E.g., 03/07/2021
E.g., 03/07/2021

Central America & the Caribbean

Central America & the Caribbean

The countries of Central America's Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have seen a significant number of their citizens migrate to the United States. Immigrants from the Caribbean represent half of all Black immigrants in the United States. As such, the ties between these countries and their diasporas have taken on new importance, as has the integration of these immigrants in their country of settlement. Research here explores the demographics, migration flows, human-capital development, interconnected policy realities, and outcomes for immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean. (For research specific to Mexico, see North America.)

Recent Activity

Immigration Data Matters
Reports
November 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak and Michelle Mittelstadt
Mexican workers in Canada
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Multimedia
February 14, 2018
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Metro in Caracas
Salvadoran family
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Elderly Cuban man with flag
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Haitian drummers at the Haitian-American Book Fair in Miami.
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Guatemalan immigrants attend mass at a church in Los Angeles.

Central American migration to the United States began in large numbers in the 1980s, fueled by political instability, natural disaster, and economic hardship. Approximately 3.4 million Central Americans lived in the United States in 2015, primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Where they live in the United States, their English proficiency, legal status, immigration pathways, and more are covered in this article.

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migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians,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.

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 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.

Approximately 4 million immigrants from the Caribbean resided in the United States in 2014, representing 9 percent of the country's total immigrant population. While 90 percent of Caribbean immigrants come from five countries, this population overall is very diverse in its skill levels, racial composition, language background, and immigration pathways. This Spotlight article provides information on the Caribbean immigrant population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

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Recent Activity

Reports
November 2020

This useful online guide links users directly to the most credible, high-quality data on immigrants and immigration in the United States and internationally. The easy-to-use guide includes more than 250 data resources compiled by governmental and nongovernmental sources, covering topics ranging from population stock and flow numbers to statistics on enforcement, public opinion, religious affiliation, and much more.

Articles

Together, Canada, Mexico, and the United States are home to nearly one-quarter of the world's migrants. Despite shifts in the profile of those who migrate and changing demographic realities across the region, such as population aging, perceptions and policies remain set in earlier eras. This article explores the intersection of migration and population dynamics in North America and the Northern Triangle of Central America.

Video
February 14, 2018

Experts explore the significance of the Trump administration’s decision not to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the approximately 263,000 Salvadorans residing in the United States, including the social impact of terminating TPS and the likely effects on the U.S. and Salvadoran economies, migration, and criminal violence, as well as policy options to address the fallout from the decision.

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Governments on the receiving end of migrants and refugees reinforced their commitment to returns in 2017, sending or coercing migrants to move back to impoverished or violent homelands. The Dominican Republic pushed out some 70,000 Haitians and native born of Haitian descent, while more than 500,000 Afghans left Iran and Pakistan. Though many of these migrants chose to return, in practice the line between forced and voluntary returns is blurry.

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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.

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The Trump administration’s announcement that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan has brought unprecedented attention to the program and its future. Established in 1990, TPS offers work authorization and deportation relief to foreign nationals already in the United States unable to return to countries embroiled in conflict or the effects of a natural disaster. This Policy Beat explores past and current TPS designations and debates surrounding the program.

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Owing to their uniquely preferential treatment under U.S. immigration law, Cubans for decades have been among the largest immigrant groups in the United States. In 2016, nearly 1.3 million Cubans lived in the United States. This Spotlight provides a data snapshot of this immigrant group, which is highly concentrated in Florida, significantly older than the overall U.S. population, and less likely to be proficient in English.

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The number of Haitians in the United States has tripled since 1990, reaching 676,000 in 2015. Most Haitians entered the United States before 2010, the year of a devastating earthquake from which Haiti is still working to recover. This Spotlight article offers the latest data on Haitian immigrants, including the number holding Temporary Protected Status, top states and cities of residence, demographic information, and more.

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