Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Author's Department

Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Migration and Refugee Movements in the Middle East and North Africa

Publication Date



Jordan has historically acted as a regional cross-road for migration. This role can be attributed to regional political instability forcing migrants to the country, as much as due to Jordan’s policy of openness to Arab migrants, an openness which has sustained the pan-Arabist claims of the ruling Hashemite dynasty. In recent years, however, Jordan has progressively restrained its open-door policy. The country is hosting today some 900,000 work migrants of various nationalities, some 750,000 Iraqi refugees and numerous Syrians, Lebanese, West Bank Palestinians, while an estimated 50% of the population is descendent of the naturalised Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967' displaced people. Therefore, the State finds itself forced to address popular worries regarding persisting high levels of unemployment, the distribution of scarce resources and security in an extremely volatile regional context. At the same time, however, Jordan is under pressure by the USA, foreign donors and international agencies to, first, implement liberalisation of its economy and opening of capital, which imply increasing mobility and globalisation of manpower, as well as attracting foreign investments, Secondly, Jordan is under pressure to allow for the settlement of some Iraqis in the country, even though the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees remains Jordan’s biggest political stake to date. This paper will review the new measures implemented regarding immigration of labourers and refugees to Jordan, as well as emigration of the country's citizens. We will resituate these measures within their specific economic, social and political contexts in order to emphasize the way they contribute to defining national population, citizenship and borders and, at the same time, allowing Jordan to join the globalised economy and politics.

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