Claire Provost: Remittances for development is ‘tricky territory’

    Given current tight budgetary situations, donors may want to look more closely at how changes to their immigration policies can help boost development in poor countries.

    Claire Provost of the Guardian makes the case for relaxing immigration policies as a cost-effective development tool in a recent “Poverty Matters Blog” post. Provost says that while the proposal is not new and not without criticism, it is “perhaps an easier case to make at a time of tightened budgets.”

    Provost cites as example the United States’ move this January to include quake-hit Haiti in its list of countries eligible for temporary U.S. work visas. Center for Global Development senior fellow Michael Clemens estimates the move could unlock millions of dollars for Haitian families, Provost notes.

    Clemens, according to Provost, was among those who helped convince the U.S. government to push through with the initiative. He argued that changing U.S. immigration laws to allow Haitians to work temporarily in the United States “could do more good for Haiti than any amount of foreign aid” and put money directly in the pockets of poor Haitians, Provost shares.

    But leveraging remittances to spur development is a “tricky territory,” Provost says, as possible violation of the rights of migrant workers has to be considered. She adds that “more thinking needs to be done on how to join up efforts to leverage remittances for development with ongoing struggles to improve the rights of migrant workers.”

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.