Americas Migration Brief - February 12, 2024
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
“Currently, all workers in Colombia and Brazil are facing enormous challenges to organize themselves at the workplace. For refugee and migrant workers without higher education or professional credentials, the obstacles are even greater. In response to this situation, Venezuelan migrant workers and their allies are beginning to organize in labour unions and civil associations to promote decent work in both informal and low-wage formal sectors,” explains ILO in a brief focused on labor conditions and rights.
An Equilibrium and KAS report explores the barriers and opportunities for Venezuelan migrants in Peru to continue incomplete higher education studies. Based on survey data, findings include that “the completion of higher education for young Venezuelan migrants has a potential positive impact on their socioeconomic status and in terms of savings and increased productivity for the Peruvian economy.”
An IDB working paper explores the medium- and long-term labor market integration of Venezuelans in Peru. “Findings reveal that Venezuelan workers experience low returns on foreign postsecondary education and there is minimal relation between foreign work experience and monthly income… Furthermore, when immigrants are categorized by their time of arrival, these patterns persist regardless of the duration spent in the host country. (These) results do not indicate a pronounced medium- or long-term assimilation process.”
An IDB discussion paper “examines the productivity effects of forced migration, using the Venezuelan exodus to Colombia as a case study,” finding, “that a one-percentage-point increase in the migration share at the industry level increased labor productivity by 7.6%. This effect was attributable to a decrease in employment and hours worked—rather than an increase in output— and was driven by the higher skill set of migrants compared to natives.”
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
Haitians with regular status in the Dominican Republic are calling for the government to allow them to renew their residency; renewal services have been closed off to Haitians since September 2023, reports Acento.
“The Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent) – a global network of companies committed to the labor market integration of refugees – is announcing the launch of Tent México, a coalition of 50 major employers that are committed to hiring refugees and migrants at scale, as well as providing them with job preparation support, in Mexico.” (press release)
A Tent survey finds that “the Mexican public is very supportive of brands taking concrete actions to help refugees. Specifically, consumers indicate by a very wide margin that they are more likely to buy from companies hiring refugees.”
🇺🇸 United States
The US fiscal deficit is “smaller than it was last year because economic output is greater, partly as a result of more people working. The labor force in 2033 is larger by 5.2 million people, mostly because of higher net immigration. As a result of those changes in the labor force, we estimate that, from 2023 to 2034, GDP will be greater by about $7 trillion and revenues will be greater by about $1 trillion than they would have been otherwise,” says the Congressional Budget Office.
A model by the Immigration Research Initiative expects that in migrants’ first year in the US, they will generate increased state and local tax revenues of $2.5 million per 1,000 workers; after five years, this figure will increase to $3.6 million.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
“Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant strides towards addressing statelessness since 2014, including the accession of Chile (2018), Peru (2014), Jamaica (2014) and Belize (2015) to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness,” explains European Network on Statelessness.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
A young Cuban man who escaped imprisonment and political persecution for participation in protests in his home country is set to be deported by the Bahamas, reports Asere.
🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos
A female migrant was found dead when Turks and Caicos authorities apprehended a boat with over 50 irregular migrants. (Loop)
A Salud Pública paper explores the conditions of internal migrants displaced by violence in Mexico and their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic in comparison to other internal migrants, finding that “Internal migrants due to insecurity and violence faced disadvantages in terms of employment and access to health services, prior to the pandemic. The effects of the pandemic and its confinement may have been greater for these migrants than others.”
When the Lula government came to office last year, they were faced with “the largest queue of asylum request processes pending judgment in the committee's history. There were 136 thousand… (They) have already managed to analyze more than 140 thousand processes throughout the year. Today, there are around 60 thousand pending because the number of monthly requests has increased significantly compared to other times. Around 5,000 arrive per month,” reports Folha.
The article also highlights comments from the president of the Refugee Committee expressing concern that Brazil must be prepared for refugee applications from the humanitarian crisis in Ecuador. I explained the need for Ecuador’s neighbors to remain attentive and proactive in last month’s special edition on the migratory implications of Ecuador’s security crisis.
🇺🇸 United States
The Senate immigration deal introduced last week was shot down, with the body voting 49-50 on Wednesday to reject advancing debate on the bill.
The White House had thrown its support behind the bill and taken part in negotiations. Many pro-immigration civil society organizations had criticized the bill for its restrictions on asylum, with Refugees International, for example, arguing, “While there are several positive measures proposed in the bill, they are overshadowed by policies that will harm refugees and increase disorder at the border.”
At his Weekly Border Update, WOLA’s Adam Isacson explained the results and implications of the Senate vote rejecting the border deal, noting, “After the bill failed on the evening of the 7th, Senate leadership introduced a new spending bill with no border or migration content at all… This may not be the end of the story for border legislation, though. Democratic and Republican Senate leaders are negotiating migration-related amendments that the latter might bring to the chamber’s floor during the next few days’ debate.”
American Immigration Council analyzed the various elements of the border deal, arguing “If passed in its current form, the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act would be the most sweeping immigration bill of the twenty-first century. It would overhaul the process for seeking asylum in the United States—and impose an “emergency authority” that would leave asylum fully out of reach for those crossing between ports of entry for much of the next three years. It would attempt to address issues like work permits and years-long waits for asylum seekers, and also raise the initial standard a person must pass in order to access our asylum system. It would expand additional visas and future green card availability and offer a pathway to citizenship to Afghans, while also significantly increasing detention capacity. It is a mixed bag.”
“The just-released Senate border deal is a sincere, bipartisan attempt to create much needed order at the U.S.-Mexico border; release pressure on the broken asylum system, resource agencies, and communities; and provide other targeted solutions across the immigration system. However, to achieve and sustain order at the border, Congress must more boldly address what drives migration in the region and must create accessible lawful pathways that are an alternative to asylum,” said Center for American Progress.
Niskanen Center had supported the bill, pointing out that “Recent polling demonstrates that Americans of all political affiliations want to see Congress take action on the issue.”
The Border Patrol union, which “has previously endorsed Donald Trump for president and routinely takes hard-line positions on immigration enforcement,” had backed the bill, arguing that it was better than the status quo. (ABC)
“On the Border, Republicans Set a Trap, Then Fell Into It: The G.O.P. abandoned a bipartisan border security bill that also aided Ukraine after Democrats called their bluff on immigration, agreeing to tough measures Republicans demanded.” (New York Times)
“A Brief History Of Republicans Walking Away From Bipartisan Immigration Deals” (HuffPost)
““In 1996 and 2006, Congress passed the last significant border and immigration bills to date. Both were hawkish messages to voters in election years, and both have become infamous for their unintended consequences,” wrote Rafael Bernal and Saul Elbein at The Hill.” (via WOLA)
In response to high levels of migration and asylum at the US border, “Why not let states decide how many foreign workers they need and give each participating state an allocation of work visas or waivers to issue in industries with labor shortages?” asks DW Gibson at Los Angeles Times, pointing to the success of the Conrad-30 program to facilitate state-dependent migration of healthcare workers and suggesting that these types of pathways could facilitate legal migration outside of the asylum system at the border.
“In 2019, Utah Republican Rep. John Curtis introduced a bill that would create a pilot program for states to customize their worker visa allocations based on local economic needs. States that choose to participate could determine, within limits, the duration of the visas and the skill sets of the recipients. Visa holders would be required to apply regularly for renewal… As Curtis said in one interview, a state-tailored program is smart small government. “It’s a million times easier to hold the governor accountable than your congressman, right?,” he said. “It gives people on the ground more control over their destiny.””
“The United States government has placed detained immigrants in solitary confinement more than 14,000 times in the last five years, and the average duration is almost twice the 15-day threshold that the United Nations has said may constitute torture,” reports New York Times, citing a Physicians for Human Rights report.
“A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of several migrants and whistle-blower workers accused the National Guard of abusing asylum seekers in a Buffalo-area motel,” reports New York Times.
“This week marks three years since President Biden released his executive order on refugee resettlement and climate migration, acknowledging the need for solutions as the impacts of the climate crisis increasingly contribute to global displacement. The executive order led to the White House Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration. And although some progress has been made on the report’s recommendations, the U.S. government is falling far short of the actions necessary to protect communities and save lives,” says Refugees International.
RI argues that “the Safe Mobility Offices (SMOs) present an important opportunity to provide pathways, including through the U.S. refugee admissions program or parole, to those displaced due to climate disaster in the Western Hemisphere who are in urgent need of relocation.”
A Wilson Center policy brief explores the role of US refugee policy at home and abroad. Recommendations include that “Congress should enact sound reforms that will strengthen the US refugee resettlement program, for example, by placing a floor, rather than a ceiling on the number of refugees to be admitted, as well as ample funds to help refugees become self-sufficient in the United States.”
The Border Chronicle interviewed Adam Isacson last week, explaining trends in arrivals, asylum, apprehensions, and smuggling: “There’s a lot of misinformation that people seeking asylum are just scammers who don’t have strong asylum cases, and we shouldn’t even bother to try their cases. But of the cases that make it to a verdict in immigration court, 50 percent are granted asylum or some other legal protection. And even when you count the cases that get closed, 25 percent of people do get some protection in the United States. One in four is not a needle in a haystack. That’s a huge argument for having due process.”
Over 25,000 Hong Kongers fled to Canada between 2021 and 2022 after the North American country introduced “a policy for those fleeing the Beijing-imposed national security law.” But “just 455 applications were made through the policy in 2023,” reports New Canadian Media, attributing the change as possibly due to “a tough job market for new immigrants, housing challenges, competition from the UK and Taiwan, as well as a downturn in the Hong Kong economy.”
“Daria Bloodworth, a transgender woman from Colorado, had her refugee status in Canada revoked, sparking safety concerns and debates about international asylum laws and transgender rights,” reports BNN.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
🇲🇽🇺🇸 United States and Mexico
US and Mexican officials met and “discussed the importance of increasing enforcement measures to deter irregular migration (and) expanding safe and lawful migration pathways,” among other topics. (press release)
🇨🇴🇺🇸 United States and Colombia
US and Colombian officials met to discuss and reaffirm their commitments to a regional approach to migration, among other issues. (press release)
🇪🇨🇺🇸 United States and Ecuador
DHS “has sent a team to train 175 Ecuador migration officers on the use of biometrics collection.” (press release)
🇭🇳🇨🇺 Cuba and Honduras
Honduran and Cuban officials met to discuss migration and signed an agreement “on migration matters.” (La Tribuna)
Migrants in Transit
The head of Panama’s National Migration Service predicts a 20% increase in migration through the Darien Gap in 2024. (La Estrella de Panamá)
“The impacts of migratory activity in Darién consist of a greater economic benefit for the residents, but with a marked dropout from school due to the participation of children and young people in productive activities linked to the products and services provided to migrants; There has also been the abandonment of self-sustainable agricultural tasks, a high risk for citizen safety… risk of diseases, and a high exposure of local populations to activities that affect or come into conflict with their customs and traditions,” reports La Estrella de Panamá.
Although the Venezuelan population in Colombia fell by 1% last year, this reduction is “not enough to think that the trend has definitively changed in Colombia, much less that migrants are returning to their country,” writes María Clara Robayo at El Espectador.
Madrid’s airport has become a common connection for African migrants heading to Central America en route to the US. (El País)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
If migration trends continue, Costa Rica could see between 405,191 and 980,555 migrants transit through the country this year, according to IOM projections. (National University of Costa Rica)
🇺🇸 United States
There is “a rising trend in illegal Pacific Ocean crossings from Mexico that now sees boats believed to be carrying migrants beaching on the shores around San Diego nearly every day, according to Customs and Border Protection officials. The number of incidents authorities have responded to have jumped threefold over the last five years,” reports CNN.
Borders and Enforcement
🇺🇸 United States
For the first time in nearly 2 years, the US has resumed deportation flights of Mexicans to the interior of Mexico, away from the US border, reports New York Times.
“The Biden administration is considering taking executive action to deter illegal migration across the southern border,” reports NBC, adding, “The measures are still being drafted and are not expected to take place any time soon.”
“Louisiana’s GOP governor plans to deploy 150 National Guard members to US-Mexico border… So far, at least a dozen governors have sent deployments to Texas, ranging in size from a few dozen guard members to more than 100. Florida has already sent more than 1,000 guard members, troopers and other officers to the Texas border since last May.” (AP)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
A boat of 27 likely Venezuelan migrants en route to Trinidad and Tobago was intercepted by the country’s coast guard. (Radio Jamaica)
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“The Dominican Republic is on "alert" and increased security on the border in the face of the political crisis in Haiti, where strong protests demand the departure of Prime Minister Ariel Henry,” reports SwissInfo.
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