NEW YORK, NY—Hundreds of migrants and refugees from across Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America have called on the Obama government to push for genuine comprehensive immigration reform.
The call, made as heads of governments from all over the world gathered in New York for the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development recently, was also directed at the UN.
“US must lead the way in how it treats its immigrants and foreign workers with dignity and respect,” said Terrence Valen, president of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon), one of the lead organizers of the 4th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR4).
Eni Lestari, chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), said the US immigration reform can never be genuine if the Obama government will not address the root causes of forced migration.
“If Obama wants to get rid of undocumented immigrants, he should first stop pushing policies that wage war and plunder our home countries, that force us to migrate,” said Lestari, an Indonesian domestic helper working in Hong Kong since 1999.
Lestari also criticized the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development for its failure to see the reasons behind migration.
“They don’t want to hear from us migrants about how their policies really affect us and our home countries,” she said. “The UN HLD claims migration can be managed as a tool for development, but what kind of development do they mean when our home countries are getting poorer and migrants are facing greater exploitation?”
An alliance of organizations working with Filipino overseas workers said UN must treat migration not as a “tool for development but rather as a development concern.”
“Migration, as a choice or an obligation for family survival, should serve as a measure to see whether development goals are working,” said Gary Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International. | NewsDesk