E.g., 02/27/2021
E.g., 02/27/2021

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

U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.
Reports
September 2018
By  Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Salvadoran kids
Articles
Honduran boy
A woman walks alongside a train in Mexico.
Articles
Articles
Immigration Data Matters
Reports
November 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak and Michelle Mittelstadt
Mexican workers in Canada
Articles

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Reports
May 2013
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Doris Meissner and Eleanor Sohnen
Reports
February 2013
By  Philip Martin and J. Edward Taylor
Reports
February 2013
By  Allison Squires and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez
Fact Sheets
February 2013
By  Philip Martin and J. Edward Taylor
Fact Sheets
February 2013
By  Peter A. Creticos and Eleanor Sohnen
Fact Sheets
February 2013
By  Allison Squires and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez

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Elderly Cuban man with flag

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.

Haitian drummers at the Haitian-American Book Fair in Miami.

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.

One of Cuba's many old cars on a street in Havana.

The Cuban Revolution unleashed a massive exodus from the island. Cuba is now among the top origin countries of immigrants in the United States—where for decades they have received preferential treatment—with smaller numbers across Europe and Latin America. This article explores the evolution of Cuban migration, particularly within the context of the Cold War and shifting U.S. policies toward the country.

Mujeres guatemaltecas asisten a misa en una iglesia en Los Ángeles.

La migración centroamericana a los Estados Unidos comenzó en gran números en los años ochenta, impulsada por la inestabilidad política, los desastres naturales y las dificultades económicas. Aproximadamente 3,4 millones de centroamericanos vivieron en los Estados Unidos en 2015, principalmente de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras. Dónde viven en los Estados Unidos, su competencia en inglés, su estado legal, las vías de inmigración, y más, están cubiertos en este artículo.

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.

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Video
November 30, 2010
Over the past year, MPI has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to examine how diasporas contribute to – or detract from - development efforts in their countries of origin. MPI and USAID have published an edited volume of the research. Please join us for the release of the book where speakers will discuss new thinking on the role of diaspora engagement in U.S. foreign and development policy.
Video, Audio
June 9, 2010
Breakfast briefing with T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Demetrios G. Papademetriou, and Kathleen Newland.

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Recent Activity

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.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

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.

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