New York, April 6, 2018 – We have submitted our edits to the Revision 1 of the GCM. I would like to make some overall points.
Consistent with statements made by several member states, we support adding language that makes it clear that member states should increase or expand regular pathways for migration. This should be a central goal of the Compact, which has the goal of promoting safe, orderly, and regular migration. If origin countries have an obligation to accept their nationals, then destination nations have an obligation to increase legal avenues for migration, as they benefit from the labor of migrants. Regularization programs should be part of this effort, as they can be tailored to long-stayers and other migrants in vulnerable situations in destination countries and provide these countries economic growth, social integration, and national security.
We oppose a section by section delineation of regular and irregular migrants. Many of the objectives, such as Objective 5 on regular pathways, by definition apply to irregular migrants. Finally, we disagree with Paragraph 3 in the preamble that says that migrants are not inherently vulnerable, as that is not the reality on the ground. This term can also be used by immigration opponents to deny all human rights to irregular migrants and to fan the flames of xenophobia. The sentence should be changed to “migrants may not have a protection claim under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocols.
Second, we support the language of human rights protection added to the draft, especially in terms of migrants in vulnerable situations, but there needs to be clarification as to what human rights protections means, especially as it applies to access to services, as it could be interpreted in different ways. Language tying it to such instruments as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights would be appropriate.
Third, we understand the dilemma between the need to collect adequate data about migrants and how this information is used. We strongly support firewall language, as it is needed to ensure that irregular migrants participate and have access to necessary benefits. We would suggest adding language that states that demographic data should not be used to target enforcement efforts or to direct federal funding to local jurisdictions. We support removing the question of “country of citizenship.” We also would suggest adding to Objective 15, 30 c language which clarifies which places of service delivery where migrants should not be apprehended. These should include charitable organizations, places of worship, schools, and courts, where they receive necessary material, pastoral, educational, and access to justice services.
Fourth, we support language in Objective 5 on family reunification and oppose removal of language listing barriers imposed by member states to prevent family unity. Income requirements, for example, discriminates against vulnerable families. We also support the addition of a new paragraph at the end of Objective 11 which eliminate the separation of family members at international borders.
Fifth, we oppose language offered by Austria and European Union states that would add deterrence language to the chapeau and paragraph 26 f of Objective 11. This would approve the use of tactics which deprive migrant of due process rights, such as interdiction and return, pushbacks, offshore processing, detention, family separation, conditional aid, and other bi-lateral or multi-lateral formal and informal enforcement cooperation agreements, such as between Australia and other Asian countries. We urge the co-facilitators to reject such language.
Sixth, we oppose the removal of language in Objective 12 which relieves member states of the obligation to screen migrants for protection needs and informing them of their right to apply for asylum. This language does not confer a benefit but ensures due process for them.
Finally, we support the recommendation of the Holy See that faith-based organizations be added to the stakeholder list in both the preamble and implementation sections. Faith-based organizations are unique, as they have greater reach than governments—they are universal—and fill gaps in providing services to migrants, regardless of governmental action, but ideally to complement governmental action. Migrants also trust their own faith-based organizations in receiving support.
Mr. Co-facilitator, we will submit further comments for the remaining objectives after Member States review them in negotiations.