Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz
Chapter 13: Human dignity or state sovereignty? The roadblocks to full realization of the UN Migrant Workers Convention
Throughout the world, migrant workers, particularly those with irregular immigration status, perform the most gruelling, and often times most dangerous work, yet receive minimal protections under domestic regimes in the large migrant-receiving nations. All too often, migrant workers find themselves excluded from basic labour rights such as the right to unionize, the right to a meaningful remedy if applicable labour law protections are violated, the right to family reunification and the right to non-emergency health care. Migrant workers are simultaneously viewed as both indispensable and disposable. Countries across the globe rely on migrants to perform essential work, yet pursue domestic policies that fail to protect migrant rights and reflect a belief that nothing is owed in return for their crucial labour. Despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' guarantee that 'all persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights', migrant workers and members of their families are routinely subjected to discrimination, prolonged detention, deportation without sufficient due process, and family separation. Increasingly, nations around the world and individual states within the United States (US) have passed harsh anti-immigrant laws that undermine the basic human rights and dignities that should be afforded to migrant workers and their families.
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