Americas Migration Brief - December 25, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
An IDB report explores public perceptions of migration in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2023, highlighting that “concerns about crime and unemployment remain common.”
PAHO highlights challenges for migrants in the workforce in Latin America and the Caribbean, noting that migrants make up 17.2% of the region’s domestic workforce, a sector riddled with abuse and discrimination.
Migration is a driver of development and growth and should not be viewed as a problem, says IOM’s Michelle Klein Solomon at El País.
A report from Sin Mordaza and partners explores Venezuelan migration in 12 countries across the Americas, as well as Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
“Of the tens of billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance provided in 2022, only 1.2% ($485M) went directly to local actors, including cities. Similarly, integration and economic inclusion programs that enable migrants to embed in local communities are severely underfunded,” notes Emerson Collective’s Immigration Update.
Uruguay launched a new National Integration Plan for Migrants, Asylum Seekers, and Refugees. Objectives include to improve access to documentation and regularization, to guarantee universal access to health care, and to “generate conditions that favor migrants’ labor inclusion.” (see also La Diaria)
Uruguay celebrated the establishment of a one-stop-shop migrant attention center to promote integration. (press release)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security launched a Strategy for Migrant Employability, including objectives to “Improve the collection, registration, analysis and dissemination of information related to the labor market for migrants” and to “Prioritize investment and attention to migrants who are actively searching for employment.” (press release)
A Refugees International report explores how to improve integration of LGBTIQ+ refugees in Costa Rica. Recommendations include improving access to legal guidance and mental health services, to “Eliminate the requirement to be insured by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) as a precondition for asylum seekers to acquire work permits and for refugees to renew their permanent residency ID (DIMEX),” and for private sector companies to aid “awareness-raising campaigns… against discrimination and xenophobia.”
A UNICEF survey in Costa Rica found that “73% of people surveyed believe that xenophobia exists in Costa Rica,” adding that, “23.4% of those who responded have witnessed some act of rejection or discrimination by an adult towards a foreign migrant child or adolescent in their community.” (press release)
“54% of migrant children and adolescents (NNA) in the Biobío Region live in conditions of high or critical overcrowding,” reports Diario Concepción, citing a UCSC study.
IDB highlights the Migracentros in Peru, one-stop-shops for services for both migrant and local populations.
91.7% of Venezuelans in Peru have difficulty getting their professional and academic titles recognized, per a study cited by El Comercio. Key causes are high costs, documentation requirements, and lack of knowledge.
Since 2016, more than 30,000 refugees and 500 companies have participated in a UNHCR program “that helps relocate asylum seekers and refugees from southern states of Mexico – where poverty is high and there are few employment prospects – to states in northern and central Mexico where the prospects of securing meaningful employment are better.” (UNHCR)
An R4V survey on Venezuelan young adults and adolescents in Brazil found that 77% reported an improvement in their situation from the past and that 69% felt welcomed in the country.
An ECLAC report explores the role of migration in sustainable development in Jamaica.
“Canada is planning a “broad and comprehensive program” to allow undocumented people to apply for permanent residence status… roughly 300,000 to 600,000 individuals are currently living in Canada without possessing valid documents,” reports Canada Immigration News.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
R4V breaks down legal frameworks related to migration in the Caribbean, including for asylum and protection, among other issues.
An OBMICA report explores “the child and adolescent population that regularly crosses from Haiti to the Dominican Republic; their conditions, motivations, risks and the care and protection they receive.”
Two unaccompanied migrant children from Guinea were identified in Bogotá’s airport last week, leading to controversy and concerns. Their families were identified the following day, reports El Tiempo.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Of 225,511 asylum requests by Nicaraguans in Costa Rica since 2018, less than 4% have been approved and around 2% have been denied. (VOA)
“People in the Gaza Strip who have Canadian relatives may apply for temporary visas to Canada… However, the federal government cannot guarantee safe passage out of the besieged Palestinian territory,” says AP.
🇺🇸 United States
“Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Monday signed one of the harshest state immigration laws in modern U.S. history (SB4), authorizing state officials to arrest and seek the deportation of migrants suspected of crossing the border with Mexico illegally,” reports CBS. (see last week’s AMB)
“A new record was reached in November. The Immigration Court backlog passed 3 million pending cases. Just 12 months ago, during November 2022, the backlog was 2 million… Immigration Judges now average 4,500 pending cases each,” explains TRAC.
“The Biden administration launched a new refugee program on Tuesday that will let U.S. sponsors nominate specific people they want to bring to the United States, an effort intended to help families reunite and involve more everyday Americans… The Biden administration first launched a private sponsorship program in January 2023, but those refugees were assigned to sponsors rather than chosen,” reports Reuters.
CRS summarizes the state of Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.
“Faith groups say more foster families are needed to care for the children coming to the US alone. U.S. authorities encountered nearly 140,000 unaccompanied minors at the border with Mexico in fiscal year 2023.” (El País)
“A coalition of immigrant rights organizations is urging the federal government to stop housing immigration detainees at Winn Correctional Center, a privately run former Louisiana state prison, citing what they say is a long history of violence, abuse and negligence,” reports Louisiana Illuminator.
“To address real challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border, negotiators in D.C. would be far better served by focusing on bolstering host communities throughout Latin America than dangerously playing with U.S. parole, asylum and expulsion laws and practices,” writes Dan Restrepo at The Messenger.
“The U.S. Needs Better, Not Less, Access To Asylum,” says WOLA, highlighting already-existing limits on protection and asylum: “By severely limiting people’s ability to ask for protection at ports of entry or imposing arbitrary hurdles for making a claim once in U.S. custody, current practices push asylum seekers towards remote desert areas or force them to make repeated crossings. This places the lives of some of the hemisphere’s most vulnerable people in grave danger.”
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining, “The U.S. Congress has adjourned for 2023 with no agreement on Republicans’ demands for new restrictions on asylum and other migration pathways.”
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands
“Just $668,000 has been budgeted per year for asylum services in 2024 and 2025 – $2 million less than is projected to have been spent this year,” reports Cayman Compass.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The US Safe Mobility Offices for regional processing have brought over 3,200 Latin American refugees to the US and 281 to Spain. More than 100,000 have signed up for the program. (LatinUS, Efecto Cocuyo)
Bolivia “has forged bilateral agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay to combat human trafficking,” says Telesur.
🇲🇽🇺🇸 United States and Mexico
US and Mexico’s presidents talked on the phone last week about migration, agreeing on the need for increased border enforcement measures. (press release)
“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his government will reinforce measures to contain migration as he seeks to help the United States cope with record numbers of people trying to reach the U.S. border… Lopez Obrador said Mexico would step up containment efforts on its southern border with Guatemala as his government seeks agreements with other countries to manage the northbound migrant flows,” reports Reuters.
A high-level delegation of US officials will travel to Mexico this week to talk migration, explains AP.
🇨🇱🇵🇪 Peru and Chile
🇧🇿🇬🇹 Guatemala and Belize
Guatemala’s president-elect met with Belize’s prime minister and other officials to discuss migration, among other topics. (Amandala)
Guatemala presented its new Migration Policy, focused on “Human rights and people in vulnerable situations; Sustainable integration and reintegration; Immigration, consular services and comprehensive border management; and Migration and sustainable development.” (DCA, La Hora)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
In addition to the bilateral agreement to facilitate labor migration signed with El Salvador earlier this month (see last week’s AMB), Costa Rica has also signed an agreement with Guatemala with the same purpose to bring workers to the country. (press release, La República)
“The first group of Salvadorans with employment visas in Costa Rica will leave at the beginning of 2024” (El Mundo)
🇺🇸 United States
“Why Immigration and Labor Shortages Aren’t Two Separate Problems: The U.S. is missing an opportunity to address two pressing issues at the same time,” writes MPI president Andrew Selee at WSJ.
Truthout critiques working conditions in the H-2A temporary agricultural labor program.
“Immigrant workers are essential to Wisconsin’s dairy industry. But when they get injured, they’re often cast aside,” reports ProPublica.
“Immigration Minister to ‘rein in’ number of temporary foreign workers coming into Canada in 2024” (Globe and Mail)
“Canada’s unions are marking International Migrants Day by calling for greater protections and improved conditions for migrant workers engaged in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP),” says Canadian Labour Congress.
Migrants in Transit
“Panama, Honduras, and Mexico have been reporting fewer people coming after record-breaking levels in late summer and early fall”—and yet, migration at the US border is increasing, says Adam Isacson, explaining, “The answer probably has to do with: A jump in migration from citizens of Mexico and Central American, and/or Crossings of Venezuelans and others who had arrived in Mexico more than 1-2 months ago, and perhaps are now giving up on waiting for CBP One.”
“Cellphones and social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok are drastically changing the migration equation. Migrants’ posts have documented the route to the U.S. in such detail ”that, in a few stretches, people can find their way on their own, without smugglers,” reports the New York Times. “And as migrants stream their struggles and successes to millions back home, some are becoming small-time celebrities and influencers in their own right, inspiring others to make the trek as well.”” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
A group of more than 13,000 migrants will begin a caravan north from Tapachula “due to the lack of response from the authorities of the National Migration Institute (INM) in their procedures as they request permits to move freely through the country to reach the United States,” reports Animal Politico.
“Between January 1 and December 17, 2023, 527,792 migrants have entered Honduras,” almost all in transit heading north. (La Tribuna)
🇺🇸 United States
“There were record numbers of illegal crossings into the U.S. this month — authorities are surpassing 10,000 encounters with migrants along the southern border per day, reports the Washington Post.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
Bloomberg highlights the stories of “a growing number of the Chinese middle class on the run from an economic slowdown” with aims of arriving in the US.
WOLA breaks down recent trends in Cuban migration, noting that over 460,000 Cubans have arrived in the US or applied for asylum in Mexico in the last two years.
"As of September 2023, at least 642,397 Nicaraguans had been forced to move outside the country, and, according to estimates, if the migration curve continued, at the end of this year that number would reach 804,000 people,” reports 100%Noticias.
Borders and Enforcement
“An A340 of a Romanian airline carrying 303 Indians bound for Nicaragua was detained at the Paris-Vatry airport on suspicion of human trafficking,” reports DW.
“Ottawa could soon review its decision to exempt Mexicans from the requirement to have a visa to enter Canadian territory,” reports CBC.
“Between January and September, nearly 17,500 Mexicans arrived in Canada to seek asylum. This is already more than double last year.” Around 30% of Mexican asylum requests are accepted, compared to around 50% generally.
🇺🇸 United States
“As border extremism goes mainstream, vigilante groups take a starring role” (LA Times)
“Foreign-born residents represented 3% of the 3.4 million Uruguayan population in 2023, up from 2% a decade ago, the country's latest census data show. It is the first increase since 1908,” reports Reuters, highlighting Venezuelan and Cuban migration. (see also AMB 12/4/23)
“Canada's population grew by more than 430,000 during the third quarter, marking the fastest pace of population growth in any quarter since 1957,” reports CBC.
🇺🇸 United States
In 2023, the US “added 1.6 million people, more than two-thirds of which came from international migration, bringing the nation’s population total to 334.9 million. It marks the second year in a row that immigration powered population gains.” (AP)
“During calendar years 2021 and 2022, Community Survey data indicate that the net migration balance between Puerto Rico and the United States decreased from 27,000 to 16,000 persons emigrating, or by 41%,” reports The News Journal.
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