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Statement by Secretary Kerry: International Migrants Day
December 19, 2016

Press Statement

John Kerry 
Secretary of State

Washington, DC
December 18, 2016

International Migrants Day is an opportunity to reflect upon the many ways that migrants enrich our cultures, economies, and societies.

Like no other time in modern history, the world is on the move. In 2015, some 244 million people crossed national borders to seek jobs, join family, study, invest, and contribute to cutting-edge research.

Migrants’ contributions to America are striking. More than 40 percent of our high-tech companies have been founded by immigrants or their children. First and second-generation immigrants to the United States have won 65 percent of Nobel Prizes awarded for work here, and account for one-third of our physicists, engineers, and doctors, 60 percent of our construction workers, and the majority of agricultural workers. Migrants to the United States take risks, work hard, invest, and innovate. They make our culture more vibrant and our nation stronger.

In the face of heated rhetoric that can distort the debate about migration, we must redouble our efforts to dispel unfounded fears, fight xenophobia, secure our borders, uphold our immigration laws, and ensure all migrants are treated with dignity and that their human rights are respected.

The United States supports the UN General Assembly’s September 19 New York Declaration, which established a process to create a global compact for safe, orderly, and regular migration. The compact should improve the treatment of vulnerable migrants, open new paths for legal migration, and maximize migrants’ contribution to sustainable development. The United States is committed to advancing these goals diplomatically and through assistance we provide to countries around the world. ‎

We are proud to live in a nation that has offered unparalleled freedom and opportunity to migrants, and reaffirm our commitment to assisting those who are most in need of protection and aid. We will continue to work with partners throughout the international community to make migration safer, more orderly, and more lawful. As our experience has shown, properly managed migration can benefit us all.