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Americas Migration Brief - May 1, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), “More than nine in 10 Haitians seeking asylum in Mexico lack the resources to cover basic necessities such as food, shelter and medical care… More than seven in 10 said they struggled to access reliable information in Haitian Creole, particularly about legal pathways to migration and their rights in Mexico.” (Reuters)
Exploring housing for Venezuelans in Brazil, as well as deforestation and organized crime in metropolitan São Paulo, Al Jazeera reports, “Sao Paulo’s long-standing housing crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic and soaring cost of living, has pushed more and more families into precarious settlements like Veneza City in recent years.”
The Brazilian Government’s “Operação Horizonte” is assisting with migrant and refugee regularization in São Paulo between May 5 and July 14, among other services. (press release)
“The lack of regular documentation is among the factors that put forcibly displaced women in Aruba at increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV), according to a new study from HIAS Aruba.”
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
“Spain and Costa Rica launched (last) Tuesday the ‘Integrémonos’ development agreement, which aims to work for the economic and social integration of migrants in the border area between Costa Rica and Nicaragua,” reports SwissInfo.
Highlighting the case of Barranquilla, Colombia, Global Americans discusses climate-induced migration and displacement, explaining, “The city of Barranquilla, for example, is meeting this need by offering public services that provide migrants with income-generating tools and training, while piloting long-term solutions to improve climate resilience in high-risk hotspots prone to flooding and landslides.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
A collaboration between Colombian and Venezuelan media explores the role of the Tren de Aragua organized crime group in the sexual exploitation of Venezuelan migrant and refugee women in South America. The investigation includes maps and interactive graphics, showing the routes and methods used by the Tren de Aragua both in Venezuela and elsewhere in the continent (namely Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile).
“The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (on April 28) called on State parties in the region to suspend forced returns and adopt measures to protect Haitians on the move.” (statement)
🇺🇸 United States
As Title 42 expires on May 11, the United States has announced a series of new measures related to access to asylum.
This includes expanding access to CBPOne App appointments to present oneself at a port of entry; establishing new family reunification parole processes for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia—as well as “modernizing” the already existing programs for Cuba and Haiti—and setting the goal of doubling the number of refugees accepted from the Western Hemisphere.
However, stiffer consequences have been introduced for potential asylum seekers such that “individuals who cross into the United States at the southwest border without authorization or having used a lawful pathway, and without having scheduled a time to arrive at a port of entry, would be presumed ineligible for asylum under a new proposed regulation, absent an applicable exception.” They would also “be barred from reentry to the United States for at least five years if ordered removed.”
Some civil society organizations have criticized the new measures, with Amnesty International saying, “the United States is embracing a misguided carrot and stick approach to respond to the global refugee crisis: on the one hand, positively expanding family reunification and humanitarian pathways to the United States, and on the other, externalizing its protection obligations and harshly penalizing those who exercise their human right to seek asylum at the US southern border.”
Based on field visits across the U.S.-Mexico border, the Migration Policy Institute says, “overall, in response to unprecedented migrant arrivals and despite systemic breakdowns in processes carried out by partner agencies, CBP has made solid inroads to properly screen, vet, and process migrants—with NGO and local government assistance to facilitate onward movement to destinations throughout the United States. At the same time, these border processing successes do not address important shortcomings that afflict the asylum system overall, the limitations and unintended consequences of the CBP One app used to book interviews with CBP officers at ports of entry, and inadequate capacity and coordination with functionally related agencies such as ICE and USCIS.”
(see Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation below for more on the new US policy announcement of regional processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala)
The Center for American Progress is calling for the Biden administration to designate El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
The American Immigration Council covers the recent expansion of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, noting that “the Biden administration has not released data on the number of children who have arrived in the U.S. since CAM reopened.”
“According to a new report by the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, the UCLA Latin American Institute and Center for Mexican Studies, border deaths in southern Arizona’s Pima County have nearly doubled since 2019.” (The Border Chronicle)
“Last May, in a landmark case filed by an Indigenous family who had been wrongly detained at a checkpoint, Mexico’s Supreme Court found that the legal provision allowing immigration agents to stop anyone and demand proof of their legal status is unconstitutional. The court said the provision violates the constitutional rights to equality, nondiscrimination, and free movement and that it disproportionately impacts Indigenous and Afro-Mexican people. However, the Supreme Court ruling did not eliminate the unconstitutional provision from the immigration law. Mexico’s Congress should do that,” says Human Rights Watch, highlighting racial discrimination by Mexican immigration agents.
“Canada will introduce new immigration measures to support Sudanese temporary residents who are currently in Canada and may be unable to return home due to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Sudan,” reports Reuters.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
“In order to escape repression in Morocco while avoiding the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean, more and more Moroccan Sahrawis are going to Brazil to seek asylum in French Guiana,” reports MEE. (see AMB 4/17/23 for more on extracontinental migration to French Guiana to seek asylum)
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
As a part of the new policy measures announced by the US (see above in Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights), the US is set to establish regional processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia to help facilitate access to legal pathways for migration. “The centers, with the support of the United Nations, aim to screen 5,000 to 6,000 migrants each month as the United States has pledged to accept more refugees from within the Western Hemisphere. Canada and Spain have also said they would accept migrants through the centers,” reports Reuters. The US will reportedly “dedicate specially trained asylum officers” to these centers, with more details set to come out in the coming weeks.
Nearly a year after the signing of the LA Declaration at the Summit of the Americas, the OAS’s Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian writes at Americas Quarterly that 21 of the 35 countries in the region have signed on, but clarifying roles and cooperation remains a need. She adds, “There are currently no known accountability mechanisms through which progress can be assessed. It is a positive step that the countries themselves have established working groups, but it is as important to keep track of this collaboration and its results, and to communicate progress as widely as possible.”
The US is “urging” Suriname to join on to the LA Declaration. (Loop News)
“Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s National Guard can support the National Migration Institute (INM) and guard the interior of migrant centers, reports Animal Político. Rights groups had asked the court to withdraw the National Guard from migration tasks, after documenting human rights violations, as well as other abuses” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
🇨🇴🇵🇦 Panama and Colombia
“The General Director of the National Migration Service of Panama, Samira Gozaine, calls on Colombia for a greater commitment to prevent the migration crisis in the Darién jungle,” reports Eco.
🇰🇳🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis
“Officials in St. Kitts and Nevis have confirmed that their counterparts in Antigua and Barbuda have rescinded their offer to accept the return of the African migrants who were rescued at sea after the vessel in which they were travelling had capsized,” reports SKNVibes. (see last week’s AMB)
CBC highlights delays in the process to take part in the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) program, noting, “Currently, EMPP candidates have to apply under one of three existing economic immigration programs — the Provincial Nominee Program, Atlantic Immigration Program or the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Once they're accepted into one of these programs, they apply for permanent residency through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada… In March, the federal government announced it will create a new pathway this summer that will standardize eligibility criteria and streamline the process so there is only one application, allowing EMPP candidates to bypass the primary application at the provincial level, making the entire process ‘easier and faster.’”
Migrants in Transit
Reuters covers Chinese migration through the Americas to the US and the use of Douyin, TikTok’s sister app, along the way; “Apprehensions of Chinese nationals at the U.S.-Mexico border reached more than 6,500 in the six months since October 2022, the highest on record and a more than 15-fold increase over the same period a year ago.”
IOM has published new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs) tracking the characteristics of migrants in transit in Panama; Venezuelans in transit in Tumbes, Peru; and internally displaced persons in Haiti (Artibonite, Port-au-Prince, and Cité Soleil).
74,666 migrants entered Honduras irregularly between January 1 and April 19, 2023, reports Xinhua, saying that the figure is “more than three times higher than that registered in the same period of 2022… migrants who enter Honduras irregularly can obtain a permit to transit through the national territory for five days or regularize their situation within the country, in attention to each case and according to the laws.”
Borders and Enforcement
La Tercera covers the trend of militarized borders in the Americas, highlighting the cases of Chile, Peru, the United States, Honduras, and Ecuador. Amnesty International has called for an end of the militarization of borders in Peru and Chile.
Peru has declared a state of emergency for the country’s borders with Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador. The military has been deployed to reinforce border checkpoints. Hundreds of migrants remain stranded at the Peru-Chile border, unable to enter Peru en route to Venezuela and the US due to a lack of identification documents. The situation has created diplomatic tensions between Peru and Chile; Chile and Peruvian local officials have called for a humanitarian corridor to be established to migrants’ countries of origin. (SwissInfo, Latin America Daily Briefing, El Comercio, AP, TalCual1, TalCual2, VOA, AMB 3/17/23)
🇺🇸 United States
“The U.S. will double or triple the number of deportation flights to some countries and aim to process migrants crossing the border illegally ‘in a matter of days,’” reports Reuters.
“The Biden administration has been asking Ottawa to consider reimposing visa requirements for Mexican nationals visiting Canada,” reports CBC, noting, “Despite Washington's concerns, the Trudeau government says there are no plans for Canada to change the visa-free status for Mexican visitors.”
🇨🇺🇺🇸 United States and Cuba
“The United States on (last) Monday sent its first deportation flight to Cuba since 2020,” reports Reuters.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
1,207 immigrants were placed in immigration detention in French Guiana in 2022, an increase of 26% from 2021. “Most of the people who were locked up… in 2022 are men (84%). Haitian (37%) and Brazilian (27%) nationalities are the most represented… Nearly 57% of those imprisoned are also released at the end of their detention , either by a judge or by the prefecture. The deportation procedure was pronounced in 38% of cases, particularly for people coming from Brazil and Suriname.” (France Guyane)
According to the UN, Brazil is currently hosting 9,474 indigenous Venezuelan migrants and refugees, 67% of whom are Warao.
More on Migration
The Inter-American Dialogue has a new presentation on remittances in Venezuela. An estimated 29% of Venezuelan households receive remittances, which are disproportionately sent from the US.
“A Mexican think tank, Signos Vitales, thinks there is something wrong with the country’s remittance numbers. On 28 March, it estimated that of the USD$58 billion received by Mexicans in 2022, approximately USD$4.4 billion are tied to drug-trafficking and organized crime activity,” explains Barracuda.
Remittances in Nicaragua grew by 61% between the first quarter of 2023 and the same period in 2022, reports Articulo66.