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Americas Migration Brief - October 23, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
A new Inter-American Development Bank technical note “reviews the evidence on the impact of labor market integration of migrants, both for the migrants themselves as well as for their recipient countries,” noting, “The significant shares of informality that pre- vail in LAC, together with a restrictive labor regulation model in destination countries, can discourage migrant workers from seeking employment in the formal labor market… ensuring social security rights and generous access to pensions regardless of nationality is a crucial step toward suc- cessfully integrating migrant workers into the labor market.”
Amid increasing emigration from Haiti and an acute crisis in the country, “Haitians are missing the same support systems that were created by a coordinated regional response to the Venezuelan displacement,” says the Migration Policy Institute in a commentary calling for greater regional efforts to receive, protect, and integrate Haitians in the Americas.
“To be effective, a regional solution must prominently involve the Dominican Republic. Not only because it is the country most immediately affected by this migration, but because its current deportation strategy is further destabilizing Haiti and the socioeconomic consequences are becoming untenable for both sides of the island… Beyond the Dominican Republic and CARICOM, participants should include: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico… Costa Rica and Belize.”
Latin America and the Caribbean’s “absorption capacity is reaching a break point following the economic wreckage of the COVID-19 pandemic… Tight fiscal conditions are making it harder to reactivate economies and support communities hosting significant migrant populations. A bold host community stabilization plan is needed to open fiscal space for countries absorbing large numbers of migrants; re-incentivize their welcoming policies; and reverse this trend,” writes Dan Restrepo at El País, calling for greater funding from international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.
A new report from Mexico’s Senate’s Instituto Belisario Domínguez “presents a brief overview of international migration in Mexico, in the period from 2012 to 2023” and finds that “migrants from 173 countries arrive in Mexico not only as a transit space, but also as a permanent settlement,” including through increased family migration, notes El Sol de México.
A new survey finds that just 15.9% of women migrants in Chile with higher education have been able to validate their degree in the country, reports G5noticias.
Another new survey finds that “51.7% of migrants and refugees residing in Chile have economic difficulties in covering their essential expenses and a high probability of going into debt in the event of job loss,” reports BioBioChile, adding that “61.5% of respondents do not have access to a checking account.”
Centro Intégrate—one-stop shop centers for services to promote integration located in several Colombian cities—has provided services to more than 9,300 individuals in its first year in the city of Cartagena, reports Caracol.
Amid decreasing national government prioritization of integration-focused migration policy, local governments have taken the lead, reports La Silla Vacía.
Bloomberg reports on Brazil’s welcoming reception of Venezuelans and job opportunities through the interiorization program, highlighting southern Brazil’s meat processing plants.
See also the recent special edition of the AMB about Brazil’s reception of Venezuelans, interiorization, and challenges and opportunities for improved coordination.
The Secretariat for Human Rights of Ceará is helping facilitate regularization for migrants from countries in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) following a recent move to expand legal pathways for these nationalities, per a press release. (see AMB 9/11/23)
A new UNRISD report “unpacks the complex and multi-dimensional relationships between migration, development and inequality in the context of the Global South,” highlighting Haitian migration to Brazil, among other migration corridors. The report highlights racism and discrimination in Brazil, noting that per interviews with migrants, “fewer jobs are offered to Black migrants, and that people look at them with suspicion or make racist remarks. The prejudice and racism against Black people that Viviane encountered in Brazil drove her to imagine migrating to another country away from Brazil.”
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
Some Venezuelans who took part in Trinidad and Tobago’s 2019 regularization program are now receiving deportation orders because they have included their children in the renewal documents for regularization. They say that although the children arrived after 2019, “On social media, several people who work for the TT government and are close to the Venezuelan community said we could include our children in this update. We trusted them, but now Immigration is putting pressure on us,” reports Newsday.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
“Barbados and other countries in the region are being advised to start putting measures in place to allow for the accommodation of residents who have been displaced due to the impacts of climate change,” including modeled after agreements between Australia and “Pacific Island countries to allow for safe migration to those affected by the acute effects of climate change,” reports Barbados Today.
“Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) has joined Freedom Imaginaries in calling on the Jamaican government to respect international law on migration and refugees” in relation to recent returns of Haitians, reports Observer. “Should anymore Haitians arrive seeking refuge, the Government of Jamaica must allow individuals to speak to an attorney and receive due process,” reads JFJ’s statement, notes Loop News. (see last week’s AMB on maritime Haitian arrivals)
🇺🇸 United States
“Many in Haiti who are desperate to access the [US humanitarian] parole program are facing long wait times for passports — and, worse, extortion from criminal "racketeers." Haitians in Haiti and their sponsors, many of whom are here in South Florida, are paying exorbitant sums, ostensibly to expedite the processing of travel documents.” (WLRN)
“The poor accessibility in the United States CBP One application, the long waiting times, the lack of papers and desperation lead migrants in Mexico to fall into scams that cost them up to $20,000, a HIAS investigation revealed,” reports EFE, noting, “it can take a person two months on average to obtain an appointment.”
Using the humanitarian parole authority, the US is “setting up a family reunification program that will allow eligible Ecuadorians to fly to the U.S. and apply for temporary work permits if their U.S.-based relatives have sponsored them for an immigrant visa,” reports CBS.
MPI profiles the trajectory of Ecuadorian emigration—and new experiences with immigration.
“Migrant groups nationwide have reacted favorably to a proposed settlement in a lawsuit brought by families separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border, but advocates said they want more reparations for the affected families. If approved by a federal judge, the settlement would allow some parents of separated children to come to the United States under humanitarian parole for three years and to hold jobs,” reports Border Report.
“The US government must immediately stop disregarding international refugee law and human rights law and end all deportation flights and forced returns to Venezuela,” says Amnesty International.
Deportations to Venezuela restarted last week, and “Biden officials said they plan to send multiple deportation flights per week to Venezuela,” reports Washington Post, noting “a significant drop in illegal entries since” the announced initiative.
According to a new government report, “most privately sponsored refugees waited about 30 months for a decision on their application. Only five per cent of refugees in this class had their applications processed within Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC) 12-month timeline. Most people applying under the Government-Assisted Refugee Program waited 26 months. Only 26 per cent of refugees in this stream saw their applications processed in 12 months.” (CBC)
“A newly released memo shows [Canadian] federal officials warned last spring that expanding a bilateral refugee pact to the entire Canada-U.S. border would likely fuel smuggling networks and encourage people to seek more dangerous, remote crossing routes,” reports CBC, discussing the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two countries.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
The UN Human Rights Committee highlights concerns about “ongoing deportation of refugees” and other migration-related human rights issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Yesterday, Mexico hosted a regional migration summit with attendance from presidents and high-level officials from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Belize, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and Mexico. The summit reportedly included calls for the rejection of “coercive” measures—in reference to sanctions—for increased legal pathways to the US and Canada, and for a human rights approach to migration. Mexico offered to continue to expand its Sembrando Vida and Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro programs to more countries in the region as an effort to address root causes of migration. (DW, Prensa Latina, EFE)
The US will host a summit on November 3, with invitations sent to Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. “The aim of the summit is to ‘drive more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and tackle the underlying economic drivers of irregular migration in our hemisphere,’” reports CBS.
Costa Rica is calling for Colombia to improve migrant registration and information sharing in relation to migrants in transit through the Darien Gap, a request that has been made frequently by Panamanian authorities in recent weeks. (La República)
The US is expanding its Regional Processing Centers to Ecuador. “During its initial phase, Ecuador’s SMO services will prioritize Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Colombian nationals present in Ecuador as of October 18 and who qualify as asylum petitioners or have registered with Ecuador’s Ministry of Interior for a Certificate of Migratory Permanence,” per a press release.
🇻🇪🇨🇱 Chile and Venezuela
Chile and Venezuela have reached an agreement to facilitate deportations from the former to the latter. (La Discusión)
🇧🇴🇨🇱 Chile and Bolivia
“Bolivia and Chile advanced their agenda on consular and immigration issues with a meeting in which authorities from the foreign ministries of both countries participated,” reports La Razón, noting that migrant regularization was one of the topics of discussion.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic hopes to reduce the country’s dependency on foreign labor through “an extensive mechanization program,” although Acento argues that such an initiative would take years and that the country currently requires foreign labor to remain competitive.
Migrants in Transit
AP highlights the migration path through Central America for those that have crossed through the Darien Gap, noting rapid busing through Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. In Honduras, “migrants can move freely, unlike in Costa Rica, but they lack basic sanitation and are living in deplorable conditions.”
I personally saw this in action in Panama’s Darien Province this past week while on mission with the Inter-American Development Bank. After emerging from the jungle, migrants (that have the $70 needed to afford a ticket) take buses to the Costa Rican border. These buses are strictly controlled to ensure that no migrants remain in the country by leaving the bus. Those that don’t have money for a ticket must stay in the reception zone and wait for unregulated, often extortionary, money transfers from friends or family or hope to receive one of the few free spots occasionally granted.
Although migration through the Darien was slightly less in the first half of October than the first halves of September or August, October remains on track to be the fourth-greatest month in terms of Darien migration, reports La Prensa.
“Costa Rican authorities mobilized more than 14,000 migrants from border to border in the first week of operation of a plan coordinated with neighboring Panama” to coordinate busing and migrant registration, reports SwissInfo. (see AMB 10/9/23)
El Heraldo highlights current conditions in Danlí, Honduras—near the country’s border with Nicaragua—where a new migrant attention office has been inaugurated.
Migrants are denouncing “abusive charges” by police in order to cross from Honduras into Guatemala. (Tiempo)
10-20 flights arrive daily in Nicaragua from Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic—in addition to flights from Africa via El Salvador. Many on these flights are using the country as a point of transit en route to the US, says La Prensa, estimating that “between 1,000 and 5,000 foreigners” from these locations arrive in Nicaragua daily.
Last week, UNHCR “estimated the arrival of between 3,000 and 6,000 migrants daily at Mexico’s southern border” since August. (EFE)
🇺🇸 United States
“Migrants, mostly from Mexico, are increasingly entering the U.S. across New York’s border with Canada. Authorities suspect smugglers and organized crime are driving the shift,” says Times Union.
“Migrant trafficking in Haiti has evolved into a profitable enterprise facilitated by various actors from Haiti and abroad,” reports Dominican Today, citing a UN report.
A new Asociación Pop No'j report (available under “Defensa de la Madre Tierra y el Territorio”) explores the relationship between climate change and migration in rural Indigenous communities.
The Venezuelan government claims that “in recent months, more than 900,000 people have returned to the country through different means,” reports EFE. The distribution of deportations versus voluntary returns is unidentified. Read a special edition of the Americas Migration Brief from June about the question of Venezuelan returns.
The government also claims that only 2.5 million Venezuelans have left the country, in comparison to official statistics showing over 7.7 million in the diaspora, notes Efecto Cocuyo.
Borders and Enforcement
“All foreigners from countries that need a visa to enter Mexico must also carry one even if they only want to stopover at Mexican airports as part of their transit to other destinations,” reports AP.
The new visa restrictions for connecting flights have resulted in the cancellation of routes from Cuba to Nicaragua via Mexico, says Directorio Noticias.
Mexico has restarted deportations to Cuba and is “intensifying” deportations to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, reports AP.
“The U.S. is pushing Mexico to increase enforcement against migration, but the country is struggling with a crisis of its own as historic numbers of asylum seekers cross its southern border, reports the Washington Post.” (via Latin America Daily Briefing)
Uruguay’s Interior Ministry is set to propose “a bill that enables the deportation of foreign citizens who commit serious crimes in the country.” (Infobae)
Chile’s migrant population grew by 400,000 from 2020 to 2022, reports La Tercera; migrants represented 8.7% of the total population in 2022. Half of the 1.7 million total migrants are Venezuelans.
More on Migration
The European Union is concerned about Citizenship by Investment in the Caribbean and is considering visa restrictions, reports Observer.
IOM has published a new migration governance profile on Arica, Chile.
The Conversation critiques Canada’s Start-Up Visa, comparing it to the now defunct Federal Entrepreneur Program.