> From: fnsnews@... <fnsnews@...>
> Subject: FNS News: Report on International Migrant Meeting
> To: fns_nmsu-l@...
> Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 9:19 PM
> September 17, 2008
> Immigration News
> World Migrants Say No to Walls, Yes to Legalization
> In a major gathering ignored by US mass media, thousands of
> migrants met
> in Spain from September 11 to 14 to articulate a set of
> demands directed
> at governments across the world. Meeting for the Third
> World Social Forum
> on Migration, delegates represented organizations from more
> than 90
> Issuing a final declaration, migrant representatives
> demanded legalization
> of undocumented migrants, strengthened United Nations
> increased political rights in destination countries, the
> compliance of
> temporary worker programs with articles 97 and 143 of the
> Labor Organization (ILO), and the ratification of the 1990
> Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
> Workers and
> Members of Their Families, among other demands.
> “To migrate is not a crime,” the World Social Forum
> declaration stated.
> “The causes that give rise to migration are crimes.
> Let’s raise our
> voices, defend our rights and struggle toward building a
> world without
> The migrant rights statement blamed the mass migrations
> uprooting the
> planet on the current world capitalist economic model with
> all its
> attendant environmental and economic consequences. The
> ILO’s Patrick Taran
> has estimated that migrants represent three percent of the
> population, or 191 million people.
> At the mass meeting held near Madrid, particular criticism
> was leveled at
> the European Union (EU) and the Spanish government.
> Approved by the
> European Parliament last June and set to go into effect in
> 2010, the EU’s
> controversial “Return Directive” will allow member
> nations to jail
> undocumented for migrants for up to 18 months while
> awaiting deportation.
> Anywhere from 4.5 million to 8 million undocumented
> migrants could be
> residing in EU member states, according to recent
> estimates. As in the
> United States, migrants are heavily employed in the
> agricultural and service industries.
> Apart from protests by Amnesty International, the UN High
> Commissioner for
> Refugees and grassroots migrant groups, the new EU policy
> caused serious
> diplomatic frictions with several South American
> governments and leaders,
> including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who threatened
> to cut oil
> supplies and curb European capital flows in his oil-rich
> Although the Madrid forum was mainly a NGO affair, several
> of international institutions and governments addressed the
> Jorge Bustamante, UN special migrant human rights
> rapporteur, charged that
> migrants living in the United States were facing a
> “situation of terror.”
> The UN official likewise criticized his native country,
> Mexico, for its
> own alleged ill-treatment of immigrants.
> “With shame, I have to say that we Mexicans treat them
> worse than they
> treat us in the United States,” Bustamante said.
> According to statistics from Mexico’s federal Interior
> Ministry cited in
> the Mexican press, the United States deported 528, 822
> Mexicans from
> September 2007 to August 2008, while Mexico deported 89,
> 507 foreigners,
> mainly Central Americans, during the same time period.
> Bustamante took issue with the Spanish government of Prime
> Minister Jose
> Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for cracking down on undocumented
> workers and
> supporting the EU’s return directive.
> Said Bustamante: “It is incongruent for the Spanish
> government to approve
> this directive, which is a step backwards, an escalation of
> criminalization of migrants, who are not criminals.
> Besides, there was a
> time that Spain was a country of emigration and many were
> victims of
> abuses. (Spain) should (sign the migrant convention) in
> remembrance of the
> benefits it received from those migrants. Spain has to
> honor the role it
> had in the defense of immigrant rights.”
> Bustamante’s appeal to the Spanish government was echoed
> by Ignacio Diaz
> de Aguilar, World Social Forum coordinator and president of
> the Spanish
> Commission for Refugee Aid.
> Enjoying an economic boom in recent years, Spain attracted
> foreigners, who are estimated to make up as much as 11.3
> percent of the
> country’s population of 46 million people. Of the
> foreign-born population,
> Latin Americans, especially Bolivians and Argentines, make
> approximately thirty percent of the total. More recently,
> hard economic
> times have made Spain far less receptive to new immigrants.
> In an interview with Latin American journalists last July,
> Spanish Labor
> and Immigration Minister Celestino Corbacho Chaves said
> critics were
> unfair to lump Spain’s emerging immigration policy with
> the EU’s new
> directive. Corbacho said the Spanish government was
> encouraging voluntary
> repatriation, but that it would allow returning migrants to
> benefiting from the country’s social security system
> after a five-year
> “There is no change in immigration policy, Corbacho said.
> “There is a new
> context in Spain and in Europe, and an economic complexity
> at the global
> For migrant representatives, not all the news delivered in
> Spain was bad.
> Alberto Acosta, ex-president of Ecuador’s constituent
> assembly, told
> delegates that his country’s proposed new constitution
> will contain
> provisions for universal citizenship and free transit for
> Ecuador will allow its own migrants living abroad the right
> to elect
> direct representatives to the national legislature if the
> political reform
> is approved, Acosta said.
> Elaborating on the same theme, Lorena Escudero, Ecuador’s
> minister of
> migrant affairs, proposed the creation of a universal
> passport to
> symbolize the ideas of “universal citizenship,
> non-discrimination and
> friendly and respectful integration.”
> The World Social Forum’s migrant assembly concluded with
> a march of about
> 5,000 people through the streets of Madrid. Slogans shouted
> by the
> demonstrators included “No Human Being is Illegal” and
> “Our Voices, Our
> Rights: For a World without Walls.”
> In its final statement, the Madrid assembly noted that the
> occurred during the 60th anniversary year of the Universal
> Declaration of
> Human Rights and other important world political events
> including the
> September 11, 1973 coup in Chile. Keeping with a political
> theme, the
> declaration expressed solidarity with the embattled
> government of Bolivian
> President Evo Morales. The next World Social Forum on
> migrant issues is
> scheduled for Quito, Ecuador, in 2010.
> Sources: La Jornada, September 13 and 15, 2008. Articles by
> Armando G.
> Tejeda and Fabiola Martinez. Inter-Press Service July 16
> and 21, 2008;
> September 12, 2008. Articles by David Cronin, Franz Chavez
> and Alicia
> Fraerman. Cimacnoticas.com, June 18, 2008 and September 11,
> 2008. Articles
> by Guadalupe Cruz Jaimes and editorial staff. Proceso/Apro,
> July 23, 2008.
> Article by Alejandro Gutierrez. El Universal/AP/Notimex,
> July 1, 2008 and
> August 1, 2008. La Jornada/AFP/ Reuters/ DPA/ PI/ Notimex,
> June 21, 2008.
> Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
> Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico
> State University
> Las Cruces, New Mexico
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