The case for a facts-based migration policy

Research project presents ways of overcoming future immigration challenges

December 11, 2020

Five years after the “long summer of migration” in 2015, the Max Planck Society's research initiative "Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion" (WiMi) presented its research report entitled “We managed - and we changed in the process". In the report, the researchers take stock of the incindets in 2015 and present eight recommendations from their findings, which they have summarized in a position paper.

Arriving in a foreign country

In the paper, the researchers argue that given the global challenges facing us with climate change, globalization and demographic shifts, it is not just regrettable but actually even rather dangerous that current discussions of migration mainly revolve around a very small section of what is happening in migration, i.e. migration outside regular channels and the field of asylum: “The focus on this area draws our gaze away from wider contexts and future global challenges.”

A key demand is therefore to combine scientific findings from a range of disciplines with facts and data on migration and use that as a basis for solution-oriented political action. “This would allow for the formulation of policy instead of fragmentary, crisis-mode management on a small scale,” the researchers write. For Germany, they recommend strengthening and expanding structures which support the longer-term exchange between politics and civil society at a federal level.

The report also argues that comprehensive sorting, reshaping and simplification is needed for a legal framework splintered by hyperactive legislative activity. The findings of the WiMi initiative show that practical issues are best resolved at a local level. It is therefore also important to make decisions about migration in consultation with local actors and affected people. Its goal must be to make the decision-making process transparent, fair and targeted.

Migration, the report argues, cannot be managed only at a national level. On the contrary, the researchers emphasize the need for partnership and cooperation with other states in the design of migration policy. They also emphasize the importance of overcoming the blockage at a European level. The scholars warn that “Arguments about migration not only endanger European unity in this area, but also all aspects of European cooperation and the Schengen area as well”. They also call on the EU to design its asylum policy in accord with human rights. For the researchers, it is a matter of credibility that migration policy design should be in harmony with European values and thereby live up to the claim of offering a liberal counter model to authoritarian and inhumane politics elsewhere.

The migration research initiative was set up in 2016 at the instigation of Max Planck President Martin Stratmann. Its research activities cross disciplinary boundaries and bring together perspectives from anthropology, political science and sociology, along with law, demographics and history. A total of 29 academics and researchers from six Max Planck Institutes are participating in the initiative.

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