Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today is International Migrants Day: Human Rights of Migrants: Protection Not Violation

On 4 December 2000, the General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93). On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (resolution 45/158).

Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are invited to observe International Migrants Day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through the sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure their protection.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Janvieve Williams Comrie, 404 610 2807

The Human Rights of Migrants and Their Families
Protection, Not Violation

The problems faced by migrant workers and their families in the United States, both documented and undocumented, have become more acute the past several years. One of the nations most vulnerable populations, migrants have little or no representation in government and are often scapegoated in times of insecurity. The current economic crisis has created conditions that are ripe for exploitation and abuse; hate crimes and discrimination against communities perceived as immigrant are on the rise. On International Migrants Day, the US Human Rights Network calls upon federal, state and local governments and agencies across the U.S. to recognize, uphold and protect the human rights of migrants and their families. Recent studies estimate that about 36 million foreign nationals reside in the U.S., as many as 20 million of whom are undocumented. Though research consistently shows that migrants provide a net economic benefit to their communities, demagogues have pursued a campaign of fear and loathing against them, blaming migrants for a host of social ills. Officials have done their bidding by passing restrictive and punitive policies and laws that often violate international human rights standards.

Migrants and their families have been increasingly denied access to basic human services, including housing, health care and education. Migrant workers who attempt to enforce wage and other employment laws or form unions have been targeted for harassment, including arrest and raids by immigration authorities. The longstanding exploitation of migrant laborers, especially farmworkers, continues unabated. As borders have become militarized, migrant communities have been subject to racial profiling in the form of arbitrary stops and searches. Families have been torn apart by inflexible immigration policies and procedures. There is ample evidence of poor and inhumane conditions in immigrant detention facilities, including overcrowding, lack of legal counsel, and the denial of access to life-saving medical care.

Moreover, laws and policies affecting migrants vary wildly from state to state and community to community, creating an inconsistent and confusing tangle with no moral or philosophical foundation. It is time for a new administration and Congress to to adopt immigration laws, policies and programs that use a human rights perspective. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the United Nations in 1990 but not yet ratified by the U.S., offers a roadmap for a new approach, one that federal, state and local officials would do well to employ.

Advocacy groups and migrant communities themselves have been partnering to end these and other human rights abuses, but their voices have been largely ignored in an irrational climate. The observation of International Migrants Day compels everyone involved in the advancement of human rights throughout the world to speak out in support of the rights of migrants and their families in the U.S., and to insist that the fundamental rights guaranteed to all people apply equally to the most marginalized and powerless regardless of their economic or political status. To do anything less is to be complicit in their plight.

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the human rights of migrants, Read Press Release on his visit to the United States

Committee on Migrant Workers Here

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