by Tomoaki Inui
Despite Western European nation states’ policy to restrict migration, a large number of irregular migrants stay there because of both economic factors in host countries and existing migration networks between sending and receiving countries(Sciortino 2004; Bommes 2006). These irregular migrants are facing hard situation without explicit human rights.
Some international human rights laws demand access to social rights for irregular migrants. For instance, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) says that nation-states need to grant social rights to irregular migrants and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) refer to the rights of children without legal status to attend school. In Europe, it is said that International human rights law often has an effect on the national policy. However, this case shows the limit of the law.
The situation irregular migrants are facing are very different from country to country.Germany is one of the strictest countries in Europe. It doesn’t allow irregular migrants to access social rights such health care and education. The core of German migration system is the German Residence Act. It means all public institutions are obliged to inform the foreigners’ office about the presence of irregular migrants (Laubenthal 2011). As a result of the system, irregular migrants tend to avoid public places.
In some states, states’ laws abolish the system and allows the children without legal status to access to school. These policy changes were caused by two factors. One is the acts of non-governmental actors and the other is the pressure of the international human rights regime. Though the effect of international human rights regime is limited, it still has a big role to change the nation states’ policy.
Also, the institutional structure of Germany had a big role. In Germany, the states have strong influence on the decision of federal government and they can decide lots of things related to the education by themselves. Laubenthal says these policy changes have happened in two ways: federal state government themselves have initiated policy changes and local level authorities have used the local structure of the German political system (Laubenthal 2011).
In Japan, Japanese students can go to school automatically without any process. On the other hand the children without legal residence status can access to education however they have to apply for the school by themselves. However, the problem is not only whether they can attend to school or not, but also the quality of the education. In Japan, most teachers haven’t practiced foreigners’ education. They don’t know how to teach the students who can’t speak Japanese well. Also, they sometimes lose the motivation to teach them because actually some teachers think that it is not their job to teach them. Due to this, they don’t try to teach the children so hard and don’t care if they drop out. Because of these education systems, the children often drop out and go to underclass. This shows that to give irregular migrants social rights is not enough. We have to think how to make good education condition for these children.