E.g., 04/08/2020
E.g., 04/08/2020

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

Caribbean Day dancers
Articles
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, and Miryam Hazán
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, and Miryam Hazán
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.
Reports
September 2018
By Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman, and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Salvadoran kids
Articles
Honduran boy

Pages

Pages

A woman walks alongside a train in Mexico.

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.

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. 

Mexican workers in Canada

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.

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.

Metro in Caracas

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.

Pages

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.

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.
Video, Audio
February 7, 2014
This panel discussion offers perspectives on border policy management from leading officials in the Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. governments, and showcases the MPI book, "Managing Borders in an Increasingly Borderless World."
Video
February 5, 2014

During this public briefing in Guatemala City (conducted in both English and Spanish), the Co-Directors of the Migration Policy Institute-convened Regional Migration Study Group, MPI President Demetrios G.

Audio
September 18, 2013
The Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, along with the Special Advisor to the UN Special Representative for International Migration discuss what is expected from The UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in October 2013 and what impact it may have on the Global Forum on Migration and Development.

Pages

Recent Activity

Articles

Caribbean immigrants represent 10 percent of the 44.5 million immigrants in the United States, with the vast majority coming from just five countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Depending on their origin country and period of arrival, immigrants from the Caribbean have varying skill levels, racial composition, language background, and motivations for migration, as this article explores.

Policy Briefs
January 2019

Enfrentados con la llegada de más de 3 millones de venezolanos huyendo de una economía colapsada y conflictos políticos, los países latinoamericanos han respondido con creatividad y pragmatismo. Pero, a medida que la crisis venezolana y la migración que ha impulsado se extienden, es necesario examinar más allá de la facilitación de la entrada legal y la otorgación del estatus temporal para planificar a largo plazo.

Policy Briefs
January 2019

Faced with the arrival of more than 3 million Venezuelans fleeing economic collapse and political upheaval, Latin American countries have responded with creativity and pragmatism. But as the migration spurred by the crisis stretches on, there is a need to look beyond facilitating legal entry and granting temporary status to plan for the long term. This brief explores the policy response thus far and challenges ahead.

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.

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.

Pages