Americas Migration Brief - April 17, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
“Since 2010, no single region has experienced a greater relative increase in international migration than Latin America and the Caribbean. The number of migrants living in the region nearly doubled from 8.3 million in 2010 to 16.3 million in 2022, a dramatic shift driven by a series of displacement crises, free-movement arrangements, and former emigrants returning with foreign-born children and spouses, among other trends,” writes the Migration Policy Institute in an article covering Latin American and Caribbean migration trends, including dives into integration, growing migration through the Darien Gap, and increasingly regional approaches to migration.
At Visa a cualquier parte, journalist Jefferson Diaz discusses discrimination against migrants in South America; highlighting data that shows that just 0.24%, 0.11%, 0.09%, and 0.25% of Venezuelan migrants have been detained for criminal offenses in Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador; respectively.
A new IOM report “highlights how diasporas from South America are contributing to the development of their countries of origin, and how these countries can work with diaspora communities to maximize their impact.” The report primarily uses the cases of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru; as well as additional coverage of Argentina, Chile, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
In an interview with El Tiempo, the director of Migración Colombia, Fernando García Manosalva, discusses Colombia’s process to regularize the 2.5+ million Venezuelans in the country, alongside other topics related to migration, Colombia, and Venezuela. Colombia is extending the expiration date to acquire the Temporary Protection Permit (PPT) certificates—indicating participation in the process—until the end of the year; the opportunity was initially set to expire at the end of this month. (see AMB 1/23/23 on the initial rollout of the temporary certificate)
Cuban immigrants protested in front of the presidency of Uruguay last Tuesday to call for a migratory regularization, reports CiberCuba, adding, “In February, Cuban doctors asked in a letter addressed to the President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, that he speed up the revalidation of university degrees to be able to practice their profession in that country. The Association of Free Cubans in Uruguay considers that the largest immigrant community in that country is the Cuban one, although there is no updated census on the number of its members. In 2019 there were more than 5,000 Cubans in the country.” According to the Migration Policy Institute, however, the largest migrant population in the country as of mid-2020 was Argentinians, with 33,000.
IOM has published two new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs) across Argentina (1 and 2) focusing on Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the country, with the first DTM noting 57.9% of respondents reported having permanent residency, with just 4.7% in an irregular status. 46.5% reported planning to stay in the country for an indefinite period of time.
Immigrant women are increasingly and disproportionately the victims of human and sex trafficking in Peru, reports La República, noting that 85% of foreign victims are Venezuelan.
WHO interviewed two doctors working to eliminate malaria in Suriname, particularly among migrants working in gold mining. They note the remote locations as a key challenge, as well as communication barriers, and that “they are mostly living in the context of illegal mining, so a large part of the population is undocumented and has no insurance.”
CBC highlights the long waits and struggles asylum seekers face in trying to obtain work permits in Canada, noting, “The federal government launched an online application last September in an attempt to process claims more quick… But advocates and immigration lawyers say the new system — while a welcome improvement — comes with its own problems.”
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a large backlog for the Immigration Identity Document for Foreigners (DIMEX), reports QCostaRica, adding, “Though foreign nationals are able to maintain their legal status in Costa Rica without a valid DIMEX if they have made a request for the card, however, may face restrictions in traveling abroad; dealing certain government services, such as obtaining a driver’s license and opening a bank account, among others.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
“For nearly two years, The Associated Press assembled puzzle pieces from across three continents to uncover the story of a mysterious Mauritanian boat — and the people it carried to death as they drifted across the Atlantic Ocean and appeared in the Caribbean island of Tobago on May 28, 2021… In 2021, at least seven boats appearing to be from Northwest Africa washed up in the Caribbean and in Brazil. All carried dead bodies. These “ghost boats” — and likely many others that have vanished — are in part an unintended result of years of efforts and billions of dollars spent by Europe to stop crossings on the Mediterranean Sea. That crackdown, along with economic disruption from the pandemic among other factors, pushed migrants to return to the far longer, more obscure and more dangerous Atlantic route to Europe from northwest Africa via the Canaries instead,” reports AP. The full investigation is available here.
Venezuelans (45,748) and Colombians (36,012) were the leading asylum seekers in Spain last year, reports Infobae. Just 658 Colombians received asylum during the year, however, and even fewer Venezuelans did as well, although 20,580 Venezuelans received temporary status for humanitarian reasons in the country during the year.
Following up on last week’s AMB, the notice of the update to the United States’ Central American Minors (CAM) program is available here. The update extends eligibility “to qualifying parents and legal guardians with pending applications for asylum or U visa petitions filed on or before April 11, 2023,” as well as for those with pending T visa applications.
“Mexico’s immigration head will face criminal charges in a fire that killed 40 migrants in a detention center last month, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that he will not dismiss the official known for his hard line on northbound migration,” reports AP.
Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) distributed 1,360 regularization documents for humanitarian purposes to migrants in Mexico City on April 10th. 882 of these were granted to Haitian citizens. (see last week’s AMB for more on this initiative)
In a critique of the Mexican government’s migration policy, Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) director Gretchen Kuhner argues that the INM “should stop detaining migrants in immigration jails, knowing that under Mexican law, detention has to be the last resort. It should set up support centers for migrants and asylum seekers at international entry points in the country with COMAR staff, including airports. And it should open the doors of immigration stations to help people with information, immigration documentation, and referrals to welfare, health, education, and civil society organizations,” among other recommendations, including the demilitarization of migration policy.
🇺🇸 United States
“The administration is planning to increase the number of migrants allowed to enter the U.S. daily under the CBP One process from 740 to 1,000,” reports CBS.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that “Several migrants interviewed from between the slats in the border wall said they’d been held there by agents for four to seven days without food or blankets.”
The American Immigration Council’s Dara Lind examines the Biden administration’s “latest revived Trump-era idea: keeping asylum seekers in Border Patrol custody for longer, and conducting asylum screening interviews in phone booths, so that those who fail the screening interview can be deported as quickly as possible.” Lind explains that with the similar Trump-era PACR and HARP programs, “DHS had expanded these programs without assessing whether or how they were actually working, and that the programs had restricted immigrants’ legal rights while forcing DHS to routinely violate its own detention standards.”
“Thousands of Afghans are believed to have made their way to Mexico since August 2021, with plans to travel to the U.S. and claim asylum. But most remain stuck in limbos, waiting to see if they will be allowed into the U.S., reports the Guardian.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, noting that “misinformation and inability to secure ‘CBP One’ appointments lead migrants to gather, again, at Juárez-El Paso border crossing.”
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“Andres, whose surname is being concealed to protect him, is one of some 250,000 Dominicans born to foreign parents -- mainly Haitians -- who had their birthright citizenship stripped by a Constitutional Court ruling in 2013,” reports France24 in an article highlighting statelessness in the Dominican Republic.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
Asylum seekers from Africa and Asia are traveling to French Guiana via Brazil to seek refuge in Europe, calling the trek “longer, but less dangerous,” reports AFP. (see last week’s AMB on increased asylum applications and limited capacity in the French overseas department)
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda
“According to a statement on the Cabinet notes from the Office of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, there was a report that a small fishing boat which unlawfully departed Antigua with 32 passengers and overturned near St Kitts, drifted into Puerto Rico’s waters with one body on board,” reports Loop News. (see last week’s AMB)
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
“The United States, Panama and Colombia announced an ambitious 60-day campaign to shut down the Darién Gap route, this week, though they haven’t yet specified the details of the plan,” writes Jordana Timerman at the Latin America Daily Briefing. According to a press conference, “criminal actors,” not the migrants themselves, will be the focus of the crackdown. The Trilateral Joint Statement also notes that the countries will “Open new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration.” Not including any impact from this trilateral initiative, an estimated 400,000 migrants and refugees are expected to transit through the Darien this year, reports AP.
The OAS has published a new technical note on regional migration governance across the Americas, highlighting various regional mechanisms for migration governance and institutional coordination.
🇨🇺🇺🇸 United States and Cuba
Cuban and US officials met last Wednesday to discuss migration, reports Marshall News Messenger. Following the meetings, Cuban officials noted that “Cuba plans to resume accepting deportation flights from the United States this month,” reports AP, adding that “The last flight was in December 2020.” The Coast Guard, however, has continued to return Cubans detained at sea, as seen here.
🇸🇽🇲🇫 Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten
“The French Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands share a border on the island of Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten. 375 years after the Treaty of Concordia, the two countries intend to sign soon a new treaty relating to the exact course of the border on the island… the quadripartite meeting between France, the Netherlands, the autonomous State of Sint Maarten and the collectivity of Saint-Martin, which will take place on June 15 in The Hague, will allow stakeholders to address the common challenges of cross-border cooperation on the island,” according to a joint declaration.
🇺🇸 United States
“An 18-month investigation by Prism, Futuro Investigates, and Latino USA found that the H-2A visa program—derived from the infamous Bracero Program—is rife with wage theft and exploitation,” reports Prism in an in-depth look into the H-2A temporary agricultural labor migration program.
“Saint Lucia-born Gabriel Allahdua, who spent four years as a seasonal migrant farm worker in Canada, has published a book that exposes the injustices those workers face and highlights measures to improve the situation,” reports the St. Lucia Times in a book review of Harvesting Freedom.
Migrants in Transit
More than 300 migrants are currently stranded at the Chile-Bolivia border after Chilean officials blocked their entry into Bolivia on the grounds that they had irregularly entered Chile, reports BioBioChile. Meanwhile, migrants wishing to cross into Chile from Peru are stuck in the Peruvian border city of Tacna, reports Gestión, noting that 98% of them are Haitians, according to officials. Local officials have called for the national government’s assistance by conducting a humanitarian transit of the migrants to Lima and then subsequently to their countries of origin, notes Gestión.
IOM has published new DTMs focused on displacement in the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area and the municipality of Thomazeau (West district). In the former, “A total of 127,977 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (28,415 households) were identified, of which 38 percent were living in spontaneous-sites and 62 percent in host communities. Compared to Round 2, overall, there was a decrease of 18 per cent in the number of IDPs, which can be explained by the fact that some IDPs have returned to their origins.”
R4V conducted a survey of 233 Venezuelans leaving Brazil’s Roraima state for Venezuela during the holiday season over December 2022, with 86% reporting that they intended to return to Brazil after a temporary stay. 81% of survey respondents reported living in either the state of Roraima or Amazonas in Brazil.
Borders and Enforcement
“The Caribbean Coast Guard Corps reported on the increase in coastal surveillance on journeys to and from the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, in the midst of the process of gradual opening of the borders with Venezuela,” reports El Diario.
🇭🇹🇩🇴 Dominican Republic and Haiti
The Globe reports on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, discussing immigration raids, corruption, and life at the border, including noting, “Haitian citizens are scrutinized for valid work permits at a point of entry into Dajabon, and often turned away,” and quoting one Haitian migrant who claimed that Dominican officials “know clearly that you’re not an illegal immigrant, but they pretend they’re going to deport you. Sometimes they keep people several days until they pay.”
Chile’s Congress is taking up a debate to typify the crime of irregularly entering the country, potentially implying either imprisonment for 61-541 days or a fine of 11-20 monthly minimum wages. The current Chilean minimum wage is roughly 500 USD per month.
Last Thursday, commenting on the debate over “preventative detention” of foreigners lacking identification, President Gabriel Boric “warned that migration is not a crime, but that the country has the right to know who is in its territory,” reports Emol. (see last week’s AMB for more on preventative detention)
Officials are warning Jamaicans to not emigrate from the country irregularly over concerns for their safety and that “the practice affects the strength of the Jamaican passport,” reports Loop News. Jamaicans have reportedly sought to migrate to the US primarily through Mexico, Belize, or Panama as an initial entry point. (see last week’s AMB on Belize imposing travel restrictions on Jamaicans, as well as Haitians)
🇺🇸 United States
“President Joe Biden once promised to phase out the use of private immigration detention centers. But his government continues to jail asylum seekers,” writes The New Republic, highlighting “inhumane and abusive conditions” at the Torrance County Detention Facility.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
The population of the Bahamas has increased 13.6% since 2010, reports Our News, noting that officials primarily attribute the increase to migration.
Immigration of new permanent residents in Canada grew nearly 40% from January-February 2023 in comparison to the same period in 2022, reports Canada Immigration News.
“Uruguay received 1,700 requests for recognition and revalidation of professional titles in the last eight months, while in the last 10 years some 2,400 had been requested,” reports Telenoche, highlighting an increase in “qualified migration” of highly-educated individuals to the country.
More on Migration
The Inter-American Dialogue has published a data-rich presentation on migration across the Americas covering wide-ranging topics, including remittances, numbers of migrants in transit, and drivers of migration.
“In March, the Guatemalan diaspora sent a record-breaking amount of 1.66 billion USD in remittances, surpassing amounts sent in previous years. It's expected that remittances from Guatemalans living abroad, particularly in the United States, will continue to increase in 2023 due to the country’s rising emigration,” reports Central American News.
🇺🇸 United States
“Amid the pandemic, the Trump administration gave consular officers temporary authority to waive in-person interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants, targeting those who had previously passed the interview and biometric screening process. This authority has been extended multiple times by the Biden administration and is now in effect until the end of 2023. In light of the apparent improvements in efficiency, many stakeholders are already calling for the policy to be permanent,” says the Niskanen Center.
🇻🇪🇪🇸 Spain and Venezuela
The government of the autonomous region of Galicia in Spain is working to provide a pathway for return for all Galicians and descendents of Galicians in Venezuela that wish to do so. (El Universal)