What Is the Link between Illegal Migration and Development?


Migration and development are intrinsically linked and this link can dictate the fate of illegal migrants or it can influence the perceptions of the community. Either way the link between migration and development needs further investigation and research on current methods and approaches. There are many stakeholders in the debate including governments, donors, the media and the community and each stakeholder has their own views and each is valid to their situations. Time effort and resource will be required to fully understand the linkages between migration and development and the benefits of an effective development programme to the country of origin and the country in which the illegal migrants arrive.

Current Discussions

There are three current discussions underway in regards to the link between migration and development. The first concerns the security of the host country and the need to discourage illegal migration that has the potential to place the country and people at a security risk.

The second discussion is centered on economic considerations of the host country. Is it more economic to provide development assistance to the existing country or to provide resource to illegal migrants in the host country? Evidence for World Bank and UN studies highlight that in economic terms it is preferable to implement a programme of development in the country or origin rather than providing accommodation, social services and food in the host country. The social disruption often caused by illegal migrants is often not built into the financial modeling but has an economic cost particularly in the areas of law enforcement and the legal system of resettlement or returning the illegal immigrant to their home country. Is it far more economical to ensure safe water and adequate sanitation or job creation programme in communities in Africa than to house, cloth and provide social services to 5,000 illegal refugees in an IDP camp in a host country?

The third discussion is based on a humanitarian and human rights platform. This discussion is centered on the rights of individuals to live in a peaceful environment and not be subjected to violence, abuse, internal and external conflict and/or poverty. This is often an argument used by civil society organizations and religious groups. It is based on the UN Charter of Human Rights and has a compelling focus. However the arguments used should be backed up by factual and economic data that supports the initiatives that some EU countries have implemented through their development programme to address the inequalities in countries of origins.


All three discussions are relevant to understanding the linkages between migration and development, however government policies and community perspective will play a significant role in the direction that migration and development occurs. There is no one answer and a combination of approaches is required to address and understand the linkages.


~ by medipmalta on August 26, 2009.

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