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Regional Migration Study Group - Mission
“Over time, thoughtful policy reforms in the region’s educational and workforce preparation systems—and more organic cooperation on border and migration matters—will mitigate many of today’s concerns about regional migration, while creating the conditions for future migration to be a matter of genuine choice, rather than necessity.”
- Demetrios Papademetriou, MPI Co-Founder and Study Group Convenor
More than any issue, migration shapes and defines the U.S. relationship with Mexico and, increasingly, much of Central America. Thus, getting migration and the issues that fuel and surround it right is vital to the region’s long-term stability, prosperity, and its competitiveness in a fast-changing and unforgiving global economy. Yet, there are no systematic conversations about what a collaborative, regional approach to these issues might look like.
MPI, which collaborated with the Latin American Program/Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars during the first phase of the Regional Migration Study Group's work, filled that void by convening an influential group, co-chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and former Guatemalan Vice President and Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein. Senior government officials from throughout the region were also involved in the Study Group as observers and were briefed on its work at appropriate intervals.
The Study Group consisted of approximately two dozen former officials, civil-society leaders, policy intellectuals, and specialists from the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who embrace the initiative’s goals and commit energy to realizing them. In its first phase, the Study Group met throughout the region over a three-year period. Its findings and recommendations were informed by a series of commissioned briefing papers and reports that were published in English and Spanish and disseminated widely, using the two partnering institutions’ networks in the region and formidable communications capabilities.
The Study Group’s mission was twofold:
- To act as an on-call “virtual think tank” to policymakers and civil society in the region as they manage their day-to-day migration relations, navigate the path toward making the region more secure by consulting and cooperating more meaningfully on migration matters, and attempt to gain more from migration.
- To develop and promote a longer-term vision of how to build a stronger social and economic foundation for the region by enhancing the region’s human-capital infrastructure. Building up the region’s human capital—through education and workforce development reforms that gradually develop common standards in key sectors across the region—will create better economic opportunities for the region’s citizens, creating an engine for growth in each country and strengthening the region’s competitiveness.
The Study Group issued the Phase 1 final report in May 2013. In the second phase, the Study Group promoted its recommendations with policymakers, the business sector, and civil society in the region, and worked on further projects to develop and certify human capital. Focus issues that guide the thinking in 2015 and beyond are human-capital development in high-growth sectors with large pools of available jobs in the middle-skill range. Vocational and technical education skills are key in 21st century labor markets where jobs for workers are not necessarily secured by attaining the highest educational levels, but by making smarter educational choices.