平和
和平
평화

MIGRATION

ASIA
26 March 2014
US State Dept

US on migrants' rights

The United States is an admirable international spokesman on migrants' rights issues. But it still has many challenges to deal with at home.

The United States is an admirable international spokesman on migrants' rights issues. But it still has many challenges to deal with at home.

According to the US State Department, the US is unwavering in its commitment to respect the human rights of all immigrants, regardless of their immigration status. But in reality there are still too many cases of human rights' abuses in the US itself.

The US has ratified human rights treaties including: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and other conventions that address challenges associated with slavery, human trafficking, and refugees. The US also seeks to protect the human rights of migrants in the areas xenophobia, hate crimes, human trafficking and civil rights and labor protection.

But the US immigration system is broken in many ways. This is why President Obama and some Congress members are pushing Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Obama recently proposed a framework for reform of the US immigration system based four parts: continuing to strengthen borders; targeting companies that hire undocumented workers; holding undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; and streamlining the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.

Most regrettably improving the respect of migrants' rights does not appear to be on the US agenda at the moment. It's a great pity, because too many migrants' rights abuses occur in the US today, in part because the long-term failure to implement the reforms currently being discussed, has left many migrants in positions of great vulnerability.

Just one example is the hundreds of thousands of immigrant farmworker women and girls in the US who face a high risk of sexual violence and sexual harassment in their workplaces because US authorities and employers fail to protect them adequately.

A recent Human Rights Watch report, “Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment,” describes rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, or vulgar and obscene language by supervisors, employers, and others in positions of power. Most farmworkers interviewed for the report said they had experienced such treatment or knew others who had. And most said they had not reported these or other workplace abuses, fearing reprisals.

“Rape, groping, and obscene language by abusive supervisors should not be part of the hard labor conditions that immigrant farmworkers endure while producing the nation’s food,” said Grace Meng, author of the report. “Instead of being valued for their contributions, immigrant farmworkers are subject to a dysfunctional immigration system and labor laws that exclude them from basic protections most workers take for granted.”

In this context, Human Rights Watch submitted the following recommendations to the hearing of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on "Comprehensive Immigration Reform": (i) the US immigration system should respect and protect families; (ii) the US immigration system should focus enforcement efforts on genuine threats; (iii) immigration reform should include a fair and effective legalization process; and (iv) the US immigration system should be committed to protecting immigrants from workplace violations and crime.

So as Republicans and Democrats haggle with each other over "Comprehensive Immigration Reform", we can only hope that they hope that they will take the time to think about the rights of the many poor and suffering immigrants, and not just about their crude political calculations about being re-elected and who is financing their election campaigns.

Author

John West
Executive Director
Asian Century Institute
www.asiancenturyinstitute.com
Tags: asia, United States, migration, migrants' rights, Human Rights Watch

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