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Americas Migration Brief - July 24, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
A new IDB, UNDP, and OECD report explores immigrant integration across 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Findings include a higher rate of employment in the informal sector for immigrants, notes Reuters. During the launch event, panelists highlighted that immigrants are more likely to be underemployed—working jobs that they are overqualified for—than non-immigrants, and this gap is even greater for women immigrants.
Panama received more than 4,000 applications for its temporary regularization program within the first 24 hours, with officials looking to process 200 applications daily, according to Directorio Noticias. Some potential applicants have decried the high financial costs of the program. (see last week’s AMB)
“Weeks after it was reported that asylum seekers had to sleep on the streets of Toronto due to a lack of shelter space, the federal government on Tuesday announced additional housing support for asylum claimants in Canada,” reports Global News.
“The refugee housing crisis in Toronto is drawing attention to another challenge facing asylum seekers in Canada: how long it takes for them to get permission to work in this country… Staff at agencies providing services to refugee claimants say their clients are typically waiting anywhere from several months to more than a year for work permits. They say if the federal government can speed up the process, asylum seekers would be better able to support themselves and their families and potentially lessen the demand for shelter spaces,” reports CBC.
“90.5% of migrants in Chile have faced barriers to access financial products,” reports Mediabanco, citing a lack of valid ID, lack of permanent stay, and lack of information as the leading causes.
Chile’s Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution to ask the Presidency to facilitate some migration-related processes for Haitians that have lived in the country for over five years. (La Tribuna)
🇺🇸 United States
“While court challenges and congressional inaction have made uncertain the fate of so-called Dreamers who have been covered under DACA, there’s a new generation of immigrants who have come of age in the U.S. and face a future without legal immigration status, and few options to live and work legally. According to a recent report by immigrant advocacy group FWD.us, the majority of the nation’s approximately 120,0000 undocumented high school graduates this year are not eligible for DACA because of the cutoff date,” reports Roll Call.
El Pitazo highlights the “Mexican Dream” lived by some Venezuelan migrants finding economic success in Ciudad Juarez.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
In the Darien Gap, “According to data from MSF, so far in 2023 cases of sexual violence against migrant women have been increasing. In all of 2022, the NGO attended to 172 victims, and in just seven months of this year they have already registered 174, not to mention that underreporting in this type of event can be abysmal,” reports El País.
“The families of Venezuelan migrants lost in the Caribbean sea are demanding their government investigate the disappearance of their loved ones after years of stasis,” reports Reuters. And in Colombia, “Since 2015, more than 1,500 Venezuelans have vanished… with only a fraction of the cases being resolved. The lack of access to justice compounds the challenges the families left in anguish face,” according to Al Jazeera.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“A group of organizations denounced yesterday that agents of the General Directorate of Migration (DGM) entered the Hospital Materno Infantil Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia in Higüey to imprison Haitian migrants who were pregnant, giving birth, and others with their newborn children,” reports Dominican Today.
“Immigration advocates are calling for equitable treatment of refugees from African countries, after the Canadian government announced a direct pathway to permanent residency for Ukrainian refugees last week while refugees from African nations are left on the streets and in shelters,” reports Yahoo. (see last week’s AMB)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
The recent High Court ruling allowing for the deportation of asylum seekers and refugees is consistent with current Trinidad and Tobago law, says a letter to the editor at Newsday calling for both the government and the opposition to work to revise the country’s immigration law as a result and to ratify the UN 1951 Convention on Refugees, signed by the country in 2000. (see AMB 7/10/23)
🇺🇸 United States
“In Texas, ‘Officers working for Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security initiative have been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande, and have been told not to give water to asylum seekers even in extreme heat, according to an email from a Department of Public Safety trooper who described the actions as ‘inhumane,’’ according to Houston Chronicle,” Arianna Kohan and I write at the Latin America Daily Briefing.
The federal government is “looking into” the reports and considering potential action. Furthermore, “The Justice Department warned officials in Texas on Thursday that the federal government will sue the state unless it removes border barriers it recently set up in the middle of the Rio Grande to repel migrants from entering the U.S.” (The Hill, CBS, see last week’s AMB)
A group of 26 US Senators are calling for the US to redesignate Venezuela and Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). (press release)
“In less than two years, the [Biden] administration has allowed at least 541,000 migrants to enter the U.S. through the immigration parole authority, which gives federal officials the power to authorize the entry of foreigners who lack visas,” and has been used to grant protection to Ukranians, Afghans, Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and others, reports CBS.
“As the two-year anniversary of the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan nears, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are taking another stab at passing legislation that would put Afghan evacuees on a path to citizenship,” reports Roll Call, highlighting competing bipartisan and Republican proposals in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining that a California court has taken up a lawsuit “about the Biden administration’s controversial rule limiting access to asylum, which went into effect upon Title 42’s termination.”
A group of Haitians that landed by boat in Jamaica and were set to be deported after initially opting not to apply for asylum now reportedly have made a request for asylum. Their planned deportation had sparked controversy in the country, with 29 of the 37 Haitians initially set to be “fined $7,000 or three days of hard labour each,” alongside deportation. (Gleaner1, Gleaner2, Observer)
Brazil is a leader in best practices for eradicating statelessness, according to Ana Raquel Menezes at European Network on Statelessness.
“One year after the Los Angeles Declaration, the balance of the progress of Mexico's commitments is poor,” with a focus on criminalization and border enforcement instead of protection, says The Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) at Conexión Migrante, arguing that Mexico “continues to help the United States externalize its borders and contain migration before people reach the northern Mexican border, even if it appears on paper that the efforts are aimed at protecting people.”
Cubans are increasingly seeking asylum in Germany, reports On Cuba News.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The European Union (EU) - Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit last week failed to adequately address migration-related issues, says DW.
Mexico’s current migration law is “obsolete,” according to officials from the country, says Debate. The National Migration Institute (INM) has reportedly expressed support for changes to the law, but concrete proposals have yet to be established.
🇩🇴🇲🇽 Mexico and Dominican Republic
Mexico and the Dominican Republic signed an inter-parliament agreement for greater cooperation on migration, among other issues. (Cadena Política)
🇺🇸 United States
MPI has a new report on the US immigration court system, noting a backlog of nearly 2 million cases and the need to rethink the system.
🇺🇸 United States
“The C-1/D visa is a combination visa that allows qualified migrants to enter the U.S. temporarily to work aboard commercial sea vessels, like cruises. Expanded use of the C-1/D visa, either through (Regional Processing Center)-based recruitment or local training facilities in the hemisphere, is a significant economic opportunity for migrants seeking employment. It is also an opportunity for the growing cruise industry, where it is estimated that 31.5 million passengers will board cruise ships this year,” says Niskanen Center.
“On July 17, 2023, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada received enough applications to exhaust the 10,000 spots under the work permit stream for individuals holding H-1B status in the United States,” reports Fragomen. The program opened July 16. (see AMB 7/3/23)
Temporary migrant workers in the agricultural sector disproportionately face the impacts of climate change in Canada, as seen with wildfires, says TRNN.
Migrants in Transit
IOM has published several new DTMs: migration through Arica and Colchane, Chile; migration through the Darien Gap; migration through Costa Rica; violence-caused displacement in Tabarre, Haiti; and cyclone-caused displacement in Lima, Peru.
By the end of this July, Panamanian authorities expect to have already eclipsed the record 248,000 migrants that passed through the Darien Gap over the entirety of 2022. An estimated 400,000 are predicted to make the trek throughout 2023. (SwissInfo)
MSF highlights the international profile of migrants in transit in Honduras, outlining the routes taken by African and Asian migrants.
An estimated 100,000 Hondurans leave the country irregularly per year, according to World Vision, reports Hondudiario.
Borders and Enforcement
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis
“St Kitts and Nevis is planning to crack down on human traffickers, who either smuggle people illegally into the country or use it as a transhipment point to facilitate the trade,” reports Loop.
A proposal to build a wall on the Paraguay-Argentina border to block contraband received strong public disapproval, reports MisionesOnline.
Belizean nationals are denouncing additional requirements and questions asked of those visiting Chetumal, Mexico, where a Belizean community resides along the border, according to PorEsto.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
In spite of proportionally high levels of immigration, particularly from Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s birth rates and demography show an aging country. (El País)
More on Migration
“The United Kingdom government is formulating plans to suspend the current visa-waiver agreement with Dominica this July. Following this initial action, similar suspensions are set to be implemented in a phased approach for St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis by the end of 2023,” reports The Star, with Kevz Politics noting that in the case of Dominica the policy shift is due to the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program. All of the listed countries maintain such programs. (see AMB 3/13/23 on an agreement on CBI requirements between the US and several Caribbean nations)
A new IDB technical note looks at remittances across Latin America and the Caribbean during COVID-19.