E.g., 02/29/2024
E.g., 02/29/2024
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 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
Cover image for African Migration through the Americas: Drivers, Routes, and Policy Responses
Reports
October 2021
By  Caitlyn Yates and Jessica Bolter
A Haitian man hugs his daughter in Peru.
Articles

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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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Policy Briefs
November 2020
By  Doris Meissner and Michelle Mittelstadt
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Reports
September 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer

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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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Video, Audio
June 5, 2018

Marking the release of MPI President Andrew Selee's latest book, speakers explore emerging trends in migration, economic interdependence, technology innovation, and cultural exchange that are transforming the relationship between the United States and Mexico, and the policy implications of these changes for the future.

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Audio
August 31, 2017

Durante este seminario, ponentes presentaron hallazgos de un reciente informe que utiliza datos de agencias gubernamentales mexicanas, entrevistas con funcionarios clave y relatos de la sociedad civil para examinar el marco legal para la protección de menores no acompañados y su aplicación, al igual que las brechas entre este marco y su aplicación durante los procesos de detención, interrogación y alojamiento. El presidente de MPI, Andrew Selee, también expuso cómo el cambio en la dinámica política en Estados Unidos puede afectar las cuestiones migratorias con México, así como los efectos en la relación bilateral en medio de tensiones sobre el muro fronterizo, la renegociación del acuerdo del TLCAN y una cifra significativa de repatriaciones de migrantes mexicanos.

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Video, Audio
December 15, 2015

An MPI Leadership Visions discussion with the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Claudia Ruiz-Massieu, for her first public appearance in Washington, DC. 

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Webinars
December 11, 2015

A webinar releasing a report examining deportations to Central America and reception and reintegration services in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

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Recent Activity

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.

Reports
October 2021

La cantidad de migrantes africanos que viajan por América del Sur y Central con la esperanza de llegar a la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México para buscar asilo es pequeña, pero está aumentando. Este informe examina los factores que impulsan la migración africana a través de las Américas, las rutas y los desafíos comunes, y las respuestas de países de tránsito en América Latina.

Reports
October 2021

The number of African migrants traveling through South and Central America in hopes of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum, is small but increasing. This report examines the factors driving African migration through the Americas, common routes and challenges, and how transit countries are responding.

Articles

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.

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