Declaration of the 4th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR4)


4 October 2013 New York, NY, USA

We, migrants, refugees and advocates, from 103 organizations in 18 countries, gathered together for the Fourth International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), declare our unity and solidarity for migrants’ and refugees’ rights, genuine development, and national and social liberation.

We affirm the people’s right to migrate freely. We affirm the peoples’ right to development and self- determination.

But the unjust structures and policies of governments and international institutions that impoverish the vast majority of the world’s population force people to migrate out of necessity and desperation; commodify migrants and rob them and their families of their rights and dignity; perpetuate modern-day slavery for the interest of profit; and serves monopoly capitalism and not the people.

Colonial and neocolonial exploitation of countries by imperialist powers have destroyed and continue to undermine the basis for self-determined and sustainable development for the people. Multinational corporations exploit cheap labor in poor countries, extract the natural wealth, destroy the environment and rob present and future generations of the resources to meet their needs.

The US government, as the world’s leading imperialist power, is the chief architect and enforcer of the policies that have and continue to destroy the oppressed and exploited countries in conjunction with other imperialist countries and with the complicity of the ruling elites in client states.

The climate crisis caused by the unsustainable mode of production and consumption in the advanced capitalist countries are generating extreme weather events and longer-term environmental degradation that are disrupting the livelihoods and displacing millions of people from their homes. Warfare and internal conflicts, often instigated or manipulated by imperialist powers notably the US, displace entire communities and swell the ranks of refugees.

Neoliberal globalization is exacerbating this by destroying jobs and livelihoods; keeping incomes below subsistence, removing labor standards and other regulations to capital, and severely restricting socioeconomic opportunities in poor countries that drive millions of peoples from oppressed and exploited countries—and even workers from countries that also host migrant labor– to seek greener pastures in foreign lands every day.

Monopoly capitalists exploit this condition to ensure the increasing supply of cheap and insecure labor to fuel their industries, work on their fields, run their vessels, and fill up the workforce in the service

sector and privatized utilities. As the global depression persists with its attendant problems of stagnant production, worsening unemployment and rising social unrest, labor migration becomes more important than ever for stabilizing the global capitalist system.

Further exploiting and oppressing women migrants, monopoly capitalism and neoliberal policies perpetuate, endorse and normalize patriarchy in its most oppressive form, through a dynamic of supply and demand as seen in the increasing commodification of women’s minds and bodies.

This is the migration that neoliberal globalization pushes for.

Through the series of IAMR and related initiatives as the International Migrants Tribunal, grassroots migrant workers and advocates have successfully exposed the neoliberal anti-migrant agenda expressed in the annual Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that the first UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development gave birth to in 2006. We have exposed the root causes of massive forced migration; the failure of governments to address the abuse and exploitation that migrants and refugees face; and how this massive emigration hinders development rather than stimulates it; we have also supported the struggles of migrants who have been victims of temporary work programs like Filipinos and Mexican Braceros of the years 1942/64 – themes that so-called experts and high-level participants in these meetings deliberately ignored.

The UNHLD 2013 repackages the same neoliberal labor export strategy under the banner of a new “Post-2015 UN Development Agenda”. Once again, governments are claiming migration is presented as a means to alleviate poverty and remittances are held up as vital for mobilizing resources for “sustainable development” while governments cutback spending on essential services and public goods. Employers take advantage and steal directly from migrant workers through wage theft schemes.

International bodies, platforms and financial institutions such as the World Bank are in chorus in promoting labor export as a strategy for development rather than a social problem that needs to be resolved.

In the context of the present crisis, there is increased interest on the part of finance capital to capture and profit from USD $404 billions of dollars worth of remittance flows every year. Hence there is an aggressive promotion of the myth that remittances are alternative and reliable sources of financing development, including the achievement of a new set of sustainable development goals for the post- 2015 period.

The vicious export of labor is systematized in sending countries to increase their reliance on remittance to mitigate the rapid downslide of the crisis-ridden economy and project stability and growth. Contrary to claims that remittances help a sending country’s economy to develop, they are used by the sending- country government to cover its deficits that result from unequal economic relations with the advanced capitalist countries, pay foreign debt or used as collateral for more foreign debt. It leads to jobless growth as the billions of dollars as foreign exchange reserves are not re-channeled to develop local industries and agriculture that could generate jobs at home.

The GFMD and the UNHLD pay lip service to protecting migrants’ rights. In reality they are primarily interested in “managing migration” which means tying down migrant labor to temporary employment contracts and ensuring their “safe and orderly return” under the pretext of “protecting the domestic labor force from unfair competition.”

Labor migration that neoliberal globalization agenda push for can be seen in how the United States and other imperialist countries shape their migration policies.

The US domestic economy was built upon and has always been reliant on slave labor. In the age of neoliberal globalization, the US government caters to the interest of corporate profiteers by ensuring a steady flow of cheap and highly exploitable foreign workers living as a sub-class through labor flexibilization and control.

The adoption of a more temporary employment-based immigration policy, stratification of work visa categories, and whipping up of racism and xenophobia, divides the working class in the US and other host countries, hence keeping them distracted from the real root of the economic crisis- neoliberal globalization.

The US government is leading the world it’s fascisization of immigration laws and policies, as the world’s largest war and prison-based economy, most especially at the site of the US-Mexican border, the land funnel of migration from Latin America and site of extreme human rights violations, militarization, and deaths. With the construction of the wall along the border, the number of deaths on the border has increased and since 1984 some 8,000 bodies of migrants have been discovered. Under the direction of the US, the Mexican government is also implementing the same policy in its southern border to restrict the entry of Latin American migrants using Mexico as transit to US. In addition to suffering abuse and intimidation from the authorities, they are also victims of assaults, kidnappings and murders by delinquents.

In Europe, the number of security forces along borders has also tripled and they are also building walls in Ceuta and Melilla, while in Morocco some 10,000 bodies have been recuperated near the Canary Islands of Spain and Lampedusa of Italy.

We – migrants, immigrants and refugees – pay the price of the neoliberal globalization migration agenda.

Millions of migrant workers face modern-day slave-like conditions because of guest worker programs that systemically deny them their rights, keep them insecure and vulnerable and thereby keep their wages pegged to the floor.

The most extreme example of how guest worker programs perpetuate slavery and dispossess the poor is the US-Mexico Bracero Program of 1942-1964, which exploited more than 4.6 million temporary workers or “braceros” from Mexico, who were cheated of their pensions by the US and Mexican governments. Like the Braceros, millions of workers, like those from the Philippines, are exported by their governments as guest workers and face the same conditions of exploitation and wage-theft.

Under neoliberal globalization, women migrant workers face lower wages, stereotyped and isolated work opportunities, are first to be laid off, sweat shop slavery, deskilling, sexual harassment and rape often ending in murder, and often fall victim to human trafficking for forced labor, prostitution and other gender-specific forms of slavery and exploitation.

The new trend in the supply and demand cycle, marriage migrants, trap women in new forms of slavery. State immigration policies create a structure that is complicit in reinforcing mail domination as women can be consumed but also become disposable.

At the same time, LGBT migrants experience homophobic-specific forms of discrimination and violation.

Migrants in domestic work, nursing, and caring labor suffer from exclusion from labor protection laws and low regard for their economic and socio-cultural contributions to the society.

Worsening policies on migrant workers has also forced millions to become undocumented that makes their condition even more insecure. They are denied access to seek redress, are kept out of social services and protection, and are arrested through violent raids, detained without regards to their human rights and summarily deported. Even worse, they are criminalized.

The arrest, detention and deportation of undocumented migrants result in forced separation and breakup of families, leaving children extremely vulnerable, insecure and traumatized.

Migrants in transit suffer the most inhumane conditions including extortion, sexual violations, torture, kidnappings, forced disappearances, and summary executions. These are perpetrated by criminal gangs but also by state forces either by direct action, by complicity, or by acquiescence.

This treatment of undocumented migrants also helps drive the prison industrial complex as in the case of the US and other countries. Private prison companies, such as the Corrections Corporation of America, spend hundreds of millions to lobby for immigration legislation that will ensure a steady flow of raids, detentions, and deportations of migrants in the US.

Refugees around the world suffer the debilitating oppression of not having the rights of protection under the laws of their receiving countries. Ironically, these countries are often responsible for the cause of their exodus.

Migrants and refugees face hostile treatment and are made scapegoats for the worsening jobs crisis, yet are expected to bear the yoke of slave labor until they are no longer viable and forcibly shipped back to their home countries.

Resolutions and plan of actions

Grassroots migrants, refugees and advocates will continue to resist the neoliberal globalization framework on migration and development. We will work towards the goal of making migration and development a genuine exercise of the people’s right that is only possible in under a system that is just, equitable, and democratic.

We resolve to:

  1. Fight to end forced migration and the labor export program by advancing the struggle against imperialist neoliberalization globalization and for people’s sustainable development;
  2. Campaign to defeat neoliberal globalization design on migration and ensuring that migrant’s resistance is present in platforms that promote this design including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013 and the GFMD in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2014. In particular, we shall strive to hold the Fifth IAMR5 to gather the resistance of grassroots migrants in the Sweden GFMD;
  3. Campaign for the legalization of al migrant workers and the protection of the rights and wellbeing of these considered as undocumented;
  4. Resist the militarization of borders and advance the campaign for justice to migrant victims of human rights violations during border crossing
  1. Campaign against flexibilization of labor through guest workers/ temporary migrants programs
  2. Campaign for the ratification and enforcement of international instruments on the rights of

    migrants and families including the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant

    Workers and Their Families and the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers

  3. Campaign to demand the end of US-Israel occupation, colonization and siege of the occupied Palestine territories, including dismantling barriers and opening all border crossings, and that

    US-Israel implement the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. We also demand the immediate opening of the Rafah crossing to the Gaza strip, which has been arbitrarily closed by the Egyptian military government upon US-Israeli instigation.

  4. Strive to further expand and strengthen the global progressive movement of migrants under the banner of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA).
  5. We express our solidarity with the social leaders who have been persecuted and jailed for alleged sabotage an terrorism by anti-popular governments which criminalize social struggle and we condemn the imperialist wars of aggression against the peoples.

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