Migration in North and Central America: Regional Responsibility and Opportunity

  • North and Central American Task Force on Migration recommendations lay out bold new options for regional cooperation on migration as leaders prepare for upcoming Summit of the Americas and North American Leaders Summit
  • Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard hosted key stakeholders today from North and Central America to discuss how Task Force recommendations can be adopted

19 May 2022 (Mexico City) — The high-level North and Central American Task Force on Migration today issued important recommendations for filling key governance gaps and promoting better coordination of the often-disjointed response to migration in the region. 

The recommendations stress regional responsibility sharing and outline specific ways to improve regional mechanisms, support development and protection strategies by involving civil society, and expanding labor and protection pathways for refugees and migrants.

Key among the 70 recommendations:

  1. A comprehensive, strategic, regional approach is urgently needed to address migration from Northern Central America. No one country can deal with the complexities of migration challenges on its own. The Task Force calls for the creation of a new North and Central American Council on Migration with the full participation of migrant communities, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, donors, financial institutions, and the private sector. Based on the model of the Arctic Council, this new council would bring a fresh approach to coordinating concrete actions among the many institutions in the region and offer a new platform, as many leaders have called for, to engage key stakeholders on an ongoing basis to address the deep-rooted causes of migration. 
  2. Governments in Northern Central America must address the political, economic and institutional drivers of migration. There are no quick fixes to address the many causes of migration; fundamental political, institutional and economic change is necessary. Other governments in the region are strongly encouraged to support these efforts. 
  3. The United States, Canada and Mexico must increase legal channels for Central Americans to migrate – through both labor migration and protection pathways. Central Americans are migrating through irregular means because there simply are not enough legal pathways to accommodate current migration flows in an orderly and predictable manner.
  4. All regional actors — from Central American governments to donors, international NGOs and financial institutions — must find ways to support the active engagement of civil society and indigenous communities to address the drivers of migration, support migrants and returnees, and advocate for substantive policy changes. Civil society actors, including faith-based organizations, are playing a valiant, humanitarian role in the region but are under threat and under-resourced while having to fill gaps by providing services that governments cannot or will not provide.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who recently passed away was a founding co-chair of the Task Force along with Lloyd Axworthy,Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mayu Brizuela de Avila, former Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs; Julieta Castellanos, Former Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras; Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica; Silvia Giorguli Saucedo, President of El Colegio de México; and Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of HuehuetenangoGuatemala. Task force members include a broad range of civil society, business and academic institutions.

Created through an initiative of the World Refugee & Migration Council in partnership with the Center for U.S.-Mexican StudiesEl Colegio de México, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the Inter-American Dialogue, with support from the Government of Canada, the Task Force issued evidence-based recommendations that promote responsibility sharing across North and Central America on six key issues:

  1. Humanitarian protection in the region, particularly for women and children who are at greatest risk.
  2. Co-responsibility and cooperation for managing migration, focusing on enhancing regional approaches to migration in the region.
  3. Institutional frameworks and domestic political considerations, including rule of law, governance, corruption and accountability.
  4. Investment in long-term development to address violence and gangs, poverty and inequality, and the impacts of climate change.
  5. Strengthening legal pathways for migration as an alternative to irregular migration, including private sponsorship, family reunification and labor migration.
  6. Integration of refugees and migrants into receiving countries.

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A summary report with key recommendations from the North and Central American Task Force on Migration is available at wrmcouncil.org/taskforce, along with in-depth reports and recommendations on the issues above and 12 substantive research papers. Follow the work of the Task Force using #MigrationTaskForce on social media and by following @wrmcouncil on Twitter and Facebook.

About the North and Central American Task Force on Migration

The North and Central American Task Force on Migration is a non-governmental forum of academics, civil society and business leaders, and former policymakers in dialogue with current government officials created to facilitate a broadly driven solution dialogue among the countries involved in the crisis of migration and forced displacement in the region. Initiated by the World Refugee & Migration Council with the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Colegio de México, the Migration Policy Institute and the Inter-American Dialogue, the Task Force will issue concrete recommendations for collective, regional action based on evidentiary research to promote responsibility sharing across North and Central America. More at wrmcouncil.org/TaskForce

Task Force Co-Chairs

  • Secretary Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State; Honorary Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council (In memoriam)
  • Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council, former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Lic. Mayu Brizuela de Avila, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador
  • Dr. Julieta Castellanos, Former Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras
  • Fr. Leonir Chiarello, Superior General, Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Charles (Scalabrinians)
  • President Laura Chinchilla, former President of Costa Rica
  • Dr. Silvia Giorguli Saucedo, President, El Colegio de México
  • Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Task Force Members

  • Pedro Barquero, Secretary of Economic Development, Honduras
  • Jennifer Bond, Founder & Managing Director, University of Ottawa Refugee Hub; Chair, Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
  • Allert Brown-Gort, Visiting Professor of International Relations, Autonomous Tech. Institute of Mexico
  • Noah Bullock, Executive Director, Cristosal
  • Father Juan Luis Carbajal Tejeda, Executive Secretary, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana
  • José Miguel Cruz, Director of Research, Florida International University, Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center
  • Karla Cueva, Former Minister of Human Rights, Honduras
  • Diego de Sola, Co-Founder and Board Member, Glasswing
  • Katharine Donato, Director, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University
  • Jonathan Fanton, Special Adviser, World Refugee & Migration Council
  • Fay Faraday, Canadian social justice lawyer
  • Rafael Fernández de Castro, Director, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
  • Elizabeth Ferris, Professor, Georgetown University, and Vice President of Research, World Refugee & Migration Council
  • Jayne Fleming, Director of International Refugee Protection Programs, Reed Smith LLP, and International Director, Lamp Lifeboat Ladder
  • Fen Osler Hampson, President, World Refugee & Migration Council
  • Gina Kawas, Vidanta-Wilson Center Fellow
  • Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, Migration Policy Institute
  • Helena Olea, Associate Director for Programs, Alianza Americas
  • Salvador Paiz, Director, Foundation for the Development of Guatemala (FUNDESA)
  • Patricia Perez-Coutts, Chair of the Board, Cuso International
  • Guillermo E. Rishchynski, former Canadian Ambassador and Board of Directors, Canadian Council for the Americas
  • Allan Rock, President Emeritus and Professor of Law, Univ, of Ottawa; former Canadian Ambassador to United Nations
  • Emilio Romano, CEO, Bank of America Mexico 
  • Ana Mercedes Saiz, Executive Director, Sin Fronteras
  • Andrew Selee, President, Migration Policy Institute
  • Michael Shifter, President, Inter-American Dialogue
  • Eduardo Stein Barillas, former Vice President of Guatemala and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Brian Stevenson, President and CEO, University Partnerships North America, Navitas
  • Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj, Visiting Professor, Stanford Univ.
  • Beatriz Zepeda, Professor and Researcher, Centro de Estudios Internacionales, El Colegio de México and Former Director of FLACSO-Guatemala