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What happens now that Title 42 has expired? Migration expert on digital tool for predicting immigration flows from Latin America to U.S. border.

With the expiration of Title 42, there have been many predictions as to the expected rush of migrants to the U.S. border. But there are still many unknowns – how many and from where will they arrive? 

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame have designed a digital tool to help leaders, researchers, policymakers and nations visualize global migration and possibly prepare for it more effectively and proactively. Eva Dziadula, a professor in the department of economics at Notre Dame, and a team from Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing (CRC), led by Paul Brenner, created an open-source tool for predicting global migration. The tool simulates shocks, obtains estimates and displays the impact of migration flows. 

Dziadula had this to say about the ability to predict immigration patterns:

“Predicting the behavior of people is hard, but economists try. We assume that people respond to incentives in a predictable way and we build models of their behavior based on the relevant costs and benefits. This is the basic foundation of our agent-based model, which predicts migration flows for all possible pairs of countries around the world. It uses publicly available data on the costs and benefits associated with migration. For costs, think distance and travel expenses (airplane ticket or even a smuggler), whether or not one can get a visa and if there is a common language. For benefits, think of earnings potential in the destination, a lower unemployment rate, political rights and civil liberties. The model also captures the migration history for each pair of countries. For people from origins with higher historical flows of migration, the move is less costly as they might be able to get information on jobs, buy their favorite food and communicate in their language. The model uses all of this information to estimate the migration flows around the world.” 

Dziadula had this to say about the impact of Title 42 on those patterns:

“Many migrants perceive the expiration of Title 42 as possibly giving them better chances of successful migration to the U.S. The push factors from their countries of origin — such as lack of jobs, impacts of climate change, violence and political instability — have not improved over the last few years. In many cases, the situation worsened with the pandemic. The likelihood of them being able to request an appointment and apply for asylum is higher, so one can model this as a more friendly immigration policy (such as the ease of getting a visa). This reduction in the cost of migration, combined with worsening conditions in the country of origin, is likely to increase flows of migrants toward the U.S.” 

“While our model can help predict the flows of migrants, the issues that the model cannot address are the failures of the asylum application app, slow processing, and migrants being stuck along the border and unable to apply for asylum. This puts an incredible toll on the shelter network in Mexico as they are simply unable to serve all those in need, which then creates a humanitarian crisis.”



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