Three reasons to increase political participation of immigrants


We live in an era of unprecedented human mobility. Migration is growing at a higher pace than population growth rate. In a world population of 7.4 billion, more than 250 million are international migrants and an estimated of 750 million are internal migrants (DAES-UNDESA, 2015).

To meet the migration challenges, and to facilitate its proper governance, we should promote legislation contributing to the political participation of immigrants. In this regard, we face the need to develop, strengthen and improve mechanisms and spaces which will help migrant populations participate in public debates and in political decision-making. It is for many and good reasons to expand and strengthen existing mechanisms and spaces, but in this blog post we will address three:

  1. A human rights issue:

Immigrants have the right to political participation. The International Declaration of Human Rights sets out that every person across the world has, and must exercise, inalienable political rights. From a rights-based approach, we should promote legislation contributing to the political participation of immigrants to build a more inclusive society.

  1. Reciprocal benefits:

Some countries in the region have made progress by signing bilateral treaties, and through the principle of reciprocity, they ensure an equal treatment of citizens of both including their political participation rights. These agreements contribute to strengthening relations between two countries, and ultimately citizens in both countries benefit from that reciprocity.

  1. Inclusiveness enhance contributions of migration:

Migration will remain as the mega-trend of our century. Cities and municipalities will continue to receive the contributions of migrants. The scope of those contributions is conditional on the level of inclusion of migrants, who, as political actors, need a fair and a proper amount of political participation.

The political participation of immigrants should be promoted and supported both in their host and home countries. Host countries must develop options to increase the representation rate for immigrants in elected positions. For this reason, it is crucial for political parties to include migrants as candidates for elected office. It is also important to adopt and increase the scope of measures allowing foreign residents to vote in local and national elections in their receiving countries.

In fact, the “High Level Parliamentary Dialogue on Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean: Realities and Commitments towards Global Compact”, jointly organized by the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (PARLATINO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) took place in Panama City on June 9-10, 2017. It was an opportunity to discuss the current situation and the future prospects on the political participation of immigrants based on the new reality of the world we live in.

This “Dialogue” will contribute towards the construction of a Global Compact for a Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants – September 19, 2016), which represents a major contribution to global governance of migration and an increasing coordination between Member States on international migration issues. 



  About the author:

Marcelo Pisani is the Regional Director of IOM for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Mr. Pisani has 18 years of experience in project management, development of public policies, and in other areas related to fight poverty and the care of vulnerable populations in emergency situations. Previously he served as IOM's Chief of Mission in Colombia and Zimbabwe, and worked for the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is an architect of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.


How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?

How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?
Categoria: Immigration and Border Management
Autor: Guest Contributor

Thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and Central American refugees go north in search of better opportunities. Most of these people leave from Northern Central American countries (PNCA - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).

Some resort to irregular migration, exposing themselves to travel dangers and the restrictions that this implies if they manage to reach their country of destination. However, an IOM study in which more than 2,800 interviews were conducted showed that in NTCA 97% of migrants in transit make a great effort to obtain documents to regulate their stay in Mexico. In addition, between 59% and 70% of people would be willing to be involved in local education, employment or entrepreneurship opportunities, as an alternative to irregular migration.

Migrants who leave the NTCA when they reach the southern border of Mexico have 3 options to request their regular stay in this country:

1. Regional Visitor: allows a person to remain in Mexico for a period not exceeding 7 days in the States of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. The card is valid for 5 years, has no cost and does not allow paid activities.

2. Visitor Border Worker: for nationals of Belize and Guatemala, allows entry to the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. It is valid for one year and includes the right to perform remunerated activities. However, this option requires having a job offer in advance.

3. Visitor for Humanitarian Reasons: valid for one year with the possibility of renewal and is granted in the following situations:

  • Be a victim or witness a crime committed in Mexico.
  • Be an unaccompanied migrant child
  • Be an applicant for political asylum, recognition of refugee status or complementary protection of the Mexican State, as long as their migration status is unresolved.

The condition of a visitor's stay may also be authorized for humanitarian reasons when there is a humanitarian cause that necessitates its admission or regularization in the country. The requesting person has permission to perform paid activities.

For migrants who want to reach the northern border of Mexico, they can only continue their journey as irregular migrants. For them, the way to regularize their immigration status is through a Visitor Visa for Humanitarian Reasons, request a waiting number to be interviewed in the US and qualify for the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). They can also cross the border irregularly and present themselves to migration authorities in the United States, and be returned to Mexico, also under the MPP category.

Those who return to Mexico through the MPP can wait for their appointment and request asylum in the United States or in Mexico, or return to their countries of origin.

Mexico has the potential to offer job opportunities to migrants in programs like Sembrando Vida or projects such as the creation of the free zone in the border strip, the Mayan Train or the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in the state of Tabasco. For this, the visa options and conditions of regular stay for NTCA migrants must be strengthened and refined.

It is also essential that governments and organizations continue to strive to address the structural causes that force people to migrate, offer alternatives and continue to seek and support mechanisms that promote an orderly and safe migration.


Resources for migrants:

*IOM has resources to help people find out about regular migration options. The website provides information on regular migration channels and opportunities for local learning, work and entrepreneurship development. On the other hand, the MigApp mobile application provides information on protection, migration procedures and services.