The myth of “Migration for Development”

Keynote Speech at the Discussion/Speak-out for Development Justice and Protest Mobilization vs. Migration for Development
13-15 May 2014
Stockholm, Sweden

Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON, ILPS ChairpersonBy Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

On behalf of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), I extend my most militant greetings of solidarity to all the participants of the counter-event organized by the International Migrants Alliance to the 7th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) being held in Stockholm. I wish your conference and protest mobilization the utmost success.

When the first GFMD was held in Brussels in 2007, it was described as “an informal multilateral and state-led multi-stakeholder process… to identify practical and feasible ways to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between migration and development.”

Its main objectives were described as the following: 1. the management of migration in sending and receiving countries to maximize “opportunities” and minimize “risks”; 2. to use remittances from migrants for development, and; 3. the establishment of policies and partnerships between countries to achieve the goal of making migration work for development.

At that time, we said that the agenda of the GFMD was clear proof that the promise of development under neoliberal globalization had failed and that the intent of the monopoly capitalist countries and their institutions was mainly to exploit the migration phenomenon, the lucrative labor export programs of underdeveloped countries, and migrant remittances, to salvage or prop up collapsing economies, especially of semicolonies and dependent countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Seven years of experience with the GFMD have proven us correct.

Migrant workers comprise a significant productive force in the world. But they are the most exploited and oppressed workers in the developed countries. They receive the lowest level of wages and are deprived of the rights, standard wage and living conditions of workers in the host countries.

The imperialist powers have designed the over-all neoliberal policy on migrant workers: on the one hand, to use them at the least cost in order to aid production and improve the quality of life in the developed host countries and on the other, to use their earnings to fund the consumption-oriented and import-dependent economies of their underdeveloped home countries.

This neoliberal policy of generating and exploiting cheap and pliant labor for export and effecting modern-day slavery has been the guiding principle of the GFMD since its inception. This is because the GFMD is another of the many multilateral institutions dominated by the imperialist countries and used to implement the neoliberal policy under the Washington Consensus of the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

Migrant workers are the result of underdevelopment and the lack of jobs in the sending countries. But the hard-earned foreign exchange earnings of migrant workers are sucked up by governments that extort exorbitant fees and by various domestic and foreign private exploiters (recruiting agencies, remittance centers, banks, marketing companies, and so on).

The remittances of migrant workers are used for merely covering the perennial balance of payments deficits and for anti-industrial purposes and import-dependent consumerism of the exploiting classes and corrupt bureaucrat. The misuse of the foreign exchange earned by the migrant workers has served to aggravate and further deepen underdevelopment. And yet the GFMD harps on the lie that migration leads to development.

Both the sending and receiving states connive in exploiting the migrant workers and violating their political, economic, social and cultural rights. The migrant workers are subjected to low wages, substandard working conditions,  limited benefits, discrimination and insecurity. 

Women migrant workers are oppressed. They are made vulnerable to gender-based violence and other forms of abuse. No effective mechanisms are in place to protect the migrant workers from falling victims to human traffickers and organized crime syndicates.

Immigration laws are biased for facilitating the criminalization of migrant workers and for inflicting on them violent and inhuman treatment.

In Europe, the EU Return Directive has encouraged governments to implement anti-migrant laws and measures. Thirteen million irregular migrants are targeted for deportation. FRONTEX has been set up to coordinate the efforts of governments to harass and arbitrarily expel migrants and compel them to accept even lower wages in the informal economy.

Right-wing parties have stirred up anti-migrant hysteria blaming migrant workers for supposedly stealing the jobs from the local population. As a result, migrants have been subjected to verbal abuse and even to physical attacks by right-wing thugs.

It is necessary and important for the democratic and anti-imperialist movement and the people of the world to pay close attention to the plight and just cause of the migrant workers. 

In this regard, we must persevere in confronting the GFMD and the heads of state that are active in this cabal and hold them responsible for pursuing and carrying out the neoliberal economic policy on migration and for committing grievous wrongs and injustices against the millions of migrant workers and their families.

We in ILPS fully support the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) in all its efforts to address the problems of migrants in the face of the current global economic and financial crisis and stagnation that has led to the further intensification of exploitation and oppression of migrant workers.

We commend the IMA for consistently defending the rights of migrants and refugees. IMA is active in assisting migrants of different nationalities to form their own organizations. These migrants organizations are developing solidarity with progressive organizations and institutions of the host peoples who are supportive of the cause of migrants and refugees.

We congratulate the IMA for organizing this counter-event to the 7th GFMD in Stockholm. We wish you great success in this event and in future struggles in defending and promoting the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

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