Americas Migration Brief - January 22, 2024
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
A recent IDB report finds that “While in Colombia there is a decrease in the volume of tweets related to migration, in Peru and Ecuador an inverse pattern is identified, with an increase in both the volume and xenophobic expressions. In Chile, despite a decrease in the total volume of conversation about migration, an increase in messages with xenophobic content has been observed, making it the country with the highest percentage of xenophobic conversation in the region. Finally, in Brazil, despite the volume of conversation remaining constant, there is a decrease in xenophobic tweets,” reports Proyecto Venezuela. (see AMB 12/25/23 for the IDB report)
An open-access book on the development of Barranquilla includes a chapter on Venezuelans in the city, representing 11.4% of the population in 2022. The city has conducted multiple initiatives to help integrate this population, including incorporating Venezuelan children into the local school food program.
“Syphilis is increasing and high among Venezuelan migrants and refugees” in Colombia, according to a The Lancet Regional Health - Americas paper; “expanding access to syphilis testing and treatment for people of all genders and inclusive of host and migrant communities is critical to reducing syphilis transmission.”
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan migrants in Costa Rica “have until February 29, 2024 to apply for the Temporary Special Category (popularly called ‘CET’), which provides an immigration solution to all citizens with pending or denied refugee applications,” reports Confidencial, noting, “The immigration figure has been in force since February 2023 and has benefited some 7,500 citizens, of which more than 4,000 are Nicaraguans.”
Panama has extended registration until the end of February for its regularization program for those “whose visas expired on or after March 13, 2020.” (Fragomen)
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
The Bahamas “has been grappling with efforts to amend its immigration act to allow children born to a foreign parent to obtain local citizenship and other rights. Legislation to deal with this is being prepared for parliament in the coming weeks following recent court rulings outlawing the ban on citizenship to children born to one foreign parent,” reports Caribbean Life. (see also AMB 7/10/23)
The article also notes concerns from authorities that “the country is frighteningly short of labor and bodies to develop the mini archipelago off Florida going forward,” highlighting the need for labor migration.
Resumen Latinoamericano highlights recent comments from Argentine officials associating migrants with crime, criticizing the statements as stigmatizing and xenophobic.
Cubans in Uruguay protested last week for a regularization program. (CiberCuba)
Canada “announced up to $86 million in funding to 15 organizations across Canada to increase capacity for foreign credential recognition of approximately 6600 internationally educated health professionals. This investment will support highly educated and skilled immigrants receive proper recognition for their international credentials,” both for those already in the country and those attempting to migrate in the future. (press release)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
An MPI report explores flexible approaches to providing protection for Venezuelans across Latin America and the Caribbean, comparing the case to those of Syrians and Ukranians in Turkey and Europe.
“The Chamber of Deputies has approved and sent to the Executive a bill that redefines the legal rules related to refugee status and the procedures linked to its application and acceptance… With the amendments applied, the regulations establish that only those who arrive directly from the territory where their life or freedom is threatened will have the right to be recognized as refugees. It is defined that those who do so on a trip with stops arrive directly, as long as the stay in a third country does not exceed 60 days, with the possibility of extension in qualified cases,” reports CNN.
SJM highlights the use of complementary forms of protection in Chile, noting that with the establishment of the country’s new immigration policy in December 2023, the use of complementary protection has been reduced “exclusively to cases of victims of domestic violence, gender or sexual orientation.” SJM argues that this change is an imprudent limitation amid a national refugee system that approved applications of just 2.8% of cases from 2010-2022. (see AMB 1/1/24)
An 8 year old migrant from Angola died after falling off a train, reports El Universal.
A group of 21 persons—the majority foreigners—that had been kidnapped for about a month in the Mexican border city of Reynosa were rescued last week. (Infobae)
“The tragedy of the mass exodus from Haiti intensified in Mexico in 2023, as asylum requests from Haitians increased by 157% and the number of irregular migrants increased by 1,333% over the previous year,” reports EFE, noting that Haitians became the leading nationality for asylum requests in Mexico last year.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
The New Humanitarian highlights growing migration and protection issues in the Darien, noting increasing medical and mental health case loads, as well as rising sexual violence.
“Brazil will need to relocate citizens in areas that have been hit repeatedly by storms and other disasters supercharged by climate change, the country's Environment Minister Marina Silva told Reuters… She pointed to areas of the southern most state of Rio Grande do Sul, where floods have hit repeatedly in the past year and killed dozens.”
🇺🇸 United States
Three migrants drowned while attempting to cross the US-Mexico border. The tragedy occurred two days after Texas state officials barred federal officials from accessing the waterfront, including for emergencies. (AP)
“ICE Will Be Required to Wear Body Cameras in a Win for Transparency—But the Implementation Will Be Key” (Immigration Impact)
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining, “Following a meeting between President Biden and congressional leadership, top senators said a deal could emerge next week… The price would be meeting some Republican demands for restrictions on asylum and perhaps other migration pathways, which a small group of senators continues to negotiate. Even if senators reach a deal, it could fail in the Republican-majority House, where demands for migration curbs are more extreme.”
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
IRAP published a document explaining the US Safe Mobility Office initiative for regional migrant processing and how it works in each of the current countries of operation—Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala. So far, roughly 10% of the over 115,000 applicants have been referred for refugee resettlement to the United States.
Since the inauguration of new Guatemalan president Bernardo Arévalo, both the US and Mexico have expressed interest in meeting with him to discuss migration, among other topics. (White House, El Universal)
The countries of the Dutch Caribbean, all under the Kingdom of the Netherlands, “aim to establish a platform for collaboration among the immigration services of Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Maarten, and the BES islands,” reports Curaçao Chronicle, adding that “work is being done to expand the Coast Guard.”
“The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission has commenced a series of country missions to the Protocol Member States” with the aim of promoting and furthering the implementation of the region’s free movement regime. “Initiatives aimed at strengthening the regime include labour migration, social security benefits portability, access to education and healthcare, social development, intra-regional transportation, intra-regional trade, national border security, access to digital services and consumer protection,” per a press release.
The OECS is also working with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to address the impact of environmental challenges and climate change on human mobility, including through building capacity for border officials. (press release)
🇲🇽🇺🇸 United States and Mexico
Top-level Mexican and US officials met last Friday to discuss migration, reaffirming their efforts to promote coordination and cooperation and agreeing on a joint visit to the Darien Gap. (US press release, Mexican press release, EFE)
US and Mexican officials discussed the CBPOne App, with Mexican officials suggesting an increase in the daily entry cap or implementing direct flights to avoid land border arrivals. (Conexión Migrante)
San Diego Magazine highlights criticisms about limited access and lack of functionality with the app.
“If Washington can reach a deal on the border, its success or failure could ultimately depend on the reaction in Mexico City… Any new law aimed at ramping up deportations would almost certainly need a new formal deal with Mexico to accept a new influx of foreign nationals back within its borders,” notes Semafor.
“Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should reject any new proposed agreement with the United States that would lead to an increase in the summary expulsion of asylum seekers to Mexico,” says Human Rights Watch.
🇭🇳🇩🇴 Dominican Republic and Honduras
“The Embassy of the Dominican Republic and the Interinstitutional Commission Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking (CICESCT) of Honduras held yesterday the first meeting to strengthen the joint fight against human trafficking. This meeting represented the beginning of a strategic link, where both entities seek to coordinate efforts,” reports Canal 8.
🇲🇽🇭🇳 Honduras and Mexico
The foreign ministers of Honduras and Mexico met to discuss migration, among other topics. (Proceso)
🇻🇪🇨🇱 Chile and Venezuela
“Guyana plans to ask Cuba to send more health workers here, even as government is poised to invest heavily in training facilities to counter the adverse impact of migration of nurses to other countries,” says Demerara Waves.
🇺🇸 United States
Amid a lack of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in the US, “The most effective policy solution that could help nursing homes get more immigrant CNAs is by creating a new visa category for foreign direct care workers,” reports Skilled Nursing News.
Migrants in Transit
“According to the records of the Scalabrini Foundation's shelter homes, which operate in Tacna and Arica, in the last months of last year a change in the migratory phenomenon began to be recorded: irregular foreigners who are leaving Chile equaled the number of those trying to reach the country.” (El Mostrador)
At least 42,000 Venezuelan doctors have left the country in recent years, according to the Venezuelan Medical Federation. (Versión Final)
“Despite their strong desire to stay, the intensification of climate change forces more indigenous women to temporarily migrate to cities… to secure alternative sources of income for their families,” explains IOM.
Expansión highlights how Ecuador has become both a country of destination for Venezuelans and a country of origin for a growing emigratory population.
Borders and Enforcement
Chile’s Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill that “criminalizes clandestine entry into the country.” The bill now moves to the Senate. The Boric government and coalition is “divided” over the bill, according to Emol.
One member of Congress indicated that the bill would be taken to the Constitutional Court if passed into law. (Prensa Latina)
🇺🇸 United States
“The attorney general of Texas on Wednesday defied federal officials who demanded state authorities abandon a public park along the U.S.-Mexico border that state National Guard soldiers seized last week, setting up a legal showdown with the Biden administration over the country's immigration policies. Over the (previous) weekend, the Department of Homeland Security called on Texas officials to stop blocking federal Border Patrol from entering Shelby Park in Eagle Pass,” reports CBS. (see last week’s AMB)
“Canada is weighing a number of measures to prevent Mexican nationals from flying into the country to request asylum,” including the implementation of visa restrictions. (Reuters)
“Guatemalan authorities detained hundreds of Hondurans who were part of the first migrant caravan of 2024 that left from San Pedro Sula,” reports El País.
“Panama will strengthen surveillance on the border with Colombia,” reports EFE.
Panama has extended a transit visa requirement for Cubans traveling with a connection through the country. (Prensa Latina)
Argentina published the results of its 2022 census. Migrants represent 4.2% of the country’s total population, down from 4.5% in the 2010 census and 29.9% in the 1914 census. More than 73% of migrants live in the city or province of Buenos Aires. Paraguayans (27%), Bolivians (17.5%), Venezuelans (8.4%), Peruvians (8.1%), and Chileans (7.7%) represent the largest migrant groups in the country. (Infobae, El Destape)
“Canada is caught in a “population trap” and needs to rein in immigration significantly to escape it, according to a Monday report from National Bank of Canada economists” that identifies housing market supply as a key challenge to absorbing new migrants, per The Globe and Mail. “The National Bank economists argue that annual population growth should not exceed 300,000 to 500,000.” (report available here)
The province of Quebec is reaching a “breaking point,” according to local officials, because of the influx in asylum seekers arriving by plane. (Global News)
More on Migration
🇺🇸 United States
“By taking 535 immigration actions over its first three years, the Biden administration has already outpaced the 472 immigration-related executive actions undertaken in all four years of President Donald Trump’s term,” reports MPI, exploring the Biden administration’s migration policy thus far.
Haitian civil society says that more than 60,000 requests for passports at Haitian consulates in the Dominican Republic have not received responses. (Hoy)
An Inter-American Dialogue report explores the implementation and results of programs to harness remittances for development in Guatemalan municipalities San Marcos and Amatitlán.
“While Latin America in 2023 breaks records in remittances in most of its countries, marking a 9.5% increase in the total compared to 2022, Cuba travels in the opposite direction, experiencing a decline of 3.3% amid the worst economic, political, and social crisis in its history” and growing emigration, according to a new report at Cuba Siglo 21.
🇸🇻 El Salvador
El Salvador’s naturalization law has been adjusted to include a pathway for “Foreigners who meet the requirements established in government programs aimed at attracting investors or donors who seek to support the economic, social and cultural development of El Salvador through the injection of capital in legal tender currencies or through sustainable investment projects.” (Lexology, see also Reuters)
“The Canadian government has raised the prospect of a cap on the number of visas it will issue for international students,” notes ICEF.