In spite of a major economic slowdown in 2007-2009 and an increasing escalation of immigration and border enforcement in both the United States and Mexico over the last decade, unauthorized migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA, i.e., El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) has persisted. In light of a historical and demographic overview, we offer a set of basic policy recommendations for the management of the different migration flows, and the establishment of new data and research needs to better understand their drivers and future trends
Educational opportunity—access to high quality schooling—is a critical aspect of social mobility and integration in the United States. This policy brief provides a demographic portrait of children with Central American heritage, with a focus on educational opportunity. We describe educational outcomes as well as some institutional conditions and family circumstances associated with opportunity and we offer four recommendations to improve educational opportunity of Central-American-origin children.
Immigration from Central America to the United States is rising rapidly. Much of this inflow is unauthorized. Violence and corruption in Central America is affecting both the volume and composition of current migrants who are less educated, less likely to speak English, and who face tougher border and interior enforcement than Central Americans who immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s faced. We offer a number of policy recommendations aimed at expanding legal avenues to accommodate immigrant flows from Central America while regularizing those already in the U.S.
The labor status of Central American migrants is characterized by precarious work. This applies to both Guatemalans with temporary work permits who return to their country after a stay in Mexico as well as Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans living permanently in Mexico. This report is based on Mexico’s Southern Border Migration Survey (Emif Sur) 2004-2013 (Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Sur de México) and the housing and population censuses from 2000 and 2010.
Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, dehydration, and injuries resulting from accidents are just some of the most common health issues suffered by irregular Central American migrants in transit through Mexico, who are perceived as a health risk to society.
The deportation from the United States of Central American migrants affects the mental health of not only those who are repatriated, but also that of their families and communities. All deportees suffer the effects. Those persons that are returned to their place of origin after having lived a long time in the United States leave behind family and friends, and must readjust to a society with which they have lost contact. And those who were arrested shortly after crossing the border may experience a sense of failure at not having fulfilled their goal of emigrating. In both cases, when they return to their home countries, the deportees suffer discrimination and rejection.
Following the implementation of more stringent immigration policies, there has been an increase in the violation of the rights of migrants—many of whom are minors—who lack the necessary migratory documentation in Mexico and Central America, whether that be in their country of origin, while in transit, at their destination or on their return. As such, consular protection should be positioned, institutionalized and consolidated as a state policy, being a responsibility shared by all countries within the region. Fortunately, in the last decade, Central American governments, following Mexico’s example, have begun to place consular protection as a priority public policy; however, they continue to favor diplomatic work over consular responsibilities.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the three countries that make up the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), are known for exclusionary and inadequate welfare regimes that promote the emigration of their citizens. All three countries are characterized by poverty and inequality, especially in rural areas.
There is no evidence that Guatemalan immigration to Chiapas has adversely affected the working conditions of native laborers in Mexico’s southernmost state. In fact, in the case of Guatemalan women, their migration seems to have increased the earnings of local women.
Although the number of Central American migrants in Mexico continues to be lower than the population in the United States, we know very little about Central American children and youth—as well as their families—who are established in Mexico as a temporary option or as a destination. What are their lives like? What disadvantages do they face in order to achieve full integration into Mexican society? How are migrant children integrated into the Mexican education system?
Migration is not a linear and sequential process. Migrants adapt their strategies and change their plans according to both obstacles and opportunities they face during their transit. Consequently, locations where migrants originally intended to simply pass through can become their destination (at least for a period of time). In this way, temporary locations can become more or less permanent.
Central American migrants crossing the Gulf of Mexico coastal plains to reach the United States are prey to violence caused by a combination of historical and geographical factors. In this part of the country, public security institutions have been taken over by organized crime, posing a risk to both national and human security.
Over the last two decades transit migration flows through Mexico, mainly of Central American migrants, have grown substantially. This phenomenon has created a wide solidarity response in civil society in Mexico involving different activist groups such as NGOs or religious groups as well as individual volunteers; legal experts, professionals, academics and lay citizens. They together represent a rich rainbow of activities and causes that have actually conformed the new migration agenda in Mexico.
The number of irregular Central American migrants in transit through Mexico to the United States, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) - has risen considerably over the past three years, totaling approximately 392,000 in 2014, just under the record set in 2005. The current flow almost tripled its annual average between 2008 and 2011, fluctuating around 135,000 migrants a year.