The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a sanitary, economic, and social crisis, but also an unprecedented crisis of mobility, leading to a reconfiguration of the global migratory system. In Spring 2020, a sudden and massive movement of people returned from abroad to their country of nationality. We then witnessed border closings of a scale that was unconceivable before the pandemic.
Is the pandemic of 2020 the end of the “Age of Migration”? It is unlikely, considering the continued and growing reliance on a migrant workforce in certain countries. In 2016, in Canada, one in five workers was an immigrant. Moreover, causes of emigration, such as armed conflicts, violent totalitarian regimes, environmental disasters, ongoing economic stagnation, and inequalities, continue to fuel continuous migratory flows from various parts of the world.
The long-term effect of the 2020 crisis on migratory imaginaries and mobilities, whether constrained or voluntary, long or short, for studies, work, and/or survival, is hard to predict. We are currently witnessing a reconfiguration of migration conditions and regulations that could be deep and lasting and, consequently, result in greater inequalities.