E.g., 06/12/2021
E.g., 06/12/2021
Central America & the Caribbean

Central America & the Caribbean

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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

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The Central America Free Trade Agreement may be the most important economic event in the region in 20 years. However, it seems unlikely to reverse established migration trends, reports Salomon Cohen.

Salvadorans abroad have helped their families economically and, to some extent, decreased poverty levels back home. Yet migration has economic and social costs in El Salvador - and has not yet proved to be the answer to its development problems, according to Katharine Andrade-Eekhoff.

Many migratory streams from Central America — including refugees, economic migrants, and transit flows headed north from South America and elsewhere — have converged in North America since the 1980s. Sarah J. Mahler and Dusan Ugrina of Florida International University outline the region's main trends.

Not long after the United States passed the 1980 Refugee Act, thousands of people began fleeing civil war in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Their treatment in the United States, linked to U.S. foreign policy, spurred the Sanctuary Movement and efforts to grant them refugee status, as Susan Gzesh of the University of Chicago explains.

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The growth of violent gangs such as MS-13, which operates in the United States and Central America, has caught the attention of the U.S. media and law enforcement. However, the role of migration policies in this growth deserves closer attention, finds MPI's Mary Helen Johnson.

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Recent Activity

Articles

Central American migrants have long hopped freight trains known as "La Bestia," or the beast, to get through Mexico en route to the United States. While Mexico has been accused of turning a blind eye to this traffic, U.S. outcry over the surge of unaccompanied child migrants has drawn new attention to the use of the trains. This article highlights the journey aboard the trains, the dangers faced by migrants, and responses by the Mexican government and others.

Articles
From a massive typhoon in the Philippines last November to the ongoing civil war in Syria, recent global events demonstrate that natural disasters and political strife occur suddenly and often without warning. This article examines the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that grants humanitarian relief to nationals of certain countries embroiled in violent conflict or recovering from natural disaster.
Audio
June 25, 2014

The flow of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico to the United States has surged 90 percent since last year, with government officials predicting that it might reach 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year in September—and perhaps 130,000 next year. This telebriefing discusses factors behind the flows as well as short- and longer-term policy options for improving how the U.S. immigration system interacts with this population with distinct needs.

Articles

The phenomenon of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, typically after an arduous and often dangerous journey through Central America and Mexico, has reached a crisis proportion, with a 90 percent spike in arrivals from last year and predictions of future increases ahead.

Commentaries
June 2014

In the absence of a policy plan to address the surge in unaccompanied child arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, simplistic explanations and draconian “solutions” are already surfacing. In reality, the problem is enormously complex and there is no single policy approach that is going to bend the curve on unaccompanied child arrivals. This commentary explores possible ways forward.

Books
May, 2014

This edited volume from the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes chapters written by MPI researchers, examines country-level responses to the international movement of health-care workers, both before and after adoption of the WHO’s Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.

Video, Audio
March 12, 2014

This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, which examines the increasing numbers of children from Central America and Mexico who head off alone to find refuge in the United States, fleeing violence, insecurity, and abuse. The discussion provides analysis on the reasons behind the growing migration of this vulnerable population and offers recommendations. Read the report here.

Video, Audio
February 27, 2014

This panel discussion on unaccompanied minors focuses on a report by Kids in Need of Defense and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose primary conclusion is that children face a U.S. immigration system created for adults that is not required to consider the child’s best interests.

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