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E.g., 06/19/2024
Caribbean Intra-Regional Migration Movements Are Significant and Diversifying, Aided by Unique Free Mobility Regimes
Press Release
Thursday, March 9, 2023

Caribbean Intra-Regional Migration Movements Are Significant and Diversifying, Aided by Unique Free Mobility Regimes

WASHINGTON — Caribbean migration is often discussed in the context of significant out-migration to the United States, Canada and Europe, with movement within and to the region less examined. Yet as climate change, natural disasters and shifts in global mobility patterns reshape movements within and beyond the Caribbean, the intra-regional share of migration has been growing, a new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) notes.

The report, Migration, Integration, and Diaspora Engagement in the Caribbean: A Policy Review, explores the increasingly different forms beyond labor migration found within and to the Caribbean, offering data on immigrant populations at regional and national levels, as well as the policies and institutions in place to manage this mobility. It also looks at how governments are engaging their significant diasporas, including via remittances and private-sector development efforts.

The primary countries studied are The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. To a lesser extent, the study also covers Aruba, Curaçao, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the remaining Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States.

An estimated 859,400 intra-regional migrants lived within the Caribbean in 2020, outpacing the 745,700 extra-regional migrants—with the intra-regional share of overall migration rising from 46 percent in 2000 to 56 percent two decades later. Haitian migrants represented the largest share of immigrants in the nine countries studied. While immigrants from the United States, United Kingdom, China and Canada were also present in many of these countries, Venezuelans were the second largest immigrant population.

With climate change and natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes representing important drivers of internal, intra-regional and extra-regional displacement, experts predict the frequency and impact of climate-related events are only likely to grow in the years ahead.

Unique regional mobility agreements, including under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have represented important pathways for intra-regional migration and have been helpful in facilitating the movement of displaced people during times of environmental crisis. Yet the report notes a notable lack of national-level institutions and regulatory frameworks for asylum and refugee protection throughout the region, with displacement responses largely addressed on an ad hoc basis.

“The Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequence of climate change due to its geographic location, lack of resilient infrastructure and lack of resources and development to build resilience,” the authors write. “Without external funding and assistance in developing climate-adaptation measures, climate change is and will continue to be a major cause of displacement across the region and emigration from the Caribbean to North America and elsewhere.”

After examining integration and diaspora engagement challenges and opportunities, the report concludes with recommendations to support effective migration and integration governance, including building on existing networks and mechanisms for regional coordination and cooperation, financing initiatives to strengthen institutional governance capacity and improving data collection and sharing.

Read the report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/migration-caribbean-policy.

For more research from MPI’s Latin America and Caribbean Initiative, visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/latin-america-caribbean-initiative.

And for a clearinghouse on research focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, visit MPI’s Latin America and Caribbean Migration Portal: www.migrationportal.org/.