Immigration has always been high on the political agenda of many countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). During the last decades, the figure of international immigration has continued to rise, with about 3.6 million immigrants entering OECD countries in 2007. (OECD 2009a) Meanwhile, there are significant flows of illegal immigrants as well, but due to its secretive nature the accurate data is unavailable. Various measures have taken to try to control illegal immigrant flows, including stricter border control, identity checks, forced return and denial of survival, social security rights. Netherland, as one of the OECD countries, has also gradually adopted policies that exclude the undocumented migrants from access to food, shelter and health care, which are the most basic need for every human being to survive. Since then, the undocumented migrants are experiencing more difficulties than ever.
As part of the curriculum in Minor Human Rights and Social Work, the students of The Hague University of Applied Science are given a chance to interview the undocumented migrants in de Bijlmer, Amsterdam. The interview has given us more insightful perspective regarding the undocumented migrants themselves, and how the daily life looks like for them in the Netherlands. In this research paper, by applying one of Jim Ife’s seven arenas of human rights – the survival rights, together with the real life experiences from the undocumented, the writer will discuss what are the implications of the immigration policies in the Netherlands, and how do they affect the survival development of the undocumented migrants.
Survival Rights and the Undocumented Migrants
According to Jim Ife, there are seven different dimensions regarding human rights development. Survival right is one of them. Although in his book Human Rights from Below, survival development is the last category he addressed, it is however, without any doubt the most fundamental rights for all human being. Without being able to survive, other human rights and developments are of nowhere to start.
Survive may carry different meaning for everyone. Some may say one cannot survive without money, cloths, or other material objects; some may also argue that one cannot survive without psychological support such as religious believes. In fact, going back to Jim Ife’s idea, survival rights simply refers to the aspect we need the most to survive: food, shelter and basic health care. These rights are the least likely to be disagreed upon, and also have the strongest claim to universality. As Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of...