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Debate: UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families

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-=== Need: Is there a need for the migrant workers treaty? ===+=== Solution? Does the convention help solve a problem, or create problems? ===
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*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention is the best way protect migrants| Migrant Workers Convention is the best way to protect migrants]]''' [http://www.fidh.org/Europe-it-s-time-to-ratify-the-Migrant-Workers "Europe, It's Time to Ratify the Migrant Workers Convention." International Federation for Human Rights. June 21, 2010]: "20 years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, also known as the Migrant Workers Convention. We believe that the 20th anniversary provides an excellent opportunity for the European Union to live up to its core values and stand firm on the rights of migrant workers. The Convention constitutes the broadest framework in international law for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families and provides guidance to States on how to respect the rights of migrants while developing and implementing labour migration policies." *'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention is the best way protect migrants| Migrant Workers Convention is the best way to protect migrants]]''' [http://www.fidh.org/Europe-it-s-time-to-ratify-the-Migrant-Workers "Europe, It's Time to Ratify the Migrant Workers Convention." International Federation for Human Rights. June 21, 2010]: "20 years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, also known as the Migrant Workers Convention. We believe that the 20th anniversary provides an excellent opportunity for the European Union to live up to its core values and stand firm on the rights of migrant workers. The Convention constitutes the broadest framework in international law for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families and provides guidance to States on how to respect the rights of migrants while developing and implementing labour migration policies."
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant policies and protections deserve greater coordination| Migrant policies and protections deserve greater coordination]]''' [http://www.gcim.org/attachements/GCIM%20Report%20Chapter%20Six.pdf Global Commission on International Migration. "Creating Coherence: The Governance of International Migration."]: "The governance of international migration should be enhanced by improved coherence and strengthened capacity at the national level; greater consultation and cooperation between states at the regional level, and more effective dialogue and cooperation among governments and between international organizations at the global level. Such efforts must be based on a better appreciation of the close linkages that exist between international migration and development and other key policy issues, including trade, aid, state security, human security and human rights." [The Migrants Rights Convention helps facilitate such close linkages].+*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights have been eroded in many states| Migrant rights have been eroded in many states]]''' [http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf Marie Barrel. "The United Nations Convention on Migrant’s rights, a Luxury for the European Union?" Notre Europe. December 2006]: "The Erosion of Rights in Europe. [...] there is no denying the fact that the national texts have, everywhere in Europe, undergone deep modifications, restricting the rights of legal migrants. A survey of the legislation recently passed or still in preparation on the admission of immigrants and their families goes a long way to invalidate the idea that the ratification of the convention is unnecessary."
-*'''[[Argument: International law can protect against unjust state migration laws| International law can protect against unjust state migration laws]]''' [http://law2.fordham.edu/publications/articles/500flspub16904.pdf Shayana Kadidal. "'Federalizing' immigration law: International law as a limitation on Congress's power to legislate in the field of immigration." Fordham Law Review]: "the appeal to the higher power of international law, in particular as a limitation on draconian legislation aimed at making it easier to deport aliens." +*'''[[Argument: Massive growth of migration demands greater protections| Massive growth of migration demands greater protections]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "One reason migration seems so potent is that it arose unexpectedly. As recently as the 1970s, immigration seemed of such little importance that the United States Census Bureau decided to stop asking people where their parents were born. Now, a quarter of the residents of the United States under 18 are immigrants or immigrants’ children. The United Nations estimates that there are 214 million migrants across the globe, an increase of about 37 percent in two decades. Their ranks grew by 41 percent in Europe and 80 percent in North America. 'There’s more mobility at this moment than at any time in world history,' said Gary P. Freeman, a political scientist at the University of Texas. The most famous source countries in Europe — Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain — are suddenly migrant destinations, with Ireland electing a Nigerian-born man as its first black mayor in 2007."
 +*'''[[Argument: International law can protect against unjust state migration laws| International law can protect against unjust state migration laws]]'''
 +
 +*'''[[Argument: Migration impacts social, cultural, economic spheres of society| Migration impacts social cultural, economic spheres of society]]'''
 +
 +*'''[[Argument: Migrant policies and protections deserve greater coordination| Migrant policies and protections deserve greater coordination]]'''
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====Con==== ====Con====
-*'''Migrant rights treaty can conflict with immigration control policies.''' While it always appears logical to confer more "rights" onto migrants under international law, some of these "rights" can run directly contrary to the national interests of a country. For example, the Migrant Workers Convention highlights family reunification as, essentially, a right that signatories must recognize and facilitate. For some countries that are crowded, and that already have significant immigrant populations, facilitating this provision of the treaty could result in significant "reunifications", greater overpopulation, and the worsening of standards of living for other citizens. So, ultimately, what might be "important" to a migrant worker might be harmful to a host country and its population. This is why countries like the UK resist signing the Migrant Workers Convention on the basis that the UK's policies already strike the “right balance between the need for immigration control and the protection of the interests and rights of migrant workers and their families”.[http://www.una.org.uk/work/hr/migrant.html]+*'''Migrant rights treaty can conflict with immigration control policies.''' While it appears logical to confer more "rights" onto migrants under international law, some of these "rights" can run directly contrary to the national interests of a country. For example, the Migrant Workers Convention highlights family reunification as, essentially, a right that signatories must recognize and facilitate. For some countries that are crowded, and that already have significant immigrant populations, facilitating this provision of the treaty could result in significant "reunifications", greater overpopulation, and the worsening of standards of living for other citizens. So, ultimately, what might be "important" to a migrant worker might be harmful to a host country and its population. This is why countries like the UK resist signing the Migrant Workers Convention on the basis that the UK's policies already strike the “right balance between the need for immigration control and the protection of the interests and rights of migrant workers and their families”.[http://www.una.org.uk/work/hr/migrant.html]
-*'''[[Argument: Signing the Migrant Workers Convention is a liability and burden| Signing the Migrant Workers Convention is a liability and burden]]''' [http://www.zuzeeko.com/2010/05/finland-and-un-convention-on-migrant.html "Finland and the UN Convention on Migrant Workers Rights: What would ratification mean?" On the Road to Success. May 8th, 2010]: "Ratification would mean that Finland has willingly assumed the obligations laid down in the Convention and can be held liable under international law for failure to fulfill its obligations. Besides the obligation to respect the rights of migrant workers enshrined in the Convention, Finland would be obligated to submit reports to the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW), as stipulated in Article 73 of the Convention. Finland would be expected to report on legislative, judicial, administrative and 'other measures' taken to guarantee the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. The Committee would examine the reports and make recommendations to Finland - on what should be done to adequately protect migrant workers within its borders." [It should be noted that the author of this quote still advocates for Finland and other countries to sign the Migrant Workers Convention, but simply acknowledges the above burdens and liabilities].+*'''[[Argument: Migrants are flourishing economically; greater protections unnecessary| Migrants are flourishing economically; greater protections unnecessary]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "rich, aging countries need workers. People in poor countries need jobs. And the rise in global inequality means that migrants have more than ever to gain by landing work abroad. Migration networks are hard to shut down. Even the worst economy in 70 years has only slowed, not stopped, the growth in migration. And it is likely to grow, in numbers and consequence." If migrants are gaining so much from the most open borders in world history, why is it that they need ''more'' protections?
 + 
 +*'''[[Argument: Global migration is a problem; solution: reduce migration| Global migration is a problem; solution: reduce migration]]''' [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/05/the_global_immigration_problem.html Victor Davis Hanson. "The Global Immigration Problem." Real Clear Politics. May 31, 2007]: "In Germany, Turkish workers - both legal and illegal - are desperate to find either permanent residence or citizenship. 'Londonstan' is slang for a new London of thousands of unassimilated Pakistani nationals. In France, there were riots in 2005 because many children of North African immigrants are unemployed - and unhappy. Albanians flock to Greece to do farm work, and then are regularly deported for doing so illegally. The list could go on. [...] The lasting solution is not the status quo - or even walls, fines, deportation, amnesty or guest-worker programs. Instead, failed societies in Latin America, Africa and much of the Middle East must encourage family planning and get smarter about using their plentiful natural wealth to keep more of their own people home."
 + 
 +*'''[[Argument: More migrant "rights" means more immigration, overpopulation| More migrant "rights" means more immigration, overpopulation]]'''
 + 
 +*'''[[Argument: Signing the Migrant Workers Convention is a liability and burden| Signing the Migrant Workers Convention is a liability and burden]]'''
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-===Economics: Is the migrant rights treaty good for economies? ===+===Social welfare: Should migrants receive equal treatment on social welfare?===
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====Pro==== ====Pro====
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights treaty protects right to enter labor unions| Migrant rights treaty protects right to enter labor unions]]''' [http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2003/04/10/saudi-arabiagcc-states-ratify-migrant-rights-treaty "Saudi Arabia/GCC States: Ratify Migrant Rights Treaty." Human Rights Watch. April 10th, 2003]: "Restrictions on the right to organize and join trade unions. In all the Gulf states, laws and regulations either prohibit or restrict migrants’ participation in independent trade union activities. Article 40(1) of the convention provides for the right of migrants 'to form associations and trade unions in the State of employment for the promotion and protection of their economic, social, cultural and other interests.' Article 26 affirms the right to join such groups and freely participate in their meetings and other activities."+*'''[[Argument: Migrants should have equal rights to social welfare as nationals| Migrants should have equal rights to social welfare as nationals]]''' Article 27 of the United Nations Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "With respect to social security, migrant workers and members of their families shall enjoy in the State of employment the same treatment granted to nationals in so far as they fulfil the requirements provided for by the applicable legislation of that State and the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties."[http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf]
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant remittances are growing and need greater protections| Migrant remittances are growing and need greater protections]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "the money involved, which not only sustains the families left behind but props up national economies. Migrants sent home $317 billion last year — three times the world’s total foreign aid. In at least seven countries, remittances account for more than a quarter of the gross domestic product." These remittances need greater protections.+*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights help advance social and economic progress| Migrant rights help advance social and economic progress]]''' [http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=141601 Irene Khan. "Invisible people, irregular migrants." The Daily Star. June 7th, 2010]: "When business exploits irregular migrants, it distorts the economy, creates social tensions, feeds racial prejudice and impedes prospects for regular migration. Protecting the rights of migrant workers -- regular and irregular -- makes good economic and political sense for all countries -- whether source, destination or transit."
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention counters workplace exploitation| Migrant Workers Convention counters workplace exploitation]]''' [http://www.amnesty.org/en/ratify-migrant-workers-convention "Respect migrants' rights: ratify the migrant workers' convention." Amnesty International. July 2009]: "The Migrant Workers' Convention promotes humane and lawful working and living conditions for migrant workers and their families. Ratification of this core human rights instrument is an important step to end abuse and exploitation of migrants."  
- 
-*'''Migrant workers treaty counters abusive temporary worker programs.''' Claire Courteille, of the International Trade Union Confederation, cited in 2010 a typical temporary worker programme agreed by Canada and Guatemala: "Under this agreement the authorities of the host country keep the passports of migrants, who are not allowed to contact or even approach trade unions. Nor may they look for other work ... they have no rights."[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/23/economic-migrants-rights-barroux-perucca] 
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====Con==== ====Con====
-*'''Migrants should not have unfettered right to enter labor unions.''' Labor unions can have an important role in a society, helping check employers. But should they really be open to migrants, who are not usually permanent members of a society? It seems that this privilege could be reserved for citizens alone. Given how disruptive unions can be, do we really want migrants being able to form unions and voice expansive demands that may be contrary to the broader interests of a country's companies?+*'''Welfare systems need protecting from "freeriding" migrants.''' Immigrants make heavy use of social welfare systems, and often overload public education, while frequently not fully pulling their weight in taxes. Increasing social and economic protections and rights for migrants via the Migrant Workers Convention could increase migration and increase the benefits migrants receive from societies. This could be a burden that a state's welfare system is not capable of handling.
-*'''[[Argument: Migrants don't need protecting; our jobs need protecting| Migrants don't need protecting; our jobs need protecting]]''' [http://www.cairco.org/econ/econ.html "Economic costs of legal and illegal immigration." Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform]: "FAIR research suggests that between 40 and 50 percent of wage-loss among low-skilled Americans is due to the immigration of low-skilled workers. Some native workers lose not just wages but their jobs through immigrant competition. An estimated 1,880,000 American workers are displaced from their jobs every year by immigration." So, why are migrants deserving of "protection"? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Don't the national workers of a state deserve protection from migrant workers and the jobs they are taking?+*'''Full welfare should be reserved for the citizens of a nation.''' While it may be acceptable for migrants to receive certain social services while working in a country, much of a nation's social services should be made unavailable to them. Social Security and Medicaid, for example, are based on individuals paying into the system for years, and thus having a legitimate claim to draw from the programs in their time of need. Migrant workers fall outside this equation, so should not have the same rights to these benefits as full citizens.
- +
-*'''Migration can cause damaging "brain drain" in countries of origin.''' Immigration deprives countries of origin of badly needed skills. This is known as "brain drain". This is one of a number of consequences from migration, and may give pause to efforts to increase protections for migrants in such a way that further incentivizes migration.+
- +
-*'''Compliance with migrant rights treaty could be expensive.''' In order for governments to comply with the Migrant Rights Treaty, they will have to enforce it within their territories, which requires spending money and directing resources toward ensuring employers and institutions are in compliance. Businesses must spend money to ensure they are in compliance as well. While this alone does not disqualify the treaty, it is important to recognize it as a cost and a con.+
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-===Illegal aliens: Is the convention appropriate in its provisions on illegal immigrants?===+===Family reunification: Should a right to family reunification exist?===
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====Pro==== ====Pro====
-*'''Migrant treaty only presses countries to comply with law on illegals.''' Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said in 2003 when the treaty went into effect: "The Migrant Workers Convention is not soft on illegal immigration. All it asks is that undocumented migrants be treated in full compliance with the law, and not subjected to abuse."[http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2003/06/30/migrant-workers-need-protection]+*'''[[Argument: Migrant Rights Convention aims to facilitate family reunification| Migrant Rights Convention aims to facilitate family reunification]]''' Article 44.2 of the Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "States Parties shall take measures that they deem appropriate and that fall within their competence to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses or persons who have with the migrant worker a relationship that, according to applicable law, produces effects equivalent to marriage, as well as with their minor dependent unmarried children."[http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf]
- +
-*'''Migrant workers convention treats illegals separately.''' The treaty recognizes that illegal aliens cannot be treated in the same way as legal migrant workers; that such legal workers have more rights and protections. But, it ensures that these illegal aliens are treaty humanely and responsibly by host governments, whether it be in finding them, arresting them, deporting them, or in integrating them into society with some kind of a path to citizenship. +
 +*'''[[Argument: Migrants have a right to family reunification| Migrants have a right to family reunification]]'''
 +*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention protects sovereignty on family reunification| Migrant Workers Convention protects sovereignty on family reunification]]''' [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf UNESCO: "The Migrant Workers Convention in Europe: Obstacles to Ratification." 2007]: "Article 79 of the treaty provides that '[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families'; whereas state’s responsibilities in terms of family reunification under Article 44 are limited to taking such measures 'as they deem appropriate to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses… as well with their minor dependent unmarried children.' In language as heavily qualified as this, leaving such a wide discretion open to states, it is difficult to see any obligation of any sort, let alone one that could present a serious obstacle to ratification."[http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf]
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====Con==== ====Con====
-*'''Migrant rights treaty requires treating illegals equally before law.''' The treaty requires that countries treat illegal immigrants "equally before the law." This could limit the ability of a nation to deport illegal immigrants, or to quickly process them without a full judicial process. In some countries, large immigration problems make such lengthy judicial processes in each case untenable. And, it is not the fault of the government that a massive and constant flood of illegal immigrants makes judicially and equitably handling each and every one of them impossible. +*'''Family reunification right is obstacle to migrant rights treaty.''' States have leveled as an argument against the Migrant Workers Convention, and against other possible international migrant treaties, concerns about a robust right of family reunification to all migrant workers present in migrant-receiving countries. This could offer family members a right to migrate into the state in question, resulting in large increases in population size. And, there is no doubt that the text of the Migrant Workers Convention aims to create a "right" to family reunification. Even if it provides flexibility on how a nation attempts to facilitate re-unification, it still requires that states reunite families in some way. Under this treaty, therefore, any migrant could sue the state for not allowing their family (and perhaps extended family) to immigrate as well. In overpopulated and strained migrant-receiving countries - particularly in Wester Europe - such a proposition is untenable, which is why so many migrant-receiving nations oppose the treaty. And, even if one goes so far as to call the text of the treaty as merely "aspirational" on family reunification, placing no legally binding obligations on states, such "aspirational" language still provides migrant-receiving nations with reason to pause; why should a nation sign an international agreement that contains "aspirations" not shared by the nation?
- +
-*'''"Abusive" treatment is a matter of interpretation.''' What constitutes "unfair treatment" or "abuse" in a nation's immigration policy is a subject for interpretation under the Migrant Workers Treaty. In the United States, for example, people can be fined or held legally liable for aiding or employing illegal immigrants. Some consider this abusive. And, the United States has created a wall on its southern border. Is this abusive? These are all matters for interpretation based on US national interests, but the concern is that the UN will deem some of these actions or policies "abusive", and thereby consider them unlawful under the Migrant Workers Convention.+
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-===Social welfare: Should migrants receive equal treatment on social welfare?===+===Illegal aliens: Is the convention appropriate in its provisions on illegal immigrants?===
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====Pro==== ====Pro====
-*'''[[Argument: Migrants should have equal rights to social welfare as nationals| Migrants should have equal rights to social welfare as nationals]]''' Article 27 of the United Nations Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "With respect to social security, migrant workers and members of their families shall enjoy in the State of employment the same treatment granted to nationals in so far as they fulfil the requirements provided for by the applicable legislation of that State and the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties."[http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf]+*'''Migrant treaty presses mere compliance with national laws.''' Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said in 2003 when the treaty went into effect: "The Migrant Workers Convention is not soft on illegal immigration. All it asks is that undocumented migrants be treated in full compliance with the law, and not subjected to abuse."[http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2003/06/30/migrant-workers-need-protection]
 + 
 +*'''Migrant workers treaty gives illegals fewer rights/protections.''' The treaty recognizes that illegal aliens cannot be treated in the same way as legal migrant workers; that such legal workers have more rights and protections. But, it ensures that these illegal aliens are treated humanely, legally, and responsibly by host governments, whether it be in finding them, arresting them, deporting them, or in integrating them into society with some kind of a path to citizenship. National laws already demand such humane action, so the migrant workers treaty hardly does anything new that Western governments should find objectionable in this regard.
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights help advance social and economic progress| Migrant rights help advance social and economic progress]]''' [http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=141601 Irene Khan. "Invisible people, irregular migrants." The Daily Star. June 7th, 2010]: "When business exploits irregular migrants, it distorts the economy, creates social tensions, feeds racial prejudice and impedes prospects for regular migration. Protecting the rights of migrant workers -- regular and irregular -- makes good economic and political sense for all countries -- whether source, destination or transit." 
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====Con==== ====Con====
-*'''Welfare systems need protecting from "freeriding" migrants.''' Immigrants make heavy use of social welfare systems, and often overload public education, while frequently not fully pulling their weight in taxes. Increasing social and economic protections and rights for migrants could certainly mean increasing migration and increasing the benefits migrants receive from societies. This could be a burden that a state's welfare system is not capable of handling.+*'''Migrant treaty increases burdens of processing illegal aliens.''' The treaty requires that countries provide full legal procedures for illegal aliens. This could limit the ability of a nation to quickly process and deport illegal aliens. In some countries, large immigration problems make such lengthy judicial processes untenable. And, it is not the fault of the government that a massive and constant flood of illegal immigrants makes judicially and equitably handling each and every one of them impossible. In such instances of a breach of national and sovereign security, full legal processes for NON-citizens is simply not an option, not is signing a treaty that requires this.
-*'''Full welfare should be reserved for the citizens of a nation.''' While it may be acceptable for migrants to receive certain social services while working in a country, much of a nation's social services should be made unavailable to them. Social Security and Medicaid, for example, are based on individuals paying into the system for years, and thus having a legitimate claim to draw from the programs in their time of need. Migrant workers fall outside this equation, so should not have the same rights to these benefits as full citizens. +*'''"Abusive" treatment of illegals is a matter of interpretation.''' What constitutes "unfair treatment" or "abuse" in a nation's immigration policy is a subject for interpretation under the Migrant Workers Treaty. In the United States, for example, people can be fined or held legally liable for aiding or employing illegal immigrants. Some consider this abusive. And, the United States has created a wall on its southern border. Is this abusive? These are all matters for interpretation based on US national interests, but the concern is that the UN will deem some of these actions or policies "abusive" or "inhumane", and thereby consider them unlawful under the Migrant Workers Convention.
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-===Family reunification: Should a right to family reunification exist?===+===Economics: Is the migrant rights treaty good for economies? ===
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====Pro==== ====Pro====
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant Rights Convention aims to facilitate family reunification| Migrant Rights Convention aims to facilitate family reunification]]''' Article 44.2 of the Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "States Parties shall take measures that they deem appropriate and that fall within their competence to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses or persons who have with the migrant worker a relationship that, according to applicable law, produces effects equivalent to marriage, as well as with their minor dependent unmarried children."[http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf]+*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights treaty protects right to enter labor unions| Migrant rights treaty protects right to enter labor unions]]''' [http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2003/04/10/saudi-arabiagcc-states-ratify-migrant-rights-treaty "Saudi Arabia/GCC States: Ratify Migrant Rights Treaty." Human Rights Watch. April 10th, 2003]: "Restrictions on the right to organize and join trade unions. In all the Gulf states, laws and regulations either prohibit or restrict migrants’ participation in independent trade union activities. Article 40(1) of the convention provides for the right of migrants 'to form associations and trade unions in the State of employment for the promotion and protection of their economic, social, cultural and other interests.' Article 26 affirms the right to join such groups and freely participate in their meetings and other activities."
-*'''[[Argument: Migrants have a right to family reunification| Migrants have a right to family reunification]]''' +*'''[[Argument: Migrant remittances are growing and need greater protections| Migrant remittances are growing and need greater protections]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "the money involved, which not only sustains the families left behind but props up national economies. Migrants sent home $317 billion last year — three times the world’s total foreign aid. In at least seven countries, remittances account for more than a quarter of the gross domestic product." These remittances need greater protections.
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention protects sovereignty on family reunification| Migrant Workers Convention protects sovereignty on family reunification]]''' [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf UNESCO: "The Migrant Workers Convention in Europe: Obstacles to Ratification." 2007]: "Article 79 of the treaty provides that '[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families'; whereas state’s responsibilities in terms of family reunification under Article 44 are limited to taking such measures 'as they deem appropriate to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses… as well with their minor dependent unmarried children.' In language as heavily qualifi ed as this, leaving such a wide discretion open to states, it is difficult to see any obligation of any sort, let alone one that could present a serious obstacle to ratification."[http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf]+*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention counters workplace exploitation| Migrant Workers Convention counters workplace exploitation]]''' [http://www.amnesty.org/en/ratify-migrant-workers-convention "Respect migrants' rights: ratify the migrant workers' convention." Amnesty International. July 2009]: "The Migrant Workers' Convention promotes humane and lawful working and living conditions for migrant workers and their families. Ratification of this core human rights instrument is an important step to end abuse and exploitation of migrants."
 +*'''Migrant workers treaty counters abusive temporary worker programs.''' Claire Courteille, of the International Trade Union Confederation, cited in 2010 a typical temporary worker programme agreed by Canada and Guatemala: "Under this agreement the authorities of the host country keep the passports of migrants, who are not allowed to contact or even approach trade unions. Nor may they look for other work ... they have no rights."[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/23/economic-migrants-rights-barroux-perucca]
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====Con==== ====Con====
-*'''Family reunification right is obstacle to migrant rights treaty.''' States have leveled as an argument against the Migrant Workers Convention, and against other possible international migrant treaties, concerns about a robust right of family reunification to all migrant workers present in migrant-receiving countries. This could offer family members a right to migrate into the state in question, resulting in large increases in population size. And, there is no doubt that the text of the Migrant Workers Convention aims to create a "right" to family reunification. Even if it provides flexibility on how a nation attempts to facilitate re-unification, it still requires that states reunite families in some way. Under this treaty, therefore, any migrant could sue the state for not allowing their family (and perhaps extended family) to immigrate as well. In overpopulated and strained migrant-receiving countries - particularly in Wester Europe - such a proposition is untenable, which is why so many migrant-receiving nations oppose the treaty.+*'''Migrants should not have unfettered right to enter labor unions.''' Labor unions can have an important role in a society, helping check employers. But should they really be open to migrants, who are not usually permanent members of a society? It seems that this privilege could be reserved for citizens alone. Given how disruptive unions can be, do we really want migrants being able to form unions and voice expansive demands that may be contrary to the broader interests of a country and its companies?
 + 
 +*'''[[Argument: Migrants don't need protecting; our jobs need protecting| Migrants don't need protecting; our jobs need protecting]]''' [http://www.cairco.org/econ/econ.html "Economic costs of legal and illegal immigration." Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform]: "FAIR research suggests that between 40 and 50 percent of wage-loss among low-skilled Americans is due to the immigration of low-skilled workers. Some native workers lose not just wages but their jobs through immigrant competition. An estimated 1,880,000 American workers are displaced from their jobs every year by immigration." So, why are migrants deserving of "protection"? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Don't the national workers of a state deserve protection from migrant workers and the jobs they are taking?
 + 
 +*'''Migration can cause damaging "brain drain" in countries of origin.''' Immigration deprives countries of origin of badly needed skills. This is known as "brain drain". This is one of a number of consequences from migration, and may give pause to efforts to increase protections for migrants in such a way that further incentivizes migration.
 + 
 +*'''Compliance with migrant rights treaty could be expensive.''' In order for governments to comply with the Migrant Rights Treaty, they will have to enforce it within their territories, which requires spending money and directing resources toward creating new laws and/or tweaking old laws in order to ensure compliance with the treaty, and in order to ensure employers and institutions are in compliance. Businesses must spend money to ensure they are in compliance as well. While this alone does not disqualify the treaty, it is important to recognize it as a cost and a con.
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*'''[[Argument: Migrant Rights Convention allows for sovereign control of migration| Migrant Rights Convention allows for sovereign control of migration]]''' Article 79 of The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families provides that “[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families”.[http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf] Such a broad statement allows for the robust exercise of sovereign decision-making on the criteria for immigration. Migrant-receiving states should rest assured that they will have the flexibility necessary to adjust their policies to deal with their specific migration issues. *'''[[Argument: Migrant Rights Convention allows for sovereign control of migration| Migrant Rights Convention allows for sovereign control of migration]]''' Article 79 of The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families provides that “[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families”.[http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf] Such a broad statement allows for the robust exercise of sovereign decision-making on the criteria for immigration. Migrant-receiving states should rest assured that they will have the flexibility necessary to adjust their policies to deal with their specific migration issues.
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention requires only minor changes to state laws| Migrant Workers Convention requires only minor changes to state laws]]''' +*'''[[Argument: Migrant Workers Convention requires only minor changes to state laws| Migrant Workers Convention requires only minor changes to state laws]]''' [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001525/152537e.pdf UNESCO: "The Migrant Workers Convention in Europe: Obstacles to Ratification." 2007]: "While the law of all seven of the states analysed for the purposes of this report is in large degree already in conformity with the provisions of the ICCPR, each would be required to alter its legislation, usually in some fairly minor manner, in order to comply with its obligations after ratification.
*'''[[Argument: Nation-states are a fabrication, should not constrain migration| Nation-states are a fabrication, should not constrain migration]]''' *'''[[Argument: Nation-states are a fabrication, should not constrain migration| Nation-states are a fabrication, should not constrain migration]]'''
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====Con==== ====Con====
 +
*'''International migration treaty limits sovereign migration policy.''' The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would limit the sovereign rights of states to decide upon who can enter their territory and for how long they can remain. While this might not be a problem for countries of origin of migrants, it is certainly a central concern for migrant-receiving nations like the United States, Australia, in Europe, India, and Indonesia. Every state has its own set of issues to deal with as they relate to migration (ie, overpopulation, crime, deficits, national identity, etc.), and many believe they must have the independent flexibility to tailor their immigration policies to meet these issues. That's why an international treaty is seen as a potential liability to states that feel immigration policy must be fully within their own control. *'''International migration treaty limits sovereign migration policy.''' The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would limit the sovereign rights of states to decide upon who can enter their territory and for how long they can remain. While this might not be a problem for countries of origin of migrants, it is certainly a central concern for migrant-receiving nations like the United States, Australia, in Europe, India, and Indonesia. Every state has its own set of issues to deal with as they relate to migration (ie, overpopulation, crime, deficits, national identity, etc.), and many believe they must have the independent flexibility to tailor their immigration policies to meet these issues. That's why an international treaty is seen as a potential liability to states that feel immigration policy must be fully within their own control.
 +
 +*'''Migration policy should be crafted on a state-by-state basis.''' Every state has different issues and problems related to migration. It is inappropriate, therefore, to call for all nations to sign a treaty that would homogenize immigration policies. These policies should be approached on a state-by-state basis.
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*'''[[Argument: Many states oppose UN migrants rights treaty to please West| Many states oppose UN migrants rights treaty to please West]]''' [http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=141601 "Invisible people, irregular migrants." The Daily Star. June 7th, 2010]: "Source countries like Bangladesh are reluctant to raise migrant rights issues for fear of upsetting labour-receiving countries. As one senior Bangladeshi official put it, the priority is employment and remittance, not human rights." *'''[[Argument: Many states oppose UN migrants rights treaty to please West| Many states oppose UN migrants rights treaty to please West]]''' [http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=141601 "Invisible people, irregular migrants." The Daily Star. June 7th, 2010]: "Source countries like Bangladesh are reluctant to raise migrant rights issues for fear of upsetting labour-receiving countries. As one senior Bangladeshi official put it, the priority is employment and remittance, not human rights."
 +
 +*'''[[Argument: Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions| Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions]]'''
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*'''[[Argument: Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions| Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions]]''' [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/46e8fc58-cb24-11df-95c0-00144feab49a.html Stanley Pignal. "EU faces threat to migration principle." Financial Times. September 28 2010]: "Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, is looking to reprimand a clutch of member states, perhaps as many as a dozen, for failing to implement fully the 2004 European law guaranteeing free movement for citizens, but on technical grounds – such as for failing to ensure full legal rights for migrants – rather than for fundamental breaches. In dealing with this dossier, there are worries that Brussels may open a Pandora’s box as it seeks to enhance the working of the rules in favour of migrants. These are turbulent political waters for the European Commission, which as an unelected supranational body has steered clear of immigration issues, among the most sensitive topics in any of its 27 member states. Indeed, officials worry her actions could spark an adverse reaction from some member states, for example by tying intra-EU migration with the more contentious debate regarding new arrivals from outside the EU. 'If the European Commission pushes too hard on this, and rubs member states the wrong way, you could easily see a politicisation of the internal migration debate, which has so far benefited hugely from not being a political debate at all,' said one national diplomat." *'''[[Argument: Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions| Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions]]''' [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/46e8fc58-cb24-11df-95c0-00144feab49a.html Stanley Pignal. "EU faces threat to migration principle." Financial Times. September 28 2010]: "Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, is looking to reprimand a clutch of member states, perhaps as many as a dozen, for failing to implement fully the 2004 European law guaranteeing free movement for citizens, but on technical grounds – such as for failing to ensure full legal rights for migrants – rather than for fundamental breaches. In dealing with this dossier, there are worries that Brussels may open a Pandora’s box as it seeks to enhance the working of the rules in favour of migrants. These are turbulent political waters for the European Commission, which as an unelected supranational body has steered clear of immigration issues, among the most sensitive topics in any of its 27 member states. Indeed, officials worry her actions could spark an adverse reaction from some member states, for example by tying intra-EU migration with the more contentious debate regarding new arrivals from outside the EU. 'If the European Commission pushes too hard on this, and rubs member states the wrong way, you could easily see a politicisation of the internal migration debate, which has so far benefited hugely from not being a political debate at all,' said one national diplomat."
 +
 +*'''[[Argument: Expanding migrant rights can damage national identity| Expanding migrant rights can damage national identity]]''' Maintaining an original ethnic and cultural structure, government, and overall citizenship is the base argument of many opponents of immigration and expanding migrant rights. This ethno-cultural type of thinking is an accepted practice in many countries that are populated by one ethnic group. Is Israel, for example, wrong to term itself a "Jewish state"? Is there something inherently wrong with its efforts to maintain this identity? Probably not, and it certainly constrains how far migrant rights can be expanded with a treaty that forbids discrimination against migrant workers on the basis of race, religion, etc; sometimes such "discrimination" or selectivity can be legitimate.
 +
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*'''[[Argument: Myths about migrants aim to dehumanize them| Myths about migrants aim to dehumanize them]]''' [http://www.migrant-rights.org/2010/10/01/fact-checking-the-israeli-governments-incitement-against-migrants-and-refugees/ "Fact-checking the Israeli government’s incitement against migrants and refugees." Migrant Rights. October 1st, 2010]: "The most common myth about migrant workers and especially refugees is that they are prone to criminality (whether because of their culture/race or due to want).[...] A second common myth that is aggressively promoted by the Israeli government is that migrant workers take jobs from Israelis [...] All these myths rob migrant workers and refugees of their humanity, and are aimed at portraying them as less deserving of our sympathy and help. Incitement against migrants exists in all societies, and myths that portray them as outsiders coming to exploit the resources of the state and threats are often promoted by politicians." *'''[[Argument: Myths about migrants aim to dehumanize them| Myths about migrants aim to dehumanize them]]''' [http://www.migrant-rights.org/2010/10/01/fact-checking-the-israeli-governments-incitement-against-migrants-and-refugees/ "Fact-checking the Israeli government’s incitement against migrants and refugees." Migrant Rights. October 1st, 2010]: "The most common myth about migrant workers and especially refugees is that they are prone to criminality (whether because of their culture/race or due to want).[...] A second common myth that is aggressively promoted by the Israeli government is that migrant workers take jobs from Israelis [...] All these myths rob migrant workers and refugees of their humanity, and are aimed at portraying them as less deserving of our sympathy and help. Incitement against migrants exists in all societies, and myths that portray them as outsiders coming to exploit the resources of the state and threats are often promoted by politicians."
- 
-*'''Long-term migrants should have equal rights to nationals.'''  
*'''[[Argument: Too much focus on migrant markets instead of migrant rights| Too much focus on migrant markets instead of migrant rights]]''' *'''[[Argument: Too much focus on migrant markets instead of migrant rights| Too much focus on migrant markets instead of migrant rights]]'''
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*'''International laws protecting migrants will still lack enforcement.''' Even if the international community decided it wanted to better protect the human rights of migrants, an international treaty will not necessarily advance that cause, as international law has proven to be very difficult to enforce. This will continue to be a problem into the foreseeable future. *'''International laws protecting migrants will still lack enforcement.''' Even if the international community decided it wanted to better protect the human rights of migrants, an international treaty will not necessarily advance that cause, as international law has proven to be very difficult to enforce. This will continue to be a problem into the foreseeable future.
- +*'''Human rights are subject to interpretation under Migrant Workers Treaty.''' Some people consider access to the Internet to be a "human right". Others consider the ability to cross borders freely as a "human right". The definition of human rights is constantly expanding. It is for this reason that accepting a Migrant Workers Treaty that protects a migrant's "human rights" is risky. It could mean that these migrant's rights are interpreted by some in the UN to be broader and more inclusive than a state thinks they should be, and makes it possible that these rights only expand over time.
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-=== General trends: Are migrants generally in need of greater protections? === 
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-====Pro==== 
-*'''[[Argument: Migrant rights have been eroded in many states| Migrant rights have been eroded in many states]]''' [http://www.notre-europe.eu/uploads/tx_publication/Policypaper24-en-droitdesmigrants.pdf Marie Barrel. "The United Nations Convention on Migrant’s rights, a Luxury for the European Union?" Notre Europe. December 2006]: "The Erosion of Rights in Europe. [...] there is no denying the fact that the national texts have, everywhere in Europe, undergone deep modifications, restricting the rights of legal migrants. A survey of the legislation recently passed or still in preparation on the admission of immigrants and their families goes a long way to invalidate the idea that the ratification of the convention is unnecessary."  
- 
-*'''[[Argument: Massive growth of migration demands greater protections| Massive growth of migration demands greater protections]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "One reason migration seems so potent is that it arose unexpectedly. As recently as the 1970s, immigration seemed of such little importance that the United States Census Bureau decided to stop asking people where their parents were born. Now, a quarter of the residents of the United States under 18 are immigrants or immigrants’ children. The United Nations estimates that there are 214 million migrants across the globe, an increase of about 37 percent in two decades. Their ranks grew by 41 percent in Europe and 80 percent in North America. 'There’s more mobility at this moment than at any time in world history,' said Gary P. Freeman, a political scientist at the University of Texas. The most famous source countries in Europe — Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain — are suddenly migrant destinations, with Ireland electing a Nigerian-born man as its first black mayor in 2007." 
- 
-*'''[[Argument: Migration impacts social, cultural, economic spheres of society| Migration impacts social cultural, economic spheres of society]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "Even people who study migration for a living struggle to fully grasp its effects. 'Politically, socially, economically, culturally — migration bubbles up everywhere,' James F. Hollifield, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, said. 'We often don’t recognize it.'" This makes protecting migrants that much more important. 
- 
-*'''[[Argument: Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions| Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions]]''' [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/46e8fc58-cb24-11df-95c0-00144feab49a.html Stanley Pignal. "EU faces threat to migration principle." Financial Times. September 28 2010]: "Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, is looking to reprimand a clutch of member states, perhaps as many as a dozen, for failing to implement fully the 2004 European law guaranteeing free movement for citizens, but on technical grounds – such as for failing to ensure full legal rights for migrants – rather than for fundamental breaches. In dealing with this dossier, there are worries that Brussels may open a Pandora’s box as it seeks to enhance the working of the rules in favour of migrants. These are turbulent political waters for the European Commission, which as an unelected supranational body has steered clear of immigration issues, among the most sensitive topics in any of its 27 member states. Indeed, officials worry her actions could spark an adverse reaction from some member states, for example by tying intra-EU migration with the more contentious debate regarding new arrivals from outside the EU. 'If the European Commission pushes too hard on this, and rubs member states the wrong way, you could easily see a politicisation of the internal migration debate, which has so far benefited hugely from not being a political debate at all,' said one national diplomat." 
- 
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-====Con==== 
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-*'''[[Argument: Migrants are flourishing economically; greater protections unnecessary| Migrants are flourishing economically; greater protections unnecessary]]''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/weekinreview/27deparle.html Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010]: "rich, aging countries need workers. People in poor countries need jobs. And the rise in global inequality means that migrants have more than ever to gain by landing work abroad. Migration networks are hard to shut down. Even the worst economy in 70 years has only slowed, not stopped, the growth in migration. And it is likely to grow, in numbers and consequence." If migrants are gaining so much from the most open borders in world history, why is that they need ''more'' protections? 
- 
-*'''Migration policy should be crafted on a state-by-state basis.''' Every state has different issues and problems related to migration. There is no monolithic economic and social crisis facing migrants around the globe. It is inappropriate, therefore, to call for all nations to improve their protections in some standard manner. Instead, immigration policy and even rights need to be approached on a case-by-case, nation-by-nation basis.  
- 
-*'''[[Argument: Global immigration is a problem; solution: reduce immigration| Global immigration is a problem; solution: reduce immigration]]''' [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/05/the_global_immigration_problem.html Victor Davis Hanson. "The Global Immigration Problem." Real Clear Politics. May 31, 2007]: "In Germany, Turkish workers - both legal and illegal - are desperate to find either permanent residence or citizenship. 'Londonstan' is slang for a new London of thousands of unassimilated Pakistani nationals. In France, there were riots in 2005 because many children of North African immigrants are unemployed - and unhappy. Albanians flock to Greece to do farm work, and then are regularly deported for doing so illegally. The list could go on. [...] The lasting solution is not the status quo - or even walls, fines, deportation, amnesty or guest-worker programs. Instead, failed societies in Latin America, Africa and much of the Middle East must encourage family planning and get smarter about using their plentiful natural wealth to keep more of their own people home." 
- 
-*'''More migrant protections means more migration; a potential problem.''' Increasing protections of migrant rights has the general effect of increasing migration. Indeed, one policy goal of many migrant rights activists is for open borders and free and unrestricted migration across them. A right to family reunification would also increase migration. This can be problematic in many countries. It may worsen overpopulation problems, increase tensions between ethnic and/or religious groups, or simply devalue the cultural identity of a state. This is why migration policy should exist state-by-state. 
- 
-*'''[[Argument: More migrant "rights" means more immigration, overpopulation| More migrant "rights" means more immigration, overpopulation]]''' Migrants can cause overpopulation in certain countries and in large concentrated urban areas. This can have a variety of negative consequences, worsening overpopulation in these areas, air pollution, traffic, sanitation, and quality of life. Again, this is a potential negative consequence of migration that needs to be considered when approaching the topic of expanding migrant rights.  
- 
-*'''[[Argument: Expanding migrant rights can damage national identity| Expanding migrant rights can damage national identity]]''' Maintaining an original ethnic and cultural structure, government, and overall citizenship is the base argument of many opponents of immigration and expanding migrant rights. This ethno-cultural type of thinking is an accepted practice in many countries that are populated by one ethnic group. Is Israel, for example, wrong to term itself a "Jewish state"? Is there something inherently wrong with its efforts to maintain this identity? Probably not, and it certainly constrains how far migrant rights can be expanded. 
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===Pro/con sources=== ===Pro/con sources===

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Background and context

This pro/con article was created for the Spring 2011 topic of the The Global Debates: "All states should immediately ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families." We've created this article and the broader Global Debates International Migration Portal to help contestants develop their cases. The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was signed in 1990 and entered into force in 2003.
The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) monitors implementation of the convention. The treaty is meant to ensure minimum protections to all migrants, focusing on ensuring freedom from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, sex, religion or any other status, in all aspects of work, including in hiring, conditions of work, and promotion, and in access to housing, health care and basic services. It also ensures freedom from arbitrary expulsion from their country of employment and protection from violence, physical injury, threats and intimidation by public officials or by private individuals, groups or institutions. The treaty recognizes that legal migrants have the legitimacy to claim more rights than undocumented migrants, but it stresses that undocumented migrants must see their fundamental human rights respected. Many nations have signed, but most are countries of origin of migrants. No Western migrant-receiving State has ratified the Convention, even though the majority of migrants live in Europe and North America. Other important receiving countries, such as Australia, Arab states of the Persian Gulf and India have not ratified the Convention either. This means that the treaty is not in effect where the majority of migrants actually live and work. So, one of the main questions in this debate is whether these specific non-signatories should jump on-board and sign. They often contend that the treaty will limit their national immigration control policies. But, supporters argue it will do no such thing. These and other arguments are outlined below.
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Solution? Does the convention help solve a problem, or create problems?

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Pro

  • Massive growth of migration demands greater protections Jason Deparle. "Global Migration: A World Ever More on the Move." New York Times. June 26th, 2010: "One reason migration seems so potent is that it arose unexpectedly. As recently as the 1970s, immigration seemed of such little importance that the United States Census Bureau decided to stop asking people where their parents were born. Now, a quarter of the residents of the United States under 18 are immigrants or immigrants’ children. The United Nations estimates that there are 214 million migrants across the globe, an increase of about 37 percent in two decades. Their ranks grew by 41 percent in Europe and 80 percent in North America. 'There’s more mobility at this moment than at any time in world history,' said Gary P. Freeman, a political scientist at the University of Texas. The most famous source countries in Europe — Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain — are suddenly migrant destinations, with Ireland electing a Nigerian-born man as its first black mayor in 2007."


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Con

  • Migrant rights treaty can conflict with immigration control policies. While it appears logical to confer more "rights" onto migrants under international law, some of these "rights" can run directly contrary to the national interests of a country. For example, the Migrant Workers Convention highlights family reunification as, essentially, a right that signatories must recognize and facilitate. For some countries that are crowded, and that already have significant immigrant populations, facilitating this provision of the treaty could result in significant "reunifications", greater overpopulation, and the worsening of standards of living for other citizens. So, ultimately, what might be "important" to a migrant worker might be harmful to a host country and its population. This is why countries like the UK resist signing the Migrant Workers Convention on the basis that the UK's policies already strike the “right balance between the need for immigration control and the protection of the interests and rights of migrant workers and their families”.[1]
  • Global migration is a problem; solution: reduce migration Victor Davis Hanson. "The Global Immigration Problem." Real Clear Politics. May 31, 2007: "In Germany, Turkish workers - both legal and illegal - are desperate to find either permanent residence or citizenship. 'Londonstan' is slang for a new London of thousands of unassimilated Pakistani nationals. In France, there were riots in 2005 because many children of North African immigrants are unemployed - and unhappy. Albanians flock to Greece to do farm work, and then are regularly deported for doing so illegally. The list could go on. [...] The lasting solution is not the status quo - or even walls, fines, deportation, amnesty or guest-worker programs. Instead, failed societies in Latin America, Africa and much of the Middle East must encourage family planning and get smarter about using their plentiful natural wealth to keep more of their own people home."


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Social welfare: Should migrants receive equal treatment on social welfare?

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Pro

  • Migrants should have equal rights to social welfare as nationals Article 27 of the United Nations Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "With respect to social security, migrant workers and members of their families shall enjoy in the State of employment the same treatment granted to nationals in so far as they fulfil the requirements provided for by the applicable legislation of that State and the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties."[2]


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Con

  • Welfare systems need protecting from "freeriding" migrants. Immigrants make heavy use of social welfare systems, and often overload public education, while frequently not fully pulling their weight in taxes. Increasing social and economic protections and rights for migrants via the Migrant Workers Convention could increase migration and increase the benefits migrants receive from societies. This could be a burden that a state's welfare system is not capable of handling.
  • Full welfare should be reserved for the citizens of a nation. While it may be acceptable for migrants to receive certain social services while working in a country, much of a nation's social services should be made unavailable to them. Social Security and Medicaid, for example, are based on individuals paying into the system for years, and thus having a legitimate claim to draw from the programs in their time of need. Migrant workers fall outside this equation, so should not have the same rights to these benefits as full citizens.


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Family reunification: Should a right to family reunification exist?

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Pro

  • Migrant Rights Convention aims to facilitate family reunification Article 44.2 of the Migrant Workers Convention stipulates: "States Parties shall take measures that they deem appropriate and that fall within their competence to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses or persons who have with the migrant worker a relationship that, according to applicable law, produces effects equivalent to marriage, as well as with their minor dependent unmarried children."[3]
  • Migrant Workers Convention protects sovereignty on family reunification UNESCO: "The Migrant Workers Convention in Europe: Obstacles to Ratification." 2007: "Article 79 of the treaty provides that '[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families'; whereas state’s responsibilities in terms of family reunification under Article 44 are limited to taking such measures 'as they deem appropriate to facilitate the reunification of migrant workers with their spouses… as well with their minor dependent unmarried children.' In language as heavily qualified as this, leaving such a wide discretion open to states, it is difficult to see any obligation of any sort, let alone one that could present a serious obstacle to ratification."[4]


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Con

  • Family reunification right is obstacle to migrant rights treaty. States have leveled as an argument against the Migrant Workers Convention, and against other possible international migrant treaties, concerns about a robust right of family reunification to all migrant workers present in migrant-receiving countries. This could offer family members a right to migrate into the state in question, resulting in large increases in population size. And, there is no doubt that the text of the Migrant Workers Convention aims to create a "right" to family reunification. Even if it provides flexibility on how a nation attempts to facilitate re-unification, it still requires that states reunite families in some way. Under this treaty, therefore, any migrant could sue the state for not allowing their family (and perhaps extended family) to immigrate as well. In overpopulated and strained migrant-receiving countries - particularly in Wester Europe - such a proposition is untenable, which is why so many migrant-receiving nations oppose the treaty. And, even if one goes so far as to call the text of the treaty as merely "aspirational" on family reunification, placing no legally binding obligations on states, such "aspirational" language still provides migrant-receiving nations with reason to pause; why should a nation sign an international agreement that contains "aspirations" not shared by the nation?


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Illegal aliens: Is the convention appropriate in its provisions on illegal immigrants?

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Pro

  • Migrant treaty presses mere compliance with national laws. Rory Mungoven, global advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said in 2003 when the treaty went into effect: "The Migrant Workers Convention is not soft on illegal immigration. All it asks is that undocumented migrants be treated in full compliance with the law, and not subjected to abuse."[5]
  • Migrant workers treaty gives illegals fewer rights/protections. The treaty recognizes that illegal aliens cannot be treated in the same way as legal migrant workers; that such legal workers have more rights and protections. But, it ensures that these illegal aliens are treated humanely, legally, and responsibly by host governments, whether it be in finding them, arresting them, deporting them, or in integrating them into society with some kind of a path to citizenship. National laws already demand such humane action, so the migrant workers treaty hardly does anything new that Western governments should find objectionable in this regard.


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Con

  • Migrant treaty increases burdens of processing illegal aliens. The treaty requires that countries provide full legal procedures for illegal aliens. This could limit the ability of a nation to quickly process and deport illegal aliens. In some countries, large immigration problems make such lengthy judicial processes untenable. And, it is not the fault of the government that a massive and constant flood of illegal immigrants makes judicially and equitably handling each and every one of them impossible. In such instances of a breach of national and sovereign security, full legal processes for NON-citizens is simply not an option, not is signing a treaty that requires this.
  • "Abusive" treatment of illegals is a matter of interpretation. What constitutes "unfair treatment" or "abuse" in a nation's immigration policy is a subject for interpretation under the Migrant Workers Treaty. In the United States, for example, people can be fined or held legally liable for aiding or employing illegal immigrants. Some consider this abusive. And, the United States has created a wall on its southern border. Is this abusive? These are all matters for interpretation based on US national interests, but the concern is that the UN will deem some of these actions or policies "abusive" or "inhumane", and thereby consider them unlawful under the Migrant Workers Convention.


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Economics: Is the migrant rights treaty good for economies?

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Pro

  • Migrant workers treaty counters abusive temporary worker programs. Claire Courteille, of the International Trade Union Confederation, cited in 2010 a typical temporary worker programme agreed by Canada and Guatemala: "Under this agreement the authorities of the host country keep the passports of migrants, who are not allowed to contact or even approach trade unions. Nor may they look for other work ... they have no rights."[6]
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Con

  • Migrants should not have unfettered right to enter labor unions. Labor unions can have an important role in a society, helping check employers. But should they really be open to migrants, who are not usually permanent members of a society? It seems that this privilege could be reserved for citizens alone. Given how disruptive unions can be, do we really want migrants being able to form unions and voice expansive demands that may be contrary to the broader interests of a country and its companies?
  • Migration can cause damaging "brain drain" in countries of origin. Immigration deprives countries of origin of badly needed skills. This is known as "brain drain". This is one of a number of consequences from migration, and may give pause to efforts to increase protections for migrants in such a way that further incentivizes migration.
  • Compliance with migrant rights treaty could be expensive. In order for governments to comply with the Migrant Rights Treaty, they will have to enforce it within their territories, which requires spending money and directing resources toward creating new laws and/or tweaking old laws in order to ensure compliance with the treaty, and in order to ensure employers and institutions are in compliance. Businesses must spend money to ensure they are in compliance as well. While this alone does not disqualify the treaty, it is important to recognize it as a cost and a con.


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Sovereignty: Is Migrant Rights treaty consistent with national sovereignty?

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Pro

  • Migrant Rights Convention allows for sovereign control of migration Article 79 of The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families provides that “[n]othing in the present Convention shall affect the right of each State Party to establish the criteria governing admission of migrant workers and members of their families”.[7] Such a broad statement allows for the robust exercise of sovereign decision-making on the criteria for immigration. Migrant-receiving states should rest assured that they will have the flexibility necessary to adjust their policies to deal with their specific migration issues.


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Con

  • International migration treaty limits sovereign migration policy. The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would limit the sovereign rights of states to decide upon who can enter their territory and for how long they can remain. While this might not be a problem for countries of origin of migrants, it is certainly a central concern for migrant-receiving nations like the United States, Australia, in Europe, India, and Indonesia. Every state has its own set of issues to deal with as they relate to migration (ie, overpopulation, crime, deficits, national identity, etc.), and many believe they must have the independent flexibility to tailor their immigration policies to meet these issues. That's why an international treaty is seen as a potential liability to states that feel immigration policy must be fully within their own control.
  • Migration policy should be crafted on a state-by-state basis. Every state has different issues and problems related to migration. It is inappropriate, therefore, to call for all nations to sign a treaty that would homogenize immigration policies. These policies should be approached on a state-by-state basis.


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Diplomacy: Is signing the treaty good for diplomacy?

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Pro


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Con

  • Increasing migrant rights can cause international tensions Stanley Pignal. "EU faces threat to migration principle." Financial Times. September 28 2010: "Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, is looking to reprimand a clutch of member states, perhaps as many as a dozen, for failing to implement fully the 2004 European law guaranteeing free movement for citizens, but on technical grounds – such as for failing to ensure full legal rights for migrants – rather than for fundamental breaches. In dealing with this dossier, there are worries that Brussels may open a Pandora’s box as it seeks to enhance the working of the rules in favour of migrants. These are turbulent political waters for the European Commission, which as an unelected supranational body has steered clear of immigration issues, among the most sensitive topics in any of its 27 member states. Indeed, officials worry her actions could spark an adverse reaction from some member states, for example by tying intra-EU migration with the more contentious debate regarding new arrivals from outside the EU. 'If the European Commission pushes too hard on this, and rubs member states the wrong way, you could easily see a politicisation of the internal migration debate, which has so far benefited hugely from not being a political debate at all,' said one national diplomat."
  • Expanding migrant rights can damage national identity Maintaining an original ethnic and cultural structure, government, and overall citizenship is the base argument of many opponents of immigration and expanding migrant rights. This ethno-cultural type of thinking is an accepted practice in many countries that are populated by one ethnic group. Is Israel, for example, wrong to term itself a "Jewish state"? Is there something inherently wrong with its efforts to maintain this identity? Probably not, and it certainly constrains how far migrant rights can be expanded with a treaty that forbids discrimination against migrant workers on the basis of race, religion, etc; sometimes such "discrimination" or selectivity can be legitimate.


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Human rights: Does treaty strengthen migrant human rights?

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Pro


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Con

  • Migrant rights are already protected under human rights law. If a nation violates existing international human rights law against a migrant, perhaps with exploitative working conditions, wrongful imprisonment, seizure of property, discrimination, or violence, existing international law already adequately protects them. There is no need to expand human rights law to create a separate category and separate protections for migrants.
  • International laws protecting migrants will still lack enforcement. Even if the international community decided it wanted to better protect the human rights of migrants, an international treaty will not necessarily advance that cause, as international law has proven to be very difficult to enforce. This will continue to be a problem into the foreseeable future.
  • Human rights are subject to interpretation under Migrant Workers Treaty. Some people consider access to the Internet to be a "human right". Others consider the ability to cross borders freely as a "human right". The definition of human rights is constantly expanding. It is for this reason that accepting a Migrant Workers Treaty that protects a migrant's "human rights" is risky. It could mean that these migrant's rights are interpreted by some in the UN to be broader and more inclusive than a state thinks they should be, and makes it possible that these rights only expand over time.
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