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Title pages of the recent Law Library reports on asylum and migration law.

New Law Library Reports on Asylum and Migration Law Published

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The following post is co-authored by Kelly Buchanan, chief of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division II, and Jenny Gesley, senior foreign law specialist.

According to the latest Global Trends Report published by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), “108.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order at the end of 2022.” This is an increase of 19 million people compared to the previous year and represents the largest ever increase between years. The number includes refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, and other people in need of international protection. Likewise, the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) reported that between January and November 2023, the EU+, meaning the 27 European Union member states, plus Norway and Switzerland, received more than one million asylum applications, with nearly a third of them being submitted in Germany. These numbers are similar to the number of applications received during the 2015 and 2016 refugee crisis.

In Australia, around 10,500 applications for humanitarian protection were made in the fiscal year from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, by people already in the country. In addition, as of September 2023, around 8,000 “unauthorised maritime arrivals” (UMAs), who had arrived by boat at different points of time, were living in Australia on bridging visas while they awaited the determination of their substantive visa applications. Since August 2012, Australia has sent around 4,200 people classified as UMAs to either Nauru or Papua New Guinea to have their refugee claims determined, under its offshore processing policy for asylum seekers. Of this number, a total of 3,150 people had been resettled in a third country, particularly in the United States and New Zealand.

The Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress recently completed research on global asylum and migration law, focusing on the impact of Australia’s offshore processing policy and the latest legislative developments in the European Union (EU). We are excited to share with you the reports that resulted from this research.

The report Australia: Offshore Processing of Asylum Seekers explains the history of the offshore processing policy, which has been changed in various ways since it was first instituted in 2001. The current policy is that no UMAs may be permanently settled in Australia, and the approach of transferring people to Nauru for processing is still in place. However, very few such transfers have been made in recent years, with Operation Sovereign Borders also seeing boats being turned around while at sea, as part of efforts to deter people smuggling and prevent deaths due to unsafe vessels. Much has been written by refugee and human rights advocates and other commentators about the impact of the offshore processing policy on the wellbeing of those transferred to another country, and policies regarding asylum seekers have been consistently debated by politicians and the public. The report provides information from different sources that analyze the fiscal costs associated with offshore processing, the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat at different points of time, and the impact on the communities that have hosted the asylum seekers.

The report European Union: New Pact on Migration and Asylum outlines the provisional political agreement reached on December 20, 2023, between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, the co-legislators of the EU, and highlights amendments that the co-legislators introduced in comparison to the original 2020 legislative proposal from the European Commission. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum consists of five different legislative proposals and several additional policy proposals, in particular a Screening Regulation, a Revision of the Eurodac Regulation, a Revision of the Asylum Procedures Regulation, an Asylum Migration Management Regulation, and a Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation. In addition, the report summarizes views on the pact’s potential impact and criticism, in particular whether it is viewed as complying with international refugee law. A final adoption is expected in April 2024.

We invite you to review the information provided in our reports. These reports are an addition to the Law Library’s Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection, which includes over 4,000 historical and contemporary legal reports covering a variety of jurisdictions, researched and written by foreign law specialists with expertise in each area. To receive alerts when new reports are published, you can subscribe to email updates and the RSS feed for Law Library Reports (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website). The Law Library also regularly publishes articles related to asylum law in the Global Legal Monitor.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

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