Treating migration as a security problem spawns systemic human rights violations. And it doesn’t work. People are migrating in ever larger numbers worldwide despite the risk of death, whether on the Mediterranean Sea or along the Central America-Mexico-US corridor. Restrictive policies criminalize and stigmatize migrants, exposing them to human trafficking, labor exploitation, detention, and separation from their families.
CELS has been fighting since the 1990s to put human rights at the center of migration policies, a feat that was achieved in Argentina. We believe this alternative model must prioritize regularization, meaning the state ensures that immigrants can easily obtain national documentation, which is essential for fully exercising their rights. This framework must also guarantee due process in all proceedings, access to justice and public defenders, and prohibit detention for migration-related infractions.
Guided by this vision, we have worked to influence public policy, improve standards and change the terms of debate regionally and internationally. Some progress has been made but many substantive problems continue to be ignored. And in countries where politicians are whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment today – Argentina included – the scenario is disheartening.