E.g., 02/27/2024
E.g., 02/27/2024
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

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Reports
January 2019
By  Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta and Randy Capps
U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.
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Reports
September 2018
By  Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
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HonduranBoy KevinChang Flickr
A woman walks alongside a train in Mexico.
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DominicanBakery BrianGodfrey Flickr
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Reports
November 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak and Michelle Mittelstadt

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The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries worldwide. Carlos Yescas of the New School for Social Research looks at the definition of indigenous people, the three types of indigenous-people flows, and how indigenous migrants maintain ties with their home communities.

Thousands of Salvadorans fled the country during its civil war in the 1980s, many of them to the United States. The government is focused on engaging its diaspora but also must deal with immigrants from neighboring countries and issues around human trafficking.

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Little is known about Americans who have retired to Latin America. MPI's David Dixon, Julie Murray, and Julia Gelatt examine the U.S. retiree population in Mexico and Panama by looking at census and visa data as well as by interviewing American retirees in various communities.

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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Recent Activity

Reports
January 2019

Reception and reintegration programs for deported and other returning migrants represent a long-term investment for migrant-origin and destination countries, holding the potential to reduce re-migration and permit communities of origin to benefit from the skills migrants learn abroad. This report offers recommendations to make reintegration programs more effective in Mexico and Central America.

Articles

The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

Reports
September 2018

The United States has a long tradition of providing asylum to those in need. But in recent years, case backlogs have grown and many asylum seekers now wait years for a decision. This report examines the factors that have brought the U.S. asylum system to this crisis point and proposes common-sense steps that can be taken to restore timeliness and fairness, while deterring abuses.

Articles

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America yet the most densely populated. A stagnant economy, high levels of crime and violence, and natural disasters have pushed growing numbers of people to migrate without authorization or seek asylum abroad, mostly in the United States. This article explores historical and contemporary emigration from El Salvador.

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Since fiscal year 2010, more than 70,000 immigrant children have applied for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, a pathway to a green card for youth who have been abused or neglected by their parents. Based on interviews with SIJ applicants, judges, and attorneys, this article provides an overview of the SIJ program and identifies limitations on access.

Articles

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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In 2016, some 1.1 million Dominican immigrants lived in the United States, up from just 12,000 in 1960. Dominicans are highly concentrated in the New York metro area, and they and their descendants comprise the fifth-largest U.S. Hispanic group. This article profiles Dominican immigrants in the United States, finding them more likely to come via family ties and have lower incomes and less education than immigrants overall. 

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.

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