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Americas Migration Brief - May 15, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Chilean lending startup Migrante (now called Galgo) has expanded to Peru and now Colombia, reports Fintech Nexus. The company “aims to serve underbanked immigrants with financial services. Initially, they started offering credit for rental guarantees and loans to immigrant professionals. Eventually, however, they pivoted to a new type of product: motorcycle loans” for delivery workers.
A new IOM report explores “the social, economic, cultural and political integration of migrants in Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic.” The importance of regularization and the role of civil society were found to be crucial for integration. (press release)
The Wall Street Journal covers the challenges faced by Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia and how that ultimately pushed them to migrate north towards the US.
MPI’s Diego Chaves-González discusses the United States’ planned regional processing centers in Colombia, arguing that the Colombian government should maintain a policy of promoting integration for the nearly 3 million Venezuelans in the country. (La Silla Vacia)
“Migrants who have been in Colombia for more than a year have an unemployment rate of 11%, not very different from the national rate, which in March was 10%. But those who arrived in the country less than a year ago have an unemployment rate that is more than twice the national rate, 20.9%, reports Proyecto Venezuela, covering obstacles to labor market access. In a separate article, Proyecto Venezuela explores the same issues for Venezuelan migrant and refugee women specifically, noting that they are paid less and spend more time working unpaid domestic tasks.
🇺🇸 United States
“A broad review of 68 recent studies finds that persuasion on matters related to immigration is driven by ‘appealing to common interest rather than self-interest, appealing to conformity rather than diversity.’ In my own research, I find that hard opposition to migration starts to thaw when skeptics are presented with pro-immigration rhetoric on the nationalist terms that motivate them, and when they are addressed by leaders with whom they already identify,” writes George Mason’s Justin Gest at Politico, adding, “The distance can also be closed through meaningful relationships developed in local neighborhoods and regions… Even though immigrants make up 14 percent of the American population, a historic high, about three quarters of Americans report not having a single meaningful relationship with an immigrant today.”
The Washington Post reports on the challenges faced by Nicaraguan exiles living in the United States, stripped of their nationality by the Ortega regime.
We should not let the situation of the stranded migrants at Chile’s northern border distract from the situation of migrants throughout the country, writes Soledad Torres at BioBioChile, arguing, “Although the situation would not be completely resolved, it would be a great contribution if a general regularization process was carried out to find out what migrants are here, where they are, and what they are doing. Which, in addition, would give them access to a life with less vulnerability and could facilitate employment, access to other areas and even the payment of taxes.”
"After the pandemic years, more Chileans perceive migrants as a threat, both in terms of their identity and customs, as well as in terms of access to work,” write Macarena Bonhomme, Juan Carlos Castillo, and Daniel Miranda at La Tercera, noting that education is an important bulwark to anti-immigrant sentiments.
Some local government officials in the Province of Buenos Aires—particularly in areas with smaller immigrant populations—lack knowledge of the rights and services immigrants should have access to, according to a government report.
Asylum seekers relocated from Roxham Road to New Brunswick are struggling with “minimal legal aid, a lack of language interpreters and limited resources to help with basic needs,” notes CBC.
In Quebec, “Provincial legislature members on Wednesday adopted a motion declaring Canada's plan — to welcome 500,000 permanent immigrants a year by 2025 — incompatible with the protection of French in Quebec. The motion also states ‘it is up to Quebec alone to make its own choices’ in immigration matters.” (CBC)
The Venezuelan diaspora in Panama has “started more than 5,500 businesses and (is) contributing more than $200 million a year in taxes and fees,” reports Bloomberg, highlighting the positive economic impact of Venezuelan migration on host countries.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
A new IDMC and NRC report finds that Colombia has the greatest number of internally displaced persons in the Americas. “Of the internally displaced in the Americas, 5.9 million left their homes due to conflict and violence, while 720,000 were forced to do so by various types of natural disasters. After Colombia, the countries with the most internally displaced persons on the continent during 2022 were the United States, with 543,000 (all due to disasters such as forest fires or hurricanes), Mexico with 390,000, and Honduras and Guatemala (each with 250 thousand),” notes SELA.
“Peruvian authorities alerted an increase in the number of people who are stranded at the border crossing located in the city of Tacna, which borders Chile, before the arrival of the first humanitarian plane chartered by Venezuela, which returned 115 of its citizens,” reports BioBioChile. Chilean officials are currently seeking an agreement with Venezuela to conduct more returns, notes BioBioChile. The Guardian describes the situation at the border as “a sprawling refugee camp;” a Venezuelan migrant with two young children asked, “There’s no water, and no bathrooms, how can you have people living here?”
The Guardian adds, “Last week, Peru’s interior minister, Vicente Romero, said about 60% of the mostly Venezuelan foreigners living in Peru had entered or stayed in the country without the proper documents… adding that those within the country would be given a six-month deadline to settle their immigration status.”
National Immigration Forum explores the asylum systems of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Colombia “which are likely to face an uptick in asylum applications due to the new rule” from the US that requires migrants that travel through another country en route to the US to apply for asylum there (and be denied) in order to then apply for asylum in the US.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
Toward Freedom critiques the Dominican government’s policies towards Haitian immigrants, noting mass deportations—reportedly 200,000 between August 2022 and April 2023—and highlighting cases of discrimination and state actors killing Haitians with general impunity.
“The Supreme Court declared illegal the practice of (Chile’s Migration Service) of requiring refugee claimants who entered the country through an unauthorized passage to report to the Police (PDI) before applying for refugee status. This #illegal practice has been in place since 2020,” wrote Amnesty International on Twitter last week. In a response, the Migration Service noted that they had until May 20th to implement the change, although they had already begun to do so in the Santiago Metropolitan Region.
“In talks last week with the Biden administration, Mexico said it would accept non-Mexican migrants sent back from the United States under the new rules and would process them for Mexican asylum,” reports the New York Times, highlighting immigrants’ vulnerability to criminal groups and corruption in Mexico.
A group of civil society organizations has written to the Mexican government to express concern about Mexico’s decision to accept returns from the US and to ask a series of questions, including “What measures will your offices adopt to guarantee the safety of persons returned to Mexican territory?”
Another group of civil society organizations has written to officials to “express (their) dismay at the sudden closure of the Tláhuac Migrant Shelter in Mexico City.”
🇺🇸 United States
Title 42 expired on May 11. Some migrants sought to try to cross the border before it expired so that they could apply for asylum before new restrictions came into effect. Overall, there was no spike in crossings after Title 42 expired, and reports indicated that the border was “calm” and “quiet.”
The finalized new rules restricting access to asylum are explained here. The Wall Street Journal described the post-Title 42 restrictions as the “End of Liberal Asylum Rules.” WOLA breaks down “10 Things to Know About the End of Title 42,” while the American Immigration Council explains the “15 Not-At-All-Easy Steps” for seeking asylum. The New York Times has an interactive article on access to asylum and protection in the US.
In the Beyond the Wall weekly update, WOLA’s Adam Isacson breaks down more of the news related to the end of Title 42, including multiple legal proceedings. The ACLU and others have already sued to block the new rules restricting access to asylum—Forbes argues that they’re likely to win. A Florida judge, meanwhile, “temporarily blocked CBP from reducing overcrowding in custody by carrying out expedited releases of migrants without first issuing court dates.”
“UNHCR and IOM welcome positive initiatives to expand resettlement and other regular pathways in the region, but are concerned about new restrictions on access to asylum following the long overdue lifting of the Title 42 public health order by the United States.” (press release)
“The (Biden) administration said it will admit at least 100,000 Latin Americans seeking to reunite with family members in the United States, but it has released almost no details,” says AP, covering what is known about the program for immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. (see last week’s AMB)
“A 17-year-old migrant child from Honduras who arrived in the U.S. without a parent or guardian has died in government custody in Florida this week, officials said Friday, the second such death in two months.” (CBS)
🇺🇸🇨🇦 Canada and United States
CBC reports on the struggles of would-be asylum seekers waiting along the US border after being blocked from entering Canada due to the new Safe Third Country Agreement. (see AMB 3/27/23 on the updated STCA agreement)
“As the U.S. bars asylum seekers from crossing the Mexican border starting Friday, questions are being raised about what Washington will do to guard its northern frontier with Canada. Unable to get to the U.S. via the southern border, will more desperate migrants fly to Canada and head south on foot through no man’s land, with help of smugglers who seize on human desperation?” asks Toronto Star.
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands
“Changes to the legislation at the end of last year to make asylum claims more difficult for irregular migrants have enabled the Cayman Islands Government to speed up the deportation process for Cuban migrants whose claims have been denied,” reports Cayman News Service.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Guatemala’s government was “surprised” about the announcement of regional processing centers by the US, reports Reuters, with officials expressing concern that US resources and support will be needed. Other regional governments, too, are calling for US financial support in order to follow the North American country’s vision for regional migration management, notes Bloomberg.
In total, the US hopes to open “100 regional migration hubs across the Western Hemisphere,” including the already announced centers in Guatemala and Colombia, according to AP. MPI explores the regional processing centers further, arguing that their impact should not be assessed today, but rather in a year, and that to be successful they will need to provide humanitarian protection for those in need, opportunities through legal pathways, and border management.
“A delegation of Uruguayan legislators will propose the creation of a framework law on migration for the countries of the region within the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino),” reports El País.
🇨🇴🇺🇸 United States and Colombia
Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s ambassador to the US, is lobbying the US to allow visa-free entry for Colombians seeking to enjoy tourism in the US, while adding that the US is working to offer more legal pathways and quicker visa processing for Colombians through the family reunification process. (El País)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
So far in 2023, at least 4,900 Salvadorans have taken part in their government’s Labor Mobility Program and moved abroad for temporary labor migration opportunities. (press release, Resumen Latinoamericano)
Migrants in Transit
IOM has published new Displacement Tracking Matrixes (DTMs) for Tenosique and Tapachula, Mexico and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And R4V published a situation report and a protection needs report from Tacna, Peru.
🇨🇴🇵🇦 Panama and Colombia
The Darien Gap has become “an increasingly organized migration route,” says AP, although the route still remains highly dangerous. The path is reportedly more organized on the Colombian side than the Panamanian side.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s government has expressed concern that the country is only equipped to process a limited number of migrants transiting through on their way north, reports La Estrella de Panamá.
🇧🇸 The Bahamas
“Commodore Raymond King said there had been a notable decline in the number of undocumented Haitian immigrants trying to enter The Bahamas in the last two months,” reports The Tribune.
Borders and Enforcement
“Francis Etienne, Antigua and Barbuda’s newly appointed French Ambassador says Guadeloupe and Martinique are having serious issues with the migrant smuggling from Dominica; particularly among the Haitian community… Etienne said the French territories need collaboration with Dominica and other countries to protect the Caribbean borders.” (Antigua News Room)
“AMLO has 25,845 military troops currently deployed in migration enforcement tasks, a legacy of the Trump era. Per a Biden Administration official, AMLO discussed w/POTUS undertaking a new “pretty robust” operation along the Mexico/Guatemala border & the entire migratory route,” writes Reforma’s José Díaz Briseño on Twitter.
Between November 23, 2022 and May 6, 2023, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) has provided services to migrants from 103 different countries—over 80,000 individuals in total.
43% of immigrants in the Province of Buenos Aires are Paraguayan, while a further 19% are Bolivian and 8% are Peruvian, reports Infocielo, citing a new report from the provincial government’s Observatory of Population and Migration Policies. The Observatory just launched a new website, available here.
🇺🇸 United States
Migration Information Source explores data on Central American immigration to the US. Salvadorans are the biggest Central American population in the country, although Hondurans are the fastest-growing.
Venezuelan migration to Bolivia is growing, although it still remains comparatively quite low at around 20,000, says RFI.
More on Migration
“About a third of people in (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), on average, would like to migrate internationally according to new research from the World Justice Project. Hondurans express the strongest desire to migrate, with 44% saying they would like to leave the country. The proportion of people wishing to migrate has dropped in all three countries since 2021, although the percentage of people who already have a plan to migrate has stayed relatively stable, at an average of about 10%.” (press release)
A survey of Venezuelans finds that “27% of those surveyed said they wanted to emigrate and of those, 7% said they had plans to do so this year,” reports El Estimulo, adding that “close to 48% of households have at least one member outside the country… 31% of these households receive remittances monthly.”
“Banesco launched a service on the market, in partnership with MoneyGram, that will allow the sending of remittances to Venezuela directly to the bolivar accounts of its clients. It is estimated that only 3% of remittances are sent formally, which increases their risks and costs,” reports Crónica Uno.”
IOM conducted surveys of 11,011 households of Haitians repatriated by air or sea in 2022, finding that “46% of migrants were repatriated by the United States, 20% by Cuba and 18% by Bahamas” and that “34% of migrants indicated the will to try again to leave Haiti in the following 6 months after data collection, due to violence and insecurity in the country.” (DTM, ReliefWeb)