Migration, Dignity, Fragility, and Pandemics
Mikiyasu Nakayama, Shanna N. McClain, Ryo Fujikura, and Daisuke Sasaki
Global Infrastructure Fund Research Foundation Japan
Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Environmental Law Institute
Washington, D.C., USA
Faculty of Sustainability Studies, Hosei University
Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University
Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
Migration is dynamic and varies greatly across the globe due to myriad factors, including demography, economy, geography, and environment. As people move, a number of challenges exist that can leave human rights and human dignity as an afterthought to the migration process. This special issue provides a legal and policy framework for supporting “migration with dignity,” providing examples of how to apply this framework across a number of contexts, including climate change, the migration cycle, and pandemics.
COVID-19 has drastically changed mobility and migration in key spheres, such as transportation, travel, construction, and hospitality. Our research for this special issue was conducted between 2020 and 2021; therefore, we had the opportunity to witness a once-in-a-century global pandemic with direct impacts on migration inflows and outflows. Consequently, we have included pandemics as a key theme for consideration in this issue, believing that the research agenda should be informed by the assessment of impacts in both the atoll countries and in the United States – the most common “destination” of Pacific Islanders. This additional research revealed the vulnerabilities of migrants in the destination countries and in their home countries, vulnerabilities that would not otherwise have been apparent.
Our research was also directly impacted by the pandemic. We intended to conduct field research in countries such as the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Republic of Maldives, with the RMI and FSM serving as countries of “origin” for migration to the United States. In the Maldives, there is a large domestic migration from the atolls to the newly constructed man-made islands. We experienced research and travel limitations due to COVID-19, where many countries have adopted strict isolation policies to prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, we had to conduct our surveys remotely using the Internet or by asking collaborators living in the area to conduct surveys on our behalf.
Our special issue also touches on the issue of the intergenerationality of immigrants in terms of how migrants adapt or assimilate into the receiving society, and how the mass media plays a role in the perceptions of migrants and the perceived problems associated with immigration by host countries. Many opportunities remain for further exploration and research, including how migration has changed in the post-pandemic world. We intend to pursue these opportunities in 2022 and beyond.
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationa License.