Growing numbers of African and Asian migrants are moving through Latin America, many hoping to reach the United States or Canada after expensive, arduous, and often dangerous journeys that can take months or even years. As more extracontinental migrants transit through South and Central America, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica have developed the most comprehensive policies to manage these flows, sometimes working in coordination with the U.S. government.
With an estimated 3 million people having fled the failing Venezuelan state, and predictions another 2 million could join them in 2019, the capacity of South American neighbors to welcome the arrivals became increasingly stretched in 2018. While the region has largely maintained generous reception policies, there were signs during the year that its tolerance was being tested.
2018 proved a banner year for far-right populist movements in Europe and the Americas. They claimed the presidency of Brazil, sparked the collapse of the Belgian government, and—whether in or out of office—put a harder-edged stamp on migration and asylum policies in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and beyond.
South Americans represent a small, but growing share of immigrants in the United States, composing 7 percent of country’s total foreign-born population. Recent growth has been marked by an uptick in arrivals from increasingly failing Venezuela, with an increase of 61,000 Venezuelan immigrants from 2016 to 2017. This article offers an interesting data snapshot of South American immigrants in the United States.
The deepening of Venezuela's social, economic, and political implosion has resulted in the fastest movement of people across borders in Latin American history. Neighboring countries have responded with a patchwork of policy measures, though the scale and growing diversity of Venezuelan arrivals have challenged regional actors, as this article explores.
In Brazil, where the majority of colonial-era residents were African slaves and their children, millions of immigrants have joined a conversation about race and identity that continues today. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, as well as significant European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern populations. This country profile explores historical and contemporary migration patterns in Brazil.
Chile's immigrant population has more than quadrupled since the country emerged from dictatorship in the early 1990s. As immigration has grown and moved away from its European roots to become more diverse, it has emerged as a hot-button political issue, complicating longstanding efforts to reform the country's 1975 immigration law. This article explores Chile's shift to the right on immigration, and how policies might evolve under the presidency of conservative Sebastián Piñera.
Migration surged throughout South America in 2017, challenging governments to keep up with inflows. Brazil, Colombia, and Peru worked to process record numbers of Venezuelan asylum applications, and launched special visa programs for some new arrivals. While the government responses have been largely welcoming, the illegal immigration of Haitians provoked more restrictive policy reactions in Chile and Argentina.
Record number of Venezuelans are emigrating to escape the country's economic mismanagement, insecurity, and shortages. This article examines the causes of the current crisis and draws from a study of thousands of Venezuelans abroad to examine who is leaving, where they have headed, and what their hopes are for the future of Venezuela. It also scopes future opportunities for diaspora engagement.
Colombia has more internally displaced persons (IDPs) than any other country in the world, the result of a 52-year civil war. Beyond improving the lives of its 7.3 million IDPs, the country faces a number of crucial migration issues as it works to achieve stability in the wake of an historic peace accord signed in late 2016. This country profile examines historical trends and current and future migration challenges in Colombia.
Two significant migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians, Asians, and Africans. This article sketches the evolving trends, which have key implications for U.S. and regional migration policy.
With global displacement at a post-World War II high, the international community made some advances on refugee protection in 2016, but there were also steps backward. The United Nations held the first-ever refugee summit and some countries, including the United States and Canada, increased their resettlement commitments. Meanwhile, conflict intensified in some hotspots and publics turned against refugees, as this Top 10 article explores.
Smugglers and migrants adapted their paths in light of changing conditions in 2016, including the construction of walls and closure of borders. Cuban and Haitian migrants increasingly chose to make their way to the United States through South and Central America rather than by sea. Meanwhile, migrant flows to Europe have splintered into a wider range of routes, seeking new openings through the Western Balkans.
In stark contrast to a Europe that is erecting new barriers and reinstituting border controls, other regions around the world are moving toward greater mobility for intraregional travelers and migrants. Regional blocs in South America and Southeast Asia have been working to ease intraregional movements of workers, and the African Union in 2016 launched a new biometric African passport.
In the wake of a hurricane that has once again devastated Haiti, the United States quickly reversed its toughened policy toward the thousands of Haitian nationals arriving at the California-Mexico border without prior authorization. This Policy Beat examines the shifts in U.S. admission and deportation policy toward Haitian migrants since the 2010 earthquake, and other national and state developments on immigration.
In contrast to increasingly restrictive approaches to migration in the global North—and recent skepticism towards Europe's free mobility project—South America is taking steps in the other direction, toward free movement for regional migrants. This article examines the emerging South American model and discusses its implications for migration in the region and for free movement in general.
The Brazilian immigrant population in the United States doubled during the 1980s and almost tripled in the 1990s, but stabilized following the Great Recession. While this population has long included a significant share of unauthorized immigrants, Brazilians are increasingly coming to the United States through family, employment, and study channels. Learn more about Brazilian immigrants with this Spotlight.
News of the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America has raised alarm bells, resulting in scattered calls for tighter restrictions on international entries to the United States. Evidence shows, however, that closing borders and restrictions on international travel tend to have little impact on the spread of infectious diseases. This feature article explores the linkages between public health and migration in the Americas.
Growing rapidly from a population of 90,000 in 1960 to nearly 3 million in 2014, South American immigrants now represent 7 percent of all foreign born in the United States. Family-based immigration is the primary pathway for all South American groups, ranging from 45 percent of Venezuelan immigrants to 97 percent of those from Guyana.
Signed more than 30 years ago, the Cartagena Declaration sought to address rising flows of refugees and establish regional solidarity in refugee protection in Latin America. This article explores the evolution of refugee and asylum policies in Latin America amid the long-running Colombian civil war, as well as the region's response to the current global refugee crisis.