Statement of the Scalabrini International Migration Network – Fourth Round of Negotiations Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration

New York, May 18, 2018

Thank you, Mr. Co-Facilitator.

SIMN would like to make several comments on Revision 1 of the zero draft:

With regard to regular pathways and regularization, we agree with the Swiss delegation that these policies have their own legitimacy, as they lead to increased economic output in the host country, an increase in remittances in the source country, and upward mobility and stability for migrants—a win-win-win proposition.  They also encourage integration into the host society and are pro-security, as governments know who is in the country and who is coming, and for what purpose.  

With regard to regularization programs– the so-called “pull” factor–we are not recommending that these programs, or increases in regular pathways, be conducted in a vacuum, but are part of a mix of policies to manage migration.  This would necessarily include humane enforcement efforts which ensure due process protections.  The goal is to incentivize regular migration by ensuring all stakeholders play by the rules, including employers.

Indeed, member states should not accept the “sweat equity,” taxes, retirement payments, and consumer spending of irregular migrants without providing them the legal protection that their human rights and dignity demand.  As a moral matter, the global community cannot have it both ways.

As such, we propose that the promotion of legal pathways and regularization programs be added as a principle in the preamble to the Compact and that language in Objective 5 and Objective 16 be strengthened to make clear that member states should increase legal pathways and regularization programs as a tool for fighting irregular migration.

We agree with Bahrain that these legal avenues and regularization policies should promote family reunification, as this would increase social cohesion and gender balance in host countries.  Therefore, we oppose the removal of language in Objective 5, Paragraph G, which prevents member states from discriminating against families based on income, language or type of regular status.

With regard to border management, we would oppose the addition of any language to Objective 11 or any other Objective which would sanction the use of deterrence schemes to address large movements of migrants, as they encourage tactics which deny due process protections.   Adding such language would undermine the purpose of the Compact to foster safe, orderly, and regular migration, as it forces migrants into situations which are not “safe.”

In this regard, we support the amendment of the Holy See to add a paragraph to Objective 11 prohibiting the use of family separation—normally children from their mothers– as an enforcement tool at international borders.  This is a cruel policy which should be ended.

We support the inclusion of “firewalls” throughout the draft, so that irregular migrants have access to basic services, consistent with their human rights, and can be part of data collection efforts.  How you construct this language, co-facilitators, is vital, as it must not be left to interpretation.

The reason is simple: migrants will not access services or cooperate with census takers if they know they could be targeted for removal. Without firewalls, you are essentially denying them access to services and are effectively denying them their human rights. Studies show that the best way to reduce crime is to establish trust between local police and immigrant communities—the best way to identify the bad apples.

In this spirit, we would suggest adding to Objective 15, 30C language which clarifies 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.

We agree with the majority of member states that the principle of non-refoulement should be included in the text, particularly in Objective 21.  If source nations have an obligation to receive their nationals, then transit and destination nations have an obligation to abide by due process protections and international law during the return process.

Additionally, there is voluntary and forced return, but there is a third category—forced “voluntary” return, in which migrants are coerced by enforcement officials to voluntarily return. The use of coercive tactics, including the unnecessary detention of asylum seekers, to force “voluntary” return, should be discouraged in the Compact.

With regard to re-integration, providing returned migrants “equal” access to re-integration services means they will not get assistance, as they are usually inadequate in sending nations, one reason they left in the first place.  Programs tailored specifically to their needs—employment, job training, physical security—must be provided.  Destination nations should help in financing such programs, as these are more effective and cost-efficient investments in preventing irregular migration than spending billions on enforcement.

Finally, with regard to implementation, we will leave it to your wisdom about the role IOM may have in the implementation of the Compact.  Regardless of their role, but particularly if they have a leading role, you must ensure that their new leadership is unequivocally committed to the implementation of the Compact.  Otherwise, the goals of the GCM—and the good efforts of 192 Member States—may not be fully realized.

We will submit our additional suggestions in writing.

Thank you.