International Migration

Date: 02/25/2013 Description: Map icon by the U.S. Department of State's Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) is an inter-agency office providing U.S. Government officials and other aid organizations with geographic data and analysis to prepare for and respond to complex humanitarian emergencies worldwide.  - State Dept ImageMigration Programs

This map features the locations of of programs implemented out of the International Migration Office of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). PRM’s migration programs address cross-border mixed migration -flows by: providing direct assistance to vulnerable migrants, building government capacity to identify protection concerns and implement humane migration management practices, supporting regional dialogues on migration, promoting cooperation between IOM and UNHCR. Visit the Department of State's Humanitarian Information Unit Website»

Migration Mission Statement:

PRM's office of international migration works to protect the world’s most vulnerable migrants through targeted programs and cross-cutting efforts to shape international migration policy. Specifically, we seek to protect and assist asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants, and to advance effective and humane international migration policies, in order to enhance stability and security and promote human rights. We achieve this mission through engagement in multilateral forums related to migration and through strategic and targeted programs implemented by our partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Why do people migrate?

Since time immemorial, people have taken great risks for themselves and future generations, leaving their countries behind in search of a better life. Migrants leave for different reasons: to reunite with family, flee war and conflict or environmental degradation, or simply to seek a better life. According to the United Nations, there are more than 214 million migrants worldwide, constituting more than 3% of the world’s population.

Why is migration significant to the United States?

"It is this constant flow of immigrants that help make America what it is...To this day America reaps incredible economic rewards because we remain a magnet for the best and brightest for people around the world. In an increasingly interconnected world....Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth it is a matter of faith. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one. That is what has drawn the persecuted and impoverished to our shores. That’s what led the innovators and risk-takers from around the world to take a chance here in the land of opportunity. That’s what has led people to endure untold hardships to reach this place called America."

-President Obama’s Immigration Address, July 1, 2010, at American University

Migrants have made immeasurable contributions to the United States since the nation was established and can be found in top positions in the government, media, and the arts. U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, is Chinese-American, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, has parents from Nicaragua and Mexico. Eight members of Congress were born overseas, in places as varied as Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. And of course, President Obama himself is the son of an immigrant father from Kenya. According to President Obama, it is this very “steady stream of hardworking and talented people” who have immigrated over the years which “has made the United States the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 million foreign-born persons live in the country, representing nearly 13 percent of the entire U.S. population. Between 2009 and 2011, over 2 million immigrants chose to become citizens of the United States.

Date: 06/04/2012 Description: Colleen CurtisJuly 04, 2012 01:39 PM ESTShare This Post. President Barack Obama listens as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administers the oath of allegiance during a military naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House, July 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo)  © White House Image

President Barack Obama listens as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administers the oath of allegiance during a military naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House, July 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

International migration policy and programs


To promote effective and humane migration policies and advance U.S. foreign policy, the Bureau participates in a wide variety of international migration forums. They provide participating countries regular opportunities to exchange data and best practices relating to migration management. Topics covered include migrant integration and returns to country of origin, protection of asylum-seekers, refugees, and other vulnerable migrants, combating migrant smuggling and trafficking, human rights of migrants, and the links between migration and development.

Among the migration-related multilateral forums in which the Bureau participates are the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) in the Americas, the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime in the Asia-Pacific region, the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC), and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

Date: 10/10/2012 Description: Assistant Secretary Richard, Deputy Assistant Secretary Wiesner, and PRM staff. - State Dept ImageOn October 10, 2012, Assistant Secretary Richard, Deputy Assistant Secretary Wiesner and PRM staff met with 25 civil society stakeholders to discuss priorities in advance of the November, 2012, Global Forum on Migration and Development. Participants discussed how civil society and governments can work together to help shape this important dialogue to protect and advocate for vulnerable migrants and advance an agenda that appropriately addresses migration and development links.

See this video from Assistant Secretary Wiesner before she headed out to represent the United States at the 2012 Global Forum on Migration and Development in Mauritius and this video of her participating in the 2012 GFMD. In addition, see her blog posting here after she returned.


We also support programs to address the protection needs of the world's most vulnerable migrants by providing technical assistance to build the capacity of interested governments to manage migration humanely. In addition, we support efforts to directly assist the world’s most vulnerable migrants, such as victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied children, persons rescued at sea, and stateless persons.

Examples of the impact of our programs include:

· A young woman in Central America searching for a better life contacts smugglers who promise to take her North. She soon becomes a victim of human trafficking. Our programs provide return assistance to her home in Central America and a micro-grant to help her begin her own small business.

· A young man from the Horn of Africa is kidnapped and taken to the Sinai peninsula where he is held captive, tortured, and a significant ransom is extracted from his family back home. He is electrocuted, burned, and threatened with organ extraction. Barely alive, he manages to escape to a nearby hospital where he is detained. Funds from our program assist with urgent and lifesaving medical asssistance.

· A Haitian family displaced to the Dominican Republic by the devastating earthquake in 2010 is left stranded in the Dominican Republic. Our programs provide return and reintegration assistance for the family.

Who are the Bureau’s partners in advancing U.S. policy related to international migration?

The Bureau works closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, the International Organization on Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and NGOs focused on domestic and international migration to advance U.S. policy goals regarding international migration.