SEVENTH PROGRESS REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEURSHIP ON MIGRANT WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, FOR THE PERIOD BETWEEN
JANUARY AND DECEMBER 2005
1. Given the interest that a number of member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) have expressed with regard to the migrant worker situation, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), acting on its sweeping mandate for the protection of human rights, decided to devote particular attention to the situation of migrant workers and their families. This interest has been articulated in various declarations issued by the OAS member States. In 1997, the Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families was created. The States pledged that the governments would “[s]upport the activities of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with regard to the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families, particularly through the Special Rapporteur for Migrant Workers.” In creating this Rapporteurship, the IACHR narrowed its focus to migrant workers and their families who were not nationals of the countries in which they were located. It clarified that the Rapporteurship would not focus on other categories of migrants, such as those who migrate within their own countries for economic reasons, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, refugees and/or asylum seekers. Even so, the IACHR is fully aware that the internally displaced, stateless, refugees, and asylum seekers have some of the same problems that migrant workers and their families have and may even end up becoming migrant workers themselves, or vice versa.
2. The IACHR opted to make migrant workers and their families a priority because of their precarious human rights situation. Over the years, the IACHR’s on-site visits, the complaints it receives of human rights violations and the special hearings it has held to address the matter, have given the IACHR much greater insight into the plight of migrant workers and their families. The IACHR believes that migrant workers and their families are a particularly vulnerable group and all too often are the victims of abuse and systematic violations of their most basic human rights.
3. At its 120th regular session, held in March 2004, the IACHR designated Mr. Freddy Gutiérrez Trejo, a Venezuelan lawyer, as Special Rapporteur for Migrant Workers and Their Families. In conducting his work, Rapporteur Gutiérrez was assisted by the IACHR’s Executive Secretariat and a small team of collaborators.
4. The States, for their part, also pledged to promote measures to improve the lot of this group. The following are among the specific measures: (i) ensuring full observance and protection of the human rights of all migrant workers; (ii) taking concrete steps to eradicate all forms of discrimination against them; (iii) preventing abuse and/or mistreatment of migrant workers by unscrupulous employers; and (iv) affording them the same legal protection for their labor rights as that enjoyed by workers who are nationals of the country in which they work.
5. Given the goals proposed by the States for promoting the rights of migrant workers and their families, the IACHR’s Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families set itself a number of objectives, including: a) creating an awareness of the States’ duty to respect the human rights of migrant workers and their families; b) making specific recommendations to member States aimed at protecting and promoting the human rights of migrant workers and their families, so that progressive measures are adopted on their behalf; c) preparing reports and special studies on the subject, and d) acting swiftly on petitions or communications that allege that the rights of migrant workers and their families are in peril in some member State.
6. The concern over the migration phenomenon and for the protection of migrant workers and their families has persisted. In the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 2005, the Heads of State and of Government of the Americas agreed: “To strengthen constructive dialogue on international migration, with a view to full recognition of human rights of migrant workers, reduce their vulnerable conditions at work, as well as advocate effective compliance of the principle of equality and non-discrimination at work in accordance with international instruments in this area and, thereby, ensure that migration is an orderly process that benefits all parties and boosts productivity at the global level.”
7. Then, In June 2005, during the thirty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the United States, the member States of the Organization resolved, through resolution AG/RES. 2130 (XXXV-O/05): “To instruct the relevant organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization to support the execution of and, when appropriate, to implement the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, Including Migrant Workers and Their Families.” In that same resolution AG/RES. 2130 (XXXV-O/05), the General Assembly also confirmed its support for the activities of the IACHR and, in particular, the Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families, for their work on behalf of this vulnerable group. Unfortunately, despite the interest expressed by the States in various declarations, the growth of the work of the Special Rapporteurship has been impaired by a lack of financial support from the OAS member States. As underscored in the 2004 Annual Report, a number of activities that the Rapporteurship needs to carry out under its mandate have been adversely affected by the absence of financial support from the States. The Funds that had made it possible to carry out the Rapporteurship’s activities –a modest contribution from the OAS’ general fund, contributions from the Government of Mexico and the Ford Foundation- have been exhausted. The Rapporteurship is in urgent need of new financial infusions to ensure its very survival. Thanks to its own efforts and the interest expressed by the States and civil society organizations, the workload of the Rapporteurship has increased substantially in recent years. The Rapporteurship regrets that the interest expressed by so many States and organizations has not materialized in the form of tangible financial and logistical support.
8. The IACHR’s view is that annual progress reports need to be prepared on the various aspects of the migrant-worker question from the human rights perspective. The Commission opted for the progress report rather than a single report on the situation of these persons in the Americas. The thinking was that a single report would be a difficult undertaking given the scale and complexity of the migrant-worker phenomenon and the limited resources available to the Rapporteurship. Then, too, the migration situation is a fluid phenomenon that would be difficult to capture in a single definitive report on the subject. The report that the Commission is presenting has been prepared in that spirit: a rigorous examination of this complex and ever-evolving phenomenon. This report does not pretend to be an exhaustive examination of the topic. It does, however, present information and material on the issues that are important for the situation of migrant workers in the region.
9. This report is divided into a number of sections. The first section touches upon the main activities that the Rapporteurship conducted in 2005. The second section is a brief picture of 2005’s key events in issues related to migration and human rights. The third section examines the case law developed by the organs of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights (the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights) in 2005 on subjects that have some bearing upon the question of migrant workers and their families and other relevant areas of the migration phenomenon. The fourth section is the final text of the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, including Migrant Workers and Their Families. The fifth and final section examines the obligation that States of origin –or sending States- have to protect and ensure human rights, and highlights the efforts that various States in the Americas are making in this regard.
II. MAIN ACTIVITIES OF THE RAPPORTEURSHIP IN 2005
10. In 2005, the Rapporteurship conducted a number of activities consistent with the mandate given to the IACHR. These included: (a) monitoring the general situation of migrant workers and their families in the Americas; (b) research with a view to preparation of the annual report, as well as special studies and attendance at conferences and forums held on the subject of migration; (c) cultivation of institutional ties with intergovernmental organizations and civil society entities that work for migrant workers and their families in the Americas; (d) participation in discussions on the admissibility of petitions and on the granting of precautionary measures in cases involving the human rights of migrant workers; (e) participation in the Working Group to Prepare an Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, including Migrant Workers and Their Families.
11. As for the work done to monitor the status of migrant workers and their families, the Rapporteurship closely followed the policy discussions in the region and changes in legislation and immigration control, including on such vital issues as smuggling of migrant workers and trafficking in human beings; the impact that the war on terrorism is having on immigration controls and the situation of migrant workers in the region; the effects of the numerous natural disasters in the region –Haiti, the southern part of the United States, Central America and southern Mexico- and their impact on migratory flows, and the migratory consequences of certain political and economic crises in the region. The Rapporteurship was particularly attentive to the major migration-related events in countries of the region that experienced political and economic instability and in which the migratory flows have increased. The delicate situation in Haiti and the migratory pressures it produced accounted for much of the monitoring done by the Rapporteurship in 2005. The Rapporteurship also watched the sociopolitical situation in various countries of the Andean region and its eventual impact on migration. Also followed closely were significant developments in migration within the Southern Cone, the enactment of the new Immigration Law (No. 25.8719) in Argentina, and amendments to Chile’s Constitution. The Rapporteurship was also very attentive to immigration developments in North America, especially debate on the immigration bill proposed by the administration of President George W. Bush in the United States.
12. The Rapporteurship investigated various issues involving the situation of migrant workers and continued to compile information comparing immigration laws in the Americas. A study is presented in this report on the efforts that the sending States in the region are making to protect and ensure the human rights of their migrants living abroad.
13. As noted in the 2004 annual report, the Rapporteurship continued to follow the debates on immigration law and practices in the OAS member countries. As previously noted, the Rapporteurship observes with concern, especially since the September 11, 2001 attacks, how security considerations in the States of this hemisphere may adversely affect the status of migrant workers and their families. This trend is also in evidence in the steady increase in deportations of migrant workers and their families and in the high-seas interdiction of vessels carrying undocumented migrant workers. The principle of sovereignty is a fundamental pillar of international relations between States. While the Rapporteurship recognizes the sovereign right of States to regulate the entry and stay of persons within their territory, it must emphasize that such regulation must be done with full respect for international human rights law, especially the guarantees of due process of law and the right to personal liberty.
14. In 2005, the Rapporteurship continued to take active part in the discussion and preparation of the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, including Migrant Workers and Their Families in the Working Group created by the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the OAS’ Permanent Council. The Rapporteurship provided the States involved in negotiating the Program with technical advisory services on international human rights law and the migration phenomenon.
15. The Heads of State and of Government of the Americas called for this Program. The Summit Process decided to devote special consideration to the topic of migration, promoting specific measures geared to protecting the human rights of migrants. During the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile in 1998, the Heads of State and of Government of the countries engaged in the Summit Process expressed their resolve to make special efforts to guarantee the human rights of all migrants, including migrant workers and their families. In the Plan of Action adopted at the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada in 2001, the Heads of State and of Government resolved to “… [e]stablish an inter-American program within the OAS for the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants, including migrant workers and their families, taking into account the activities of the IACHR and supporting the work of the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and the UN Special Rapporteur on Migration.” This initiative was subsequently echoed in resolution AG/RES. 1898 (XXXII-0/02), adopted by the OAS General Assembly at the regular session it held in Barbados in June 2002, where the OAS Permanent Council was instructed to “[c]ontinue to prepare the Inter-American Program for the Promotion of the Human Rights of Migrants, with the assistance of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the International Organization For Migration (IOM),” with a view to putting the Summits’ mandate into action. This program was created to address the concern of the States of the region –sending States, transit States and receiving States alike- to ensure that migrants are protected and their wellbeing ensured. As indicated in the preceding section, the OAS General Assembly approved the program and instructed the relevant organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization to support the execution of and, when appropriate, to implement the Program (see Annex A of this report).
16. As part of its mandate, the Rapporteurship participated in a number of outreach activities in 2005. Members of the Rapporteurship were invited to participate in a conference on human rights and refugees, internally displaced persons and migrant workers, in honor of Joan Fitzpatrick and Arthur Helton, to launch a book to which members of the Rapporteurship had contributed an essay on due process for migrant workers. During the conference, the Rapporteurship met with researchers who specialize in the migrant worker issue, to learn what they are doing and discuss future strategies for strengthening the work that the IACHR does to promote the human rights of migrant workers and their families. In the second half of the year, the Rapporteurship attended the Pre-conference Santiago +5 against Racism, Xenophobia, Discrimination and Intolerance, held in Santiago, Chile, August 10, 11, 12.
17. In 2005, the Rapporteurship participated in five special hearings held in connection with the general situation of migrant workers and other migrants in the Americas. They were an opportunity for the Commission to get an even deeper understanding of the practical problems posed by the human rights situation of migrant workers and their families and to express some concerns in the press release it issued at the close of each session.
18. During the IACHR’s 122nd regular session, two thematic hearings were held on migrant-related issues. One of the hearings examined the issue of immigrants and refugees in Panama. During the hearing, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and the Panamanian State discussed the problem, underscoring the situation of the Colombian citizens. The Commissioners emphasized the need to protect the foreigners in Panama since, being refugees or migrant workers, they were especially vulnerable. A second hearing was held on the situation of migrant workers in the United States, where the ramifications of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Hoffman Plastics Compounds Inc. vs. NLRB (2002) were examined, particularly its implications for the labor rights of undocumented workers. Also discussed at the meeting were the working conditions of migrant farm workers, especially those in Florida. The organizations that requested the hearing asked the IACHR to conduct an on-site visit to observe this problem in situ.
19. During the Commission’s 123rd regular session, held in October 2005, three thematic hearings were held where problems relevant to migrant workers and their families were discussed. At one hearing, the problem of trafficking in persons in the Americas was discussed. That discussion highlighted the weaknesses in laws preventing, criminalizing and punishing this crime, and even cases where no such laws exist. The Commission therefore urged the States to develop comprehensive policies and norms that, while respecting human rights, are effective in preventing and punishing trafficking in persons. The Commission also held a second thematic hearing to gather information on the situation of the Haitian and Dominican-Haitian communities in the Dominican Republic. At the third thematic hearing held during its 123rd regular session, the Commission was informed of the situation of a number of migrants working as domestics for diplomats and international officials. These domestics are unable to get due process in respect of abuses by their employees, who are invoking diplomatic immunity.
20. As is customary, the Rapporteurship participated in the discussion of the admissibility of petitions and the granting of precautionary measures in human rights cases involving migrant workers and their families. This was done for the purpose of collaborating in the work of the attorneys from the Executive Secretariat.
21. Lastly, the Rapporteurship, in conjunction with the Executive Secretariat, engaged in efforts to raise funds with which to continue its activities. Potential contributors were identified, and work continued on specific fundraising projects. Unfortunately, despite the interest in tackling the migrant issue, articulated by the States in a number of declarations, relatively speaking the work of the Rapporteurship has dropped off somewhat for lack of financial support. The lack of adequate financial support from the OAS member States has taken its toll on some activities that the Rapporteurship must carry out to fulfill its mandate of promotion.
III. GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE POLICIES AND PRACTICES RELATING TO
22. As part of its work of promoting the cause of migrant workers’ human rights, this Rapporteurship monitors the policies and practices that impact on the protection and guarantee of the human rights of migrant workers and their families in the Americas. This section of the annual report is a brief overview of those developments, policies and practices that the Rapporteurship believes are important because of how they affect the protection and guarantee of the human rights of migrant workers and their families. While this overview examines 2005, in some cases developments from previous years that were not reported until 2005 are covered as well.
A. International Instruments and Initiatives
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of
All Migrant Workers
23. In 2005, four more member States of the OAS –Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru- ratified the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Their Families. That brings the total number of ratifying countries to 34; of these, nine are OAS member States: Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay and the four mentioned earlier.
24. Following a working meeting in April 2005, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families adopted provisional guidelines regarding the structure and subject matter of the progress reports that the States parties to the Convention are to provide to the Committee periodically and how those progress reports will be considered. The Committee decided that it would appoint two country rapporteurs to evaluate each State’s initial report. It also decided that before the reports are presented, the States will be sent a list of the issues that the Committee expects to be discussing at the meeting.
25. The Committee held a second annual session in New York from December 12 through 16. There, five members of the Committee were elected. Four were re-elected for another two years: Ana María Diéguez Arévalo of Guatemala, Prasad Kariyawasan of Sri Lanka; José Brillantes of Guatemala, and Azad Taghizadet of Azerbaiján. Mehmet Sevim of Turkey was elected to first-time membership, replacing Mr. Arthur Shatto Gakwandi of Uganda. The other five members of the Committee are: Francisco Carrión-Mena of Ecuador; Ana Elizabeth Cubias Medina of El Salvador; Ahmed Hassan El-Borai of Egypt; Francisco Alba of Mexico, and Abdelhamid El Jamri of Morocco.
Special Rapporteurships of the United Nations
26. In August 2005, Jorge Bustamante Fernández, a Mexican scholar, was named United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. The Rapporteur, who has a three-year appointment, succeeds Gabriela Rodriguez, who served in that post for six years. Sigma Huda continued her work as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed her to that post in 2004. One of the main functions of both rapporteurs is to compile information on possible human rights violations; to make recommendations to States and to international organizations, and to promote effective enforcement of international human rights norms in the case of migrants and victims of human trafficking. The Rapporteurs report to the Commission on Human Rights on their activities, on how their initiatives have been received by the States and, more generally, on the protection of migrants’ human rights.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
27. In June 2005, the United Nations General Assembly named Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal (1996 – 2002), as the United Nations’ new High Commissioner for Refugees. Guterres took office on June 15.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
28. Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported that her office had created a special working group that will meet on a regular basis, with two objectives: first, to improve understanding of the migration phenomenon and develop a strategy for tackling the issue from the human rights perspectives, in order to make States and the public sensitive to this issue.
Geneva Migration Group
29. The Geneva Migration Group, an initiative that the United Nations launched to advance discussion of migration, continued its work in 2005. The Geneva Migration Group brought together the directors of six international agencies committed to upholding universal values and who share many objectives and interests in migration matters. The main purpose of the initiative is to promote good governance and best practices in relation to migration by lobbying for wider application of relevant international and regional instruments and norms for the regulation and management of migration. The Group’s work is also geared toward improving the effectiveness of the international community’s policies and operational response to the migration phenomenon, the idea being to ensure that migration is beneficial to individuals and States alike.
New European Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings
30. In May 2005, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. At a ceremony held in Warsaw, Poland, the Convention was opened for ratification by the member States of the Council of Europe. As of the present, 23 States have signed the Convention, but none has ratified it. The Convention must have 10 ratifications to enter into force.
United Nations resolution on behalf of migrant workers
31. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted, by consensus, a resolution that underscores and reaffirms the States’ obligation vis-à-vis migrant workers and their families and urges States to take measures to ensure that the rights of this sector of the population are respected and guaranteed. The resolution, which was introduced by Mexico and supported by 30 countries, underscores the Commission’s concern over discriminatory laws, manifestations of racism, intolerance, and xenophobia, the smuggling and trafficking of human beings and, in general, a number of practices that violate the human rights of migrant workers and their families. The resolution also urges the States to consider the possibility of reviewing their immigration policies and taking measures to protect this population from abusive and discriminatory practices.
Meetings of the Regional Conference on Migration
32. Vancouver, British Columbia was the venue of the Tenth Meeting of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), March 10 and 11, 2005. In attendance were representatives of the eleven member countries: Canada, Costa Rica, Belize, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States.
33. The Sixth South American Conference on Migration will be held in Asunción, Paraguay in 2006.
Migration-related initiatives in the OAS
34. In June 2005, during the thirty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly, held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the member States of the Organization approved the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, Including Migrant Workers and Their Families in resolutions AG/RES. 2141 (XXXV-O/05) which is appended to this Report.
35. Annex A of this report contains the final text of the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, Including Migrant Workers and Their Families. The Program is an important initiative of the Organization of American States (OAS) to promote the human rights of migrants, including migrant workers and their families. As articulated in the first section of this report, the Heads of State and of Government called for this program during the Summit Process. In the Plan of Action adopted at the Second Summit, held in Quebec, Canada in 2001, the Heads of State and of Government of the region agreed to work to establish “… an inter-American program within the OAS for the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants, including migrant workers and their families, taking into account the activities of the IACHR and supporting the work of the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Migrant Workers and the UN Special Rapporteur on Migration.”
36. The creation of this Program was a response to the concern on the part of the sending, transit and receiving States in the region to take measures to guarantee the protection and welfare of migrants. This initiative was subsequently echoed in resolution AG/RES. 1898 (XXXII-0/02), adopted by the OAS General Assembly at its regular session held in Barbados in June 2002. That resolution instructed the Permanent Council of the OAS to continue to prepare the Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, with the assistance of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2003, the OAS Permanent Council instructed its Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) to spearhead efforts to finalize this project.
37. To comply with these mandates, the CAJP formed a Working Group chaired by the Argentine Delegation to the OAS, which led the negotiation and drafting of the final text of the Program. As part of these efforts, the Working Group held a special meeting in September 2004. Participating were government experts, representatives of OAS organs, agencies and entities –including the IACHR-, various multilateral and intergovernmental organizations as well as civil society organizations working in this area.
38. During the OAS member States’ lengthy negotiation of this program, the IACHR’s Rapporteurship for Migrant Workers and Their Families took active part in its discussion and preparation. The Rapporteurship provided the CAJP’s Working Group with technical advisory services on international human rights law in migration-related matters.
39. In June 2005, at the thirty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly, the member States of the Organization approved the Program in resolution AG/RES. 2141 (XXXV-O/05). In resolution AG/RES. 2130 (XXXV-O/05) the member States resolved to “… instruct the relevant organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization to support the execution of and, when appropriate, to implement the Inter-American for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, including Migrant Workers and Their Families.”
B. Issues in the member States that affect migrant workers and their families
40. This section contains information that the Commission has received related to migration issues in various countries of the hemisphere. To be able to provide a more complete picture and for purposes of its future reports, the Rapporteurship is calling upon the member States, nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations to forward to this Rapporteurship any information they might have in connection with the passage of laws and regulations on migration-related matters and on situations that affect migrant workers and their families.
42. Argentina made further progress on the regulation of its 2004 Immigration Law (25871) through a number of provisions concerning: (1) entry into and departure from the territory (provision 15422); (2) National Registry of Immigration Eligibility (provision 15421), and (3) regularization of immigration status (provision 33349).
42. In the second half of 2005, the Legislative Assembly passed a new General Immigration and Alien Status Act (14269), which replaces 1986 Law 7033.
43. In November 2004, a new Alien Affairs Act (2004-023) was passed, which replaces the 1979 Alien Affairs Act (1897) and the amendments included therein through 2001 Law 2001-46.
44. By a vote of 239 to 182, the United States House of Representatives passed the bill for immigration reform proposed by the administration of George W. Bush. Under this bill, employers will be required to check the immigration status of their employees; fines will be increased on employers who deliberately hire undocumented workers; a high-tech security wall will be built along various stretches of the southern border with Mexico; a study will be done of the feasibility of building a similar wall along the northern border with Canada; illegal residence in the United States will become a criminal offense rather than a civil and/or administrative law offense; penalties for falsifying or adulterating immigration papers will increase; and the involvement and assistance of police and military personnel will be assured to regulate the entry and presence of undocumented persons in the country. The U.S. Senate will vote on the bill in February 2006.
● Immigration-related proceedings in the United States
45. A study by Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse, cited by the Migration Policy Institute, shows that in 2004 the number of immigration proceedings/trials was up 65% over the 2003 level. The study also shows that immigration cases became the principal category of cases prosecuted by the Federal Government through its Department of Justice, outpacing cases related to the possession and use of firearms and drugs.
● Immigration Budget, United States Department of Homeland Security
46. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security received a budgetary appropriation of 30.8 billion dollars for immigration enforcement in 2006. Some US$19.1 billion will be for patrolling the U.S. border and territory and other immigration activities. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division will receive 3.7 billion, which includes a special budget to hire 100 new immigration agents and 250 new criminal investigators. The Border Patrol will receive $2.3 billion, which includes a special appropriation for hiring another 1,000 agents and for purchasing modern surveillance equipment. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner announced that the Federal Government will make 250 aircraft and 500 pilots available to the Border Patrol. The aircraft are part of an aggressive program designed to improve surveillance along the country’s borders.
● Health Assistance to Undocumented Migrants in the United States
47. United States President George W. Bush announced that the Federal Government will contribute billions of dollars to public hospitals to fund emergency care for undocumented persons within United States territory. The initiative was proposed by representatives from border states like Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, and will extend until 2008. Under the new program, hospitals are supposed to ask their patients about their immigration status. The representatives of the hospitals, however, stated that they will not ask patients requiring their services about their immigration status and will not provide immigration authorities with any information on the matter, as they fear that such a practice would make people hesitant about seeking medical care.
● Deaths along the United States-Mexico border
48. Through a spokesperson for the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. government authorities announced that in the period from September 30, 2004 to September 30, 2005, 464 people died -260 in Arizona- attempting to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, up 43% over the previous year. The majority of these deaths were from dehydration, hypothermia, heart attacks and respiratory problems, insect and snake bite, and vehicular accidents. United States authorities also indicated that 2570 people were rescued during that same period.
● Expedited Removal from the United States
49. United States Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the expedited removal procedure will be expanded to include the entire southern border of the United States. Under this procedure, Border Patrol agents are authorized to remove, in less than 14 days, any undocumented immigrants detained within 100 miles of the border and need not bring them before the courts.
● Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
50. The United States announced that it will withdraw from the Optional Protocol of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes.
51. Furthermore, through a February 2005 memorandum from Attorney General Alberto González, it was learned that U.S. President George W. Bush announced that the United States will fully discharge its international obligations under the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (Avena), 2004 ICJ 128 (Mar. 31) by having State courts give effect to the decision in accordance with general principles of comity in cases filed by the 51 Mexican nationals addressed in that decision. The President’s decision is important is several respects. First, it acknowledges the U.S.’ obligation to honor its international obligations under the judgment of the ICJ, even though the memorandum mentions only the Avena case. Second, the President’s decision underscores his constitutional authority to determine how state courts must deal with the ICJ ruling.
● Immigration Regularization Programs
52. In September 2005, Mexico launched a new Alien Regularization Program. The program will benefit all persons who entered the country prior to January 2002. It will be in effect for the period between September 2005 and June 31, 2006. The idea is to regularize the status of aliens who wish to remain in Mexico but do not have their immigration papers in order. Anyone who has an offer of employment in the country and/or is first-degree kin to a Mexican citizen or to someone who is legally established in the country may avail themselves of this program. Persons being prosecuted for a crime, who have violated Mexican law or who have a criminal record abroad do not qualify for the program.
● Detention Conditions of Migrants in Mexico
53. In a public communiqué, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission [Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos] (CNDH) expressed concern over conditions at the La Venta Immigration Facility in the municipality of Huimanguillo in the state of Tabasco. After a visit in January 2005, the CNDH reported that the persons there were being held in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and were generally neglected by the staff of the National Institute of Immigration [Instituto Nacional de Migraciones] (INM). Therefore, in Recommendation 24/2005, it warned Lauro López Sánchez Acevedo, Commissioner of the INM, that he must take the necessary steps to correct the problems observed. It also requested that an administrative investigation be instituted against the persons responsible for conditions at the facility.
● Bracero Program: Compensation for former laborers under the Bracero Program
54. In April 2005, by a vote of 361 in favor and four abstentions- Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies approved a plan to create a fund for Mexican laborers who participated in the Bracero Program, an immigration agreement that allowed Mexican farm workers to go to the United States temporarily to work in the farm sector. The Bracero Program was in effect from 1942 to 1964. Almost five million Mexicans participated in the program. The fund approved by the Chamber of Deputies is 27 million dollars and is an effort to compensate people who had U.S. Social Security taxes deducted from their pay for years, yet never received any pension and were never reimbursed any money. Each of the potential beneficiaries of the plan will receive between 3 thousand and 5 thousand Mexican pesos (300 and 500 U.S. dollars). The representatives of the braceros have waged a long battle in U.S. and Mexican courts to get the social security payments deducted from the braceros’ pay reimbursed.
● Human smuggling
55. The Peruvian Government’s Criminal Investigation Division indicated that there are at least 21 organized crime rings in Peru engaged in human smuggling. These organizations transport Peruvians and migrants from outside the region into the United States, by way of Central America and Mexico.
● Issuance of documents
56. The government announced a plan to issue identification papers to nearly 300,000 Dominicans living in Puerto Rico.
 See Declarations and Resolutions Approved by the OAS General Assembly at Its Thirty-fifth Regular Session, http://www.oas.org/XXXVGA/english/doc_Resoluc_Dec.asp.
 Human Rights and Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrant Workers. In Essays in Memory of Joan Fitzpatrick and Arthur Helton, ed. Anne F. Bayefsky, 459-473, Amsterdam: Koninklijke Brill NV.
 The members include: High Commissioner for Refugees,Antonio María Costa, United Nations Office against Drugs and Crimes (UNODC); Brunson McKinley, International Organization for Migration (IOM); Louise Arbour, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Rubens Ricupero, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); and Juan Somavía, International Labour Organisation (ILO).
 The Council of Europe, created in 1949, is the oldest European integration initiative. It currently has 46 member states from Western, Central and Eastern Europe: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the Ukraine.
 The inclusion of the Program in the Rapporteurship’s Annual Report is intended to help publicize it and set it in motion. See Declarations and Resolutions Approved by the OAS General Assembly at its Thirty-fifth Regular Session, http://www.oas.org/xxxvga/english/doc_Resoluc_Dec.asp.