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Secretary Clinton’s Press Availability in the Dominican Republic

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, everyone. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Let me tell you how pleased I am to be back in Santo Domingo. And I am grateful to our hosts, the Government, and people of the Dominican Republic for the leadership in making the Pathways to Prosperity ministerial a success. I’m also pleased to be here with our ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who understands firsthand how important it is that we continue to stress our efforts to help people escape poverty, achieve prosperity, and build better lives for themselves and their families.

And through the Pathways program, that is exactly what we are doing, by sharing best practices, by embracing good policies, by making it clear that we are going to close the inequality gap in this region, that we’ve had good economic growth, but it hasn’t done enough to lift the many millions of people who are still living in poverty into a better life. We have refocused our objectives. We’ve strengthened our partnerships. We’re working with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Today at the ministerial, we have adopted a declaration and a plan of action that clearly lay out both the mission of Pathways and the concrete steps we are taking, and we are looking forward to meeting next year in Colombia. We have four pillars for our work: empowering small businesses, facilitating trade, building a modern workforce, and promoting sustainable business practices and environmental cooperation. And I applaud those nations who are serving as co-chairs for these pillars: the Dominican Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.

We are going to keep working together to translate our intentions into actions. And to help make that progress, earlier today I announced that the United States will commit up to $17.5 million to fund projects that foster inclusive economic growth in the Americas. We already dedicated $5 million during the past year to support a number of successful projects under Pathways. And we’re going to work to increase trade, which is why just a few days ago President Obama submitted to Congress three pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. We are hopeful that the Congress will act swiftly to approve them, along with trade adjustment assistance.

Well, we know what works. We’ve got the models that are proving themselves. Now we have to replicate, adapt, and expand those to all of our citizens.

Again, let me say how good it is to be back in the Dominican Republic. I am blessed to have a number of friends here. And this country is a close partner and friend to the United States. We work together closely to pursue our shared security and prosperity through Pathways, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, the Open Government Partnership, and so much else. This is a relationship we highly value. So again, I am pleased to be here and to have this opportunity to make progress together on our shared goals.

Now I would be happy to take some questions. So, Mike, let me turn it over to you.

MR. HAMMER: We have time for two questions from the U.S. side and two questions from the Dominican side. Is Brad Klapper from the AP – pose the first question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, could you describe your feelings after Russia and China vetoed the UN resolution condemning Syria last evening in New York? I wonder if it’s particularly disappointing to you after the lobbying effort you pushed with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And with this route effectively blocked off, where do the United States and its international partners go from here to stem the bloodshed?

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, Brad, frankly, we believe that the Security Council abrogated its responsibility yesterday. It has a responsibility to protect international peace and the security of civilians. The resolution voted on yesterday represented the bare minimum that the international community should have said in response to the months of violence that the Asad regime has inflicted on the Syrian people.The countries that chose to veto the resolution will have to offer their own explanations to the Syrian people, and to all others who are fighting for freedom and human rights around the world. We note the striking distinction between those Syrians who stand peacefully for change every day in cities across their country and those countries that would not stand with them on even one day in one city yesterday. So the United States and our European allies have made very clear where we stand on this issue, and we think that the people who joined with us from four continents to express our condemnation and call for an end to the violence, and to begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic, non-sectarian Syria are on the right side of history.

In the meantime, those countries that continue to send weapons to the Asad regime that are turned against innocent men, women, and children should look hard at what they are doing. Those nations are standing on the wrong side of history. They are protecting the wrong side in this dispute, and the Syrian people are not likely to forget that, and nor should they.

MR. HAMMER: All right. The next question (in Spanish).

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that every country in our region is unfortunately affected by the scourge of drug trafficking and the criminality of drug traffickers. No country is immune, and every country must do more to prevent the spread of drug trafficking and the criminal elements who profit from the misery of people.

So we work closely with our colleagues and counterparts in the Dominican Republic. We will continue to do so. Strengthening security for citizens and against criminal elements remains a very high priority. That’s why we are working together in the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. We are partnering with the Dominican Republic’s military to help strengthen its ability to combat narco-trafficking, and we will be very clear about what our expectations are because we know that the people of the Dominican Republic deserve to lead safe, secure, peaceful lives free of the terrible violence that drug traffickers inflict.

We also know that drug trafficking goes hand-in-hand with corruption. And corruption is a cancer in any society. It needs to be addressed and eliminated. So we do support the Dominican Republic’s participatory Anti-Corruption Initiative, which is the kind of program that can help to strengthen governance and increase transparency and improve the institutional capacity of the security forces in the Dominican Republic to defeat the challenge posed by drug traffickers.

So we will continue to work together, but we will also continue to expect that those who are on the front lines of protecting the people of the Dominican Republic or anywhere in the region, are held to a high standard of accountability. Otherwise, we will not be successful.

MR. HAMMER: All right. The next question goes to Andy Quinn of Reuters.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, UNESCO said today that it will allow its full membership to vote on a Palestinian bid for membership later this month, which some say could be a back door to UN recognition of their statehood. Do you think the U.S. should withhold its funding for UNESCO or even drop out of the organization if this happens?

And we are now almost halfway through the one-month timeline that the Quartet gave for resuming direct peace talks. Do you have any reason to be optimistic now that the Israelis and the Palestinians will make that deadline?

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, first, with regard to the action in UNESCO, I have to state that I find it quite confusing and somewhat inexplicable that you would have organs of the UN making decisions about statehood or quasi-statehood status while the issue has been presented to the United Nations. I think that that is a very odd procedure indeed, and would urge the governing body of UNESCO to think again before proceeding with that vote because the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations.Having said that, you know where I stand. It is unfortunate that there is a policy to pursue recognition of whatever sort through the United Nations rather than returning to the negotiating table to resolve the issues that will result in a real Palestinian state, something that the United States strongly supports and wants to see as soon as possible. But we know that there cannot be a state without negotiations.

What is the boundary of this state that is being considered by UNESCO? What authorities does it have? What jurisdiction will it be endowed with? Who knows? Nobody knows because those are the hard issues that can only be resolved by negotiation. And unfortunately, there are those who, in their enthusiasm to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, are skipping over the most important step, which is determining what the state will look like, what its borders are, how it will deal with the myriad of issues that states must address.

With respect to the question about the United States’s response, we are certainly aware of strong legislative prohibition that prevents the United States from funding organizations that jump the gun, so to speak, in recognizing entities before they are fully ready for such recognition. So it is still our hope and our strong recommendation that we take this to the appropriate forum, which is the negotiating table, and take it out of international organizations that are basically engaged in actions that are not going to change the lives of the people that deserve a state of their own, namely the Palestinians.

MR. HAMMER: Okay. The last question (in Spanish).

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that we should start with the recognition that the Dominican Republic was extraordinarily generous and helpful to Haitians after the terrible earthquake. The Dominican Republic, both through the government, through its military, through its private sector, through private citizens, was one of the earliest responders to the terrible tragedy that befell on the Haitian people. So we know that in its most terrible time of need, Haiti received help from the neighbor who shares this beautiful island with it.

I’m well aware that there are very serious concerns about the human rights of Haitians, and in particular those who have been here long enough to be – to have been born here and lived here. And we don’t dispute that every nation has a right, a sovereign right, to establish the laws concerning its border security, concerning its nationality, but we also believe that every nation has an obligation to protect the human rights of migrants. And therefore, there must be a resolution that recognizes those human rights, and we hope that we can encourage the Government of the Dominican Republic to look for ways to resolve these outstanding issues of residency and citizenship.

I know there’s a debate about what would happen to migrants who were stripped of their naturalized residency rights. I know that the Haitian constitution seems to suggest that once a Haitian, always a Haitian, and always the right to be considered a citizen of Haiti. So these are very difficult, complex issues, and the United States is a friend to both Haiti and to the Dominican Republic, and we want to encourage the fair resolution of these issues so that people’s rights are recognized, but also a nation’s right to control its borders and its internal laws is also respected. Thank you.

MR. HAMMER: That concludes our press conference.


Ambassador Efird on Humanitarian Issues and Other Commitments

(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 11: Humanitarian Issues and Other Commitments Migrant workers, the integration of legal migrants; Refugees and displaced persons; Treatment of citizens of other participating States; Citizenship and political rights; Democracy at the national, regional and local levels)

The United States government remains deeply concerned about the vulnerability of migrants, refugees, and displaced and stateless persons within the OSCE region as we commemorate the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Recent political transitions in the Mediterranean and North Africa have resulted in close to a million displaced persons, with many fleeing to European borders by sea and other means. We support ongoing efforts by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to work with governments, including by providing migrants with the opportunity to seek and receive protection if necessary, and by assisting local maritime authorities to assist those in distress. We view such efforts as integral to support for democratic efforts taking place in the region and urge participating States to treat these vulnerable migrants with respect, compassion, and humanity.

The circumstances giving rise to refugees and displaced persons around the Mediterranean Basin remind us that the requirements of the Dublin Regulation place a disproportionate asylum burden on OSCE border countries with accompanying tensions in these countries. We must better address this continuing challenge in the context of our OSCE commitments. Specifically, at the Ljubljana Ministerial Council of 2005, the participating States committed to “. . . promote dignified treatment of all individuals wanting to cross borders, in conformity with relevant national legal frameworks, international law, in particular human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law, and relevant OSCE commitments.” The failure to distinguish asylum seekers from those migrating for other reasons and the increased use of detention, including for unaccompanied children, continue to be major obstacles for those seeking protection and hinder efforts to meet the expectations laid forth in Ljubljana.

The plight of refugees and displaced persons in the Western Balkans—numbering in the hundreds of thousands—remains a concern even as the countries move closer to European integration. Finding permanent solutions requires, first and foremost, addressing the still pervasive hostility toward returnees. Threats, harassment and even attacks on returnees and potential returnees must stop. Local authorities, particularly in parts of Croatia, the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and throughout Kosovo, have a responsibility to take action to counter anti-return sentiments. European countries outside the region who have hosted those who fled the conflicts of the 1990s must also ensure that the conditions exist for safe and sustainable returns. This particularly applies to the return of Roma to Kosovo. Helping local authorities in receiving and integrating those who return is not only a humane act but also one that serves the self-interest of all the parties involved. Without such assistance, returnees may feel compelled to leave their homes once again to seek greater security elsewhere in Europe. We welcome the decision in August of authorities in Baden-Wuerttemberg to suspend the deportation of Roma back to Kosovo. Although the GOK and partner organizations have improved their capacity and have more of the resources needed to reintegrate Roma, this group still faces fundamental challenges, including unemployment and inadequate housing.

On another issue in the Western Balkans, we encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia to continue in their joint efforts, in coordination with the international community, to assure durable solutions for refugees and IDPs remaining from the displacement of 1991-1995.

We favor the protection of displaced populations in the South Caucasus and the provision of humanitarian assistance to address the needs that result from their displacement. In Georgia, we support a meaningful international presence that includes the OSCE and other international actors. This can play a valuable role in reducing tensions, facilitating humanitarian assistance, and monitoring and improving human rights and humanitarian conditions on the ground. We note, however, that the success of any international effort depends on unhindered access to the whole of Georgia, including the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

We are also concerned about continuing obstacles faced by persons displaced by the violence that took place in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. While temporary housing and building material has been provided by international donors, ongoing city redevelopment plans threaten long-term rebuilding efforts and property rights. Displaced ethnic Uzbeks have been disproportionately affected by such plans, and continue to face excessive bureaucratic obstacles in their efforts to recover property deeds or other documents or receive compensation for their losses. Kyrgyz authorities have done little to rebuild ethnic Uzbek businesses destroyed during the violence; instead there are credible and disturbing reports that ethnic Kyrgyz have expropriated ethnic Uzbek businesses through coercion or threats.

The United States remains concerned that government officials and political leaders in the OSCE region continue to contribute to a climate of xenophobia through anti-immigrant statements. In its worst instances, this can lead to bias-motivated violence against refugees, asylum seekers, and others. For example, the recent tragedy in Norway was inspired in part by misguided beliefs that Muslim migrants were destroying Europe, as well as the desire to stop politicians and others who were perceived as having facilitated entry into Europe for Muslim immigrants and their descendants and others.

Government officials and political and civic leaders should strive toward strategies that reduce racial prejudice and community tension around immigration issues, and maximize the human capital potential of those entering the country. We should use the ongoing debate regarding the expulsions of Roma from France and evictions of Roma in Italy and elsewhere to move us closer to those goals.

In this context we welcome the 2011 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session Resolution on “Strengthening Efforts to Combat Racism and Xenophobia and Foster Inclusion,” and look forward to follow up on it in the OSCE. We also commend the Council of Europe Report “Living together: Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe.”

Challenges also remain in our own country. We continue to battle negative views and actions towards migrants, including by collecting data on and responding to hate crimes directed against them.

We encourage participating States to utilize the many resources the OSCE has developed that can assist us in implementing our commitments. We support the OSCE’s Annual Hate Crimes Report, new Training against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement program and continue to support cooperative efforts to address the problem, such as the Memorandum of Understanding between UNHCR and ODIHR to further bolster existing cooperation in monitoring, reporting and capacity‐building related to hate crimes. We encourage the use of the OSCE/IOM “Training Modules on Labour Migration Management –Trainer’s Manual” in the development of migration programs and policies that will contribute to stability and security. We also remain supportive of efforts by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities that have focused on the integration of migrants and relieving societal tensions linked to migration.

As the United States noted at the Lithuanian Chairmanship’s timely Special Thematic Event on Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees, the OSCE has a unique role in fostering the capacity for the dignified voluntary return of displaced persons and finding durable solutions for refugees.


Spokesperson Nuland on the Detention of Sub-Saharan African Refugees and Migrants in Libya

The United States is deeply concerned about reports of arbitrary detention and abuse of sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees. We also understand that some Libyans are also being victimized based on the color of their skin. Nobody should be detained or harassed due to the color of their skin or their nationality, and measures must be taken to protect individuals from acts of violence.

We have welcomed the Transitional National Council’s (TNC) assurances of their commitment to safeguard the well-being of individuals throughout Libya and the TNC leadership’s cooperation with those international agencies engaged in identifying and assisting those at risk and/or detained, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Organization for Migration. We look forward to prompt implementation of these measures.

The United States is working with its international partners to facilitate safe passage out of Libya for those foreign nationals, including sub-Saharan African migrants, who wish to depart for their own safety.


Respecting the Dignity and Human Rights of People on the Move: International Migration Policy for the 21st Century

I am grateful to the Council on Foreign Relations for offering me the chance to speak on international migration issues.

Perhaps it’s best to start by defining our topic.

International migration policy concerns the array of national practices that apply to the treatment of citizens and non-citizens who cross borders, and constitutes the effort, by the United States and others, to share best practices and develop common principles, approaches and initiatives toward these populations. And while domestic immigration policy remains the sovereign right of each individual nation, how each of us addresses migration at home will inform any effort to develop common international understandings. And, of course, we can’t urge other governments to develop policies and practices that we ourselves are not prepared to implement. In other words, as President Obama has made clear in reference to our general human rights diplomacy, we should practice at home what we preach abroad.

My remarks today come against the backdrop of the fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development taking place this week in Puerto Vallarta.

I will lead the U.S. delegation to the Forum, where our goal will be to articulate principles and policies that serve the broad development objectives of receiving, transit and sending countries, while respecting the dignity and well-being of people on the move — as well as the sovereign rights of governments to determine their domestic immigration policies.

The starting points for a discussion of common principles and policies are our own history, perspectives and posture. Migration has played – and continues to play — a critical role in our national experience. Of more than 200 million people who are outside the country of their birth today, one in five resides in the United States. President Obama has said that “the steady stream of hardworking and talented people” who have immigrated to the United States over the years “has made the United States the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world.” And this perspective is hardly unique among our political leaders, past and present. Former President George W. Bush expressed a similar view, when he said that “[e]very generation of immigrants has reaffirmed the wisdom of remaining open to the talents and dreams of the world,” and added that “[o]ne of the primary reasons America became a great power in the 20th century is because we welcomed the talent and the character and the patriotism of immigrant families.”

Especially as we prepare for the Global Forum on Migration and Development, it is worth articulating our view of the benefits of our immigration experience, and the lessons they might offer for others.

In short, immigration has indeed been critical to the economic growth and development of the United States. Over 40 percent of the 300 million people in the U.S. today can trace their ancestry to immigrants who passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. It is difficult to imagine that the United States could have become the leading economic and political power it is today without the contribution made by the over 120 million people who immigrated during this period. And this does not include the many millions who came to the United States prior to the 19th century, or who have come since 1954.

Immigrants have made important contributions to the U.S. economy since the founding days of our nation, providing the critical foundation of our economic prosperity through the centuries. In 2000, immigrant business owners generated an estimated $67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business income.

To be sure, perspectives on the economic impacts of immigration to advanced industrial societies vary. On balance, however, the data reveal that the overall effect on U.S. wages has been positive, and that, over time, tax revenues generated by immigrants far exceed the cost of the services they use.

Immigration has also helped the United States avoid many of the very troubling demographic trends that bedevil other industrialized countries less hospitable to immigrants. As populations age, birth rates decline and the revenue streams needed to sustain social security programs shrink, new entrants and their families have played a critical role in helping the United States to sustain our capacity to maintain social programs.

Immigration has also played a role in innovations in the development of American science, art and music, and public policy. For example, one in four doctors in the United States is an immigrant, as are two in five medical scientists and one in three computer software engineers. And our generally positive record of assimilation of new communities has certainly been influenced by the contributions of previous waves of immigrants to the creation of social institutions, such as immigrant aid societies, that facilitate the integration of newcomers.

None of this can allow us to ignore the difficult policy issues that migration presents, such as the right balance in the composition and magnitude of legal immigration, the challenge of undocumented migration, and the most effective ways to address a perception among many citizens that immigrants threaten their economic well-being.

Of course, tensions around migration issues are nothing new. But they must not be used to divide and inflame; rather, the task is to engage a collective effort to promote positive change. The President has acknowledged the concerns of many Americans that our immigration laws must be reformed, to ensure accountability in the system while reflecting our values. This commitment to reform, and to accountability, is essential to sustaining public support for legal immigration. But amidst all of these concerns, we should not lose sight of the fact that immigration to the U.S. has yielded enormous benefits, nor forego our commitment to remain a society that welcomes the diversity and benefits that immigration can bring.

Our immigration policies have also had financial benefits to communities around the world, even as they have bound us more closely to those communities. In 2008, immigrant remittances from the United States amounted to $96.8 billion, representing nearly 30% of the total $336 billion in remittances worldwide.

Mexico, the host of the Global Forum on Migration and Development that is about to begin, is among the top recipients of migrant remittances with an estimated $22 billion in private remittances overall in 2009. Mexico has also developed a novel “Three for One” program, in which remittance dollars sent through hometown associations in Mexico are matched, dollar for dollar, by federal, state and municipal governments. Along with remittances sent directly to families, this program has bolstered the economies and infrastructure of many communities.

I don’t mean to suggest that remittances should substitute for generous and strategically sound programs of development assistance, a commitment to which President Obama most recently affirmed at the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. Nor should we ignore legitimate concerns about the loss of highly skilled workers from developing countries. This is why the Administration joined consensus earlier this year on the World Health Organization’s Code of Practice on the international recruitment of health workers, with guidelines for how receiving and sending countries can grow and sustain their domestic workforces and limit the negative impacts of migration, while respecting the freedom to emigrate.

This issue of remittances reminds us that, whatever one’s overall perspective on immigration, there is no arguing that migration is a constant of the human condition — and that our policies and practices must come to grips with that basic observation. This is critical for security, for economic and social well-being, and for the humanitarian values to which we and others aspire. So now let me turn to some principles that inform our policies and practices in this critical area, and which might be of some use to other governments grappling with these very same issues.

First, we must respect the dignity and uphold the human rights of migrants on our territory, regardless of their legal status. To be sure, governments have legitimate interests in enforcing their immigration laws. However, while doing so, we can treat undocumented migrants with dignity, and we do well to remember President Obama’s comment about the some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States: “[T]he overwhelming majority of these men and women are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children.”

Thus, the Obama Administration has a strong commitment to enforcing federal laws and policies not only aimed at illegal immigration, but also aimed at those who abuse migrants. We have maintained a robust effort to identify and prosecute human traffickers wherever we may find them, and we welcome Congressional support on this score. In fact, Congress has authorized special programs like the “U visa” and “T visa,” which officials can use to extend protection to trafficking victims and others who — due to fear of deportation – would otherwise be reluctant to come forward to assist law enforcement efforts against those who exploit vulnerable migrants. We should continually review these programs to ensure they are being implemented as effectively as possible, and share our experiences with other governments.

We also work to ensure that those who may be subject to deportation receive humane treatment while in federal government custody and are able to receive expeditious decisions on their cases. The Department of Homeland Security is engaged in a robust review of our immigration detention system, and has taken a number of important detention reform measures over the past 15 months – including a revised policy on parole of aliens with credible fears of persecution. In addition, we have made significant investments in the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to improve the immigration courts system.

Second, we should strengthen our capacity for migration management – to effectively enforce domestic immigration laws. This is critical if we and other governments of receiving states wish to sustain public support for our immigration policies. Moreover, in the post 9-11 environment, it is reasonable to expect that those who wish to do us severe harm may seek to enter the United States fraudulently. While we must be vigilant in efforts to prevent bias and unfair treatment, we must also be prepared to implement new and effective enforcement measures. In our refugee program, for example, we will soon institute DNA testing for certain applicants to ensure the validity of claims made about family connections.

Third, the United States must press other governments – and speak out loudly and clearly – when enforcement practices run afoul of international obligations. For example, actions such as the unprovoked or disproportionate use of deadly force to prevent migrants from crossing borders, or law enforcement actions against smugglers that do not adhere to applicable protection obligations relating to refugees, should be of the deepest concern to sending and receiving states alike.

Fourth, we must continually review our own procedures for providing protection for vulnerable migrants. Our temporary protected status statute enables the Administration to permit non-citizens or lawful permanent residents who are in the United States to remain here temporarily if their country of citizenship is affected by situations including a natural disaster or armed conflict and return would pose a threat to their safety. Earlier this year, we used this statute to provide temporary refuge to qualifying Haitian nationals after the devastating earthquake. And our refugee admissions and asylum programs have resulted in citizenship for millions over the past 30 years. Other governments should be encouraged to implement or strengthen programs of this type.

Fifth, governments and international organizations must be much more focused on the relationship between migration and national development strategies. This year, for example, more than 100,000 Afghans have returned to their country of origin, but many of these returnees have not had adequate access to national development efforts. International financial and development organizations should ensure that their assistance is linked to refugee return and reintegration programs, as well as to local integration programs for individuals in countries of refuge.

Governments and international organizations must also better anticipate the impact of development programs on the movement of people. For example, such programs can sometimes result in the relocation of rural populations to urban centers. In countries that lack urban employment opportunities or infrastructure, this can lead to out-migration with significant impacts on neighboring states.

Sixth, we and other donors must seek to build the capacity of developing country governments to manage migration effectively and humanely and to directly assist the most vulnerable migrants. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration supports programs throughout the world for these purposes. And our efforts to build migration management capacity are supplemented by those of other federal departments and agencies. For example, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement manages a Global Trafficking in Persons program that has trained more than 34,000 personnel from foreign law enforcement, NGOs and international organizations.

And finally, we and others must recognize the critical importance of partnerships with civil society on international migration issues. Under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, the State Department’s Global Partnership Initiative is engaging diaspora communities in efforts to promote social, economic and political development in their countries of origin. The U.S. Agency for International Development has also engaged with civil society to amplify the development impact of remittances and to encourage investments by immigrants in the countries of their birth and ancestry.

And we are engaging partners to assist migrant communities in the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced federal funding for 78 organizations to support citizenship education and preparation programs for lawful permanent residents and build capacity in communities to meet increasing demand for citizenship services.

I cannot close without mentioning a key element in communicating our seriousness of purpose on these issues: Comprehensive Immigration Reform. In July, President Obama renewed his call for common sense reform. For the past twenty months, the Administration has played an active role in engaging with elected officials to promote a bipartisan solution – and we will continue to work with the Congress for reform that is grounded in principles of responsibility and accountability, and which addresses future requirements of family-based and employment-based immigration.

While there has been movement toward some of these objectives, comprehensive reform can only be accomplished through Congressional action. And that would be the best means to address frustrations of U.S. citizens in several states that have passed laws attempting to enforce federal immigration law on the state level. This of course includes the recent Arizona law, provisions of which the Obama Administration opposes.

While the outcome of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform debate may be uncertain, the message of this Administration is clear: the United States has greatly benefited by migration to our shores and – whatever the precise contours of a system of legal immigration – our country must protect the rights of all migrants. These are principles that we will advocate strongly in Puerto Vallarta this week, as they not only reflect our values, but also international humanitarian principles to which this Administration and its predecessors have been so deeply committed.


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