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Americas Migration Brief - May 29, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
“Based on publicly available data, this study estimates that between 50 and 75 percent of all displaced Venezuelans have obtained some type of legal status in the 15 principal receiving countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,” says MPI in a new report on regional responses to Venezuelan migration, adding, “However, many Venezuelans still have precarious, short-term forms of legal status, and some have no legal status at all.”
“Journalists recommend, in order to avoid stigmatizing migrants in the media, having more empathy within newsrooms, hiring migrant journalists so they can share their point of view, and educating journalism students and other citizens on this issue,” writes LJR.
“UN experts today expressed serious concern about a law recently amended by Peru's Congress that would make renting housing to migrants without regular migration status punishable by heavy fines… Estimates indicate that there are more than 650,000 individuals in Peru without formal residency status. Thousands would be at risk of homelessness if homeowners who provide accommodation were fined.” (press release)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
Regularized migrants in Trinidad and Tobago “are not allowed basic freedoms which citizens enjoy such as access to public health and schooling.” The Catholic Church in the country is looking to fill the educational gap, reports Newsday.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, “Nicaraguans have already provided a boost in sectors experiencing labor shortages, particularly agriculture and construction. A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, found that the overall migrant population in Costa Rica contributes approximately 10 percent of its GDP,” writes Robert Looney at WPR, noting that “Amid dwindling government coffers and reduced capacity to administer its asylum regime, Costa Rica government has now opted to restrict access for refugees and asylum-seekers.”
Costa Rica’s foreign minister is calling for increased international funding to support the country’s reception of migrants, notes La República.
“According to Enrique Lucero, the director of Tijuana’s Office of Migrant Affairs… in 2016, the city had a network of six shelters which rapidly ran out of space due to the increasing number of Haitians stranded in Mexico because of US policies. Today there are between 4,000 and 6,000 Haitians living in Tijuana – the fourth largest migrant population in the city, after Mexicans, Central Americans and Venezuelans,” reports the Guardian, covering Tijuana’s “Little Haiti,” where many hope to be allowed to seek asylum in the US.
“Internationally trained engineers will no longer be required to have Canadian experience to be licensed in Ontario, as the province adopts a new law that’s meant to remove the barriers keeping skilled immigrants from working in their former professions,” reports Canadian Immigrant.
“61% (of surveyed Brazilians) say that the government should have more policies and actions to receive people in socially vulnerable situations arriving from other countries,” reports Folha, adding that 39% said that “the country should open its doors to even more people,” compared to 29% in favor of decreasing or stopping immigration.
Agência Brasil highlights discrimination against African refugees in Brazil, saying that many Africans are labeled as Angolans regardless of their country of origin.
There is an “absence of public policies and general lack of protection towards returnees and Colombians abroad,” says El Espectador.
Argentina’s Ministry of Education has signed an agreement with IOM “with the aim of developing joint actions aimed at guaranteeing the full exercise of the right to education by migrants in (the) country.” (news release)
El Pitazo highlights the Soy Refugio “social brand of migrant and refugee entrepreneurs” in Argentina, which provides space for Venezuelan migrant women, among others.
Venezuelans in Chile are increasingly seeking to naturalize and become Chilean citizens, reports El Pitazo.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
Chile has arrested and charged 4 members of the country’s military accused of killing a Colombian migrant, reports Infobae.
“In Chile, the human right to seek and receive asylum faces worse obstacles every day, leaving people who have come to Chile fleeing violence, war, persecution or massive violation of human rights completely unprotected,” writes Francisca Vargas Rivas at Ciper.
“The Argentine LGBT Federation has received about 130 inquiries in the past year and a half from Russians interested in seeking refuge in Argentina, more than any other nationality,” notes ABC, reporting on increased asylum applications from LGBT Russians, as well as Russians in general.
🇺🇸 United States
A new bipartisan bill for immigration reform, outlined here, “aims to revamp asylum processing, slash visa backlogs and provide a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants,” among other goals, including ramping up border enforcement, reports Roll Call.
“Today, stateless people [not recognized as a citizen of any country] in the US still have very few rights and their future in the country remains uncertain. Stateless people in the US demand concrete, immediate action from the government of their adopted home. The Biden administration should fulfil the promises it made to stateless people more than two years ago and urgently come up with a permanent and all-inclusive solution to statelessness in the country.” (Al Jazeera)
The focus on the CBPOne app at the US border fails to prioritize cases “based on vulnerability or need for protection,” reports Time.
Findings from an NIJC report on expedited credible fear processes for asylum seekers at the US border “demonstrate that the government is actively undermining access to counsel, and that the program appears designed to rush people through to deportation without legal advice or representation.”
“Immigration policy and legislation need to recognize the historical and ongoing trauma that migrants face and implement training and supervision of enforcement practices aimed at protecting human rights of this vulnerable, yet resilient migrant community… The effects of trauma are long-lasting and associated with multiple health and functional concerns,” writes Baker Institute.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining “Documents obtained by CBS News show that a surprisingly large number of people resident in the United States have signed up to sponsor migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. More than 1.5 million people have registered for a program that admits 30,000 people per month.”
CBS notes that there are “more than 580,000 pending cases for Haitians, more than 380,000 for Cubans, nearly 120,000 for Venezuelans and more than 20,000 for Nicaraguans at the end of April.”
Increasing violence is causing internal displacement in Chiapas in southern Mexico, reports El Universal.
“In the absence of a decent health system in Venezuela, thousands of people cross the border to benefit from humanitarian services. However, these spaces are less and less,” reports El Espectador.
🇬🇫 French Guiana
156 asylum seekers that had set up a makeshift camp in downtown Cayenne were “evacuated” from the site by officials and then “accommodated in emergency accommodation,” says Guyana1.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The Biden administration is planning at least a dozen regional processing centers in cities across Colombia, reports Caracol. Opening dates for the centers have yet to be determined.
USAID is set to deliver $340,000 to Aruba and Curaçao to assist with the countries’ responses to Venezuelan migration. (Crónicas del Caribe)
🇺🇸 United States
A lack of available temporary labor migration visas force some US companies to downsize their operations, reports Bloomberg.
“The U.S. seasonal-worker visa program appears to be informally shut to Haitians, leaving them with one less legal pathway to work in the U.S., reports the Miami Herald. “Those who closely follow visa issuance say that while the low number of guest worker visas granted to Haitians raises questions about the U.S. government’s commitment, it’s part of a larger, disturbing pattern about the U.S.’s broken immigration system and how individuals in poor countries like Haiti are treated.”” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
🇧🇷🇩🇪 Germany and Brazil
Germany is looking to attract labor migration of Brazilian nurses, reports SchengenVisa.
Migrants in Transit
Migrant smuggling costs en route to the US have spiked since the end of Title 42 on May 11, reports Dallas Morning News.
“An unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors—under the age of 18, often traveling alone or separated from their parents—are departing from South America in a dangerous bid to make it to the U.S.,” reports Wall Street Journal.
The UN Coordinator in Honduras, as well as multiple civil society groups, are calling for Honduras to extend a decree that exempts irregular migrants in transit from paying a $200 fine in order to regularize their transit, reports SwissInfo. WOLA’s Adam Isacson says on Twitter, “This ‘amnesty’ was a blow to smugglers. The number of migrants who registered with the government doubled. It next expires May 31. We hope Honduras’s Congress renews it.”
“Portoviejo, Manta and Pedernales, in Manabí, are considered critical routes for irregular migration. Many leave by bus to Colombia, to continue to the United States crossing the Darien jungle,” reports Primicias.
Borders and Enforcement
In a special edition of the Americas Migration Brief last week, I wrote about regional migration policy and the implementation of visa restrictions across the Americas, including maps of the situation for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans.
“Senior Biden administration officials are pushing to send U.S. troops to (the Darien Gap) to help local authorities [from Colombia and Panama] curb drug smuggling, human trafficking and migration, according to a senior administration official and a U.S. defense official,” reported NBC last week, noting that “The training will focus primarily on border security, counter human smuggling, planning and logistics, counternarcotics and counter-transnational organized crime operations, and possibly targeting human traffickers. The U.S. military personnel could also help support the construction of an operation center for the National Border Service.”
US officials told NBC, “Our support is focused on law enforcement training, planning, coordination and information-sharing. It is important to emphasize that no U.S. personnel is directly involved in executing counter-smuggling missions.”
Irregular migration decreased 56% in the first five months of 2023 in comparison to the same period in 2022, reports Prensa Latina.
🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos announced last week “Operation Pursuit” to seek out and deport irregular migrants. The British Overseas Territory is currently on track to repatriate over double the number of irregular migrants as in 2022. (Loop News)
🇻🇮 US Virgin Islands
The recently approved Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Act “makes it possible for visitors from the Caribbean to visit the US territory for up to 45 days without a visa… the Act applies only to the US Virgin Islands and does not allow entry into other parts of the United States,” notes Loop News.
🇸🇽🇲🇫 Saint Martin and Sint Maarten
“France and the Netherlands have signed a historic accord demarcating the border between the two countries on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean,” reports The Local, adding that the agreement “preserves the principle of free movement of goods and persons established by the Concordia accords of March 23, 1648.”
In Mexico, “the availability of the population that emigrates is explained by the fact that the population of working age in the sending countries is greater than that of children and the elderly. This is called the ‘demographic bonus.’ According to recent estimates by the Economic Commission for Latin America, Mexico only has eight years left of the demographic dividend that will come to an end in 2031” after having begun in 1970, explains El Economista, additionally arguing, “The countries with the greatest demographic bonus and that will therefore join the ranks of migration in the future are Bolivia, Paraguay, Nicaragua, French Guyana and Grenada.”
Despite an unstable economy and rampant inflation, Argentina records more immigration than emigration, with over 3 million immigrants in the country currently. For nationals of “‘Mercosur [nations – namely Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay], once they have sorted out the appointments and waiting period, they can have access to a temporary residence [permit], which must be renewed until acceding to a permanent one,’ responds Linares, who singles out relatives as a key factor for immigrants when making their decision.” (BA Times)
More on Migration
The rise of digital nomads is causing “runaway price inflation” that deeply impacts locals in cities like Mexico City and Medellín, says Rest of World, explaining, “A one-bedroom in Medellín now rents for the ‘gringo price’ of about $1,300 a month, in a country where the median monthly income is $300.”
“Between 2017 to 2022, remittances sent to Mexico from the US have experienced double-digit growth, and just during pandemic times, 2020-2022 they almost doubled in absolute numbers to 41 percent… Based on current data, and changing patterns in both migration and sending, we estimate a 9 percent increase in 2023,” writes the Dialogue.
The Guyanese diaspora offers “monetary, cultural, human capital, technological and organizational benefits and capabilities. Particularly outstanding among these sources have been remittances which are estimated in 2019 to have been approximately US$ 2.6 billion and by foreign direct investment a further US$1.6 billion,” writes P.I. Gomes at InDepthNews, additionally outlining the history of immigration and emigration in the country.