Press Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry on International Migrants Day

December 18, 2015

On International Migrants Day, commemorated on December 18, we pay tribute to all those who venture abroad in search of safety, dignity, and a better life.

We recall the heartbreaking images and harrowing stories that have captured the attention of the world, and the more than 3600 migrants and refugees who have died this year alone attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Whether they are escaping war or poverty or seeking opportunity, migrants’ quests can benefit everyone, from families back home that depend on their earnings, to employers abroad who need their energy and skill. In some cases, remittances provide more resources to poor nations than development assistance does. And in countries with labor shortages or aging populations, migrants can propel economies forward.

The vast majority of the more than 200 million people who migrate each year make the trip legally. But regardless of what documents they carry, all should be protected and treated humanely.

All countries should help — not just the ones next door.

Our own nation is built upon migrants’ dreams. Their daring, their striving, and their freedom to imagine a better future, has fueled our own prosperity and become an indispensable part of our heritage and national character.

Today, we reaffirm our responsibility — and our commitment — to help other human beings who make great sacrifices and take great risks to face the unknown.