This article examines the 2013 migration policy liberalizations in Morocco and Turkey in order to understand whether predominantly “human rights-centric” or “diplomatic” factors influenced domestic decisions to reform migration policies. It uses original interview data collected in 2015, as well as policy documents, to examine the two reform processes and their initial consequences for migrants and refugees residing in each host state. While the academic literature on migration has focused on human rights-centric factors to understand historic migration policy reforms, Turkey and Morocco’s geopolitical and geographic positions between powerful neighbors to the north and important sending countries to the south mean that diplomatic factors are also key to understanding the incentives behind reform. This article’s findings have important implications for scholars of international migration, demonstrating that while countries like Morocco and Turkey may implement liberal and inclusive policies if there are diplomatic and economic gains to be had from doing so, such policies may have little impact on the everyday lives of individual migrants and refugees residing in these states and may be subject to reversals if such states’ geopolitical calculations change.
Read the full article in the International Migration Review.