International migration and a thriving market in migrant trafficking pose threats to security in the Asia Pacific region. Fifteen years ago, when the world was still cemented into Western and Socialist blocs, international migration hardly occurred between the two blocs. Migration was a phenomenon that was largely marginalized as an issue of third-world countries. But times have changed, and the political map of the world is more diverse than before.
The opening of the former Socialist countries and rapid technological developments gave rise to the era of globalization that spins all countries, industrial and developing, into a global web. In the multicultural world of the 21st century, it has become more difficult, if not impossible, to closely monitor and control the movements of people. This is especially true in a region as politically and culturally diverse as the Asia Pacific region. As a result, international migration, migrant trafficking, and regional security are emerging as important new issues on the political agenda.
The Asia Pacific region is home to more than one-third of the world population and is also a source, transit point, and destination for increasing numbers of migrants. Many nations in the region have been formed over the centuries by migratory movements. In addition, people from the region have migrated all around the world. (Myers, 2002)
International migration--be it legal or illegal, documented or irregular--is the ultimate result of multiple factors that alternatively or cumulatively cause people to leave their home countries for foreign shores. The factors that induce people to migrate are complex and may be perceived as pushing, thus encouraging emigration, or pulling, encouraging immigration, or they may exist in a complex network of social or economic ties.
Political instability and armed conflict, rapid population growth, environmental degradation, widening economic disparities between countries, and a worsening unemployment crisis in the Asia Pacific region have caused severe migration pressures that have led many people to leave their home countries and move abroad in order to find protection, employment, higher wages, or simply a better life. Voluntarily or involuntarily, people are migrating to other countries to secure their lives, their families and friends, or their property. (Salt and Stein, 2003)
Almost invariably, migration in the region has occurred where political, demographic, socioeconomic, and environmental push and pull factors combine with growing migration systems, leading more people to migrate. With scarcity of economic resources and the continuing lack of human rights recognition in some parts of the region, migration pressures are growing; yet migratory movements are still small in numbers in comparison with the growing population in the Asia Pacific region. Not surprisingly, where people feel politically suppressed or where poverty and unemployment appear to be the rule rather than the exception, people often see the only way out in illegal migration and in the services that migrant traffickers offer.
The Asia Pacific region has been described as the busiest region in the world in terms of illegal migration and organized crime. ?very form of criminal behavior associated with migrant trafficking--including document fraud, corruption, and bribery--has been documented here....