Remarks at High-Level Debate on Migration and Development 2019
Amy Shannon, Alianza Americas
February 27, 2019
My name is Amy Shannon, I represent Alianza Americas, a network of more than 50 grassroots and community-based organizations led by Latin American and Caribbean immigrants in the United States who are working together toward a more sustainable, just, and dignified way of life for communities across the Americas. We are also members of the Global Coalition on Migration and part of that
Given the theme of this afternoon on partnerships and coordination among governments and within different levels of government and civil society, I want to lift up the Central America-North America migration corridor where our members are most active and where we have witnessed over the past six months – an exodus of people fleeing violence and lack of hope for a meaningful opportunity.
The much-reported migrant “caravans” represent a new modality of migration for our region– movement in large mixed flows– that largely responds to protection failures. The groups afford some protection and security to the primarily young people who comprise them– a measure of security that they could not find in the traditional migration routes.
Migrant-led groups were among those who identified and responded most swiftly to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the migrant caravans in Mexico. We have learned a great deal from this experience and it is a cautionary tale. There were many other acts of local heroism from shelter workers, to volunteer lawyers, to local communities spontaneously provided support in many cases. Technology definitely played a role. The use of whats app groups enabled activists to coordinate along the route and anticipate where help would be needed. Still, the exodus reminded us of the many weaknesses and overall fragility of the protection systems.
This case cries out for a more robust set of governance structures and partnerships for safe, regular and orderly migration that includes organized migrants as key transnational social subjects. This challenge cannot be separated from SDGS. Development strategies that fail to address the underlying drivers of displacement, including providing hope and opportunity for young people will continue to expel them. Development strategies that ignore migrants in need of protection will continue to see the rights of those people violated. If the urgent challenges for integration for migrants in countries of destination and sadly, for those who are voluntarily returned or deported are ignored, we will both fail to meet our development goals, and continue to feed the lack of trust mentioned this morning by Mr. Vitorino. and for that matter the crisis of trust in democracy which we are seeing across the Americas.
This is a very much a development challenge, at the same time as a migration governance challenge, so it is vital that the two be advanced together and that migrants be recognized as key stakeholders as we all seek to build a rights-based approach to migration that can create opportunities for people to live dignified lives and contribute to the economic and social fabrics of their countries of origin as well as destination.