E.g., 08/11/2020
E.g., 08/11/2020

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

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Many migratory streams from Central America — including refugees, economic migrants, and transit flows headed north from South America and elsewhere — have converged in North America since the 1980s. Sarah J. Mahler and Dusan Ugrina of Florida International University outline the region's main trends.

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.

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.

Guatemala's long civil war, which spurred large flows of refugees, has given way to high levels of economic migration to the United States and an economy more dependent on remittances. Also, Guatemala’s geography has made it a prime transit country for migrants headed north, as James Smith of Inforpress Centroamericana reports.

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Recent Activity

Policy Briefs
September 2013
Private recruitment agencies orchestrate much of the migration process, from predeparture to return. They provide information, assistance, and even financial support to migrants; facilitate transit to and from the destination; and in some cases employ migrants directly. While recruitment agencies protect migrants, sometimes removing them from abusive workplaces or even organizing repatriation, migrants’ dependence on them for so many services also creates many opportunities for exploitation and abuse. This brief assesses the forms of regulation that are being proposed and enacted to oversee recruitment agencies and identifies several areas for further improvement.
Policy Briefs
September 2013

Diasporas can play an important role in the economic development of their countries of origin or ancestry. Beyond their well-known role as senders of remittances, diasporas also can promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses, spur entrepreneurship, and transfer new knowledge and skills. Policymakers increasingly recognize that an engaged diaspora can be an asset — or even a counterweight to the emigration of skilled and talented migrants.

Policy Briefs
September 2013
Skilled migration is often thought to have overwhelmingly negative effects on countries of migrant origin. Yet recent research and policy experience challenge this assumption and offer a more nuanced picture, as this brief explains. Countries of origin and destination can in fact benefit from skilled migration when it is correctly structured, and efforts to restrict skilled nationals’ ability to leave their countries of origin may have unintended costs, in addition to being ethically problematic.
Reports
August 2013

La migración ha contribuido a dar forma y definir las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y México desde hace más de un siglo, y las relaciones con Centroamérica aproximadamente durante los últimos 30 años. A veces, incluso la migración se convierte en la lente a través de la cual se consideran todos los otros aspectos de esta relación.

Books
July, 2013

This edited volume develops a pragmatic approach to the engagement of highly skilled members of the diaspora for the benefit of their countries of origin. The book, edited by a World Bank senior economist, is based on empirical work in middle-income and high-income economies.

Video, Audio
May 6, 2013

A panel discussion on the release of the Regional Migration Study Group's final report, Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration & Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America, outlining its findings and offering recommendations to policymakers in the region.

Reports
May 2013
This final report from the Regional Migration Study Group outlines the powerful demographic, economic, and social forces reshaping Mexico and Central America and changing longstanding migration dynamics with the United States. It offers a forward-looking, pragmatic agenda for the region, focusing on new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development to strengthen regional competitiveness.
Articles
Immigration has contributed to many of the economic, social, and political processes that are foundational to the United States as a nation since the first newcomers arrived over 400 years ago. After brushes with immigration reform that began in 2001 and continued in 2006 and 2007, the United States seems to be on the threshold of overhauling the legal immigration system in the most substantive way since 1965. This article provides a comprehensive overview of major legislation and events affecting U.S. immigration throughout history, legal and illegal immigration flows, postrecession immigration trends, and more.

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