U.S. Immigrant Groups Converge in Mexico, Join Global Call for End to Criminalization and Exploitation of Migrants
Colin Rajah (415) 203-8763 firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Tactaquin (510) 459-4557 email@example.com
(Mexico City, Mexico) Dozens of U.S. immigrant groups are heading to the 5th People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) being held in Mexico City Nov. 2-5. The PGA is a community-based gathering to develop and advocate alternatives to the 4th intergovernmental Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), meeting a week later in Puerto Vallarta on Nov. 10-11.
Led by the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), close to 80 groups from around the U.S. will join an estimated one thousand other civil society delegates from around the world at the PGA. This will be one of the largest international civil society gatherings focused on one of the most contentious issues worldwide, migration. NNIRR is a co-founder of the PGA.
“There is an unprecedented increase in hostility towards migrants around the world, including in the U.S.,” declared Colin Rajah, Director of NNIRR’s program International Migrant Rights & Global Justice and a member of the PGA international coordinating committee. “As governments discuss ways and means to maximize the development benefits of migration, migrants themselves are being traded as cheap and disposable labor commodities.”
Raising Migrant Voices for Justice & Human Rights
During the PGA, community- based, human rights, women’s, faith-based, labor, migrant workers and other organizations from Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe will share their experiences, strategize and develop action plans to counter the growing government attacks undermining the rights and safety of migrants. Key PGA representatives will also attend the Civil Society Days Nov. 8-9 at the GFMD, and will be delivering one of four international civil society presentations during the government forum.
The PGA serves as a broad-based civil society forum exposing governments’ repressive and inhumane criminalization of migrants around the world and the increasing exploitation of migrant workers in vulnerable and precarious conditions. The PGA also advocates for better global governance and adherence to human rights protections of migrants.
U.S. Will Attend GFMD for First Time
For the first time, the U.S. State Department will be leading an inter-agency delegation of a dozen government representatives to the GFMD. Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz, heading the delegation, is expected to deliver a speech in New York on Nov. 8, in conjunction with the opening of the GFMD.
Rajah commented, “While we applaud the Obama Administration’s reversal of the previous U.S. government policy of non-participation in international fora such as the GFMD, we are concerned that there is little if any indication that the U.S. will modify it trade and migration policies, which drive the forced displacement of communities and violate the rights of migrants. We will be pushing the U.S. to turn around these policies and end the repressive and inhumane treatment of migrant communities. The U.S. must comply with the international human rights protections of all migrants around the world, including in our own country.”
The GFMD was created in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, upon the recommendation of then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. While its mandate seeks to overcome the limitations of strictly national approaches to key migration issues, the GFMD has become a key site for developing migration and development policy at the expense of the rights of migrants and countries in the Global South.
The inaugural GFMD was held in Brussels in 2007, followed by Manila in 2008 and Athens in 2009. The Swiss government is expected to host the GFMD next year.
The PGA: Creating a Global Vision & Action Plan for Migrant Rights
The PGA was jointly created by regional migrant and migrant rights networks from around the world. Recognizing the limitation of the GFMD’s framework approach, it sought to raise the level of broad civil society engagement as key stakeholders in the debate, and more importantly, to promote the central role of human rights as a framework for migration and development.