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Meghan Benton
Experts & Staff
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Meghan Benton

Director, International Program

202-266-1925

@meghan_benton

Meghan Benton is Director of the International Program at MPI, where her work spans a wide range of areas including labor mobility, immigrant integration, border management, and humanitarian protection. She has a particular interest in the role of technological and social innovation in immigration and integration policy, and in how labor market disruption affects immigration and integration. In 2016, she co-founded MPI Europe’s Integration Futures Working Group, which seeks to develop a forward-looking agenda for integration policy in Europe. Most recently, she has been working on how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped global mobility. She convenes MPI’s Task Force on Borders and Mobility During and After COVID-19.

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Dr. Benton previously was a Senior Researcher at Nesta, the United Kingdom’s innovation body, where she led projects on digital government and the future of local public services. Prior to joining Nesta, she was a Policy Analyst at MPI from 2012-15, where she co-led an MPI-International Labor Organization six-country project on pathways to skilled work for newly arrived immigrants in Europe. She also worked on Project UPSTREAM, a four-country project on mainstreaming immigrant integration in the European Union. Previously, she worked for the Constitution Unit at University College London and the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Dr. Benton received her PhD in political science from University College London in 2010, where her PhD research focused on citizenship and the rights of noncitizens. She also holds a master’s degree in legal and political theory (with distinction) from University College London, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and literature from Warwick University.

Bio Page Tabs

Cover image for COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2021
Reports
May 2022
By  Meghan Benton, Samuel Davidoff-Gore, Jeanne Batalova, Lawrence Huang and Jie Zong
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Reports
April 2021
By  Meghan Benton, Jeanne Batalova, Samuel Davidoff-Gore and Timo Schmidt
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Policy Briefs
September 2019
By  Meghan Benton and Aliyyah Ahad
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Reports
July 2019
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Meghan Benton and Kate Hooper
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Reports
June 2019
By  Liam Patuzzi, Meghan Benton and Alexandra Embiricos

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Digital litter

Several years after a flurry of tech innovations arose to respond to the 2015-16 European migration crisis and assist asylum seekers, "digital litter"—now-dormant websites, broken links, and poor-quality information spread through apps and social media—is floating around. At best, digital litter is a nuisance. At worst, it can place refugees and migrants in harm's way and undermine their decision-making, as this article explores.

Three men pose with guns

Even with the collapse of the Islamic State's "caliphate," thousands of Western foreign fighters are estimated to remain in the Middle East. Deciding how to handle the return of the radicalized—and their dependents—is no easy issue. Some countries seek to revoke their citizenship. Yet citizenship revocation has unclear impact and raises deep questions about the limits of a state’s responsibility to its citizens, as this article explores.

British and EU flags

As Brexit negotiations move forward, the issue of the future rights for EU nationals resident in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living on the continent has emerged as a sticking point. Though negotiators in early December 2017 agreed to a skeletal deal on citizens' rights, countless details remain to be worked out, leaving the future of some 4 million people unresolved—with implications for them, their families, employers, and others.

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2016 saw the emergence of a "whole-of-society" approach to the refugee crisis, with a number of new actors, including many from the private sector, engaging with humanitarian protection issues in creative ways. This engagement and the energy and diversity of these partners, in the tech sector and beyond, creates both opportunities and challenges for governments and more traditional civil-society organizations.

The ruins of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul’s Old Town

Increasing numbers of Westerners heading to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist organizations like ISIS have governments concerned about possible attacks at home by returning fighters. Several thousand fighters from Europe and other Western countries are believed among the foreign nationals involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Lawmakers scrambled in 2014 to respond with new policies, including seizing passports, stripping citizenship, and criminalizing travel to "no go" zones.

International migration flows are becoming increasingly diverse—not just in origins, but also in the composition of labor migration flows and the destinations to which migrants are heading. This article leads off the Migration Information Source's annual Top 10 Migration Issues of the Year.

Muslim integration is one of the most contentious issues in the immigration debate in Europe, and one that gets to the heart of public anxieties about immigration. This article explores public perception toward Muslims in Western Europe and the array of integration policies that countries in the region have adopted during the past several years.

A woman in a winter coat receives food from a woman in an orange safety vest at a train station in P
Commentaries
May 2022
By  Meghan Benton and Andrew Selee
Two adults and two children wearing face masks at a migration health centre in Nigeria
Commentaries
May 2022
By  Meghan Benton and Lawrence Huang
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Commentaries
May 2020
By  Meghan Benton
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Commentaries
March 2020
By  Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, Meghan Benton and Susan Fratzke
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Commentaries
January 2020
By  Meghan Benton
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Commentaries
January 2019
By  Meghan Benton and Aliyyah Ahad
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Commentaries
March 2017
By  Elizabeth Collett and Meghan Benton
Expert Q&A, Audio
August 2, 2022

Digital innovations—including automatic verification of health and vaccination results—are reopening economies and global mobility while setting the standard for new ways of managing mobility and health that will outlast the pandemic. Dr. Pramod Varma, chief architect of India's COVID pass system, DIVOC; Dr. Edem Adzogenu, founder of the Afro Champions Initiative; and MPI's Lawrence Huang discuss these innovations on this episode of Moving Beyond Pandemic.

Nigerian Ministry of interior launched IOM’s Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) in Abuja airport.
Video, Audio
May 10, 2022

Marking the launch of an IOM-MPI report, this webcast examines the state of mobility across world regions into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic—what travel restrictions remain, what policy adaptations have occurred, and how do systems improve for the next public-health crisis.

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Expert Q&A, Audio
December 9, 2021

How has the business world responded to disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic? In this episode of Moving Beyond Pandemic, we speak with two former government officials who are now in the private sector—Ian Robinson of the immigration law firm Fragomen and Brendan Ryan, CEO of Nomadic, about the trends and policy environment shaping business mobility decisions.

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Expert Q&A, Audio
October 11, 2021

Meghan Benton speaks with Dr. Kelley Lee, head of the Pandemics and Borders initiative at Simon Fraser University in Canada, about what the future holds after COVID-19, and whether decisionmakers truly learn to adapt or instead pull out the playbook from the last crisis.

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Expert Q&A, Audio
December 17, 2020

Pre-COVID-19, we lived in a hyper-global world. There were 1.5 billion international tourism trips annually, nearly 40 million flights, and 272 million international migrants. This raises a provocative question: Does international mobility contribute to the spread of pandemics? In this episode, we speak with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn of the Center for Global Development.

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Recent Activity

Expert Q&A, Audio
August 2, 2022

Digital innovations—including automatic verification of health and vaccination results—are reopening economies and global mobility while setting the standard for new ways of managing mobility and health that will outlast the pandemic. Dr. Pramod Varma, chief architect of India's COVID pass system, DIVOC; Dr. Edem Adzogenu, founder of the Afro Champions Initiative; and MPI's Lawrence Huang discuss these innovations on this episode of Moving Beyond Pandemic.

Reports
June 2022

The number of people who work from home or another location other than a traditional office has been growing for decades, but the pandemic has accelerated this shift—with important implications for immigration policy. This report examines trends in remote work, challenges digital nomads and employers face when navigating immigration systems, and opportunities to adapt immigration policies to keep pace with changes in the world of work.

Video, Audio, Webinars
May 10, 2022

Marking the launch of an IOM-MPI report, this webcast examines the state of mobility across world regions into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic—what travel restrictions remain, what policy adaptations have occurred, and how do systems improve for the next public-health crisis.

Commentaries
May 2022

Many countries are reopening for international travel and migration after the shutdown forced by the pandemic. Yet there is still no consensus on whether and how to use travel measures to prevent the spread of future variants of COVID-19 or respond to the next public health crisis. This commentary lays out four guiding principles for building an inclusive and effective global mobility system.

Commentaries
May 2022

Recent displacement crises—ranging from Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Myanmar, South Sudan, to most recently Ukraine—have imposed huge stresses on the humanitarian protection regime. Yet individual countries and regional organizations have been innovating to meet the challenge and expand the options available for protection, in some cases bypassing beleaguered asylum systems. This commentary traces the rise of more ad hoc approaches.

Reports
May 2022

Despite high hopes that international movement would be revived in 2021 after the deep chill in 2020 with designation of a global pandemic, cross-border mobility remained limited as migrants and travelers faced complex rules, high costs, and uncertainty as new COVID-19 variants emerged. This report assesses global mobility in 2021, including changing use of travel restrictions, their impacts on mobile populations, and efforts to safely restart migration and travel.

Expert Q&A, Audio
December 9, 2021

How has the business world responded to disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic? In this episode of Moving Beyond Pandemic, we speak with two former government officials who are now in the private sector—Ian Robinson of the immigration law firm Fragomen and Brendan Ryan, CEO of Nomadic, about the trends and policy environment shaping business mobility decisions.

Commentaries
December 2021

The world is once again engaging in a mad scramble to close borders after emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. While the response bears the hallmarks of the initial response to COVID-19 and the Delta variant, with an uncoordinated and single-minded focus on travel restrictions alone, international cooperation and long-term planning are critical to a more equitable and sustainable system of global mobility and pandemic preparedness.

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