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Americas Migration Brief - January 23, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched the Citizen Perception Laboratory on Migration. The website includes public opinion survey data, research and reports, and a new tool analyzing social media conversations related to migration. IDB’s Felipe Muñoz discusses the initiative on Twitter, highlighting the importance of studying public opinion given increasing xenophobia in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The National Institute of Statistics and Information (INEI) has launched a new report on the living conditions of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru, based on surveys from February and March 2022. According to a press release, findings include that 35% of Venezuelans in the country lack legal status, 19% have a contract for their work, 27% have health insurance, and 55% of those 14 and older send remittances.
Cáritas and the US State Department have teamed up to provide services to over 10,000 Venezuelan migrants in Peru, reports Vida Nueva Digital. Services include helping facilitate access to regularization, health care, and education.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
The government of Trinidad and Tobago has renewed the Migrant Registration Programme, a regularization program for Venezuelan migrants launched in April 2019 which is available to those that arrived in the country prior to the program’s start. Last year, just over 9,000 migrants applied to extend their status, reports Guardian. R4V reports that there are more than 35,000 Venezuelans in the country.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
“Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves asked Wednesday at the Davos forum for financial support so that the country can continue to be “just as generous” with the thousands of refugees arriving at the border,” reports the Tico Times.
Mexico’s school system is struggling to integrate migrant and refugee children, especially those that don’t speak Spanish, reports the LA Times, adding “at a national level, Mexico’s Department of Education lacks statistics on the number of foreign students in the system, their backgrounds, and where they go to school, which in turn prevents school administrators and policymakers from assigning resources accordingly.”
The Colombian government has developed a new temporary identification document for those applying for the Temporary Protection Permit (PPT). The document allows migrants to access public services and temporarily enter and leave the country while they await approval of the PPT, reports Infobae.
A new paper in Journal of Development Economics finds that “following the closing and then re-opening of the border in 2016, which precipitated a massive immigration wave, homicides in Colombia increased in areas close to key border crossings… this increase was driven by homicides involving Venezuelan victims, who were disproportionately victimized relative to their size of the population. Thus, in contrast to xenophobic fears that migrants might victimize natives, it was migrants, rather than natives, who faced risks associated with immigration.”
On Friday, the city of Riohacha opened up its first “Centro Intégrate,” a resource center meant to provide a wide range of services to migrants and refugees, as well as to migrant returnees and other vulnerable populations. It is the eleventh such center in the country, a collaboration of the Colombian government with IOM, USAID, and others. (Guajira Gráfica)
The department store Renner, part of the Empowering Women Refugees program since 2016, hired 102 women refugees in the cities of Boa Vista and Curitiba over the last year, reports Exame.
🇺🇸 United States
“The knee-jerk approach of governors in several border states of transporting migrants to cities in other parts of the country—often with little coordination with those receiving cities—is not the ideal solution. But, at the same time, immigration relocation policies are likely one of the best ways to address migrant surges if done in a more organized, humane, and thoughtful way instead of as political theater,” write Julia H. Kaufman and Shelly Culbertson of RAND.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
🇺🇸 United States
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, noting that “CBP’s new app-based process allowing especially vulnerable asylum seekers to access Title 42 exemptions was quickly overwhelmed by demand.”
“A Texas National Guard soldier patrolling the Texas-Mexico border shot a migrant (last Sunday)... It’s the first known incident since the mission began in which a soldier has shot and injured a migrant,” although the shot was not “life-threatening,” reports Texas Tribune.
Some groups taking part in Canada’s private refugee sponsorship program are quitting in part because of the “over-professionalization” of the program and its increasingly bureaucratic nature, reports Toronto Star, noting that many work as volunteers.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
Syrians and Palestinians are increasingly applying for asylum in the French department of Guiana. Many arrive in French Guiana by land after first flying to Brazil and have “the hope of obtaining asylum and then to set out again towards France and Europe,” according to FranceInfo.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rican police have cleared out lines of primarily Nicaraguan migrants sleeping outside of the Refugee Unit offices while waiting for a chance to apply for asylum, reports Confidencial and La Prensa.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
🇪🇸🇬🇹 Guatemala and Spain
The governments of Guatemala and Spain signed an agreement last week “to regulate and order labor migration between the two countries,” according to a press release.
🇲🇽🇺🇲 United States and Mexico
The US and Mexico have signed a memorandum of understanding “to strengthen protections for workers participating in temporary foreign worker programs,” including “establishing fair recruitment processes and facilitating the availability of quality temporary agricultural and non-agricultural employment,” announces the Department of Labor. They also signed an agreement to facilitate the reunification of child migrants in Mexico with parents in the US, says the LA Times, noting that eligibility requirements have yet to be specified.
🌎 Central American Integration System (SICA)
With Belize assuming the presidency of SICA, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced the country’s interest in increased coordination on migration issues among member countries, reports Channel 5.
🇦🇼🇨🇼🇸🇽 Dutch Caribbean
Ministers of Justice from the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten met last week to discuss migration, among other topics. They decided to extend the “traveling with sedula” program, allowing citizens of the Dutch Commonwealth “to travel in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom with the local identity document 'the sedula,’” according to a news release.
“The decision of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) and the United Progressive Party (UPP) to liberalise the system by which Caricom nationals migrate to, and work in, Antigua and Barbuda, raises questions about how far other members of the Caribbean Community are prepared to go to realise the purposes of the Caricom Treaty,” writes the country’s ambassador to the US and OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders, in Saturday Express. The country has moved to drop work permit requirements for nationals of Caricom and the Dominican Republic (see last week’s brief).
Chile granted 127% more work visas between January and November 2022 than the same period in 2021, reports La Tercera. Even still, this remains below the 2019 pre-pandemic totals. Venezuelans made up nearly half of the 2022 total, followed by Colombians and Peruvians in a distant second and third, respectively.
The proportion of labor complaints in Chile filed by foreigners increased 6.4% between 2022 and 2021, reports GDA, noting that Venezuelans, Haitians, and Peruvians were the most frequent nationalities.
“To help address Canada’s housing crisis, the federal government is expanding a small-scale pilot project that offers permanent residence for out-of-status construction workers who are already working underground in the sector” in the Greater Toronto Area, reports Toronto Star.
Migrants in Transit
A Gallup poll last year found that 30% of those surveyed across Latin America “would like to move to another country permanently if they could,” of which 33% prefer to go to the United States.
A new ODISEF report based on interviews of migrants walking from Venezuela to Colombia from September-December 2022 finds that economic factors were a key reason for their emigration, while less than 1% of those interviewed carried a passport with them.
A new IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in shelters in Colombia finds that 28% want to return to Venezuela, with an additional 12% and 10% wanting to migrate to Peru and Ecuador, respectively.
A new IOM DTM survey from the northern Peruvian city of Tumbes finds that of the Venezuelan migrants entering the country, 54% of those surveyed intended to migrate to Peru, with another 42% intending to go to Chile. Nearly half had spent the last year in either Colombia or Ecuador.
NYT’s The Daily podcast on Friday discussed the Darien Gap, highlighting the dangers of traveling through one of the world’s most perilous migrant and refugee routes.
Borders and Enforcement
“The increasing influx of migrants to the U.S. border with Mexico is causing “enforcement fatigue” in Central and South American transit countries, according to Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol documents obtained by Yahoo News, and almost all will not be able to handle an expected surge should Title 42 restrictions be lifted in the coming months,” reports Yahoo News.
Migration Policy Institute researchers Ariel Ruiz and Colleen Putzel-Kavanaugh discuss migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border on Twitter, noting that “Among the top nationalities, Ecuadorians (62%) were the most encountered in family units; Guatemalans (33%) continued to be group most encountered as unaccompanied children.”
On Saturday, the National Guard and National Migration Institute (INM) dissolved in Tapachula the first migrant caravan of the year, according to SwissInfo.
“Mexican authorities have found 269 migrants from Central and South America crowded into a tractor trailer near the country's southern border,” reports Reuters, noting that the migrants were almost all from Guatemala and included 20 unaccompanied minors.
Senators from the Democrats Party met with Carolina Tohá, Chile’s Minister of the Interior and Public Security, last week to propose a number of security- and migration-relation policies, including the detention of irregular migrants and the use of the armed forces for border security and enforcement, reports DiarioUChile. This came alongside other meetings about migration between the Minister and members of Congress. (BioBioChile)
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas and US Vice President Kamala Harris met last Tuesday to discuss combating irregular maritime migration, among other topics (Bahamas Information Services). Increasing irregular migration has sparked a pushback in the country, with Labour and Immigration Minister Keith Bell “(issuing) a stern warning to all illegal migrants in the country to immediately wind up their affairs and leave voluntarily or face deportation,” according to Eyewitness News. Last year, the Bahamas “recorded a 343% increase in the number of Cubans intercepted on its coasts and a 51% increase in Haitians compared to 2021,” reports Dominican Today.
The Federal Police detained a Brazilian for allegedly helping smuggle eight Cuban migrants into the country, reports Agência Brasil. The Cubans had reportedly flown to Suriname and then traveled by land to French Guiana before attempting to cross into Brazil. Last week’s brief noted record increases of Cubans seeking asylum in Brazil.
December 2022 saw an increase of 10-15% in the number of unaccompanied minor migrants received by the Baja California state National System for Integral Family Development (DIF), reports La Voz.
At Nayarit Noticias, psychologist Boris González Ceja calls for an Interstate Plan for Forced Internal Displacement with a focus on mental health care, noting that the principal cause of internal displacement in Mexico is violence and insecurity. The majority of IDPs are located in the states of Michoacán, Guerrero, and Chiapas.
More on Migration
IOM and ClimateTracker have published a new guide on communications about environmental and climate-related migration.