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Americas Migration Brief - February 20, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
The Center for Migration Studies highlights the expansion of Venezuelan migrants’ organizations across Latin America, noting that a majority of these civil groups are led by women, while the Catholic Church and other faith organizations have also played important roles.
A new R4V report explores the double effects of migration and organized crime on Venezuelan migrants and refugees across Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Curaçao. The report finds Venezuelans have heightened vulnerability to kidnappings and disappearances, extortion, and other crimes. Recommendations include promoting the recognition of Venezuelans as refugees under the Cartagena Declaration and ensuring access to justice and protection for victims. Another new R4V report focuses on the double effects of migration and organized crime specifically in relation to unaccompanied or separate Venezuelan migrants and refugee minors.
IOM has published two new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs) focused on Venezuelan migrant and refugee students enrolled in schools in Lima Norte and Lima Centro in Peru. They find that 6% and 9% of the surveyed Venezuelan students in each locality, respectively, may abandon their studies and that they are more likely to be the victim of bullying or harassment than their peers.
“In 2021, of the permanent residents who had come to Canada within the last 10 years, just 45.7 per cent had become citizens. In 2001, that figure was 75.1 per cent,” says National Post.
“Canada’s Prairie provinces got the biggest bang for their immigration buck in recent years and are poised to see GDP boosts of more than half a percentage point by retaining even more immigrants in the future,” reports Immigration.
Amid rising violence in the northern region of Tarapacá, prosecutor Raúl Arancibia asserts that the cause is not migration, but rather transnational organized crime, reports El País, highlighting his calls to avoid xenophobic discourse.
El Pitazo covers Ecuador’s regularization program for irregular Venezuelan migrants, with the government opening up the migratory registration step on February 17.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“The General Directorate of Migration has announced that certain foreign nationals with expired temporary or residence permits seeking to regularize their status in the Dominican Republic are eligible for smaller fines than normal until March 30, 2023,” reports Fragomen.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
As controversies over increased migration to the Bahamas continue, former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis proposed an audit of all work permits in the country, reports EWNews. (see AMB 2/6/23 on new restrictions on work visas for Haitians)
The Federal Police presented the results of the first year of the Operação Horizonte program in São Paulo, says UNHCR. The program—aimed at improving access to documentation—has provided services to more than 5,000 refugees and migrants since it began last year.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
The right to a nationality is ingrained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but some Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica—particularly children—struggle to obtain identification documents, reports VOA.
Migration is scarcely mentioned in the National Development Plan 2022-2026 for Colombia, says researcher Txomin Las Heras Leizaola at El Espectador, arguing that the Petro administration is ignoring migration, such as through the elimination of the Gerencia de Fronteras (Border Manager’s Office). According to new government data, there are 2,894,593 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Colombia, as of October 31, 2022 (Proyecto Venezuela).
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda
“Less than a month after announcing that work permit requirements for Caricom and Dominican Republic nationals would be eliminated, the Gaston Browne administration has divulged that it is delaying the implementation of the move,” reports Observer. (see AMB 1/16/23)
IOM and Club Atlético Peñarol have opened the first reception and orientation center for migrants in Uruguay, reports La Diaria Cotidiana.
🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands
“Governor John Rankin expressed disappointment at the glaring lack of progress in governance reforms over the last few months, particularly in relation to the issuance of residency and Belongership status in the territory,” reports BVI News. (See AMB 1/30/23)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
At least 40 migrants died in a bus accident in Panama, reports CNN. 22 were from Ecuador, 16 from Haiti, and 11 from Venezuela, according to Panamá América. La Estrella de Panamá covers recent tragedies affecting migrants in transit.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber annulled the recently established travel ban for asylum applicants in the country, reports Confidencial. The government is seeking “clarification” on the ruling, notes Articulo66.
Costa Rica is introducing a pilot plan to allow online or telephonic options for those seeking asylum and stuck waiting in long lines, reports CNN.
“Mexico's overwhelmed asylum agency is strengthening efforts to weed out high numbers of applicants who "abuse" the system while passing through Mexico to reach the United States… Once migrants request asylum, they are exempt from deportation and are eligible to seek work, motivating many to file applications even without the intent to stay in Mexico, said Andres Ramirez, COMAR's director,” reports Reuters.
Shelters in Juarez for unaccompanied migrant minors headed north and for Mexican teenagers deported by the US are set to receive $2 million in new investments, reports Border Report. Border Report also notes elsewhere that “shelters across Tijuana started the year with a respite in the number of migrants seeking help, but in recent weeks, things have returned to crowded and saturated conditions.”
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
The human trafficking bill covered in last week’s AMB has been rescinded by the executive branch, with the government hoping to reintroduce the bill and obtain greater consensus and public support. (press release, dr1)
🇺🇸 United States
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining current progress on the Biden administration’s new humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. Elsewhere at WOLA, Isacson explores potential policy moves at the border from the Biden administration following the possible end of the Title 42 policy in May, noting that “A “transit ban” may deny asylum to people who passed through a third country en route and did not first seek it there. Aggressive use of “expedited removal” could force asylum seekers to defend their cases within a few days, from the austere custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), without meaningful access to counsel.””
🇬🇫 French Guiana
Guyana1 reveals a lack of reception shelters and infrastructure for asylum seekers in French Guiana, noting “There were 1,100 reception places for 2,805 first applicants last year… Contrary to each region of France, in French Guiana – or overseas – there is no Reception Center for Asylum Seekers (CADA), a permanent structure with better reception and support.”
“Madrid on Friday extended an offer of Spanish nationality to another 94 exiled Nicaraguan opposition figures dubbed "traitors" by their government” and stripped of their nationality, reports France24.
Canada is increasing the total number of refugees that sponsorship agreement holders can sponsor per year to 13,500. “This represents a 10-fold increase from when the cap was introduced in 2012,” according to a press release.
Honduran president Xiomara Castro is planning to visit the US border to learn more about the situation of the more than 2,700 unaccompanied Honduran migrant minors in shelters there, reports SwissInfo.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“The Trinidad High Court has blocked the deportation of five Cameroonians seeking asylum, pending the outcome of their lawsuit against the Chief Immigration Officer and the Office of the Attorney General,” reports St. Kitts & Nevis Observer, adding that 3 of the 5 “were deemed eligible… to receive refugee status” by UNHCR, while the other two are still awaiting final interviews with UNHCR.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
US, Colombia, and Panama officials met last week to discuss migration through the Darien Gap and to improve coordination, according to a press release. Panama has reportedly asked Colombia to close the border between the two countries at least three times, but the latter has asserted that it would not do so, reports BluRadio.
US and Turks and Caicos officials met last week to discuss approaches to irregular migration and human smuggling. The US, UK, Bahamas—and soon, Canada—are supporting Turks and Caicos with border enforcement and migrant apprehension, reports TC Weekly News.
“The movement of Venezuelans across the Western Hemisphere highlights the need for regional coordination,” writes researcher Cristobal Ramón at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, noting that “the worsening economic downturn in South American countries like Ecuador pushed Venezuelans who initially fled to these countries to migrate further to the United States to seek protection or economic stability.” The New York Times highlights increased migration northward of Venezuelans that originally moved to Colombia, also noting the impact of economics on the decision.
🇬🇹🇲🇽 Mexico and Guatemala
Mexican and Guatemalan officials met last week, agreeing to work together to promote safe, regular, and orderly migration. (El Tiempo Latino)
“FCJ Refugee Centre and the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking’s newly released report, It Happens Here: Labour Exploitation Among Migrant Workers During the Pandemic, reveals that migrant labourers’ precarious immigration status makes them vulnerable to exploitation by recruiters and employers.” The report also notes, “Migrant workers’ primary concern is family separation, followed by low wages and employer discrimination.”
Migrants in Transit
El País highlights increasing Ecuadorian migration through the Darien Gap. El Mercurio says that migrant smugglers charge between $5,000 and $8,000 for the trek from Ecuador to the United States that goes through the Gap.
Colombian Vice Admiral Orlando Enrique Grisales highlighted to VOA the growing avoidance of the Darien Gap through traveling to San Andrés before going to Nicaragua and then heading north.
The national director of the Jesuit Service for Migrants and Refugees, Agnaldo Júnior, told Efecto Cocuyo that an estimated 500-600 Venezuelans cross into Brazil daily, with some traveling to receive healthcare treatment, including for cancer.
“Migrants stranded on the southern border of Mexico, in the midst of the new immigration restrictions from the United States, hope to reunite with their families who are already in other Mexican cities,” reports EFE.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rican officials predict an increase in migration through the country in 2023, according to AR.
Borders and Enforcement
The Alianza para el Progreso party proposed a bill to sanction and jail migrants that reenter Peru following expulsion, reports Infobae.
🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos
Between April 2021 and January 31, 2023, Turks and Caicos spent $8.7 million on the detention and repatriation of irregular migrants. Official statistics find that irregular migration to the country has increased by 52% so far this year, according to The Sun.
15 Haitian migrants were denied entry to Grenada and returned to Trinidad and Tobago despite CARICOM’s 6-month stay free movement regime under the grounds that they would become a “charge to the public purse.” (NowGrenada, CNW)
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands
“Cayman’s Customs and Border Control is expected to increase its repatriation efforts as acting CBC Director Bruce Smith stated that ‘additional migrant repatriation flights are being coordinated for the very near future,’” reports Cayman Compass, highlighting repatriations of Cubans in the country.
🇻🇪🇦🇼 Aruba and Venezuela
Aruba is proposing to reopen its maritime border with Venezuela starting May 1, reports Diario las Américas.
🇵🇪🇧🇴 Bolivia and Peru
More on Migration
IOM has published a new migration governance profile on Suriname. The profile covers approximately 90 indicators to evaluate migration governance and identify both well-developed areas and areas for further development.
“Companies in the US are pledging to source more inputs from Central America as part of a wider White House policy to tackle the root causes of migration,” reports CIPS, noting that Columbia Sportswear Company, for example, is promising to “purchase up to $200m in products from Central America over the next five years” (see last week’s AMB on increased private sector pledges). Japan’s Yazaki Corporation, meanwhile, just began operations at a new automobile factory in Guatemala, reports AP—in addition to the government of Japan’s investments to support Brazil and Peru’s reception of Venezuelan migrants and refugees (press release).
“Comprehensive data regarding displacement from climate events is largely lacking in Guatemala, as the government does not recognize internal displacement—further complicating the response while depriving internally displaced Guatemalans of their rights,” writes Refugees International, arguing that Guatemala should “follow in the footsteps of the other northern Central American countries” and pass a law on internal displacement.
With the support of IOM, Honduras will conduct the first National Migration and Remittances Survey since 2010. (SwissInfo)
“Argentina’s Migration Service has begun suspending residence permits of Russian nationals who had received them by giving birth in the country but did not remain there to live full-time,” reports Novaya Gazeta. (see last week’s AMB)
“Spain’s General Consulate in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is struggling to process on time the applications filed for Spanish citizenship based on the Law of Grandchildren, due to the lack of sufficient staff,” reports SchengenVisa.
🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis has further updated their Citizenship by Investment program following “significant changes” around the new year, reports IMI.