Building Effective Migration Management Capacity in Mexico and Central America
Karen Lizeth Nuñez, Coordinator, National Committee to Support Returning Migrants with Disabilities, Honduras (CONAMIREDIS)
Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Ariel Ruiz Soto, Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Ana Mercedes Saiz Valenzuela, President of Sin Fronteras, Mexico
Andrea Tanco, Strategic Advisor to the President and Associate Policy Analyst, MPI
Andrew Selee, President, MPI
While current headlines focus on rising arrivals of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the entire region that stretches from Panama northward to the United States is part of a major corridor for unauthorized migration. And though most of those who migrate are headed to the United States or Canada, an increasing number of migrants are settling in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama as it has become harder to reach and enter the United States. Although the majority of these migrants come from Central America, notable numbers, known as extracontinental migrants, are coming from countries outside the immediate region, including Haiti, Cuba, and countries in South America, Africa, and Asia.
In response to these shifting migration trends, Mexico and Central America have developed new capacities to manage migration over the past five years. These efforts, however, have often been fragile, ad hoc, institutionally weak, and more often focused on enforcement than a comprehensive approach. Moving forward, they face an unprecedented opportunity to lay the foundation necessary to build a regional migration system that privileges safe, orderly, and legal migration.
This report release examines migration management in Mexico and Central America, in particular Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. The report examines growing government attention to migration functions, enhanced immigration enforcement, increased investments in asylum systems and existing protection frameworks, as well as labor migration policies. The discussion explores the report’s findings, along with strategies that regional and U.S. governments, as well as civil society, can employ to better manage migration. As governments in the region are being confronted with rapidly changing migration trends, it is an ever more pressing priority for governments in the region to develop institutional capacity to manage these movements and build an effective, collaborative regional migration system that works in the interest of all countries.