Because locals face many of the same difficulties as immigrants, it would probably be a mistake to formulate a policy framework exclusively oriented towards immigrants. Indeed, how can public authorities provide immigrants with services not even available to their own citizens? Expecting successful integration of immigrants in a number of areas considered luxuries even for locals may be unattainable, and to a certain degree undesirable for fear of resentment from locals. Main economic, social and political reforms should then be universal in nature, and focus on priority areas such as employment, social protection and education.
But universal reforms, although desirable, may also generate several adverse effects in terms of integration. There is a risk that governments may decide to give priority to their own citizens, thus excluding immigrants from economic and social benefits. And even if reforms cover foreign populations, it is likely that undocumented immigrants may not be included. Yet, because borders in many developing countries are so porous, irregular migration is the norm, not the exception. Undocumented immigrants may therefore find themselves more isolated than before, above all if reforms come with the generalisation of identification systems.
To avoid major risks of marginalisation, and the associated costs for society, public authorities in developing countries need to adopt specific measures to protect the basic rights of immigrants, in particular the most vulnerable. In this respect, the case of stranded migrants requires a specific treatment so that the burden is not only shouldered by transit countries, but also by those of origin and final - or originally intended - destination. In addition, measures to fight discrimination must be implemented.
But even though protecting migrant rights and fighting discrimination are crucial, integration also implies that immigrants are better incorporated into the host society. Chapter 5 will show, based on the experience of various developing countries, that such goals can be achieved.