Inaugural Statement from the North and Central American Task Force on Migration
June 4, 2021
In this inaugural statement, members of the North and Central American Task Force on Migration outline a new approach to the issues that must be addressed collectively by Western Hemisphere neighbors from Canada to Central America. The Task Force is an initiative of the World Refugee & Migration Council in partnership with MPI, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, El Colegio de México, and the Inter-American Dialogue. The nongovernmental forum of academics, civil society and business leaders, and former policymakers was created to facilitate a broadly solutions-driven dialogue among the countries involved in the crisis of migration and forced displacement in the region. The Task Force will issue concrete recommendations for collective, regional action based on evidentiary research to promote responsibility sharing across North and Central America.
The Task Force is co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, former Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Mayu Brizuela de Avila, former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, El Colegio de México President Silvia Giorguli Saucedo, and Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. MPI President Andrew Selee and Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, who heads MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program, are among the Task Force's members. Learn more about the Task Force here.
It is time for a comprehensive, unified regional effort to address the major issue of refugees and migrants in the Americas. No country is immune or unaffected by the large movements of people fleeing violence, corruption, poverty, criminality, and the effects of climate change that impel thousands of people to seek protection in other countries. The decision to leave and the ensuing journeys are harrowing experiences for those forced to move. There is also a clear need to better manage the security and rights of temporary migrant workers in the region.
These are difficult and complicated tasks to resolve. They are issues that cannot be met solely by unilateral or even bilateral efforts. We must respond through a regional, cooperative approach that calls for a sharing of responsibility and a recognition of our common interest.
Our newly created North and Central American Task Force on Migration will examine the ways that joint initiatives can be undertaken to meet immediate humanitarian demands and deliver integrated responses to underlying causes of the crisis.
Established through a partnership of the World Refugee & Migration Council, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Migration Policy Institute, El Colegio de México, and Inter-American Dialogue, this Task Force will consider ways that these initiatives can be combined at sufficient scale to provide lasting solutions and that cooperation for managing migration can be strengthened. The work will be guided by consultations already begun with those directly affected and the governments, practitioners, academics, and civil-society organizations throughout the region.
Addressing these issues will require designing new channels for legal migration that provide an alternative to irregular migration, including through employment; building new mechanisms for humanitarian protection in addition to asylum; supporting efforts to protect and assist people who are displaced within their own countries; and investing in long-term efforts to build rule of law and enhance development within the countries of Central America.
In addition, innovative new regional governance frameworks are required to address the hemisphere’s migration challenges. A good place to start would be for the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States at their next trilateral meeting to engage political, civil-society, and business leaders from North and Central America to develop a comprehensive regional response.
MPI publishes research on migration trends and policies in Latin America and the Caribbean. For more, visit:
- The Central America & the Caribbean page for research and other resources.
- The collection of MPI resources on Mexico.
- MPI en Español for all MPI research published in Spanish.
- MPI's Latin America & Caribbean Migration Portal, a clearinghouse for authoritative research, data, and analysis on migration developments in the region.
This Task Force will provide leadership in bringing together a group of people from the different jurisdictions, supplemented by participation of various experts and committed organizations and to open direct discussions with respective governments on how a regional network can be of assistance. Our work will be based on good evidence, best practices, and input from existing agencies, and will build on policy and collaborative mechanisms already underway, including the Puebla Process and the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS, from its Spanish title).
We are mindful that in the coming weeks and months there will be meetings of governments and civil-society groups that underscore the need for a fast-track process. We will gear our Task Force towards supporting those efforts while helping to build confidence and public trust.
In this time of compelling imperatives for effective governance there will be apt demonstration of the value added in working together in the public interest at the regional level. We strongly believe our Task Force can be a catalyst for an innovative and effective strategy on migration and refugees in the Americas.
- Secretary Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and Honorary Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council
- The Honorable Lloyd Axworthy, Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council, and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Lic. Mayu Brizuela de Avila, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador
- President Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica
- Dr. Silvia Giorguli Saucedo, President, El Colegio de México
- Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala
- Pedro Barquero, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Cortés
- Allert Brown-Gort, Visiting Professor of international relations, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México
- Noah Bullock, Executive Director, Cristosal
- Father Juan Luis Carbajal Tejeda, Executive Secretary, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana
- José Miguel Cruz, Director of Research, Florida International University, Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center
- Diego de Sola, Co-Founder and Board Member, Glasswing
- Katharine Donato, Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University
- Fay Faraday, Canadian social justice lawyer
- Rafael Fernández de Castro, Director, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
- Elizabeth Ferris, Professor, Georgetown University, and Vice President of Research, World Refugee & Migration Council
- Jayne Fleming, Leader of Human Rights Team, Reed Smith, and International Project Director, Lamp Lifeboat Ladder
- Fen Osler Hampson, President, World Refugee & Migration Council
- Gina Kawas, Vidanta-Wilson Center Fellow
- Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, Migration Policy Institute
- Helena Olea, Associate Director for Programs, Alianza Americas
- Salvador Paiz, Director, Foundation for the Development of Guatemala (FUNDESA)
- Patricia Perez-Coutts, Chair of the Board, Cuso International
- Guillermo E. Rishchynski, former Canadian Ambassador and Board of Directors, Canadian Council for the Americas
- Allan Rock, President Emeritus and Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations
- Emilio Romano, CEO, Bank of America Mexico
- Ana Mercedes Saiz, Executive Director, Sin Fronteras
- Andrew Selee, President, Migration Policy Institute
- Michael Shifter, President, Inter-American Dialogue
- Eduardo Stein Barillas, former Vice President of Guatemala and Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Brian Stevenson, President and CEO, University Partnerships North America, Navitas
- Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj, Visiting Professor, Stanford University
- Beatriz Zepeda, Professor and Researcher, Centro de Estudios Internacionales, El Colegio de México, and former Director, Flacso-Guatemala