A discussion took place today at the UN headquarters in New York regarding the Global Compact on migration that will be adopted next year. On a panel of experts, CELS underscored the need to revise restrictive migration policies that generate human rights violations, limit state measures to control migration, and promote policies to achieve the social inclusion of migrant persons. The Global Compact that UN member states will approve should indicate what elements are indispensable for designing rights-based migration policies.
Access to local documentation, or migratory regularization, is fundamental for facilitating the effective exercise of rights. It has a direct impact on the lives of migrants, allowing them to rent housing, obtain formal employment, register their children for school, receive medical attention or access the judicial system. For this reason, states must guarantee access to documentation as a first response to situations of irregularity.
Migration procedures must ensure that migrants be heard with sufficient time allowed and can access legal assistance. Criteria such as family unity, humanitarian reasons, work (both formal and informal) and how deep a person’s roots are should guide migration decisions. And any decision that entails the deportation of migrants or their rejection at the border should be subject to judicial review. In addition, migration control must not be in the hands of security forces.
The Global Compact on migration could be an unprecedented intergovernmental tool but the majority of states have expressed an interest in intensifying the current model, centered on controls and security, instead of transforming it. In today’s discussion, in which representatives of UN member states participated, we stated our position: the Compact should focus on developing public policies that guarantee lives, physical integrity and dignity. The critical situation of migrants in many countries demands a new approach, based on human rights. Migration laws in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia, among other countries, show that this possible.