Discussing migration is without a doubt incredibly important, nonetheless we should never forget to also analyze the way in which we view migration.
When we look at people around us, we can see infinite diversity; however, when we think about migrants, the first thing that comes to our mind is the image of a “young man, mestizo, and heterosexual”. We must therefore put an end to the idea that migration is something homogeneous. We have to realize, that the diversity we see around us is a reflection of migration considering that the diversity of people around us is the same that makes up migration.
By understanding that migration flows are dynamic, changing, and diverse, we will be able to understand that the needs of people tangled up in this system are all different.
As an example; among the 147,370 repatriated migrants from Mexico in 2016 there were more than 34,000 children and adolescents, including 2,015 unaccompanied or children separated from their families aged between 0 and 11. This case about migrant children, helps us to understand how different the profiles of people needing specific care assistance are. Keeping this premise in mind, we must consider the need for differentiated care measures for every individual migrant profile. As a result, there is a need to analyze migration issues and develop laws or regulations which take the broad range of profiles and protection needs into account as well as, attention and assistance needs.
One recommended tool can be found in the “IOM specialized course on migrant children” which addresses the many "lenses for analyzing diversity on migration". The following lenses allow us to “gain a better insight” on the needs and the differences of each migrant group.
Human rights lens: puts migrants at the core of our actions and priorities, acknowledging them as rights-holders.
Gender lens: highlights gender inequalities in our societies in order to design strategies geared towards/aimed at reducing them.
Diversity lens: helps us understand that any person’s life experience has uniquely shaped their sexual orientation and identity. Despite of these individuals representing a minority (not being binary or heterosexual) their realities of inequality and discrimination must be taken into consideration.
Interculturalist lens: enables us to realize that other cultures have a different understanding of the world. They also allow us to address those cultures in a respectful and empathetic manner.
The best interests of the child lens: as all human beings, children and adolescents are rights-holders. Depending on their maturity/age, they have different possibilities to exercise them – for instance, with assistance - but all decisions made for them must aim at their best interests.
Participation lens: making decisions based on a child’s best interest doesn’t mean putting the child’s opinions aside. It is much rather shows the need of them being informed and involved in the decision making process, so that they can understand the impact that different options can have on their future.
Progressive autonomy lens: we now recognize that migrants are not a homogenous group – neither are children and adolescents. Their background and maturity is what makes them so unique, which is why care assistance must be based on their particular situation.
The last three lenses are, in fact, fundamental principles of the Child Rights-based approach. However, I wanted to portray them as a part of this analogy so that but those of us, working with migrant children, can integrate all of the above described lenses into our work to improve our capacities to identify the needs of this population.
About the author:
Alex Rigol Ploettner trabaja actualmente para la OIM como Promotor Local en Tenosique, Tabasco, México. Anteriormente, se desempeñó en materia de derechos humanos en la Ciudad de México desde la sociedad civil, así como en materia económica en Guatemala con el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo -BID- . Es politólogo por la Universidad de Barcelona (UB) con una maestría en Relaciones Internacionales del Instituto de Barcelona de Estudios Internacionales (IBEI).