UN General Assembly Discussion on Migration and Development: Causes and Impact

UN NY HeadquartersOn November 15, 2012, the Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly convened a panel discussion on the causes of migration and its impact on development.  The panelists included Austin Fragomen, Jr., Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Lowey LLP and member of the Center for Migration Studies’ (CMS’s) Board of Trustees; Donald Kerwin, Executive Director for CMS; Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition; Susan Martin, Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University; and Juan Jose Garcia, Vice Minister for Salvadoreans Abroad.

The panelists began by discussing how nations of migrant origin could improve conditions for their populations within and outside their territories.  They identified various “push” and “pull” factors, but generally agreed that the failure of states to address and remedy large inequalities and to afford sufficient opportunities for social and economic mobility were substantial drivers of migration. Mr. Kerwin argued that open business environments, inclusive education systems, a strong commitment to the rule of law, and disaster recovery mechanisms would allow more would-be migrants to prosper at home.  Mr. Fragomen agreed that improved economic opportunity was essential, and noted that this included employment, but also increased respect for human rights and better opportunities for women and minorities.

Panelists then shifted the focus of the discussion from nations of migrant origin to nations of destination.  On the subject of irregular migration, Mr. Kerwin warned that strict border restrictions often had the unintended consequence of strengthening criminal smuggling networks and increasing other forms of migrant exploitation.  Mr. Fragomen argued for improved legal processes, especially through treaties and agreements that codify migrant protections and promote humane enforcement.

A full summary of the discussion can be found at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/gaef3356.doc.htm