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International Migrants Day is here!

Today is International Migrants Day - a day when the contribution of migrants is celebrated and the rights and interests of migrants asserted across the world. And in the UK a broad coalition of groups and individuals is marking the day together.

As 2012 draws to a close, it is clear that these are increasingly difficult times for migrants' rights across the world. As outlined by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement today, hostile immigration policies are intensified by the current economic climate, increasing the divisions between migrants and natives in many countries.

As budgets tighten, we are seeing austerity measures that discriminate against migrant workers, xenophobic rhetoric that encourages violence against irregular migrants, and proposed immigration laws that allow the police to profile migrants with impunity. During economic downturns, it is worth remembering that whole sectors of the economy depend on migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs help to create jobs.

In the UK the political and economic context making life more difficult for many migrants. Tough policies on migrant workers, increasingly limited access to settlement, discriminatory rules on family migration and continued persecution of irregular migrants are denying rights, at a time when austerity measures are squeezing the advice and support available to those who need it. But those of us working in the UK to mark this day should feel confident that we are acting in concert with many others across the world, to assert the rights and interests of migrants.

Today, International Migrants Day, is an opportunity to speak up against discriminatory and divisive policies, wherever they are. Colleagues and friends are rising up in places including the United StatesBelgium and Hong Kong to assert the rights of migrants, and to call on political leaders as well as wider society to recognise migrants' contributions and demand better protection of vulnerable individuals. Many groups, such as the Migrant Forum of Asia, are using this as an opportunity to ask governments to sign the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families - a convention which remains unsigned by many host countries. 

Today we send a message of solidarity to our colleagues across the UK and around the world for their campaigns in support of migrants' rights. Together we are stronger!

Finally, we think the wonderful Migrant Manifesto brings together the message underlying International Migrants Day best:

We witness how fear creates boundaries, how boundaries create hate and how hate only serves the oppressors. We understand that migrants and non-migrants are interconnected. When the rights of migrants are denied the rights of citizens are at risk.

Dignity has no nationality.

The Our Day campaign in the UK

MRN followers will know that for the past two months we have been working with groups across the UK to launch a new campaign called "Our Day - Standing together for International Migrants Day". The idea for coordinating the activities across the UK came from our conversations with migrant groups at this year's Annual Summit.

We all agreed that we wanted to mark International Migrants Day together, to celebrate the contribution of migrants, and to build recognition of the challenges that many migrant communities still face in the UK.

As this was the first year, we agreed we should be realistic about the whole thing. A few tweets, a small website and an easy to do action that a couple of the most enthusiastic people would do. You know, nothing much. Well, we were very wrong in predicting the interest in celebrating International Migrants Day.

Since we launched the campaign last month, we have been overwhelmed with the positive energy from individuals and groups. The Our Day campaign is now supported by over 50 migrant community organisations, social enterprises, local government initiatives and trade unions and we have logged over 5000 page views on the OurDay website in the first month alone.The wonderful Migrant Manifesto video performed by Musa Okwonga is just a couple views shy of reaching 2000 views in 3 weeks. 

Supportive MPs from across the political parties tabled an early day motion in Parliament to acknowledge contribution migrants make and to mark the International Migrants Day. So far it has had 35 signatures from MPs, mostly because you took the time to write to them.

We've counted 14 events across the UK to mark International Migrants Day - in London, Manchester, Sheffield, Hertfordshire. There is even a special event in the Scottish Parliament organised by Migrants Rights Scotland taking place right now!

We organised a launch of the Our Day campaign in London on 5 December. Here's a short video from the evening.  

 

Thanks to all who have come on board this year – the campaign will grow in years to come. For now, please come and drop by on our Facebook page and Twitter and leave migrants everywhere a message of support on this important day.

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Comments

An interesting new book that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs Americans who want to learn more about the U.S. and how we compare to other countries around the world on many issues.
As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in the states of New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
Legal immigrants number 850,000 each year; undocumented (illegal) immigrants are estimated to be half that number. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance, be they in the UK or Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, concerned Americans and books like this can extend a helping hand. Here's a closing comment from the book's introduction: "With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much our countries—and we as human beings—have in common on this third rock from the sun called Earth. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is “It’s A Small World After All.” Peace. www.AmericaAtoZ.com

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