Promoting Positive Outcomes on Migration and Development: U.S. Positions for the High Level Dialogue
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
September 27, 2013
Human trafficking victims must be proactively identified, protected, and their traffickers held to account. States should develop measures to identify and assist victims of human trafficking, including by providing immigration benefits, as appropriate, for victims and their immediate family members. They should ensure that trafficking victims are not penalized for criminal acts they committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Traffickers should be subject to criminal investigation and vigorously prosecuted and punished with strong penalties that reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Humanitarian and enforcement objectives can and must work in tandem. Ensuring the human rights and humane treatment of regular and irregular migrants, on the one hand, and securing one's borders and enforcing immigration laws, on the other hand, are not inconsistent goals. Migration policies should protect the rights and respect the dignity of migrants while also preserving states’ abilities to enforce their immigration laws and ensure the safe, orderly, and humane movement of persons into and out of their countries.
All countries need to promote and protect the human rights of all migrants. Countries of origin, transit and destination need to take effective measures to address the particular vulnerabilities of migrants to crime and human rights abuses, especially unaccompanied children, those traveling without proper documentation and those whose gender, gender identity or physical appearance may place them at greater risk for gender-based violence, including exploitation, abuse, and certain forms of human trafficking.
States, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector all have roles to play in situations where migrants, through no fault of their own, are caught in acute crises. Because there is no common understanding beyond humanitarian assistance concerning the responsibilities of these actors, the international community needs to develop voluntary principles delineating responsibilities. The United States has agreed to help lead an initiative with the Philippines and other interested countries – working closely with the International Organization for Migration, other relevant organizations, civil society groups, and the private sector to address the situation of migrants caught in acute crises.
Those responsible for criminal acts against migrants in transit must be vigorously prosecuted and any migrants injured as a result of criminal acts should receive proper medical care. Migrant victims of crime should be protected whether they are documented or undocumented. States should facilitate the reporting of crimes committed against migrants, foster raising awareness of the human rights of migrants, and promote the presence of public security at formal and informal border crossings, along main transit routes, and in places that have a large vulnerable migrant population. It is premature, however, to address migrants in transit as part of the discussion we will undertake on migrants in crisis. An international consensus exists to look at the narrow range of migrants stranded due to no fault of their own because of conflict or natural disaster. If we are able to reach consensus on a framework or set of guiding principles, these may serve as guidelines for a broader range of circumstances.
Fundamental principles and rights at work should be respected for all persons, regardless of their migration status. These basic principles, set out in a 1998 International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration, namely, freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and effective abolition of child labor, are fundamental to establishing a healthy and humane workplace for migrants and citizens alike.
States should deter unscrupulous labor recruiters. States can deter unscrupulous recruitment practices by enacting and implementing legislation and other measures to ensure that migrant workers are not saddled with the burden of paying recruitment fees, that they have transparent contracts that clearly explain their terms of employment and conditions of work that are respected by employers, and that they are aware that they can retain their passports and other identity documents at all stages of their migration.
Migrants who meet eligibility criteria should be able to effectively access the social security benefits they have earned over the course of their work. Many countries, including the United States, aim to make lawful migrant workers’ access to their benefits more portable through bilateral agreements. The concept of reciprocity even without such agreements should ensure that workers are still able to reap the benefits of their years of hard work if they return home.
Narrow the focus of migration and development. Migration and development are huge cross-cutting topics. When lumped together, they touch upon almost every other issue governments care about. We need to narrow our discussions and focus on issues within these broad topics where there is reliable evidence and a common understanding.
Enhance the development impact of remittances. Lowering the costs of transmitting remittances from the current average of nine percent to the G-20 goal of five percent will put an additional $16 billion each year in the hands of migrants and their families.
Empower diaspora members to engage with their country of origin. Diaspora community members have more to offer than remittances or other financial flows. They can contribute to the diffusion of knowledge, skills and, as appropriate, technology in the marketplace. When migrants and diaspora members can fully exercise their human rights, for example freedoms of assembly, association, and expression, they can play a powerful role as advocates for change in countries of origin and destination. Enabling connection and movement between countries of destination and countries of origin can have multiplier effects on development.
Support the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and Regional Consultative Processes (RCPs) as excellent multilateral forums for migration-related discussions. The GFMD and RCPs have proven to be places where countries can raise difficult, provocative issues relating to migration in an atmosphere free from recrimination and finger-pointing. These state-led processes provide opportunities to share information on migration trends, exchange best practices, encourage regional cooperation, and engage civil society in innovative ways.
Support the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with its 151 Member States as the international inter-governmental migration organization and the roles of U.N. specialized agencies and other international organizations with significant mandates and expertise on migration and call for more effective cooperation and collaboration among these. IOM runs outstanding operational programming and provides a forum for States to exchange views and experiences and promote cooperation on international migration. There is no need for any new UN entity to duplicate this. Any proposal that IOM become part of the UN is a discussion for IOM Member States in Geneva and is not a UN issue.
The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.