The evolving perspectives on international migration and progress

As the lead representative for the U.S. Department of Labor at the recent Global Forum on Migration and Development, I was struck by the words of one panelist: “There are stories and there are versions,” she said. “But they feed our perceptions, and then policy makers make decisions and legislation based on those perceptions.”

The experiences of migrant workers are diverse and complex, and their stories play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of migration. As policy makers, it is essential that we view migration through a human lens, a worker lens, and a rights-based lens. This means recognizing the importance of international labor standards, such as the right to decent work, freedom of association, and freedom from discrimination, in protecting the rights of migrant workers.

I had the opportunity to attend the Global Forum on Migration and Development with a delegation led by Marta Youth, principal deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Our strong presence at the forum reflected the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting safe, regular, and humane migration and development. As an International Relations Officer, my role was to advocate for and learn from others about ways to support the labor rights of migrant workers worldwide.

With 169 million migrant workers across the globe, making up nearly 5% of the global workforce, it is crucial that we have sensible, sustainable, and rights-based policies in place. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs is dedicated to elevating the voices of migrant workers and ensuring their access to resources and protections. We consult with migrant workers, worker advocates, unions, employers, and other stakeholders to ensure that their stories and experiences inform policy decisions based on evidence and reality. This approach can lead us to identify durable solutions for migrant workers.

My main takeaway from the Global Forum can be summed up with the adage, “Nothing about us without us.” In other words, we cannot have a rights-based approach to migration policy without including those affected at the table. I am committed to continuing to learn from migrants and incorporating their perspectives into my work to shape policy for the better.

To learn more about employment and social protection, visit the Bureau of International Labor Affairs website. 

Share This Article
Leave a comment