Asia’s Migration Morass

Asia's leaders must recognize that migration not only stimulates economies, but also provides an opportunity to build business and trade linkages. People will not stop leaving their home countries in their search for a better life, but, without an effective global migration policy, more people will die trying to achieve it.

NEW YORK – This summer, 17 Pakistani asylum seekers died when their boat capsized en route to Australia. Given violence at home – exemplified recently by the Pakistani Taliban’s effort to kill 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out in favor of girls’ education – it is not surprising that migrants are willing to take great risks in pursuit of new opportunities abroad. In fact, thousands of migrants cross Asia’s numerous and porous frontiers each year with the help of expensive brokers who secure their passage.

As Asia becomes increasingly interconnected, migrants have the potential to contribute to all sectors of society. But government-imposed restrictions on cross-border mobility are generating negative outcomes.

Despite talk of strengthening regional cooperation, a framework for dealing with migration remains an elusive prospect. Given their diverse economic and political circumstances, Asia’s leaders have been unable to agree on a strategy that addresses migration’s fundamental cause: people’s natural inclination to pursue the best available opportunities by any means possible.

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