Americas Migration Brief - April 10, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
The IDB explores opportunities to use artificial intelligence to promote immigrant integration, noting, for example, the program GeoMatch, used “to geographically match migrants with better employment opportunities.”
The UN highlights stories of entrepreneurship mentorship programs helping Venezuelan migrants and refugees grow their businesses. In a similar vein, one WOCCU-USAID program in Ecuador “has helped 5,000 entrepreneurs. Eighty percent have not only managed to sustain themselves, but already have two to three employees,” reports San Francisco Chronicle in a piece explaining how Venezuelans without a regular status in Ecuador struggle to grow their entrepreneurial businesses.
“Pocha House, a cultural center for deportees and return migrants, was created in January, 2018, by the members of a nonprofit called Otros Dreams en Acción, or ODA, whose advocacy team works on two key fights: lobbying the Mexican government to provide support for newly returned migrants and pressuring U.S. authorities to make tourist visas more accessible to them. Immigrant activism in the U.S. has generally focussed on the right of immigrants to remain in the country, but pocha activism is different: it is about the right to come and go,” explains The New Yorker in a piece on the experiences of Mexican deportees and returnees in Mexico.
Between March 17 and April 5, Mexico’s INM has granted 2,320 humanitarian protection cards to migrants in Mexico City, granting work and residency authorization for one year to recipients (press release, CiberCuba). El Financiero highlights the experiences of Haitian migrants seeking the authorization.
Blumont explains their Acogida nine-month rent subsidy program, funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, noting that, the program “works with local property owners to find reliable housing options for subsidy recipients. As a result, Venezuelan families find a safe place to live while also helping local Colombians earn a living… By the time the first cycle of rent subsidies ended in November 2022, our team found that two-thirds of the 334 families were able to continue paying rent on their own.”
A new Universidad Central de Chile study exploring differences between media and press narratives and social media narratives based on data between October 2021 and September 2022 finds that “while the press associates migration with issues related to concepts such as crisis, lack of regulation and crime problems, people associate it with the impact on access to state benefits in services such as health, housing and education.” (El Mostrador)
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
R4V has published an update on the regularization plan for Venezuelans, noting, “An estimated 63 per cent of Venezuelans in the country were unable to access the PNV due to ineligibility or barriers such as financial limitations, lack of identification documentation, and limited access to transportation from provinces to the capital where services are centralized.” Furthermore, “14,375 persons approved in Phase 1 were not able to complete Phase 2 to receive their visa. Partners estimate that many [of] these “drop-outs” were due to cost.”
Curaçao’s Minister of Justice has presented data dispelling the myth that irregular Venezuelan migrants commit crimes at a large or disproportionate scale in the country. (Crónicas del Caribe)
IOM highlights efforts to reintegrate returnees in Honduras such as the Migrant Return Centres (CAMR).
🇺🇸 United States
The New York Times highlights struggles immigrants have in accessing aid, noting, “More than 40 percent of the country’s poor children are children of immigrants. While most are American citizens, about half have an undocumented parent, which bars the whole household from some government benefits.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
The UN has launched the first Network on Missing Migrants in the Americas, noting, “The exact number of those who die transiting through this region is unknown, but records compiled by the Missing Migrants Project indicate that between 2014 and 2022, at least 7,495 people lost their lives in the region.”
Muslim migrants and asylum seekers face unique challenges in their travels through Latin America to the US border, explains New Lines Magazine, highlighting “language and cultural barriers, religious discrimination, and Islamophobia.” Meanwhile, Global News reports on Egyptian asylum-seekers denouncing “Islamophobia by Canada’s border agency.”
French authorities are conducting a manslaughter investigation in Guadeloupe about the shipwreck that left at least 3 dead and 13 missing after departing from Antigua and Barbuda (see last week’s AMB). The 14 survivors from the disaster will be returned to Antigua and Barbuda from Saint Kitts and Nevis, reports Observer.
The Law for the Prevention, Attention, and Protection of Internally Displaced Persons, passed in December 2022, took effect on March 22nd, notes Criterio, explaining that of the more than 247,000 displaced in the country, 55% are women and 43% are minors.
A bill in Colombia to recognize climate change-caused internal displacement—the first of its kind in Latin America—passed the first of at least four debates in Congress, reports Infobae.
37,606 individuals applied for asylum in Mexico during the first quarter of 2023, a 29% increase from the first quarter of 2022, reports La Prensa. Haitians (13,631) and Hondurans (8,620) were by far the leading nationalities.
🇺🇸 United States
“Migrants who enter the United States illegally will be screened by asylum officers while in custody under a limited experiment that provides them access to legal counsel, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday. The new approach will start with a tiny number of migrants next week. Officials said the trial run is part of preparations for the end of a pandemic-related rule expected on May 11 that has suspended rights to seek asylum for many,” reports AP, adding, “Currently, it takes about four weeks to conduct a screening interview and, if someone fails to meet the criteria, another four to five weeks for air transportation back to their countries, officials said. The new tack aims to shorten that time to less than 72 hours, the maximum allowed to hold someone in a CBP facility under agency policy.”
The US is updating eligibility criteria for the Central American Minors Program, set to be published in the Federal Register on April 11th.
Niskanen Center’s Matthew La Corte notes on Twitter that “State Department data shows 6,122 refugees were resettled in March. This is the largest monthly total since January 2017.” In a recent commentary, the Niskanen Center argues that recent efforts to revamp refugee resettlement in the US are set to pay dividends this year.
A new paper at Journal of Population Economics explores the impact of the “metering” policy to restrict access to asylum, finding that “metering increased undocumented flows of migrants targeted by the policy… (and caused) longer waits at the border and increased migrant despair, as captured by higher propensities of crossing without a smuggler and experiencing harsh, life-threatening conditions.”
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, detailing the fallout from the Ciudad Juárez detention center fire that killed 40 (see last week’s AMB). Vice reports that the detention center where the fire occurred “operated as an ‘extortion center’... Survivors say those who died did so for one reason: they could not or did not pay a $200 bribe to security guards to be released.”
Canada has agreed to “allow 15,000 migrants from the Western Hemisphere to seek asylum on a humanitarian basis over the course of the year” as a part of the “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the United States, reports AP. (see AMB 3/27/23)
🇬🇫 French Guiana
Amid an increase in asylum seekers over the last three years, French Guiana is increasing reception capacity by 120 beds by the end of the year through the creation of two centers in Regina and Sinnamary. Some asylum seekers have slept outside of the town hall of the capital, Cayenne. The French department’s prefect notes, “While a little over a year ago, we had 58% Haitians [among asylum seekers], we now have only 21%.” (Overseas1, Guyana1)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Tico Times highlights the issue of migrant disappearances in Costa Rica, reporting, “To prevent the disappearance of migrants, the Committee (on Enforced Disappearances) has asked Costa Rica to prohibit the expulsion, return, or extradition of persons when there are reasonable grounds to believe that they may be at risk of enforced disappearance. Such measures are crucial to ensure that Costa Rica upholds its obligations under international human rights law and protects the human rights of all persons, regardless of their legal status.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Mexico will host a Latin American Forum on Migration in either June or July, reports EFE.
🇺🇸🇨🇱 Chile and United States
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chilean Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren had a phone call last week to discuss migration, among other topics, reports Cooperativa.
🇧🇪🇸🇷 Suriname and Belgium
Suriname and Belgium have signed a memorandum of understanding on migration, reports Waterkant, noting an emphasis on an exchange program and a circular migration program.
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Migrants in Transit
IOM has published a document on recent migration trends in the Americas, including a map of migration routes, covering the countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, the US, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
IOM has published a series of Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs) on Venezuelan migration to and from Chile, covering Colchane (1 and 2) and Arica (1 and 2). There are also three new DTMs on Costa Rica: Metropolitan San José, the North, and the South.
🇵🇪🇨🇱 Chile and Peru
Chile’s military deployment at the northern border has limited migration from Peru, reports The Clinic, explaining that the slowed migration has caused Peruvian border cities like Tacna to develop temporary housing tent encampments.
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda
The Migration Policy Institute’s Valerie Lacarte talks African migration through Antigua and Barbuda with Observer, noting the possibility of African migrants following a similar route to that of Haitians heading to the US, traveling to South America and then north through the Darien Gap.
ABC covers increasing Ecuadorian emigration, noting, “Like many migrants, Ecuadorians typically followed the pattern of single men moving first to establish a foothold. Now, many of the Ecuadorians migrating to the New York area are families. CBP figures show that families with children have grown to about 60% of arrivals, from 15% in fiscal year 2020.”
Borders and Enforcement
Belize is set to “impose visa restrictions for Haitians and a requirement that Jamaicans provide evidence of fully paid non-refundable hotel reservations prior to boarding flights to Belize,” reports Jamaica Gleaner, noting a suspected human-smuggling ring to facilitate US-bound migration. Jamaicans have also used Panama and Mexico as points of transit en route to the US, reports Radio Jamaica News.
“Humanitarian defenders, lawyers and political analysts today consider the decision of the Chilean National Prosecutor's Office to request preventive detention for foreigners without documents to be worrying and warned that migration is not a crime,” reports Prensa Latina.
🇺🇸 United States
“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are using an obscure legal tool to demand data from elementary schools, news organizations, and abortion clinics in ways that, some experts say, may be illegal,” reports Wired.
“Agents of the National Border Service of Panama (Senafront) deployed an operation in the Darien Jungle to capture a group of people who were engaged in robbing and abusing migrants on their way,” reports El Pitazo, including video from a journalist interviewing victims and covering the operation.
“The number of irregular migrants returned to Cuba from different countries so far this year has already exceeded 3,000,” reports On Cuba News.
Bolivia has set up a new immigration and customs office on the border with Paraguay that will help connect Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Asunción by land, reports El País, noting an additional expected office on the border with Chile “at the Tambo Quemado and Colchane pass.”
R4V has released new numbers on Venezuelan migrants and refugees, which have reached 7.24 million in total in the diaspora, with 6.1 million in Latin America and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, R4V also covers recent migratory movements, noting a “Downward trend identified in the movements toward the South,” including fewer entries from Peru into Chile due to unrest in the former country.
Bonaire’s UPB and MPB parties have reached an agreement to “slow down the arrival of more migrants in the next four years” and to establish “stricter rules for people who want to apply for a residence permit,” reports Caribisch Netwerk.
More on Migration
El País covers increasing security issues across the Americas, noting how organized crime groups take advantage of migrants, while security issues themselves have also pushed people to migrate.
The Inter-American Dialogue has a new set of slides on family remittances in 2022 with lots of data, noting, “Family remittances continue to demonstrate an annual 10 percent growth rate since 2010. Some longer standing remittance receiving countries like Jamaica or El Salvador still show over 5 percent annual growth between 2015-2022.”
Following a meeting with Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador last Tuesday, Mexican priest and human rights activist Alejandro Solalinde says that Mexico plans to replace the National Migration Institute (INM) with a new National Coordination for Immigration and Migratory Affairs (Coordinación Nacional Asuntos Migratorios y Extranjería). With the creation of this new institution, members of the armed forces would no longer take part in migration-related tasks. (El Economista)
“When Western Union (WU) announced on March 2, 2023 that it would resume sending remittances to Cuba, some people imagined that this might be a more direct way to receive money from the United States… But in practice this process has turned out to be more complicated,” reports El Toque, explaining the bureaucratic hurdles remittance senders and receivers in the country face.
The Federal University of Bahia has published a new book/report (in Portuguese) with various chapters covering a wide range of topics related to migration, refuge, and human rights in relation to Brazil, according to a press release.
🇺🇸 United States
AP covers the so-called Gang of 8’s failed push for immigration reform a decade ago and the decades-long lack of progress on immigration at a Congressional level in the US.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“A spirited discussion is underway in Trinidad about governmental intervention to bring back more than 100 locals who had idealistically left the southern Caribbean island to fight alongside ISIS in the Middle East in the past decade, and are now desperate to get back home… the group (is) mostly women and children—the majority of the men who enlisted to fight were killed or are unaccounted for… Many of the families who made the journey have, over the years, signaled their regrets at having done so and have been languishing in refugee camps for years,” reports Amsterdam News.
ICRC highlights the role of forensic scientists in providing closure to families of those that died attempting to migrate through the Darien Gap.
Middle East Eye explores the history of Arab migration to Colombia, noting that “From 1880 to 1930, it’s believed between 10,000 and 30,000 Lebanese migrants moved to Colombia.”