African Migration through the Americas: Drivers, Routes, and Policy Responses
Since 2013, migrants from Africa have increasingly trekked through upwards of nine South and Central American countries to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum. While still a very small flow, it is part of a broader and growing trend of migrants from outside Latin America—including from countries in the Caribbean and Asia—transiting through the region, often collectively referred to as extracontinental migrants. The increase in African migration through the Americas comes as Europe has more forcefully impeded migrants’ passage across the Mediterranean and as potential migrants’ social networks have relayed personal success stories and information about routes through the Western Hemisphere.
While the number of Africans traveling through the region is small compared to the large-scale movements of migrants from Venezuela and certain Central American countries, several things set this population apart—from linguistic and cultural differences to how Latin American countries address their arrival and facilitate onward movement. As this migration increases, it will be crucial for transit countries to build their capacity to manage migration and address the specific challenges that arise for Africans moving through the Western Hemisphere, including discrimination.
This report examines the range of factors that drive African migration through the America, common routes taken, and transit countries’ policy responses. The report also provides recommendations for national governments and international actors to address these unique migration dynamics.
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2 Drivers of Migration and Forced Displacement
C. Democratic Republic of Congo
3 Current and Future Migration Patterns
A. Intra-African Migration
B. African Migration to Europe
C. Migration through the Americas
4 Immigration Policies and Management Capacity
A. Managing Transit through Permits and Enforcement
B. Humanitarian Protection and Other Legal Statuses
C. Access to Rights and Integration
5 Conclusion and Recommendations