Irregular Migrant

Some people can obtain a visa before fleeing to another country and applying for asylym. For many reasons, other people cross a state border without a visa; because there is no time to prepare, the state restricts freedom of movement, or they need to disapear without warning to protect others. Before applying for asylum, displaced people outside their country are irregular migrants.

States have the sovereign right to manage their borders and also the responsibility to comply with international human rights law. With the increasing criminalisation of irregular migration globally, it is important to remember that regardless of whether people were forced to migrate to seek protection, or whether people migrate to improve economic prospects, there is no such thing as a illegal human being.   

Mixed migration is a term reflecting that displaced people often share the journey with other irregular migrants who also have few alternatives in their journey to a better life, as UNCHR notes here.

States have protection responsibilities within mixed migration, particularly with refugees and stateless people. Often, irregular migrants eek out a living on the streets or are detained in immigration detention. So, occupational opportunities as a determinant of health, and access to health care for irregular migrants is extremely vulnerable.

Occupational opportunities and health care are human needs, and human rights. All humans are rights holders. We are all, in one way or another, and especially governments, duty bearers with the responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) makes it clear these rights are derived from inherent dignity of being human, and are not just a reflection of the relationship to a nation-state.

Solidarity Fella

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

Irregular migration when there is no protection framework

There is a growing awareness that climate change is rendering people vulnerable to displacement, there is no international protection framework. 

  • Migration can be seen as adaption to climate change 
  • Human rights are at stake long before people are displaced
  • Human rights and occupational needs are at risk in the country of destination because they have no legal status
  • The human rights and occupational needs of people left behind are usually overlooked
  • Some climate-induced displacement can be exacerbated by human action, inaction, to prevent or reduce the impact of climate change on exposed population
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