All Anti-immigration and Migration Endists’ Programmes will crash.
By Jide OLATUYI
The 2015 Valletta Migration Action Plan and the February 3, 2017 Malta Agreement which consist of efforts by the EU leaders trying behind their African peers to stop the irregular migratory flows essentially from Africa to Europe via repressive measures would not work. So would Trump’s effort also fail in applying repressive immigration measures via executive orders against documented and undocumented migrants in the U.S. Then, recently, the recurring mob killing of Nigerians in South Africa that endangers Africans at home and abroad needs continental and global attention.
All migratory flows whether “regular”, “irregular” and or “forced”, “voluntary or involuntary”, are as evolutionary as they are psychological and are historical. Attaining global peace, prosperity, dignity, decent work and reduce discrimination, inequality in origin and destination countries require that all discriminatory Anti-immigration and Migration Endists’ Programmescrash and irreversibly scattered mostly at destination countries. Origin, transit and destination countries must genuinely collaborate and partner to focus the values of personal and state responsibility, integrity, authenticity and equal dignity in migration matters for the benefit of all.
From Valletta to Malta, then now inside Africa, Africans are targeted on life threatening anti-immigration repressive and oppressive actions. In the new Trump’s U.S. anti-immigration executive orders, Africans are conspicuously among those targeted. The good news however is the African Union (AU) with the introduction of a single African passport last year is now looking inwards by proposing an African labour migration identity for Africans inside Africa.
It is an AU free movement and African citizenship agenda that can hold the migration sanctuary for all categories of migrants exclusively for African descents is novel. It is more of an Africa direct response to the Valletta Plan of Action and a bold intra-regional migration and labour Mobility within Africa strategy designed to stem the risking of lives crossing Sahara deserts en route Europe. How this African migration framework will work to promote a well-managed migration and labour mobility as a powerful driver of African development is still evolving and still a subject of many policy debates and discussions. The African agenda (like the EU Migration agenda) on free movement of people alongside free movement of goods, services and capital will be one of the founding principles of the new African Union Migration Policy Framework currently undergoing a review. It will give all citizens of AU countries the right to travel, live and work wherever they wish within the AU. Under the new arrangement, the right of people to live and work anywhere in Africa will be sacred.
Similar efforts are on-going in ECOWAS supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to consolidate the Free Movement Protocols and the West Africa free movement and labour migration architecture by developing the ECOWAS Common Migration Policy frame document. Project supports by the FMM Consortium comprising the IOM, ILO and the ICMPD are active. But will Africans be up to the task without revamping “Brexit”? For these models to be viable, they must be inextricably linked to regional development planning. If successful, it will not be without its challenges.
The AU’s introduction of a single African passport last year, which though, is still only available to a few high-profile individuals inches closer to improving access to different African countries for the average African. Only 13 of 55 African countries offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all Africans, according to the Africa Visa Openness Report 2016, commissioned by the African Development Bank (AfDB). Currently, however, it is actually less painful for Americans to travel within Africa than it generally is for Africans. For example, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote indicated last year that it is easier for US citizens to travel to South Africa for business than it is for him as Nigerians have to apply for a visa while Americans are granted visa-free access.
However, the disturbing scenarios of xenophobic, discriminatory, brutal, criminalization and hostile killings of Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa are packaged in the same anti-immigration pot of racial bigotry that is dangerous for the survival of migrants and members of their families. Those that repatriate on racial bases and their blood thirst barbarian cohort of killers in South Africa are the social misfits who inadvertently need more understanding of the emerging migration and social dynamics of 21st century. Mechanisms to halt the senseless killings and criminal manhandling of Nigerians and Africans everywhere must be developed at AU, ACP, UN and global levels and be put to work.
The growing numbers of men, women and even children in every major region of the world are joining international streams of migration. This global movement of humanity’s desperation is taking place despite walls, fences, barriers, guards, patrol ships, warnings and nativist political rhetoric. Governments of origin, transit and destination countries are struggling on how best to manage unauthorized or irregular migration flows. Climate change, environmental degradation, shrinking natural resources, armed conflict and violence are additional major emigration pressures. No matter the high walls built to keep migrants out, unless a higher wall is built within the migrants’ psyche, migrants are unlikely to be deterred by old and new restrictive border control measures.
Every year, countries receive millions of migrants who are granted visas for various purposes, including employment, family reunification, business, schooling, medical care and tourism. Some of those migrants with short-term visas overstay their visits, thereby becoming unauthorized migrants, whose numbers are increasing in various countries. Many countries seek foreign workers, especially the highly skilled. However, the level of demand for those workers is far less than the growing pool of potential migrants in sending countries. Based on international surveys, the number of people indicating a desire to immigrate to another country is estimated at about 1.3 billion, far larger than the current 244 million migrants worldwide.
Among those wishing to migrate, about 100 million report planning to migrate in the next year and 40 million have taken steps necessary for migration, such as obtaining travel documents and needed finances. Again, the number of potential migrants who have taken steps to emigrate greatly exceeds the world’s average level of approximately 6 million migrants per year.
The truth is, migration and its inextricable link to development is indeed very complex andrequires deeper understandings to manage its diverse configurations in modern society to promote integration, co-existence and social change.
While everyone has the right to leave and return to their home country, they do not have a right to enter another country undocumented or overstay irregularly. Powerful push and pull factorsinfluence men, women and even children in their migration decision making. High unemployment, low wages, few benefits, difficult living conditions, separated families, poor governance, human rights abuses and limited prospects for improvement in the near term are among the root causes of unauthorized migration. Recession, Climate change, environmental degradation, shrinking natural resources, armed conflict and violence are additional major emigration pressures.
At the same time, higher wages, demand for labour, benefits, schooling, health care, social welfare and security in the industrialized countries are among the factors attracting many to emigrate. The economic successes reported by earlier migrants, some being family members or friends, and the remittances they regularly send home confirm the benefits of relocating overseas. Modern communication, advanced information systems and integrated transportation networks also act as facilitators for those considering unauthorized migration.
In making their decisions, most potential migrants conclude that the perceived benefits of unauthorized migration greatly out-weigh the costs and risks involved. The financial costs of unauthorized migration are substantial, varying greatly according to a variety of factors, including distance, transportation, obstacles and the number, gender and age of the migrants. While short distances over a single border may cost several thousand dollars, smuggler fees that involve long distances, land and sea transportation, crossing many borders and payoffs to those along the way are in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Due to the high profits, low risks and seemingly unlimited supply of people wishing to emigrate, criminal networks are increasingly involved in smuggling and human trafficking. As a result, growing numbers of men, women and children are falling victim to deception and mistreatment, including debt bondage, unlawful confinement, sexual abuse and violence against them.
Potential migrants often claim to recognize the risks of irregular migration. However, those starting out on their migratory journeys tend to discount the risks, perhaps believing they apply to others, and are often misled by false claims and promises of smugglers and traffickers. At the same time, many potential migrants have family obligations, responsibilities and related concerns pushing them to attempt unauthorized migration.
In resorting to unauthorized migration, many men, women and children are risking their lives to reach their desired destinations. From 2000 to 2015 at least 50,000 migrant border-related deaths occurred globally. Approximately half of those deaths were at European external borders, followed by the Mexico-United States border accounting for about 15 percent of the deaths.
The Mediterranean continues to increase tally of migrant deaths in 2016 to a grim 4,271, making this already the deadliest year ever recorded. From one death for every 269 European migrant arrivals in 2015, the probability of dying in 2016 has surged to one in 88 arrivals. In addition, some believe that more migrants perish attempting to the cross the Sahara Desert than drown in the Mediterranean Sea.
Upon arrival at the border, some unauthorized migrants avoid detection by the authorities and travel usually to large cities where they typically join their compatriots, relatives and earlier arrivals. Lacking legal resident status, those migrants, as well as the growing numbers of visa over-stayers, live in fear of deportation and often take on irregular, low wage and difficult work that citizens generally eschew.
Most unauthorized migrants, however, are met by border agents and taken into custody for processing, checking and determining eligibility for entry. While considerable variation exists across countries, some common procedures are applied when dealing with unauthorized entry.
If eligible to apply for asylum or protection, the authorities send the prospective refugees to reception centers and shelters for additional screening. Others, deemed economic migrants, are relocated to another facility for further processing and evaluation, appear before a court at a later date or forced to leave the country.
Virtually all governments have explicit policies against unauthorized migration. Implicit policies and actual enforcement, however, are more varied and ambiguous, with considerable debate on how best to address the presence of unauthorized migrants. Although in the past, legalization was the typical remedy, recently the issue has become highly contentious, emotive and politicized, with vocal arguments for and against granting legal status to unauthorized migrants.
At one extreme are those who contend that deportation is the appropriate and necessary solution to unauthorized migration. At the other extreme are those who oppose deportation, pressing for legalization of unauthorized migrants. And in between there are others who equivocate on deportation and legalization depending on the circumstances, such as length of stay, family relations, children, employment, arrival as minors and criminal record.
Given the complexities, politics and enormous variations in country circumstances, it would be naive to attempt to enumerate specific actions on how best to deal with unauthorized migrants. Nevertheless, it is instructive and perhaps useful to consider a general recommended approachthat is both reasonable and workable.
For unauthorized migrants residing in countries and those apprehended attempting to enter outside legal channels, governments should properly review and evaluate the migrant’s circumstances and conditions and decide on the appropriate course of action in a timely, transparent and humane manner. Unfortunately, the recent surges in the arrivals of unauthorized migrants by land and sea, especially families and young children, have overwhelmed and seriously delayed the review and evaluation process.
Another main reason for irregular migration into Europe for instance is the fact that legal channels to enter Europe are basically non-existent. Eugenio Ambrosi, Europe director at the UN-backed International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says “If you want to try to fulfil a very legitimate aspiration, such as having a decent livelihood, and you cannot find that back at home, but you can find that in Europe, the only way to try to get that decent livelihood is to get into Europe irregularly, because legal channels are not available”.
In the U.S, for example, a pathway to regularizing a migrant stay is strengthening the common collaborative response to discussion about undocumented immigrants and getting things done the “right way” when they first entered the country. Unfortunately, the current system makes doing things the “right way” really tough, especially if you’re not wealthy. The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program aimed to retain undocumented immigrants whose stay in the country and who has been less criminally inclined are classified as low priority. Now, all undocumented migrants who had committed violent or repeated crimes or have not are considered high priority for deportation. Trump is working with many of his revisionist co-travelers cum protectionist and racial bigots to make it even harder to enter the U.S. legally. “Immigrants make Europe and America great. We cannot forget that”. So, I honestly think globalization, integration and transnationalization will most likely clash with, crash and shape the disappearance of the Migration Endists’ Agendaaround the world. How and when this will happen is still largely unknown
A few days ago, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a Mexican mother was separated from her two teenage daughters after 21 years of living in the United States. She was 14 years old when she first enter the US from Mexico, and by all accounts, she was an American in everything but documentation. Many African-Americans have suffered worst encounters. Immigration harassments, discrimination, criminalization and deportation numbers are most likely to rise at the precincts, city and national levels in the coming months.
No matter how you feel about this huge, complex issue called “migration” or “immigration”, tearing families apart without warning is neither a reflection of American, African values nor an acceptable norm on Global Best Practices on migration.
In ending, there indeed exist some instances for recourse to repatriation. In those instances when repatriation is deemed appropriate, reasonable and feasible, governments should return and reintegrate the unauthorized migrants back to their countries of origin consistent with basic human right principles. If unauthorized migrants are found to have legitimate claims and recognized rights to remain in the country, governmental authorities should ensure the fundamental human rights of those migrants and facilitate their integration within the country.
A part of this article was adopted from “The New York Times” report and extracts reproduced from Joseph Chamie, a former director of the United Nations Population Division as published by the Inter Press Service (IPS).
Jide OLATUYI is the Lead Consultant on the Development of ECOWAS Common Policy on Migration at the African Development Bank. He is also the Chief of Party at the POLICY CONSULT.
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