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Americas Migration Brief - January 30, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
7News highlights the stories of immigrants seeking Belizean citizenship through the Immigrant Amnesty Program, established five months ago in partnership with IOM. They note, “the Amnesty program was extended in December when not enough people had applied in the original time period. The last day for submission of documents in the Amnesty program will be February 28th, 2023.”
Peru’s Congress has passed a law to require landlords to collect proof of regular migration status from lessees and to pass along data to the National Superintendency of Migration for all foreign-born tenants. The law was previously proposed in May 2022 but had been rejected by then-president Pedro Castillo, reports Rostros Venezolanos.
Mayors and government officials from the Lima metropolitan area met last week with immigrant youth and civil society organizations to discuss the importance of supporting youth immigrants at the local level. (Save the Children)
El Pitazo and Efecto Cocuyo cover the effects of recent protests in Peru on the Venezuelan immigrant population in the country, noting that it has increased economic vulnerability, as it restricts the ability of many informal workers to work.
A new Conference Board of Canada briefing “says that more evenly distributed migration would not only benefit smaller cities (economically), but also help ease the challenges in infrastructure demands faced by major centres like Vancouver or Toronto,” reports Global News. National Post writes, “Canada, by virtually any metric, is the most pro-immigration country on earth,” but notes that “there are clear signs that people are nervous about the tempo (of immigration) amid crunches in the health system, housing and other infrastructure.”
Brazil has launched the Working Group for National Policy on Migration, Refuge, and Statelessness; focused on the inclusion of civil society and NGO voices for policy. The government also launched a new observatory focused on mapping violence and xenophobia against refugees in remembrance of Moïse Kabagambe, a Congolese refugee brutally murdered in Rio de Janeiro last year. (Metrópoles, UNHCR)
A new IDB paper “explores the effects of weather-induced rural-urban migration on urban labor and housing markets in Brazil… (finding) a substantial positive effect on the growth rates of the most precarious housing units (with no effect on rents) and a negative effect on the growth of higher-quality housing units (with a positive effect on rents).”
A Peruvian-owned restaurant in São Paulo that expressed support for president Lula and criticized former president Bolsonaro has received a barrage of xenophobic attacks, reports Agência Brasil.
“Panama has reinforced different elements focused on mental health care for the migrant and refugee population” in the country, reports Metro Libre.
A new longitudinal study from 2016-2021 in Frontiers in Sociology finds that “after the pandemic, convivial attitudes toward Latin American migrants decreased. Chileans started perceiving them more negatively, particularly those respondents with lower educational levels and who live in increasingly multicultural neighborhoods with higher rates of migrant residents.”
Last week, USAID launched the Opportunities Without Borders program in Colombia, meant to promote formal labor opportunities and entrepreneurship and support integration of migrants, returnees, and Colombians alike. 51 companies and unions signed on at the launch event. (Proyecto Venezuela, El Universal)
🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands
The BVI government plans to “take a new approach in processing the status of Residency and Belongership in the territory.” This includes writing a new immigration law, replacing the current edition from 2014, reports BVI News.
Lía Valeri, a Venezuelan migrant in Argentina, founded the Foundation for the Cultural Integration of Migrants and Refugees (FICU) to support immigrant mental health through art, seeing art “as a vehicle for integration,” reports TN.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
A boat carrying Cuban migrants to the US shipwrecked last week, leaving 5 dead and 12 missing, reports El Nuevo Herald. IOM reports that its Missing Migrants Project “documented at least 321 deaths and disappearances of migrants in the Caribbean in 2022 – the highest number recorded since the Project started in 2014, and a drastic leap compared to 180 registered in 2021.”
According to the IOM, “the number of people making a perilous crossing on foot of the Darien Gap jungle between Colombia and Panama as they head north to try to get to the United States has dropped significantly since the U.S. government tightened its rules on migrants,” reports Reuters. Elsewhere, Reuters notes, “The number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border dropped off dramatically from December to January.”
🇪🇸🇻🇪 Venezuelans in Spain
Amid reconciliation between the governments of Venezuela and Spain, Spain is reportedly considering ending its program to provide residency for “humanitarian reasons” to Venezuelans in the country. (Diario Las Américas, Legalizados)
A new reform to the Guatemalan Migration Law prohibits the shelter of migrants in transit, “putting up in the air the operations” of nine shelters managed by the Catholic Church that in total assist at least 25,000 migrants per year, reports Guatevisión.
🇺🇸 United States
“A Data for Progress survey of 1,133 likely voters in October 2022… (finds) that more than two-thirds (70 percent) of likely voters — across demographic indicators such as race, political affiliation, education, and age — strongly believe that the U.S. should have a refugee resettlement program. But one group stands out: Among voters who say they know someone who is a refugee, 89 percent support the U.S. refugee program.”
“Haitian asylum seekers, who had previously been able to take advantage of the NGO-assistance-based Title 42 exemption process, are seemingly been shut out of the CBPOne exemption process due to both technical issues and the fact that the app is only in English and Spanish,” writes American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick on Twitter. The NGO Haitian Bridge Alliance is working to bridge the language barrier and explain the process.
IOM is warning asylum seekers of scams related to the CBP One app, reports Border Report.
“The United States is poised to start using fast-track asylum screenings at the U.S.-Mexico border,” reports Reuters, noting that similar policies were used by the Trump administration.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, noting efforts by Republican states to block the Biden administration’s humanitarian parole policy. Meanwhile, “Nearly 80 Democratic lawmakers in Congress implored President Biden on Thursday to scrap plans to limit asylum access and eligibility along the southern border,” reports CBS. Refugee International’s Yael Schacher explains at the Washington Post that “bars (against asylum) have been marshaled against Central Americans since the late 1980s.”
“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding off the coast of Florida as migrants from Cuba and Haiti continue to take to the sea in a desperate effort to reach the United States,” says CBS.
Refugee policy suffered under the Temer and Bolsonaro administrations and “was no longer an exclusively human rights directive” but instead dictated by a security-oriented perspective and an emphasis on “efficiency,” according to Sin Fronteras’ Charles Pontes Gomes at Animal Político, arguing that the new Lula administration offers an opportunity for reconstruction.
Mexican authorities stopped a truck Thursday with 57 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, reports Reuters.
Migrants and refugees in Mexico City living on the street are struggling with the cold and humanitarian needs, reports Pie de Página, noting that UNAM students have organized a campaign to help provide blankets, sanitary products, and other supplies.
There are currently at least 10,000 migrants and refugees living on the street in Reynosa according to the city’s mayor, reports El Heraldo de México.
Belén Fernández gives Border Chronicle an inside look at the Siglo XXI immigration detention center in Tapachula, saying that “It is impossible to downplay the physical and mental anguish that Siglo XXI signifies for so many people—many of whom have already suffered sufficiently in their home countries or during their respective migrant trajectories. The waiting game can be the worst part of it all; I met women who had been imprisoned for a month and still had no idea whether they would be deported or granted asylum in Mexico—or when they might expect an answer to this existential question. The indefinite limbo constitutes psychological torture in itself.”
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) “has a history of cloaking fatalities of immigration detainees in secrecy and refusing to release information about those who die in custody,” says Human Rights Watch, highlighting recent cases of suicide in CBSA detention facilities.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
IOM Director António Vitorino has called for the world to not forget the exodus of Venezuelan migrants and refugees, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Paraguayan president Mario Abdo Benitez repeated a similar mantra at the CELAC summit last week, reports Informe21, while Chilean president Gabriel Boric called for increased regional cooperation on migration, notes BioBioChile. Boric reportedly also said, “Chile is not in a position to continue receiving uncontrolled migratory waves.” Colombian president Gustavo Petro, meanwhile, suggested that Mexico host a regional migration conference, reports Chicago Tribune.
Chile hosted the Third International Forum on Migration Statistics last week. ECLAC executive secretary José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs “encouraged countries to keep improving statistical information, properly allocating the often scarce resources available, deepening inter-institutional and international cooperation and opening permanent communication channels between data producers, researchers and decision makers in the field of migration governance,” according to a press release.
🇻🇪🇨🇷 Costa Rica and Venezuela
🇺🇾🇦🇷 Argentinians in Uruguay
Ámbito discusses Argentine labor migration to Uruguay, noting an increasing tendency of Uruguayan firms seeking highly-skilled Argentinians.
Migrants in Transit
NGOs in the Colombian border department of Norte de Santander say that Venezuelan migrants are increasingly crossing the border by foot, reportedly transiting through Colombia en route to countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. (El Pitazo)
🇧🇿🇭🇹 Haitians in Belize
Haitian migrants are traveling to Belize through the CARICOM visa-free mobility regime en route to the United States, reports Channel 5, noting recent reports of immigration officials “withholding travel documents from a number of Haitian nationals who had recently entered the country.”
Borders and Enforcement
Amid increasing Dominican emigration, Guatemala “announced it would require visas for visitors from the Dominican Republic starting next month,” reports Reuters, noting that most Dominicans enter the country en route to the US. Colombia is reportedly considering also implementing visa restrictions for Dominicans, according to El Nuevo Diario. DW covers Dominican emigration, noting that it is driven by high cost of living, corruption, and violence, among other factors.
“The U.S. Coast Guard has detained a boat carrying 396 Haitian migrants near the Bahamas in one of the biggest human smuggling incidents in the region, Bahamian officials said,” reports WLRN.
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis
“The St. Kitts-Nevis government says a committee has been set up to investigate cases of sham marriages in the twin island federation,” reports CNW, highlighting the Prime Minister’s comments that citizenship would be withdrawn for those found to have acquired status through an “illegal marriage,” although “at the same time we are going to put an amnesty in place because we understand that there are good actors within the immigrant community to give them an opportunity to register properly and to say to them that we are not an inhumane government.”
More on Migration
IOM has published new migration governance profiles on Mexico and the municipality of San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic, near Santo Domingo. The profiles cover approximately 90 indicators to evaluate migration governance and identify both well-developed areas and areas for further development.
The United Kingdom has reportedly informed English-speaking Caribbean countries with Citizenship by Investment Programmes (CIPs) that it intends to “(examine) all such programmes… to determine if they undermine the UK’s national security,” says Antigua Observer.
A new IMF working paper explores irregular migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to the US from 1990-2019, finding that, among other factors, “Economic labor market conditions (real wages and unemployment rates, especially in the U.S.) play a major role in explaining undocumented migration.” The paper also highlights the importance of “(addressing) the root causes of migration at home.” Hondudiario, meanwhile, notes that the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) and the Partnership for Central America signed a memorandum of understanding to address the drivers of migration in those same three countries.
🇺🇸 United States
The Migration Policy Institute’s Muzaffar Chishti and Kathleen Bush-Joseph explore changes in migration policy under the Biden administration, noting that Biden has taken 403 immigration-related executive actions over two years, in comparison to 472 over the entirety of the Trump administration’s four years.
🇧🇸🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas
“The Turks and Caicos Islands Government is looking to establish a diaspora office in Nassau, Bahamas to promote and strengthen relations between the TCI government and overseas based TC Islanders,” reports TC Weekly News.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“Work is in progress on a Returnees Bill to facilitate the return of children and women in Middle East refugee camps who are T&T citizens,” reports Guardian, noting that “the approximately 100 Trinidadian citizens in Syria and Iraq include 25 women, 69 children and unconfirmed reports of six men.”