Search

You searched for: Content Type Journal Article Remove constraint Content Type: Journal Article Political Geography United States Remove constraint Political Geography: United States Publication Year within 5 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 5 Years Journal Journal on Migration and Human Security Remove constraint Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Ricardo Gomez, Bryce Clayton, Sara Vannini
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The growing numbers of vulnerable migrants seeking shelter and refuge in the United States and Europe are finding increased racism and xenophobia as well as renewed efforts by humanitarian volunteers to offer them aid, sanctuary, and protection. This article sets forth a typology to better understand the motivations of volunteers working to help migrants in need of humanitarian assistance. Why do people go out of their way to offer humanitarian aid to someone they do not know and, in some cases, they will never meet? What are the drivers of altruistic behavior of humanitarian volunteers in the face of rising injustice, nationalism, and xenophobia? In answer to these questions, we offer a typology centered on empathic concern, differentiating secular/faith-based motivations, and deontological/moral-virtue motivations, with particular behaviors in each of the four resulting categories: the Missionary Type, the Good Samaritan Type, the Do Gooder Type, and the Activist Type. We also suggest four additional self-centered (non-altruistic, or not-other-centered) types (Militant, Crusader, Martyr, and Humanitarian Tourist). The nuances offered by this typology can help organizations working with migrants and refugees better understand and channel the enthusiasm of their volunteers and better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations they serve. This is especially important at a time when migration is being criminalized and when humanitarian aid is deemed unpatriotic, if not outright illegal. In the face of increased nationalistic and xenophobic messages surrounding migration, we need to articulate the altruistic humanitarian motivations of volunteers in the context of migration aid. Our typology may also be used to understand altruistic behaviors in other contexts such as disaster relief, community organization and activism, international adoptions, or organ donations to strangers, among others, in which altruistic empathic concern can be an important motivation driving people to act for the well-being of distant others.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Nationalism, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This report presents estimates of the undocumented population residing in the United States in 2018, highlighting demographic changes since 2010. The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) compiled these estimates based primarily on information collected in the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The annual CMS estimates of undocumented residents for 2010 to 2018 include all the detailed characteristics collected in the ACS. [1] A summary of the CMS estimation procedures, as well as a discussion of the plausibility of the estimates, is provided in the Appendix. The total undocumented population in the United States continued to decline in 2018, primarily because large numbers of undocumented residents returned to Mexico. From 2010 to 2018, a total of 2.6 million Mexican nationals left the US undocumented population; [2] about 1.1 million, or 45 percent of them, returned to Mexico voluntarily. The decline in the US undocumented population from Mexico since 2010 contributed to declines in the undocumented population in many states. Major findings include the following: The total US undocumented population was 10.6 million in 2018, a decline of about 80,000 from 2017, and a drop of 1.2 million, or 10 percent, since 2010. Since 2010, about two-thirds of new arrivals have overstayed temporary visas and one-third entered illegally across the border. The undocumented population from Mexico fell from 6.6 million in 2010 to 5.1 million in 2018, a decline of 1.5 million, or 23 percent. Total arrivals in the US undocumented population from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — despite high numbers of Border Patrol apprehensions of these populations in recent years — remained at about the same level in 2018 as in the previous four years. [3] The total undocumented population in California was 2.3 million in 2018, a decline of about 600,000 compared to 2.9 million in 2010. The number from Mexico residing in the state dropped by 605,000 from 2010 to 2018. The undocumented population in New York State fell by 230,000, or 25 percent, from 2010 to 2018. Declines were largest for Jamaica (−51 percent), Trinidad and Tobago (−50 percent), Ecuador (−44 percent), and Mexico (−34 percent). The results shown here reinforce the view that improving social and economic conditions in sending countries would not only reduce pressure at the border but also likely cause a large decline in the undocumented population. Two countries had especially large population changes — in different directions — in the 2010 to 2018 period. The population from Poland dropped steadily, from 93,000 to 39,000, while the population from Venezuela increased from 65,000 to 172,000. Almost all the increase from Venezuela occurred after 2014.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
  • Author: Bill Frelick
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) became part of the US protection regime in 1990 to expand protection beyond what had been available under the US Refugee Act of 1980, which had limited asylum to those who met the refugee definition from the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention. The TPS statute authorized the attorney general to designate foreign countries for TPS based on armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent designated nationals from returning in safety. While providing blanket protection that very likely has saved lives, TPS has nonetheless proven to be a blunt instrument that has frustrated advocates on both sides of the larger immigration debate. This article evaluates the purpose and effectiveness of the TPS statute and identifies inadequacies in the TPS regime and related protection gaps in the US asylum system. It argues that TPS has not proven to be an effective mechanism for the United States to protect foreigners from generalized conditions of danger in their home countries. It calls for changing the US protection regime to make it more responsive to the risks many asylum seekers actually face by creating a broader “complementary protection” standard and a more effective procedure for assessing individual protection claims, while reserving “temporary protection” for rare situations of mass influx that overwhelm the government’s capacity to process individual asylum claims. The article looks at alternative models for complementary protection from other jurisdictions, and shows how the US asylum and TPS system (in contrast to most other jurisdictions) fails to provide a mechanism for protecting arriving asylum seekers who do not qualify as refugees but who nevertheless would be at real risk of serious harm based on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment or because of situations of violence or other exceptional circumstances, including natural or human-made disasters or other serious events that disturb public order, that would threaten their lives or personal security. The article proposes that the United States adopt an individualized complementary protection standard for arriving asylum seekers who are not able to meet the 1951 Refugee Convention standard but who would face a serious threat to life or physical integrity if returned because of a real risk of (1) cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; (2) violence; or (3) exceptional situations, for which there is no adequate domestic remedy.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Michele Waslin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article examines presidential immigration policy making through executive orders (EOs) and proclamations. Donald Trump’s overall volume of EOs has been remarkably similar to that of other presidents, while his number of proclamations has been relatively high. His immigration-related EOs and proclamations, however, diverge from those of his predecessors in several ways. Of the 56 immigration-related EOs and 64 proclamations issued since 1945, Trump has issued 10 and nine, respectively. Overall, about 1 percent of all EOs and proclamations during this period have been immigration related, compared to 8 percent of Trump’s EOs and 2.4 percent of Trump’s proclamations. In a sharp departure from previous presidents, a greater share of his EOs and proclamations have been substantive policy-making documents intended to restrict admissions of legal immigrants and increase enforcement along the border and in the interior of the United States. This article explores Trump’s unorthodox use of executive tools to make immigration policy, circumventing Congress and even members of his own administration. It recommends that: Congress should hold oversight hearings and should consider revoking or modifying EOs and proclamations that have been issued pursuant to the authority provided to the president by Congress, as opposed to those based on the executive’s constitutional authority. Advocacy organizations should continue to challenge the president’s executive actions, the insufficient process and consultation leading to them, their statutory or constitutional justification, and their impact. Congress should take an inventory of the immigration authorities it has delegated, both explicitly and implicitly, to the executive branch and determine when this authority can and should be limited. Congress should pass legislation to update and reform the US immigration system, and thus clarify its intentions regarding US immigration law, policy, and executive authority in this area.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics, Federalism
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Washington, D.C.
  • Author: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article presents estimates of the US undocumented population for 2017 derived by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). It focuses on the steep decline in the undocumented population from Mexico since 2010. While the president has focused the nation’s attention on the border wall, half a million[1] US undocumented residents from Mexico left[2] the undocumented population in 2016 alone, more than three times the number that arrived that year, leading to an overall decrease of nearly 400,000 undocumented residents from Mexico from 2016 to 2017. From 2010 to 2017, the undocumented population from Mexico fell by a remarkable 1.3 million. For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry for the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This article provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin. Summary of Findings The US undocumented population from Mexico fell by almost 400,000 in 2017. In 2017, for the first time, the population from Mexico constituted less than one half of the total undocumented population. Since 2010, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 1.3 million. In California, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 26 percent since 2010, falling from 2.0 to 1.5 million; it also dropped by 50 percent in Alabama, and by one third in Georgia, New York, and New Mexico. The undocumented population from Venezuela grew rapidly after 2013, increasing from 60,000 to 145,000 in just four years. Visa overstays have significantly exceeded illegal border crossings during each of the last seven years. Mexico was the leading country for overstays in 2017, with about twice as many as India or China. The estimates presented here were derived by CMS based on information collected in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS). The procedures used to derive detailed estimates of the undocumented population are described in Warren (2014). CMS used its annual estimates of the undocumented population for 2010 to 2017 — by state of residence, country of origin, and year of entry — to compile the information described here. Additional methodological details appear as footnotes or as notes in the tables.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Geoffrey Alan Boyce, Samuel Chambers, Sarah Launius
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Since 2000, 3,199 human remains of unauthorized migrants have been recovered from the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona (Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). These recovered remains provide only one indicator of the scope of death and suffering affecting unauthorized migrants and their loved ones — something that also includes thousands of individuals whose whereabouts or remains are never encountered (and who therefore remain disappeared) (ibid.). Just as significantly, the number of human remains recovered in southern Arizona has remained consistently high despite a significant decline during the past decade in the number of apprehensions (a figure frequently used as a proxy for unauthorized migration) in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. This condition has led scholars and commentators alike to observe an increase in the ratio of deaths to migration, even as unauthorized border crossing fluctuates (Martínez et al. 2014; Reineke and Martínez 2014; International Organization for Migration 2018). In 2012, the southern Arizona humanitarian organization No More Deaths began systematically tracking the use and vandalism of cached drinking water it supplies at 512 sites across an 800-square-mile area of southern Arizona’s Altar Valley, a high-traffic migration corridor bisected by the US–Mexico border (Ferguson, Price, and Parks 2010; Regan 2010; Boyce 2016; Chambers et al. 2019). On an almost daily basis, volunteers with No More Deaths travel this migration corridor to resupply caches of 5–20 gallons of clean drinking water, physically hauling this water by truck and by foot. Each cache site is tracked using a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate to make navigation of the remote desert borderlands and the location of dispersed and frequently hidden cache sites easier for new volunteers. In 2015, the authors began working with No More Deaths to digitize and conduct spatial and statistical analysis on the data entered into these desert aid logs, with the express aim of seeing what this archive can reveal about everyday activity related to boundary enforcement and migration, as well as the efficacy of the organization’s activities throughout time. In total, No More Deaths’ desert aid archive contains 4,847 unique entries from March 2012 to December 2015, logging the date when an individual cache site was visited, the number of new water gallons deposited during this visit, the number of water gallons encountered intact and unused from previous resupply visits, the conditions of any empty water bottles left behind (including telltale signs of human vandalism, as well as occasional animal damage), and any subjectively unusual conditions or noteworthy events that were observed at the site or during the visit. Combined, this archive provides remarkable and uncommon insight into subtle changes in migration routes and patterns within the Altar Valley desert corridor, as well as those quotidian forms of harassment and vandalism of water supplies that we believe are intended to amplify and maximize hardship for unauthorized border crossers. Indeed, scholars have long argued that the US Border Patrol’s enforcement strategy of “Prevention Through Deterrence” (PTD), first launched in 1994, is premised on instrumentalizing the difficult climate and terrain of the US–Mexico border by pushing migration routes away from traditional urban crossing areas and into increasingly rugged and remote desert areas (Andreas 2001; Cornelius 2001; Rubio-Goldsmith et al. 2006; Nevins 2008; Martínez et al. 2014; De León 2015; Slack et al. 2016). The Border Patrol’s own policy documents make this case. Observing that migrants “crossing through remote, uninhabited expanses of land and sea along the border can find themselves in mortal danger,” the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS — at the time, the Border Patrol’s parent agency) argued that by channeling migration routes into “harsh terrain less suitable for crossing and more suitable for enforcement,” the Border Patrol would eventually obtain a “tactical advantage” over would-be border crossers (INS 1994, 7). Then–INS Commissioner Doris Meissner later reflected, “We did believe that geography would be an ally for us. It was our sense that the number of people crossing through the Arizona desert would go down to a trickle once people realized what [it’s] like” (quoted in Cornelius 2005). In this article, we conduct geospatial modeling and statistical analysis of No More Deaths’ desert aid archive. This involves measuring changes in the distribution of water use throughout time across the 62 cache sites consistently visited during all four calendar years included in the dataset, and then reading this measurement against a model of ruggedness that incorporates multiple variables including slope, vegetation, “jaggedness,” and ground temperature while controlling for Euclidian distance. Adjusting for seasonal variation and the overall volume of water use, we find a statistically meaningful increase in the cumulative ruggedness score of migration routes associated with cache sites during the four calendar years included in No More Deaths’ desert aid logs. These findings reveal a steady pressure toward more rugged and difficult crossing routes throughout time, an outcome that provides important context for the vandalism and harassment that target migrants and humanitarian aid workers alike (see No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos 2018). In what follows, we first provide greater detail on the context of our study and of the authors’ collaboration with No More Deaths. Next, we discuss our research methodology, including the contours of the geographic information system (GIS) modeling through which we conduct our analysis. We then present our findings, and discuss and contextualize these, before turning to some of the limitations of our study and directions for future research. We conclude by considering some of the policy implications of our findings, as well as their implications for studies of mobility, border policing, and state violence, including in contexts when states are instrumentalizing environmental features and conditions for the purposes of boundary enforcement.
  • Topic: Migration, Water, Border Control, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The US Department of State (DOS) reports that as of November 2018, nearly 3.7 million persons had been found by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have a close family relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) that qualified them for a visa, but were on “the waiting list in the various numerically-limited immigrant categories” (DOS 2018). These backlogs in family-based “preference” (numerically capped) categories represent one of the most egregious examples of the dysfunction of the US immigration system. They consign family members of US citizens and LPRs that potentially qualify for a visa and that avail themselves of US legal procedures to years of insecurity, frustration, and (often) separation from their families. Often criticized in the public sphere for jumping the visa queue, it would be more accurate to say that this population, in large part, comprises the queue. While they wait for their visa priority date to become current, those without immigration status are subject to removal. In addition, most cannot adjust to LPR status in the United States, but must leave the country for consular processing and, when they do, face three- or 10-year bars on readmission, depending on the duration of their unlawful presence in the United States. This population will also be negatively affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rule to expand the public charge ground of inadmissibility (Kerwin, Warren, and Nicholson 2018). In addition, persons languishing in backlogs enjoy few prospects in the short term for executive or legislative relief, given political gridlock over immigration reform and the Trump administration’s support for reduced family-based immigration. In this paper, the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) offers estimates and a profile based on 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) data of a strongly correlated population to the 3.7 million persons in family-based visa backlogs: i.e., the 1.55 million US residents potentially eligible for a visa in a family-based preference category based on a qualifying relationship to a household member. CMS data represents only part of the population in family-based backlogs. In particular, it captures only a small percentage of the 4th preference, brothers and sisters of US citizens.[1] However, everybody in CMS’s data could be petitioned for, if they have not been already. Among this population’s ties and contributions to the United States, the paper finds that: Fifty-nine percent has lived in the United States for 10 years or more, including 23 percent for at least 20 years. Nearly one million US-born children under age 21 live in these households, as well as 111,600 US-born adults (aged 21 and over) who have undocumented parents. 449,500 arrived in the United States at age 15 or younger. 139,100 qualify for the DREAM Act based their age at entry, continuous residence, and graduation from high school or receipt of a GED. Seventy-two percent aged 16 and older are in the labor force, and more than two-thirds (68 percent) are employed; these rates exceed those of the overall US population. Two-thirds of those aged 18 or older have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, including 25 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 295,100 aged three and older are enrolled in school. The median income of their households is $63,000, slightly above the US median. More than two-thirds (68 percent) have health insurance, including 51 percent with private health insurance. Nearly one-third (32 percent) live in mortgaged homes, and 12 percent in homes owned free and clear. The paper provides several recommendations to reduce family-based backlogs. In particular, it proposes that Congress pass and the President sign into law legislation to legalize intending family-based immigrants who have been mired in backlogs for two years or more. In addition, this legislation should define the spouses and minor unmarried children of LPRs as immediate relatives (not subject to numerical limits), not count the derivative family members of the principal beneficiary against per country and annual quotas, and raise per country caps. The administration should also re-use the visas of legal immigrants who emigrate each year, particularly those who formally abandon LPR status. This practice would reduce backlogs without increasing visa numbers. Congress should also pass legislation to advance the entry date for eligibility for “registry,” an existing feature of US immigration law designed to legalize long-term residents. In particular, the legislation should move forward the registry cutoff date on an automatic basis to provide a pathway to status for noncitizens who have lived continuously in the United States for at least 15 years, have good moral character, and are not inadmissible on security and other grounds. In fact, Congress advanced the registry date on a regular basis during most of the 20th century, but has not updated this date, which now stands at January 1, 1972, for 33 years.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Border Control, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Mike Nicholson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrants, US families, and communities have been well-documented. However, less attention has been paid to their impact on faith-based organizations (FBOs). Faith communities provide a spiritual home, and extensive legal, resettlement, social service, health, and educational services for refugees and immigrants. This report presents the findings of the FEER (Federal Enforcement Effect Research) Survey, which explored the effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrant-serving Catholic institutions.[1] Many of these institutions arose in response to the needs of previous generations of immigrants and their children (Kerwin and George 2014, 14, 74-75). Most strongly identify with immigrants and have long served as crucial intermediaries between immigrant communities and the broader society (Campos 2014, 149-51).[2] Over its first two years, the Trump administration has consistently characterized immigrants as criminals, security risks, and an economic burden. Among its policy initiatives, the administration has supported major cuts in family-based immigration, attempted to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reduced refugee admissions to historic lows, instituted admission bars on Muslim-majority countries, attempted to strip Temporary Protection Status (TPS) from all but a fraction of its beneficiaries, erected major new barriers to asylum, and proposed new rules regarding the public charge grounds of inadmissibility that would make it more difficult for poor and working class persons to obtain permanent residence. US immigration enforcement policies have separated children from their parents, criminally prosecuted asylum-seekers, expanded detention, increased arrests of non-citizens without criminal records, and militarized the US-Mexico border. These policies have failed to stem the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers: instead these flows have increased dramatically in recent months. These policies have succeeded, however, in devastating children, instilling fear in immigrant communities, blocking access to the US asylum system, and undermining immigrant integration (Kerwin 2018).[3] The FEER survey points to a paradox. On one hand, US enforcement policies have increased the demand for services such as legal screening, representation, naturalization, assistance to unaccompanied minors, and support to the US families of detainees and deportees. Many Catholic institutions have expanded their services to accommodate the increased demand for their services. On the other hand, their work with immigrants has been impeded by federal immigration policies that effectively prevent immigrants from driving, attending gatherings, applying for benefits, and accessing services for fear that these activities might lead to their deportation or the deportation of a family member. Among other top-line findings, 59 percent of 133 FEER respondents reported that “fear of apprehension or deportation” negatively affected immigrants’ access to their services, and 57 percent of 127 respondents reported that immigrant enforcement very negatively or negatively affected the participation of immigrants in their programs and ministries.
  • Topic: Migration, Religion, Border Control, Immigrants, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Pia Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Opponents of immigration often claim that immigrants, particularly those who are unauthorized, are more likely than US natives to commit crimes and that they pose a threat to public safety. There is little evidence to support these claims. In fact, research overwhelmingly indicates that immigrants are less likely than similar US natives to commit violent and property crimes, and that areas with more immigrants have similar or lower rates of violent and property crimes than areas with fewer immigrants. There are relatively few studies specifically of criminal behavior among unauthorized immigrants, but the limited research suggests that these immigrants also have a lower propensity to commit crime than their native-born peers, although possibly a higher propensity than legal immigrants. Evidence about legalization programs is consistent with these findings, indicating that a legalization program reduces crime rates. Meanwhile, increased border enforcement, which reduces unauthorized immigrant inflows, has mixed effects on crime rates. A legalization program or other similar initiatives not currently under serious consideration have more potential to improve public safety and security than several other policies that have recently been proposed or implemented.
  • Topic: Crime, Migration, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • 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