Statement on International Migrants Day
INTENSIFYING THE FIGHT AGAINST FORCED MIGRATION AND COMMODIFICATION OF MIGRANTS
Migrants around the world cannot be blinded by another futile move masquerading as a tool to protect migrant rights and migration around the world. On December 11, 164 states around the world including Canada adopted The Global Compact for a Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, under the auspices of the United Nations. The non-legally binding agreement is simply another means to systematize the abuse, exploitation and oppression of migrants tailored to neoliberal programs on migration.
As expected, the Philippines through its representative Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin lauded the international pact, stating that supporting states showed evidence migrants are a valuable addition to host countries. With over 10 million Filipinos working or living abroad sending billions of remittances yearly, the Philippines has a huge stake in cementing the agreement in order to normalize the deployment of its citizens. What the pact will ensure is the supply of cheap, docile and disposable workers for developed countries.
What the pact fails to do is to commit the states to stop the root causes of forced migration – plummeting economies caused by neoliberal policies, poverty, unemployment, landlessness, war and militarism. Such is the case of the ongoing Central American Migrant Exodus for Life where unmitigated crisis in the home countries is the main driver for their forced migration. United Nation’s own report shows a staggering 68.5 million people driven from their homes across the world in 2017.
The Philippines is a frontrunner in business global migration with more than 10 percent, or between 10 to 12 million of its 107 million population foreign workers. The diaspora comes at a steep price – family separation, unjust exactions by government and recruitment agencies, brain drain in exchange for dangerous jobs abroad and lack of protection for their basic welfare in host countries. Nonetheless, the global pact spells bigger revenues for the Philippine government – $US 21 billon in remittances and state fees such as Php 144 billion courtesy of a 3000% increase in Social Security System (SSS) fees exacted from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Despite their obvious contributions, Filipino overseas workers do not receive adequate support from the government. Filipino migrants in the US and Japan are threatened by the heightened criminalization and deportations of migrants. Such is the case of US permanent resident Larry Nicolas who has been detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). In Japan, long-time resident Loida Quindoy found her visa getting cancelled and now facing deportation. More than 500 OFWs are being held in different immigrant detention centers in Japan according to Migrante Japan. Filipino workers in the Middle East are besieged by the woes of local crisis there, facing widespread termination of workers particularly in Qatar and Saudi.
In Canada, the caregiver program is being phased out by November 2019 with no replacement in sight – putting the sector, a huge number of whom are from the Philippines, in limbo. Other Filipino workers in Canada suffer from work-related abuses but choose to stay due to limited labor mobility. Foreign workers who fall through the cracks because of the rigorous and ever-changing immigration policies in Canada and victimized by unscrupulous agencies, end up receiving deportation orders as in the case of couple Rico and Gemma Concepcion. There’s a growing racist and anti-migrant sentiments being brewed by right wing conservative organizations across the country as well.
On International Migrants Day celebration, while migrants and advocates mark another year of intensified assault against their rights. Migrants and advocates are also vigilant. Internationally the International Migrants Alliance, a global alliance of grassroots organizations celebrated its 10 years of fighting against these assault in different forms, including the global compact that serves the neoliberal agenda on migration. In Canada this day also marked the founding of Migrant Rights Network, a Canada-wide network of migrants organizations
It is only through the unwavering strength of a grassroots movement of migrants and advocates that attack against the sector can be exposed, opposed and disposed of.
Uphold and defend migrant rights!
End forced migration!
Oppose imperialist globalization!
Struggle for national democracy!