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Americas Migration Brief - July 10, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) has published the 5th round of the migration pulse survey. Among the findings, 82% of Venezuelans in Colombia reported planning to stay in the country, 27% reported feeling discriminated against, and 15% of Venezuelan families with children reported that they did not attend school, notes La República.
WFP conducted a survey on food insecurity among immigrants in Colombia, finding that over 50% had skipped a meal in the last week and about 70% were under the national poverty line.
Sandra Milena Muñoz Cañas at La Silla Vacía calls for improved labor rights and integration of migrants, including eliminating barriers to title validation, labor inspections to ensure migrants are not exploited, and ratifying international conventions in support of migrant laborers’ rights.
Guyana could “(leverage) the current influx of migrants from Venezuela and Haiti as a strategy to bolster (the) labor pool” amid rapidly growing wealth from oil, reports News Americas Now.
There are an estimated 1,800 minors in Chile without nationality or any documentation as a result of their (and their parents’) irregular status in the country, says SJM Chile.
“Community groups in Toronto are calling on the governments of Canada and Ontario, and Toronto’s Mayor-elect to act urgently to provide emergency and long-term shelter for refugee claimants in Toronto.” (FCJ)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
Exploring security and protection issues related to Venezuelan migration, InSight Crime writes, “One of the principal factors facilitating the criminal exploitation of the migrant crisis has been local-level corruption and institutional neglect,” adding that militarized borders “sow confusion and chaos at the border, drive the development of sophisticated human smuggling networks, and enable predatory organized crime.”
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“The Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruled that 1951 Refugee Convention obligations do not apply and cannot be enforced in the twin-island republic. This means that all migrant, refugees and asylum seekers can be deported — even if they have registered with United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees. (CMC)” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
““Deporting asylum-seekers and refugees, which this ruling paves the way for the state to do, back to a situation from which they had fled in the first place, risks leaving them in situations where their safety and security may be threatened”, said executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights Denise Pitcher. (Newsday)” (via Just Caribbean Updates)
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
“The Bahamas has been discussing the issue of gender-discriminatory nationality law for year — a recent ruling by the Privy Council resolved the issue for Bahamian men with children born out of wedlock, but women continue to be discriminated against, they are unable to confer citizenship on their children and spouses, writes Alicia Wallace in the Tribune.” (via Just Caribbean Updates)
🇺🇸 United States
The Welcome Corps initiative is expanding with “a new targeted education sponsorship initiative that enables U.S. colleges and universities to play a leading role in resettling refugee students.” (press release)
Asylum seekers are not receiving the “guaranteed access to legal counsel” that they were promised, reports AP, noting that the success rates of asylum screenings (known as “credible fear interviews”) have dropped significantly following the implementation of new expedited processes.
“Border agents are promising some Venezuelan asylum seekers a greater chance to stay in the US if they agree to first return to Mexico and make appointments to re-enter from there – or otherwise be deported – but then the migrants are flown to the Mexican interior and stranded there without any way to access the US asylum system,” reports The Guardian.
“Whether legal or not, the CHNV parole process is achieving the goal the Republican states claim they want: reducing illegal immigration. In many ways, the CHNV parole process is the dream of an immigration restrictionist, reducing both illegal and total net migration and ensuring that those who do come are vetted and unlikely to fall into government dependency because they have a sponsor waiting for them,” writes Daniel Di Martino at The Hill, praising the Biden administration’s humanitarian parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, noting that “Anecdotal information points to an increase in migrant deaths in the U.S.-Mexico border zone.”
“In Honduras, agricultural workers, making up 39 percent of the population, are made vulnerable by the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and hurricanes, while rural migrants to cities must contend with organized gangs and high rates of urban violence,” according to a new USIP report comparing climate change-related internal displacement in Honduras, Jordan, and Pakistan.
Indigenous persons are disproportionately affected by internal displacement in Mexico, reports El Economista.
Advocates are calling for Canada to prepare to receive and protect migrants and refugees on the move because of climate change, noting that previous responses to such displacement have “operated on a little bit of a piecemeal basis.” (Global News)
🇨🇱🇵🇪 Peru and Chile
Although the crisis at the Peru-Chile border was solved (see AMB 5/29/23), the initial conditions remain and the region remains susceptible to a crisis of stranded migrants once more, with experts calling for the standing establishment of humanitarian corridors. (Proyecto Venezuela)
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has “agreed to having free movement for all categories of people by March next year” within the bloc, although Haiti will not be included, reports Loop, adding that “there would be ‘certain contingent rights’ such as access to primary and emergency healthcare and free primary and secondary education,” too. (see more on Caribbean migration at a recent MPI-IDB report I co-authored and AMB 3/13/23)
A new US initiative that begins today “will allow eligible migrants from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to fly to the U.S. and gain government work permits if they have relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and have filed visa applications on their behalf… More than 70,000 individuals could qualify for the program immediately, according to government data. As of late May, there were 17,400 Colombians, 32,600 Salvadorans, 12,800 Guatemalans and 10,700 Hondurans waiting in the family-based immigrant visa backlog with approved petitions,” reports CBS.
The Ecuadorian government wants to bring US Regional Processing Centers to its country and is negotiating with the Biden administration to do so, reports Primicias. Ecuador hopes to expand existing family reunification parole processes to Ecuadorians and to introduce temporary labor migration pathways for Ecuadorians.
More than 1,500 requests have already been made across 4 centers in Guatemala, reports AP.
“The Honduran government proposed to its counterparts from El Salvador and Guatemala, a common force to confront the so-called "DeSantis Law", in force in Florida, with harsh punishments for undocumented migrants and those who help them with medical assistance, transportation and work,” reports La Tribuna. (see last week’s AMB on Mexico’s critiques of US state-level policies)
Chile called for greater regional coordination on migration issues at the Mercosur bloc summit last week. (EFE)
Chile presented last week a new national policy on migration (PNME) primarily focused on “internal management through the National Migration Service (SERMIG) and border control,” including expanding the causes for expulsion. The press release adds, “There will be no massive regularization processes like those that were carried out in the past. Conditioned and specific modalities for regularization will be defined. The guideline for granting residencies will be that they are associated with contracts or job offers in branches that are difficult to cover, or where there is a shortage of workers, according to territorial capacities, or due to family ties.”
A new LaMP report explores “proof-of-concept projects in the region that demonstrate effective labor mobility and can mature into long-term, large-scale pathways. The projects emerging from this work could have transformative impacts for some of the region’s most vulnerable people, resulting in an estimated additional 50,000 to 70,000 people moving through safe and regular channels over the next 10 years and roughly USD$640M in annual income gains.”
“Germany is launching a program to train and offer comprehensive support over the next three years to some 2,200 specialized workers interested in receiving training in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia,” reports SwissInfo.
A regional workshop to advance migrant workers’ rights last week included mention of the Labor Migratory Traceability System used by Panama and Costa Rica and the “digitalization of the process for migrant workers applying for work permits in Belize.” (Amandala)
At least 250 South American immigrants have been “duped by job and visa scams” to go to New Zealand. “Most migrant workers borrowed between $10,000 to $15,000 to come here, and fear for the safety of their families if they were to speak up against their employers or the agents,” reports NZHerald.
🇺🇸 United States
“In a letter to President Biden, 126 business leaders and employers called for him to “expand a special category of immigration permits for individuals who can fill positions where labor shortages exist,” reports The Hill.
United Farm Workers has successfully unionized 500 workers across five farms in New York, with “the vast majority of those unionized… from Jamaica or Mexico with H-2A visas to do seasonal work.” (The Guardian)
“Some airlines are now relying on a little-known immigration policy known as the National Interest Waiver. It allows noncitizens to get a green card without having the usual guaranteed job lined up in the country — especially pilots since that job is in the national interest of the country,” reports WFLA.
“Canada’s plan to attract more tech workers to the country has raised concerns about the rights of other migrant workers. While the initiative aims to address labor shortages and boost the tech sector, critics argue that it perpetuates an inequitable immigration system. They argue that open work permits and flexible work schemes should be made available to all types of migrant workers, particularly those in industries experiencing their own shortages. These industries include agriculture, personal care, and healthcare, where workers often earn low wages and face restricted visas that limit their stay and restrict their rights.” says GVS.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rican authorities are working to ensure that members of the indigenous Ngäbe Buglé community in Panama have their documentation in order to work on coffee plantations in southern Costa Rica as pendular migrants. (TVN)
High levels of labor migration of Jamaican nurses are leaving the country with shortages, notes Nursing Times.
Migrants in Transit
Emmanuela Douyon at Migration Information Source explores growing Haitian emigration, explaining, “There are also those from the middle and upper classes who have lost hope of leading a normal life in their native land; their collective departure represents not only the movement of individuals but also a brain drain that could further erode the country’s prospects and a symbol of declining optimism for the future.”
A new CEPAL and INEI report explores internal migration in Peru for work or study between 2007 and 2017.
“Thousands of Indigenous people have migrated from their villages in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest to urban areas throughout the country in search of education and income. The trend is expected to continue, and has created concerns amongst Indigenous elders that the migration will negatively affect their remote communities, already under siege by the forces of commerce and climate,” reports CGTN.
Migration across Mexico’s southern border—particularly of Cubans—is still continuing despite restrictions at the US-Mexico border, notes Infobae.
“In the past 10 years, the cost of a coyote or smuggler on the US-Mexico border has more than doubled,” reports La Jornada.
Borders and Enforcement
“The Panamanian government extended until December 31, 2023, the transit visa requirement for Cuban travelers who make some type of stopover or transit at its airports,” reports ADN Cuba.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic Army is “investing in 1,300 soldiers… to reinforce its border” with Haiti, including supporting the General Directorate of Migration, reports Infodefensa.
More on Migration
“Honduras is the Latin American country that most depends on remittances, which make up almost 29% of its GDP. The money is an economic lifeline for families, but remittances “also remove much of the incentive for the government to provide basic services or combat the root causes of migration, such as crime and a lack of opportunity at home,” argues Gina Kawas in Americas Quarterly. “This “remittances trap” keeps Honduras, and its government, on life support—but at a steep cost.”” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)