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Americas Migration Brief - February 6, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Based on a two-year project with Mexico City, Mexico and Santiago, Chile, the UN system has launched a manual for local governments on socioeconomic integration of migrants and refugees, highlighting the importance of economic integration. (ILO)
Special migratory regularization programs have become increasingly common across Latin America and the Caribbean over the course of the 2000s and 2010s, explains the IDB, highlighting recent programs in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru. The IDB found that economic limitations were the leading obstacle to regularization for migrants in all three countries.
The temporary identification document for Venezuelans applying for the Temporary Protection Permit (PPT) (see AMB 1/23/23) is supposed to ensure access to health care and other public services, but some recipients are being denied enrollment for healthcare services, reports Proyecto Venezuela.
Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) has released new data on the labor market. IDB’s Felipe Muñoz highlights some of the statistics relating to migrants on Twitter, noting that unemployment rates of Venezuelan migrants fell by a record amount from 2021-2022, reaching 19.8%.
Researchers Erin Hamilton, Claudia Masferrer, and Paola Langer explore the experiences of de facto deported children in a new policy brief. They write, “One in six U.S.-born children living in Mexico in 2014 were de facto deported, meaning they emigrated from the United States to Mexico to accompany one or more deported parents,” explaining that de facto deported children face greater socioeconomic disadvantage and that “deported mothers in Mexico are far less likely to live with a partner than deported fathers.”
In Chile, “immigration has significantly impacted people’s perceptions of crime but has no effect on actual crime,” writes researcher Nicolas Ajzenman at The Conversation, explaining that a forthcoming paper with co-authors “(finds) that the effects on crime-related concerns are mainly driven by immigrants that do not have ethnically European origins… [and that] the arrival of immigrants with lower levels of educational attainment may drive false perceptions of crime, even though the null effect on crime rates is the same for educated and lesser educated groups.”
Cerro Chuño, near the northern Chilean city of Arica, “has become a home for migrants and refugees from across Latin America. But thanks to the long-term effects of an international mining agreement, Cerro Chuño is also a site of environmental pollution, leading to health problems, instability and criminal activity,” reports Al Jazeera.
🇹🇹🇻🇪 Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago
Recently arrived Venezuelans, particularly those that do not yet speak English well, are struggling to find employment in Trinidad and Tobago, reports Tanetanae, noting that Venezuelans in the country that have found jobs reportedly primarily work in supermarkets, construction, and agriculture.
Sex workers in Lima, many of them Venezuelan immigrants, are extorted by organized crime in the city and “feel like ‘slaves,’” according to Infobae. Researcher Cristina María Zamora-Gómez highlights at IDEHPUCP the threat of human and sexual trafficking for migrants and refugees in Peru, noting that those without identification documents or a regular migratory status are particularly vulnerable.
🇺🇸 United States
“Every day, news articles highlight the number of immigrants seeking asylum and refuge within the United States. While some mention the legal services work being done along the border and in communities across the country, only a few focus on the ongoing expansion of legal orientation and representation to newly arrived immigrants,” writes UnidosUS, highlighting stories of civil society and philanthropic organizations working to provide legal services to immigrants.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
The European Union is providing 500,000 euros in emergency humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants in the Dominican Republic, reports Diario Dominicano, noting that UNICEF and UNHCR will implement the aid.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
Exploring UNHCR's unique category of “Venezuelans Displaced Abroad,” researcher Feline Freier finds that “it is an obstacle for people of Venezuelan nationality to recognize themselves as refugees and, therefore, for them to request international protection,” according to a Cátedra de Migraciones - Universidad del Pacifico Twitter summary of Freier’s chapter "The Power of Categorization: Reflections on UNHCR's Category of 'Venezuelans Displaced Abroad,’” found here.
A new Inter-American Dialogue Working Group on Child Migration report issues a series of recommendations for policymakers across the region in relation to child and adolescent migration, including calls for special attention to the extreme vulnerability of unaccompanied minor migrants and for the eradication of immigration detention for migrant children and adolescents.
“Costa Rica is among several countries in the region that have rolled back protections for migrants and asylum seekers as people continue to make their way north in record numbers,” writes journalist Jeff Abbott at The Progressive, discussing recent policy changes across the region.
“Non-profit migrant shelters in the city of Tijuana, Mexico, just south of San Diego, are experiencing an alarming wave of attacks. The frequency of threats and hostilities over the past four months raises serious concerns about the safety of migrants and shelter staff in a city experiencing high levels of violence. While U.S. authorities advise their citizens to reconsider travel to the state, they are sending hundreds of people into Tijuana—many of them non-Mexican—every day,” write WOLA’s Adam Isacson and Ana Lucía Verduzco.
Increasing migration of unaccompanied minors in Mexico is drawing the attention of both activists and government officials in Ciudad Juarez, reports SwissInfo.
🇺🇸 United States
“The number of Mexican migrants getting killed or injured while trying to enter the United States in the San Diego-Tijuana region has gone up by 162 percent in the last three years,” notes Border Report, reporting that Mexico’s Consul General attributes the increase to the height of border wall, which was recently raised from 17 to 30 feet.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, detailing the Biden administration’s anticipated “fast track” screenings of asylum seekers and “expedited removal” policy.
Amnesty International’s Yara Boff Tonella tells TalCual that despite some reforms, there are still human rights concerns for Venezuelans in the country. She calls for Curaçao, with the help of the Netherlands, to ensure access to legal counsel, improve detention center conditions, and improve access to protection.
IOM has published a new brief on reception of Afghans in Brazil, explaining that a September 2021 law provides humanitarian visas and work permits for Afghan nationals wanting to come to the country. Of the 259 individuals IOM has assisted since the implementation of the policy, 98% traveled with family. (See more on Afghans in Brazil in the “Migrants in Transit” section below)
In the month of January, 16,977 migrants in transit were registered as crossing ports of entry in Honduras; Criterio highlights the human rights challenges faced by both migrants and Hondurans alike in the country, noting that 53% of the country lives in extreme poverty, while crime and violence remain persistent.
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda
“The violent Anglophone Crisis gripping Cameroon has forced dozens of Africans to flock to Antigua and Barbuda over the past few months, and is the reason many are pleading with the government not to follow through on its intentions to send them back home,” reports Antigua Observer. Dominica News Online also covers the story of African migrants on the island, reporting that Information Minister Melford Nicholas said “An offer to return them to their country is to be made, though many are likely to choose to stay, it was reported. Some arrangements may likely be made to ensure that their status is legal.”
A new Refugee Law Lab working paper breaks down the data on refugee status determination in Canada from 2013-2021, disaggregating stats by claim category, country of origin, religion, sexuality, and more.
The Red Clamor ecclesial network is joining the Bishops' Conference of Guatemala to call for changes to reforms that prohibit the shelter of migrants in transit, reports Agenzia Fides. The reform jeopardizes the operations of nine shelters managed by the Catholic Church in the country (see last week’s AMB).
According to UNHCR, “Seven Haitian migrants have died this year in the Andean highlands of Peru as their efforts to cross into Bolivia have been stymied by protests against the Lima government,” reports AFP.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The OAS’s Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian highlights the role of local governments for migration at Latinoamérica21, writing that the Cities Summit of the Americas in April will be an opportunity to promote regional dialogue on the subject.
Last week, Ecuador hosted a vice ministers meeting on migration with participation from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador,Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Mexico. According to a press release, the countries agreed to promote coordination and collaboration, particularly in relation to preventing “risky migration.”
“Bolivia and Chile agreed to extend the opening hours at the Chungará-Tambo Quemado border crossing in order to decongest the traffic of heavy vehicles affected by the political and social crisis in Peru... (and) the blockade of its borders,” reports ATB. The Bolivian city of Desaguadero, bordering Peru, has become a “ghost town,” according to RFI, noting that many residents must pass through the border irregularly because the Peruvian migration offices are closed.
🇧🇷🇺🇸 United States and Brazil
Biden and Lula will discuss migration, among other topics, during the Brazilian president’s visit to Washington, DC on February 10, reports Agência Brasil. Tribuna notes that Brazilian asylum requests in the US more than doubled between 2021 and 2022.
Ecuador has signed an agreement with Eurofront, a cooperation program between the European Union and Latin America, to create a Migration Intelligence Network, reports El Comercio. The focus of the network will be to exchange best practices and information on border management.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
The Bahamas is moving to restrict access to work visas for Haitian migrants. Labour and Immigration Minister Keith Bell said, “With immediate effect, existing and new permit-to-reside applications for Haitian citizens will only be considered on a case-by-case basis and approvals will only be granted in the most exceptional circumstances. No new work permit applications for Haitian citizens will be processed until such time as revised protocols are produced to verify and authenticate documents issued by the Haitian government and Haitian national police.” (EW News)
Recent reforms to protect temporary migrant workers in Canada are “a step in the right direction (but) side-step the root issues that make temporary foreign workers vulnerable to abuse in the first place,” write researchers Stephanie Mayell, C. Susana Caxaj, and Janet McLaughlin at Phys. They explain, “Workers are hired on temporary contracts that bind them to a single employer, and these contracts include a repatriation clause that allows employers to terminate and deport workers without a grievance process. Injured and sick workers are often repatriated before they can access health care and/or workers' compensation. Consequently, migrant workers are often unable to refuse unsafe work and are reluctant to raise health concerns or report situations of abuse.”
🇻🇮 US Virgin Islands
“The economic transformation of the USVI is being hindered by the lack of workers, particularly in construction,” says The Virgin Islands Consortium. They write, “Governor Bryan foresees new undocumented workers coming in to fill the gaps left in the private sector as government construction projects employ more and more legal workers. ‘I don't have any problem with that,’ said Mr. Bryan. ‘It's going to happen, regardless of what we do,’ even though the government ‘would like to have it done legally.’” See AMB 1/16/23 on how the US Virgin Islands is looking to introduce a visa waiver program for Caribbean nationals.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
Guardian covers brain drain in Trinidad and Tobago, highlighting the emigration of health care workers and engineers and highly-skilled workers in the energy sector. They note that the Labor Ministry is planning to conduct a survey on vacancies to get a clearer picture of labor market needs in the country.
Migrants in Transit
Several stories were published this past week covering long treks by migrants and refugees in the Americas. IOM published a map of Venezuelan migration routes throughout the region as a part of a story about Venezuelans in transit through Ecuador, while AP covered the story of two Cuban sisters that traveled more than 4,200 miles to get to the US via a flight to Nicaragua followed by travel over land. Reuters explored the 11-country trek from Afghanistan to the US that begins with a humanitarian visa in Brazil, with The New Humanitarian further diving into the experiences of Afghans in Brazil.
Venezuelans in Ecuador are increasingly looking to leave the country, intending to either return to Venezuela or to move on to other countries, such as the United States or Chile, according to an Organization of Venezuelan Residents in Ecuador report covered by El Comercio.
IOM has published several new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs). DTMs in Tumbes, Tacna (1 and 2), and Puno provide characterizations of the Venezuelan population in transit surveyed in each of those Peruvian cities. DTMs in northern Costa Rica and Costa Rica nationally cover irregular Nicaraguan migrants and migrants in transit of various nationalities, respectively. A DTM report from Haiti, meanwhile, covers drivers of internal displacement in the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area, noting the impacts of violence, insecurity, and flooding.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
The UN has launched the “People in Transit Preparedness and Response Plan 2023 for Costa Rica,” to provide services to vulnerable migrants in transit in the country. Services will reportedly include shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, access to health and education, and more. (El Pitazo, Tico Times)
ContraLínea covers a Mexican National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) report mapping out human trafficking and migration routes throughout Mexico controlled by organized crime. These routes include maritime travel, walking paths, and the infamous “La Bestia” train route.
Borders and Enforcement
🇺🇸 United States
The decision to end the COVID-related public-health emergency “also means that Title 42, the pandemic-era tool that has formed a major pillar of Mr. Biden’s enforcement strategy at the southern border, will end on May 11,” says WSJ.
Chile has approved a new law that will allow the armed forces to take part in immigration control and border enforcement, reports Infomigra. The law is valid for up to ninety days, but may be extended further.
“Uruguay processed a total of 7,209 resident visas for Argentine nationals in 2022, a drop of nearly 42% from the previous year,” although the figure remains higher than any year 2016-2020, reports MercoPress. Venezuelans (2,613) and Cubans (2,026) followed Argentinians with the second- and third-most residency applications in 2022, respectively.
🇨🇦🇩🇴 Dominicans in Canada
5,980 Dominican migrants moved to Canada between 2011 and May 2021, compared to 2,820 between 2001 and 2010, reports Diario Libre, noting a high level of education among the migrants, according to migration consultant Emely Duvergé.
More on Migration
Remittances to Mexico increased by 13.4% between 2022 and 2021, reaching a total of about $58.5 billion last year alone, reports AP.
Grenada received a record 1,251 applications for its Citizenship by Investment program last year, reports IMI.