Return Migration and Various Reintegration Programs for Low-Skilled Migrant Workers in Indonesia


The link between migration and development is largely considered to be limited to remittances. This is reflected in the Indonesian analogy of migrant workers as “remittance heroes,” emphasizing the financial capital sent by workers back home. This paper tries to enlarge the conceptualization of migrant workers to include all forms of human, financial and social capital. It starts with a discussion on return migration theories and considers them in the context of Indonesia. Circular migration poses a challenge as as it does not guarantee the sustainability of reintegration. At the same time it raises the importance of reintegration strategies in which safe migration measures could be extensively implemented. We construct a conceptual framework within which return migration is framed more comprehensively, to address the various social, economic and cultural impacts of migration. Based on a series of in-depth interviews and stakeholder consultation, we document a range of reintegration programs. We find that regardless of their absence in policy frameworks, reintegration activities have been initiated in practical ways by various stakeholders. These activities have so far been demand based, sporadic and insufficient. We conclude the paper by underlining the importance of inserting reintegration in the forthcoming law on protection of Indonesian migration workers.

Keywords: return migration, reintegration, circular migration, low-skilled migrant workers