E.g., 07/08/2020
E.g., 07/08/2020

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

Group of women and girls pose with Honduran flag
Articles
Reports
August 2019
By Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Border Patrol agents and child migrants
Migrants on a boat
Articles

Pages

Reports
September 2018
By Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman, and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Reports
March 2018
By Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak, and Michelle Mittelstadt
Books
October 2016
By Kathleen Newland, Elizabeth Collett, Kate Hooper, and Sarah Flamm
Fact Sheets
January 2016
By Marc R. Rosenblum and Isabel Ball
Reports
December 2015
By Victoria Rietig and Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas

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Migrants on a boat

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

Caribbean Day dancers

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.

U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.

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.

Salvadoran kids

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.

Honduran boy

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.

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Video, Audio
October 15, 2015

Marking the release of an MPI brief, this webinar examines data on where unaccompanied child migrants are being placed in the United States, how they are faring in immigration courts, what services are available to them, and how U.S.

Video, Audio
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.

Video, Audio
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.

Video
October 28, 2014

A discussion on the extraordinary boom in investor immigration, including the rapidly expanding EB-5 visa in the United States, Malta’s controversial “cash for citizenship” policy and a host of programs across Europe and the Caribbean.

Audio
June 25, 2014

The flow of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico to the United States has surged 90 percent since last year, with government officials predicting that it might reach 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year in September—and perhaps 130,000 next year. This telebriefing discusses factors behind the flows as well as short- and longer-term policy options for improving how the U.S. immigration system interacts with this population with distinct needs.

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Recent Activity

Articles

While much attention has been paid to recent Central American arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, nearly half of the approximately 3.5 million Central Americans resident in the United States in 2017 arrived before 2000. About one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens, and they tend to participate in the labor force at a higher rate than foreign- and U.S.-born adults. Discover more about this population in this data-rich article.

Reports
August 2019

How did the U.S. border enforcement picture go in the span of two years from the lowest levels of illegal immigration since 1971 to a spiraling border security and humanitarian crisis? This report draws on enforcement and other data as well as analysis of changing migration trends and policies to tell this story. The authors outline key elements for a new strategy that can succeed over the long term.

Commentaries
July 2019

Dado el incremento de los flujos migratorios provenientes de Centroamérica, el pasado mes de junio de 2019, los Estados Unidos y México acordaron tomar una serie de medidas para reducir los flujos irregulares. Sin embargo, será muy difícil mantener estos esfuerzos de corto plazo, debido a una debilidad institucional crónica y a estructuras de política pública poco planificadas en ambos países. Este comentario ofrece cinco recomendaciones a ambos países considerando soluciones de mediano y largo plazo para disuadir la migración irregular y, al mismo tiempo, garantizar que aquellos que busquen protección tengan un proceso justo.

Commentaries
July 2019

Amid surging migration from Central America, the United States and Mexico in June 2019 agreed to a series of enforcement measures. Yet these near-term efforts will be difficult to maintain given chronic institutional weaknesses and poorly thought-out policy structures in both countries. This commentary, by the presidents of MPI and El Colegio de México, offers a set of long-term, collaborative solutions to dissuade illegal migration while ensuring fairness to those seeking protection.

Video
July 9, 2019

This event features a smart conversation by a range of experts on U.S.-Mexico border conditions, looking at policy responses by both countries and regional cooperation.

Articles

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

Commentaries
June 2019

While safe third-country agreements appear to hold the potential of deterring new asylum claims, experience suggests this may be a false promise. As the Trump administration explores the possibility of such agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, this commentary examines the evidence of safe third-country arrangements in Europe, finding them difficult to enforce and playing little role in deterring new claims.

Articles

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

Pages