Migrants’ Assembly: Sorely Being Missed in Headlines

While it recognizes that migration does not replace genuine efforts for development, the GFMD seeks to establish the linkage between migration and development. How? A review of the content of the discussions during the Belgium meeting reveals the following:

First, by maximizing the utilization by governments of remittances. The proposals center around how to provide efficient, official channels for remittances so the government can corner these remittances and utilize these for “development projects”.

Second, by utilizing the skills and resources of legal immigrants in host countries by organizing them and encouraging them to contribute to the development of their country of origin. The GFMD also talks about “circular migration”: of legal immigrants eventually returning to their country of origin to contribute to its development.

Third, by protecting the rights of legal immigrants in their host countries so that they could productively contribute to the economy of their host country. At the same time, the GFMD aims to strengthen the enforcement of immigration laws to stem the influx of low-skilled illegal migrants to developed countries.

Fourth, by encouraging bilateral agreements between host and sending countries covering the provision of temporary skilled labor to the former, if and when it needs it. It even places the responsibility of ensuring the prevention of illegals from staying in developed countries to the sending country.

Clearly, at the GFMD, migrants are the subject and not the center of discussion. Take away the flowery , highfaluting language and it all boils down to how sending countries can further maximize remittances by cornering it in official channels, take advantage of the skills and resources of diaspora communities, and encourage them to return home to rid the host country of the oversupply of immigrants from other countries. And by the way, could the sending country please control illegal migration of low-skilled workers to developed countries!

On the other hand, the GFMD aims to enable the host country to maximize the skilled labor of legal immigrants and source temporary skilled labor from backward countries, if and when they need it. And by the way, immigration laws should be strictly enforced and temporary skilled labor entering developed countries need to be covered by bilateral agreements; and could the sending countries please ensure that the temporary workers they sent return home!

Development seems to be misappropriated at the GFMD. How can backward countries develop when the neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization -that advanced capitalist countries have imposed on them- have been wreaking havoc not only on the economies of backward countries but on the whole world economy as well? The worst part of it is that these advanced capitalist countries continue to pressure backward, weak economies to pursue these very same policies while they protect their own industries and agriculture, bail out their ailing banks, and move to regulate the flight of capital from their own backyard.

Remittances could never be a tool for development. On the contrary, labor migration and export is a manifestation of the backwardness of the sending country, which could not even provide gainful employment for its citizens.

While migrant workers are merely the subject of discussion at the GFMD, they are the lead and at the center of discussion at the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees to be held on October 28 and 29. Migrante International, together with the International Migrants’ Alliance would be hosting the IAMR. The alliance is comprised by 112 migrants’ organizations from 25 countries. Expected to attend the IMAR in October are delegates from South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, USA, India, Malaysia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, among others.

During the said assembly, migrants and refugees would be sharing the “real face” of migration: the horrors of abuse, the tragedies, and the dismal working conditions migrants and refugees experience, as well as the struggles they conduct.

But the ray of hope for migrants and refugees, in particular, and the peoples of the world, in general, lies not so much in the horror stories that the assembly would bring out but in the unity and struggles it would bring about. And that is the real path to development.(Bulatlat.com)

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