The shutting down of economies, closure of borders and fear of the invisible enemy is leading to the hardening of migration policies around the world – and the rise of a new “health securitization” migration rhetoric.While necessary to manage the fallout of the pandemic, limitations on the movement on people make it more difficult for asylum seekers and irregular migrants to access protection. Economies highly dependent on remittance cash-flows from their immigrant diaspora face the threat of job losses as well as deportation measures resulting from the enforcement of draconian immigrant policies. This may lead to an inflection point for globalisation, where models such as Singapore’s hub city model, the Schengen free-movement zone or even internal migration and urbanisation in India and China may require new flexibility and agility.While social media has been a source of anxiety and hate during the pandemic, it is also being mobilized for building a kinder discourse and serving as a space to display solidarity. Once the pandemic subsides, restrictive border policies – especially in countries with governments pursuing hard-line migration policies – may be hard to undo. Let’s hope the pandemic will lead them to call for better protection of foreign-born workers – and value low-educated migrants as well as highly skilled ones as key contributors to the success and sustainability of their economies.
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