How many migrants are there worldwide?
Since time immemorial, people have left their countries in search of a better life for themselves and their families. They leave for many reasons, including the desire for economic improvement and family reunification; and to escape war, civil conflict, and environmental degradation. According to the United Nations, there are more than 190 million migrants in the world today, constituting approximately 3% of the world’s population.
Why is migration significant to the United States?
From its inception, the United States has had a strong tradition of immigration. The United Nations estimates that 20% of the world’s migrants live in the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 37.5 million foreign-born persons lived in the country in 2006, representing about 12.5 percent of the entire U.S. population. Mexico-born immigrants accounted for 30.7 percent of all foreign-born residing in the United States in 2006, by far the largest immigrant group in the United States.
Between 2000 and 2005, 3.7 million immigrants chose to become citizens of the United States. In 2006, the total number of persons who “naturalized” was 702,589. The leading countries of birth of new citizens were Mexico (83,979), India (47,542), Philippines (40,500), China (35,387), and Vietnam (29,917).
According to the Department of Homeland Security, an estimated 12.1 million legal permanent residents (LPRs) lived in the United States in 2006. In 2007, a total of 1,052,415 persons became LPRs of the United States.
What are the Bureau's goals regarding international migration?
The United States supports safe, orderly and legal migration. Our policy on international migration focuses on the human rights of migrants, protection for asylum-seekers, opposition to uncontrolled and illegal migration, support for anti-trafficking efforts, and encouragement of the rapid and successful integration of legal immigrants.
One of the Bureau's strategies for advancing effective and humane migration policies is through regional migration dialogues, such as the Regional Conference on Migration. The United States believes regional and inter-regional approaches allow for greater opportunity for concrete and practical outcomes than global discussions.
An important emerging issue is the migration of health care providers. The World Health Organization is drafting a voluntary “Code of Practice” on the international recruitment of health personnel stemming from concern about the critical understaffing of vulnerable health care systems in the developing world. The Bureau works with many U.S. Government entities, such as USAID and the Global AIDS Coordinator, to promote the view that the Code should also respect the rights and choices of the individual health care worker.
The Bureau also participates in U.S. Government efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, especially women and children, by increasing public awareness of the criminal and human rights abuses involved and providing assistance to victims. This assistance includes supporting voluntary return and reintegration programs of trafficking victims to their countries of origin.
What is the Bureau’s role in combating trafficking in persons?
The Bureau plays an important role in U.S. efforts to combat trafficking in persons, as part of its mission to protect and assist vulnerable populations, and to support safe, orderly, and humane international migration. The Bureau implements these activities through the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
For example, in Ghana the Bureau provides funding to IOM for activities assisting children trafficked to work in Lake Volta's fisheries under life-threatening conditions. Sadly, many families send their children to work in fisheries because they don’t have enough food for them, and they believe the children will learn a livelihood skill that will enable them to earn some money. IOM works with the Ghanaian government and the fishing communities to raise awareness, reach agreements to release children, remove them from their exploitative environment, return them to their families, and assist with micro-credit enterprises. In four years, nearly 600 children have been assisted.
In Indonesia, the Bureau partners with IOM to provide protection, return transportation, and reintegration assistance to trafficking victims. IOM collaborates with several regional police hospitals to provide specialized wings for victims in need of psycho-social and medical care, offers return transportation to the communities of origin, and supports reintegration assistance, such as job skills training and micro-credit to start small businesses. Since the Bureau started this project in 2005 under the auspices of the President’s anti-trafficking initiative, it has provided assistance to over 2,000 victims. Several hundred of these victims had been trafficked to Malaysia for domestic labor and sexual exploitation.
What types of migration programming does the Bureau provide?
To promote orderly and humane international migration, the Bureau funds regional migration processes, assistance to vulnerable migrants, support for victims of trafficking in persons, as well as related capacity-building activities for interested foreign governments and civil society groups.
For example, the Bureau provides funding through IOM for regional migration processes in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia. These regional processes provide participating countries regular opportunities to exchange data and best practices relating to migration management. Topics covered include migrant integration and returns to country of origin, asylum-seeker and refugee protection, combating migrant smuggling and trafficking, human rights of migrants and their access to basic services.
We also support programs that address the dilemma of the asylum-migration nexus. The challenge of mixed flows of migrants is to stop illegal migration while effectively providing protection for those who need it, even when they are traveling without proper documentation. One of our strategies is to provide technical assistance to help interested developing nations manage migration humanely. Another strategy is to support the joint IOM-UNHCR Seminars on Mixed Migratory Flows in the Caribbean, initiated in 2001.
Who are the Bureau’s partners in advancing U.S. policy related to international migration?
The Bureau works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, the International Organization on Migration (IOM), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to advance U.S. policy goals regarding international migration.