Central America

Central America

Predicting Unauthorized Salvadoran Migrants’ First Migration to the United States between 1965 and 2007
This paper seeks to understand the predictors of first undocumented migration from El Salvador to the United States and makes policy recommendations in response to one of the most important migratory flows from Latin America. Findings suggest that an increase in civil violence and a personal economic crisis increased the likelihood of first time undocumented migration to the United States between 1965 and 2007. Salvadorans who were less likely to take a first undocumented trip were business owners, those employed in skilled occupations, and persons with more years of experience in the labor force. An increase in the Border Patrol budget and the high unemployment rate in the United States deterred the decision to take a first undocumented trip. Having contacts in the United States is not the main driver of the decision to start a migration journey to the United States. The paper recommends that the United States awards Salvadorans more work-related visas and asylum protection, and grants permanent residency to those who formerly had Temporary Protected Status. Recommendations for the Salvadoran government include investing in high-skilled job training in order to discourage out-migration.

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The Besieged US Refugee Protection System: Why Temporary Protected Status Matters

This essay examines and challenges the Trump administration’s recent changes to US immigration policy, particularly the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for certain countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua. According to author Donald Kerwin, CMS’s executive director, “TPS represents a pillar of the besieged US refugee protection system because it honors, however imperfectly, the well-established responsibility of states to offer safe haven to persons who would be endangered if returned to their home countries.” However, the Trump administration has sought to “make America great again” by abandoning a central feature of the American identity – its openness to the world’s oppressed, persecuted, and imperiled.

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DHS Overestimates Visa Overstays for 2016; Overstay Population Growth Near Zero During the Year

This paper compares US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates for visa overstays in fiscal year 2016 with estimates from the Center for Migration Studies (CMS). It finds that DHS has overstated the number of people from roughly 30 counties who have overstayed their temporary visas, half of them participants in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In particular, the DHS estimates for 2016 include significant numbers of temporary visa holders who left the undocumented population, but whose departure could not be verified. Thus, the actual number of visa overstays in 2016 was about half of the number estimated by DHS.  The paper also shows that the population growth of visa overstays was near zero in 2016 after adjusting DHS estimates to account for unrecorded departures. The country-specific figures in this paper should help DHS improve verification of departures of temporary visitors and also to reassess decisions about admission to the VWP.

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The Mixed Motives of Unaccompanied Child Migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle

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 2016 survey carried out in 10 shelters for unaccompanied child migrants run by a Mexican government child welfare agency, the paper identifies the immigrating minor’s motives, which are oftentimes mixed. 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.
  • Violence was the motive that mixed the most with other motivations.

The results indicate that binary formulations regarding forced and voluntary migration are often inadequate. The implications of these findings include the need to consider forced reasons for migrating in the context of mixed-motive migration, the need for in-depth, individual asylum screening, and the need for more flexible policy approaches that are inclusive of mixed-motive migration.

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Stefan Vogler of Northwestern University reviews Gendered Asylum: Race and Violence in U.S. Law and Politics, by Sara L. McKinnon. Professor  McKinnon exposes racialized rhetorics of violence in politics and charts the development of gender as a category in American asylum law. Starting...

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The Future of the DACA Program and the Interests at Stake
Ten state attorneys general have announced that they intend to sue the federal government to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program if the Trump administration does not rescind the program by September 5th.  The DACA program, created...

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A Statistical and Demographic Profile of the US Temporary Protected Status Populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti
This report presents detailed statistical information on the US Temporary Protected Status (TPS) populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. It reveals hardworking populations with strong family and other ties to the United States. In addition, high percentages have lived in the United States for 20 years or more, arrived as children, and have US citizen children.

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