Addressing irregular migration in the Gulf states
Title: Addressing irregular migration in the Gulf states
Series/Number: Migration Policy Centre; GLMM; Policy Briefs; 01/2015
External link: http://www.migrationpolicycentre.eu
Irregular migration has great resonance in the Gulf, just as in the West. Migrants in irregular situation avoid state administrative procedures and so their numbers are unknown. The largest amnesty (Saudi Arabia 2013) would have affected more than 50 per cent of the migrants in the country. Irregular migration is by definition a breach of legislations that regulate the migrant's status. In the Gulf States it is, in particular, a by-product of: the sponsorship (kafâla) system that hampers both a migrant's individual freedom of movement and the free functioning of the labour market; nationalisation policies that continue to extend the list of occupations reserved for nationals; and nationality laws that bar citizenship to all but a very few first- and second-generation migrants. Irregular migration also results from contexts characterising some sending states (poverty, corruption, failing social contracts), which forces nationals from these countries to move to more dynamic labour markets. Moreover, leaving the recruitment of foreign workers to private brokers also creates conditions that lead to migrants' "merchandisation," and hence abuses, in many cases. Finally, irregularity also stems from migrants' extreme determination in pursuing their goals and ambitions, whatever their status in the destination country. Efforts must be made by countries of origin and destination to curtail irregular migration. In the Gulf States, this may be addressed in several ways: by improving the working and living conditions of foreign workers; by amending sponsorship rules; by granting citizenship to select categories of migrants; and by disentangling migration laws from labour laws. Initiatives in this regard have been taken by some countries and need to be strengthened in the future.
GLMM - Gulf Labour Markets and Migration
Type of Access: openAccess