A Letter from the Co-Chairs

Dear Participant,

We'd like to take this moment to thank you for coming to this year's conference, and to introduce ourselves and the rest of the UNIS-UN organizing and executive committees. Ms. Sylvia Gordon founded UNIS-UN in 1976 at the United Nations International School. She wanted to create an event in which her students and visiting students could meet to discuss pertinent world issues. Over the years UNIS-UN has evolved into the largest student-run conference held in the United Nations General assembly, with over 500 students attending from 5 continents. Every year we begin planning in April by interviewing and selecting the Executive Committee. This is the core planning body for the conference. We are then divided into 6 commissions: Editing, Finance, Logistics, Visiting Schools, Speakers, and Technology. Together we work with the over 100 UNIS students making up the Organizing Committee to plan all aspects of the conference, from website design and social media presence to speaker and participant invitations and more. We've worked hard to plan a marvelous experience for you, and we are so excited to welcome you to our city.

Here's to a wonderful conference!


Sarah Blau and Sean Waxman-Lenz


The U.N. defines an international migrant as “any person who changes his or her country of usual residence.” There is an estimated 191 million immigrants in the world, a number that is almost twice what it was 50 years ago. 60% of the world’s migrants live in developed countries. Beginning in 2015, large amounts of refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea and Southeastern European borders to apply for asylum within the European Union. Since then, the political climate has become less welcoming and migrants have been used more are more as scapegoats for economic and security issues. Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Donald Trump’s election to the United States presidency, and Italy’s vote to a referendum on its EU membership, the world a rise in nationalist and populist rhetoric.

Human rights, economic policy, refugee health and national sovereignty are some of the concerns surrounding immigration. The issue is only growing as economic, political and environmental instability continue to rise and more men, women and children are forced out of their homes.

At this year’s UNIS-UN conference - Migration: Crossing the Line - we will have the unique opportunity to hear from speakers that are actively involved in fighting for immigrant justice. This year, we will be hearing from Angy Rivera, Gregory Maniatis, William Milberg, Sirin Selcuk, and Ben Fox Rubin. These speakers have contributed to the international dialogue on migration throughout their careers, and some of them have experienced what it is to leave home and immigrate to a country not necessarily welcoming. Alongside the anti- immigration movement is a movement by the people for reform and acceptance. The goal of this year’s conference is to examine varying perspectives on the issues surrounding migration: the causes, individual experiences as well as the political and humanitarian responses to migration. As millions of people flee their countries to escape armed conflict, political turmoil and economic hardships, we will consider who is responsible for providing aid and to what extent. While we may not find express answers to these issues, we hope to lead a discussion that can result in a deeper understanding of global migration.

Debate Topic I:

Refugees can be denied entry if accepting them poses a security risk.

In debating this topic we encourage students to look at what qualifies as a legitimate reason for limiting migration. Rhetoric regarding the dangers of accepting refugees has spread around, but how real are the concerns? Does a country have an obligation to help people across the globe in the name of human rights when it could come at a cost to its own citizens? We hope to look into answering these questions and learning in depth about the political and moral implications of a refugee crisis.

Debate Topic II:

Economic migrants and political refugees should be treated equally when applying for immigration.

Today’s mass migrations have resulted in problems with countries selecting whom they can accept as immigrants. This debate topic considers how a government should make these decisions. Many people feel the moral obligation to accept refugees ends with dyre circumstances for migration. Some argue that this is inhumane as it leaves many suffering around the world. The goal of this topic is to critically assess the ethics and practicality of different immigration policies.

Why Do People Emigrate?

Krithika Ravishankar

Human migration is the process where individuals enter the boundaries of a country of which they are not citizens with the intention of becoming a permanent resident. Currently, over 70 million people have been forced out of their native countries due to problems such as political turmoil, poverty, climate change, unemployment, and developmental projects, creating a massive refugee crisis. However, social conditions reflected in governmental corruption, poverty, environmental degradation, and political turbulence (manifested in endemic terrorism or structural violence) can also provide manmade incentives for voluntary emigration. Despite the numerous hurdles and dangers faced by migrants, the prospect of a better future, extensive opportunities, safety from violence, and availability of jobs, compels many individuals and families to leave their native land.

The Guardian reported that 15 million people have been forced to migrate from their homes due to the construction of an infrastructure and an urban renewal push; this especially affects poor people as their rural neighborhoods are further industrialized. For example, in the Philippines, The Metro Manila railway project led to the ejection and displacement of an estimated 35,000 families. In Turkey, a 12-year-old Syrian boy named Saddam who lived in an abandoned shop works 12 hours shifts daily for $2 a day. People like Saddam face a Hobson’s choice (taking everything available or leaving it) since their income is not enough to get them smuggled to Europe (costing between 1,000 and 6,000 dollars), but their current lifestyles do not sustain their basic necessities.

Similarly, in Eritrea, two thirds of teenagers who are forced into the military are paid 500 nakfa (10 dollars) monthly and are not legally allowed to leave. Strict laws, dictatorship and countless human rights violations have caused 1 in 50 Eritreans to flee to Europe since 2012. 9% of 400,000 who have escaped, have died or became stranded along the way, and thousands have drowned in the Mediterranean. This statistic shows us that despite the dangers, people are willing to risk their lives in search of better living conditions.

Efforts for urbanization have led to displacement of lower income families. For example, in Sudan, a 40-year civil war and rapid urbanization (despite lack of trade, resources and industries) have caused 1.6 million people to be displaced. In 2016, in Juba, the South Sudan capital, a conflict erupted between the president (Salva Kiir) and vice president (Riek Machar) when Machar was accused of planning a coup. This gory conflict provoked the movement of 185,000 citizens in just one month (July 2016). While urbanization sparks advances in technology, transportation, communication, it also displaces a lot of people. Urbanization has also driven globalization. The nature of migration has been greatly influenced by globalization. The economies of the world have become more connected, and as a result, the disparity between developed and developing countries has increased. In 1900, the ratio between the income levels of the 5 richest and 5 poorest countries of the world was 9:1. Now that ratio is 100:1, which causes an increasing incentive for migration from developing countries to developed countries. In fact, from 2000-2005 developed countries received 13.1 million migrants from developing countries.

Who are the Migrants?

Anya Patel

In 2015, there were 244 million migrants globally and each migrant has a certain profile. A profile is composed of a particular gender, age, origin, ethnicity, and education level. In 2015, the world consisted of 126,115,435 male migrants and 117,584,801 female migrants. According to the United Nations Population Division most migrants, both female and male, were ages 30 to 34 and there were less migrants of ages 70-72 internationally. This shows that there are more migrants of working age. Nonetheless, the origins and ethnicities of migrants vary. Between 1990 and 2015, the size of the international migrant stock grew in 169 countries or areas and minimized in only 63. Over 51% of all international migrants were living in 10 countries: the United States of America, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, France, Australia, and Spain.

The United States has the largest number of international migrants, hosting 47 million migrants. It was reported that 11.1 million of those migrants were unauthorized immigrants. 8 million of which were a part of the workforce. English is the third most common language in the world, with 360 million speakers. However, amongst immigrants English is not a common language. Most people migrating from Latin America to North America experience troubles with the change in languages. In California alone, one the largest states to host Latin American immigrants, the most common language spoken amongst immigrants is Spanish. It was reported that 53% of the immigrant population speak Spanish at home and 20% of whom report to not speak English at all.

With the increasing amounts of migrants in the United States and Europe there is a higher demand to prepare these migrants to engage in society by the means of education. In 2014, there were 10.5 million immigrants in the United States who had a college degree or higher. The Immigration Act of 1990 allowed immigrants to come to the United States, on a temporary visa, to receive a higher education. This has helped to increase the number of immigrants, between 1990 and 2000, by 89% from 3.1 million to 5.9 million. More recently, between 2000 and 2014 the number has increased by 78% from 5.9 million to 10.5 million. This shows that more immigrants are receiving a higher education and have a better opportunity to enter the workforce. Similarly in Europe, there are increasing amounts of migrants completing a lower secondary education. Specifically, 35.5% of the non-EU-born population has received at least lower secondary education, which is 14 percentage points higher than the EU-born and 16 percentage points higher than the native-born.

There are migrants all around the world with different profiles: different ages, genders, origins, ethnicities, and levels of education that reside in a country other than their birthplace. From the data, we can see that the most common profile of a migrant is a male of working age (30-34).

What is the Economic Climate in Countries Preffered by Immigrants?

Olivia Nelson

“Urbanization” has become an especially relevant phenomenon in our global, economically inter-dependent world. Stemming from the industrialization of the 19th and early 20th centuries, “urbanization” describes the progressive concentration of a country’s populations in cities and towns, with the objective of creating central areas for economic prosperity. It is predicted that, by 2030, the number of individuals living in urban areas will increase to 5 billion people. Cities undergoing successful urbanization with improved infrastructure (such as efficient transportation, education, and health facilities) and cultural advantages attract further immigration. Migrants traveling to industrialized countries often emigrate from poorer, rural regions in search of a better education, employment, or security. In addition, migration to urban areas transpires as a result of growing opportunities. Foreign migrants often view urban centers in developed nations as having increased economic opportunities, while also accommodating greater individual freedom – an alternative to exploitation and human rights violations that are rampant in much of the emerging world.

There is a strong correlation between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the extent of urbanization in a country. Urbanization is generally associated with “development.” Developed urban countries typically have a high GDP –an asset that appeals to economic migrants in search of high-paying jobs. The United States of America, with a Gross Domestic Product of approximately $18.5 trillion, and an unemployment rate of 4.7%, is a popular destination for migrants. There are approximately 46.6 million migrants, mostly from Mexico, India, and China, living within U.S. borders. Mexican migrants comprise the largest population of immigrants in the United States, approximating at 12,050,000 people.

The GDP in 2015 of European countries serving as common destinations for migrants follows a trend consistent with that of the United States, and are listed as follows:

  1. France: $2.419 trillion
  2. United Kingdom: $2.858 trillion
  3. Spain: $1.199 trillion
  4. Germany: $3.363 trillion
  5. Sweden: $495.62 billion

The UK, Spain, France, Germany, and Sweden – prominent destinationcountries for migrants – have low-income inequality and Gini Coefficients, an index designed to measure income distribution throughout a state. This is predominantly a result of a “progressive tax system” in which the wealthy are taxed at a higher proportional rate than low-income individuals. As an example, for 2016, individuals earning an income of $9,275 are considered to be in the “low tax bracket,” paying on average a 10% income tax rate; compared with individuals receiving incomes between $9,275 and $37,650 who are taxed at a marginal rate of 15%, and those earning between $37,650 and $91,150 who are taxed at a marginal rate of 25%. A progressive tax system effectively reduces income inequality within countries, decreasing marginal utility of income, and providing an incentive for increased spending.

What are the Routes Travelled by Migrants and How do They Navigate the Borders?

Olivia Nelson

War and humanitarian crises often force migrants into neighboring countries to await the termination of conflict in their home countries, expecting eventual return. For these reasons, approximately 4.8 million Syrian refugees have settled in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan. Despite there being a direct relief in these nearby destinations, countries are not always readily available for refugees. In Jordan, integration within the native population has been a difficult process, with both tertiary healthcare and education becoming increasingly unattainable for refugees who are often segregated in refugee camps. Additionally, given that many of these countries are are considered “developing,” the lack of economic opportunity, along with the increasing number of refugee arrivals, has had critical effects on the economies of the host countries. The sustainable infrastructure and resources offered by nations bordering Syria are somewhat limited, this leads to strict local restrictions on refugees, and facilitates a culture of transience with migrants attempting to travel to secondary countries where, if granted asylum, they can experience safety from conflict.

The Central Mediterranean route to Italy from Libya is a common path taken mostly by Nigerian, Eritrean, and Guinean migrants into European territory. However, this route became less popular due to political instability in Libya in the aftermath of the Libyan revolution. With no central government in Libya, violence prevailed. Smugglers took advantage of this failed state, openly exploiting refugees, and ultimately leading to a shift in migration patterns from the Central Mediterranean route to an Eastern Mediterranean route, after a reported 3,212 deaths in 2016. The Mediterranean route from Turkey to coastal Balkan states such as Greece and Bulgaria, then onward to Northern Europe, became the most desirable route for migrants traveling primarily from Syria and Afghanistan -- two countries immersed in ongoing conflicts. However, by 2016, as the refugee crisis continued to escalate, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Croatia (four Balkan states), closed their borders to slow the rapid flow of migrants into the European Union. This action occurred in response to an agreement ratified by the European Union and Turkey, that enabled the EU to gain more control over their borders by returning non-asylum seeking migrants in Greece back to Turkey, while permitting Syrian refugees residing in Turkey to enter the EU. This was controversial and has been criticized by various humanitarian organizations, primarily for creating unsustainable conditions among refugees forced to remain in Greece as a consequence of being prevented from reaching northern Europe. However, migration through the Western Mediterranean from Morocco to the coast of Spain, has additionally been a fairly unpopular route for migrants. This recently has been due to the relatively high unemployment rates in Spain (approximately 22.7% of the workforce in 2015), and stricter coastal border control, exemplified through the installation of “SIVE maritime surveillance system”, and frequent vehicle checks.

This past year, over one million refugees have applied for asylum in European Union member states, partially funded by $150 million from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). With adequate resources and the safe appearance presented through news outlets, Europe appears to many migrants as the ideal destination, where they may easily find employment in the robust economies. Germany, one of the European Union’s most economically powerful states, accepted 1.1 million refugees in 2015. Asylum applications in Germany have been processed at an exponential rate, permitting more migrants to enter the country. However, with more migrants traveling to the EU, member states have become considerably attentive, increasing the role of FRONTEX - a form of border control responsible for many roles, some of which include monitoring migratory flows into the EU, and executing rescue operations at sea.

FRONTEX has additionally remained active in confronting human smuggling across borders. Smuggling, an increasingly global issue, presents many ethical concerns. Criminals seeking monetary gains often exploit migrants, forcing them to travel for long periods of time in small spaces, through treacherous locations (such as deserts), or in dangerous rubber vessels that are susceptible to sinking. Technology has contributed immensely towards the continuation of smuggling. Smuggling networks often promote themselves through social media outlets such as Facebook, presenting images, detailed logistics pertaining to the routes of travel, and the prices of smuggling. However, technology does possess several advantages over migration, allowing people in host countries, and foreign aid organizations to remain updated and aware of where migrants are, and the routes that are traveled.

What are the Differences Between Economic and Political Migrants?

Luna Maki

An asylum seeker is a person whose process for seeking asylum has yet to be determined, while a refugee has approval from the authorities. The least developed countries have provided 3.6 million refugees, or 25 per cent of the global total asylum seekers. While national asylum systems are in place, during time periods of large masses of refugees moving due to conflicts, it usually concludes that not all asylum seekers are guaranteed a chance for a better life. In 2015, 3.3 per cent of the world's population lived outside their country of origin. Out of the total migrants internationally, the majority flee in search for a better economic convenience while some are deserting to other countries due to the lack of safety. According to the Organization for International Migration, migrant workers make up almost 3 per cent of the world's population.

The majority of people who are traveling from one country to another are economic migrants. They are leaving their countries for economic reasons, for example, searching for better living standards and trying to find better jobs to support their lives. A life in despair often compulses a person to explore opportunities for a better life and to make a move. Year to year, the gap between third-world countries and and well developed countries increases causing people to move to more industrialized regions such as America and Europe. 60% of refugees heading to Europe are economic migrants searching for a stable earning. In 2004, when Poland and seven other countries joined the EU, the UK received many economic migrants, up to 500,000 workers, because of the pull factor. The pull factor included wages five times higher than they could get back where they were from.

The impact when economic migrants leave their country of origin could be positive or negative. For example, in 2003, 2,053,600 Turkish workers left Turkey to work in Germany for a better income. Half were unemployed in Turkey and were given the opportunity to start making a living and Germany gained a source for cheap labour. However, some of the negative impacts are the loss of workforce in Turkey, as well as racial tensions due to a language barrier.

Political migrants are in search for political freedom towards liberty or political rights to escape the governmental persecution they experience. Often times, ethnic and religious reasons also force migrants to flee to other countries because of the intolerance some countries have. The absence of political rights is the prevailing political factor in migration. People who disagree with their government could be tortured, discriminated against, and harassed, therefore jeopardizing their safety in the country, are forced to migrate. Asylum seekers are the direct consequences of the discharge of political migrants trying to move to a safer country to free themselves from an oppressive state to a more democratic country. According to the Migration Policy Institute, United Kingdom received the highest amount of asylum seekers with a total of 555,310 or 15 per cent of the total global asylum seekers in 2002.

What Impact Do Migrants Have on the Countries Receiving Them?

Qiyuan Shengni

Fear of immigrants has spread through media. Immigrants are said to be a threat to security and local economies. In United States, statements such as “a massive, migrant crime wave is surging across Germany” and “they [the migrants] are hurting a lot of our people that cannot get jobs under any circumstances” are broadcasted. But can we simply suggest that immigration is detrimental to security and wages?

Between 1990 and 2013 the US foreign-born population grew by 5.2%, and the population of undocumented immigrants tripled, increasing from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. During this time the rate of violent crime, such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder, decreased by 48%. Similarly, the rate of property crime, such as motor vehicle theft, robbery, and burglary decreased by 41%. With the terrorist activity that has taken place in the past year, the media has been paying closer attention to the relationship between terrorism and refugees. The stream of refugees from Syria may potentially be a vehicle for the spread of terrorism, as Syrian passports were found on the corpses of terrorists in Paris in November 2016. However, according to the Global Terrorism Index, the only country hosting a large number of refugees with a high level of terrorist activity is Pakistan. From 1975 to 2015, 700,000 asylum- seekers and 3.25 million refugees immigrated to the US. Among them 24 were identified as terrorists; they killed 7 people in attacks while 34 terrorists entering in the U.S. with tourist visa killed 2,834 people over the same time period. The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by an asylum-seeker was one in 2.73 billion a year. The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee was one in 3.64 billion a year.

From 1980 to 2000 the number of immigrants admitted grew from just over 100,000 to 900,000. During this time, the household income of the broad middle class rose from $62,000 to $85,000. One common view is that immigrants “steal” jobs from locals. From 1999 to 2000, the number of people who were entitled to become new US legal permanent residents by birth rose from 644,787 to 841,002, while the unemployment rate dropped from 4.1% to 4.0%. Through the first decade of the 21st century, immigrants had lower employment rates than natives by 1.7%. Immigrants who had some college education or more had a 6.2% lower employment rate than their native counterparts.

According to Jonathan Wadsworth, a British author, there is no correlation between changes in the less skilled (defined as those who left school at age 16) native youth NEET (not in education, employment or training) rate and changes in the share of immigrants, from 2004 to 2012. Countries that experienced the largest rise in immigrant influx experienced neither larger nor smaller increases in native-born unemployment. There is little evidence of a strong correlation between changes in wages of all the UK natives and the changes in local area immigrants over this period. With this data, we can reconsider the claim that immigrants pose threats to social security and hurt local economies.

Assimilation: How Does Migration Affect the Migrants?

Krithika Ravishankar

Assimilation into a new environment involves the ability to establish a steady lifestyle (i.e.: find a job, buy a home, etc.), but this process is tougher on some migrants than others. Some are highly educated and qualified, but face issues such as racism, while others face tribulations as their lack of language skills and qualifications inhibit them from finding work. Those with simple vocational abilities will find greater difficulty competing with natives for work, as well as with the emerging technologically industrialized world.

Many European businesses simply find hiring refugees as an unwise business decision, according to UNHCR. Additionally, refugees entering the job market without qualifications will simply not be able to compete with European natives as well as other, more experienced migrants. Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) of Germany’s Federal Labor Agency claims that only 13% of migrants (from places such as Syria, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Albania, Serbia) hold tertiary degrees, and that they have at least a 30% chance of being unemployed in Germany. In Sweden only 5% of jobs available are low-skilled, as majority of Swedes are highly educated; we see similar statistics in Germany (9%) and Spain (16%). Through the immersion of technology, low-skilled jobs are slowly being replaced by machinery, which poses a threat to low-skilled migrants, as finding work and establishing a stable lifestyle becomes more difficult. A political implication of this could involve an increased number of immigrants on welfare.

On another note: currently, migrants of all qualifications face social difficulties that further suppress their efforts to integrate. For example, France: a country with a large Muslim population; the French are not responding well to the incoming and existing refugees. Based on a 2013 survey, 70% think there are too many foreigners staying in France. Many of these migrants stay in public housing complexes separated from cosmopolitan cities, which are often ramshackled and visibly unappealing. The crime rate is high and young men are constantly victims of police brutality and are referred to as immigrants, despite some being born in France. Many migrants suffer from blatant racism that causes immense psychological stress and physical harm, violating their basic human rights and safety. In 2015, only 57% of the people in age of working were employed compared to 65 for the natives. Additionally, ethnic minorities face employment discrimination as they are only hired for the lowest paying jobs, under subpar conditions. France does have laws against employment discrimination, but Huffington Post reported that these laws do not prevent employers from victimizing migrants.

To aid migrants (especially those who are low skilled), countries such as Sweden are currently operating two-year programs for migrants to help them assimilate and “build their new lives.” The effectiveness of these programs is controversial, as some think this time period is too short for unskilled migrants and too long for educated migrants. In a short period of time, complete assimilation into new counties is not possible due to the many factors that need to be taken into consideration: the time it takes to find work, the time taken for the migrants to recover from psychological trauma, the amount of training to acquire skills for work, the sheer number of migrants the government needs to help and many more.

What are the Ethnic Makeups of Host Countries?

Ceren Powell

There are many countries that have recently taken initiative in assisting refugees from around the world. Countries such as Canada, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom are ranked highly in allowing refugees into the country. In addition to the Western countries there are countries worldwide, for example Japan that have provided assistance to migrants. The population makeup of these countries can be described as homogeneous or heterogeneous. A country is considered homogeneous if the majority of the population is of the same ethnicity. A diverse, multicultural population is labeled heterogeneous.

Countries such as the United States (until 2016) and the United Kingdom appear to be more inclined to support refugees due to the diversity of their communities. In 2015, the United States had near-record where 14% of the country’s population was foreign-born, 61% was White, 18% was Hispanic, 13% was Black, 6% was Asian, 1% was American Indian and Alaska native, and 2% was of two or more races. On the contrary, Japan is a country with a population that really does not show any influence on the number of immigrants. Japan has a population of 98.5% Japanese, 0.5% Korean, 0.4% Chinese, and 0.6% other. In 2015, approximately 3% of Japan’s population was immigrants. There is a clear, significant message between the comparison of Japan and the United States. Countries that have a less diverse or homogeneous population seem to be less open and active in accepting immigrants when compared to those with heterogeneous population. In most cases, a population is not the only factor that influences the countries’ actions and decisions. However, there is a noticeable amount of relevancy and significance especially when two countries are compared. There are definitely different factors such as whether the country is developed or not, the type of political regime, etc. Nonetheless, the population of a country is surely an extremely relevant factor. In addition to the stated factors, there are also the policies of the different hosting countries. Japan has a very strict immigration policy and the law from its establishment was not designed to encourage migrants to settle in the country. The nationality law also implies reduction of acquisition of Japanese nationality by resident foreigners. On the other hand, the “Immigration and Naturalization Act of the United States of America”, the laws governing the current immigration policy, provides for an annual limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants.

Overall, it is very evident that there are many different existing factors that influence the intake of different countries’ immigrants. Where, primarily homogeneous countries are less friendly and less open to immigrants whereas primarily heterogeneous countries take in more immigrants.

How Are Refugee Camps Used?

Noella Kalasa

53% of refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, with Syria currently having 4.9 million of its people seeking refugee status or asylum in other countries. Over half of the 21.3 million refugees in the world are minors. The Middle East and Africa collectively host 68% of the world’s 65.3 million people forced from their homes due to violence, economic plight, and environmental instability.

Over 272,764 refugees have fled to the five camps in Kenya, which make up the Dadaab refugee complex. Three of these camps, Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera, which, as of 2015 are home to more than 277,310 migrants, have seen families grow and remain in the camps since 1990. The largest refugee camp in the world, Kakuma, is also in Kenya. Established in 1992, it is home to over 184,500 migrants, for the most part from South Sudan and Somalia. Kakuma and 7 other refugee camps in East Africa are members of the 10 largest in the world. Mishamo and Katumba, in Tanzania, together are home to 128,680 migrants. Camps Pugindo in Ethiopia and Yida in South Sudan have a combined population of 133,593. Countries bordering those experiencing violent conflict are the first places for refugees to go. Somali and Sudanese refugees flee to camps in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, Afghan refugees to Pakistan, Syrian refugees to Jordan and Turkey. Turkey as a nation hosts the most displaced people, with over 2.5 million men, women and children currently seeking refuge throughout the country. In 2014, Turkey hosted about 25% of refugees from neighboring Syria.

An important factor in the financing and quality of refugee camps is whether they are refugee settlements or managed refugee camps. Refugee settlements are born when groups of migrants decide to seek safety in another territory and turn it into their own camp, self-governed and organized. In self- settled camps, governments and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees have no official responsibility for the migrants, and cannot easily assure safe conditions for the migrants. In these cases, the refugees receive aid but have to create economic and environmental stability for themselves. Planned refugee camps, on the other hand, are managed by governments in conjunction with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The UNHCR has in place “guidance notes [which] outline the minimum standards required to ensure planned settlements enable refugee communities to live with security and dignity in a healthy environment which improves their quality of life”. In the Dadaab camps, the CARE agency provides primary schooling, food, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene relief to migrants. Other NGOs provide similar services in other refugee camps.

Most of the 15.4 million refugees in 2014 had been in camps for at least five years. After a while, in both settlement and planned camps, migrants begin to create their own hubs of activity, through agriculture, pastoralism, or starting businesses, and by creating spaces where individuals can learn and express themselves. The Hagadera Camp, one of the five in the Dadaab Complex, has a strong economy fueled by its market, one of the largest in the region. Migrants of the camp have moved to the outskirts and settled there. In the Zaatari camp in Jordan, soccer leagues and circus academy are offered as recreational outlets for the migrants. Humans, even in the direst conditions, adapt and make the best of what they have.

What are Policies for Integration of Migrants?

Isabelle Jaber

The immigration policies worldwide are dependent on the size, economic strength and culture of a country. These factors as well as a country’s ability to provide temporary relief as opposed to permanent residence contribute to the difficulties of creating universal immigration policies. For example, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Saudi Arabia are countries with high levels of immigration and different immigration policies.

Canada has very lenient immigration policies. To combat a shortage of skilled labor that has been stifling the country's economic growth since the 1970s, Canada has adopted one of the most open immigration policies in the world. As of 2010, the foreign-born population makes up 21.3 percent of the country's total population. On April 1, the already immigration-friendly country launched a Start-up Visa Program in an effort to attract highly skilled foreign entrepreneurs. Immigrants with funding from Canadian venture capital firms or investment groups for a start-up business will be eligible for immediate, permanent residency. If the new business fails, the entrepreneur will not be subject to deportation.

On the other side of the spectrum, Japan has intensely strict immigration laws in place. In this country, favoring a racially homogenous society, the foreign population accounted for only 1.7 percent of the total population in 2010. Like Canada, Japan is facing a rapidly declining population in which the low birthrate can barely match the death rate of the country's senior citizens. The population now sits at 128 million, but analysts estimate the number will have shrunk by a third in 2060 forcing the country to embrace more open immigration policies. Following the examples of Canada and the United Kingdom, Japan rolled out a new point-based system in the spring of 2012 to rate immigrants. Immigrants earn points based on their academic background and research or business experience, among other factors. Those who score higher—mainly professionals like professors, doctors, and corporate managers—will be given preferential treatment.

While Australia does have very standard immigration policies, what happens to immigrants whose visa expires is very drastic. In 2012, Australia received a total of nearly 15,800 asylum claims, up 37 percent from the previous year, according to the United Nations. The country's Department of Immigration and Citizenship states that the Migration Act 1958 requires any noncitizen or person who is unlawfully in Australia to be detained. People without a valid visa are considered unlawful—including children. Migrant children, especially asylum seekers, have been detained in immigration detention centers for months or even years. The Australian Government has responded to human rights complaints by removing children from detention centers and into community detention, or local housing.

Saudi Arabia, another country with high levels of immigration, has announced a racially based immigration policy, which includes a rule that non- Saudis who marry Saudis will never gain citizenship and will always remain foreigners, as will their children. The new policy is aimed at preserving Saudi Arabia’s Semitic homogeneity. According to the new rules, first published in the Al Eqtisadiah newspaper, Saudi nationals need to fulfill all the requirements on a 17 point list before their applications to take a foreign spouse will even be considered—and even then, the granting of permission is not automatic. They also prescribe age restrictions for non-Saudi spouses. A Saudi man has to be between 40 and 65 years old, and a non-Saudi woman has to be between 30 and 55 years old before their application to live in Saudi Arabia can even be considered. A Saudi woman also has to be between 30 and 55 if she wants to take a non-Saudi husband, according to new rules.

What are US Immigration Policies of 2017?

Anya Patel

The immigration policies of the United States of America have been dramatically changing with Donald Trump as president. He was recently elected as the 45th President of the United States and has already begun to take action. This recent change in presidency is affecting a lot of what America was attempting to achieve- specifically, diversity and integration. With the current refugee crisis in Syria, migration has become a very topical issue. The current process for refugees to enter the United States is already quite strict and even more strict for Syrian refugees. There are about 18 steps (20 steps for Syrian refugees) that they must undergo: background checks, interviews, fingerprint screenings, and security checks. This process often takes about 2 years to complete. On Friday, January 27, 2017 an executive order was placed to temporarily suspend citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria for 90 days and to suspend all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. However, Syrian refugees will be suspended indefinitely. Evidently, this would affect many migration patterns and displace even more migrants. This executive order has thrown thousands of refugees seeking to become immigrants in the United States into disarray. In fact, the day after this order was placed (Saturday, January 28, 2017) more than 200 inbound foreigners with once valid U.S. visas were detained on account of the ban. It is estimated that under this order the number of refugees allowed in the United States in 2017 will decrease from 110,000 to 50,000. In addition, Trump will be prioritizing persecuted Christians because he strongly believes that they carry a burden by living in Muslim oriented countries. In an interview with David Brody, Trump said, “Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible—at least very, very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim, you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And I thought it was very, very unfair, so we are going to help them”. However, according to a data analysis by Pew Research Center only 1,380 more Muslim refugees were admitted into the United States than Christian refugees in 2016. This small increase in Muslim refugees is due to the recent Syrian refugee crisis because overall there have been more Christian refugees admitted into the United States since 2002.

Donald Trump claims that the reasoning behind this order is for security purposes. Before signing the executive order at the Pentagon on Friday, January 27, 2017 Trump said, “I am establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people”. Trump has singled out these seven countries because three of them - Sudan, Syria, and Iran - are apart of the State Department’s list of sponsors of terrorism. The other four - Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq - are “terrorist safe havens” according to the State Department.


In a world undergoing technological, demographic, and environmental change, migration will be an ongoing hardship for many. In efforts to educate and inform, especially during these times under the influence of the current US administration, we, the UNIS UN executive committee, invited these speakers to help you answer these questions or force you to think about the information you receive on a daily basis. We hope that each speaker has provided you with a unique perspective regarding migration.

The purpose of this year’s Working Paper is to explore the impact of migration on the world. We hope to be a foundation that allows you to begin your own discussions, raise awareness, share your knowledge with school’s in your respective countries, and perhaps create solutions to some of the issues discussed. We hope that the articles presented in this year’s Working Paper enhance your understanding of migration and its influence on the world around us.



  • Anya Patel
  • Ceren Powell
  • Isabelle Jaber
  • Krithika Ravishankar
  • Luna Maki
  • Noëlla Kalasa
  • Olivia Nelson
  • Qiyuan Shengni

Executive Committee

  • Anna Lifsec
  • Anya Patel
  • Ayesha Wijesekera
  • Ellie Smith
  • Erik Ryan
  • Francesca Alavian
  • Gabriela Penido
  • Jahanara Nares
  • Janice Choi
  • Josh Shearouse
  • Kadiya McDonald
  • Lila Olson-Duffy
  • Max Neve
  • Noëlla Kalasa
  • Noelle Mahr
  • Preston Gross
  • Sarah Bertrand
  • Sarah Simon


  • Sarah Blau
  • Sean Waxman-Lenz

Faculty Advisors

  • Brian Khan
  • Rodolphe Casado


The 41st Annual UNIS-UN International Student Conference organizing committee wishes to extend a special thank you to Ms. Cristina Gallach, Mr. Michael Adlerstein and his assistant Ms. Maria Migoya, and the UNIS Board of Trustees for their invaluable sustained and enthusiastic support and commitment. They have been integral in the effort to put forth another successful conference. Together, their assistance has allowed this conference to be held in the United Nations General Assembly Hall.

We would also like to express our special thanks to our executive director Ms. Jane Camblin, the greater organization of the United Nations, and to all its officials and staff. We would also like to extend a special thank you to the following for their invaluable help and support: Mr. Brian Kahn, Mr. Zakaria Baha, Ms. Michelle Bertrand, Ms. Vera Tatel, Mr. Salvador Uy, Ms. Laura Heffron, Mr. Rodolphe Casado, Mr. Dennis Lacey, Mr. Daniel Cronin, Mr. Dan Lauter, Mr. Joseph Fasanello, Ms. Angela Smith, Mr. Ed Peppe and the Security and the CORE Maintenance Staff, Mr. Stephen Roache and the Business Office, Mr. Corey Dorn and the Cafeteria Staff, Ms. Susan Enzer, Mr. Jerome Dutilloy, Ms. Louise Wales and the Art Department, Mr. Frank Sorrentini, Ms. Joan Brown, Mr. Antoine Delaitre, Ms. Proserpina Dhlamini-Fisher, United Nations Officials and Staff, Visiting School and Advisors, UNIS Hosting Families, UNIS Parents Association and UNIS Students.

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