In this essay, Sergio Carciotto of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) examines South Africa’s temporary labor migration laws and how they apply to migrant workers from Zimbabwe. Carciotto makes the case that low-skilled workers, such as Zimbabweans, are not provided the benefits that high-skilled workers receive, particularly the opportunity to become permanent residents. As such, they are without leverage in the workplace and are subject to exploitation. Carciotto concludes that low-skilled workers who enter on a temporary basis should be allowed to apply for permanent residency after a certain time, in order to avoid situations of indentured servitude. In other words, the longer a worker remains, “the stronger their claim to full membership in society and to the enjoyment of the same rights as citizens.” He also states that such a policy should be included in the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, currently being negotiated by United Nations member states.
This paper on return migration is the first in a series from the Scalabrini Migration Study Centers, a worldwide network of think-tanks on international migration, on different migration issues and policy ideas that should inform the development and implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. This paper is authored by Graziano Batistella, c.s., who directs the Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines. It offers a conceptual framework for analyzing return migration and developing appropriate policies in response. It identifies a continuum of types of return based on the time of return and the decision to return. These are: “return of achievement,” “return of completion,” “return of setback,” and “return of crisis (forced return).” The paper recommends particular policies – which would benefit migrants and their communities of origin – in response to each of these types of return. It urges that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees not treat return as “an act that simply concludes migration,” but one that requires effective policies to protect and ensure the well-being of migrants, to facilitate their reintegration, and to maximize their contributions.