Americas Migration Brief - December 18, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Last week, I published a special edition of the AMB reflecting on this past year and trends worth watching in 2024, including the importance of investing in integration, as well as the growth of maritime migration, Haiti’s crisis, the impact of climate change on human mobility, and key elections coming up in the new year.
Mexican multinational company FEMSA currently employs around 2,800 refugees and migrants in Mexico and Brazil and plans, together with UNHCR, “to directly and indirectly benefit more than 27 thousand refugees by 2027,” reports Animal Politico.
Colombia’s Centros Intégrate—one-stop-shops for migrant integration located in 9 cities around the country—have “served more than 120,000 people, through 205,000 consultations” since opening last year, reports Caracol.
“Venezuelan migrants who are children of Colombians will now be able to register without the need to apostille their documents in Venezuela,” per a Constitutional Court ruling. (El País)
As of September 2023, there are 135,552 Venezuelan students enrolled in the Peruvian educational system, notes UNESCO. “Venezuelan migrant and refugee students show a growing and higher year-on-year dropout compared to national (Peruvian) students, affecting their educational career. In 2023, of every hundred Venezuelan migrant students enrolled in 2022, 20 of them did not continue studying. In the case of national students, 3 did not return.”
An Acción contra el Hambre report explores integration of Venezuelans in Metropolitan Lima.
“Venezuelan doctors in Peru treated 400 patients completely free in a health day in the city of Lima,” reports El Nacional.
“HRDC points to dire situations where migrant children on Curaçao, even with permanent residency permits, cannot be adequately insured. Additionally, the organization highlights the presence of thousands of workers on Curaçao without legal residency and work permits.” (Curaçao Chronicle)
OBMigra celebrates their ten year anniversary with a report on migration in Brazil over the last decade, exploring migrant inclusion in labor markets, the country’s refugee system, questions of race and migration, remittances, human trafficking, and more.
A Revista Pueblos y fronteras digital article explores “the fears of Chilean society associated with public safety and crime” and the “emerging penal State that seems to be aimed at punishing immigration from Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly Venezuelan, Haitian and Colombian, due to the political, social and media pressure that criminalizes migrants in an irregular condition.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
IACHR and UNHCR have published “the Resolution on the right to nationality, prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of nationality and statelessness in order to guide States, organizations of civil society, international organizations and other relevant actors in compliance with international obligations on the matter.” (press release)
“In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), seven out of ten boys and girls in transit are under 11 years old, according to UNICEF estimates” based on surveys in Chile, Colombia, and Costa Rica. (press release)
Caribe Afirmativo highlights human rights issues for LGBT refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Rivalries between organized crime groups in long-violent states and an expansion of these battlegrounds to previously calm parts of the country is fueling what migration experts are calling the largest exodus of Mexican families in modern history,” reports Reuters.
A survey by the Kino Border Initiative, “a large migrant shelter and resource center in Nogales, Sonora,” found that “Some 88% of the Mexicans who passed through Kino this year said they were seeking to escape violence, according to the center's interviews with 6,710 people… In 2017, it was the opposite: 87% of the 7,148 respondents to the Kino survey said they were migrating for economic reasons, with only 2% citing violence.” (Reuters)
Doctors Without Borders highlights violence against migrant families, women, and children along the migration path north through Mexico.
🇺🇸 United States
“The bipartisan group of senators working on dramatic changes to the nation's asylum and border security laws is attempting to agree to the framework of a landmark deal as early as Sunday, four people familiar with the talks told CBS News on Friday. The group of lawmakers has made significant progress this week after the White House signaled it was willing to accept drastic limits on asylum and a vast expansion of detention and deportation efforts,” reports CBS, adding, “the immigration parole authority remains a sticking point.” (see also last week’s AMB)
“A tougher version of the initial asylum screening is already available to government officials at the southern border, but the government does not appear to have enough detention capacity or asylum officers to handle the process in a comprehensive way,” notes New York Times.
Former Biden White House official Andrea Flores writes on Twitter, “One year ago, @POTUS could have helped secure a deal with Sinema and Tillis to legalize 3 million undocumented youth. Today, his team joined an in-person negotiation on a deal that does not contain a single protection for immigrants, only Trump policies they once opposed.”
“Raising credible fear interview standards, capping numbers of asylum seekers, expanding expedited removal proceedings, and restricting humanitarian parole will place thousands of people in life-threatening situations,” says WOLA.
Elsewhere, WOLA breaks down each of the proposals being negotiated, arguing that “This proposal is extraordinarily radical” and that “H.R. 2 and the Republican senators’ demands would undo the right to asylum in all but name. That is too high a price to demand.”
Reforma’s José Díaz Briseño writes on Twitter that the negotiations “seem to have taken for granted Mexican cooperation” and that although “improbable,” Mexico could refuse to accept US expulsions.
“Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they are frustrated that some proposals under discussion would make major changes in immigration policy for the first time in years, yet no Latino senators are part of Senate talks,” reports Missouri Independent.
“The discussions over the southern border show how drastically the politics of immigration have shifted to the right in the United States,” says New York Times.
“Nearly 1,100 migrant families have been separated while being processed at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego since September,” reports LA Times.
Texas bill SB 4, which “would allow Texas law enforcement to arrest immigrants suspected of entering the state illegally from Mexico,” is “fueling fears of racial profiling” and “could have a ripple effect of stoking fear in immigrant communities and eroding trust with law enforcement,” reports Houston Landing, adding, “The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said that SB 4 is blatantly unconstitutional because “the Supreme Court has routinely and very clearly determined that immigration is in the purview of the federal government.””
“Opportunities for Welcome: Lessons Learned for Supporting People Seeking Asylum in Chicago, Denver, New York City, and Portland, Main” (Women’s Refugee Commission)
ProPublica highlights key takeaways from its joint investigation on the role of the US Coast Guard and access to protection for migrants that travel by sea, noting that “As more and more people have taken to the sea, and their desperation has grown, an increasing number of migrants and refugees have harmed themselves in hopes that they will be rushed to hospitals on land, where they believe they can make asylum claims.” (see last week’s AMB)
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, noting that “Migrant arrivals remain high, though perhaps not for long.”
“Jamaican attorneys Nicole Gordon and Clive Munroe Jr have raised significant concerns about the due process afforded to Haitian Nationals who arrive in Jamaica without proper documentation,” reports CNW, highlighting concerns surrounding a lack of due process due to rapid processing, language barriers, and non-compliance with the Refugee Convention.
A group of nearly 500 migrants have applied for asylum at the São Paulo-area Guarulhos airport between December 1-11, the majority Vietnamese, reports Metrópoles.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
“Latin America and the Caribbean mark the 40th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration with renewed commitments to solidarity and cooperation: Countries in the region have started consultations to design a new 10-year strategy for protecting refugees, as well as displaced and stateless people.” (UNHCR)
Brazil attended as an observer state during discussions by the Resettlement Diplomacy Network—which includes the US and Canada—on the sidelines of the Global Refugee Forum last week. (press release)
Trinidad and Tobago hosted a Caricom CSME focal points meeting with representatives from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, and Suriname. Migration was among the topics of discussion, including facilitating skilled labor migration. (Newsday)
Niskanen Center looks at the US efforts to process migrants from within the region, noting “Seven months after the announced launch of the Safe Mobility Office (SMO) initiative, data exclusively obtained by the Niskanen Center shows that approximately 2,500 refugees have arrived in the U.S. so far as part of the program. More than 10,000 migrants have already been referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and are undergoing refugee processing.”
🇨🇷🇸🇻 El Salvador and Costa Rica
Costa Rica and El Salvador signed a bilateral agreement so that “through the Labor Migration Program, this pact aims to make it easier for Salvadoran workers to travel to Costa Rica to work in conditions of legality, security and dignity,” reports Contrapunto.
🇻🇪🇦🇼 Aruba and Venezuela
“Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes said Friday she contacted Venezuela to coordinate actions regarding immigration, three days after the discovery of four unidentified bodies from a shipwreck of a migrant boat,” reports La Libre. (see also Observer)
🇺🇲🇪🇨 Ecuador and United States
US and Ecuadorian officials met last week to discuss migration, among other topics. (El Universo)
🇺🇸🇨🇷 Costa Rica and United States
Costa Rica’s president and US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources met last week to discuss migration, among other topics. (press release)
🇺🇸 United States
USCIS “has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the congressionally mandated limits for the H-1B visa program for the fiscal year 2024,” which started in October of this year. (Business Standard)
Migrants in Transit
Loop highlights “need for reform as the Caribbean's education system is being crippled by an educator exodus. ‘Teachers are moving in droves to pursue greener pastures in North America, Europe and even within the Caribbean itself.’”
The threat of US sanctions for those facilitating flights of irregular migrants has “reduced trips from various Caribbean islands, but not those from Europe. Over the weekend, the Managua international airport established a historical record by receiving, for the first time, two direct flights from the old continent, whose occupants would be African migrants heading to the United States,” says La Prensa. Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline continues to operate its daily flights from Havana, Cuba to Managua, Nicaragua.
🇺🇸 United States
Bloomberg explores the potential for climate-induced internal migration in the US: “In the face of more frequent and severe weather events, many hundreds of communities in the US could soon be facing the same heart-wrenching choice… By 2050, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the annual cost of flood damage to homes with federally backed mortgages is expected to reach $12.8 billion, a jump of 30% from today’s $9.4 billion.”
Borders and Enforcement
“An INTERPOL-coordinated operation against people smuggling and human trafficking across the Americas has led to 257 arrests, the rescue of 163 potential victims and the detection of nearly 12,000 irregular migrants from 69 different countries.” (Interpol)
“In its fifth annual Operation Turquesa, Interpol brought together law enforcement from 31 countries in the Americas, including Cuba for the first time, plus France and Spain… Focused on migrants destined for the U.S. and Canada, this year's operation showed a ‘marked increase’ in migrants from Asia and Africa, particularly from China, which was the third most popular country of origin behind Venezuela and Ecuador,” notes Reuters.
“Operation Turquesa also offered a peek into Brazil's outsized role in the transcontinental trade, with migrants crisscrossing the country. Most were destined for the United States, others for Europe and some settled in Brazil itself.” (Reuters)
Discussing Mexico’s decision to halt deportations amid a lack of funding (see last week’s AMB), Catherine Osborn writes at Foreign Policy’s Latin America Brief, “Some analysts expressed doubt that the funding problem cited as the reason for the changes was real and worried that it could be a pretext to having the National Guard eventually assume some migration management responsibilities as a step toward the militarization of immigration policy. And indeed, this week, officials announced a “migrant containment plan” that will be jointly run by Mexico’s military and migration agency in the state of Sonora.”
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“President Luis Abinader considered this Monday that the General Immigration Law of the Dominican Republic has very light and not severe penalties, and in addition, he stated that his administration is the one that has worked the most in border control,” reports El Nuevo Diario.
Chile’s constitutional plebiscite, which would have outlined stricter border enforcement measures, was defeated in a vote yesterday. (El Observador)
🇬🇫 French Guiana
A survey study from the French overseas department’s statistics institute finds that “60% of the population was not born in Guiana (most of them come from South America, the Caribbean, France and other overseas territories). Among natives of Guiana (i.e. the remaining 40%), 41% have no parents born in the territory.” (Guyane1)
More on Migration
A new survey report from Honduras’ statistics institute and IOM explores remittances, finding that “Among the main uses of these are: food (78.1%), health (31.4%) and payment of basic services (30.1%).” (press release)
🇺🇸 United States
“More and more students from around the world are opting against studying in the United States,” says The Nation, explaining, “Work visas are incredibly difficult to come by, and many have to apply for the H1B lottery, with only an 18 percent chance of being selected. The lottery happens once a year, and all noncitizens interested in working in the United States enter. International students are not offered any other pathway to a visa.”
“Canada to increase cost-of-living requirement for international students” (Canadian Immigrant)
Despite reports, Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment program remains closed off to Russians, Belarussians, North Koreans, and Iranians, notes IMI.