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Americas Migration Brief - May 22, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
In a call for greater urgency on solving Venezuela’s political crisis, James Bosworth writes at WPR, “the entire hemisphere’s political leaders should resist domestic pressures and find ways to do more to support the Venezuelan migrant community. At over 7 million people, the combined number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees abroad is larger than the populations of almost 80 countries in the world. Regularizing their status; increasing their access to health care and education; facilitating recognition of professional titles and credentials; demilitarizing borders; and, more generally, engaging them with greater compassion can help build up a diaspora that will be critical in rebuilding Venezuela once the Maduro regime is gone.”
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“The level of education of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the DR is high compared to the local population… However, a significant limitation for high-skilled individuals is the inability to certify their qualifications and competencies,” according to a new IDB study on Venezuelan migrants in the Dominican Republic. The study includes a survey of the migrant population, noting that “around 33% of children do not have their complete vaccination schedule, and approximately 67% of pregnant women have not attended regular check-ups.”
“‘Our most conservative calculation is that between 9,000 and 10,000 Cubans living in Uruguay could be left in that limbo, irregular, due to the new requirements’ to access visas to enter the country, says Alberto Gianotti, founder of the Support Network for Migrants.” (El Observador)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on Prime Minister Dr Rowley to “relieve the suffering” of Venezuelan migrants and their children by allowing those who are law-abiding and contributing to the economy to be fully integrated into society and access benefits like Trinidad and Tobago nationals,” reports Loop News. Venezuelan civil society in the country supports the push but calls for their presence to not be politicized, notes Newsday.
AP covers Brazil’s Operation Welcome and efforts to voluntarily relocate and help integrate Venezuelan migrants in the country, noting, “The program moves the migrants to other cities with better economic opportunities, especially in the country’s rich southern states. It has taken in about 100,000 of the 426,000 Venezuelans who have migrated to Brazil during the crisis — with the highest monthly rate so far in March of this year with 3,377.”
MigraMundo challenges the idea of Brazil as a welcoming country, arguing that the psychological effects of structural racism particularly impact non-European immigrants in the country.
An International Migration study on migrants in Regina, Saskatchewan found that “Specific barriers that were found to affect newcomers included language, access to a vehicle, lack of Canadian work experience and Canadian credentials.”
🇺🇸 United States
TENT and LIRS have published a guide on how companies can mentor refugee women.
IOM “inaugurated the first Point of Assistance and Orientation (PAO), in Metropolitan Lima and Callao, through which access to rights and services for refugees and migrants is promoted.”
Panama’s “National Migration Service informed all its users and the general public that by means of Resolution No. 12457 of May 5, 2023, some residence permits for foreigners which expired as of March 13, 2020, will be allowed to be renewed until December 31, 2023.” (Eco)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
Peruvian officials are investigating five cases of sexual assault against migrants stranded at the Peru-Chile border in recent weeks, reports El Diario. After 33 days at the border, all the migrants had succeeded at entering Peru and continuing in their transit, notes Cooperativa, adding that 450 migrants had been blocked at the border at the situation’s peak.
Tren de Aragua’s sex trafficking operations are active in at least ten Venezuelan states and Colombia, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador; according to the second edition of a multi-part investigation on the organized crime group by Venezuelan and Colombian media outlets. (see AMB 5/1/23)
There have been multiple news reports of migrants dying across the Americas over the past week, including a Jamaican migrant transiting through Honduras and an 8-year-old girl who died in US Border Patrol custody after “agents repeatedly ignored pleas to hospitalize” the child. (Hola News, AP)
“A landmark climate migrant bill in Colombia would grant legal recognition to people who are uprooted within the country due to the impacts of climate change — forced internal displacement. If passed, it would be the first such law in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region where up to 17 million people could become climate migrants by 2050, the World Bank estimates. (Reuters)” Last Tuesday, the bill “won approval in the first of four debates in Congress that are required for it to be signed into law.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
UNHCR warned last week that Costa Rica is supporting a “disproportionate” number of Nicaraguans, but that the agency and partners are working to provide aid to the country, reports SwissInfo. Of the 607,000 regularized immigrants in Costa Rica, 60% are Nicaraguan—not to mention an unknown number of irregular migrants. 92% of asylum seekers in the country since 2018 are Nicaraguan.
“Organized crime’s grip over Nuevo Laredo is so tight that watchmen for the local cartels perform intermittent checks of cars outside the airport seeking to detect/kidnap migrants trying to reach the US,” writes Reforma’s José Díaz Briseño on Twitter.
“A busload of about 50 migrants were kidnapped by a gang in northern Mexico in the latest of a series of mass abductions, though nine were later found, Mexico’s president and police said Wednesday,” reports AP. (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
“Despite all the recent media attention on what the expiration of Title 42 means for the humanitarian crisis on the U.S. side of the border, the real calamity is unfolding in Mexico,” writes Leon Krauze at the Washington Post.
“The National Institute of Migration of Mexico (INM) ordered (May 12) offices throughout the country not to grant permits for the transit of migrants through Mexican territory, at the same time that it reported that migrant shelters are at maximum capacity occupation,” reports Semana. Meanwhile, “Mexico is flying migrants south away from the U.S. border and busing new arrivals away from its boundary with Guatemala to relieve pressure on its border cities,” notes AP.
Mexico should create a national registry for internal displacement, says RHT.
🇺🇸 United States
“The US is adding a lottery to its sponsor-based immigration pathway for people from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, hoping to entice more of them to apply through the system instead of flocking to the southwest border. US officials previously considered applicants in the order in which they apply, placing thousands at the back of the line. Under the new provision, the US will randomly move half the applications each month to the top of the pile for consideration.” (Bloomberg)
The New York Times reports on a migrant camp at Jacumba Hot Springs near San Diego. A USIPC report surveys those at the CBP open-air detention sites, finding that “100% said border agents were not giving them enough food and 53% said they were not giving them enough water for the day.”
A joint delegation of human rights and civil society organizations published a report on “the abysmal conditions, grave harms, and barriers to protection suffered by people who are now waiting to seek asylum” at the US border.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining that despite a lack of data, “Haiti appears to lead recent grants of humanitarian parole… followed by citizens of Cuba, Venezuela (whose numbers are declining), and Nicaragua.”
“The Brazilian government approved (last) Friday a resolution that simplifies the granting of refugee status to LGBTIQ+ people from countries that apply the death penalty or imprisonment” for LGBTIQ+ persons, reports SwissInfo.
Uruguay has seen an increase of asylum requests from Cubans and Venezuelans, reports MercoPress, noting that there are currently 16,000 asylum applications—the majority Cuban—“to be analyzed.”
“‘While [Honduran authorities have] acknowledged that the country has a problem with internal displacement due to violence, neither the government nor the international NGOs who are present in the country are able to offer any real solutions to the internally displaced,’ said Dr. Amelia Frank-Vitale” to The New Humanitarian.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Jamaica’s “National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang is calling for the establishment of common legislation and a regional migration policy to address the flow of people travelling across the CARICOM region,” reports Gleaner, adding, “While not providing supporting statistics, Chang stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, unlawful human trafficking increased significantly across the region… Chang said Jamaica is already taking action to address the situation by developing a national visa policy that was created out of a broad-based consultative process and is now in its final phases of development.”
Officials from Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic attended an IOM dialogue and course last week in an effort to work on issues of climate change and risk management. (press release)
Legislators at the Latin-American Parliament (Parlatino) called for public policies to halt irregular migration. (Prensa Latina)
🇧🇷🇲🇽 Mexico and Brazil
Mexico and Brazil are dialoguing on migration issues, among other topics, highlighting the issue of irregular migration across the region. Brazil’s ambassador in Mexico told Milenio, “We have a visa waiver agreement that is still in force. Mexico last year unilaterally suspended the implementation of this agreement, and the two foreign ministers and their teams discussed ways to return to full implementation of the visa waiver agreement.”
🇸🇻🇮🇹 Italy and El Salvador
Italy has pledged to donate 2.5 million euros to El Salvador in an effort to prevent emigration. (Dinero)
“The high labour demand for coffee harvesting in (Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico) is mostly covered by the participation of migrant workers who move temporarily,” according to a new IOM report on labor migration and coffee production in the three countries. (press release)
🇺🇸 United States
“To Compete With China on Tech, America Needs to Fix Its Immigration System: Washington Must Make It Easier to Recruit and Retain Top Talent” (Foreign Affairs)
Migrants in Transit
Despite the expiration of Title 42 and implementation of new asylum-restricting policies by the US, migration north has continued at the Guatemala-Honduras border, says La Jornada. AP also covers continued migration north following the end of Title 42.
Migrant encounters at the US border are down 70% since the end of Title 42, reports Reuters, although some analysts believe that this drop is only temporary.
The Washington Post covers misinformation along the migration path north to the United States.
The New York Times follows Afghan migration throughout the Americas to the US.
“The number of U.S.-bound migrants who cross the dangerous (Darien Gap) jungle separating Panama and Colombia could rise to a record this year, according to a senior U.N. refugee official,” notes Reuters.
In an interview with The New Humanitarian, Caitlyn Yates warns of the continued humanitarian crisis in the Darien Gap, adding that despite asylum restrictions at the US border, “people will continue to cross (the Darien Gap), either because they are hoping that they will be the exception to rules of expulsion or repatriation, or simply because they say that they have no other choice. Not just in the Venezuelan case but also in the Haitian, that’s true.” Discussing the US-Colombia-Panama joint initiative to combat migration through the Darien Gap, Yates notes, “It's been almost a month since this plan was announced and nothing has changed in practice.”
IOM covers migration through the Darien Gap and includes a map of transit routes both by land and sea.
“A major new wave of migration from Guatemala’s Q’eqchi’ territory is driven in large part by growing plantations of export crops like African palm, increasing land inequality and the conflicts it generates, reports the Guardian” (via Latin America Daily Briefing). Emigration increased 330% from the Q’eqchi’ territory between 2020 and 2022.
IOM published a Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) on internal displacement in Haiti, noting that, “The municipalities of Cabaret (42%) and Port-au-Prince (27%) were the main origins of IDPs. And locations located in the municipalities of Arcahaie (34%) and Port-au-Prince (24%) were their main destinations.”
🇸🇻 El Salvador
ElSalvador.com highlights that El Salvador is not just a country of origin for migration but also a country of transit.
Borders and Enforcement
Chile’s Congress has overwhelmingly extended the country’s measure to deploy the armed forces at the northern border for a further 90 days. (La Tercera)
Belize is continuing to debate the implementation of visa restrictions for Jamaicans due to their use of the country for transit en route to the US. Channel 5 adds that since visa restrictions were introduced for Haitians at the start of last month, they have received zero visa applications from Haitian nationals.
🇺🇸 United States
The Biden administration has deployed “1,500 active-duty soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border for 90 days,” in addition to the 2,500 National Guard currently there—Just Security argues that the US should demilitarize the border. The Intercept also covers vigilante border patrollers.
“Current clandestine migration and smuggling methods in South Texas are not new. In fact, migrants and smugglers have used similar methods for more than 100 years,” according to a new Strauss Center report that explores migrant smuggling dynamics.
According to one estimate by Andrés Bello Catholic University’s Anitza Freites, “3%-6% of the nearly seven million people who have left Venezuela in search of better lives may now be returning home,” reports El País, although adding that “A survey by Consultores 21 released in April 2023 revealed that 30% of the Venezuelans surveyed intend to leave the country.”
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