The first thing to know is that migration is not a problem to be solved; in fact, it is a powerful driver of sustainable development, for migrants and their communities. It brings significant benefits in the form of skills, strengthening the labor force, investment and cultural diversity, among others.

However, migration, especially when it is massive, involves challenges that, if properly managed, can turn these migratory movements into a source of growth for locals and newcomers. The challenge of managing migration has grown dramatically over the past few decades as more and more people are driven to move out of their homes by diverse economic, political, social and environmental factors.

To start with, most migratory movements are regular: they take place legally through regulator channels and legal means. By contrast, irregular migration occurs when a person enters, stays or works in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations.

Migration is a social phenomenon caused by a broad variety of reasons including the search for better economic or educational opportunities, the desire for family reunification, climate change or disasters.

However, migration that is not safe, orderly and regular results in problems that the world is currently seeing unfold, like the thousands of migrants that have died or gone missing along dangerous migration routes; or the proliferation of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

In response to the growth of irregular migratory movements many countries are looking towards border control as a solution: closing ports of entry to deter migration.

It is true that efficient border management policies and tools, help prevent irregular migration, dismantle organized criminal networks, and protect the rights of migrants. They are an essential part of migration governance, but not the only part.

Beyond border control, countries can approach migration from a holistic point of view which seeks to take advantage of its potential to boost countries´ economy while also addressing the risks of the process and the causes that drive people out of their countries.

Here are a few recommendations based on IOM’s Migration Governance Framework:

  • Countries should promote stability, education and employment opportunities and reduce the drivers of forced migration, including by promoting resilience, thereby enabling individuals to make the choice between staying or migrating.
  • The collection, analysis and use of credible data and information on, among other things, demographics, cross-border movements, internal displacement, diasporas, labor markets, seasonal trends, education and health is essential to create policies based on facts, that weighs the benefits and risks of migration.
  • Regional cooperation, can help minimize the negative consequences of migration and preserve its integrity. It can also contribute to regional and global development goals by improving human capital through sustainable development and ensuring longer-term economic growth.

Migration has the potential to bring positive socioeconomic outcomes for both society and migrants. For countries to reap these benefits, their policies and practices need to advance the socioeconomic wellbeing of migrants and society, while adhering to adherence to international standards that respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals within a state’s territory without discrimination based on nationality, race, gender, religion or migration status.