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.


Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues

Turn on the microphones! Five keys to giving youth a voice on migration issues
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Guest Contributor

Radio is still a medium that, especially in rural areas where access to the Internet is difficult, is still very much alive and shows itself to be an accessible alternative for the population. Whether in the car, in an app on the phone or in a device that only works with batteries in the most remote areas, the radio is there a few steps away and almost effortlessly. Entertaining us, informing us and accompanying our daily activities. From the largest cities to the most sparsely populated municipalities, radio is an industry that generates jobs and is vital for the dissemination of mass messages to a wide variety of audiences.

How can radio be harnessed as an avenue to empower young people about migration?

After seeing the high impact that this media has on the culture of our communities, these are some actions to be taken that will allow us to bring the message of regular, orderly and safe migration to a youth who may be victims of crimes associated with irregular migration:

  • Find out about community radio or radio stations in your city: This will help you to know all the spaces that exist within the community and to identify the audiences they are aimed at in order to choose the right channel that connects with young people.
  • Identify young leaders in their communities with communication skills: There is no better way to communicate with youth than through voices they can empathize with and identify with.
  • Create content that connects: Talking about migration does not require a serious or monotonous tone. Try to create short but effective messages with easy to understand language and prioritizing the use of storytelling instead of communicating concepts.
  • Create your own online radio station: The radio has undergone a significant evolution in recent years and proof of this is that the number of Internet radio stations has been increasing, which has led to the democratization of radio. You no longer need big budgets to have your own radio station and broadcast different contents 24 hours a day, this is a good alternative if there are not or do not have access to have space on traditional radio stations.
  • Develop empowering initiatives: Young people possess many talents: dynamism, fast learning and, of course, a lot of creativity. Therefore generating training spaces on radio production issues will help to discover hidden talents and form new opinion leaders, without leaving behind the importance of also empowering them on migration issues, this will allow them to transmit better messages that promote a safe, orderly and regular human mobility and will help them themselves to make better decisions regarding migration.

A success story of such activities is 'Youth on the Airwaves', a workshop on radio and migration that harnesses the energy of young people who are leaders in their communities and shows them the potential of the radio industry as a method of generating livelihoods and making their voices heard.

As a product of this initiative, the young people created their own radio spots to promote a better informed migration, from the ideation of the creative concept, script development, voice-over practice, recording and editing, in all these processes they received the support of both IOM staff and a team of experts in radio production.

A few years ago, former United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon stressed that "radio is very important to make the voice of youth heard, it stimulates the imagination and shortens the distances between people". One more reason to bring the media closer and generate spaces for youth in order to disseminate messages aimed at providing the population with sufficient and verified information that will allow them to make better decisions before embarking on a migratory route.