15M Brussels – position paper on migration and refugee
Only this year, more than 350,000 human beings that have lost everything arrived to our countries and 2,643 children, women and men drowned in the once named “mare nostrum”. In the face of this longstanding tragedy (now called “crisis“) the political and public debate mainly revolves around:
- Bargaining about how many hundreds of refugees each Member State is willing to host. Even when we know that these people will come anyway.
- What is the definition and subsequent legal status of refugees with respect to economic migrants, (re)creating divisions among ‘human beings who deserve protection’ and ‘human beings who do not’.
- Blindly delegate responsibilities to our states, indirectly ensuring that refugees are kept outside our borders and out of our sight.
As 15M Bruselas, a grass-root social movement born in Spain that challenges austerity and seeks real democracy, we deplore the fact that these debates oversimplify the reality and do not address the real roots of the problem. In our opinion we should rather:
- Question our governments on their deliberate strategy of externalisation, privatisation and militarisation of migration control and border management. A strategy which has led to the emergence of a very profitable “migration control business”, paid not only with public funds but also with people’s lives and physical integrity. All this accompanied with abusive concessions to non-democratic neighbouring countries with whom the EU and its Member States “cooperate”.
- Interrogate ourselves about the role of our countries through history -by arbitrary borders design, economic and political influence or even–as the flagrant examples of Libya and Iraq show- direct military intervention in the emergence of “failed states” where most refugees come from. The acts of our governments are directly related to the causes of migration and refugee.
- Understand that economic migration and asylum-seeking are just two sides of the same coin, which is a system that is increasingly pushing desperate human beings to risk their lives and those of their families to secure a decent life, even to just secure staying alive.
- Analyze international migration and refugee processes within the global framework of neoliberalism. Migration takes place within a context of economic exploitation where human rights are actually dependent on people’s usefulness for the market. This is also the case of the EU citizens being expelled from other EU Member States (such as Belgium) because they are considered a ‘burden’ for the state, as denounced by the platform ‘Europe 4 people’. The wrongly-called ‘economic crisis’ in the South of Europe is creating an important pool of cheap labour in search of work in other EU countries.
- Highlight that the economic exploitation is accompanied by ecological exploitation. The current ecological crisis is pushing people in the countryside to leave their homes to find jobs in the cities – as it was the case in Syria.
- Denounce the fact that the neoliberal system is also built upon gender inequalities and thus, migration is also gendered. As Pérez Orozco claims, we are currently living a ‘care crisis’ that is being partially but unfairly solved by the migration of thousands of women who come to our countries to take care of our children, our elderly and our sick people – leaving behind their own children, elderly and sick people. This is possible thanks to the free and completely invisible labour of women ‘in the South’ leading to global chains of care. We live in a market-centered system. Instead, we should build a system that places life at the centre.
- Connect the demands on democratic and civic rights with those on social rights in a common fight. We should avoid a destructive competition between nationals and foreigners, migrants and refugees; that will only result in social dumping and progressive losses in the rights of us all.
- Urge our states to comply with their international commitments and with basic humanity by ensuring that everyone on their territory is able to enjoy human rights.
- Participate in the very encouraging initiatives that are flourishing day after day, aiming at accompanying migrants and refugees by creating spaces for mutual exchanges, participation and common fights.