Americas Migration Brief - March 13, 2023
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Shameless self-promotion: I just published a new report with Valerie Lacarte and Diego Chaves-González from the Migration Policy Institute and Ana María Sáiz and Jeremy Harris from the Inter-American Development Bank, Migration, Integration, and Diaspora Engagement in the Caribbean: A Policy Review. I summarize the findings of the report on Twitter, highlighting the prevalence of intraregional migration in the Caribbean, regional free mobility regimes, and the immigration and emigration profiles of The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago—among many other topics covered in the report. You can also check out the MPI press release here.
Table of Contents
Integration and Development
Based on a forthcoming study conducted in in Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, IOM finds that migrant women face greater difficulties than men to regularize and integrate in receiving communities. Reasons include a disproportionate lack of access to formal employment opportunities and employment opportunities outside of the home and “gender roles and stereotypes that permeate their opportunities for socialization and inclusion.” IOM calls for policies developed with a gender perspective. Globo, meanwhile, highlights the stories of migrant and refugee women in Brazil.
ECLAC explores Venezuelan migrants’ regularization and access to rights in Buenos Aires, highlighting the direct relationship between the two—in addition to characterizing the Venezuelan population in the city.
A new World Bank working paper finds that Colombians’ voting intentions or prosocial views toward migrants were not affected by their awareness of the country’s regularization program for Venezuelan migrants.
A new report from Universidad del Rosario and others explores the removal of Colombian citizenship for 40,000-some children of Colombian nationals born outside of the country and their loss of rights, asserting that the move caused multidimensional damages.
The “Primero la Niñez” policy has thus far granted Colombian citizenship to over 90,000 Colombian-born children of Venezuelan parents that would otherwise be stateless, writes Ana María Moreno Sáchica at El Espectador, calling for the policy to be extended beyond its current expiration date in August 2023.
IOM discusses the opportunities created by regularization for Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador, writing, “Since June 2022, more than 104,000 people have finished their migratory registry, out of which 55,000 Venezuelans have applied for a visa. By February 2023, nearly 41,000 have received their temporary residence visa. Thousands of others continue to go through one of the stages of the plan.” According to R4V, there were over 500,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador, as of August 2022.
IOM and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) are soliciting applications for state and municipal governments to participate in the MigraCidades Platform, which “aims to train local actors, boost migration dialogue, certify government engagement in improving migration governance and give visibility to good practices identified in Brazilian states and municipalities.” (IOM)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Of the roughly 52,000 foreign-born minors in the Costa Rican education system, 37,000 are Nicaraguan, reports Confidencial, noting that all minors have a right to the country’s free public education system, regardless of migratory status. Although Confidencial was not able to ascertain the exact number of Indigenous Miskito Nicaraguan minors in Costa Rica, the outlet explains that some schools have developed special programs to improve their access to education, given their differentiated language needs.
“As Barbados looks to widen and deepen its relationships with other countries, there is a suggestion that the island needs a managed migration policy, which will ensure that those coming to live and work offer skills and knowledge. That is according to the Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Business, Sandra Husbands,” reports CBC.
“A majority of Canadians sees increasing immigration as an economic boon, and nearly half support this year’s target, despite a housing shortage that threatens to further drive up real estate prices and rents,” reports Bloomberg.
Asylum, Protection, and Human Rights
El País highlights the challenges faced by migrant women en route to the US, noting that “Doctors Without Borders has identified sexual violence as one of the most heinous problems in Mexico and Central America.”
Researcher Charles G. Ripley III explores at the Migration Information Source the history of emigration of Nicaraguans amid the authoritarian Ortega regime and repression of political opposition in the country.
A new Amnesty International report finds that Chile limits access to asylum and protection for Venezuelans in the country, according to a press release, saying, “These obstacles include the imposition of entry visas with impossible requirements, denial of entry at the border, lack of information about the right to request international protection, as well as the implementation of illegal practices that require those who request refugee status to report themselves to the authorities for irregular entry into the country.”
“The kidnapping of four Black Americans — and the killing of two of them — in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros has sparked fear among Black migrants and raised concerns among aid workers who say Black asylum-seekers have long been targeted by drug cartels… as news spread of the kidnapping of Americans, many Haitian migrants cleared out of a Matamoros camp last weekend and left for Reynosa,” reports Dallas Morning News. “While it’s not clear that the four Americans were targeted because of their race… U.S. and Mexican officials are examining the possibility that the assailants mistook the Americans for Haitian smugglers.”
“Mexican officials have found more than 340 people in an abandoned truck trailer in the state of Veracruz, including 103 unaccompanied minors. The migrants were from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador. It is one of the biggest recent discoveries of migrant children traveling through Mexico,” reports BBC. The minors from Guatemala have been returned on a flight to Guatemala City, reports Al Jazeera.
🇺🇸 United States
“The Biden administration plans to redesignate Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua amid pressure from immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers, according to three people familiar with the plans. It’s not clear when the Department of Homeland Security would roll out the policy,” reports Politico.
WOLA’s Adam Isacson highlights stories related to the US-Mexico border and human rights at the Beyond the Wall weekly update, writing “The Biden administration is considering a new measure to harden the border against asylum seekers: a revival of family detention facilities, which the administration shuttered last year.”
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently implied that renegotiating the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the United States is necessary to stem “irregular” border crossings at Roxham Road in Quebec and elsewhere. This is not correct. This treaty does not prevent Canada from welcoming all refugee claimants at regular border points — and thus removing the demand for illegal crossings,” argues researcher Christopher K. Penny at Ottawa Citizen.
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands
Cayman Compass explores Cuban migration to the Cayman Islands in a four-part series. Meanwhile, the “Government is looking to expand the Immigration Detention Centre to increase accommodation for Cuban asylum seekers,” reports Cayman Compass.
A new IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) covers displacements caused by armed attacks in the Port-au-Prince area.
Regional and Bilateral Cooperation
Migration is a regional issue through the Americas, says former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at El País, writing, “The Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, fashioned by 21 countries at last year’s Summit of the Americas, builds on this legacy of reception and opens the door to a new, more effective future for migration management in the Americas… The LA Declaration’s implementation, however, is imperiled by a hard-to-shake impulse, especially in the United States–the pursuit of short-term, imposed solutions thought to deter migration. The Biden Administration´s recent proposal to limit access to asylum is just such a misguided move.”
The foreign affairs ministers of Colombia and Mexico met last week, agreeing to push for a regional migration summit with a focus on labor mobility, reports Yahoo.
🇵🇹🇧🇷 Brazil and Portugal
Brazilian president Lula is set to sign a series of agreements on immigrants rights while in Portugal next month, reports Observador. Brazilians make up the largest immigrant population in Portugal. However, requests for voluntary return to Brazil from Portugal reached a record high last year, reports JN.
🇧🇿🇲🇽 Mexico and Belize
Mexico and Belize have reupped a 2017 memorandum of understanding until 2025, reports Mexico Business, noting, “The countries will collaborate to fill gaps on all levels of government to improve cross-border cargo and passenger carriers’ operations. Both countries agreed that this instrument will provide major progress for road and citizen safety, while improving trade and activities on the border between Mexico and Belize.”
“Stakeholder organizations from the public and private sector of Curaçao will set up and coordinate a platform to work on solutions” related to migration, reports Curaçao Chronicle, noting the importance of filling labor gaps and matching migrant skills to work. “Human Rights Defense Curaçao sees that there is a shortage on the island of sufficient expertise and skilled workers, partly due to the aging population and the flight of Curaçaoans to the Netherlands or Bonaire.”
Panama has updated and issued new resolutions on multiple aspects of the country’s labor code in relation to work permits for foreigners, reports Eco, noting that the code allows for work permits for foreigners for up to 10% of the ordinary working population and for up to 15% of the specialized or technical labor force, in addition to work permits allotted under special situations or for those receiving humanitarian protection in the country.
Migrants in Transit
More than 49,000 migrants traversed the Darien Gap during January and February 2023, more than five times the number from during January and February 2022, according to official statistics. (La Prensa)
“A growing number of Chinese migrants are heading to the U.S. via the deadly Darién Gap crossing between Colombia and Panama, reports the Guardian. Panamanian government data shows about 400 Chinese citizens made the journey during the first half of 2022. In November last year, the figure rose to 377, then to 695 in December. In January 2023, a record-breaking 913 Chinese nationals crossed, making them the fourth-largest group of migrants to do so this year,” writes Jordana Timerman at the Latin America Daily Briefing.
The Attorney General’s Office finds that migrants use the island of San Andrés as a “VIP” route to evade the Darien Gap while heading north, adding that costs range from $1,500-4,000.
François de Montigny at CECI discusses increasing transit migration through Bolivia, highlighting the case of Haitian migrants.
Oscar B. Castillo at the New York Times explores Venezuelan migration via the dangerous “La Bestia” train, writing, “Their situation is so ugly and extreme, and as photographers we often look to reflect that. But we must not forget that this is only one part of the story. These migrants are filled with dreams, aspirations and talents. Hope fueled the dreams of the people I met along the way. They were still standing, caring for one another and showing solidarity. I was moved by their resilience, but also their capacity for lightness and joy.”
A small but increasing number of Afghans are arriving in Mexico, reports CNN, noting that officials believe that their final destination is the United States.
Borders and Enforcement
Chile has deported 140 individuals so far in 2023, incurring a cost of 300 million pesos (roughly $375,000 USD), reports BioBioChile. Last year, the National Migration Service signed just over 2,000 expulsion orders, of which 31 were fulfilled, reports Cooperativa. The Chilean Senate has moved to expand the detention period allowed prior to conducting administrative expulsions from the current limit of 48 hours, according to InfoMigra.
Chilean officials are reportedly considering registering biometric data of those that enter the country irregularly, reports Infomigra, underling that the proposal is not a regularization program.
“Brazil has decided to resume entry visa requirements for citizens of the U.S., Japan, Australia and Canada,” reports Reuters. Brazil typically utilizes a principle of reciprocity for its visa policy—all four countries require visas of Brazilian nationals—but former president Jair Bolsonaro had abandoned that policy in 2019.
🇺🇸 United States
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection has detailed 25 extra agents to a busy section of the northern border, effective Monday, as the number of migrants, particularly those from Mexico, crossing into the U.S. from Canada continues to rise, according to a CBP spokesperson. At least some of those agents temporarily reassigned to the northern border were formerly stationed on the southern border,” reports NBC.
🇪🇨🇲🇽 Mexico and Ecuador
Ecuadorian nationals top the list of irregular migration in Mexico, reports Prensa Latina.
“The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013,” reports Forbes.
“76% of Japanese immigrants from 2001 to 2021 — numbering nearly 14,000 — were women,” reports CBC, attributing the lack of parity to gender inequality in Japan.
3,714 Russians have entered Uruguay since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports El País, highlighting Russian individuals’ migration stories.
🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos
“Legal Migration is contributing to a rapid population growth rate for the Turks and Caicos, now the Governor of the territory is labelling the islands as ‘the fastest growing Caribbean country’ amidst concerns that an insufficient number of those people are able to become full citizens of the TCI,” reports Magnetic Media, adding, “On an annual basis, 1,000 applicants successfully receive British Overseas Territory Citizens (BOTC’s) status, but only around 60 of those people become official TCI citizens.”
More on Migration
“A historic US-Caribbean Roundtable on Citizenship by Investment held in St Kitts and Nevis in February has resulted in five Eastern Caribbean States with Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes collectively committed to six CBI principles proposed by the US,” reports Loop. They are: to collectively agree on treatment of denials, to conduct interviews for applicants, to conduct additional Financial Intelligence Unit checks, to regularly audit the CBI programs, to retrieve revoked passports, and to suspend processing applications for Russian and Belarusian nationals.
“Western Union (WU.N) will vastly expand a U.S. pilot program for money transfers to Cuba, it said on Thursday, opening retail locations across the 50 states and allowing for digital service through its website and mobile app,” reports Reuters.
Researchers Melanie Morten and Jaqueline Oliveira explore the impacts of roads on trade and migration in Brazil, noting the value of reduced migration costs; “We find that the road improvement increased welfare by 2.8%, of which 76% was due to reduced trade costs and 24% to reduced migration costs.”