What was the event about?
During the first part of the webinar, the 'ICMPD Regional Migration Outlook 2021: Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)', which forecasts major developments for the upcoming year in LAC, was presented. During the second part of the event, the MIEUX+ team presented the new ongoing Costa Rica IV Action. The event was moderated by Alfred Woeger, Senior Project Manager, MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX+) Initiative, and featured Gustavo Corella from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería de Costa Rica (DGME) and Luis Walker Morera from the Ministerio de Salud (MINSALUD) of Costa Rica.
ICMPD’s Regional Migration Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean
Drafted in collaboration by a group of colleagues from ICMPD’s Research, Policy and Strategy Unit and Global Initiatives, this Regional Migration Outlook presents a brief analysis of migration and policy trends in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and forecasts new developments to watch out for in 2021. The outlook is part of a suite of publications that complement the annual ICMPD Migration Outlook covering regional-level trends in several geographical areas outside of Europe where ICMPD is active. You can download the document in English, Spanish or Portuguese.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global health crisis of historic proportions and disruptions to international migration flows. Given the ongoing crisis, 2021 will be another challenging year for LAC migration policy. The pandemic itself and the subsequent containment measures in LAC countries have led to the deepest economic recession in more than a century, placed enormous pressures on public health systems, disrupted food and supply chains, and affected the entirety of established formal and informal channels for migration and mobility in one way or another.
Five key issues to watch out for in 2021
The publication identifies five key issues trends and developments for LAC that will be high on the agenda of decision-makers and analysts alike.
- The further development of the COVID-19 crisis on a regional and global scale
The continuation of the pandemic will influence the tightening or lifting of mobility restrictions, trigger or impede migration movements, and allow economies to recover or push them further into recession. All of this will largely influence the size and direction of formal and informal migration flows in 2021.
- Increased emigration from Venezuela
Venezuela’s multidimensional crisis and political gridlock will most likely not be solved in the near future and continue in 2021. It is foreseeable that the softening of lockdown measures will lead to an increase in migration flows from Venezuela to neighbouring countries mainly in the second half of 2021. Many Venezuelans who returned to the country during the pandemic have stated their intention to leave the country again in 2021.
- “Migrant caravans” putting pressure on political cooperation in the region
The term refers to migrants who move in larger groups and try to cross borders jointly in order to reach their desired destination, mainly the United States. Although the phenomenon represents only a small fraction of migrants moving in the region, it gained relevance due to its high visibility and public attention. Their high visibility is likely to raise further public concern about irregular migration in the United States, which would put pressure on the new administration to take a harder stance on migration.
- Post-Covid-19 recovery in main regions of destination as an incentive to migrate further abroad
It is expected that the United States and Europe will manage a faster rollout of their vaccination programmes than the countries in LAC. This is likely to result in faster economic recovery and increasing labour market demands. In conjunction with a lifting of travel restrictions, this might encourage an increasing number of LAC citizens to try to reach these destinations through regular or irregular channels.
- Rise in xenophobia and anti-immigration discourse fuelled by increasing inequality
Xenophobia toward migrants has been on the rise in many LAC countries. The anti-immigrant discourse is nourished by the fear of competition for jobs and an increase in crime. There is a strong perception that migration does not benefit the national economy. The LAC region is facing the biggest recession in the last century and struggling to accommodate the large influx of migrants, in particular from Venezuela. According to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, extreme poverty and income inequality will increase due to the pandemic. This will further fuel xenophobia and anti-immigration discourse. LAC policymakers should be prepared to ensure a more balanced narrative on migration, recognising the broader impact that this narrative can have on social cohesion, support for diversity, economic growth and innovation.
The Costa Rica IV Action
In 2020, the Ministry of Governance and Police of Costa Rica, through its General Directorate for Migration and Immigration, together with the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica, requested support from MIEUX+ to strengthen Costa Rica’s comprehensive response to protect and assist migrant populations, especially during crises, such as the COVID-19 emergency.
In collaboration with the Costa Rican authorities, MIEUX+ has designed a series of activities that will lead towards a tailor-made 'Assistance and Protection Protocol', complemented by a training course on Health and Migration and Guidelines. Both results aim to strengthen the efforts of the Costa Rican Government’s management of migration and assistance to migrants through capacity development.