E.g., 04/25/2024
E.g., 04/25/2024
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

Coverthumb VenezuelansLegalPathwaysBrief Spanish
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
Coverthumb VenezuelansLegalPathwaysBrief English
Policy Briefs
January 2019
By  Andrew Selee, Jessica Bolter, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian and Miryam Hazán
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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
SalvadoranKids FAO AMEXCID Flickr
Articles
HonduranBoy KevinChang Flickr
A woman walks alongside a train in Mexico.
Articles

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This former British colony in the Caribbean, once a destination for forced and indentured labor from across the globe, has experienced large emigration flows of both skilled and unskilled workers and their families to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada over the last half century. As Alex Glennie and Laura Chappell of the Institute for Public Policy Research explain, the Jamaican government has a number of strategies to limit brain drain and to encourage return.

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.

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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.

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Recent Activity

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.

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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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