New migration dynamics in Northern Central America, Mexico and the United States

Every year, more than 300,000 people attempt to reach the United States from countries in Northern Central America. Driven from their homes by violence, extreme poverty, climate change, and a number of other factors, they are forced to embark on a journey that itself fraught with danger. Along this road, Franciscan brothers and sisters are trying to support and protect migrants as best they can. They do so by providing direct assistance, but also by documenting the stories of those that pass through their shelters.

This advocacy diagnosis combines these testimonies with a review of the most recent information from relevant literature, as well as with interviews with other key actors. It provides a general overview of new trends in Northern Central America, aiming to expand the debate on possible ways to deal with this phenomenon. Beginning with the caravans of 2018 and 2019, we identify the changes that have taken place in migration dynamics and highlights both structural problems in the sub-region as well as the violence and impoverishment in previously productive rural areas that drive migration.

We also considered it essential to report on the issues faced by actors who care for migrant populations – both in their countries of origin and those of transit – to be able to analyze possible opportunities and challenges in the future. This focus on actors who support migrants allows us to move beyond simply describing problem, instead helping to visualize the best ways for regional articulation and coordination.

When we started our work, the first consequences of Covid-19 measures and State responses to migratory flows were already becoming clear. This allowed us to include a section dedicated to considering new dynamics that have started to emerge as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

This diagnosis is the result of the collaboration between Franciscans International and the Franciscan Network on Migration in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.