7] Migrationsverket. (12 August 2012). Due to the current violence in Syria, many people will be allowed to stay in Sweden. Retrieved from http://www.migrationsverket.se/info/5833_en.html.

[8] UNHCR. (2012, October 18). Op. cit.

[9] UNHCR. (2012, October 11). Greece to accommodate syrian refugees on tourist islands. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.se/en/media/baltic-and-nordic-headlines/2012/october/12-16-october-2012.html

[10] According to Frontex, “Syrians were not returned in large number (less than 300 persons), but while the numbers were rather stable in most Member States, Greece reported a sharp increase in returns of Syrians as of June 2012” (about 125 people).  Frontex. (2012, October). Fran quarterly issue 2. Retrieved from: http://www.frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/FRAN_Q2_2012_.pdf

[11] Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union. (2012, October 24). Press release – common european asylum system and regional protection programme for syria on the agenda of jha. Retrieved from http://www.cy2012.eu/index.php/en/news-categories/areas/justice-and-home-affairs/press-release-common-european-asylum-system-and-regional-protection-programme-for-syria-on-the-agend

[12] Frontex.


Do Migrants Spur Innovation?

Executive Summary

Do migrants contribute to innovation in the European Union (EU)? MPC’s recent report[1] attempts to answer this critical question. To measure innovation, our research focuses on migrants’ contribution to patents registered at the European Patent Office. The preliminary results point towards a positive role played by migrants in promoting innovation.

What is innovation and why is it important for the EU?

According to the European Commission, innovation is defined as “the successful production, assimilation and exploitation of novelty in the economic and social spheres.”[2] Its importance is underlined in the European Council’s Lisbon Strategy[3] which highlights that innovation is important for promoting economic growth, an argument which is supported by the Europe 2020[4], the EU’s growth strategy. Moreover, EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility[5] (GAMM), through the ‘EU Blue Card’ Directive[6], provides one of the key policy tools to promote the migration of highly skilled workers in to the EU.

Innovation: How to measure it?

The recognition that innovation and technical change are amongst the key components of economic growth has pushed economists to look for appropriate indicators. However, measuring innovation is a difficult task since it is a multi-faceted phenomenon. One of the most popular indicators of innovation is the number of patent applications at industry or country level[7] (e.g. Furman et al. 2002). For the purpose of the study, we attempt to assess migrants’ contribution to theincrease in patents registered at the European Patent Office.

Why are patents important in measuring innovation? Patent data are considered an important indicator of innovative activity as they reflect the technological effort of companies and non-firm organizations aiming to create new products and processes. In research, patents are used to approximate the innovative capacity of countries. Contrary to previous analyses which used a territorial cross section approach and a diversity index, we analyse the innovative capacity at sectoral[8] level and explore how it is affected by the characteristics of human resources and their demographic trends.

The three case countries chosen for the analysis are UK, France and Germany. Though all three are counted amongst the top three economies in Europe, however, they differ in three key categories. Firstly, they differ in their age pyramid, as seen in the case of France, where the young-age population (below 15 years) is 1.35 times the old-age population (above 65 years), while in Germany and the UK the young-age population is smaller than the old-age population (0.85 times and 0.89 times respectively). Secondly, these countries also differ in their dominant production sector. In the UK, the service sector dominates the economy (75% of added value); while in Germany the manufacturing sector has 29.3% of added value. However, in the diverse economy existing in France, it is interesting to note that the agriculture sector still contributes up to 2.8% of added value. Finally, in terms of immigration, all the three countries have a long history of immigration and migrants make up between 11% and 8% of the population. However, they have different migration policies: the UK encourages immigration of the highly skilled labour, while both France and Germany have a tradition of allowing low to medium-skilled migrants and family reunifications.

Our analysis includes four variables: age, level of education, type of occupation, and the distinction between migrants and natives.  The three figures below show different national composition and trends of the patents and migrant shares by education and age.

 

Graph 1. UK: Migrant Share and Patent trends

Source: MPC’s Research Report 2012/11 ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini, Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: MPC’s Research Report 2012/11 ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini, Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio

 

Germany: Migrant Share and Patent trends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: MPC’s Research Report 2012/11 ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini, Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio

 

Graph 3. France: Migrant Share and Patent trends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: MPC’s Research Report 2012/11 ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini, Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio

 

Findings

The preliminary results of the research[9] suggest a positive correlation of highly skilled migrants and innovation, i.e., highly skilled migrants tend to favour innovation as revealed by an increase in the number of patents. However, the impact of the highly-skilled on one side, and the low-skilled on the other side, varies between migrants and natives. Also, the age composition of the labour pool plays a different role. The results indicate that both the young and old workers are spurring innovation but the results are not homogeneous and differ according to the country specificity.

In the UK, innovation is generated mostly by highly-skilled migrants who are in a more advanced phase of their working life. However, highly-skilled young[10] migrants and low-skilled older natives also contribute to innovation.

In France, innovation is stimulated by both highly-skilled natives and low-skilled migrants; it is especially promoted by the young population in both categories. However, older migrants also contribute to innovation.

Finally, in Germany, both the highly-skilled and low-skilled migrants (especially those who are older) play a positive role in innovation along with low-skilled natives. Furthermore, data suggests that natives favour innovation when they are young.

Please note that the results presented are preliminary as the positive impact of highly-skilled workers, both native and foreign, is limited inside specific sectors. Thus, the result underestimates the total positive effect of human capital changes as the complementarity between sectors and the positive spill over are not taken into account.

Key observations

  • Highly educated migrants, in general, play a positive role in promoting innovation
  • The specific field and quality of education of migrants are fundamental in determining the specific productivity of the migrant worker
  • In high technology sectors, highly-skilled foreign workers contribute positively to innovation without crowding out natives
  • Low-skilled migrants may indirectly contribute to innovation by complementing the work of highly skilled workers

 

The MPC Team

 

Note: The above commentary is a summary of MPC’s Research Report 2012/11 ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini, Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio. To read the complete report, please visit: http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/MPC%202012%20EN%2011.pdf


[1] To read the complete MPC report ‘Are migrants spurring innovation?’ by Alessandra Venturini,  Fabio Montobbio and Claudio Fassio, visit:

 http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/docs/MPC%202012%20EN%2011.pdf

[2] http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/other/n26021_en.htm

[3] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/00100-r1.en0.htm

[4] http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm

[5] http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/entity.action?id=5e75898d-e508-4f32-b6c4-13f495d6e879

[6]http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/internal_market/living_and_working_in_the_internal_market/l14573_en.htm

[7] Furman J., Porter M.E., Stern S., 2002, The determinants of national innovative capacity, Research Policy 31, 899–933

[8] The effect of immigration (of skilled and unskilled migrants) on innovation is measured at the sectoral level, in three EU member states (UK, Germany and France) in the period 1994-2007. Sectors are defined at the two digit level of NACE classification.

[9] The results of the research are preliminary using a production function of the innovation in the manufacturing sectors (measured by patents registered in each country-sector explained by openness to trade, physical capital, expenditure in research and development, the previous stock of patents, and human resources).

[10] For the purpose of this research, in Germany ‘young’ is defined as those who are under the age of 40; while in UK and France, it is defined as someone who is under the age of 35.


India´s Engagement with its Diaspora in Comparative Perspective with China

Executive Summary

India and China boast two of the largest and most extensive diasporas in the world, both having a long history of settlement and contribution abroad. MPC’s latest research report “India´s Engagement with its Diaspora in Comparative Perspective with China” discusses the history and main characteristics of the diaspora policies of the two countries.  Moreover, the report highlights new forms of citizenship such as “emotional citizenship” and “flexible citizenship” which are increasingly emerging as a result of transnational migration. The report concludes with policy recommendations for the Indian government in the field of diaspora relations.

India’s diaspora policy

In 2001, the High Level Committee on the Indian diaspora established by the Indian government estimated the global Indian diaspora at 20 million people (representing 1.9% of the total Indian population). In India, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has a number of special programmes for overseas Indians. Two successful examples are – the PIO or Person of Indian Origin Card (introduced in 2002) and the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card introduced in 2006. The PIO card grants visa free travel to India for a period of 15 years and cardholders are exempt from registering with the police if their stay does not exceed 180 days. The card is designed for foreign passport holders of Indian origin up to the fourth generation settled throughout the world except for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Although similar to the PIO card, the OCI card gives visa free, multiple entry and multi-purpose travel for life, as well as permanently exempts its owners from ever having to register with the police. Its eligibility criteria is slightly more restrictive, being aimed at foreign passport holders of Indian origin (except Pakistan and Bangladesh) up to the third rather than fourth generation. It has been a great success, as measured from the latest MOIA annual report which reports that a total of 1,029,131 individuals of Indian origin have successfully applied for OCI status as of Feb 14 2012.

In addition, the MOIA also initiated the ´Know India´ (launched in 2004) and ´Study India´ (introduced in 2012) schemes. These are aimed at youth aged 18-26 years, who are selected by Indian missions abroad to participate in three or four week long study sessions in order to get to know their Indian roots and become acquainted with contemporary Indian society.

China´s diaspora policy

Compared to India, China has developed a more extensive diaspora engagement policy and institutional apparatus. The Global Commission on International Migration in 2005 estimated the worldwide Chinese diaspora at between 30-40 million people (representing 2.9% of the total Chinese population). [1] The government has made a concerted attempt to embrace all ethnic Chinese, regardless of nationality or date of migration, as part of the Chinese family and hence inextricably tied to the Chinese nation. Its discourse, like that of India’s, stresses the importance of ethnic identity and pride in one’s heritage.

The aims of the Chinese and Indian governments are thus similar: both have sought to expand and de-territorialise the concept of “Chinese” or “Indian” in an attempt to promote their economic and social development.

However, the focus of their diaspora policies has differed. China’s “Roots Seeking” programmes for overseas youth promotes Chinese language and culture abroad but China has not introduced special visa-free administrative schemes for the overseas Chinese. On the contrary, China has over the last two decades aggressively courted the return of its highly-skilled diaspora through a variety of employment and scholarship programmes.

One example is China´s flagship programme for attracting overseas talent – known as “1000 Talents”. This programme offers high-level academic positions to senior Chinese scholars with PhDs (earned overseas at salaries) up to 20 times higher than what local faculty make. In large cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, annual salaries reach 1, 000, 000 RMB or 121, 000 Euros annually (in comparison with around 200, 000 RMB or 24 000 Euros for locals), enhanced by a one-time relocation payment of 1, 000, 000 RMB, generous research funding, a living allowance, social security benefits and access to prestigious university-affiliated primary/secondary schools for their children. Thus far, 2263 Chinese scientists and other academics have returned under this programme, although not without provoking local resentment at their much superior living and working conditions.

A second strand of the 1000 Talents programme seeks to draw innovators (for example patent holders) in specialist engineering and high technology sectors who will create companies or jobs in China. Their salaries are even higher, at 3, 000, 000 RMB per year (363 330 Euros). More than 2100 academics and high achieving innovators have returned to China thanks to the 1000 Talents programme, exceeding the original target of 2000 individuals.

Lessons for India?

China can claim success in attracting a significant number of “sea turtles” as returnees are known, back to Chinese universities and research parks, and has also been very successful in attracting ethnic Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Although FDI figures from the Indian diaspora have been disappointing, India is the leading recipient of remittances worldwide, and its “Person of Indian Origin” and “Overseas Citizen of India” schemes have enjoyed great popularity among the Indian diaspora.

In order to strengthen diaspora investment and return, India can consider opening up public sector employment to Persons of Indian Origin, approve the Innovation Universities Bill which will allow the creation of private “PIO/NRI” universities in India, and accelerate the process of merging the PIO and OCI schemes into one universal and streamlined card for all persons of Indian origin. Finally, on the global stage, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which runs Indian Cultural Centres abroad, would do well to expand their number and global reach (particularly in North/South America and in continental Europe). Being visible culturally and linguistically on the global stage is vital for promoting India´s ´soft power´ and can potentially reach a much greater number of PIO youth than the current small numbers participating in its “Know India” programmes. Finally, India could do more to expand the efforts of the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, creating a sub-national network of such centres. Currently some Indian states are relatively deficient in diaspora engagement whereas others, such as Kerala, have developed an extensive diasporic infrastructure of their own. Regional Overseas Indian Facilitation Centres could launch internship programmes in priority areas and business start-up schemes that encourage talented young PIO youth living abroad to bring knowledge and business creation to India.

Conclusion

While India and China initially neglected their respective diasporas, their policy of indifference changed when they embarked upon economic reform. Although neither country accepts dual nationality, both have now recognised the great economic and social value of their diasporas and the potential contribution to the “homeland” that they can make from abroad. China and India have created an increasingly extensive diasporic infrastructure (such as dedicated diaspora ministries), combined with policies designed to attract investment as well as emotionally bind the diaspora to the “motherland”. While China has aggressively courted its highly skilled scientific diaspora, offering highly competitive salaries and working conditions to returnees, India has pursued a policy of offering a range of benefits (such as visa-free travel) to its diaspora, and creating two main categories of overseas Indians.

Overall, the diaspora policies of India and China demonstrate that:

1)      Although the absolute numbers of their knowledge diasporas may be small in relation to the overall size of the diaspora, their contribution to the domestic economy can be highly disproportionate; and,

2)       In order to attenuate the effects of the brain drain, it is possible for origin countries to promote diaspora engagement employing a variety of modes of ´flexible´ citizenship that allows their global diasporas to contribute without being residents.

Please Note: This is a summary of the MPC Report titled India´s Engagement with its Diaspora in Comparative Perspective with China.

Kathryn Lum, Research Assistant to CARIM-India

The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the views of the Migration Policy Centre.


[1] These figures include several generations of migrants and their descendants and are not the result of an official census.