E.g., 10/21/2020
E.g., 10/21/2020

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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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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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.

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Salvadorans abroad have helped their families economically and, to some extent, decreased poverty levels back home. Yet migration has economic and social costs in El Salvador - and has not yet proved to be the answer to its development problems, according to Katharine Andrade-Eekhoff.

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The Central America Free Trade Agreement may be the most important economic event in the region in 20 years. However, it seems unlikely to reverse established migration trends, reports Salomon Cohen.
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Since the 1980s, Mexico has become home to Guatemalan refugees and served as a transit country for Central Americans seeking to reach the United States. Manuel Ángel Castillo of El Colegio de México analyzes Mexico's policies toward its southern neighbors.

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Although most Central American refugees sought protection in the United States, Canada admitted thousands of Central American refugees in the 1980s. María Cristina García of Cornell University takes a detailed look at Central Americans in Canada

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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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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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