E.g., 08/12/2022
E.g., 08/12/2022
Building a Regional Migration System

Building a Regional Migration System

Migration profoundly shapes and defines the U.S. relationship with Mexico and, increasingly, much of Central America. And as humanitarian, economic, climate, and other persistent pressures and pull factors are leading to more diverse and occasionally chaotic flows, countries in the region from Canada to Panama increasingly recognize the need for a coordinated regional approach to migration management—both to promote legal, orderly, and safe migration but also to leverage its value for countries of origin and destination alike.

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 global economy.

MPI’s Building a Regional Migration System project is examining the changing landscape of migration trends and policies in the region from Canada to Panama. The work collected here aims to develop actionable ideas, suggest implementation strategies, inform stakeholders inside and outside of government, and foster dialogue across issues, sectors, and countries on shared regional priorities.

This work presents a new approach to managing regional migration that is centered around four pillars:

  • effective humanitarian protection systems,
  • targeted legal migration pathways,
  • professionalized migration management, and
  • informed investments in development and governance in countries of origin, transit, and reception.

The Regional Migration Study Group

MPI’s present-day work on regional migration builds upon the foundation set by its Regional Migration Study Group (2010-2015), which focused on migration and human-capital issues relevant to the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

During its first three-year phase, MPI and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin America Program/Mexico Institute convened a high-level study group that over 29 publications, biannual meetings, and briefings with regional policymakers sketched the ongoing trends, challenges, and opportunities on migration and human capital facing the region.

The Study Group was 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. Its members included two dozen former government officials, civil-society leaders, and policy intellectuals from countries in the region.

The first phase of the Study Group's work culminated in a final report that outlines the powerful demographic, economic, and social forces reshaping Mexico and much of Central America and changing longstanding migration dynamics with the United States. With 14 findings and recommendations for policymakers in the region, the report offers a forward-looking, pragmatic agenda, focusing on new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development to strengthen competitiveness.

A second phase (2014-2015) led by MPI promoted the Study Group’s recommendations with policymakers, the business sector, and others in the region, and worked on further projects to develop and certify human capital.

Learn more about the Study Group’s mission here.

Recent Activity

Cover image for Migración de Huehuetenango en el Altiplano Occidental de Guatemala
Reports
March 2022
By  Andrew Selee, Luis Argueta and Juan José Hurtado Paz y Paz
Cover image for Migration from Huehuetenango in Guatemala’s Western Highlands
Reports
March 2022
By  Andrew Selee, Luis Argueta and Juan José Hurtado Paz y Paz
Cover image for El relanzamiento del Programa de Menores Centroamericanos: Oportunidades para realzar la protección infantil y la reunificación familiar
Reports
December 2021
By  Mark Greenberg, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin, Celia Reynolds and Essey Workie
Cover image for Relaunching the Central American Minors Program: Opportunities to Enhance Child Safety and Family Reunification
Reports
December 2021
By  Mark Greenberg, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin, Celia Reynolds and Essey Workie
Cover image for The Complex Motivations and Costs of Central American Migration
Reports
November 2021
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rossella Bottone, Jaret Waters, Sarah Williams, Ashley Louie and Yuehan Wang

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Cover image for The Complex Motivations and Costs of Central American Migration
Reports
November 2021
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rossella Bottone, Jaret Waters, Sarah Williams, Ashley Louie and Yuehan Wang
Cover image for African Migration through the Americas: Drivers, Routes, and Policy Responses
Reports
October 2021
By  Caitlyn Yates and Jessica Bolter
Cover image for Migration Management and Border Security: Lessons Learned
Policy Briefs
September 2021
By  Alan D. Bersin
Sentando las bases para una cooperación regional: Política migratoria y capacidad institucional en México y Centroamérica
Reports
April 2021
By  Andrew Selee, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Andrea Tanco, Luis Argueta and Jessica Bolter
Laying the Foundation for Regional Cooperation: Migration Policy and Institutional Capacity in Mexico and Central America
Reports
April 2021
By  Andrew Selee, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Andrea Tanco, Luis Argueta and Jessica Bolter

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Amid a sense of declining welcome in the United States, growing numbers of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada in recent months, entering illegally to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The result? Refugee advocates and politicians in Canada are issuing growing calls to change or suspend the treaty. This article examines the treaty's history, effects, and current challenges.

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Video
July 9, 2019

This event features a smart conversation by a range of experts on U.S.-Mexico border conditions, looking at policy responses by both countries and regional cooperation.

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Video, Audio
April 16, 2019

Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and MPI discuss current trends, policies, and politics surrounding migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and the U.S.-Mexico relationship, ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, possible new approaches to labor migration, ways to address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.

Interior Secretary for Web
Video, Audio
February 28, 2019

Durante su primera visita oficial a Washington, DC, la Secretaria de Gobierno Olga Sánchez Cordero presento un discurso público sobre la nueva política migratoria de México en el Instituto de Políticas Migratorias.

Olga Sánchez Cordero
Video, Audio
February 28, 2019

On her first official trip to Washington, DC, Secretary of the Interior Olga Sánchez Cordero offered a public address on Mexico’s new approach to migration policy at MPI. Her remarks and the event discussion were mostly conducted in Spanish, and this recording is of the simultaneous English interpretation. 

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Video, Audio
January 16, 2019

This MPI webinar focuses on reception and reintegration services for returning migrants, along with the heightened pressure policymakers in Mexico and Central America are facing to design systems and programs that support both returnees and the communities in which they settle. Authors of a year-long study of reception and reintegration services in Mexico and the Northern Triangle discuss the findings of their fieldwork.

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Recent Activity

Reports
March 2022

Desde principios de la década de 2010, la migración irregular de Guatemala a Estados Unidos ha aumentado drásticamente. Huehuetenango, un departamento en el Altiplano Occidental de Guatemala, se encuentra entre las principales fuentes de esta emigración. Este estudio examina los patrones y factores impulsores de la emigración de Huehuetenango, así como las posibles estrategias para abordar factores de empuje y creación de alternativas a la migración irregular.

Reports
March 2022

Since the early 2010s, unauthorized migration from Guatemala to the United States has risen dramatically. Huehuetenango, a department in Guatemala’s Western Highlands, is among the top sources of this emigration. This study examines the patterns and drivers of emigration from Huehuetenango, as well as potential strategies to address push factors and create alternatives to irregular migration.

Reports
December 2021

El gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha relanzado el Programa de Menores Centroamericanos, que fue creado para ofrecer a ciertos niños que viven en condiciones peligrosas en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras una forma segura y legal de reunirse con sus padres en los Estados Unidos. Este informe identifica las lecciones aprendidas de la versión anterior del programa y hace recomendaciones sobre cómo fortalecerlo en el futuro.

Reports
December 2021

The U.S. government has relaunched the Central American Minors (CAM) Program, which was created to offer certain children living in dangerous conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras a safe, legal way to join their parents in the United States. This report identifies shortcomings in the earlier version of the program, examines the new one, and makes recommendations for how to strengthen it going forward.

Expert Q&A, Audio
November 24, 2021

With migration a dynamic phenomenon in the Americas, the U.S. government increasingly is realizing that migration management should be viewed in a regional context. This requires a new set of policies and ways of engagement with countries in North and Central America, and beyond, as MPI President Andrew Selee discusses with colleague Andrea Tanco in this episode of our World of Migration podcast.

Reports
November 2021

Influenced by a mix of factors—from economic and humanitarian protection needs to family reunification and climate change—Central American migration is a dynamic phenomenon. This report draws on unique survey data to examine the conditions that drive people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to migrate, as well as the costs and implications of migration for households and communities throughout the region.

Policy Briefs
November 2021

Es cada vez más claro que Estados Unidos, México y los países de origen de migrantes en Centroamérica tendrán que trabajar juntos para abordar el gran movimiento irregular de personas a través de la región. Este informe propone que además de mejorar la protección humanitaria para quienes la necesitan, ampliar las oportunidades legales para acceder a un empleo en el extranjero es otra parte de la ecuación.

Policy Briefs
November 2021

There is increasing recognition that the United States, Mexico, and migrant-origin countries in Central America will need to work together to address the large-scale, irregular movement of people through the region. While it is critical to improve humanitarian protection for those in need, expanding legal opportunities to take up employment abroad is another part of this equation, as this policy brief explores.

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