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  • Author: Rebecca Galemba, Katie Dingeman, Kaelyn DeVries, Yvette Servin
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Anti-immigrant rhetoric and constricting avenues for asylum in the United States, amid continuing high rates of poverty, environmental crisis, and violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have led many migrants from these countries to remain in Mexico. Yet despite opportunities for humanitarian relief in Mexico, since the early 2000s the Mexican government, under growing pressure from the United States, has pursued enforcement-first initiatives to stem northward migration from Central America. In July 2014, Mexico introduced the Southern Border Program (SBP) with support from the United States. The SBP dramatically expanded Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts, especially in its southern border states, leading to rising deportations. Far from reducing migration or migrant smuggling, these policies have trapped migrants for longer in Mexico, made them increasingly susceptible to crimes by a wide range of state and nonstate actors, and exacerbated risk along the entire migrant trail. In recognition of rising crimes against migrants and heeding calls from civil society to protect migrant rights, Mexico’s 2011 revision to its Migration Law expanded legal avenues for granting humanitarian protection to migrants who are victims of crimes in Mexico, including the provision of a one-year humanitarian visa so that migrants can collaborate with the prosecutor’s office in the investigation of crimes committed against them. The new humanitarian visa laws were a significant achievement and represent a victory by civil society keen on protecting migrants as they travel through Mexico. The wider atmosphere of impunity, however, alongside the Mexican government’s prioritization of detaining and deporting migrants, facilitates abuses, obscures transparent accounting of crimes, and limits access to justice. In practice, the laws are not achieving their intended outcomes. They also fail to recognize how Mexico’s securitized migration policies subject migrants to risk throughout their journeys, including at border checkpoints between Guatemala and Honduras, along critical transit corridors in Guatemala, and on the Guatemalan side of Mexico’s southern border. In this article, we examine a novel set of data from migrant shelters — 16 qualitative interviews with migrants and nine with staff and advocates in the Mexico–Guatemala border region, as well as 118 complaints of abuses committed along migrants’ journeys — informally filed by migrants at a shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border, and an additional eight complaints filed at a shelter on the Mexican side of the border. We document and analyze the nature, location, and perpetrators of these alleged abuses, using a framework of “compassionate repression” (Fassin 2012) to examine the obstacles that migrants encounter in denouncing abuses and seeking protection. We contend that while humanitarian visas can provide necessary protection for abuses committed in Mexico, they are limited by their temporary nature, by being nested within a migration system that prioritizes migrant removal, and because they recognize only crimes that occur in Mexico. The paradox between humanitarian concerns and repressive migration governance in a context of high impunity shapes institutional and practical obstacles to reporting crimes, receiving visas, and accessing justice. In this context, a variety of actors recognize that they can exploit and profit from migrants’ lack of mobility, legal vulnerability, and uncertain access to protection, leading to a commodification of access to humanitarian protection along the route.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Karen Pren, Nadia Flores-Yeffal
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Although Salvadoran emigration to the United States is one of the most important migratory flows emanating from Latin America, there is insufficient information about the predictors of first unauthorized migration from El Salvador to the United States. In this study, we use data from the Latin American Migration Project–El Salvador (LAMP-ELS4) to perform an event history analysis to discern the factors that influenced the likelihood that a Salvadoran household head would take a first unauthorized trip to the United States between 1965 and 2007. We take into account a series of demographic, social capital, human capital, and physical capital characteristics of the Salvadoran household head; demographic and social context variables in the place of origin; as well as economic and border security factors at the place of destination. Our findings suggest that an increase in the Salvadoran civil violence index and a personal economic crisis increased the likelihood of first-time unauthorized migration. Salvadorans who were less likely to take a first unauthorized trip were business owners, those employed in skilled occupations, and persons with more years of experience in the labor force. Contextual variables in the United States, such as a high unemployment rate and an increase in the Border Patrol budget, deterred the decision to take a first unauthorized trip. Finally, social capital had no effect on the decision to migrate; this means that for unauthorized Salvadoran migrants, having contacts in the United States is not the main driver to start a migration journey to the United States. We suggest as policy recommendations that the United States should award Salvadorans more work-related visas or asylum protection. For those Salvadorans whose Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has ended, the United States should allow them to apply for permanent residency. The decision not to continue to extend TPS to Salvadorans will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The United States needs to revise its current immigration policies, which make it a very difficult and/or extremely lengthy process for Salvadorans and other immigrants to regularize their current immigration status in the United States. Furthermore, because of our research findings, we recommend that the Salvadoran government — to discourage out-migration — invest in high-skilled job training and also offer training and credit opportunities to its population to encourage business ventures.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, El Salvador
  • Author: Matthew Lorenzen
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: A growing body of literature has argued that the distinction between forced and voluntary migration can be, in practice, unclear. This literature points out that each individual migrant may have mixed motives for migrating, including both forced and voluntary reasons. Few studies, however, have actually set out to analyze mixed-motive migration. This paper examines the mixed-motive migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America’s Northern Triangle states (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), using data from a small 2016 survey carried out in 10 shelters for unaccompanied child migrants run by a Mexican government child welfare agency. Using this survey, the paper identifies the immigrating minor’s motives, which are oftentimes mixed, and details differences by nationality, gender, and age groups. Some of the key findings include: Around one-third of the child migrants surveyed had mixed motives, including both forced and voluntary reasons for migrating. Violence appears most often as a reason for migrating among minors with mixed motives, as opposed to the search for better opportunities, which appears more often as an exclusive motive. Significant differences between the three nationalities are observed. Relatively few Guatemalan minors indicated violence as a motive, and few displayed mixed motives, as opposed to Hondurans, and especially Salvadorans. The minors fleeing violence, searching for better opportunities, and indicating both motives at the same time were largely mature male adolescents. The minors mentioning family reunification as their sole motive were predominantly girls and young children. The results indicate that binary formulations regarding forced and voluntary migration are often inadequate. This has important implications, briefly addressed in the conclusions. These implications include: the need for migration scholars to consider forced reasons for migrating in the context of mixed-motive migration; the fact that mixed motives call into question the established, clear-cut categories that determine whether someone is worthy of humanitarian protection or not; the need to have in-depth, attentive, and individual asylum screening because motives may be interconnected and entangled, and because forced reasons may be hidden behind voluntary motives; and the need for a more flexible policy approach, so that immigration systems may be more inclusive of migrants with mixed motives.
  • Topic: Migration, Children, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador