Artwork done by children at a centre for migrant children in Tapachula, Mexico. Each year numerous minors, many of whom are unaccompanied, and travel across the Guatemala border into Mexico. Their age and lack of experience make them particular susceptible to being robbed, trafficked, or exploited by people who take advantage of their vulnerability. Photographed by Betsy Wier/CRS
Interview with Mary DeLorey at the Global Forum for Migration and Development
Mexico’s southern border sees around 150,000 irregular migrants from Central America every year. They are on their way to the United States where they hope to find jobs and economic security. They risk falling prey to smugglers and criminals who kidnap and extort but despite the dangers streams of migrants still take the chance.
It seems appropriate then that Puerto Vallarta in Mexico has been chosen to host this year’s Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Mary DeLorey, policy advisor for the Caribbean and Latin America with Catholic Relief Services (CRS – a US member of Caritas Internationalis) is at the Global Forum.
“Having the meeting in Mexico is important. For one thing, it means that church organisations have been able to highlight to governments just how violent migration through Mexico has become,” says Mary.
It is this mix of grassroots Church organisations, migration groups, governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), trade unions, labour organisations and research bodies, which makes the Global Forum an important annual appointment.
“The most positive aspect of the Forum is the fact that governments come together to engage in an overall global dialogue. For groups and individuals involved in migration issues, this is a motivating factor and means they will meet throughout the year to discuss and research an alternative vision to the one that exists,” says Mary.
Mary says that CRS uses the meeting as an opportunity to engage with the US Government. This year the Assistant Secretary of State is attending, which shows the level of engagement of the US Administration.
“This shows that President Obama wants to engage on a global level regarding migration. When it started a few years ago, the Global Forum wasn’t so important to the US Administration. Also, it’s hosted by Mexico and the relationship between the two countries is very important as Mexico is the largest source of migrants to the USA.”
The role of civil society has become increasingly important at the Global Forum. Mary says another change has been a greater emphasis on the right to development.
“There has been a shift away from the idea that remittances are going to save an economy as a substitute for a proper development strategy,” says Mary.
Other focuses at the meeting have been the issue of the rights of migrants, looking at migrant domestic workers and agricultural labourers, and the issue of temporary worker programmes and recruitment.
Mary says that the Forum is significant for the fact that it allows groups to build on relationships and gives them the incentive to provide concrete case studies and offer experiences which can be learnt from.
“National migration groups have access to an international audience at the Global Forum. When their own government isn’t responsive, they can approach other ones,” she says.
Mary says that the representatives of civil society attending the Global Forum this year are pretty dedicated to bringing about change.
“Civil society will continue to show their commitment to this issue because they work directly with the people for whom migration is becoming increasingly deadly and abusive. The Global Forum gives an opportunity to examine the way migration is handled and the fact that for many people it’s still a necessity rather than a choice,” says Mary.