On December 18 we celebrate International Migrants Day, an occasion when we reflect upon the many ways that migrants enrich our cultures, economies, and societies, while also calling for greater respect for the human rights of all migrants.
Perhaps like no other time in modern history – the world is on the move - with over 232 million migrants crossing national borders in 2015 to seek jobs, join families, study, invest, and contribute cutting edge research. Migrants come from and travel to all corners of the globe and migration represents an inexorable process that began long before current borders were drawn and will continue far into the future.
Most migration is routine, and includes temporary workers, international students, and expatriate residents. Migrants make important contributions both to their countries of destination, where they fill critical labor shortages, and countries of origin, where their remittances fuel economic growth.
Migrants’ contributions in the United States are striking. More than 40 percent of our high-tech companies have been founded by immigrants or their children. The list includes Google, eBay, and Intel. First and second generation immigrants have won 65 percent of U.S. Nobel Prizes, and account for one-third of our physicists, engineers, and doctors, 60 percent of our construction workers, and the majority of agricultural workers. Migrants to the United States take risks, work hard, invest and innovate.
Unfortunately, heated political rhetoric has all too often obscured the benefits and exaggerated the risks of migration. All countries should work to dispel unfounded fears and counter xenophobia. Regardless of their legal status or nationality, migrants should be treated humanely.
“Our own nation is built upon migrants’ dreams. Their daring, their striving, and their freedom to imagine a better future, has fueled our own prosperity and become an indispensable part of our heritage and national character,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.
The United States is a nation that has offered freedom and opportunity to migrants from around the world. And we hope the international community will work to make migration safer, more orderly, and more lawful, for the benefit of all. All countries should seek to share the American migration experience, which has shown that our nation, economy, and society is stronger due to our ability to welcome all forms of migrants to our shores. At the same time, the United States reaffirms its commitment to assisting the world’s vulnerable migrants and to working toward safe, orderly, and regular migration policies for the benefit of all.