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Idomeni, Greece - September 24, 2015: Hundreds of immigrants on the border between Greece and Macedonia, waiting for the right time to continue their journey through unguarded points. Photo: VASILIS VERVERIDIS
Idomeni, Greece - September 24, 2015: Hundreds of immigrants on the border between Greece and Macedonia, waiting for the right time to continue their journey through unguarded points. Photo: VASILIS VERVERIDIS

A critical year to celebrate International Immigrant Day

The annual United Nations campaign for immigration has launched the #WithDignity slogan this year, emphasizing the plight of millions of displaced people…

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Being an immigrant in the 21st century should be a safe, natural and coordinated process. In an era when telecommunications and industrial development appear to be at their respective peaks, human values aren't keeping up.

Rohingyas, Venezuelans, Central Americans, Syrians - people with totally different cultural and historical backgrounds live simultaneously a painful reality: the denigration of their status as citizens of the world.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2017, "the number of migrants reached 258 million," 85 million more than in 2000. "However," the office continues, " the proportion of international migrants among the world population is only slightly higher than that registered in recent decades: 3.4 percent in 2017, compared to 2.8 in 2000 and 2.3 in 1980."

The difference is that in 2018, thanks to governments like Donald Trump’s in the United States, the circumstances faced by millions of immigrants are increasingly precarious.

That’s why this year's campaign focuses on giving visibility to the dignity with which people should be treated when leaving their countries, either by their own will or by force.

The case of the death of Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old girl who was detained trying to cross the border between the United States and Mexico, and that of Yazmin Juarez, of 19 months of age and who died in similar circumstances, show that, even in more developed countries, emigrating with dignity is increasingly difficult.

The White House's rhetoric, which has branded immigrants as "rapists" and "traffickers" and has campaigned promoting the disqualification of people of color, seems to have spread to Europe.

During the past week, a United Nations conference held in Morocco concluded in the signing of a pact for "safe, orderly and regular" migration by 150 countries, but was rejected by governments such as Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Australia, Chile and the Dominican Republic.

The agreement is non-binding in nature, but establishes a "cooperative framework" where members agree to "limit pressure on countries with many migrants and promote self-sufficiency for newcomers."

The United States, faced with the Trump Administration's anti-immigrant platform, withdrew from the drafting process of the agreement in July.

Currently, the U.S. government faces an imminent shutdown due to the president's intransigence on calls for the construction of a border wall with Mexico.

Whether in the U.S., Europe, or anywhere else in the world, being an immigrant has never been so dangerous, and celebrating it is increasingly urgent.

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