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Americas Migration Brief - September 4, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
A new UNTREF-IOM study explores “the employability situation of Venezuelan people in nine Latin American and Caribbean cities: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Peru), Medellín (Colombia), Montevideo (Uruguay), Panama (Panama), Quito (Ecuador), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Santiago de Chile (Chile) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).” (press release)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago’s expansion of access to education to migrant children is more limited than initially thought, reports Sunday Express, noting that, “school spots are only open to Venezuelan children with parents who have permits from the Ministry of National Security and who must also pass an English language proficiency test administered by The University of the West Indies.”
“The first batch of Minister’s Permits, for Venezuelan nationals in Trinidad and Tobago, who applied for renewals under the Migrant Registration Framework earlier this year will be ready for collection next week,” reports Loop.
Immigrant-run businesses “created 4.6% of formal companies and generated 10.8% of employment in Bogotá between 2019 and 2022. It is estimated that these companies could have contributed approximately 188,000 more jobs to the city than the positions occupied by the migrant population in this period,” according to a new City of Bogotá report explaining the economic impact of migrants in the city.
Ahead of Colombia’s regional elections, some candidates have spread xenophobic messages and sought to criminalize Venezuelan migrants, but no candidates yet are “counterbalancing or vehemently denying these agendas.” (La Silla Vacía)
A new labor reform bill from the Petro administration looks to ensure foreigners the same labor rights as Colombians. (La República)
A new UNHCR report looks at the “Proyecto Nacionalidad” program in Chile to grant citizenship to children running the risk of statelessness as they were born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents prior to migrating successively to Chile.
In Chile, UNHCR and partners have “opened the Communal Bank to grant credits to refugees and migrants… In addition to granting credit, Communal Bank provides training to migrants through its Entrepreneurship School.” (El Pitazo)
Migrant communities in the northern Arica y Parinacota region of Chile are calling for the government to work toward more dignified, less precarious work for migrants; universal access to school lunch programs; and better intercultural communication, especially for non-Spanish speakers, in health care services. (SJM)
“More than 30,000 households have participated in (UNHCR’s Local Integration Program) since 2019, and more than 500 companies across the country are part of the network for employing refugees,” says UNHCR, highlighting the role of employment in integration experiences.
Milenio highlights the need for migrant labor in Mexico and the importance of facilitating access to regular status.
“Unemployment or difficulty finding work are the main problems faced by 66% of refugees in Brazil,” noted Senator Paulo Paim during a Senate meeting on “the urgency of a policy for migrant workers and refugees.” (Senado)
A new UNHCR and Amnesty International report explores the media and social media representation of migrant and refugee women in Peru, finding a very small minority of coverage to be positive.
“Once they get to Canada, foreign-educated immigrants, particularly recent immigrants, often encounter difficulties finding employment that aligns with their qualifications, and experience persistent skills underutilization,” write Parisa Mahboubi and Tingting Zhang at Globe and Mail.
Foreign Policy highlights pushback from both the left and the right about how Canada’s expansion of immigration has been conducted.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
Migrants working in the hospitality sector in the Dominican Republic are disproportionately working informally. (Dominican Today)
CEPAL published a report on the reintegration of Uruguay return migrants that had been in Spain, finding, “a negative relationship between the status of recent returnee and access to employment under adequate conditions.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
A new OAS report explores the climate change-migration nexus in Central America and Mexico in relation to poverty and human, social, economic and other rights.
JRS highlights the importance of the Cartagena Declaration, “considered one of the most important milestones for the protection of refugees and forcibly displaced persons in the Latin American and Caribbean region,” as it nears its 40 year anniversary next year.
The Guatemalan Congress is developing a draft bill on internal displacement titled, “Prevention and Comprehensive Care of People in Conditions of Internal Forced Displacement.” (DCA)
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
BBC reports on the Dominican Republic’s deportations of Haitian children, noting that “according to the General Migration Law of the Dominican Republic (285-04), foreigners under 18 years of age cannot be detained for deportation purposes.”
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
“On August 30, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber ruled unconstitutional a presidential decree stipulating that any exit from the country on the part of an asylum seeker would be considered a tacit withdrawal of their asylum claim.” (EFE)
Asylum requests in Mexico grew 29% between January-August 2023 and the same period last year, with 2023 likely to be a record year. (La Razón)
🇺🇸 United States
“Less than 24 hours after the United States urged its citizens to leave Haiti “as soon as possible” due to increased violence, authorities deported dozens of Haitian nationals back to the country,” reports Al Jazeera. Civil society organizations like Human Rights Watch are calling for a halt on deportations to Haiti.
Muslim asylum seekers are disproportionately prosecuted for failing to “cross at a checkpoint and report to a customs office,” when crossing the US border, reports LA Times, noting, “More than 60% of those charged under the failure to report law were from Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Mali, according to a Times analysis of hundreds of federal court records. Citizens of Muslim-majority countries make up a tiny portion — much less than 5% — of the people who cross the southern border.”
“The US Border Patrol has been detaining asylum-seekers outdoors in a deadly corner of the Arizona desert for the better part of a year… flouting a federal court order mandating the humane treatment of migrants,” reports The Intercept.
“The number of migrant deaths along the Tijuana-San Diego border this year is just one shy of what it was for all of 2022 as more migrants are choosing to take dangerous routes into the U.S.,” reports Border Report. And a record number of migrants have died in the El Paso sector this summer, notes El Paso Times.
The Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) “is short-circuiting families’ access to attorneys, fairness, and a meaningful opportunity to pursue asylum,” says the National Immigrant Justice Center in a policy brief on the program.
“More than 840,000 Afghans who applied for a resettlement program aimed at people who helped the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan are still there waiting,” reports AP.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, explaining new controversies with Texas’ “Operation Lone Star,” including “improper spying on civilian migrant” and a National Guard member shooting a man in Mexico from across the Rio Grande.
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
The Biden administration has ongoing discussions with other countries from across the hemisphere about expanding the Regional Processing Centers program, which so far has received 38,000 applications—2,100 of which have advanced to asylum applications. (EFE)
“U.S. President Joe Biden hosted his Costa Rican counterpart, Rodrigo Chaves, (Tuesday) in Washington. They discussed migration, trade and efforts to crack down on organized crime, reports the New York Times. After the meeting, the U.S. announced it would send more than $12 million to Costa Rica for migration issues. Costa Rica recently agreed to build two centers where migrants can be processed for legal protections without attempting to illegally cross the U.S. border,’” writes Jordana Timerman at the Latin America Daily Briefing.
“Barbados is in the advanced stages of preparing new immigration and citizenship legislation,” reports Radio Jamaica News.
🇨🇷🇵🇦 Panama and Costa Rica
Panamanian and Costa Rican officials met to discuss migration at their shared border. (EFE)
🇨🇴🇭🇳 Honduras and Colombia
Honduran and Colombian officials discussed migration, among other topics, during bilateral meetings. (press release)
🇵🇾🇧🇷 Brazil and Paraguay
“Paraguay and Brazil have agreed to exchange migratory information to strengthen bilateral security across mutual border crossings,” reports Mercopress.
An editorial at the Jamaica Gleaner discusses the trend of emigration of teachers from Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean, leaving the region facing teacher shortages.
🇺🇸 United States
“As the U.S. continues to struggle with a historically-tight labor market, immigrants are coming to the rescue of desperate employers — while also creating new jobs themselves,” reports Axios, adding, “The great retirement of the Boomer generation is taking place mainly among the native-born — most immigrant workers aren't yet facing retirement. As a result, millions of new native-born workers need to enter the workforce every year just to keep the total native-born labor force constant, let alone growing.”
Migrants in Transit
Over 70,000 migrants crossed through the Darien Gap in August, a single-month record. (WOLA)
Record numbers of migrant families also crossed the US-Mexico border in August. (Washington Post)
Divergentes explores the northbound migration journeys of Nicaraguans.
An increasing number of Venezuelans are emigrating, reports El Estímulo, noting data from R4V that shows that Venezuelans traveling through the Darien Gap are increasingly coming directly from Venezuela, not from other countries. (see last week’s AMB)
El País highlights growing emigration of Venezuelan police.
In the last 5 years, 341,720 Venezuelans have taken part in the “Plan vuelta a la patria” assisted return program, according to a ruling party press release. At the same time, more than 7 million Venezuelans are currently in the diaspora. See a June 2023 special edition of the AMB on the question of Venezuelan return migration here.
Borders and Enforcement
“Earlier this month, Nova Scotia became the first province to stop locking up migrants in its provincial jails who were being detained for administrative reasons by the Canada Border Services Agency,” reports CBC, adding, “As agreements are about to expire in several provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Quebec, the federal government still has no alternative plan for the migrants.”
In the US, meanwhile, “A federal judge in New Jersey on Tuesday struck down the state's ban on the detention of immigrants awaiting deportation, in a legal challenge by private prison operator CoreCivic,” notes Reuters.
“Brazil has delayed the reinstatement of the visa requirement for nationals of Australia, Canada and the United States until January 10, 2024, after it was set to be implemented on October 1, 2023,” notes Fragomen.
Paraguay’s 2022 census reveals that more than 530,000 Paraguayans left the country since 2002. The majority of the diaspora resides in Argentina, followed by much smaller communities in Spain, Brazil, and the US. (El Nacional)
Preliminary data from Guyana’s 2022 census finds increasing migration to the country from Venezuela and “all over the world, particularly (of) persons who have migrated back from Venezuela.” (Guyana Times)
Brazil’s diaspora grew by 4% between 2021 and 2022, with the US the leading destination for emigrants. (ANBA)
More on Migration
The Venezuela Observatory of the Universidad del Rosario discusses the importance of up to date data on migration in a new Bitácora Migratoria report. I spoke at the launch event, available here (in Spanish).
IOM has published a new migration governance profile on Medellín, Colombia. The profile covers approximately 90 indicators to evaluate migration governance and identify both well-developed areas and areas for further development.
🇺🇸 United States
“Officials often portray human trafficking as being controlled by large, organized crime groups -- frequently referred to as “cartels” -- but the reality on the US-Mexico border illustrates that there is a far wider array of groups behind this problem,” says InSight Crime in a new three-part investigation.
“Canada will change how it counts non-permanent residents, the main statistics agency said on Thursday, after an economist said the current methodology may have overlooked about a million foreign students, workers and others,” reports Reuters.