The United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to hold discussions on international migration and development in early October, possibly coinciding with the resumption of the immigration reform debate in Congress.
The talks are scheduled Oct. 3 and 4 as the General Assembly opens its fall session.
While the tie-in to U.S. immigration reform is not direct, the topic is one of global interest because of the increasing movement of people, largely for economic reasons.
A national group wants to help policymakers prepare for the upcoming UN talks. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute is publishing a series of briefs ahead of the discussions, to be held in New York.
Don Kerwin, an institute senior fellow and the executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, wrote the first policy brief. In his brief, Kerwin explored the question: does respect for migrant rights contribute to economic development.
“Certainly what we found in the United States is that when you legalize people, and this would be the experience of the last legalization act ... , what that does is it leads them to invest more in their own education and to job development, to put down roots, and it leads them to activate their human potential and capital," Kerwin said. "And, that does lead to greater productivity and to greater economic development.”
The UN discussions could coincide with more congressional debate on immigrant reform. A bill sponsored by eight senators, including Arizona Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, has passed the Senate but has hit a wall in the U.S. House.
There, Republicans in the majority say they want to piecemeal the approach to reform, with border security taking top priority.
The last U.S. reform referred to by Kerwin, in 1986 , has been criticized in the current debate for not having solved problems but rather added to them by opening the door to more illegal immigration.
Nearly 900,000 immigrants live in Arizona, according to the most recent U.S. Census. Other estimates put the number of undocumented immigrants in the state at 320,000 to 400,000.
Michael Chihak contributed to this report.