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ROOM DOCUMENT N°2

JOINT OAS/OECD TECHNICAL SEMINAR ON: OAS CONTINUOUS REPORTING SYSTEM ON LABOUR MIGRATION FOR THE AMERICAS (SICREMI) Tuesday 17 March 2009 Venue: OAS Headquarters, 17 Street and Constitution Ave, N.W. Washington D.C.

MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN TO MEXICO MAGNITUDE AND CHALLENGES Leticia M. Jáuregui Casanueva

This room document has been prepared by Leticia M. Jáuregui Casanueva (University of California, Davis). The views expressed are those of the author and do not commit either the OECD, the OAS or the national authorities concerned.

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MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN TO MEXICO: MAGNITUDE AND CHALLENGES

Introduction 1. Mexico has traditionally been a country of emigration, with close to 10% of its total population living in the U.S. However, to a lesser extent, Mexico is also a country of transit and destination for Central and Latin American migrants, with 0.5% of its total population being foreign-born (17.5% of who were born in Latin America and the Caribbean). In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, temporary or permanent movements of people are an essential characteristic of the economic, political and social histories and have been driven primarily by wage, income and living standards differentials as well as civil war and other political conflicts in the region. These migration flows are linked to the economic performance of the region as well as the changing political and policy regimes of the global economy and have resulted in inflows of remittances that complement origin countries’ savings and investments (Solimano 2004). 2. For most of Latin America’s history, it has been a region of immigration from Europe, Asia and Africa. Only in the last two decades of the twentieth century has this pattern shifted to one of emigration to the U.S., Europe, and Mexico, and there was an increase in migration flows, especially of transit migrants (Domínguez Ávila 2006: 201-202). 1960 to 1990 saw migration within Latin America and to North America increase from 1.5 million in 1960 to 11 million due to political instability in the region and the economic attraction of the U.S. These migrant flows to Mexico include immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as some immigrants from Africa and Asia, especially China. Moreover, there has been an increase in younger immigrants (below 20 years of age) as well as women (Cruz and Rojas 2000: 138). 3. There is a lack of information and data available to fully understand the scale and nature of the migratory phenomenon of Central American, South American and Caribbean migrants to Mexico. In particular, data on undocumented migrants is derived from the numbers of people detained and deported back to their countries of origin from Mexico and is therefore incomplete. 4. On the other hand, since national and international security has become a priority on the international agenda and countries are looking for ways to diminish undocumented flows of migrants, Mexico has adopted several reforms and programs such as the Plan Sur (Southern Plan) or the Programa de Migración para la Frontera Sur (Migration Program for the Southern Border) of the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM, National Institute of Migration), to mitigate and monitor migration from Central and South America, but there is still much left to do in terms of ensuring basic human rights for immigrants and transmigrants as well as preventing government abuses and other crimes. 5. The importance of focusing on Mexico as a destination and transit country, and on the subsequent migratory flows, is due to the “intermestic”—international and domestic—nature of migration. Internationally, increasing economic inequalities and a lack of economic opportunities and development have led to human movements across borders and an increased attention given to issues related to international migration. In the Mexican and Latin American cases, migration is a structural characteristic 2


of economic, political and social life. Nationally, a better understanding of migration patterns will also allow for a better understanding of the social, economic and demographic impact and effect that these flows have on local communities. Moreover, Mexico as a transit country faces increasing international pressure to secure its borders and regulate the flow of migrants looking to go to the U.S. 6. This paper seeks to analyze recent trends and challenges Mexico is facing in light of Central and South American, as well as Caribbean, immigration. My analysis is divided into four sections. The first section describes an overview of migration trends from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The second section analyzes geographic, historical and security issues at the Southern border of Mexico. The third and fourth sections present permanent/temporary migration to Mexico and transit migration through Mexico. A summary and conclusions follow. 1.

Migration trends in Latin America, the Caribbean and Mexico

Data sources of cross-border population movements 7. Most data available provides estimates of the stocks, and not the flow, of migrants, and are frequently available online. Census under-reporting, however, still exceeds 3% in many Latin American countries (Guzmán et al. 2006: 524).1 One of the main sources of data about migration flows comes from population censuses available from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (INEGI, National Statistics, Geography and Informatics Institute). Additionally, statistics on the foreign-born population in Mexico are provided by the INM and the Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO, National Population Council). These data sources are useful, but they do not allow for a detailed analysis of migrant flows and their evolution and there is still much to be done to improve the reporting and be able to compare data across countries. 8. In the 1970s, the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Center (CELADE) of the Population Division of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) launched a research project entitled “Investigation of International Migration in Latin America” (IMILA in Spanish). The goal was to create a database of the foreign-born population in Latin American countries covering country of origin, sex, age, entry period, marital status, educational attainment, economic characteristics and number of children for women. IMILA has fostered multiple studies and research on international migration and has helped identify three migration patterns: immigration from overseas, intra-regional migration and extra-regional migration (Martínez Pizarro and Villa 2005: 4; Santillo 2004: 2; UNESCO 2008: 15-16; Villa and Martínez Pizarro 2004: 1).2 9. Migratory records do not provide reliable data, although the Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Guatemala-México (EMIF GUAMEX, Survey on Migration in the Guatemala-Mexico Border), first conducted in 2004, is a first step towards addressing this issue. It continually measures labour migration that crosses the border from Guatemala to Mexico on its way to the U.S. and the flows that return from the U.S. or Mexico to Guatemala, as well as those that are detained and repatriated by Mexican or American authorities. This survey highlights the demographic, household, economic and social aspects of the migrants forming the flows. 10. Finally, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as several other international organizations provide statistics on 1

For detailed information about changes in the collection and availability of demographic data in Latin America see section II in Guzmán et al. 2006: 523-526.

2

Morales Gamboa (2008) also identifies three. Pellegrino (2003: 11) identifies four phases in the migratory process of Latin America, taking into account the pre-Independence phase.

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migration flows in Mexico. This data provides useful information in terms of inflows of migrants from OECD as well as Latin American countries to Mexico. Overview of regional migration patterns 11. In 2005, more than 27 million Latin American and Caribbean migrants were estimated to be living outside their countries of origin—this is equivalent to 10% of migrants worldwide (Guzmán et al. 2006:566). The main patterns of migration for Latin Americans are intra-regional and extra-regional migration. Intra-regional migration doubled in the 1970s and then stabilized during the 1990s; it accounted for 60% of the immigrant stock in 2000. Extra-regional migration, primarily from Mexico and the Caribbean, but increasingly from Central and South America, has increased significantly in the past decades; it accounted for 40% of the total stock of Latin American immigrants in 2000 (Guzmán et al. 2006: 567; UNESCO 1998: 15-16). 12. Of the more than 27 million Latin American and Caribbean migrants, 86% have migrated extraregionally (South-North migration to the U.S.) and 14% have migrated intra-regionally (Solimano 2008). In terms of the composition of these flows, intra-regional migration presents a sustained “feminization” of migrant flows with a higher urban concentration of more qualified migrants. Extra-regional migration was predominantly female during the 1970s and 80s but became predominantly male in the 1990s. These patterns can be explained by the complementary nature of labour markets in origin and destination countries (ECLAC 2006: 15, 19; Villa and Martínez Pizarro 2001: 11). 13. In Mexico, the INM registers documented and undocumented flows of migrants to Mexico, including local visitors, tourists, agricultural labourers, visitors, transmigrants and detained Central Americans. Between 2002 and 2004 undocumented flows increased by 56%, and were mainly composed of Guatemalan (crossing through Chiapas) and Honduran migrants (crossing through Tabasco). However, the largest inflow is composed of local visitors who use a local pass or the Forma Migratoria de Visitantes Locales (FMVL, Migratory Form for Local Visitors) that is only available in Quintana Roo and some crossing-points in Chiapas. Some temporary migrant workers come into Mexico using this FMVL form since the Forma Migratoria de Visitante Agrícola (FMVA, Migratory Form for Agricultural Visitors) used in Chiapas does not cover the range of activities that temporary Central American migrant workers conduct in the Southern region of Mexico (Rodríguez Chávez in INM 2005: 3). 14. Tourists represent only 1% of the total flows and make use of the Forma Migratoria de Turista, Transmigrante, Visitante (FMTTV, Migratory Form for Tourist, Transmigrant, Visitor) utilized across the country (this number excludes visitors arriving by boat or cruise and using the Forma Migratoria para Visitantes Locales Marítimos [FMVLM, Migratory Form for Local Maritime Visitors]) (Rodríguez Chávez in INM 2005: 3). 15. Specifically, during 2005, in Mexico there were 47,600 foreign nationals, up 21% from the previous year (OECD 2008b: 29). According to CONAPO estimates, in 2000 the stock of immigrants in Mexico was 492,617, divided as follows: 5.6% from Guatemala, 1.4% from Cuba, 1.3% from Colombia, 1.3% from Argentina and 1.1% from El Salvador.3 Table 1 includes selected characteristics of these immigrants by country of origin. Table 2 presents the immigrant population born in Latin America and the Caribbean, by country of residence and according to country of birth.

3

Paradoxically, 69% of immigrants are from the U.S.

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16. As we can see, the five main origin countries for immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean are Guatemala, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina and El Salvador. The majority of immigrants are between the ages of 15 and 49 years old and primarily female. This contrasts with extraregional flows that are primarily male (in part due to the high proportion of Mexican male migrants). In terms of their educational attainment, there is a lot of variation amongst them: Guatemalan immigrants tend to have low educational levels, while Cubans, Colombians and Argentineans tend to be highly qualified. This is reflected in the sector of employment that immigrants participate in and their employment situation. 17. Taking into account the population of 15 years and older, an OECD database using Census data (2008a: 16) reports that the total foreign-born population in Mexico is 241,500 of whom 73,100 come from Latin America. This highlights the fact that the share of immigrants remains very low for Mexico at 0.5% of its total population (56). It is also important to note that 0.3% of the population has an unknown place of birth (193). 18. According to Mexican census data analysed in the OECD report, two thirds of Guatemalan immigrants and three fourths of Cuban and Argentinean immigrants are between the ages of 25 and 64 (OECD 2008a: 71). Also, the difference in shares between the tertiary-educated who are foreign-born (34.8%) and native-born (12.8%) amounts to more than 10 percentage points. There are large differences between the educational attainment of the foreign-born of Guatemala and those of Cuba and Argentina. 86% of Guatemalan immigrants living in Mexico have primary education, while half of Cubans and Argentineans have tertiary education. In the case of Mexican emigrants to the U.S., 70% have primary education (78, 85-86). 19. The employment rate of the foreign-born (57.7%) is low in Mexico, but still slightly above that of the native-born (57.2%). The employment rate for Guatemalans is 57.9% while that of Cubans is 67.1% and Argentineans is 71%. However, if we take into account the educational attainment of these groups, employment rates increase to 76.3% and 77.1% for Cubans and Argentineans with tertiary education respectively (OECD 2008a: 114, 119, 125). 91.6% of Guatemalan residents in Mexico are operators, mostly in agriculture and industry (68.2%). 58.9% of Argentineans and 55.6% of Cubans are professionals, mostly in personal and social services (50.1% for Argentina and 55.2% for Cuba) (144, 157). 20. In 2006, 270,000 Central American transmigrants entered Mexico, pointing to the fact that over the last two decades Mexico has become a significant country of transit. Transit migrants, though only a very small proportion, also come from South America (Ecuador and Brazil), China, Cuba and the Caribbean and Africa (IOM 2008: 425-426). Most transit migrants from Central America travel by land to get to the U.S., crossing the Mexican border and travelling though the country without documents and highly exposed to potential threats and abuses.

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Table 1: Selected characteristics of immigrants residing in Mexico by country of origin, 2000

Source: CONAPO estimates based on INEGI, 10% sample of the XII Censo General de Poblaci贸n y Vivienda, 2000.

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Table 2: immigrant population born in Latin America and the Caribbean, by country of residence and according to country of birth, 1970-2000

Source: 1970-1990: Database IMILA. 2000: Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries (DIOC). Notes: Information not available in CELADE. * Figures from census publications.

2.

The Southern border of Mexico

21. The Southern border of Mexico is multi-regional by nature and can be seen as many borders; it represents the “Northern border” for all Central and South Americans. Men, women and children from all over Central and South America converge in this region looking for opportunities, thus defining the border as an area of destination, origin and transit of migrants. The states of Chiapas (58% of the border), Tabasco (9.9% of the border), Campeche (14.7% of the border) and Quintana Roo (17.7% of the border) form the 1,149km border with Guatemala and Belize (see Map 1). 22. According to estimates from the Centro de Estudios Migratorios (Center of Migration Studies) of the INM (Rodríguez Chávez 2008) in 2007, 914,000 foreigners crossed the Southern border of Mexico, 67% of whom were documented immigrants and 33% of whom were undocumented. Out of the documented immigrants, 54.8% were local visitors, 7.1% were tourists and other visitors, 3% were agricultural labourers and 2% were transmigrants. Out of the undocumented immigrants, 23.7% were transmigrants on their way to the U.S. and 9.3% were heading to the local border with Guatemala. 23. In terms of commercial exchanges and migratory movements, their intensity varies by area and is strongest at the Soconusco region that borders with Guatemala. The Soconusco includes the coastal region of Chiapas bordering Guatemala and separated from it by the Suchiate River. At the border with Belize, Mexico shares a singular history that, since the mid-nineteenth century, has been characterized by the 7


exploitation of forests. Even though the intensity of commercial exchanges and migratory movements in this region is not as strong as in Soconusco, the area has to this day conserved its own unique social and cultural practices (Cruz and Rojas 2000: 137). The Puente Subteniente López, on the border of Quintana Roo and Belize, had close to 500,000 entries of local visitors in 2006 according to the INM (Rojas 2007). Finally, it is important to note that a large part of the eastern border of Chiapas (the Lacandona jungle) and the borders of Campeche and Tabasco are covered by dense vegetation, and the absence of roads or trails makes it very difficult to cross the border.

Map 1: Crossing points at the Southern border of Mexico

Source: Mandujano 2008.

24. Security mechanisms and infrastructure were set up in the 1990s to control undocumented migration and transmigration. After 9/11 and with security issues at the top of the international agenda, Mexico implemented several programs to continue to stop unauthorized migrants from crossing the Southern border and from reaching its northern border (Castillo 2008). 25. The INM lacks sufficient material and technological infrastructure, as well as personnel, to control documented and undocumented immigrant flows along Mexico’s Southern border. The

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permeability of the border also complicates control of these flows and the recent increase in human trafficking is a result of the presence of international crime organizations on Mexican soil. Discrimination, human rights abuses, corruption and crime at the Southern border have prevailed despite government attempts. Moreover, migrants must deal with violent gangs and maras4 along the Mexico-Guatemala border and as they move north towards the U.S. All this has led to the establishment of several checkpoints throughout the country, including San Luis Potosi and Tijuana, leading to what is sometimes referred to as Mexico’s “vertical border” (Fernández de Castro 2008). While 50% of detentions used to take place in Chiapas, as a result of more restrictive regulations detentions are now taking place in multiple states. 26. Additionally, the absence of an adequate legal and regulatory framework and coordination between government agencies has led to inefficient border control and endangers national security. In order to solve these issues, the INM has put in place the Programa de Migración para la Frontera Sur (Southern Border Migration Program). The program will facilitate circular migration flows and ensure the protection of human rights of immigrants and the security of the region. It has already improved the documentation of legal crossings and the monitoring of undocumented flows, increased the protection of migrants' rights, expanded physical and technological infrastructure and is taking action against human trafficking and smuggling. The INM will have to overcome many challenges, but the program is a first step towards the implementation of a migratory policy at the Southern border that will contribute to the safety and development of the border areas (Rodríguez Chávez 2008; OECD 2008b: 262). 27. In conjunction with this program, Mexico's INM also designed Plan Sur, a strategy to fight human trafficking and smuggling and supervise and document border crossings so as to ensure better security at the Southern border. Also, cooperation agreements against organized crime were implemented with Central American countries and mechanisms regarding extradition were improved (OECD 2008b: 101). 28. Plan Sur contemplated an “Orderly and Secure Repatriation” program for undocumented migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (Grayson 2002: 5).It is important to note that threefourths of INM’s repatriates were aiming to reach the U.S. and 95% of them entered Mexico without any migratory documentation. 99% of repatriates did not work during their transit through Mexico and 94% had no previous migratory experience to Mexico. For 88% of them it was their first repatriation by Mexican authorities (Rodríguez Chávez 2008). In 2007, 76% of repatriations of Central Americans done by the INM took place in Chiapas and were as follows: 59.5% from Guatemala, 23.2% from Honduras, 16.7% from El Salvador and 0.6% from Nicaragua (Mandujano 2008). According to the INM, the number of detained and repatriated migrants increased from 215,695 in 2004 to 240,269 in 2005 but decreased to 167,437 during the first ten months of 2006 (IOM 2008: 430). 3.

Mexico as a destination country

29. Immigration flows from Central America, South America and the Caribbean are heterogeneous and differ in temporality, destination and legal status. Historically there have been temporary migrant flows of individuals or families looking to settle in Mexico and its Southern border region to work in construction, the service sector or seasonal migration.5 A special case amongst temporary migrants is that of transnational Guatemalan individuals and families who live in high-density areas along the border and conduct their everyday activities on both sides, many times working in Mexico in the service sector, 4

See Shepard-Durni 2008 for more on the maras or “migrant hunters.”

5

The purpose of this paper is to analyze migration flows from Central and Latin America and the Caribbean, thus, previous immigration flows from Europe and other parts of the world will be left aside, and all emphasis will be made on population movements across the Southern Border.

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commercial activities or as domestic labour and living in Guatemala (Castillo 2007). Another flow of more or less permanent migrants started settling in the Soconusco and other urban border centres seeking occupation and more secure conditions that those of their countries of origin (Cruz and Rojas 2000: 137138). 30. Also, Mexico has a long tradition as a country of asylum, the most recent case being that of Guatemalan refugees during the 1980s, but also the case of Argentinean, Uruguayan and Chilean refugees in the 1970’s, to mention only a few examples. Finally, there are some who are “passing through” on their way to the U.S. but end up staying in Mexico. Seasonal agricultural labourers 31. Estimates of the size of seasonal agricultural labour migration present several discrepancies. Analyzing several estimates for temporary migrant labourers in the Southern region of Mexico, Castillo (2001) finds large variations between data about migration volumes from different sources. He assumes that the total flow of temporary migrant workers, including companions or family members, cannot exceed 100,000 people per year. Mandujano (2008), on the other hand, estimates that each year 80,000 Guatemalan agricultural labourers immigrate to Chiapas between October and December. Rocha Pérez (2006) distinguishes between documented and undocumented seasonal agricultural works and estimates that close to 75,000 documented and 100,000 undocumented immigrate each year from nearby countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador. Temporary Guatemalan agricultural labourers have been satisfying labour demand since the end of the nineteenth century and have consolidated a circular migration pattern in the Soconusco region (Cruz and Rojas 2000: 137). Guatemalan agricultural labour migration is useful to Soconusco producers and constitutes a survival mechanism for families in western Guatemala (140). 32. A subdivision of this group is composed of documented migrants that receive a temporary permit from Mexican authorities to work in the agricultural sector of Chiapas, mostly in coffee plantations, but also in sugar cane plantations, banana packing plants and to a lesser degree with corn and other fruit. Traditional permits are usually processed by contractors and intermediaries and are granted for a period of 30 to 60 days during which the migrant can remain on Mexican soil along with his or her companion. Additionally, the INM developed a new documentation program for agricultural labourers that awards a Forma Migratoria para Visitantes Agrícolas Guatemaltecos (FMVA, Migratory Form for Visiting Guatemalan Agriculturers) with a one year duration to expedite the process, improve worker identification and, especially, diminish the dependency and control that the contractors and intermediaries had over the temporary workers (Cruz and Rojas 2000: 140). In 76% of the cases, a contractor processes the documents, in 16% of the cases the employer processes it and in a very small number of cases the actual labourer does it (143). 33. The informality in hiring undocumented labourers and the lack of government regulations often lead to all kinds of abuses and rights violations. The Southern border is a vulnerable area, subject to corruption and abuse from gangs and police authorities alike. Contractors and hirers are often also in violation of labour and human rights of migrants, leaving them vulnerable and in need of better protection and monitoring. Refugees 34. During the first half of the 1980s, in particular between 1981 and 1983, several waves of Guatemalan refugees came to Mexico seeking protection and asylum. Some 46,000 refugees entered Mexico and were settled in close to 100 camps in Chiapas. In 1984, 25% of the refugees were moved to Campeche and 20% to Quintana Roo (Castillo 2001).

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35. The Guatemalan regime changed in 1986, and in 1987 the refugees promoted an organized return process under "safe and dignified" conditions. Refugees organized into Comisiones Permanentes de Refugiados (CCPP, Permanent Commissions of Refugees) and pushed for a "voluntary, collective and organized" return process. In 1992, non-recognized refugees organized the Asociaci贸n de Refugiados Dispersos de Guatemala (ARDIGUA, Association of Dispersed Refugees of Guatemala) and put forth similar demands and joined the negotiations. Negotiations concluded in 1992 and the return process began in 1993, extending for six years until 1999. Between 1984 and 1999, 42,737 voluntary repatriations took place. The demographic behaviour of this group of Guatemalan refugees was characterized by high birth rates which, coupled with low mortality rates and voluntary repatriations throughout the period meant that, according to official registries, the refugee population remained constant until 1993. In the early 2000s, 24,763 former refugees still remained, less than a third of which were actually Guatemala nationals, since more than half were Mexicans by birth and others were naturalized citizens (Castillo 2001). In addition to this, during 2002-2006, 15,000 Central American migrants benefited from a large regularization program implemented by Mexico (IOM 2008: 514). 4.

Mexico as a transit country

36. In parallel to the Central American armed conflicts of the 1980s, a new wave of migrants from all over Central and South America emerged and it was mainly composed of undocumented migrants who, for the most part, were trying to cross the Mexican border and continue north to the U.S. The majority of these undocumented migrants come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. This flow is the result not only of the armed conflicts, but also of acute inequality within and across countries and it increased substantially throughout the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century (Cruz and Rojas 2003: 4), transforming Mexico into a high-transit country as well. 37. Transit migration flows have become more pronounced since the 1990s despite Mexican government efforts to curb undocumented migration at the Southern border. Mexico has become the major country of origin and transit for undocumented migration to the U.S. with flows of over 450,000 a year. 38. As I mentioned before, in 2006, over 270,000 Central Americans entered Mexico in transit to the U.S.; some 216,000 were detained and deported to their countries of origin. Transit migrants, though in a very small proportion, also come from Ecuador, Brazil and other South American countries; China; Cuba and other Caribbean nations; and Africa (IOM 2008: 425-429). 39. Security conditions are extremely poor for transit migrants, who often face dangerous physical conditions when crossing the border and are additionally faced with abuse and are subject to organized crime (extortion, rape and slavery amongst others) at the hands of corrupt authorities and gangs. As a result of both stricter migration policies in the U.S. and increasing pressure to control undocumented transit migration within Mexico, Mexican authorities now widely enforce control, detention and repatriation of undocumented migrants on Mexican soil. Nevertheless, this reinforcement of migratory policies was accompanied by an increase in human rights violations of migrants by several actors. And it has become increasingly clear that, as border control increases, the complexity and potential for conflict will increase as well (Cruz y Rojas 2003: 6). Concluding remarks 40. Migration dynamics at the Southern border highlight the wage differentials both between Mexico and the U.S. and between Central America and Mexico. As a result, migrants from Chiapas leave for the U.S., where they earn eight to ten times what they would earn in Mexico, thus pushing up the demand for labour in the Southern states, where Central Americans earn two to three times what they would earn in

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their countries of origin. And while on the one hand these flows allow migrants to have employment opportunities and a higher income, on the other they are faced with abuse and discrimination. 41. Governments need to act, work with each other and stop abuses, exploitation and rising crime against migrants. Attention needs to be given to the injustices increasingly committed at the border and to the rights of the “invisible” migrants. It is also important that indigenous populations be protected as well while policing and control increase. In Chiapas, migrants were attacked in 47.5% of the cases by a criminal, in 15.2% of the cases by migration agents, and in 15.2% of the cases by local public security police (Shepard-Durni 2008). These crimes are not exclusive to criminals and gang members and they take place on both sides of the border pointing towards the need for improved prevention mechanisms. 42. Mexico's policies towards its Southern border seek to be consistent with what Mexico expects and has known to be the U.S. policies towards its own southern border. These policies, which mirror U.S. border security, therefore focus on the development and security needs of the Southern border. This is done through enhanced international cooperation and the establishment of repatriation programs (OECD 2008b: 262). Nevertheless, specific conditions should also be heeded, taking into account the existing local social and economic dynamics that are specific to Mexico’s Southern border, seeking to establish multilateral agreements and migratory mechanisms of true cooperation between Mexico and its two southern neighbours (and even its northern neighbour). In today’s globalized world, the adoption of unilateral policies is insufficient and the Plan Puebla Panama and the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM, formerly known as Grupo de Puebla) have established the basis for positive cooperation between Mexico and other Central American countries, including the participation of civil society and other international and non-governmental organizations (Grayson 2002: 6; Mohar 2001). 43. The experiences, trends and challenges described in this paper highlight the importance of having accurate data and broad knowledge about the migration phenomenon so as to be able to develop and promote appropriate legislation and policies that not only monitor and control migration flows, but also protect migrants’ human rights. Joint and coordinated research should be promoted as a way to better understand Latin American, Central American and Caribbean immigration into Mexico.

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Migration from Central and South America and the caribbean to México  

OAS/OECD Seminar on Labour Migration for the Americas, Washington, 2006.

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