MEXICO CITY – The regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Labor Organization, Jose Manuel Salazar, said on Tuesday that there are 232 million migrants and that the phenomenon “cannot be turned back” or be “halted with walls.”
“They are like a big country, one of the biggest, that goes along looking for work opportunities and keeps on growing. It cannot be turned back, it cannot be halted either with walls or those kind of measures,” Salazar said in an interview with EFE after presenting the report entitled “Labor migration in Latin America and the Caribbean” in Mexico City.
The report, which evaluates the situation of migration in the region, its conduits and public policies, among other issues, says that there are 232 million migrants worldwide, of whom 150 million are workers, as opposed to political refugees.
According to the ILO official, the migration phenomenon is a common problem that cannot be resolved “unilaterally,” but rather requires cooperation and agreements of the countries involved.
“It’s not a flow of merchandise, it’s a flow of people that the United Nations system protects with human and labor rights,” he said.
The ILO is a UN agency with 187 member states.
Regarding the controversial immigration proposals made by U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, including deporting all illegal immigrants and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Salazar declined to comment saying that the opinions that matter are those of the American people in the November elections.
Nevertheless, he noted that the ILO recognizes that immigration flows arise, in large measure, for economic reasons and it is from that perspective that the phenomenon must be addressed and not from the point of view of border control or national security.