E.g., 06/26/2022
E.g., 06/26/2022
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

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Cover image for Programas de trabajadores temporales en Canadá, México y Costa Rica
Reports
June 2022
By  Cristobal Ramón, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, María Jesús Mora and Ana Martín Gil
Cover image for Temporary Worker Programs in Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica
Reports
June 2022
By  Cristobal Ramón, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, María Jesús Mora and Ana Martín Gil
Cover image for Vías humanitarias para personas centroamericanas
Policy Briefs
May 2022
By  Susan Fratzke and Andrea Tanco
Cover image for Humanitarian Pathways for Central Americans
Policy Briefs
May 2022
By  Susan Fratzke and Andrea Tanco
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

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A Haitian man hugs his daughter in Peru.

The chaotic arrival of thousands of Haitians at the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2021 was the culmination of a journey through the Americas that began for many a decade ago. This article examines how Brazil became a refuge for many after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, and how Haitians then moved on to Chile and other countries as conditions changed, and then onward again further north.

A caravan of migrants from Central America passes by Chiapas, Mexico.

Tens of thousands of migrants have gone missing in Mexico in recent years, with the country having one of world's highest rates of disappeared persons. In 2015, the Mexican government created institutions to investigate these cases and work with the missing migrants' families, who are often their most vocal advocates. This article explores the reasons why migrants disappear, as well the institutions established to investigate cases and their impact.

DarienMigrantBoats

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.

MexicansinCanada

Mexicans migrate to Canada in much smaller numbers than to the United States, yet over the last 30 years the country has become an increasingly attractive destination. Canada prioritizes highly skilled, educated Mexicans for permanent residency, but also attracts temporary workers from Mexico. This article examines Mexican migration to Canada and how it has been shaped by visa requirements, trade policy, and more.

A woman walks alongside a train in Mexico.

In recent years, women from Central America have begun to make up a greater share of migrant apprehensions in Mexico and at the U.S. Southwest border. Systemic insecurity, poverty, and corruption are among the factors driving women and others to flee. This article explores the increase in female migration from Central America and the challenges these women face on their journey.

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Image of Central American migrant caravan passing through Chiapas, Mexico
Commentaries
April 2022
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Andrew Selee
MigrantCaravanMXCity2018_Wotancito_WikiCommons
Commentaries
July 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
MigrantsTijuanaRiverBed_BBCWorldService2014
Commentaries
July 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Video, Audio
March 16, 2022

This event explores changing migration patterns from Guatemala, how policymakers and development practitioners can help create livelihood options and address other drivers of migration, and the broader lessons for policy approaches in sending and receiving countries that could help better manage migration and provide alternatives to irregular migration. This event was in Spanish with English interpretation. 

Video, Audio
March 16, 2022

En este evento de presentación del informe, los ponentes hablan sobre los cambios en los patrones de migración desde Guatemala.

World of Migration episode 7 tile
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.

Video, Audio
April 15, 2021

This report release event examines migration management in Mexico and Central America, and the growing government attention to migration functions, enhanced immigration enforcement, increased investments in asylum systems and existing protection frameworks, as well as labor migration policies. This is the original audio. Speakers made their remarks in Spanish and English. There is no interpretation on this version. Spanish and English interpretations will be posted soon. 

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Video, Audio
June 8, 2020

Amid rising Central American migration to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments in June 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S. and Mexican Ambassadors and a veteran journalist about the changes sparked. 

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Recent Activity

Commentaries
June 2022

La Declaración de Los Ángeles sobre Migración y Protección, firmada por los líderes de los países del hemisferio occidental al concluirse la Cumbre de las Américas, supone un importante paso progresivo en la creación de un lenguaje común y un coherente conjunto de ideas para gestionar, de forma cooperativa, los flujos migratorios en las Américas, una región que ha sido testigo de una gran movilidad en años recientes.

Reports
June 2022

La migración irregular desde El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras se ha convertido en una de las principales características del panorama migratorio en Centroamérica y Norteamérica, pero existen pocas vías legales para los centroamericanos que se ven presionados a emigrar. Este informe explora cómo Canadá, México y Costa Rica podrían utilizar los programas de trabajo temporal existentes para ampliar las opciones de migración legal.

Reports
June 2022

Irregular migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has become a dominant feature of the migration landscape in Central and North America, yet few legal pathways exist for Central Americans facing pressure to emigrate. This report explores how Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica could use existing temporary worker programs to expand legal migration options while also helping fill their labor shortages.

Policy Briefs
May 2022

Para la mayoría de las personas centroamericanas que se ven forzadas a abandonar sus hogares, viajar a México o Estados Unidos para solicitar refugio o asilo es la única opción para buscar protección internacional. A la fecha, el reasentamiento de personas refugiadas ha sido utilizado de manera limitada en la región. Este informe explora el papel que el reasentamiento y otras vías de protección humanitarias desempeñan en atender estas necesidades.

Policy Briefs
May 2022

For most Central Americans forced to flee their homes, traveling to Mexico or the United States to apply for asylum is their only option to seek international protection. To date, refugee resettlement has been used only sparingly in the region. This brief explores what role resettlement and other humanitarian pathways play in meeting these protection needs, and whether and how they could be scaled up.

Commentaries
April 2022

With migration from Central America increasing, the region from Canada to Panama faces an opportunity to build an effective regional approach to migration by focusing on several areas that are ripe for significant policy innovation. This commentary sketches a vision, offering a road map to more detailed research that outlines strategies for cooperation on legal pathways, humanitarian protection, migration management, and sustainable development.

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 16, 2022

This event explores changing migration patterns from Guatemala, how policymakers and development practitioners can help create livelihood options and address other drivers of migration, and the broader lessons for policy approaches in sending and receiving countries that could help better manage migration and provide alternatives to irregular migration. This event was in Spanish with English interpretation. 

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 16, 2022

En este evento de presentación del informe, los ponentes hablan sobre los cambios en los patrones de migración desde Guatemala.

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