Americas Migration Brief - January 29, 2024
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
IOM has launched a toolbox for socioeconomic integration and reintegration meant to support policymakers and other actors working on the topic.
“A wave of nationalism, sometimes even reaching xenophobic expressions, has been advancing in several countries, closing borders, making it difficult for migrants to integrate in host communities and, in the worst cases, resulting in deportations, not to mention public expressions of discontent that sometimes end in violent incidents,” according to a report from Universidad del Rosario’s Venezuela Observatory.
A Centro de Políticas Migratorias report exploring the labor integration of migrants in Chile finds that “the majority of the companies studied do not develop practices focused exclusively on their migrant workers, but rather frame their integration in the context of other general inclusive policies that promote and protect diversity through training, reporting channels, protocols, among other initiatives. On the other hand, migrant workers generally prefer not to be subject to policies exclusively focused on them, as they consider that this could generate discrimination from their peers.
Thousands of irregular migrants in Chile that had their biometric registration process rejected have been offered a second chance to register, reports Versión Final.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
“The statements by President Rodrigo Chaves, emphasizing the Nicaraguan nationality of a detainee suspected of the murder of a police officer in Costa Rica… have unleashed xenophobic comments on social networks, and raised alarms among those who warn of the dangers of linking the Costa Rican insecurity crisis with migration, especially because official data show that there is no disproportion between the percentage of the Nicaraguan population in Costa Rica and the detainees of that nationality for different crimes,” reports Confidencial.
Venezuelans are struggling to integrate in Ecuador due to xenophobia, reports El Estímulo, noting, “In the month of December, demonstrations took place in the town of Pelileo, where every Venezuelan residing there was required to leave. The street movements included threats from both ordinary citizens and authorities.”
The Healthy Communities program run with USAID in Bogotá “achieved the affiliation of 29,164 migrants to the General Health Social Security System,” reports ConsultorSalud.
USP explores the integration of Haitians in São Paulo, noting a prevalence of informal work.
Xavier University and IOM “inaugurated a free clinic center for undocumented immigrants” in Aruba. (24ora)
🇺🇸 United States
“Despite being less than a month into the 2024 state legislative cycle, state legislatures have introduced numerous proposals advancing immigrant-inclusive policies, with the American Immigration Council already tracking over 200 immigration-related bills. The policies are varied, ranging from those aiming to remove barriers to occupational licensure to get more high-skilled immigrants into jobs to bills establishing Offices of New Americans to bolster immigrants’ integration and access to essential services and information.” (Immigration Impact)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
““Garifuna people from the Afro-Indigenous communities along Honduras’ Caribbean coast are migrating in large numbers both within Central America and to the United States, in one of the most searing and underreported human rights crises in the hemisphere,” reports El Faro English.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
“Twenty years after a landmark Constitutional Court ruling put Colombian forced displacement in the public eye, there has been an increase in the number of victims, reports El País.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
“In 2003, (Colombia’s) Constitutional Court received petitions from more than 1,150 displaced families who claimed the violation of their fundamental rights due to the lack of state response. When analyzing the case, the Court evidenced serious structural flaws in the way in which the State was responding to the displaced population. Public policy was underfunded, entities were not articulated to serve that population and, in general, there were great barriers to guaranteeing the rights that the Constitution enshrines. Consequently, finding that it was a massive violation of fundamental rights that affected not only the plaintiffs but millions of people, and had its origin in structural failures of the State, the Court decided to declare the ECI (State of unconstitutional affairs),” explains Judge Natalia Ángel to El Espectador.
A Georgetown and UNHCR report explores UNHCR’s refugee relocation program in Mexico, noting that “as of March 2023, some 30,000 refugees have been relocated to 10 cities in central and northern Mexico and initial results for those that remain in the program have been extremely successful… Participants are placed in hotels for a few days, go through an orientation course that includes introductions to employers and assistance in finding housing, and receive cash payments to support their relocation… Findings from the quantitative data analysis suggest that relocated refugees are becoming self-reliant.”
“Violence remains one of the main risks for people on the move in Mexico” (IRC)
🇺🇸 United States
TPS was extended and redesignated for Syrians. (press release)
“In the year since the State Department launched Welcome Corps, more than 15,000 American sponsors have applied to receive more than 7,000 refugees through Welcome Corps, exceeding the Department’s first year mobilization goal.” (State)
“New survey data from participants in the Cuba-Haiti-Nicaragua-Venezuela (CHNV) parole process show that this legal pathway for migrants from those countries has been a compassionate solution that has reduced border arrivals and relieved pressure on city governments. In fact, survey data indicate that those paroled through the CHNV process disperse throughout the country, initially depend on sponsors and not government, and are becoming economically self-sufficient in a short period of time.” (Fwd.us)
More than 1 million migrants—340,000 from the CHNV program—have entered the US under the Biden administration through the parole authority, reports CBS.
A Data for Progress survey asked US voters about the US immigration system, finding that “A strong majority of voters (69%) also support the U.S. having a system for asylum seekers to legally migrate to the U.S. to seek protection. When asked about potential changes to the asylum application process that would allow immigration officials to deport asylum seekers without allowing them to see a judge, voters prefer giving asylum seekers a meaningful opportunity to make their case before a judge rather than a higher standard that could lead to expedited removal.”
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Weekly Border Update, explaining, “Republicans’ efforts to tie migration restrictions to Ukraine aid are sputtering in the Senate, as former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump has been calling conservative Republican senators and urging them to reject a deal. This is happening even after Democrats appear to have agreed to major curbs on asylum access, and after negotiators were voicing cautious optimism that legislative text might appear this week.” New York Times adds that “the Republican speaker pronounced (the proposed deal) dead on arrival in the House.”
“The agreement is expected to give the executive branch a new legal authority to effectively suspend asylum in between official ports of entry when migrant crossings surpass certain thresholds… On Friday, Mr. Biden said he would use the new powers ‘the day I sign the bill into law,’” reports CBS, noting that the proposal “would preserve asylum at official ports of entry. In fact, it would require U.S. border officials to continue processing more than 1,400 asylum-seekers daily at these official border crossings when the ‘shutdown’ authority is invoked.”
“The deal is not expected to shut down Biden administration parole programs that allow U.S.-based individuals to sponsor the entry of certain Latin American migrants and Ukrainians.” (CBS)
“The de facto digital metering system created by the Department of Homeland Security’s implementation of the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways Final Rule knowingly exposes people seeking asylum in the US to systematic abuse in Mexico and the risk of injury or death, in violation of its policies and legal obligations,” says Human Rights Watch.
“Immigration judges completed double the amount of cases during the first quarter of [fiscal year] 2024 compared to the same period a year ago,” reports Courthouse News Service.
“Too Few Immigration Attorneys: Average Representation Rates Fall from 65% To 30%” over five years (TRAC)
“Family Separation in Their Own Words: The Lasting Harm of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy” (Women’s Refugee Commission)
The US Coast Guard says it “rescued 33 Haitian migrants on Monday after their vessel began taking on water about six miles north of Cap-Haitien, Haiti.” (Observer)
“Canada is experiencing an unprecedented spike in asylum seekers. According to data released by the Border Services Agency and the Ministry of Immigration, in 2023 over 144,000 applications were registered, an increase of 57% compared to 2022.” (El País)
“Asylum claims from study visa holders in Canada nearly tripled from 2018 to 2022. About 15,935 student visa holders in Canada have applied for asylum in that time span,” notes New Canadian Media.
Canada’s humanitarian family reunification program for Colombians, Haitians, and Venezuelans has already reached capacity after just two months, prompting criticism, says CBC.
“The different treatment of Ukrainian and Palestinian refugees exposes a clear double standard. The Trudeau government’s response to Ukraine was swift and comprehensive. There was no cap on how many could apply and they did not need to have Canadian relatives… Despite recognizing that there is no safe space in Gaza, the response of the Trudeau government both to a ceasefire call and to the refugee crisis has been timid and hesitant,” says Canadian Dimension.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
French Guiana received “5,200 first-time [asylum] applications (an increase of 102%). Haitians accounted for 28% of first-time applications, Syrians 21% and Afghans 19%,” reports Euractiv.
“The share of applicants from the Middle East is increasing,” says Outre-mer la 1ère.
The deportation of a Haitian man from French Guiana has sparked criticism; the move “is contrary to the recent position of the National Court of Asylum and the UN recommendations asking States to suspend expulsions to Haiti,” reports France Guyane.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The governments of Central America and Mexico “approved a roadmap for 2024 that reflects their commitment to redouble efforts and continue working in a coordinated manner to address situation of refugees in the region,” says an OAS press release.
The Andean Community member countries met to discuss security, as well as irregular migration, agreeing to create a new border security network in response to Ecuador’s security crisis. (France24, Infobae, see AMB 1/15/24)
“Senior Mexican, U.S. and Guatemalan officials will meet as soon as possible for talks on migration,” reports Reuters.
🇪🇨🇺🇸 United States and Ecuador
🇨🇦🇲🇽 Mexico and Canada
“Due to the concerns about the increased number of Mexican asylum seekers in recent months, in December 2023, we held the sixth interim meeting of the Mexico-Canada High-Level Dialogue on Human Mobility (Danmov), with a view to continue working to achieve orderly, humane, safe and regular migration. As a result of this meeting, we agreed to establish joint measures, which are making good progress, as reflected in the decreased number of asylum applications for the month of December,” says a Mexican government press release.
“Canada’s immigration department is denying Mexico’s claim that a pact between the two countries is already curbing asylum claims in Canada, as the minister in charge faces mounting pressure to impose visas for Mexican citizens,” reports The Canadian Press.
🇨🇴🇵🇦 Panama and Colombia
Panamanian and Colombian officials met to discuss migration and border security, among other topics. (ANPanamá)
Spain’s Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration met with World Bank officials, highlighting efforts to facilitate circular labor migration to Spain from Colombia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. (La Vanguardia)
25,000 Ecuadorians will be recruited for jobs in Israel, reports Eju.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
“In an effort to improve the competitiveness and profitability of agricultural activities, the Government of Costa Rica has proposed halving three immigration tariffs that affect foreign agricultural workers who arrive in the country for periods of up to nine months,” reports Mundiario.
“With the participation of more than fifty companies in the fruit industry, the National Migration Service (Sermig) and Frutas de Chile, made the sector aware of the procedure defined between both entities to expedite the processing of the Mercosur Visa” to facilitate labor migration, explains Mundoagro.
🇧🇷🇦🇷 Argentina and Brazil
“Young people from the province of Misiones are moving in record numbers to Brazil, in search of better job opportunities,” reports Misiones Online.
Migrants in Transit
“The Humanitarian Network of Honduras urged the deputies that make up the National Congress to approve the extension of the immigration amnesty” from fines for migrants in transit through this country. The amnesty expired on January 1, but the Executive Branch had moved to remedy the situation through a special 10-day permit to remain in the country. (HCH; see AMB 1/1/24)
“Hundreds of migrants find themselves in limbo in Guatemala, unable to finance moving on towards the United States or turning back, reports El País,” notes Jordana Timerman at Latin America Daily Briefing.
Borders and Enforcement
🇺🇸 United States
“Texas' attorney general on Friday forcefully rejected a request from the Biden administration to grant federal immigration officials full access to a park along the southern border that the state National Guard has sealed off with razor wire, fencing and soldiers. For three weeks, the federal government and Texas have clashed over Shelby Park,” reports CBS, adding, “The Supreme Court earlier this week allowed Border Patrol to cut the razor wire Texas has assembled near the riverbanks of the Rio Grande… The razor wire in Shelby Park has remained in place, however, since federal officials have not been granted full access to the area.”
TPM explores the fight further, explaining, “Texas officials continue to work towards a goal that they have articulated for more than a year: creating a series of incidents which could lead to test cases before the Supreme Court overturning Arizona v. U.S., a 2012 decision upholding federal control of immigration and border enforcement.”
“Arizona Republicans want to give local police the ability to arrest migrants crossing the border, mirroring a Texas law that flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent and settled constitutional issues, and is currently being challenged by the federal government,” reports AZ Mirror.
“Republicans zero in on a new border — the one with Canada” (NBC)
Some local officials from the north of Chile have called for expanded border enforcement efforts and the use of ditches along the border, a method used by multiple previous governments. Despite criticisms of current efforts, irregular entries fell by 21% between 2022 and 2023, reaching a 35% drop in the Colchane sector. (El País, La Tercera)
More on Migration
“Canada will cap the number of approved study permits for international students in 2024 at 360,000 – a decrease of 35% from 2023,” explains Fragomen, noting that a cap will be placed in 2025, too. (see last week’s AMB)
“Migrant and student advocacy groups in Canada have slammed a two-year cap on new study permits for international students, saying that immigrants are being “scapegoated” for the country’s aggravating housing crisis,” reports Free Press Journal.
“Suriname's first Diaspora Engagement Policy is aimed at shaping the involvement of the Suriname diaspora in the future and translating this into tangible benefits for the country.” (IOM)