DECLARATION OF MONTERREY
“on borders, migratory agreements, and the rights of migrants”
March 21 and 22, 2002
We, migrant men, women and children. We, immigrant communities of the Americas. We, organizations of migrants hereby declare:
That we are the people who with pain and resolve leave behind our families in order to offer them a better future, a better life. We have made the terribly difficult decision to emigrate and leave our beloved countries because we lacked meaningful employment, access to education, adequate housing for our families, land to work, access to good health, and a future for our children.
That we, immigrants, are the people who with hope in our hands and sadness on our backs, walk long days and nights, not in search of plenty, but rather in search of the minimum needed to live and to educate and support our children. We cross deserts, mountains, rivers, and seas suffering through the heat, the cold, and our own loneliness. We die there, on the border and along the roads, without grief, without anyone saying a word.
That we are the people who are told day in and day out that we are not welcome, while the governments of Mexico and the United States talk of integration and globalization. We are held in little or no esteem, and are told we have no rights to guarantee our existence. We can be victims of abuse and mistreatment, and even assassinated, simply for looking for work…, and no one says anything.
That we are the people who in the fields of Texas and New Mexico harvest tomatoes and chiles from daybreak to sunset. We work in the meatpacking plants of Iowa and Nebraska We clean and keep up the hotels and restaurants of Houston and Los Angeles. We mow the grass on the golf courses of Arizona and tend the gardens of homes all across America. We take care of the sick and elderly, prepare the food in all types of kitchens, and pick up the garbage in our neighborhoods. We build the roads and highways for those who, ironically, do not let us drive them.
We immigrants are also the ones who through our hard work buy homes, set up shops, restaurants, and even large businesses that contribute to the economic growth of many communities. We are professors, researchers, engineers, and doctors who contribute knowledge and well-being to the community. We are artists, poets, and writers who enrich the culture and language of the society that refuses to receive us. Like any other member of society, we pay taxes and fulfill our fiscal obligations.
But we are also the people whose right to an identity is denied. We work 10 or 14 hours a day for less than minimum wage because the laws are inadequate to protect us. We are lack access to preventive health care and driver’s licenses because we have no social security number. We are denied access to schools because we are foreigners. We are those who do not exist and do not count in this society, because we have no document.
We, migrant men, women and children. We, communities of immigrants from the Americas. We, organizations of migrants ask and demand today in Monterrey at the resumption of the dialogue between Presidents Bush and Fox, that our voices be heard. We believe we can no longer remain silent or unheard, and that the right to human mobility, which gives reason to our being, should be recognized and integrated completely into the current global processes.
We propose and declare that in order to be integral, humane, and dignified, true immigration reform should consider the following:
- A broad and comprehensive legalization program for all nationalities of undocumented immigrants and their families that live in the United States. Any program discussing temporary worker status that does not include the option of permanent residency for immigrants already living in the U.S. is unacceptable.
- The legalization of future migratory flows. Minimum rights need to be guaranteed in any program addressing migration into the U.S Including the Right of Entry- the process of crossing borders has to be legal, free of abuse and orderly. The Right to Employment- where immigrant workers have the same economic and labor guarantees as any resident and citizen of the United States, including the right to a social security number. The Right to Permanent Residency-with the option to become a US citizen for immigrants workers who desire to live their lives in the United States. Moreover, the restitution of the lost savings of ex-Bracero workers and the protection of the savings of future migrant workers must be guaranteed.
- The defense and protection of immigrant rights must include: the decriminalization of work through the elimination of employers sanctions; adequate resources to enforce labor laws and other civil rights laws; the elimination of immigrant based restrictions to legal and social service programs; the right to organize collectively and to unionize to improve wages and working conditions; the right to choose and change employers (worker mobility); equal protections and rights under labor and civil rights laws; legal protections in seeking justice for acts of hate violence and xenophobia and the right to due process and equal protections under the law.
- The protection of human and civil rights during the enforcement of immigration laws. These include the revision of the actual strategies for anti-terrorism and interior and border control on the US/Mexico/Canadian border and other major entry points, and the demilitarization of these.
- Significant immigration reforms including the revision of anti-terrorist legislation, the use of secret evidence, extended detention, and military tribunals, the per-country quota system, resolution of the backlog of pending applications for immigration visas and citizenship, access to adjustment of status and opportunities for family reunification, and an end to unfair political asylum and deportation processes and other impediments to acquiring permanent residency.
- The implementation of global policies that resolve effectively the problems of displacement, unemployment and migration of poor countries, beginning with the elimination of transnational enforcement policies, such as “Operation Disrupt,” that impede and criminalize the flows of immigrants.
- Immigration and human mobility must be included in all economic integration agreements. Some concrete steps can be taken such as the critical review of structural adjustment programs that the IMF and World Bank impose on developing countries, not allowing those countries to respond to the needs of local development, and making the burden of sacrifice fall disproportionately on the poor. The cancellation of the debt of these countries should also be broadened.
- Respect and equality for All. Serious steps must be taken towards the elimination of discrimination and racism in US society, especially towards immigrants, people of color and other minorities.
We immigrant men, women and children. We immigrant communities of the Americas. We immigrant organizations break the silence. We raise our voices to make it clear that we do count, that we do exists and that we are human beings. We will only become part of global integration when all countries from border to border recognize that all people are equal with rights and dignity.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Alianza Civica, Mexico
Familia Franciscana Internacional, México
Asociacion para la Residencia y Ciudadania de America (ARCA)
Asociacion de Organizaciones Comunitarias para la Reforma Ahora (ACORN), Houston TX
Asociacion Tepeyac, New York NY
Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), El Paso TX
Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos, A.C. (CADHAC)
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
CAUSA, Oregon Centro de Apoyo al Migrante, Ciudad Juarez Chih
Centro de Apoyo al Migrante, Reynosa
Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos A.C.(CEFPRODH)
Comité pro Justicia para Serafín Olvera
Coalicion Nacional por la Dignidad y la Amnistia
Coalicion de Texas por la Dignidad y la Amnistia (CTDA)
Coalicion pro Justicia en las Maquiladoras
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, Inc. El Paso, TX
Grupo Creciendo Unidos, Ed Couch, TX
El Barzon, Monterrey NL
Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project (ILEMP)
Inmigrantes Latinos en Accion (ILA), Austin TX
Fuerza Unida, San Antonio TX
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (National Legalization Campaign)
Proyecto Libertad, Harlingen TX