E.g., 06/30/2020
E.g., 06/30/2020

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.)

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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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One of Cuba's many old cars on a street in Havana.
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Mujeres guatemaltecas asisten a misa en una iglesia en Los Ángeles.
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Guatemalan immigrants attend mass at a church in Los Angeles.
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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migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians,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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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.

Reports
July 2017

Mexico has apprehended more than 50,000 unaccompanied children since 2014 and introduced ambitious reforms to safeguard their rights. Yet the gap between policy and reality is wide: Most are held in adult detention centers rather than child shelters and report never being told of their right to apply for asylum. This report examines the child protection legal framework in Mexico, its implementation, and the gaps between the two.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Articles

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.

Articles

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.

Pages