ESPMI Statement on the Election of Donald Trump and Challenging Global Anti-Migrant Rhetoric

As an international network of scholars, practitioners, artists, and migrants, the ESPMI Network is deeply troubled by the election of Donald Trump, the divisive anti-migrant rhetoric surrounding numerous elections around the world, and the impact that both may have on our work.

We work to better understand how migration shapes our world and the ways in which we can enact sound policies, promote justice, and imagine ways forward in today’s social, economic, and political climate. As a global network whose current executive team hails from 16 cities in 13 countries, we recognize that a sense of place and community should be built on open dialogue, empathy, and understanding. In our work, we ask: How can we build a world that understands and embraces the complexity of migration, rather than one that feels threatened by its implications?

Donald Trump has promised to build walls, deport millions of undocumented people, scrap environmental programs and research that carry serious implications for migration, and replenish the nation’s ‘stolen’ jobs. Earlier in 2016, those who voted in favor of Brexit ‘took back control’ while anti-migrant and anti-refugee factions continue to gather strength in the UK and across Europe. In the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, a leading candidate is pledging to enact a “Canadian values” test for all new immigrants and has called Trump’s victory an “exciting message.”. These events and narratives contribute to a climate of negative assumptions about migrants that surrounds voters as they make critical political choices. Misinformation, uncritical reporting, and an unwillingness to unpack the role of migration in the formation of the communities and nations we live in seeps into the electorate consciousness, resulting in history repeating itself via a “lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating.” It is imperative that discussions of migration not be relegated to political boxing matches.

We refuse to accept racism and xenophobia in all forms. We refuse to accept accusatory policies that inaccurately conflate the presence of migrants with crime, the need for extraordinary security, or terrorism. We refuse to buy into the argument that migrant and refugee rights must be pushed to the side in order to persuade voters not to turn to a xenophobic brand of populism. We refuse to accept the frequent overlooking of the challenges of migrant experiences (as well as the many success stories). We also, however, refuse a singular focus on disappointing trends and world events. In the wake of the US election we have been heartened by the many acts of organizing, dialogue, compassion, and community building we have witnessed. We bear in mind that concurrent to these events, Ilhan Omar has been elected a state representative in Minnesota, Cardinal-elect Joseph Tobin is taking a stand in encouraging the resettlement of refugees in the United States, authors are releasing free copies of their relevant publications, and Dr. Farhana Sultana of Syracuse University has compiled a list of resources to fight the normalization of hate, to name but a few examples.

The ESPMI Network is a platform for emerging scholars and practitioners to bring new ideas and perspectives to the forefront of migration research, dialogue, and policy-making. As the executive team behind ESPMI we also take this opportunity to look within, considering the ways in which we, as migration scholars and advocates, frame our arguments, share accurate news and research via our network, and establish spaces for generative discussion. Migration has been a constant of human history, but changing political terrains demand our constant attention and creativity to address the view that migration is a threatening phenomenon. Standing with migrants, we will continue to collectively counter narratives of fear and suspicion while finding new and better ways to understand how migration connects us all.


– The ESPMI Network Executive Committee

The ESPMI Network strives to connect emerging scholars, practitioners, policymakers, journalists, artists, migrants, and all those involved in forced migration and refugee studies to meaningful work and professional connections, as well as to produce new research and new interest in these important issues.