Special Issue "Migration and Human Rights"
A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2013)
Prof. Dr. François Crépeau
Faculty of Law, McGill University, #606, New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street, Montreal QC H3A 1W9, Canada
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Interests: migration control mechanisms; the rights of foreigners; the conceptualization of security as it applies to migrants; the Rule of Law in the face of globalization
Migration is an extremely complex phenomenon, generally oversimplified in the media-degradable discourse. Some categories of migrants are highly praised: the rich and the educated migrants who can create wealth. In some countries, a “golden legend” of past migration and social mobility allows for the celebration of multiculturalism or diversity. In certain countries, migrants may have access to citizenship.
But most migrants today do not benefit from such positive appraisal: they either live under a vulnerable legal status (such as that of temporary migrant worker, live-in care-giver, agricultural worker...) or they are in an irregular situation. Migrants play no part in the polity of the host country and rarely protest. Populist anti-immigration discourses abound, initiated by far-right movements, but passively endorsed by most mainstream parties. The language used to describe migrants is often indeterminate, liquid (flows, flux, trickling, waves, tsunamis, invasion, containment, etc.), implying that migrants are a threatening mass devoid of individual personalities. Migration is increasingly portrayed as a “risk” or a “threat”, linked to insecurity, criminality or terrorism. This plays a major role in “identity politics”, thus justifying reinvesting in borders as well as the arrest, detention, ill-treatment and refoulement of too many migrants.
At best, migrants are presented as fulfilling economic needs: migrant workers should be thankful for the opportunity they are offered and should return “home” when their services are not needed any more. Employers of undocumented migrants are rarely sanctioned for the exploitation that makes their business competitive. Intuitively, citizens often accept as “normal” the discrimination suffered by migrants, as if in effect human rights were citizen’s rights. Migrants are thus often victims of human rights violations.
Yet, in international law and in many constitutional orders, migrants have rights. They are individual human beings and actually enjoy in the host country all the rights provided for in the International Bill of Rights, except for two (the right to vote and be elected, and the right to enter and stay on the territory). They even have the right to equality and non-discrimination, which means that any distinction, based on their nationality or residence, must be justified by the authorities as compatible with the principles of a free and democratic society. In recent years, courts, generally free from electoral pressure, have often been a cautious but powerful line of defense for migrants’ rights, against encroachments by the executive or legislative powers.
How can we reconcile recurring political discourses on migration with the formal legal entitlements of migrants, and how can we make the latter more effective? This is the subject of the present special issue.
Prof. Dr. François Crépeau
Manuscript Submission Information
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- migrants’ rights
- human rights
- irregular migrants
- vulnerable migrants
- undocumented migrants
- temporary migrant workers