Migration and Migrants

Publications include a 9-part series on Latino immigrant civic engagement, as well as papers exploring the legal side of Mexican migration and the relationship between migration and development.

Issues in this Series

Legal Migration and Free Trade in the NAFTA Era: Beyond Migration Rhetoric

Miguel Angel Jiménez
This paper explores why, in the period since NAFTA took place, there has been an increase in visas and qualified Mexican workers admissions. The highly skilled migration pattern is highly associated with economic integration between the economies of Mexico and the U.S. as a product of the Agreement, particularly regarding TN and intra-company transfer visas.

In Mexico, President Obama Expresses Optimism for Immigration Reform, But Many Americans Express Bias against Mexican Immigrants

Immigration reform gained momentum in the United States after the 2012 presidential election, when the Hispanic vote helped to swing the election conclusively toward President Obama, a fact he alluded to recently while in Mexico. This just-completed, nationwide Chicago Council survey reveals support for some variation of immigration reform, similar to other ecent polls. But there is still a lot of grassroots work to be done to break down stereotypes. Half of Americans overstate unauthorized immigration levels into the United States, which seems to intensify bias against Mexican immigrants and opposition to reform.

Thinking Regionally to Compete Globally: Leveraging Migration and Human Capital in the U.S., Mexico, and Central America

Demetrios G. Papademetriou , Doris Meissner, and Eleanor Sohnen
Amid powerful demographic, economic and social forces reshaping Mexico and much of Central America and newfound momentum for reform of the U.S. immigration system, the countries of the region have new avenues to improve opportunities for their own people and strengthen regional competitiveness with new collaborative approaches on migration and human-capital development, an influential task force convened by the Migration Policy Institute and the Wilson Center concluded in a final report.

Mexican Migration to the United States: Underlying Economic Factors and Possible Scenarios for Future Flows

Daniel Chiquiar and Alejandrina Salcedo
In this report we examine some economic factors that have influenced migration flows from Mexico to the United States, for the purpose of constructing scenarios on how such flows could evolve in the near term. Throughout our analysis, we look at three different periods in the recent history of migration from Mexico to the United States: 1990 to 2000; 2000 to 20007; and a third period corresponding to the global economic crisis and its aftermath.

Strengthening Health Systems in North and Central America: What Role for Migration?

Allison Squires and Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez
As the demographics, epidemiological profiles, and migration patterns of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States change, there is rich opportunity to explore how the effective management of migration across these countries might help meet the demand for health care services. Using a comparative case study, this report looks at health care services and human resources in all five countries to identify constraints on health care capacity. Nursing personnel are the focus of the report.

Ripe with Change: Evolving Farm Labor Markets in the United States, Mexico, and Central America

Philip Martin and J. Edward Taylor
This report contributes to the Regional Migration Study Group's vision for human-capital infrastructure development in the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador by assessing trends in agriculture and their implications for farm labor markets. Such implications include demand for skills and requisite education and workforce development.

Manufacturing in the United States, Mexico, and Central America: Implications for Competitiveness and Migration

Peter A. Creticos and Eleanor Sohnen
The economies of Mexico, and to a lesser extent, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have benefited from aggressive manufacturing-attraction strategies. At the same time, the achievements of the maquiladora development strategy have masked important flaws that threaten to stymie the promise of even greater economic growth.

Crime and Violence in Mexico and Central America: An Evolving But Incomplete US Policy Response

Andrew Selee, Cynthia J. Arnson, and Eric L. Olson
In this report, we first survey the causes for the rise of violent crime in Mexico, and the Northern Triangle of Central America. We then look at the US policy response to date. We conclude by offering a few suggestions on how the US policy response could be significantly improved in the short and medium term to respond better to the underlying challenges that the countries of the region are facing, problems in which our own country is deeply implicated.

In the Lurch Between Government and Chaos: Unconsolidated Democracy in Mexico

Luis Rubio
To move forward, reforms must be ambitious. Simply reforming one institution in a sea of lawlessness leads nowhere; there must be a wide-ranging transformation of the political regime. Mexico's challenge is therefore to build modern, competent democratic institutions that are capable of engaging in good governance - only then will they be able to expand economic opportunity and restore economic growth.

Paying For Crime: A Review of the Relationships Between Insecurity and Development in Mexico and Central America

Eleanor Sohnen
Given the consequences that insecurity and crime have for Mexico and Central America, the governments of the region must work to devise and implement policies that address the links between crime rates and development, citizens' lack of trust in institutions, and the high economic toll of insecurity overall.

Transnational Crime in Mexico and Central America: Its Evolution and Role in International Migraiton

Steven Dudley
The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers. Migrants crossing the region are especially vulnerable.

Border Insecurity in Central America's Northern Triangle

Ralph Espach and Daniel Haering
The recent surge in drug trafficking and violent crime in Central America has drawn a spotlight to the perennial problem of lawlessness along the borders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Throughout their histories, governments in these countries have neglected their peripheries.

New Approaches to Migration Management in Mexico and Central America

Francisco Alba and Manuel Angel Castillo
Until recently, the outflow of Mexicans to the United States dominated the attention of Mexican politicians, policymakers, and migration researchers, but public attention has shifted in recent years to the phenomenon of transit migration. Over the past two decades, Mexico has increasingly become a destination for Central American migrants seeking to enter the United States; many remain in Mexico for extended periods and, in some cases, settle permanently.

Understanding Mexico's Economic Underperformance

Gordon H. Hanson
In the past three decades, Mexico has aggressively reformed its economy, opening to foreign trade and investment, achieving fiscal discipline, and privatizing state-owned enterprises. Despite these efforts, the country's economic growth has been lackluster, trailing that of many other comparable developing nations.

Central American Development: Two Decades of Progress and Challenges For the Future

Hugo Beteta
Over the past two decades, Central America has undergone an extraordinary transformation - from a region characterized predominantly by rural and agricultural populations into one where the majority of people reside in urban areas; from societies with autocratic governments and periodic civil wars into ones with peaceful transitions between democratically elected governments; and from volatile, resource-dependent economies into stable exporters.

The Legal Side of Mexican Immigration

David R. Ayón
In this brief, Mexico Institute's Senior Adviser on immigration David R. Ayón, looks into legal Mexican immigration to the U.S., utilizing new data from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics.
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Linking Development & Migration: A Binational U.S.-Mexico Dialogue

David R. Ayón
Debate over immigration policy in the United States has centered on law enforcement and related legal reforms. Two other factors, however, are key elements of a broader discussion, especially in international forums.

The Development and Fiscal Effects of Emigration on Mexico

Raymundo Campos-Vasquez and Horacio Sobarzo
The two most important ways that migration influences development in Mexico is through remittances and labor markets. Mexico is the largest recipient of remittances in Latin America, with remittances totaling $22 billion (about 2.5% of GDP) in 2010. Focusing on labor markets, existing research suggests that between 1990 and 2000 migration increased wages by 8% in Mexico with more pronounced effects among less-educated workers.

US Immigration Policy Since 9/11: Understanding the Stalemate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Marc R. Rosenblum
This report reviews the recent history of US immigration legislation, including new enforcement mandates passed immediately after 9/11 and unsuccessful efforts to pass CIR bills during the 109th and 110th Congresses. This history, together with asymmetries in the political process that favor enforcement-oriented responses, stack the deck against legalization and visa reform. Any possibility of success was further hurt by the timing of the reform debate with respect to the national electoral calendar in 2006-07 and the economic downturn beginning in 2008.

US Immigration Policy and Mexican/Central American Migration Flows: Then and Now

Marc R. Rosenblum and Kate Brick
Young, low-skilled immigrants perform essential work, but the rapid growth of low-wage, limited English proficient (LEP), unauthorized populations in states with limited migration experience has contributed to increased anti-immigrant sentiment. Forty years into the current wave of regional migration, and after 25 years of increasingly serious enforcement efforts, this history also defines and limits the policy alternatives available, and highlights the challenges of managing regional flows.

Evolving Demographic and Human-Capital Trends in Mexico and Central America and Their Implications For Regional Migration

Aaron Terrazas, Demetrios G. Papademetriou , and Marc R. Rosenblum
As the US labor force became better educated, fewer native workers accepted many of the low-wage but essential jobs at the bottom of the labor market. These changes in the United States coincided with a population boom in Mexico and Central America that resulted in a near tripling of the region's population. Economic growth was unable to keep pace with demographic change, however, and many of the region's youth sought opportunities in the United States.

Context Matters

Jonathan Fox, Andrew Selee, Robert Donnelly, and Xóchitl Bada
The intense debate on immigration policy in the United States in recent years has largely focused on how to regulate immigrants’ roles as workers, their impact on public spending, and how to reconcile labor market, community, and family needs with workable and humane law enforcement. These are important debates, and their outcome will determine the character of U.S. society for generations to come. However, far less has been written about the role that immigrants play in the civic and political life of communities throughout the United States. This volume aims to fill that void by focusing on the contributions that Latin American immigrants are making to U.S. communities and the barriers they face in seeking to do so.

Charlotte: A Welcome Denied

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Latino Immigrants in the Windy City: New Trends in Civic Engagement

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Local Goes National: Challenges and Opportunities for Latino Immigrants in the Nation's Capital

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Latino Immigrant Civic and Political Participation in Fresno and Madera, California

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Latin American Migrants in the Las Vegas Valley: Civic Engagement and Political Participation

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote: Latino Migrant Civic Engagement in L.A.

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

The Omaha Site: Migrant Civil Society Under Construction

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Coming out and making history: Latino Immigrant Civic Participation in San Jose

This report is part of a series on Latin American immigrant civic and political participation that looks at eight cities around the United States: Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Omaha, NE; Tucson, AZ; and Washington, DC. The reports on each city describe the opportunities and barriers that Latino immigrants face in participating as civic and political actors in cities around the United States.

Arizona’s Legislative-Imposed Injunctions: Implications for Immigrant Civic and Political Participation

Arizona provides a unique contemporary context for understanding how civic and political participation for immigrants and migrants is jeopardized.

Invisible No More: Mexican Migrant Civic Participation in the United States

Xóchitl Bada, Jonathan Fox, and Andrew Selee
Co-published by the Wilson Center and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Media and Migrant Civil Society

América Rodriguez

Mexican Hometown Associations (HTA) in New York

Héctor R. Cordero-Guzmán and Victoria Quiroz-Becerra

Migrant Civic Engagement, 2008

Jonathan Fox and Xóchitl Bada

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