Statement on Global Compact on Migration
Who Are We?
Alianza Americas is a network of migrant led organizations and individual members throughout the United States that includes a wide range of partners and allies in Latin America, as well as in the US. Its 45 organizational members represent more than 100,000 families in 12 U.S. states.
What Do We Do?
Deeply rooted in Latino immigrant communities, Alianza Americas works transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for families across the Americas. Its work combines networked advocacy, leadership development, and targeted delegations and educational tours to advance a shared agenda on:
- Economic, Racial and Social Justice
- Common Sense and Humane Migration Policies
- Transnational Civic Engagement and Participation
Alianza Americas sits on the Executive Committee of the Global Coalition on Migration (www.gcmigration.org) and currently hosts the Secretariat of this coalition. Alianza Americas is also an active member of the Women in Migration Network (www.womeninmigration.org) and the International Steering Committee of the Peoples Global Action on Migration, Development, and Human Rights (http://peoplesglobalaction.org/), which will be holding a conference in Berlin on July 3-4, 2017 called Power, People, Community-Building A Migrant Rights Movement. Alianza Americas has been an active civil society participant in the Regional Conference on Migration for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Alianza Americas has also been active in the World Social Forum on Migration, as an international organizing committee member.
GFMD and Global Compact
The meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Berlin comes less than a year after governments agreed to move forward with a new Global Compact on Migration (http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/migration-compact). There is an urgent need for a global conversation on migration and human mobility at this moment when national-level policies focused on deterring migration both fail to protect migrants’ rights and contribute to the rising tide of xenophobia and racism. Alianza Americas urges governments to seize the opportunity to make good on the promise of migration as a benefit for origin and destination countries, and to take a stand against criminalization of migrants. Alianza Americas also challenges governments to genuinely put into practice their rhetoric about including the perspectives of organized migrant and refugee communities in the formulation of both the refugee and migration compacts. Specific recommendations on labor migration, human rights, drivers of forced migration, detention, and returns can be found on the Global Coalition on Migration site at http://gcmigration.org/category/global-compact/.
For a Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly migration to succeed, it must appropriately address the regional specificities in different migration corridors. Last year, Alianza Americas visited El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and the Mexican southern border. Recommendations from that fact-finding tour can be viewed here: https://www.alianzaamericas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CAMEX-Delegation-Report-2016-FINAL.pdf. Two areas that require urgent action are protection of people fleeing for their lives and the drive to criminalize and punish people who are forced to migrate without the benefit of adequate legal channels to do so.
Protection must come first. Calling deportation “return and reintegration” doesn’t solve the problem.
People return to their countries of origin for many reasons, but the word “return” has been used by the US government, and the governments of the region to obscure the dire circumstances facing tens of thousands of people being involuntarily sent back to Central America from the US and Mexico. Many of the women, families and young people who seek protection in the United States or Mexico are fleeing specific instances of extreme violence, both from organized crime and corrupt state actors. It is absurd, and unconscionable, to speak of “re-integration” of people who have been forcibly returned to untenable conditions that drove migration in the first place. What’s more, efforts to respond to returnees’ needs can generate social conflicts with those who have not migrated, but who are facing the same oppressive conditions of violence, insecurity, and lack of economic opportunity. In all cases, states must affirm the rights of people who are forced to migrate to access humanitarian protections and must not return them to circumstances where there is no reasonable prospect of their being able to live in safety and security with access to a sustainable livelihood.
End Criminalization of Migration, and Detention.
Current policy and the framework for managing migration in our region is rooted in the unfounded assumption that human mobility is a threat that must be contained or stopped. Research has shown human mobility to be a net benefit for all parties involved. Punitive approaches are doomed to fail in a region where the labor force is already highly integrated, and where regional trade agreements facilitate massive flows of goods and capital across borders. Highly restrictive migration polices and militarized enforcement in the United States has become the model for the region. Immigration detention, already a lucrative business in the US, has been expanded to Mexico. Children are still being detained with their parents in so-called “family detention” centers, in clear violation of the principles of the best interest of the child.
In the Global Compact, states should make good on their New York Declaration pledge to “consider reviewing our migration policies with a view to examining their possible unintended negative consequences,” because current deterrence, detention, criminalization and deportation policies are violating rights, separating families, and endangering migrants’ lives and safety while also failing to address either the need for sustainable livelihood opportunities in countries of origin or the reality of labor demand in the US. States should start by committing in the Global Compact to eliminating national laws that criminalize migration, such as the 1996 IIRIRA law in the United States, and move toward a framework that recognizes migration—and the contributions of migrants– as a net benefit for both the country of origin and destination.