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Americas Migration Brief - February 27, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security has created a working group “to develop a national policy on migration, refuge, and statelessness” to be coordinated by the Migration Department, reports Agencia Brasil, noting, “the group will have 60 days to complete the work, which will be conducted in the debate on migratory regularization, local integration, promotion and protection of rights, combating xenophobia and racism, social participation and international relations and interculturality. The final diagnosis will be handed over to the Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, and will be submitted to public consultation.”
A new study from IOM explores Brazilian emigration and diaspora and the opportunities for diaspora engagement in sustainable development.
A new report from the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) explores access to health care for migrants and refugees in Peru, finding that a lack of information and a lack of documentation are the leading barriers to access, among other findings.
Equilibrium CenDE and Refugees International have published a new study identifying the benefits of migration for the private sector and opportunities for the private sector to harness migration, explaining that migrant credential recognition processes and labor laws limiting employment of foreigners remain barriers.
A recent law to prohibit access to housing for irregular migrants (see AMB 1/30/23) stigmatizes migrants and fails to promote migrant integration, write researchers Andres Devoto Ykeho and Oscar Rosales Krumdieck at El Comercio. Peru’s Ombudsman has indicated that it will present an action of unconstitutionality against the law.
Despite high levels of well-educated migration, Canada’s immigrant population is disproportionately underemployed, says RBC, writing, “Poor recognition of foreign credentials is the primary obstacle to better utilization of immigrant skills. Eliminating this barrier will be critical to ensuring the Canadian workforce is not only larger—but more productive.”
Francophone asylum seekers—primarily from Haiti or countries in Africa—transferred away from French-speaking Quebec “against their wishes” are struggling to access health services due to a lack of interpretation, says CBC.
🇺🇸 United States
“The Biden administration is considering a rule that would open the door to allow temporary agricultural and seasonal workers to be able to apply for permanent residency in the United States,” reports Fox, explaining that the proposal—”still going through the consideration process at USCIS”—would relate to H-2A and H-2B visas.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico have all followed Spain’s lead in offering citizenship to the more than 300 Nicaraguan exiles stripped of their nationality (BBC). At WPR, James Bosworth writes, “The international community should make it clear that it will recognize the Nicaraguan citizenship of every Nicaraguan political dissident in exile who wants to retain it. In order to support these dissidents’ rights to citizenship, there will be a need for organization and funding. The creation and maintenance of a citizenship registry, the bureaucracy of updating it and the printing of alternative passports that can be recognized by key governments will require management, funding and support. While supporting an alternative Nicaraguan government is not ideal—see the case of Venezuela—the creation of a single outside organization performing one vital government task of managing the documentation of citizens would strip Ortega of a key pillar of his repressive apparatus.”
“A bus carrying migrants from Venezuela, Colombia and Central America crashed in central Mexico, killing 17 people, officials in Puebla state said on (February 20),” reports Reuters. As a result of recent tragedies caused by bus accidents, Panama announced Saturday that it would temporarily suspend the bus transit of migrants from the country’s southern border to its northern border, reports El Diario. (see last week’s AMB)
Highlighting the life-threatening dangers of migration by sea, SwissInfo reports that 300 migrants in transit have died or disappeared traveling between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico since 2014, according to official IOM statistics.
🇺🇸 United States
The Biden administration has proposed a new rule that would restrict access to asylum for those arriving to the US-Mexico border, reports Reuters: “Under the new rules, migrants who do not schedule an appointment at a U.S. border port of entry or use humanitarian programs available to certain nationalities would be ineligible for asylum except in certain cases. They must also first seek and be denied protection in countries they pass through to be able to claim asylum once in the United States.” The American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick breaks down the policy on Twitter, referring to the move as an “asylum transit ban.” AIC’s Dara Lind, meanwhile, highlighted the complexity of the policy’s implications for asylum seekers in an article titled, ““How to Seek Asylum In the United States (Under the Biden Administration’s Proposed Asylum Transit Ban), In 12 Not-At-All-Easy Steps.” The ACLU has indicated on Twitter that it would sue to prevent the Biden administration from implementing the policy, saying, “We successfully fought President Trump on a similar ban in the courts — President Biden’s should not move forward.”
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, detailing problems with the “CBP One” smartphone app used to schedule asylum application appointments. Isacson additionally notes, “Application of Title 42 to Cuban migrants appears to have slowed their arrival at the U.S.-Mexico border, but it also appears to have caused a jump in maritime migration from Cuba to Florida.”
A New York Times investigation reveals the prevalence of migrant children in the US working “dangerous jobs that violate child labor laws — including in factories that make products for well-known brands like Cheetos and Fruit of the Loom.”
“Mexico’s refugee assistance agency, known as COMAR, launched a pilot program in southern Mexico (February 20) to explore expediting asylum denials to those it deems likely to travel onward to the US,” reports CNN, noting that an estimated 70% of those seeking asylum in Mexico—not including Haitians—use the benefits provided to continue travel to the country’s northern border with the US. The Biden administration’s newly announced asylum policy, however, may “actually increase Mexico’s attractiveness as a pit stop for those ultimately aiming to request asylum in the US,” leading Mexico to plan to abandon this new pilot program.
“The number of refugee petitions more than doubled in the past two years in Mexico compared to the combined totals from 2019 and 2020,” reports Border Report.
Argentina and the Platform on Disaster Displacement have published a policy brief on the country’s efforts to address displacement and provide humanitarian protection amid disasters and climate change, including the use of a special humanitarian visa program, launched in May 2022.
In an open letter to Colombian president Gustavo Petro, 93 civil society organizations argue that Venezuela’s proposed “Law for the Control, Regularization, Performance and Financing of Non-Governmental and Related Organizations” will force members of Venezuelan civil society “to leave the country by force, as has recently happened in Nicaragua.” (WOLA)
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Migration is on the agenda in upcoming consultations this week between the parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten, reports Curaçao Chronicle.
🇺🇸🇨🇦 Canada and United States
Following controversies surrounding irregular entry into Canada from the US through the Roxham Road unofficial border crossing, “Canada wants to rewrite the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which allows for anyone trying to cross the Canada-U.S. border in either direction to be sent back to the first of the two countries they arrived in, with few exceptions,” reports Reuters, noting that “the agreement does not cover unofficial border crossings.” The United States, however, is uninterested in revisiting the STCA, according to CBC. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he and Joe Biden will discuss stemming the flow of irregular migration into Canada when the US President visits Ottawa next month,” reports Bloomberg.
🇵🇪🇨🇱 Chile and Peru
Chile and Peru have signed an agreement to work together to combat human and migrant trafficking. (Infomigra)
The Inter-American Development Bank is providing Belize “а lоаn ореrаtіоn fоr UЅ$15 mіllіоn аnd аn іnvеѕtmеnt grаnt fоr UЅ$800,000 frоm thе Міgrаtіоn Fасіlіtу tо ѕuрроrt mіgrаnt соmmunіtіеѕ tо dеvеlор асtіvіtіеѕ іn thе аgrісulturе аnd tоurіѕm ѕесtоrѕ.” (BBN)
🇧🇸🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas
“As a part of its efforts to strengthen the relationship between the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the TCI Government is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Andrea Vernay Mills and Canon Curtis Robinson as Diaspora Liaison Officers for the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama, Bahamas, respectively,” reports Magnetic Media.
🇺🇸 United States
A new Migration Policy Institute policy brief highlights 21 possible executive actions to facilitate labor migration in the US, including lengthening work permit validity periods and facilitating greater use of H-2 and TN visas.
“Many of the firms that lobbied for more temporary visas are now firing these workers, leaving them with 60 days to find a new job or leave the country,” reports the Washington Post, highlighting the vulnerability of high-skilled visa holders amid tech layoffs.
Researcher Carol Chan explores at the Journal of International Migration and Integration the concept of “migrant brokerage” and the complexities of migrant labor recruitment versus aid in relation to Filipino migration to Chile for domestic work.
Migrants in Transit
UNICEF predicts that over 60,000 minors will cross the Darien Gap in 2023 out of a total group of more than 300,000 migrants estimated to cross the Gap over the course of the year (Reuters). A survey by R4V from November 2022-January 2023 characterizes the population transiting through the Gap during that period.
IOM has published multiple new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs). DTMs in the southern Peruvian city of Tacna and in three border cities across Peru examine the characteristics of the Venezuelan population in transit at each of those locations in recent months, including amid recent protests in the country. A DTM in Colombia surveys Venezuelan migrants and refugees in shelters across the country.
“In a country where construction materials are expensive and hard to find, Cubans are using Facebook to find building supplies for U.S.-bound homemade boats,” reports AP.
Borders and Enforcement
Jamaica is set to impose visa restrictions on Cuban nationals beginning March 13, reports Bloomberg, noting that some Cubans have used Jamaica as a “springboard” en route to Central America on their way to the United States.
Chile is deploying its military to the country’s northern border with Peru and Bolivia to combat irregular migration, reports Infobae (see AMB 2/6/23 on the temporary law permitting the move). The mayor of the border town of Colchane estimates that 200-400 migrants enter the country irregularly on a daily basis at the Chile-Bolivia border, says Emol.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
“The Bahamas will increase repatriations of irregular Haitian migrants, said Prime Minister Philip Davis, who declared in a national address that ‘The Bahamas is for Bahamians.’ The move follows increasing alarm among Caricom countries over migration from crisis-wracked Haiti,” writes Jordana Timerman at Just Caribbean Updates, detailing recent moves in the Bahamas, including the “Operation Secure” initiative and a crackdown on shanty towns that will affect both regular and irregular migrants alike.
🇺🇸 United States
A new study examining “patterns of deportation and voluntary return of undocumented immigrants from the United States to Mexico during three US presidential administrations (2001 to 2019)” at PNAS finds that “although the Trump administration maintained a high level of antiimmigrant rhetoric targeting all undocumented individuals for removal, fewer immigrants were deported annually than during the Obama administration. We find little evidence that the Trump administration’s rhetoric and heightened enforcement efforts succeeded in motivating a more diverse group of undocumented immigrants to leave voluntarily for Mexico.”
There are at least 13.1 million persons “experiencing migratory processes” in Colombia—including internal displacement, immigration, transit migration, and those in the process of emigration—says María Clara Robayo at El Espectador. UNHCR, meanwhile, writes a history of the agency's work addressing the internal displacement of 6.7 million persons in the country. And the IDB has published a working paper on lessons for building resilience based on Colombia’s internal displacement experiences; Ana María Ibáñez summarizes the findings on Twitter.
Emigration of youth, an overall aging population, and a lack of immigration to fill the gaps has left Cuba on the verge of a decreasing population trend, reports AP, highlighting the effect on pensions.
More on Migration
A new study at Plos One finds that “cross-border use of health services in (the Mexico-Guatemala border) region is related to transborder work (i.e., circumstantial use of cross-border health services). This points to the importance of considering the health needs of migrant workers in Mexican health policies and developing strategies to facilitate and increase their access to health services.”
🇺🇸 United States
Workers at a mushroom farm in Washington were fired en masse by new ownership and then re-offered their jobs with lower pay, additionally “required to sign new I-9 forms, in a transparent attempt to use documentation status to intimidate workers who had been involved in labor organizing,” says United Farm Workers, highlighting the intersection of migration and labor rights.
“Cubans with relatives already in Mexico will be eligible for new expedited applications for Mexican visas,” reports AP.
🇱🇨 Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has announced that it will not accept citizenship by investment (CIP) applications from Iranian nationals—joining Russian and Belarusian nationals—reports Menafn, adding, “There continues to be mixed messaging on CIP in the Caribbean region. The multiple variations to the program deliver little tangible development results. Except for a few CIP programs and development projects that are well documented, there is not a unified Caribbean/CARICOM position on CIP moving forward.”
Emigration to the United States is leaving Honduras with a labor shortage in the coffee industry, reports La Nación.
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