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  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Background, Forecast, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Summary, Background, Political forces at a glance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Economy, Background, Fact sheet
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Basic Data, Economy, Background
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Summary, Outlook, Briefing sheet
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economy, Economic structure, Charts and tables, Monthly trends charts
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Summary, Political structure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Economy, 5-year summary, Key indicators
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eleanor Acer
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: The Trump Administration has purposefully mismanaged the refugee and humanitarian challenges pushing people to flee political repression, human rights abuses, economic deprivation, and climate displacement in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Trump Administration policies have actually made things worse, cutting programs countering displacement, turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, encouraging crossings between official ports of entry, and punishing people seeking U.S. protection through punitive and traumatizing family separations and detention. These harmful policies have aggravated humanitarian challenges—deliberately provoking disorder, chaos, and confusion. Congress must take swift action to push real solutions, and over the longer term the next administration will need to ensure these solutions are enduring. Congress should champion a new initiative to strengthen protection across the region. This initiative must truly tackle the rights abuses and deprivations pushing people to flee, greatly enhance the capacity of Mexico and other countries to provide asylum and host refugees, and set a strong example at home by upholding America’s own refugee protection commitments. Upholding human rights commitments is not only the right thing to do, it is also in the U.S. national interest. These commitments have saved millions of lives and encourage countries around the world—including front-line countries that host the vast majority of the world’s refugees—to continue hosting refugees. The heroic work of many Americans—working and volunteering with faith-based shelters, community groups, legal representation, and other organizations—should be supported. They are, and always have been, an essential part of the solution. The measures outlined below would restore order to the region and the U.S. border while upholding the United States’ legal and humanitarian commitments. Key steps include: 1. Address the actual causes of displacement in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The United States should increase support for effective programs that counter violence, strengthen justice systems, spur economic opportunities, and safeguard communities from climate displacement, so that people do not need to flee in search of safety or survival. In addition, U.S. diplomats must press the leaders of these countries to safeguard rights, support anti-corruption efforts, and address abuses from security forces. 2. Strongly support increased asylum and refugee-hosting capacity in Mexico and other Latin American countries, so that these countries—which are already hosting growing numbers—have the ability to continue accepting refugees. Asylum filings in Mexico, for example, have increased by over 700 percent since 2014. The United States should sharply increase support for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to increase regional capacity, to develop strong asylum and refugee protection systems, and to better integrate refugees in Mexico and the region. U.S. diplomacy, law enforcement cooperation, and rule of law assistance should be leveraged to reduce violence against refugees and migrants in Mexico. In addition, the United States should launch a regional resettlement effort, providing some refugees with routes to safety in the United States as well as other countries, and relaunch the Central American Minors (CAM) program to allow some children with family in the United States to come to our country safely. 3. Combat smuggling in the region while safeguarding access to protection. U.S. agencies must ensure anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking efforts do not block escape from dangerous countries and include measures to safeguard human rights and access to asylum. By strengthening asylum, resettlement, and work visas in the region, more refugees and migrants will have alternate routes to protection. 4. Manage U.S. asylum arrivals effectively through a genuine humanitarian response that upholds U.S. law and provides order, including: Restore timely and orderly asylum processing at ports of entry and ensure humane conditions at all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) facilities; End the Remain in Mexico scheme and “metering” policies that push people to cross between ports of entry and put the lives of asylum seekers at risk as they wait in danger in Mexico; Support and fund NGOs and shelters in the United States—including faith-based groups that have been effectively partnering with DHS in U.S. cities along the border—to address humanitarian needs, a typical and necessary move in managing refugee arrivals; and Launch a community-based case management program that supports appearance, as recommended by ICE’s own advisory group, rather than jailing asylum seekers for even longer. 5. Restore order through measures providing timely, fair, and effective U.S. adjudications, including: Increase, rather than “get rid of,” immigration judges and interpreters. In order to understand what is being said in their courtrooms and ensure due process, judges must be supported by interpreters. And, since a judge set on furthering a politicized agenda is worse than no judge at all, safeguards against politicized court hiring must be immediately restored. Additional measures to support judges include: increased recruitment of interpreters who speak indigenous dialects to assure accurate hearings and prevent continued adjournments, ensuring the time necessary to gather evidence to prove cases, and rejecting absurd schemes that would entrust protection determinations to border agents or rush cases through adjudications; Support a major legal representation initiative to ensure eligible refugees receive protection at the earliest stages of the process and institute universal legal orientation presentations (LOPs)—including for families released from DHS/Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody—to explain appearance obligations, the legal system, and how to secure counsel; Enable more cases to be granted efficiently at the USCIS asylum office by providing initial decision-making authority to the asylum office in all asylum cases, changing policies and practices that have prompted asylum officers to refer, rather than grant, cases that meet the asylum criteria— unnecessarily adding them to the immigration court caseload—and assure the availability of an application process for “cancellation of removal” relief so these cases do not clog the asylum system; Make the immigration courts independent, as the American Bar Association recommends, to secure due process and judicial independence, ensuring that political appointees can no longer attempt to improperly influence the courts’ decisions in asylum and other cases; and Reverse Trump Administration efforts to prevent refugees from receiving asylum in the United States—including former Attorney General Sessions’ ruling attempting to deny protection to women who have fled domestic violence and families escaping from deadly gangs. The measures outlined above would restore order and bring about real and enduring solutions. As the president and top Trump Administration officials are doubling down on punitive policies and political rhetoric that fail to solve these challenges, Congress must demand effective strategies that are consistent with America’s ideals.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Prisons/Penal Systems, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Eleanor Acer
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: Families and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—fleeing human rights abuses, deadly violence, climate displacement and economic deprivations—continue to seek refuge in the United States and other countries. This is a regional humanitarian crisis—a manageable one that should be addressed using proven strategies, as are humanitarian challenges around the world. Yet instead of taking the steps necessary to address the crisis, the Trump Administration is making things worse, threatening cuts to effective programs that could reduce the problems forcing people to flee, sending refugees back to danger, canceling rather than expanding case management, and cutting orderly processing at ports of entry, increasing crossings between ports of entry. The Trump Administration’s actions appear designed to generate chaos. The regional crisis requires real solutions in several key areas: tackling the rights abuses and deprivations pushing people to flee, enhancing the capacity of Mexico and other countries to provide asylum and host refugees, and managing U.S. refugee protection requests in fair, effective and orderly ways—ways that uphold America’s refugee laws and treaty commitments. Most immediately, the United States must end the dysfunction at the border by launching a public-private humanitarian initiative and a long overdue case management system, which would keep asylum seekers informed and ensure they appear for their hearings. At the same time, the U.S. government should fix the asylum and immigration court adjudication systems to provide fair, non-politicized, and timely decisions. To effectively manage border and adjudication systems, the United States must upgrade to manage new realities, instead of pushing mass detention and other outdated, inadequate and ineffective responses that are also costly, cruel, and inhumane. As part of this strategy, the United States should launch a major initiative, with other countries, to expand regional protection so that Mexico and others, which are already hosting growing numbers, have the ability to continue accepting refugees. Critically, the United States and other donors should increase support for efforts to build the capacity of these countries to provide asylum, host, protect, and integrate refugees. In addition, the United States should work with other resettlement countries to launch a robust regional initiative that provides orderly routes to protection in the United States and other third countries. The United States must also advance a targeted strategy—leveraging both diplomacy and aid - to address the actual root causes of migration and displacement in the Northern Triangle. This should focus on programs that reduce violence, combat corruption, strengthen rule of law, decrease femicide and other gender-based harms, address gang violence, protect vulnerable populations, and promote sustainable economic development. By helping to build real protections for women, children, LGBTQ, indigenous, and other at-risk people in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, while expanding protection of refugees in Mexico and other countries, this strategy will ultimately reduce the numbers fleeing to the United States. The measures outlined below would restore order to the region and the U.S. border while upholding U.S. legal and humanitarian commitments. Congress—and over the longer term, the next administration—must push real solutions.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Prisons/Penal Systems, Border Control, Refugees
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: R. Scott Sheffield
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: This article explores the meaning of military service for Indigenous men who volunteered during the Second World War. At its core, this question can help elucidate what is often the “big why?” invariably asked by people encountering this subject for the first time: why did young Indigenous men fight for a freedom, democracy and equality that they had never experienced? Employing a transnational lens, the article seeks to do interrelated things. First, it examines the meaning of military service for Indigenous men in each of three distinct phases: prior to their enlistment, while serving in the army and in combat, and after demobilisation and transitioning to veterans. Second, this study considers Indigenous perspectives and experiences in relation to, and the broader context of, the non-Indigenous comrades-in-arms with whom they enlisted, served, and sacrificed. In the end, this examination reveals a diversity of interpretations amongst Indigenous soldiers at each stage, but cannot be definitive in the face of such complexity and the ultimately idiosyncratic and personal nature of veterans’ lived experiences.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, transnationalism, Indigenous, Military Service
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, Australia, North America, New Zealand
  • Author: Nicole Jackson
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines controversies over responses to hybrid warfare ranging from defensive societal and institutional resilience to more aggressive measures, and considers some of the strengths and limits of classic deterrence theory. How Canada and NATO interpret major transformations, and the language of ‘hybrid war’ that they adopt, matter because they influence responses. Reflecting NATO’s rhetoric and policies, Canada has become more internally focused, adopting a ‘whole of government’ and increasingly ‘whole of society’ approach, while at the same time taking more offensive actions and developing new partnerships and capabilities. Canada and NATO are taking significant steps towards ‘comprehensive deterrence’, yet more clarity is needed in how responses are combined to avoid the dangers of hybrid wars with no end.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Canada, North America
  • Author: Michael James Kirchner, Mesut Akdere
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The United States Army’s leader development program offers new opportunities to examine how leaders are developed within the traditional workforce. Leader development is at the forefront of Army training and is coordinated through an institutional, operational, and self-development domain. Each domain contributes toward a holistic leader development program which prepares soldiers to be lifelong leaders. Veterans transitioning out of the military are often credited as possessing the leadership skills employers seek, though exploration of the process used to develop leadership attributes in soldiers has been minimal. Upon comparing the Army’s leader development program with other private sector leadership development training, similar goals were identified though the Army’s approach is distinguishable. This paper is an analysis of the U.S. Army’s leader development process and makes comparisons with leadership development in the traditional workplace. Three propositions are presented and discussed for leadership scholars and practitioners to consider. The authors also call for increased research and exploration of leader development in the military for transferability into the traditional workplace.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Leadership, Private Sector, Management
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Ina Kraft
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: This article sets out to catalogue narration strategies used in the professional discourse about Effects-Based Operations (EBO). EBO was at the heart of the US military transformation (2001-2008) and is one of few concepts officially discontinued instead of being simply replaced by a successor concept making it a crucial case for analysing its rise and fall. An analytical framework for classifying the rhetoric of military innovations is presented in this article. Based on this framework the debate about EBO in the U.S. military journal Joint Force Quarterly between 1996 and 2015 is assessed with a view to three questions: How was EBO framed by military experts? Was the shift of institutional support for EBO reflected in the discourse? And, is there evidence to suggest that the EBO discourse had an influence on the adoption and later discontinuation of EBO? The analysis shows that in the case of EBO a particularly homogenous discourse pattern existed, which might have contributed to the concept’s quick and ultimate demise.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Paul Saunders, John Van Oudenaren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the National Interest
  • Abstract: The report provides a synthesis of Japanese and American expert perspectives on the recent history, current state and future prospects for Japan-Russia relations. The authors examine the political, diplomatic, security, economic and energy dynamics of this important, but understudied relationship. They also assess how the Japan-Russia relationship fits within the broader geopolitical context of the Asia-Pacific region, factoring in structural determinants such as China’s rise and the level of U.S. presence in the region. Finally, the authors consider potential policy implications for the United States, paying special attention to how shifts in relations between Tokyo and Moscow could impact the U.S.-Japan alliance. As Saunders observes in his introduction to the volume, the currently shifting strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, which is a central factor in Tokyo and Moscow’s efforts to foster constructive relations, also raises a host of questions for the US-Japan alliance. What are the prospects for Japan-Russia relations? What are Russian and Japanese objectives in their bilateral relations? How does the Trump administration view a possible improvement in Russia-Japan relations and to what extent will U.S. officials seek to limit such developments? Is the U.S.-Russia relationship likely to worsen and in so doing to spur further China-Russia cooperation? Could a better Russia-Japan relationship weaken the U.S.-Japan alliance? Or might it in fact serve some U.S. interests?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Steve Chan
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: This short essay introduces some concepts and propositions from social science research that I personally find helpful in understanding the ongoing Sino-American trade dispute. Naturally, they are not meant to suggest a comprehensive or exhaustive list of factors that inform this topic. Given the purpose and the limits of my essay, I also do not engage any specific theory or method, such as the efficient-market hypothesis or game theory pioneered by well-known Nobel laureates (e.g., Burton Malkiel and Eugene Fama1; Thomas Schelling2).
  • Topic: Conflict, Trade, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article presents estimates of the US undocumented population for 2017 derived by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). It focuses on the steep decline in the undocumented population from Mexico since 2010. While the president has focused the nation’s attention on the border wall, half a million[1] US undocumented residents from Mexico left[2] the undocumented population in 2016 alone, more than three times the number that arrived that year, leading to an overall decrease of nearly 400,000 undocumented residents from Mexico from 2016 to 2017. From 2010 to 2017, the undocumented population from Mexico fell by a remarkable 1.3 million. For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry for the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This article provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin. Summary of Findings The US undocumented population from Mexico fell by almost 400,000 in 2017. In 2017, for the first time, the population from Mexico constituted less than one half of the total undocumented population. Since 2010, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 1.3 million. In California, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 26 percent since 2010, falling from 2.0 to 1.5 million; it also dropped by 50 percent in Alabama, and by one third in Georgia, New York, and New Mexico. The undocumented population from Venezuela grew rapidly after 2013, increasing from 60,000 to 145,000 in just four years. Visa overstays have significantly exceeded illegal border crossings during each of the last seven years. Mexico was the leading country for overstays in 2017, with about twice as many as India or China. The estimates presented here were derived by CMS based on information collected in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS). The procedures used to derive detailed estimates of the undocumented population are described in Warren (2014). CMS used its annual estimates of the undocumented population for 2010 to 2017 — by state of residence, country of origin, and year of entry — to compile the information described here. Additional methodological details appear as footnotes or as notes in the tables.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Geoffrey Alan Boyce, Samuel Chambers, Sarah Launius
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Since 2000, 3,199 human remains of unauthorized migrants have been recovered from the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona (Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). These recovered remains provide only one indicator of the scope of death and suffering affecting unauthorized migrants and their loved ones — something that also includes thousands of individuals whose whereabouts or remains are never encountered (and who therefore remain disappeared) (ibid.). Just as significantly, the number of human remains recovered in southern Arizona has remained consistently high despite a significant decline during the past decade in the number of apprehensions (a figure frequently used as a proxy for unauthorized migration) in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. This condition has led scholars and commentators alike to observe an increase in the ratio of deaths to migration, even as unauthorized border crossing fluctuates (Martínez et al. 2014; Reineke and Martínez 2014; International Organization for Migration 2018). In 2012, the southern Arizona humanitarian organization No More Deaths began systematically tracking the use and vandalism of cached drinking water it supplies at 512 sites across an 800-square-mile area of southern Arizona’s Altar Valley, a high-traffic migration corridor bisected by the US–Mexico border (Ferguson, Price, and Parks 2010; Regan 2010; Boyce 2016; Chambers et al. 2019). On an almost daily basis, volunteers with No More Deaths travel this migration corridor to resupply caches of 5–20 gallons of clean drinking water, physically hauling this water by truck and by foot. Each cache site is tracked using a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate to make navigation of the remote desert borderlands and the location of dispersed and frequently hidden cache sites easier for new volunteers. In 2015, the authors began working with No More Deaths to digitize and conduct spatial and statistical analysis on the data entered into these desert aid logs, with the express aim of seeing what this archive can reveal about everyday activity related to boundary enforcement and migration, as well as the efficacy of the organization’s activities throughout time. In total, No More Deaths’ desert aid archive contains 4,847 unique entries from March 2012 to December 2015, logging the date when an individual cache site was visited, the number of new water gallons deposited during this visit, the number of water gallons encountered intact and unused from previous resupply visits, the conditions of any empty water bottles left behind (including telltale signs of human vandalism, as well as occasional animal damage), and any subjectively unusual conditions or noteworthy events that were observed at the site or during the visit. Combined, this archive provides remarkable and uncommon insight into subtle changes in migration routes and patterns within the Altar Valley desert corridor, as well as those quotidian forms of harassment and vandalism of water supplies that we believe are intended to amplify and maximize hardship for unauthorized border crossers. Indeed, scholars have long argued that the US Border Patrol’s enforcement strategy of “Prevention Through Deterrence” (PTD), first launched in 1994, is premised on instrumentalizing the difficult climate and terrain of the US–Mexico border by pushing migration routes away from traditional urban crossing areas and into increasingly rugged and remote desert areas (Andreas 2001; Cornelius 2001; Rubio-Goldsmith et al. 2006; Nevins 2008; Martínez et al. 2014; De León 2015; Slack et al. 2016). The Border Patrol’s own policy documents make this case. Observing that migrants “crossing through remote, uninhabited expanses of land and sea along the border can find themselves in mortal danger,” the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS — at the time, the Border Patrol’s parent agency) argued that by channeling migration routes into “harsh terrain less suitable for crossing and more suitable for enforcement,” the Border Patrol would eventually obtain a “tactical advantage” over would-be border crossers (INS 1994, 7). Then–INS Commissioner Doris Meissner later reflected, “We did believe that geography would be an ally for us. It was our sense that the number of people crossing through the Arizona desert would go down to a trickle once people realized what [it’s] like” (quoted in Cornelius 2005). In this article, we conduct geospatial modeling and statistical analysis of No More Deaths’ desert aid archive. This involves measuring changes in the distribution of water use throughout time across the 62 cache sites consistently visited during all four calendar years included in the dataset, and then reading this measurement against a model of ruggedness that incorporates multiple variables including slope, vegetation, “jaggedness,” and ground temperature while controlling for Euclidian distance. Adjusting for seasonal variation and the overall volume of water use, we find a statistically meaningful increase in the cumulative ruggedness score of migration routes associated with cache sites during the four calendar years included in No More Deaths’ desert aid logs. These findings reveal a steady pressure toward more rugged and difficult crossing routes throughout time, an outcome that provides important context for the vandalism and harassment that target migrants and humanitarian aid workers alike (see No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). In what follows, we first provide greater detail on the context of our study and of the authors’ collaboration with No More Deaths. Next, we discuss our research methodology, including the contours of the geographic information system (GIS) modeling through which we conduct our analysis. We then present our findings, and discuss and contextualize these, before turning to some of the limitations of our study and directions for future research. We conclude by considering some of the policy implications of our findings, as well as their implications for studies of mobility, border policing, and state violence, including in contexts when states are instrumentalizing environmental features and conditions for the purposes of boundary enforcement.
  • Topic: Migration, Water, Border Control, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The US Department of State (DOS) reports that as of November 2018, nearly 3.7 million persons had been found by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have a close family relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) that qualified them for a visa, but were on “the waiting list in the various numerically-limited immigrant categories” (DOS 2018). These backlogs in family-based “preference” (numerically capped) categories represent one of the most egregious examples of the dysfunction of the US immigration system. They consign family members of US citizens and LPRs that potentially qualify for a visa and that avail themselves of US legal procedures to years of insecurity, frustration, and (often) separation from their families. Often criticized in the public sphere for jumping the visa queue, it would be more accurate to say that this population, in large part, comprises the queue. While they wait for their visa priority date to become current, those without immigration status are subject to removal. In addition, most cannot adjust to LPR status in the United States, but must leave the country for consular processing and, when they do, face three- or 10-year bars on readmission, depending on the duration of their unlawful presence in the United States. This population will also be negatively affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rule to expand the public charge ground of inadmissibility (Kerwin, Warren, and Nicholson 2018). In addition, persons languishing in backlogs enjoy few prospects in the short term for executive or legislative relief, given political gridlock over immigration reform and the Trump administration’s support for reduced family-based immigration. In this paper, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) offers estimates and a profile based on 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) data of a strongly correlated population to the 3.7 million persons in family-based visa backlogs: i.e., the 1.55 million US residents potentially eligible for a visa in a family-based preference category based on a qualifying relationship to a household member. CMS data represents only part of the population in family-based backlogs. In particular, it captures only a small percentage of the 4th preference, brothers and sisters of US citizens.[1] However, everybody in CMS’s data could be petitioned for, if they have not been already. Among this population’s ties and contributions to the United States, the paper finds that: Fifty-nine percent has lived in the United States for 10 years or more, including 23 percent for at least 20 years. Nearly one million US-born children under age 21 live in these households, as well as 111,600 US-born adults (aged 21 and over) who have undocumented parents. 449,500 arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger. 139,100 qualify for the DREAM Act based their age at entry, continuous residence, and graduation from high school or receipt of a GED. Seventy-two percent aged 16 and older are in the labor force, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) are employed; these rates exceed those of the overall US population. Two-thirds of those aged 18 or older have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, including 25 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 295,100 aged three and older are enrolled in school. The median income of their households is $63,000, slightly above the US median. More than two-thirds (68 percent) have health insurance, including 51 percent with private health insurance. Nearly one-third (32 percent) live in mortgaged homes, and 12 percent in homes owned free and clear. The paper provides several recommendations to reduce family-based backlogs. In particular, it proposes that Congress pass and the President sign into law legislation to legalize intending family-based immigrants who have been mired in backlogs for two years or more. In addition, this legislation should define the spouses and minor unmarried children of LPRs as immediate relatives (not subject to numerical limits), not count the derivative family members of the principal beneficiary against per country and annual quotas, and raise per country caps. The administration should also re-use the visas of legal immigrants who emigrate each year, particularly those who formally abandon LPR status. This practice would reduce backlogs without increasing visa numbers. Congress should also pass legislation to advance the entry date for eligibility for “registry,” an existing feature of US immigration law designed to legalize long-term residents. In particular, the legislation should move forward the registry cutoff date on an automatic basis to provide a pathway to status for noncitizens who have lived continuously in the United States for at least 15 years, have good moral character, and are not inadmissible on security and other grounds. In fact, Congress advanced the registry date on a regular basis during most of the 20th century, but has not updated this date, which now stands at January 1, 1972, for 33 years.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Mike Nicholson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrants, US families, and communities have been well-documented. However, less attention has been paid to their impact on faith-based organizations (FBOs). Faith communities provide a spiritual home, and extensive legal, resettlement, social service, health, and educational services for refugees and immigrants. This report presents the findings of the FEER (Federal Enforcement Effect Research) Survey, which explored the effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrant-serving Catholic institutions.[1] Many of these institutions arose in response to the needs of previous generations of immigrants and their children (Kerwin and George 2014, 14, 74-75). Most strongly identify with immigrants and have long served as crucial intermediaries between immigrant communities and the broader society (Campos 2014, 149-51).[2] Over its first two years, the Trump administration has consistently characterized immigrants as criminals, security risks, and an economic burden. Among its policy initiatives, the administration has supported major cuts in family-based immigration, attempted to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reduced refugee admissions to historic lows, instituted admission bars on Muslim-majority countries, attempted to strip Temporary Protection Status (TPS) from all but a fraction of its beneficiaries, erected major new barriers to asylum, and proposed new rules regarding the public charge grounds of inadmissibility that would make it more difficult for poor and working class persons to obtain permanent residence. US immigration enforcement policies have separated children from their parents, criminally prosecuted asylum-seekers, expanded detention, increased arrests of non-citizens without criminal records, and militarized the US-Mexico border. These policies have failed to stem the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers: instead these flows have increased dramatically in recent months. These policies have succeeded, however, in devastating children, instilling fear in immigrant communities, blocking access to the US asylum system, and undermining immigrant integration (Kerwin 2018).[3] The FEER survey points to a paradox. On one hand, US enforcement policies have increased the demand for services such as legal screening, representation, naturalization, assistance to unaccompanied minors, and support to the US families of detainees and deportees. Many Catholic institutions have expanded their services to accommodate the increased demand for their services. On the other hand, their work with immigrants has been impeded by federal immigration policies that effectively prevent immigrants from driving, attending gatherings, applying for benefits, and accessing services for fear that these activities might lead to their deportation or the deportation of a family member. Among other top-line findings, 59 percent of 133 FEER respondents reported that “fear of apprehension or deportation” negatively affected immigrants’ access to their services, and 57 percent of 127 respondents reported that immigrant enforcement very negatively or negatively affected the participation of immigrants in their programs and ministries.
  • Topic: Migration, Religion, Border Control, Immigrants, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Pia Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Opponents of immigration often claim that immigrants, particularly those who are unauthorized, are more likely than US natives to commit crimes and that they pose a threat to public safety. There is little evidence to support these claims. In fact, research overwhelmingly indicates that immigrants are less likely than similar US natives to commit violent and property crimes, and that areas with more immigrants have similar or lower rates of violent and property crimes than areas with fewer immigrants. There are relatively few studies specifically of criminal behavior among unauthorized immigrants, but the limited research suggests that these immigrants also have a lower propensity to commit crime than their native-born peers, although possibly a higher propensity than legal immigrants. Evidence about legalization programs is consistent with these findings, indicating that a legalization program reduces crime rates. Meanwhile, increased border enforcement, which reduces unauthorized immigrant inflows, has mixed effects on crime rates. A legalization program or other similar initiatives not currently under serious consideration have more potential to improve public safety and security than several other policies that have recently been proposed or implemented.
  • Topic: Crime, Migration, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Rebecca Galemba, Katie Dingeman, Kaelyn DeVries, Yvette Servin
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Anti-immigrant rhetoric and constricting avenues for asylum in the United States, amid continuing high rates of poverty, environmental crisis, and violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have led many migrants from these countries to remain in Mexico. Yet despite opportunities for humanitarian relief in Mexico, since the early 2000s the Mexican government, under growing pressure from the United States, has pursued enforcement-first initiatives to stem northward migration from Central America. In July 2014, Mexico introduced the Southern Border Program (SBP) with support from the United States. The SBP dramatically expanded Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, especially in its southern border states, leading to rising deportations. Far from reducing migration or migrant smuggling, these policies have trapped migrants for longer in Mexico, made them increasingly susceptible to crimes by a wide range of state and nonstate actors, and exacerbated risk along the entire migrant trail. In recognition of rising crimes against migrants and heeding calls from civil society to protect migrant rights, Mexico’s 2011 revision to its Migration Law expanded legal avenues for granting humanitarian protection to migrants who are victims of crimes in Mexico, including the provision of a one-year humanitarian visa so that migrants can collaborate with the prosecutor’s office in the investigation of crimes committed against them. The new humanitarian visa laws were a significant achievement and represent a victory by civil society keen on protecting migrants as they travel through Mexico. The wider atmosphere of impunity, however, alongside the Mexican government’s prioritization of detaining and deporting migrants, facilitates abuses, obscures transparent accounting of crimes, and limits access to justice. In practice, the laws are not achieving their intended outcomes. They also fail to recognize how Mexico’s securitized migration policies subject migrants to risk throughout their journeys, including at border checkpoints between Guatemala and Honduras, along critical transit corridors in Guatemala, and on the Guatemalan side of Mexico’s southern border. In this article, we examine a novel set of data from migrant shelters — 16 qualitative interviews with migrants and nine with staff and advocates in the Mexico–Guatemala border region, as well as 118 complaints of abuses committed along migrants’ journeys — informally filed by migrants at a shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border, and an additional eight complaints filed at a shelter on the Mexican side of the border. We document and analyze the nature, location, and perpetrators of these alleged abuses, using a framework of “compassionate repression” (Fassin 2012) to examine the obstacles that migrants encounter in denouncing abuses and seeking protection. We contend that while humanitarian visas can provide necessary protection for abuses committed in Mexico, they are limited by their temporary nature, by being nested within a migration system that prioritizes migrant removal, and because they recognize only crimes that occur in Mexico. The paradox between humanitarian concerns and repressive migration governance in a context of high impunity shapes institutional and practical obstacles to reporting crimes, receiving visas, and accessing justice. In this context, a variety of actors recognize that they can exploit and profit from migrants’ lack of mobility, legal vulnerability, and uncertain access to protection, leading to a commodification of access to humanitarian protection along the route.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Paul Wickham Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article provides an overview and critique of US immigration and asylum policies from the perspective of the author’s 46 years as a public servant. The article offers a taxonomy of the US immigration system by positing different categories of membership: full members of the “club” (US citizens), associate members (lawful permanent residents, refugees, and “asylees”), friends (nonimmigrants and holders of temporary status), and persons outside the club (the undocumented). It describes the legal framework that applies to these distinct populations and recent developments in federal law and policy that relate to them. It also identifies a series of cross-cutting issues that affect these populations, including immigrant detention, immigration court backlogs, state and local immigration policies, and constitutional rights that extend to noncitizens. It ends with a series of recommendations for reform of the US asylum system, and a short conclusion.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics, Asylum
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Lindsay Nash
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: At a time when politics, financial considerations, and a push for expediency put pressure on the US immigration system, it can be difficult to have faith in the adjudicatory process. Case resolution quotas, directives that constrain courts’ ability to render justice in individual cases, and executive decisions that contract immigration judges’ discretion contribute to an immigration system that looks less and less like judicial adjudication of some of the highest-stakes cases in our legal system and more like a ministerial claims-processing scheme. A ray of hope exists, however, in the proliferation of public defender–style systems that offer universal representation to those facing deportation. This essay describes the genesis and expansion of the universal representation movement — a project based on the idea that indigent individuals should be entitled to counsel regardless of the apparent merits or political palatability of their case. It describes the benefits of such a program to the immigration adjudication system writ large. Beyond the oft-cited increase in success rates for individuals represented and the benefits to the communities in which such programs are located, universal representation promotes the integrity of the court system and strengthens an adjudicatory procedure that, for too long, has functioned primarily to expeditiously churn through cases. Finally, looking forward, it considers some of the challenges this movement faces as it grows and it identifies areas for further expansion.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Legal Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article examines the ability of immigrants to integrate and to become full Americans. Naturalization has long been recognized as a fundamental step in that process and one that contributes to the nation’s strength, cohesion, and well-being. To illustrate the continued salience of citizenship, the article compares selected characteristics of native-born citizens, naturalized citizens, legal noncitizens (most of them lawful permanent residents [LPRs]), and undocumented residents. It finds that the integration, success, and contributions of immigrants increase as they advance toward naturalization, and that naturalized citizens match or exceed the native-born by metrics such as a college education, self-employment, average personal income, and homeownership. It finds that: Naturalized citizens enjoy the same or higher levels of education, employment, work in skilled occupations, personal income, and percentage above the poverty level compared to the native-born population. At least 5.2 million current US citizens — 4.5 million children and 730,000 adults — who are living with at least one undocumented parent obtained US citizenship by birth; eliminating birthright citizenship would create a permanent underclass of US-born denizens in the future. Requiring medical insurance would negatively affect immigrants seeking admission and undocumented residents who ultimately qualify for a visa. About 51 percent of US undocumented residents older than age 18 lack health insurance. In 2017, about 1.2 million undocumented residents lived with 1.1 million eligible-to-naturalize relatives. If all the members of the latter group naturalized, they could petition for or expedite the adjustment or immigration (as LPRs) of their undocumented family members, including 890,000 “immediate relatives.” Their naturalization could put 11 percent of the US undocumented population on a path to permanent residency. The article also explores a contradiction: that the administration’s “America first” ideology obscures a set of policies that impede the naturalization process, devalue US citizenship, and prioritize denaturalization. The article documents many of the ways that the Trump administration has sought to revoke legal status, block access to permanent residence and naturalization, and deny the rights, entitlements, and benefits of citizenship to certain groups, particularly US citizen children with undocumented parents. It also offers estimates and profiles of the persons affected by these measures, and it rebuts myths that have buttressed the administration’s policies. For example, the Trump administration and restrictionist legislators have criticized the US immigration system’s emphasis on family reunification for its supposed failure to produce skilled workers. Yet the article finds that: The current immigration system, which prioritizes the admission of the nuclear family members of US citizens and LPRs, yields a legal foreign-born population that has occupational skills equal to those of the native-born population. The legal foreign-born population living in 24 US states and Washington, DC, and those from 94 source countries have higher percentages of skilled workers than the overall population of native-born workers.
  • Topic: Immigration, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Daniela Alulema
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: In June 2012, the Obama administration announced the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which sought to provide work authorization and a temporary reprieve from deportation to eligible undocumented young immigrants who had arrived in the United States as minors. Hundreds of thousands of youth applied for the program, which required providing extensive evidence of identity, age, residence, education, and good moral character. The program allowed its recipients to pursue higher education, to access more and better job opportunities, and to deepen their social ties in the United States. This article provides a statistical portrait of DACA recipients based on administrative data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and estimates drawn from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) Census data. It finds the following: As of September 30, 2019, there were 652,880 active DACA recipients. Sixty-six percent of recipients are between the ages of 21 and 30. The top five countries of birth for DACA recipients are Mexico (80 percent), El Salvador (4 percent), Guatemala (3 percent), Honduras (2 percent), and Peru (1 percent). DACA recipients reside in all 50 states and Washington, DC, and in US territories including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The top five states with the highest number of DACA recipients are California (29 percent), Texas (17 percent), Illinois (5 percent), New York (4 percent), and Florida (4 percent). Eighty-one percent of DACA recipients has lived in the United States for more than 15 years. Six percent is married to US citizens, 4 percent to lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and 13 percent to undocumented immigrants. Among US-born children younger than 18 years, 346,455 have at least one DACA parent. Fifty-five percent of DACA recipients graduated from high school, 36 percent has some college education, and 7 percent a bachelor’s degree or higher. Ninety-five percent is employed. The Trump administration rescinded the DACA program in September 2017, leaving recipients and their families in a legal limbo. Federal litigation led to a nationwide preliminary injunction and DACA’s partial reinstatement for existing recipients. At this writing, the case is before the US Supreme Court, which will determine the program’s fate. Beyond its statistical portrait, the article provides testimonies from DACA recipients who recount how the program improved their lives and their concerns over its possible termination. It also provides recommendations for Congress, local and state governments, and immigration advocates. In particular, it recommends passage of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and programs and policies to support and empower young immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, DACA
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This year’s Democracy Report shows that the trend of a third wave autocratization – the decline of democratic regime traits – continues and now affects 24 countries. When we weight levels of democracy by population size – because democracy is rule by the people and it matters how many of them are concerned – it emerges that almost one third of the world’s population live in countries undergoing autocratization. Yet democracy still prevails in a majority of countries in the world (99 countries, 55 percent). This section analyses the state of democracy in the world in 2018 and developments since 1972, with an emphasis on the last 10 years. Our analysis builds on the 2019 release of the V-Dem dataset.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Developing World, Democracy, Populism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Ukraine, India, Brazil
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This month last year, the Kuwaiti government hosted a ‘Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq’. It was attended by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, along with dozens of foreign ministers and large numbers of other government and business representatives. The timing was perfect for Iraq. The country had recently announced the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) and was enjoying an unprecedented level of optimism and all-round international good will. Until then, Iraq had for a number of years been suffering from a severe economic crisis, precipitated largely by decades of poor management of state resources, never-ending wars and crises, and the drop in oil prices. Hence, the country needed help and, luckily for the Iraqis, its neighbours were willing to help because failure to address reconstruction needs would add to the country’s fragility and chronic instability.
  • Topic: United Nations, Military Strategy, Reconstruction, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The latest tension between Iran and the United States has created an unhealthy debate among local actors in Iraq and the wider Middle East, reflecting minimal insight into Washington or Tehran’s policy environment. This in itself can be extremely detrimental to their own national agenda as well as the overall dynamics. The question here is: where is this US-Iran escalation leading and what policy would be best for the local players in Iraq (and elsewhere) to pursue?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Imperialism, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Washington, D.C.
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: In his introduction, panel chairman Farhad Alaaldin explained that Iraq is in a state of crisis. The current socio-political situation, as reflected by demonstrations and protests across the various governorates, is both complicated and complex. He explained that this panel, featuring central players from the international community, would examine the contours of this crisis and solicit external perspectives.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Political stability, Protests, State Building
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Victor Esin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: The stabilizing role of the INF Treaty is still relevant. Its importance has even increased against the background of the sharp deterioration of relations between Russia and the West in recent years due to the well-known events in Ukraine, aggravated by mutual sanctions and NATO’s military build-up near Russian borders. Preserving the INF Treaty, which has now become the subject of controversy and mutual non-compliance accusations between Russia and the United States, is therefore doubly important.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe
  • Author: Naoko Aoki
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: After conducting a record number of missile and nuclear tests in 2016 and 2017, North Korea dramatically changed its policy approach and embarked on a diplomatic initiative in 2018. It announced a self-imposed halt on missile and nuclear tests and held summit meetings with the United States, China, and South Korea from spring of that year. Why did North Korea shift its policy approach? This paper evaluates four alternative explanations. The first is that the change was driven by North Korea’s security calculus. In other words, North Korea planned to achieve its security goals first before turning to diplomacy and successfully followed through with this plan. The second is that U.S. military threats forced North Korea to change its course. The third is that U.S.-led sanctions caused North Korea to shift its policy by increasing economic pain on the country. The fourth is that diplomatic initiatives by South Korea and others prompted North Korea to change its position. This paper examines the actions and statements of the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, and Russia leading up to and during this period to assess these four explanations. It concludes that military threats and economic pain did not dissuade North Korea from obtaining what it considered an adequate level of nuclear deterrence against the United States and that North Korea turned to diplomacy only after achieving its security goals. External pressure may have encouraged North Korea to speed up its efforts to develop the capacity to strike the United States with a nuclear-armed missile, the opposite of its intended effect. Diplomatic and economic pressure may have compelled Kim Jong Un to declare that North Korea had achieved its “state nuclear force” before conducting all the nuclear and ballistic missile tests needed to be fully confident that it could hit targets in the continental United States. These findings suggest that if a pressure campaign against North Korea is to achieve its intended impact, the United States has to more carefully consider how pressure would interact with North Korean policy priorities. Pressure should be applied only to pursue specific achievable goals and should be frequently assessed for its impact.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: China and the United States view each other as potential adversaries with mixed motives and divergent value systems, yet both can benefit from cooperation to reduce the risk of war, avert arms races, and prevent proliferation or terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction. The two countries have more common interests, fewer ideological differences, and greater economic interdependence than the United States and the Soviet Union had during the Cold War. In principle, arms control broadly defined, i.e., cooperation to reduce the likelihood of war, the level of destruction should war occur, the cost of military preparations, and the role of threats and use of force in international relations, could be at least as important in this century as it was in the last. In practice, though, China’s rise as a strategic power has not been matched by a corresponding increase in the kinds of cooperative agreements that helped keep the costs and risks of superpower competition from spiraling out of control. Why not? This paper argues that because China’s strategy rests on different assumptions about security and nuclear deterrence than U.S. strategy does, its ideas about arms control are different, too. China has historically put more value on broad declarations of intent, behavioral rules, and self-control, while the United States has prioritized specific quantitative limits on capabilities, detailed verification and compliance mechanisms, and operational transparency. When progress has occurred, it has not been because China finally matched the United States in some military capability, or because Chinese officials and experts “learned” to think about arms control like their American counterparts do. Rather, it has happened when Chinese leaders believed that the United States and other countries with nuclear weapons were moving toward its ideas about security cooperation--hopes that have repeatedly been disappointed. Understanding Chinese attitudes toward security cooperation has gained added importance under the Trump administration for two reasons. Trump’s national security strategy depicts China and Russia as equally capable antagonists facing the United States in a “new era of great power competition,” so the feasibility and desirability of mutually beneficial cooperation with China have become more urgent questions. The costs and risks of coercive competition will keep growing until both sides accept that they outweigh whatever benefits might accrue from trying to maximize power and freedom of action in a tightly interconnected world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Sara Z. Kutchesfahani
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes China’s words and actions regarding the Nuclear Security Summits to better understand what Chinese leadership on nuclear security could look like in the future. It finds that China accomplished the many things it said it would do during the summit process. The paper also explores how China’s policy and actions in other nuclear arenas could be paired with Chinese nuclear security policy to form a coherent agenda for nuclear risk reduction writ large. Consequently, the paper addresses how China doing as it says and does – per nuclear security – may be used as a way in which to inform its future nuclear security roles and responsibilities. In particular, it assesses China’s opportunities to assume a leadership role within this crucial international security issue area, especially at a time where U.S. leadership has waned.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Our starting point was the observation that the international order, but also the political, social and economic order on a domestic level in the West are undergoing profound changes, some of which stem from the new social, political and economic situation in the United States. The world’s major power has become the epicentre of numerous transformations that have accelerated with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House. The consolidation of a populist political narrative and the implementation of a series of highly disruptive policies in the international system are unequivocal signs of profound transformations rooted in changes that have been under way for years. At the Fundación Alternativas’s Observatory of Foreign Policy (OPEX) we set out to coordinate a Working Group commissioned with the task of analysing those transformations and trends in the United States, primarily from a European standpoint. Our goal was to explore the new social, political, technological, economic and cultural trends that are going to shape thought and debate in Europe and the rest of the world on numerous and very diverse topics – from the new geopolitics to social breakdown; from globalisation and the technological shift to transatlantic relations; the crisis of the traditional political parties; robotization and digitalisation; migration flows, climate change and renewable energies; fake news and new media. Lastly, we tried to begin reflection with regard to Spanish and European political and social agents, drawing a prospective map of important changes that all of these trends are causing on both sides of the Atlantic. The project included several work sessions at the Fundación Alternativas offices over the course of 2018. They were built around a short presentation, followed by a lively exchange of ideas. Numerous experts linked to the Fundación Alternativas, practitioners and guests from other prestigious Spanish and international institutions took part in the Working Group. To have them with us and Vicente Palacio US Trends That Matter For Europe January 2019 5 be able to broadcast the sessions live to a wide audience, we also made use of Skype and social media. The result, then, is a starting point rather than an end point: an initial cognitive map that will have to be continued and extended in the future. We have chosen to put into print and disseminate this material electronically thanks to the collaboration of the School of International Relations at the Instituto de Empresa (IE) and its Transatlantic Relations Initiative (TRI) led by Manuel Muñiz, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs, to be more precise. Special thanks go to him and to Waya Quiviger, Executive Director of the TRI, for their collaboration in the completion of this project that we present jointly at the IE headquarters in Madrid.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Europe Union, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: This year the North Atlantic Treaty Origination (NATO) marks seventieth anniversary of its creation. Back in 1949, the founding nations gathered around the United States as the leader of Western liberal democracies, establishing NATO as a military and political alliance that was to serve as a barrier against the Soviet Union, ‘’’’ serve as a counterbalance to NATO and the era of the Cold War gained full sway, with clearly established division in Europe between the capitalist West and communist East, and with only a handful of European countries opting for neutrality. Thus, a bipolar system of world order was established, with defined territories and its export of communism throughout the continent. Just six years later, Moscow assembled the Warsaw Pact together with other Eastern European communist countries, excluding Yugoslavia. The Warsaw Pact was to and frontiers of the two global adversaries, and the Cold War pertained until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. From 1991 onwards, fifteen new independent states emerged from the disintegrated Soviet Union, with the newly founded Russian Federation as its legal successor and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Subsequently the Warsaw Pact had collapsed, and Eastern European countries used a transition period that was to bring them closer to the West, ultimately to NATO and the European Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the single most important event in history after the World War II and the world entered into a new era. Back in early nineties, it seemed that Russia and the West have buried the tomahawk of war for an indefinite time, and many political theorists and politicians, in both NATO member states and in Russia, have stated that without its archrival NATO no longer had raison d’etre.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Slobodan Pajovic
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of 2019, Venezuela has been in the focus of international politics because of its political and institutional crisis, together with its economic and social collapse generated in 2013, transformed into a regional and international crisis. The exit of some estimated three to four million emigrants mostly to neighboring countries of human rights and democratic values, the authoritarian regime of socialist orientation, the current American strategy of strengthening its political and strategic influence in Latin America, the presence of significant non- regional emerging global factors, as well as the cyclical changes of political parties in power in this part of the world. Accordingly, this crisis tests the hemispheric and global leadership of has additionally deepened the contexts of theUS, the influences of emerging global powers the regional crisis including also the security aspect. In short, the crisis can be described as oscillating between the issues of defense like China, Russia, India or Turkey, recently, and the potential of Latin American regionalism and political consensus.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Migration, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Venezuela, North America
  • Author: Jan Cingel
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: Armenia is a landlocked country situated in the South Caucasus region. History of the region was shaped by the clash of three major empires: Ottoman, Persian and Russian trying to win control over it. The modern history of Armenia began in 1991, when the country seceded from the crumbling Soviet Union. Those were difficult years as the fledgling country was in ongoing war with its new post-USSR neighbour – Azerbaijan. The war was waged over “Nagorno- Karabakh”, a region that was mostly populated by ethnic Armenians, however was formally part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic within the USSR. In the international arena, Armenia joined the UN in 1991, the Russia-led defence pact called the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in 1994, and also in that year, NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP). Armenia became part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) in 2009 and until September 2013 had been negotiating the EU’s Association Agreement (AA), which included a free trade agreement. Two months before the intended completion of negotiations, and after a visit of then President Serzh Sargsyan to Moscow, Armenia announced that it would cancel negotiations with the EU on the AA and that it was going to join the emerging Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) instead. Armenia joined the EAEU in 2014.
  • Topic: NATO, Post Colonialism, United Nations, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Soviet Union, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ottoman Empire
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: For more than half a decade Ukraine has been one of epicenters on the map of geopolitical crises in the world and consequently drawn a lot of international attention worldwide. Ever since it gained its independence form the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was a of the country also changed. Ukraine has been dominated by Russia as the Russian Empire penetrated deep toward the Black Sea in the 17th century, and the position of inferiority towards Moscow was also the case in the USSR. The first upheaval dubbed the Orange Revolution sort of buffer zone between the West and East, between the United States and European allies on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other. With the change of political elites and their political preferences, the orientation in 2004, brought to power Viktor Yushchenko, who tried to conduct reforms and bring Ukraine closer to the West, but the effect of his Presidency were ephemeral. President Viktor Yanukovych turned Ukraine’s sight towards Russia again, but also kept the process of EU association alive before suddenly deciding not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU just days before the planned signing ceremony on 29th November 2013. This Yanukovych’s abrupt turn from EU in favor of stronger ties with Russia triggered the wave of massive public demonstrations which later become known as the Euromaidan and subsequently the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014. The Euromaidan Revolution toppled Yanukovych and the new pro-Western government was formed. Russia soon reacted to the change of tide in Ukraine by annexing the Crimean peninsula in March and soon the armed conflict between the pro- Western government in Kiev and Russia backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts broke out. Ever since the spring of 2014, Ukraine has been engulfed in a brutal conflict in the east of the country that is hampering its efforts to reform and get closer to the EU. Nonetheless, Ukrainian leadership is under the new President Volodymir Zelensky is striving to forge stronger links with the West and the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea
  • Author: Ric Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Ric Smith has masterfully woven archival material, memories of his own time as a foreign service officer, and conversations with other officers of the then Department of Foreign Affairs to recount the crisis in East Pakistan in 1971 and the difficult birth of Bangladesh. Smith highlights the Cold War incongruities of the crisis, including the Soviet Union’s support for democratic India’s position during the crisis, while the United States supported the military regime in Pakistan. The episode also stands as an example of Canberra diverging from Washington on an issue that was garnering political and media attention in Australia. Australia was able to pursue a policy toward the region that was independent from the United States, accepting early that East Pakistan was “finished” and that there was a need to address an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Smith’s book imparts important lessons about diplomacy for Australia: It is not only possible for Australia’s politicians and diplomats to take independent positions on major international problems, but they are sometimes respected by their allies when they do so.
  • Topic: Cold War, Human Rights, Democracy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Europe, India, Asia, Soviet Union, Australia
  • Author: Ali Al-Mawlawi
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The decentralization agenda emerged in Iraq after 2003 as an imperative to create an internal balance of power that would mitigate against the rise of another authoritarian regime. By exploring the political motivations and calculations of elites, this paper sheds light on why devolution of powers to sub-national entities failed to bring about meaningful change to the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis. While administrative authorities have been largely devolved, fiscal decentralization lags due to resistance from concerned central authorities, leaving sub-national actors with limited capacity to exercise their newly afforded powers.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, State Formation, State Building, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Marie kortam
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Those who visited Palestinian camps in Lebanon last month could not have missed a new upsurge in the popular mobilization on Palestinian streets. Their enthusiasm can be sensed in the spirits of the youth, their chants, and round-the-clock occupation of public spaces. This upsurge in mobilization was not only the result of the Lebanese Labour Minister’s implementation of his plan1 to combat businesses employing foreign labour without a permit – after giving them one month to regularize their situation.2 It was also the outcome of an accumulated sense of frustration, injustice, humiliation, indignation, deprivation and finally, anger that crystallized in these latest rounds of collective political action. The question then remains: why have Palestinians in Lebanon reached a breaking point at this stage, and why did the movement take this shape? There is no doubt that this anger accumulated gradually. First, it arose from the political-security arrangement for Palestinians in Lebanon, along with the historical absence of a socio-political contract with the Lebanese state. Second, it is the outcome of the deprivation, oppression, racism, and discrimination against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which was finally exacerbated by international resolutions hostile to the Palestinian cause, threatening the refugee cause and the right of return. Moreover, the economic situation of Palestinian refugees has deteriorated and was further compounded after the USA cut off its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). However, alone these factors are not enough to fully explain this mobilization. These latest developments are also the product of a degree of practical awareness among the Palestinian youth and their discourse which explains their involvement in a movement demanding civil rights and an arrangement in which Palestinians are an agent of change against injustice. This movement is also proof of the existence of a new paradigm of the oppressed, who no longer identifies with the oppressors and becomes dependent on them, but instead seeks to break free from their oppression, and in so doing, spontaneously and effectively imposes a new social formula and project. This paper discusses the emergence of this popular mobilization and its transformation into a social movement, the challenges it has faced, and how its actors built a common framework for action to address their status as oppressed. It relies on field interviews – formal and informal – with actors and politicians, participatory observation, the analysis of organized groups, and contributions via WhatsApp and Facebook. The paper focuses on the movement in Ain al-Hilweh camp as one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, with its political and security context that distinguishes it from other camps.
  • Topic: United Nations, Diaspora, Social Movement, Refugees, Social Media, Repression
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Hashim Al-Rikabi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The stability and legitimacy of the post-2003 Iraqi state are undermined by the provision of poor basic services, soaring unemployment, and political paralysis. This has driven ordinary citizens towards waves of protests that peaked in August 2018 and re-surged again in October 2019, demonstrating that without addressing the underlying causes behind these protests, much larger and more aggressive protest waves may shock the system, again and again, threatening its existence. The initial phase of the 2019 protests was similar to the first period of 2018 protests (April - June) in terms of their small scale, their focus on specific issues such as unemployment, and their largely peaceful nature. But quickly, within a few weeks, the 2019 protests escalated with protesters blocking key economic facilities and attacking government buildings and political parties’ headquarters. This escalation mirrored the trajectory of the 2018 which also intensified over time, but what is striking is the speed with which the 2019 intensified and moved from socio-economic focused demands to demands for fundamental political reforms, including new elections. While the involvement of political actors was evident in efforts by politicians, such as Muqtada Al-Sadr, to try to ride the wave of protests as well as the crackdown on protests by armed elements of certain political parties, the 2019 mobilization has also shown the emergence of a new generation of protesters and the rising role of new social actors, such as professional groups. The increasing frequency of protests since 2018 and their widening and deepening scope suggest that the post-2003 Iraqi governance model, with its stalemate between the different political actors, needs a fundamental new formulation that is able to renew trust in a reformed political system. The stalemate could either develop into genuine reforms to address the ills of the post-2003 political and economic system, away from ethno-sectarian politics, or descend into violence.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Social Movement, Protests, State Building
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Bassma Kodmani
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Collapse of the Syrian state is largely a reality. Both Russia and Iran, Assad’s allies, know he is not the guarantor of the continuity of the state any more but continue to hold on to him to sign off on projects that consolidate their control. This paper argues that instead of a failed state, a two-headed system has emerged, with Iran and Russia each pushing for their own vision of the country.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Fragile/Failed State, Authoritarianism, Military Intervention, Repression
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria, Damascus
  • Author: David Sandlow, Anders Hove
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: At least 1.5 million electric vehicle (EV) chargers have now been installed in homes, businesses, parking garages, shopping centers and other locations around the world. The number of EV chargers is projected to grow rapidly as the electric vehicle stock grows in the years ahead. The EV charging industry is a highly dynamic sector with a wide range of approaches. The industry is emerging from infancy as electrification, mobility-as-a-service and vehicle autonomy interact to produce far-reaching changes in transportation. This report compares EV charging in the world’s two largest electric vehicle markets -- China and the United States – examining policies, technologies and business models. The report is based on more than 50 interviews with industry participants and a review of the Chinese- and English-language literature. Findings include: 1. The EV charging industries in China and the United States are developing largely independently of the other. There is little overlap among the key players in the EV charging industries in each country. 2. The policy frameworks with respect to EV charging in each country differ. The Chinese central government promotes the development of EV charging networks as a matter of national policy. It sets targets, provides funding and mandates standards. Many provincial and local governments also promote EV charging. The United States federal government plays a modest role in EV charging. Several state governments play active roles. 3. EV charging technologies in China and the US are broadly similar. In both countries, cords and plugs are the overwhelmingly dominant technology for charging electric vehicles. (Battery swapping and wireless charging have at most a minor presence.) China has one nationwide EV fast-charging standard, known as China GB/T. The US has three EV fast charging standards: CHAdeMO, SAE Combo and Tesla. 4. In both China and the United States, many types of businesses have begun to offer EV charging services, with a range of overlapping business models and approaches. A growing number of partnerships are emerging, involving independent charging companies, auto manufacturers, utilities, municipalities and others. The role of utility-owned public chargers is larger in China, especially along major long-distance driving corridors. The role of automaker EV charging networks is larger in the United States. 5. Stakeholders in each country could learn from the other. US policymakers could learn from the Chinese government’s multiyear planning with respect EV charging infrastructure, as well as China’s investment in data collection on EV charging. Chinese policymakers could learn from the United States with respect to siting of public EV chargers, as well as US demand response programs. Both countries could learn from the other with respect to EV business models. As the demand for EV charging grows in the years ahead, continued study of the similarities and differences between approaches in China and the United States can help policymakers, businesses and other stakeholders in both countries and around the world.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Infrastructure, Green Technology, Electricity
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Justin Gundlach, Ron Minsk, Noah Kaufman
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: Putting a price on carbon is a critical part of a low-cost strategy for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a national carbon tax is a rare example of a climate change policy that has found bipartisan support in the United States. In 2018, legislation establishing a carbon tax was proposed by Democrats, Republicans, and bipartisan groups of US congressmen. However, while passing a carbon tax would certainly prove a significant step toward slashing emissions, simply adding a carbon tax to current policies is unlikely to achieve an emissions target at the lowest cost. Designing a carbon tax that contributes to achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets effectively and efficiently will require an examination of whether other new policies are also needed and whether existing policies can or should be changed or eliminated. With more proposals expected in 2019, such an examination is critical to ensuring both sufficient emissions reductions and an efficient set of policies that keep costs in check for taxpayers. As part of a broader carbon tax research program at the School of International and Public Affairs Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, we have developed a framework for considering the interactions between a federal carbon tax and other policies that influence greenhouse gas emissions. Toward the goal of helping to design better policies, we identify policies and programs that are “complementary” to a carbon tax or “redundant.” A policy is defined as complementary if it: enables more cost-effective reductions of carbon dioxide emissions than a carbon tax would achieve on its own; or reduces GHG emissions and achieves a separate policy objective more cost-effectively than a federal carbon tax would on its own. Conversely, a policy is defined as redundant with a federal carbon tax if it leads to additional costs to society without achieving additional emissions reduction. In developing this framework, we recognize that real-world policies often do not fall cleanly into either category and that neither specifying the framework nor making the categorizations is an exact science. It is often difficult to identify a policy’s objective or evaluate its cost-effectiveness. In addition, the extent to which a policy complements a carbon tax depends on the nature of the carbon tax. Most obviously, with a lower carbon tax rate, fewer emission reductions would be achieved, and additional policies may be needed to make up the difference between the outcome and a science-based emissions reduction target. The results of the work, highlighted in the following table, indicate a relatively large number of policies can complement a carbon tax, such as those that support innovation in low-carbon technologies, tackle behavioral barriers to more efficient energy use, or improve public infrastructure and address barriers to reducing emissions unrelated to the price-related barriers addressed by a carbon tax. Conversely, the paper identifies regulations that force entities that pay the carbon tax to take specific actions to reduce their emissions, such as Environmental Protection Agency regulations of stationary sources of carbon dioxide emissions under section 111 of the Clean Air Act, as redundant with the carbon tax. The paper does not recommend which policies should be eliminated, changed, or added but intends to provide policy makers with information that will help them make these decisions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Science and Technology, Green Technology, Carbon Tax
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: Though many commentators have suggested that the Trump administration’s approach with respect to sanctions threats against Europe is “unprecedented,” the relative comity in US-European sanctions policymaking in recent years may be the aberration. The United States and Europe have often disagreed about whether, when, and how to impose sanctions against even common adversaries and in order to resolve mutually recognized problems. One of the most serious examples of this occurred in 1982 when the United States and its European allies broke sharply over the US decision to impose sanctions on the Soviet Union over the crackdown on the Solidarity Movement in Poland. The crisis that emerged tested the NATO Alliance, European governments, and the Reagan administration. This paper reviews the 1982 example and then sets some lessons from it against the current US-European relationship. It offers an assessment not only of the changing political, economic, and social factors that have contributed to greater compliance with US sanctions dictates on the part of Europe over the last few years, but also the relatively brittle nature of this cooperation. It underscores that, though the United States may be in a relatively predominant economic position at present, this situation may not and likely will not persist indefinitely. From this perspective, it concludes with three recommendations for how to modify current US sanctions practice in order to help manage partner concerns and avoid future crises. Adopting a process more akin to the Federal Register notice procedure for new sanctions programs. There is a yawning need for more consultation in advance of US sanctions decisions that could have major market moving and alliance shaking potential. It is not necessary, nor would it be prudent, to have a process that required public scrutiny of individual or entity asset freeze scenarios, but for other, more broad sanctions initiatives, it would help to avoid unintended consequences and ensure a more comprehensive debate. Exceptions could also be made to this rule in the event of a legitimate emergency. Establishing an independent commission to evaluate US sanctions policies and challenges. Congress should set up an independent, bipartisan commission to examine the issue of US sanctions policy now and for the next twenty-five years. Its assignment would be to evaluate how sanctions have been used in the recent past, the international operating environment for sanctions now, and the dimensions of the sanctions policy challenge in the future. Improving congressional oversight of the sanctions process. Congress should also require evaluation reports for individual sanctions regimes as a standard part of the executive branch’s use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Of course, similar requirements ought to be considered a standard part of congressionally mandated sanctions as well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Adele Morris, Noah Kaufman, Siddhi Doshi
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: If the United States undertakes actions to address the risks of climate change, the use of coal in the power sector will decline rapidly. This presents major risks to the 53,000 US workers employed by the industry and their communities. 26 US counties are classified as “coal-mining dependent,” meaning the coal industry is a major employer. In these areas, the industry is also an important contributor to local government finances through a complex system of property, severance, sales, and income taxes; royalties and lease bonuses for production on state and federal lands; and intergovernmental transfers. While climate-related risks to corporations have received scrutiny in recent years, local governments—including coal-reliant counties—have yet to grapple with the implications of climate policies for their financial conditions. Importantly, the risks from the financial decline of coal-reliant counties extend beyond their borders, as these counties also have significant outstanding debts to the US municipal bond market that they may struggle to repay. To be sure, national climate policy in the United States is uncertain. Experts have long recommended strong policy action to reduce emissions, and for years, policy makers have largely ignored their advice. Nevertheless, with growing support by the public and policy makers, meaningful climate policy in the United States may be on the horizon, and those dependent on coal should be looking ahead to manage their risks. This paper examines the implications of a carbon-constrained future on coal-dependent local governments in the United States. It considers the outlook for US coal production over the next decade under such conditions and explores the risk this will pose for county finances. The paper also considers the responsibilities of jurisdictions to disclose these risks, particularly when they issue bonds, and the actions leaders can take to mitigate the risks. In short, the paper finds the following: ● Coal production in the United States fell by one-third between 2007 and 2017. Projections of the US energy system show this decline continuing gradually under current policies. However, even a moderately stringent climate policy could create existential risks for the coal industry, with potential declines in production of around 75 percent in the 2020s. ● A careful look at three illustrative counties shows that coal-related revenue may fund a third or more of their budgets. The exposure is compounded because school districts and other special districts within the counties also receive coal-dependent revenue. The complex system of local revenue instruments and intergovernmental transfers plus a lack of sufficiently detailed budget data makes it difficult to parse out just how reliant jurisdictions are on the coal industry. ● Estimates of the direct linkages between the coal industry and county budgets will almost certainly understate the risks because lost economic activity and jobs will have ripple effects across the economy. Case studies show that the rapid decline of a dominant industry has led to downward spirals and eventual collapses of local governments’ fiscal conditions, including the inability to raise revenue, repay debt, and/ or provide basic public services. ● Coal-dependent communities have a variety of outstanding bonds, and the risk of collapse of the coal industry threatens their ability to repay them. Despite regulations requiring disclosures to reflect risks to the financial health of municipalities, our review of the outstanding bonds indicates that municipalities are at best uneven and at worst misleading (by omission) in their characterizations of climate-related risks. Ratings reports are not much better than official statements in describing the risks associated with the exposure of some local governments to the coal industry. ● Climate policies can be combined with investments in coal-dependent communities to support their financial health. A logical source of funding for such investments would be the revenues from a price on carbon dioxide emissions, a necessary element of any cost-effective strategy for addressing the risks of climate change. A small fraction of revenue from a federal carbon price in the United States could fund billions of dollars in annual investments in the economic development of coal-dependent communities and direct assistance to coal industry workers. ● In considering reforms, several questions emerge for stakeholders. These include whether regulators should develop additional requirements for the disclosure of risks from future climate policies; whether ratings agencies should increase attention to the risks to local governments of climate policies; and whether stakeholders in the municipal bond market, such as borrowers, insurers, and underwriters, are appropriately accounting for risks to the coal industry.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Coal, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Macwilliams, Sarah Lamonaca, James Kobus
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: The Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) bankruptcy, which was caused by liabilities resulting from massive wildfires, has widely been called the first climate change bankruptcy. It will likely not be the last, as climate change exacerbates natural disasters, leading to more frequent and intense wildfires, storms, and flooding. Wildfires alone could become up to 900 percent more destructive in certain regions by midcentury, and utility assets will also be increasingly exposed to threats stemming from hurricanes, rising sea levels, and other climate-related events. These extreme weather events will increase costs to utility-sector stakeholders, including investor-owned utilities, state and local governments, ratepayers, and taxpayers. These risks could place financial stress on utility companies, drive up electricity rates, crowd out essential investment in renewable energy and grid upgrades, and disrupt service. In this paper, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy reviews and analyzes the PG&E bankruptcy, assesses how capital markets have reacted to the bankruptcy through the lens of valuations in the US utility sector, and discusses policy implications of California’s recent legislative response to wildfire risk. This paper examines market indicators to assess investor expectations of climate risk exposure and likely cost allocation. Neither debt nor equity markets suggest widespread concern about climate risk in the utility sector. In the absence of strong market signals to encourage climate risk mitigation, the authors find that policy frameworks are needed to ensure that companies make necessary preventative investments and to define how costs will be allocated among stakeholders. This paper also reviews a recently passed California bill aimed at achieving these objectives and the lessons and best practices it offers for other policy makers. In short, the paper finds the following: Market indicators suggest that the California wildfires and subsequent PG&E bankruptcy have not caused imminent concern about climate risks in the utility sector. Equity valuations for the sector remain strong, with a utility stock index trading at a higher-than-average premium to the market benchmark. In credit markets, regulated utilities in the United States have raised more than $50 billion of corporate debt in 2019 to date, and borrowing spreads are currently below historical averages. There are several reasons why markets may not reflect widespread climate risk to utilities, despite the scientific evidence around likely future damage. Investors may believe that cost increases from climate change will occur too far in the future to materially impact the present value of their investments. Even if investors believe that climate change risks are material to valuation, they may also believe that such risks will not be considered by other investors for some time. Investors may be viewing wildfires as a California-specific risk, though the regional skew of wildfires is likely to shift significantly in coming years. They may lack the information or modeling tools for assessing the likelihood and geographic dispersion of high-impact tail events, such as the wildfires that PG&E faced. Financial markets may also reflect the belief that the costs of climate change in the utility sector will fall predominantly on ratepayers, insurance companies, and/or taxpayers rather than investors, and therefore investors may not view themselves as materially exposed. California’s recent creation of a wildfire insurance fund with contributions from both ratepayers and companies provides important policy lessons for designing comprehensive frameworks to allocate climate damage costs. These include the strengthening of both regulatory and corporate climate resilience expertise, mandating preventative investment as a prerequisite for cost-recovery mechanisms, defining utility financial exposure for climate damage situations, and providing cash for utilities to provide essential services when facing large disasters. The policy also presents some potential pitfalls that may be instructive for other state policy makers. The legislation sets aside large reserves for future damage, a necessary measure, but one that will result in higher electric bills. The bill does not allow utilities to earn a return on safety-related spending, which broadly diminishes incentives for proactive climate mitigation investment. The potential insufficiency of the wildfire fund also creates uncertainty about future cost allocation. Finally, failing to reform the California legal framework that allows utilities to be held liable for damages they did not cause perpetuates risks for companies and ratepayers. If the first climate change bankruptcy is indicative of a new reality, it is not that utilities are going to go bankrupt overnight. Rather, climate disasters will increasingly add financial stress to utility-sector stakeholders, as costs accumulate from both acute events and damaging extreme weather impacts. Adapting the regulatory bargain for a climate-exposed future will require lawmakers, regulators, and shareholders to develop new approaches and new incentive structures to ensure an accountable, robust utility sector. Moreover, while climate change is already presenting real financial challenges to utilities, it will not be the only sector to face large climate-driven costs. Other corporate actors can look to the utility experience to better understand how policy makers, investors, and companies will respond to the growing financial threat from climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Gas, Electricity
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: Though historically China has been a sanctions recipient, with only a few isolated incidents of using sanctions in return, this situation is likely going to change in the years to come. China’s global economic position — as well as its ambitions to serve as not only a global power, but also potentially the leading international power — will push it to consider means of exerting international leverage. The United States has shown vividly in the last 30 years that sanctions are one means to this end, and Chinese scholars are demonstrating increasing facility with sanctions doctrine. China’s increasing assertiveness in economic sanctions will allow it to not only hit back directly against the United States with retaliatory measures, but also to develop independent rationales to apply sanctions in pursuit of Chinese policy objectives. China may begin using sanctions as an affirmative instrument of policy. The United States is vulnerable to disruptions in U.S.-Chinese economic ties. The U.S. reliance on Chinese financing, especially for U.S. national debt, and Chinese economic growth in areas where the U.S. typically excels demonstrate China’s capacity to target the U.S. To combat this potential emerging threat, the United States should seek first to negotiate with China on ways to avoid conflict. But, given the likelihood of competition nonetheless, the United States should also add sanctions development to its crisis management process, and increase intelligence and analytical capabilities that focus directly on Chinese sanctions doctrine and practice.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Sanctions, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America