E.g., 12/02/2021
E.g., 12/02/2021
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

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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.

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.

In 2004, Central American countries received US$ 7.8 billion in remittances through official channels. Are remittances hurting or helping the region? MPI’s Dovelyn Agunias investigates.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
October 2015

More than 77,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America were released to communities throughout the United States between October 1, 2013 and August 31, 2015. This issue brief examines where these children have been placed in the United States, how they are faring in the immigration court system, and how schools are adapting to their arrival.

Video, Audio, Webinars
September 3, 2015

This webinar includes an overview of regional immigration enforcement trends, including U.S. and Mexican apprehensions and deportations of Central American migrants, along with a demographic, socioeconomic, and criminal profile of child and adult deportees.

Articles

The Central American immigrant population in the United States has grown dramatically since 1980 to reach 3.2 million or 7 percent of the country's total foreign-born population. Central Americans were significantly less educated, but more likely to be employed than all immigrants and U.S. born. From income to health coverage and more, this Spotlight explores key indicators of the Central American immigrant population.

Reports
September 2015

This report examines the rising numbers of apprehensions and deportations of Central American children and adults by the United States and Mexico, and provides a demographic, socioeconomic, and criminal profile of deportees to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The report traces how rising Mexican enforcement is reshaping regional dynamics and perhaps ushering in changes to long-lasting trends in apprehensions.

Articles

With the growing urbanization and consolidation of Nicaraguan immigrants in sectors such as construction and domestic service, Costa Rica has shifted its focus from immigration enforcement to integration. Tension has emerged between the government and private sector as a new mechanism for regularizing unauthorized immigrant workers has failed to gain traction.

Reports
August 2015

The in-country refugee processing program launched in Central America by the Obama administration in December 2014 as a response to rising unaccompanied child migration may provide a legal, safe alternative to undertaking dangerous, unauthorized journeys to the United States, albeit a limited one. This report examines the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, as well as the history and track record of prior U.S. in-country processing programs.

Reports
April 2015

Policymakers, the public, and the media were seemingly caught off-guard in spring 2014 when a surge of child migrants from Central America reached the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers. Yet the uptick began in 2011. This report examines the causes of this surge and recommends policy solutions to advance both critical protection and enforcement goals in situations of complex, mixed flows.

Video, Audio, Webinars
March 31, 2015

A webinar examining the shifting pattern of Central American child and family migration between 2011 and 2014 and expectations for 2015, the policy challenges presented by the rising inflow, and how states, localities, the U.S. government, and other countries in the region are responding to this recent trend.

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