An Uneven Welcome: Latin American and Caribbean Responses to Venezuelan and Nicaraguan Migration
The sudden mass movement of people fleeing political and economic crises in Venezuela and political unrest in Nicaragua has transformed the migration landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean. Approximately 4.8 million Venezuelans had emigrated by December 2019, the vast majority remaining in the region, and as many as 100,000 Nicaraguans have moved to neighboring Costa Rica since early 2018.
This report examines how 11 countries—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay—are responding to the mass outflows. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with government officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, migrant-led groups, and international actors, the study analyzes efforts to provide newcomers with legal status and to integrate them into schools, health-care systems, and local labor markets—measures that are important for both migrants and the communities in which they are settling.
Overall, receiving countries have shown openness and even creativity, providing legal status to many and access to basic education and emergency health care to most. But as the exodus continues and it becomes clear that large numbers of Venezuelans are likely to remain in their host countries in the mid- to long term, the initially warm welcome has begun to cool in places. Capacity constraints in many education and health-care systems, which existed prior to the arrival of large numbers of newcomers, have also become more acute.
Looking ahead, the report sets out a range of recommendations for both receiving countries and the international community. Among them: balancing security and flexibility in entry requirements; strengthening asylum systems and other, more nimble legal pathways; and streamlining credential recognition so migrants’ skills can benefit local communities and economies.
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2 Providing Legal Status
A. A Shift toward Stricter Entry Requirements
B. Varying Approaches to Regularization
C. Asylum Systems as Alternate Legal Channels
A. Common Challenges to Accessing Education
B. Innovations in Facilitating Education Access
4 Health Care
A. Migrants’ Access to Care within Universal Systems
B. Migrants’ Access to Care within Public Insurance Systems
5 Labor Market Access
A. Work Authorization Does Not Always Ensure Access to the Labor Market
B. Credential Recognition
6 Conclusion and Recommendations
A. Recommendations for Receiving Countries
B. Recommendations for the International Community