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Americas Migration Brief - September 18, 2023
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Table of Contents
Integration and Development
R4V published the annual Refugee and Migrant Needs Analysis report: “Despite efforts by host countries to regularize and integrate refugees and migrants from Venezuela, more than four million people still face difficulties accessing food, shelter, health care, education and formal employment in Latin America and the Caribbean.” (press release)
Migration in Latin America is continuing to grow, says IDB Migration Unit Chief Felipe Muñoz, highlighting the importance of integration and noting, “Citizens have fears that are understandable, but many times they are based on myths or mistaken beliefs. Not working on public perception of migration has costs for receiving countries; it is an issue that must be addressed.” (El País)
“Operação Acolhida, which provides voluntary assistance to immigrants and refugees coming from Venezuela, has served almost 950,000 people since 2017,” reports Agência Brasil, adding that more than 112,000 Venezuelans have been voluntarily relocated throughout the country through the interiorization program.
4% of Brazil’s homeless population in 2022 were foreigners, “of which 43% were Venezuelans, 23% Angolans and 11% Afghans,” reports Efecto Cocuyo.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“The National Federation of Christian Social Transport Workers (Fenattransc) announced the "strict" ban on its affiliated drivers from transporting Haitian citizens regardless of their immigration status in the Dominican Republic.” (Al Momento)
Around 80,000 of the estimated 100,000 eligible have taken part in Peru’s amnesty program for Venezuelans in the country, says Rostros Venezolanos, noting that the government is looking to begin expulsions of irregular migrants after the initiative ends on October 27th, pending diplomatic agreements.
Mexico naturalized 2,644 new citizens in the first half of 2023, reports Informador, noting that “it is the highest figure since 2018.” Venezuelans, Cubans, and Colombians have been the leading nationalities naturalized as Mexicans since January 2022.
🇺🇸 United States
“Approximately 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States in 2021, up from 11.0 million in 2019, according to new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates.”
“While a federal judge on Wednesday declared illegal a revised version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children [DACA], he declined to order an immediate end to the program and the protections it offers to recipients,” reports AP, noting that the case is likely to make it to the Supreme Court.
“More than 800,000 people have had DACA at one time or another since the program’s creation in 2012. MPI’s estimates that about 1.2 million individuals met all the criteria to apply suggest that as many as two-thirds of all those who were eligible have participated at some point over the life of the program,” notes MPI in a commentary on the ruling.
“In a ruling on Monday, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals decided that thousands of recent Cuban arrivals who entered the US through the US-Mexico border and were released with an I-220A immigration document are ineligible to receive permanent residency under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA),” notes Center for Democracy in the Americas, explaining that “the CAA provides Cubans with an expedited path to U.S. residency in comparison to other nationalities. Largely due to the CAA, Cubans are significantly more likely to become naturalized citizens in comparison to other foreign-born populations.”
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
“IOM documented 686 deaths and disappearances of migrants on the US-Mexico border in 2022, making it the deadliest land route for migrants worldwide on record… One of the most concerning trends was the increase in deaths on migration routes in the Caribbean, with 350 documented in 2022 compared to 245 in 2021 and fewer than 170 recorded in all prior years… The Darien, an inhospitable jungle border crossing between Panama and Colombia, saw 141 documented migrant deaths in 2022.” (press release)
“The number of people who have lost their lives in the Darién jungle heading north is incalculable,” according to Panama’s migration director. (La Estrella de Panamá)
Cubans (185), Mexicans (149), and Venezuelans (141) were the leading nationalities of those reported dead or disappeared, notes El Pitazo.
Mexico’s refugee commission (Comar) has indefinitely suspended new asylum applications in the south of the country amid record numbers of applications this year, reports EFE.
“A court in Mexico has convicted 11 ex-police officers of killing a group of migrants near the US border in 2021,” reports BBC.
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“Pregnant and postpartum Haitian women seeking medical care and assistance face intimidation, detention and deportation in the Dominican Republic, UN experts warned,” condemning such policy. (press release)
Jamaica’s swift deportation of Haitian migrants that arrived to the country by boat this month has caused sharp criticisms, with some asserting that the move breaks with “the country’s treaty obligations of the 1967 UN Refugees convention.” (Global Voices, Jamaica Observer, see last week’s AMB)
Panama’s Health Ministry “is reinforcing the medical care teams with the regional directorates of Darién, Guna Yala and Chiriqu,” reports La Prensa.
UOL highlights stories of LGBT refugees seeking protection in Brazil.
🇺🇸 United States
“The Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation into the federal government’s use of a little-known law to disproportionately prosecute and imprison migrants from Muslim-majority countries,” reports LA Times. The newspaper had previously brought attention to the issue. (see AMB 9/4/23)
“U.S. Border Patrol agents separated migrant children as young as 8 from their parents for several days this summer to avoid overcrowding in a short-term holding facility,” reports CBS.
“Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) was created by Congress in 1990 to protect vulnerable children from deportation by providing a pathway to lawful permanent residency and citizenship. SIJS applications were low at first but grew over the past decade,” writes Austin Kocher at his Substack, explaining that the program “often makes their lives more uncertain.”
“The Biden administration has no plans to expand Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua,” per officials, reports Miami Herald.
“In the past year, average monthly encounters with Chinese nationals seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border have increased by over 1,000%,” notes Niskanen Center, highlighting bills in Congress that would facilitate access to refugee status for those from Xinjiang or Hong Kong.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, additionally noting that transit migration to the US through Nicaragua includes costly taxis and buses, as well as “a visa fee of at least $150” paid to Nicaraguan authorities.
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago
“Forty-six Venezuelan migrants who were deported last month in a mass deportation have re-entered Trinidad and Tobago illegally,” reports Newsday, explaining that they are pursuing crimes against humanity against the National Security Minister, as “They claim they were forced to sign deportation orders under threat of imprisonment and were not afforded the right, as asylum-seekers. to challenge their rejection as provided for under the Immigration Act.”
Honduras and the OAS reached an agreement on providing support for Hondurans internally displaced by violence. (La Prensa)
Migratory Institutions and Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Caricom held a migration trends workshop which included discussions on using migration to improve regional development and developing a comprehensive migration policy. (Caribe Empresarial)
Amid unprecedented levels of migration in the hemisphere, a regional approach and coordination is needed, writes CFR’s Shannon O'Neil at Bloomberg, adding, “That means making good on promises to coordinate resources and aid, to jointly establish legal pathways, to humanely enforce migration rules in concert, and to set up an early warning system to alert each other to future movement.”
🇧🇴🇨🇱 Chile and Bolivia
Chile and Bolivia signed an agreement “that establishes an expedited [and free] process for access to a two-year reciprocal temporary residence, in both countries, which allows Bolivian and Chilean citizens to work in the neighboring territory and which must be requested in the country of origin,” reports La Tercera.
Colombian and Spanish officials met to discuss migration, including collaboration for pendular labor migration programs. (press release)
The Comptroller General of Colombia says that “the institutionality of the entity that formulates and evaluates the Comprehensive Migration Policy (PMI)” needs to be “strengthened.” (press release)
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
Listin Diario explores the history of Dominican migration policy and law in recent decades.
🇬🇾🇺🇸 United States and Guyana
During Guyanese president Irfaan Ali’s recent trip to Washington, he met with US officials to discuss migration management and Venezuelan migration, among other topics (press releases 1, 2). Guyana hosts 21,700 Venezuelans, per R4V.
🇨🇱🇵🇪 Peru and Chile
Peruvian and Chilean officials met last week and discussed migration, among other topics. (ADN)
🇺🇸 United States
“Immigrant farm workers would receive a raft of new protections under a Biden administration proposal… which would boost safety requirements on farms and raise transparency around how such workers are brought to the U.S., to combat human trafficking,” reports AP.
Migrants in Transit
Local communities by the Darien Gap, including politicians, are profiting greatly from increased migration, reports The New York Times: “by professionalizing the migration business, Colombian leaders say they can prevent their impoverished towns from being overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of needy people, help the migrants traverse the treacherous jungle more safely — and feed their own economies in the process.” The Colombian side of the Darien Gap is reportedly safer than the Panamanian side due to the firm control of organized crime.
In an interview with the newspaper, Colombian president Gustavo Petro indicated that he would not try to halt migration through the Darien Gap, despite a recent trilateral agreement with the US and Panama that aimed to do so.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica is looking to push new ports of entry and transit routes to decongest the Paso Canoas area, which currently sees 3,000-3,500 new migrants a day, says La República.
Local civil society estimates that there are 90,000-100,000 migrants currently stranded in southern Mexico. (Forbes)
Borders and Enforcement
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic
“The Dominican Republic sealed its border with Haiti (Friday) morning, in the midst of a dispute over access to water from a shared river between the two countries,” writes Jordana Timerman at Latin America Daily Briefing. The country is also halting visa emissions for Haitians, notes Diario las Américas. (see last week’s AMB)
“The Government of Peru deployed 180 National Police agents to prevent ‘the irregular entry of migrants into the country’ through different points on the border with Chile… (last) Wednesday some 30 foreign citizens remained in the area, mainly Haitians, as well as Venezuelans and Colombians,” reports BioBioChile. (see last week’s AMB on migrants stranded at the border)
Peruvian police are allegedly charging migrants “to enter the country through unauthorized passages,” reports Exitosa.
🇺🇸 United States
The Border Chronicle highlights state-level border enforcement efforts in Texas, including deployments from other states, such as Florida and South Dakota. However, “the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government is in charge of immigration enforcement.”
More on Migration
51.6% of Argentines express interest in emigrating, according to a survey reported on by Cadena 3, although “last year the migratory potential of youth was 78% and this year it dropped to 67%.”
🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
“The St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament has amended its citizenship law to allow "second-generation Vincentians" born overseas to be considered for citizenship, according to Loop. The new law passed with bipartisan support, extends citizenship eligibility to grandchildren of individuals born in St Vincent and the Grenadines if the grandchild is born outside of the island,” writes Jordana Timerman at Just Caribbean Updates.
IOM highlights Honduran diaspora initiative Hondurans Connected and the collection of remittances aided by matching efforts for sustainable development projects.
IOM has published a new migration governance profile on the Mexican state of Tabasco. The profile covers approximately 90 indicators to evaluate migration governance and identify both well-developed areas and areas for further development.