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US Unveils Best Practices to Protect Human Rights of Migrants

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With its unwavering commitment to respect the human rights of all migrants, the United States of America today unveiled its best practices it has developed to protect the human rights of migrants.

In her remarks on "Measures Ensuring Respect for and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants," Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard says migration affects all countries of the world and presents both opportunities and challenges that the world must address in a spirit of cooperation and respect.

"The United States is unwavering in its commitment to respect the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their immigration status, and we urge other States to do the same." - Ms. Richard

How United States Protects The Human Rights Of Migrants

According to Ms. Richard, there are three categories how US protects rights of migrants:

migrant
Migrant workers in California, 1935. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
1. protection against xenophobia and hate crimes; 2. special protection for victims of human trafficking;and 3. civil rights and labor protection.

In the US, criminal justice authorities use a variety of laws to prosecute persons who commit crimes against migrants, including crimes related to xenophobia and hate crimes.

Ms. Richard cites that in 2009, the United States enacted ground-breaking federal hate crimes legislation that expanded protections against violent assaults motivated by a victim's race, color, religion, or national origin, and added protections against such assaults based on sexual orientation, gender, disability, and gender identity.

The Department of Justice and United States Attorneys' Offices vigorously enforce these laws, she highlighted.

In addition to criminally prosecuting human traffickers, Ms. Richard says the US government protects trafficking victims in various ways, including by granting them what is called "T" immigration status under US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

"T status allows the victim to remain and work in the U.S. legally, to apply for permanent residence after a prescribed period, and for certain family members to be eligible for a T visa." - Ms. Richard

US trafficking legislation is an excellent example of a law that advances both law enforcement and humanitarian objectives - objectives that can and must work together.

In addition, the United States also has many civil laws that protect migrants.

Ms. Richard says the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and the Civil Rights Division of US Department of Justice enforce federal civil laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of national origin, and the Civil Rights Division also enforces laws prohibiting discrimination based on citizenship status.

Special protections apply to the children of immigrants, regardless of their parent's legal status, she added.

According to Ms. Richard, all children have the right to attend public elementary and secondary schools.

All recipients of federal funds including state courts, law enforcement, and social service agencies, must provide language services for persons with limited English proficiency, Ms. Richard stated.

"And, employers may not treat individuals differently because of their place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, or because they look or sound "foreign." - Ms Richard

US labor laws protect all workers in the United States, regardless of immigration status, she said.

She states these protections include minimum wage and overtime, workplace health and safety and freedom from unlawful discrimination.

Obama's Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the United States

According to Ms. Richard, President Obama made Comprehensive Immigration Reform a centerpiece of his legislative agenda.

She says President Obama recently proposed a framework that would create a fair, effective and commonsense immigration system that lives up to US heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

What other countries can do protect the rights of the migrants

According to Ms. Richard, there are steps all countries can take to protect the human rights of migrants that cost nothing at all.

"One is to encourage our elected leaders to take every opportunity to counter negative public perceptions about migrants." - Ms. Richard

The US also emphasizes the contributions that migrants make to host societies in economic and other terms.

"In my own country this contribution has been immense." - Ms. Richard
She says the US conveys the message to the public that new arrivals will enhance rather than undermine the country's political-cultural ethos.

In addition, countries can also strenuously oppose measures that discriminate against migrants.

Ms. Richard also cites other countries can emphasize the cost to society of keeping undocumented migrants "underground," where they're vulnerable to unscrupulous employers, afraid to report crimes, and where billions in tax revenues are lost.

These are just some examples of what countries can do to protect the human rights of migrants, Ms. Richard said.

Ms. Richard also exolains that while States have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of their migration systems and the security of their borders, there are also important international obligations that provide protection to all persons, including migrants.

US On Mission To Protect Rights Of Migrants At All Cost

According to Ms. Richard, the United States 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, and 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.
  • More Than 214 Million Migrants Globally

    The United States has recognized more than 214 million migrants globally.

    More than three percent of the world's population is comprised of migrants.

    The United States' overarching migration mission is to protect and assist asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants, and to advance effective and humane international migration policies, in order to enhance stability and security and promote human rights.

    US works through multilateral institutions, including the International Organization for Migration, and bilateral partnerships promotes international practices that respect the dignity and human rights of all migrants.

    Aside from engaging in multilateral policy forums, the US plays a critical role in assisting the world's most vulnerable migrants who have been affected by humanitarian crises.

    The United States is proud to support the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the many other organizations that work on behalf of refugees worldwide.

    In December 2011, the United States announced an initial contribution of $125 million toward the 2012 operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    U.S. funding supports the provision of water, shelter, food, healthcare, and education to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other persons under UNHCR's care and protection in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Pakistan, Georgia, South Sudan, Chad, and Kenya. The contribution will support UNHCR's Annual and Supplementary Program activities listed below:

    In 2011, the United States ultimately contributed more than $690 million to UNHCR through multiple tranches, a figure which included funding for on-going operations as well as special appeals for emergencies.

    Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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