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Critical Perspectives in the Approach to International Forced Migrations

Guillermo Castillo Ramírez

Tuesday 30 April 2024, posted by Guillermo Castillo Ramírez

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International forced migrations are associated with processes of unequal development between countries with different levels of income and socio-material development, as well as with dynamics of spatial redistribution of population (particularly mobility of workers) across different borders and with the strategies of social groups in precarious conditions to improve their lives.

Given the complexity of these processes and the diversity of actors and institutions involved, critical approaches are required in the treatment of migration.

Criticism requires several levels of analytical depth.

On the one hand, as a diagnosis of the situation of the subjects involved in these processes, and of the dynamics and contexts that produce these social phenomena. Particularly, some economic and political processes related to the production of expulsion contexts stand out: (1) the real deterioration of wages and the precariousness of material living conditions related to neoliberal capitalism (and the concentration of wealth); (2) the debacle of the exercise of social rights (work, health, education, housing, etc.) with the fading of the welfare state.

On the other hand, as a historical-political position that not only understands the structural causes of these processes, but also questions the dynamics of violence, exclusion, and marginalization that migrations imply. In addition, it configures a reading that contributes to pointing out the measures and actions to attack the economic-political and violent processes that produce migrations.

Finally, recognizing the diversity of institutions and actors that make up the migratory processes, and the asymmetrical power relations between those involved.

In this sense, it is necessary to have a framework that considers the following processes.

 First. Following the proposals of the political economy of migration and the debate between migration and development, it is necessary to address the macro structural conditions (local, national, and regional) that generate the adverse contexts of expulsion; and that refer to urgent needs such as sufficiently remunerated wages, well-paid jobs, access to violence-free environments and social rights (such as health, social security, etc.).

 Second. In the context of the development of neoliberal capitalism, consider the genesis of the socioeconomic and political processes that force migrants to leave against their will (such as the increase in inequality, the increase in poverty, violence and insecurity, the precariousness of material living conditions).

 Third. Analyze how these causes of expulsion are interpreted by the forced migrants themselves. It is essential to understand based on what perceptions and evaluations of these causes people decide to migrate.

 Fourth. Considering the approaches of the autonomy of migrations, to create a basic framework on migrant populations that, beyond being conceived only as passive collectives subordinated to macroeconomic processes and to a mechanical determinism, are subjects that, with capacity for action and diverse resources and knowledge, decide to migrate to improve their lives, questioning and facing their adverse living conditions, and more than the global and regional logics of capital and the dynamics of accumulation.

 Fifth. To see migrations as processes with different stages and characterized by processes of exclusion and violence in the countries of origin, transit, and destination.

 Sixth. To make visible and question migration policies and discourses that criminalize migrants and conceive them as transgressors of the law. Migration control processes in transit and destination countries cannot be based on "national security" approaches that systematically violate the human rights of irregularized migrants.

 Seventh. To counteract the political, biased, and uninformed use of migration (and the stigmatization of migrants) to obtain electoral gains and advantages (as Trump and the Republicans do in the US context). Nor is it valid to see migration as subordinate and determined by other issues of international relations and geopolitical interest (such as the governments of Central and North American countries that align themselves with the US regional anti-immigration policy to avoid economic sanctions and/or obtain political benefits).

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