Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 283 | Febrero 2005



Hundreds of Thousands of Migrants ...But No Migration Policies

They leave because they have no hope or expectations at home. And whether they’re en route, live abroad illegally, got residency status or just returned home, the government ignores them. They barely exist. They aren’t mentioned in presidential messages or national dialogues and only occasionally appear in public policies. The only thing that really counts is the money they send back, which is a key factor in sustaining the country nowadays.

José Luis Rocha

Nicaragua is very lazy about ratifying international agreements. If it were just a matter of signing, our Presidents would spring forward, pen at the ready, and no protocol, convention or agreement would be without Nicaragua’s resplendent signature. But as ratification implies turning an international convention into national law and bringing all existing related legislation into line with the provisions of the signed convention, the process no longer seems so simple or festive.

A lot left to ratify

Nicaragua has yet to sign 19 of the 43 international agreements that either directly or tangentially affect migrants. It is followed in this legislative sloth by El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala, which respectively have yet to ratify 18, 15 and 11 agreements. Mexico and Costa Rica, by contrast, have only 8 left to ratify, despite the fact that the former country is a transit route for migrants heading north to the United States and the latter a migrant receptor country. The Central American record for legal negligence in this respect is Honduras, with 21 non-ratified agreements, but even that figure pales into insignificance compared to the United States itself, world champion in self-legislating and legislating for others, which has not ratified 32 agreements related to this issue.

The Nicaraguan state demonstrated no hesitation about ratifying the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, because that gesture earned a satisfied nod from Uncle Sam. But it’s still dragging its feet on transforming the following migration-related international agreements (among others) into national law: Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea; Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons; Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; ILO Convention No. 97 on Migration for Employment; ILO Convention No. 143 on Migrations in Abusive Conditions and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity and Treatment of Migrant Workers; Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Inter-American Convention on International Traffic in Minors; and Inter-American Convention on Territorial Asylum.

“Poor dollars”

When the Nicaraguan government thinks about migrants, dollar signs flash into its eyes like a two-digit slot machine. It may also think about the possibility of mitigating unemployment. The UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLA) estimates that Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica and the United States sent US$320 million back home as cash remittances to relatives in 2000. Even this amount, which some consider conservative, represents 13.4% of Nicaragua’s gross domestic product and 34% of total exports for that year. And the amounts have steadily increased since then.

The Nicaraguan government has no trouble perceiving the economic opportunity represented by these remittances, but it rarely accepts any responsibility for challenging the human rights violations associated with the emigrants’ transit, their status as undocumented immigrants, the xenophobia they have to face and their working conditions and access to social benefits. Some multilateral organizations—followed by international cooperation agencies and NGOs—get fired up just thinking about the investments that could be made with this unexpected manna falling from the US and Costa Rican “heaven” to those living in Nicaragua’s hellish conditions. Reinforcing neoliberal strategy, they organize forums, finance studies and summon policy designers to economic conclaves to conjure up schemes to harness family remittances, including promoting micro-businesses that use them, or the creation of community funds or 2-for-1 programs (one dollar from the central government and another from the local government for every dollar sent home by an emigrants’ association). As in many other countries without many alternatives for salvation, Nicaragua’s hopes rest on “poor dollars.”

Poor dollars have no face, pain or story

Stripped of their human story and dressed only in cold figures, remittances are never presented as what they originally add up to: an impressive manifestation of family and, occasionally, community solidarity. The worst problem is that only limited thought has gone into formulating policies to cultivate such “poor dollars,” and then only within the value framework of those who presume everything to be ruled by a rational financial logic.

Remittances are nothing more than a faceless providential gift to these policy formulators. They have no pain or story. The emigrants who send them home are just an accident, men and women who leave at their own will and their own risk and who, through no fault of the policy-makers, sometimes return courtesy of the migration departments operating in the countries of both transit and destination. The vicissitudes of those thousands of compatriots are alien to the policy designers, who, feeling no responsibility for their plight, put up no real fight to regularize their migratory status or ensure their basic rights. The Nicaraguan government has done nothing in response to the imminent passing of Costa Rica’s new Migration Law—which essentially criminalizes migrations—other than perhaps to prepare Central Bank workers to revise the calculated flow of remittances. Another dramatic example that not even Ripley would believe is that those responsible for migration in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Office of Human Rights Defense Attorney know nothing about the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, a basic UN instrument for guaranteeing the exercise of migrants’ rights.

The climate of increasingly precarious labor in which remittances are generated is not without its winners, however. Businesses in the countries of destination exploit the migrants’ insecure situation and even help reinforce it, as it allows them to dodge their obligations as employers. Although improved security would positively affect the remittance flow to Nicaragua, not even the government’s fondness for the remittances let alone those who send them is sparking it to come up with long-term solutions.

Amnesty: The only thing they applaud

The successive Nicaraguan governments have limited themselves to applauding the amnesties that occasionally come our way as “gifts” rather than anything negotiated or instigated by our authorities. Like other Central American governments, ours throws great celebrations every time Washington extends the Temporary Protection Status (TPS), a program offered to countries affected by natural disasters or armed conflicts that allows their emigrants to stay legally in the United States. On December 29, 1998, two months after the passage of Hurricane Mitch, former President Bill Clinton granted TPS to Honduras and Nicaragua, which halted the deportation of their emigrants and thus helped both the countries and the emigrants’ families during the emergency. It has already been extended six times.

In November of that same year, for much the same reason, the Costa Rican government announced during a presidential summit in San Salvador that it would grant a general amnesty for all irregular Central American emigrants in its country. For a variety of reasons, the amnesty was not applied until February 1, 2000, by which time many more emigrants, encouraged by the announcement, had crossed into Costa Rica. Between February 1 and July 31 of the same year, the amnesty granted temporary and potentially renewable residence status good for a year to 155,318 immigrants, 97% of them Nicaraguans.

So far, amnesties have been forged by wars and natural disasters. Regardless of their causes or authors, though, amnesties are only an ephemeral palliative. They don’t deal with important aspects of Nicaragua’s migratory problem and hence don’t exempt the government from negotiating policies that seek long-term solutions with the countries of transit and destination. Nor do they exempt it from formulating national legislation and coherent programs with international demands that respond to the different requirements and needs of migrant or returnee citizens.

In transit and defenseless:
Women are the most vulnerable

An efficient and coherent migration effort supposes, among other things, differentiated attention for migrants’ different categories, statuses or stages. Migrants in transit, for example, have different needs than those trying to assimilate into their new country. Other possible variables that come into play here include language barriers, xenophobic legislation or an accentuated ethnic gap.

Migrants in transit require special attention. Both men and women who decide to abandon Nicaragua frequently fall prey to some form of abuse from authorities or common criminals. Various factors increase their vulnerability: carrying money to cover travel and lodging costs; the need to kep a low profile; unfamiliarity with the geography and social-cultural scene they are passing through; inability to recognize the different authorities and their areas of responsibility; ignorance of their own most basic rights; and the need to resort to unscrupulous agents who employ means that are illegal and extremely risky for the migrants.

Honduras, Guatemala and, above all, Mexico comprise the long vertical frontier that Nicaraguans must cross to reach the United States. Many disappear or are apprehended, murdered or forced into prostitution along the way. Inevitably, women are the most vulnerable. It is essential for the Nicaraguan government to get together with the other Central American governments and negotiate agreements with Mexico that guarantee the rights of migrants in transit. Guatemala is the only country in the region to have done so up to now, and the agreements it has signed are interesting. Consular protection and the creation throughout the region of efficient mobile consulates representing the Central American countries could play a significant role here.

Bands of human traffickers

The Regional Conference on Migration has stressed the fight against illegal trafficking of migrants. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has done case studies on this phenomenon, presenting migrants as victims of “coyotes” (traffickers) and their networks, persistently described as being linked to drug trafficking and organized crime. The IOM studies insist that international bands organized around trafficking migrants operate throughout the world.

Nicaragua is a country of easy transit thanks to agreements by the Nicaraguan migration authorities to eliminate visa requirements for a number of different nationalities, most of them South American and Caribbean. Beneficiaries include Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Colombians, Cubans and Dominicans, as well as Nigerians, Somalis, Chinese, Indians and Nepalese. Article 21 of the Nicaraguan Law to Control the Trafficking of Illegal Migrants (Law 240), passed in November 1996, condemns any foreigner entering the country illegally to detention for three months followed by deportation. The same law establishes four-eight years in prison and the equivalent of US$600-3,000 in fines for the traffickers. In practice, of course, only those trafficked rather than the traffickers have actually been captured, tried and punished.

The Nicaraguan Network of Civil Society Organizations on Migration is currently promoting the reform of Law 240 to bring it into line with international norms that do not discriminate against the rights of undocumented migrants. The main reasons behind this initiative are the precarious situations that encourage migrants to seek better living conditions abroad and the fact that Nicaragua is a migrant-emitting country, which makes it inconsistent to maintain a dual policy defending the rights of co-nationals abroad and violating those of migrant foreigners passing through or trying to settle in Nicaragua.

Not all coyotes are bad

Not even traffickers should be pigeonholed. The association of human traffickers with drug traffickers should not be generalized, as the trafficking of migrants is neither monopolized nor even dominated by networks. Insistence on this link and other criminalizing statements tends to disguise the fact that the illegal trafficking of migrants is largely practiced by people, including relatives of would-be migrants, who operate in an isolated and relatively unsystematic way.

This suggests that a proper policy should not emphasize an indiscriminate fight against traffickers. An effort must be made to differentiate this heterogeneous world of people who facilitate migrant transit, ranging from simple security guards and drivers to guides who cover the whole journey. And even among these players, a distinction should be made between those motivated by profit and those providing a community service. Presenting all traffickers as linked to criminal smuggling and drug trafficking networks only plays along with the political abuse of migratory control and the criminalizing migration ideology maintained by the recipient countries.

Little mention is made of the fact that illegal trafficking and traffickers prosper precisely when the migration controls and barriers are at their most severe and criminalizing. The more controls there are, the more migrants have to pay and the worse risks they have to run along the way. The more rigid and extensive the surveillance by migration authorities, the more likely that the transit will take place in inhospitable places where migrants are often easy prey to abuse and robbery perpetrated by common criminals and even their own guides.

Returnees: A specific category
requiring specific policies

Whether forced back or not, returnees are another category deserving of specific policies. But we have set a dreadful precedent in this area. The repatriation of Nicaraguans in the early nineties began with the signing of the peace accords and end of the war caught the new Nicaraguan government completely unprepared. There were no relocation programs or precautions for handling the social and environmental conflicts caused by the clash between the sometimes-abrupt appearance of settlements and land-use guidelines.

The Chamorro government had no policies, financial resources or institutional infrastructure of its own for coping with the postwar return and reinsertion of large flows of refugees and internally displaced people—who could not always go “home” because their houses and plots of land had often been occupied during their absence or even reassigned by the government. Rather than adopt the joint reinsertion programs designed by the Sandinista government and international agencies in the UN-sponsored framework of CIREFCA (International Conference on Central American Refugees), it left those agencies to carry out their side of the bargian alone. Some returnees settled in areas previously declared as forestry reserves, becoming a visible problem. The situation was further complicated by the fact that many were indigenous people (Miskitos and Mayangnas). Another problem was that some of those who laid down their arms settled with their relatives on lands that in addition to having been demarcated as biological reserves had also traditionally been occupied by Mayangnas, now organized as forest rangers by German cooperation. The violence that broke out between the reestablished Mayangnas and the new settlers, whose relationship with forest resources is far more depredatory than the rangers’ brief not to mention their own culture permitted, could have been avoided with a more far-sighted policy.

When returnees are deported…

Deportees will presumably acquire a greater weight among the returnees from both the United States and Costa Rica, the two main destinations of Nicaraguan migrants. Although Nicaragua has been less affected by deportations and has benefited more from naturalization in the United States than its Central American neighbors, deportations may start to multiply due to the rising volume of migrants and toughening up of migration policies in the countries of transit and destination. This tendency is turning Mexico into a very fine filter and the United States into a more inclement expeller.

The number of Nicaraguans deported from Mexico has been on the rise, from 1,396 in 2002 to 2,043 in 2003 and 1,564 only up to August 2004. But these figures shrink to nothing against Mexico’s deportations of other Central Americans in 2003: 81,361 Guatemalans, 58,630 Hondurans and 28,318 Salvadorans. Such figures are symptomatic of how Mexico’s migration policies have been toughened up and border controls strengthened over the last 30 years to filter and reduce the number of Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States. The number of Nicaraguans deported is probably higher than these figures suggest, given that many Central Americans, hoping to reduce the costs of their next attempt to reach the States, pass themselves off as Guatemalans to avoid being returned further south.

Between 1998 and 2002, the United States naturalized 4.5 Nicaraguans and granted residency to 14 others for every one it deported. In contrast, just 2 Salvadorans and 1 Guatemalan benefited from residency for every one of their co-nationals deported. Although Nicaragua has a relatively favorable position in this respect compared to the rest of Central America, there are indications that US deportations are rising, which means that the issue should start to appear on the agenda. While only 1,585 Nicaraguans were deported from the United States between 1992 and 1996 for an average of 317 a year, 5,026 were detained for deportation between 1998 and 2002, an average of 1,000 a year. However, even the latter figure pales alongside the annual average of 12,728 Hondurans, 11,215 Salvadorans and 7,934 Guatemalans captured for deportation during the same period.

Are they welcomed home?

Our main emigration flow now is not to the United States, however, but to Costa Rica. In this neighboring country, the deportation of Nicaraguans dropped to 17 in 1998, having reached 1,686 in 1996, but rose again to 822 in 2000. Some of those defined as rejections, a category Costa Rican authorities often use to process the repatriation of Nicaraguans they expel, should also be added to these figures. It actually works out better for the “rejects” because, unlike deportees, they are not prohibited from re-entering Costa Rica for the next ten years. According to Costa Rican Migration Department figures, 308,942 Nicaraguans were rejected between 1995 and 2000, and 45,206 in 2004.

The relevance of any returnee policy on the government agenda should not be determined exclusively by the volume and increase of deportations, however. Other, more qualitative aspects need to be considered, such as thos associated with the difficulty of reintegrating, technology transfer, the relationship between returnee communities and the environment, the cultural changes introduced by returnees into their communities and their active participation in the social dynamics.

El Salvador has been implementing a “Welcome Home” program since 1999. Formally known as the Program of Attention to Salvadoran Immigrants (PAIS), Welcome Home is classified as an emergency program. Its aim is to provide immediate attention to Salvadoran citizens deported from the United States, guarantee their reincorporation into the labor market and offer them psychosocial and medical attention.

The program, set up by a commission including representatives from the Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries, the IOM, the Don Bosco University, the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA), Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Archbishopric, the American Church of El Salvador and the National Association of Private Enterprise (ANEP), involves complementary activities implemented by different organizations. A similar initiative could be promoted in Nicaragua. A repatriation policy including attractive offers to encourage migrants to return home and insert themselves back into the country’s production could help Nicaragua recover the human capital it previously lost. It can be assumed that many of those people have acquired greater knowledge and skills, and even new attitudes, whether for better or worse, during their time abroad.

Nica migrant workers in Costa Rica
have an undeserved bad rep

In his examination of the migrant labor supply, Argentine academic and IOM official Lelio Mármora distinguishes between supplementary labor (migrants who work in jobs for which not enough native workers are qualified), complementary labor (migrants working in jobs rejected by native workers in search of better positions), additional labor (migrants who accept low-wage jobs rejected by native workers), competitive labor (migrants who compete for the same jobs as native workers when the latter could satisfy the demand) and marginal labor (migrants who create informal jobs off the supply-and-demand axis).

The indiscriminate statements playing up the negative role of Nicaraguan labor in Costa Rica, accusing it of having supposedly competitive or marginal effects, lack any real foundation. The Nicaraguan government should set the record straight on the incorporation and effects of Nicaraguan labor in the market to stop the Costa Rican government from adopting simplistic migration policies to respond to the dangerous net correlation between the number of immigrants and the number of unemployed Costa Ricans.

The incorporation of seasonal Nicaraguan labor has historically had a supplementary, complementary and additional effect on various branches of the Costa Rican economy. Migrant Nicaraguan workers have a long history of supplementing the limited Costa Rican labor supply during coffee harvests. The extensive area cultivated in Costa Rica from 1960 onwards together with the productivity jump increased the demand for coffee pickers. In the eighties, Central American refugees temporarily covered this demand, but they returned home as the armed conflict in their respective countries ended; to the great alarm of Costa Rican businesspeople, the shortage of coffee pickers reemerged. The “permanent” solution came in the form of Nicaraguan migrants.

Migration experts calculate that some 105,000 Nicaraguans migrated temporarily to Costa Rica in 2000, and this figure has been rising year after year. It is also estimated that the Costa Rican agro-export sector seasonally absorbs around 60,000 Nicaraguan workers, who arrive according to the different harvest times for sugar cane, coffee, bananas, melons, etc. Some studies suggest that 75% of Costa Rica’s agricultural work is done by workers of Nicaraguan origin. The Nicaraguan work force on banana plantations alone often represents about 40% of the total.

Various bilateral initiatives

Given the proven importance of Nicaraguan migrant labor, Costa Rica has been involved in bilateral efforts with Nicaragua to move beyond migratory amnesties. In 1993, during President Calderón Fournier’s administration, the Costa Rican Labor Ministry established the Framework Agreement for Migrant Labor, which sought to produce a strong and enduring impact. While originally aimed at temporary Nicaraguan agricultural sector workers, particularly coffee pickers and sugar cane cutters, it was later extended to the construction and domestic work sectors when it became apparent that barely 10% of Nicaraguan seasonal workers were migrating under the agreement.

Later, under the same agreement, the administration of José María Figueres created the Work Card (decree 141 of July 26, 1995), to regulate the mainly Nicaraguan workers employed in seasonal agricultural labor. In just over a year, 27,300 Nicaraguans applied to the Migration Department for the special “passport” required to obtain the card.

But the card did not fulfill its objectives, in part because the application requirements substantially reduced the number of beneficiaries; most Nicaraguans lacked the original birth certificates or other forms of identification essential to getting the special passport. In addition, the slow and complicated application process increased the transaction costs, while Costa Rican employers offered no advantages to workers who migrated under the agreement rather than doing so undocumented. Convinced of the agreement’s inefficiency, the Costa Rican government suspended it in 1997. Could this agreement be reactivated, improving some of its mechanisms in the light of lessons learned from the first attempt?

Promoting temporary permits as one way to regulate seasonal migration could offer migrants a chance to obtain work, a wage and social protection without the tensions and risks they face as undocumented migrants both en route and in the country of destination, and would provide employers with suitable and timely labor in return for complying with their obligations as employers. The Nicaraguan government, meanwhile, could set up the appropriate channels for satisfying its population’s work demands and guaranteeing the rights of its citizens abroad. Costa Rica, the United States and even Canada and other countries could satisfy their labor demand, offering equal conditions to nationals and foreigners and reducing the previous cost of implementing migration controls.

The Nicaraguan government could also ensure access to different services for its temporary migrants. We wouldn’t be the first to try it. Guatemala’s Social Security Institute and its Public Health and Social Assistance Ministry are implementing what they call the Program for the Social Protection of Migrant Agricultural Workers. With the support of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, this program seeks to satisfy the demand of temporary migrant workers for health services both at home and abroad. As of 2002, the program had benefited 50,000 migrant workers, their wives and children under five years old.

Who responds to the problems of
migrants who have already settled?

Costa Rica’s 2000 census registered 226,374 Nicaraguans residing in the country. That figure only includes those who declared they had been residing or were planning to reside in the country for over six months. Given that it does not include undocumented or seasonal migrants as well as the fact that undocumented migrants tend to avoid censuses for obvious reasons, it is safe to assume that the Nicaraguan presence is somewhat higher. Between 1984 and 2000, Nicaraguans included in the census increased their representation from 1.9% to almost 6% of the Costa Rica’s overall population and from 51.62% to 76.36% of the total number of foreigners living in the country, and their weight was significantly higher than the national average in some Costa Rican provinces, particularly Alajuela and Guana-caste, where Nicaraguans respectively account for 88.6% and 86.8% of all foreigners. In Alajuela, they represent almost 8% of the total inhabitants and in the capital San José nearly 7%.

Neighborhoods like La Carpio in San José have virtually become Nicaraguan territory; according to the 2000 census, 49.1% of its 13,866 inhabitants were Nicaraguan. But while the number of migrants settling in Costa Rica is up, the same cannot be said of their ability to exercise their rights. Different studies have often shown that employers tend not to report migrants to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, and denunciations of such anomalies are rare because undocumented Nicaraguans assume that their irregular migratory situation excludes them from social security benefits. According to the Fund, even 40.5% of the Nicaraguans recorded in the 2000 census are uninsured.

The situation is still more serious for women, who tend to find themselves at the bottom of the labor pyramid and prone to lower wages. Female Nicaraguan domestic workers in Costa Rica are paid nearly 32% under what their Costa Rican counterparts earn. Many of them remain undocumented for years, living as virtual recluses in their places of work because they don’t have documents even proving they are Nicaraguan citizens.

Established emigrants face many problems as well, including the high cost of consular services, discrimination, socio-cultural adaptation, limited communication with relatives back home, lack of documentation, informal labor status, low wages, etc. Again, there are possible solutions. With civil society support, the consulates could offer a number of different services, such as information, identity card and permit applications and denunciations to the Ministry of Labor and the Residents’ Ombudsman. Other Central American consulates have had successful experiences with similar initiatives. The Program for Attention to Salvadoran Communities Abroad—run by El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry—aims to facilitate communication, joint-work and protection mechanisms for its nationals abroad.

The spirit of Morazán reduced to the CA-4

Migrants from border regions are a special group. The productive development and exploitation of what are known as “cross-border” communities should be part of the agenda of bilateral negotiations. The border region between Nicaragua and Costa Rica—including the departments of Rivas and Río San Juan in Nicaragua and Guanacaste in Costa Rica, and the towns of Cárdenas and Los Chiles among many others—is a case in point. Regardless of which side of the dividing line they actually live on, the inhabitants have relatives of both nationalities and common commercial relations and use state and private services from both countries. Formal recognition of this situation, which has established a bi-national arena with fertile interrelations, would be a basic step towards multiplying the benefits and paving the way towards other agreements.

Unfortunately, Costa Rica has not yet joined even the functional initiative known as CA-4 (the 4 in question being El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), despite repeated invitations from the other Central American governments. According to minutes from the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM), Costa Rican officials tend to thank the other countries for their invitation, but make clear that “this is not an issue on our country’s agenda.” The CA-4—which OCAM considers its great success—is oriented towards facilitating the mobility of Central Americans, doing away with visas and requiring nothing more than their national identity card for travel purposes.

But the much-trumpeted regional integration hasn’t got much further when it comes to migration. The spirit of Morazán [Honduran-born General Francisco Morazán, champion of Central American unity during the early Independence period, was President of the briefly federated Central America] has remained limited to the CA-4, with little possibility of ever becoming CA-5 much less CA-7, were it to include not only Costa Rica but also Panama and Belize. All the Central American governments have united to fight those trafficking in undocumented migrants—as the United States pays the piper, it calls the tune—but have been unable to ratify and regionally adjust the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

US financing has also been eagerly received for the “Welcome Home” programs in Honduras and El Salvador, although such a sponsor surely sees them more as “Go Home” programs. Yet, Central American governments have made no effort to piece together a formal structure for the existing regional labor markets. Nicaragua is one of the most backward countries in this and other respects, slothful when it comes to designing policies for each category corresponding to its thousands of migrants.

Where to start?

Many people—politicians and public officials from recipient countries at the fore—fear that conventions and protocols to protect migrants’ rights could encourage a migratory avalanche and recognition of their irregular situation. They believe such legislation would only serve to bolster the migrants and exponentially increase their numbers. They are blind to the complex problems facing each category of migrants. Perhaps that’s where things should start: gradually changing that opinion until they are convinced that human rights are the great migration-related issue and that such rights should be above and beyond any other consideration, whether linked to economics, politics, sovereignty or ideology, such as national security—in other words, above and beyond all restraints and excuses.

José Luis Rocha is a researcher at Nitlapán-UCA and a member of envío’s editorial council.

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