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Americas Migration Brief - November 20, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
A UNDP policy note explores integration and development opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Migration can serve as a catalyst for exports and development in the Americas, says IOM, adding that “A modest 1% increase in the number of migrants in a destination country correlates with an average 0.23% increase in that country's exports.”
A Journal of Migration and Health paper investigates the inclusion of migrants in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plans of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. “One barrier that was detected was to require identity documents in order to be vaccinated or to receive a vaccination certificate, which could be difficult for migrants to obtain. Few countries defined actions to facilitate or promote the vaccination of migrants.”
Despite private sector interest, there are several barriers to formal employment of migrants in Mexico, including “administrative barriers such as the lack of documents that prove regular stay in Mexico” and a lack of banking for salary deposits. (El Diario de Chihuahua)
The Boa Vista local government has called for greater support from the federal government—particularly in terms of education and health care—amid high levels of Venezuelan migration. (Folha)
The Curitiba City Council reintroduced the Municipal Policy for the Immigrant Population with the aim “of guaranteeing this population access to social rights and public services (and) to combat discrimination.” (press release)
A World Development paper explores public policy preferences among the Colombian public vis-à-vis Venezuelan migration, finding that “Colombians prefer more open policy options that place either some or no restrictions on Venezuelan migrants’ labor market access, ability to bring family members, access to public healthcare, or freedom to choose where they live within Colombia. However, there is support for restrictions on the overall number of Venezuelans allowed to settle in the country, as well as the length of time that Venezuelans are allowed to stay in Colombia.”
Cali’s Centro Intégrate celebrates one year, having provided attention to 11,072 individuals. (press release)
🇺🇸 United States
The American Immigration Council’s Map the Impact finds that “Immigrants continue to play an outsized role in the labor force, not only filling roles vacated by baby boomers but also plugging growing gaps in jobs vital to the wellbeing of all Americans, such as healthcare” and that immigrants’ “role as business founders appears to be growing” with increased entrepreneurship. (Immigration Impact)
“The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States reached 10.5 million in 2021, according to new Pew Research Center estimates. That was a modest increase over 2019 but nearly identical to 2017.” Notably, “the population of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico dropped by 900,000 from 2017 to 2021, to 4.1 million.” (Pew)
“Once again, the future of DACA is in question… Since 2018, the Department of Homeland Security cannot process any new DACA applications,” says Aula Blog, reviewing recent legal decisions and the impacts on the program and its recipients.
“To solve teacher shortages, let’s open pathways for immigrants so they can become educators and role models: We urgently need new bilingual teachers.” (The Hechinger Report)
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
“The number of people crossing the Darién Gap, Panama, reporting having been subjected to sexual violence on their journey has spiked,” says MSF, calling for Panama and Colombia to provide greater protection.
“JRS Latin America and the Caribbean, JRS/USA, and Encuentros SJM Peru call upon all governments throughout the region, especially the governments of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United States, Panama, and Peru, to observe, respect, and fulfill their international commitments and obligations towards refugees and forced migrants and to refrain from mass deportations that do not allow migrants to lawfully petition for safety.” (JRS)
Bloomberg highlights displacement in the Americas due to climate change and natural disasters.
An American University International Law Review paper explores forced migration of Indigenous communities along the Colombia-Ecuador border due to glyphosate fumigation and argues for greater protection for environmental-related displacement. (via Forced Migration Current Awareness)
A CEPS report “examines key issues pertaining to refugee status determination, vulnerability and the right to work that characterise specific asylum governance instruments in Brazil, Canada, South Africa and Turkey.” (via Forced Migration Current Awareness)
An IOM report explores protection risks for migrants in South America.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
Torrential rains in the Dominican Republic “have forced nearly 8,000 people to be displaced from their homes, damaged homes and infrastructure and left more than a dozen dead,” reports MegaNoticias.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
UNHCR is calling for Trinidad and Tobago to “set up its own asylum system and legal framework to deal with refugees/asylum seekers in the country,” reports Guardian.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Using MIRPS Funds, Costa Rica and the OAS “will execute a project to improve the procedures of the Refugee Unit, to provide more agile attention to refugee applicants, which will benefit some 23,000 people, as well as around 10,000 other people seeking refugee status,” says 100%Noticias.
A JRS report investigates Colombia’s refugee system in relation to Venezuelan migration, arguing that “The Colombian State has not prioritized the application of the refugee status when dealing with Venezuelan human mobility, nor have Venezuelan migrants opted massively for this right, as provided for in the international agreements signed by Colombia. The Colombian authorities have chosen instead to address the status of an important sector of the Venezuelan population in the country through ad hoc instruments such as the Special Permit to Stay (PEP).”
The UN has opened multiservices centers in Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana to provide legal services and medical attention to migrants. (Forbes)
🇺🇸 United States
The newly reintroduced Climate Displaced Persons Act (CDPA) in the Senate looks to “enact a national strategy that would provide a more equitable immigration pathway to the United States for people displaced by climate change and critical support for people affected by climate disasters internationally.” (press release)
The bill “represents a forward-looking approach for U.S. global leadership in shaping effective and people-first solutions to the climate crisis at the moment when it is needed most. The bill creates a new pathway for at least 100,000 climate-displaced persons annually and provides resources, including foreign assistance to support those affected by climate change. The CDPA would ensure a robust commitment by the U.S. government to global climate resilience,” according to Refugees International’s Jocelyn Perry and Yael Schacher at Just Security. (via Forced Migration Current Awareness)
Looking at the impacts of past TPS designations for El Salvador and Honduras, researchers David Leblang and Benjamin Helms have found that “Statistical models indicate that expanding work opportunities for Central Americans already in the U.S. through TPS designation of these countries could increase remittances even further, serving as a countermeasure for additional forced migration in the years ahead. Higher remittances offer family members the financial support to stay in their home countries while conditions in their countries stabilize,” per Fwd.us.
“The Biden administration should feel confident, based on the evidence, to grant TPS redesignations for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and a new designation of TPS for Guatemala. In addition, the administration can apply the same policy evidence in providing a needed redesignation for Nepal and initial designations for Mali, Mauritania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
WOLA highlights and critiques Republican-led proposals to “gut the right to asylum at a time of historic need.”
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining that Texas has passed “a law that would make it a state crime to cross the border irregularly from Mexico. The law raises questions about Mexico’s willingness to take back migrants expelled by Texas, the constitutionality of a state enforcing immigration laws, and a possible increase in racial profiling that today’s more conservative Supreme Court might uphold.”
The government of Mexico has publicly criticized the law. (statement)
“Criticism has been directed towards Canada’s definition of “immediate family,” as some Canadians who escaped the Gaza Strip claim to have had to leave loved ones behind… Parents, in-laws, and siblings are not being offered a spot on Canada’s list of potential evacuees… The Canadian Council for Refugees has also been advocating for a broader definition to allow individuals to escape and find refuge with their loved ones in Canada.” (Immigration)
🇬🇫 French Guiana
400 asylum seekers housed in a temporary reception center in Cayenne have denounced the hygienic conditions, which include “only one functional toilet, no trash can,” per Franceinfo.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The US held bilateral meetings with Mexico and Peru to discuss migration, among other topics, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in San Francisco last week. Mexico also met with Canada, too.
Irregular migration and human trafficking were among the topics of discussion at the US-Caribbean Security Dialogue last week. (press release)
🇪🇨🇨🇴 Colombia and Ecuador
Colombia and Ecuador have signed an MoU “to implement the One Stop Control system at the Rumichaca border crossing between both countries. With this Memorandum, the implementation of a series of technical and technological solutions will be achieved to facilitate and expedite the entry and exit of residents and workers from this Border Integration Zone.” (press release)
🇻🇪🇨🇴 Colombia and Venezuela
The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela met last week to discuss migration, among other topics, reports El Tiempo.
🇺🇸🇨🇺 Cuba and United States
“Delegations from Cuba and the United States met on Tuesday in Havana to talk about migration in the context of an increase since August in irregular arrivals of Cubans to US territory.” (France24)
“IRCC is Set to Review the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act” (Immigration)
An Action Against Hunger report explores circular labor migration of Guatemalans to Canada and the US, finding, “Many Canadian visas in Guatemala are managed with the support of recruitment companies located in the country, which contributes to a more orderly and transparent process. In the case of the United States, a more fragmented system is observed, with a strong presence of small recruiters who work in specific communities for a single employer, most of them are informal. In recent years, the Guatemalan Government recruiter (Labor Migration Program of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare) has increased its presence, now occupying a key role in United States visas processes. Unfortunately, Guatemalan workers, and even public employees, have scarce knowledge on how visas work. This has increased the probabilities of fraud committed by people who pose as recruiters or representatives of foreign employers.”
The Open Work Permits Now Campaign “calls on the federal government to abolish the employer-specific work permit and issue open work permits to all migrant workers, regardless of national origin or occupation” in order to prevent abuse. (Windsor Star)
Migrants in Transit
VOA highlights the complex (and multi-country) journeys of Venezuelan migrants to renew their passports.
More than 1,500 Venezuelans left Peru via its border with Ecuador in just a four-day period last week, reports La República. (see also Infobae, La República; see last week’s AMB on the end of registration for regularization)
The current amnesty for migrants in transit passing through Honduras expires January 1, 2024. The National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (Conadeh) and other organizations have asked the Congress to renew the amnesty again, but current political tensions between the ruling government and opposition may prove an obstacle to renewal. (Criterio, Infobae)
“At least 40,000 migrants crossed Mexico's southern border between August and October… Meanwhile, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) received 60,000 people in its pre-registration system, in August and September alone in Tapachula.” (EFE)
Colombia’s Ombudsman's Office has alerted of a rise in migration via San Andrés to avoid the Darien Gap, noting the “rescue” of “nearly 400 persons,” including 89 minors, thus far in 2023. (Noticias RCN, VOA)
Borders and Enforcement
“The Council of Ministers approved (last) Monday the legislative decree that implements a special administrative procedure, which will allow foreigners who are in an irregular immigration situation to be expelled from the country within 48 hours, after the expiration of last Friday, November 10 the Government's deadline to regularize their situation.” (El Peruano)
The move has been criticized by civil society actors such as SJM, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
Around 900 thousand to 1 million Venezuelans in Peru (out of an estimated 1.5 million) have regularized their status, according to NGO VeneActiva Perú, reports Exitosa.
Some Chileans have expressed concern that the policy may result in increased migration towards Chile, per Ex-Ante.
🇺🇸 United States
“From October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has intervened with 67 irregular maritime migration voyages in the Mona Pass and waters near Puerto Rico. During this period, 2,161 non-US citizens were intercepted,” reports NotiUno.
Emigration and aging mean that Honduras will lack a sufficient youth population to replace the retiring generation in the workforce by 2035 or 2040, according to FLACSO. (La Prensa)
More on Migration
“During 2022 and 2023, flows of remittances received by LAC countries continued to grow at rates of 10.7% and 9.5% respectively, similar to the rates that had been observed before the COVID-19 pandemic, thus consolidating the trend observed up to 2018 and 2019,” according to an IDB paper exploring data on remittances across the region.
A Baker Institute paper explores the role of remittances in the Mexican economy, including investigating remittance flows at the state and local level.
Peru is introducing a Digital Nomad Visa. (Fragomen)