UN rights expert calls on European leaders to bank on mobility of migrants

UN rights expert calls on European leaders to bank on mobility of migrants

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants François Crépeau [official website] said [text] Thursday that the EU must bank on the mobility of migrants in order to secure its borders. The EU, he said, must accept that migrants will continue to enter the EU by any means possible, and therefore must offer incentives for migrants to use official channels of entrance. According to Crépeau, sealing the borders, as nationalist populist groups call for, is not sustainable and will further migrant suffering. Excessive border security policies have reportedly created more porous borders, as migrants seek other avenues beside official channels to enter the EU. Push factors, such as war, poverty, natural disasters, persecution and oppression, and pull factors, including Europe’s unrecognized labor needs, are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Without proper channels of entry, Crépeau says migrants entering by unlawful means are further pushed underground, creating conditions of alienation, discrimination and marginalization. Crépeau claims this is counterproductive, empowering smuggling rings and disenfranchising migrants. The UN estimates that more than 150,000 migrants and asylum seekers entered Europe in 2014 by sea, compared to 80,000 in 2013, as conditions worsened in places like Syria. Migration policies he says, must change in the EU to become more inclusive, instead of exclusive.

Immigration reform has been an area of major political concern in a number of countries across the globe. UK Prime Minister David Cameron raised the possibility in November of the UK leaving the EU [JURIST report] if other member state leaders block plans to restrict access to welfare payments for migrants. Cameron outlined proposed welfare reform that would block European migrants to the UK from receiving welfare payments or state housing until they have been UK residents for four years. Also in November, US President Barrack Obama announced executive action [JURIST report] on immigration that would allow 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the US. In October Crépeau urged [JURIST report] British authorities to reconsider their decision not to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. In September the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered [JURIST report] a detention center used to detain African migrants who had crossed illegally and were captured in the Negev Desert to close.