It is time for a comprehensive, unified regional effort to address the major issue of refugees and migrants in the Americas. No country is immune or unaffected by the large movements of people fleeing violence, corruption, poverty, criminality and the effects of climate change that impel thousands of people to seek protection in other countries. The decision to leave and the ensuing journeys are harrowing experiences for those forced to move. There is also a clear need to better manage the security and rights of temporary migrant workers in the region.
These are difficult and complicated tasks to resolve. They are issues that cannot be met solely by unilateral or even bilateral efforts. We must respond through a regional, cooperative approach that calls for a sharing of responsibility and a recognition of our common interest.
Our newly created North and Central American Task Force on Migration will examine the ways that joint initiatives can be undertaken to meet immediate humanitarian demands and deliver integrated responses to underlying causes of the crisis.
Established through a partnership of the World Refugee & Migration Council, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, El Colegio de México, the Migration Policy Institute and the Inter-American Dialogue, this Task Force will consider ways that these initiatives can be combined at sufficient scale to provide lasting solutions and that cooperation for managing migration can be strengthened. The work will be guided by consultations already begun with those directly affected and the governments, practitioners, academics and civil society organizations throughout the region.
Addressing these issues will require designing new channels for legal migration that provide an alternative to irregular migration, including through employment; building new mechanisms for humanitarian protection in addition to asylum; supporting efforts to protect and assist people who are displaced within their own countries; and investing in long-term efforts to build rule of law and enhance development within the countries of Central America.
In addition, innovative new regional governance frameworks are required to address the hemisphere’s migration challenges. A good place to start would be for the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States at their next trilateral meeting to engage political, civil society and business leaders from North and Central America to develop a comprehensive regional response.
This Task Force will provide leadership in bringing together a group of people from the different jurisdictions, supplemented by participation of various experts and committed organizations and to open direct discussions with respective governments on how a regional network can be of assistance. Our work will be based on good evidence, best practices, input from existing agencies and will build on policy and collaborative mechanisms already underway,including the Puebla Process and the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS, from its Spanish title).
We are mindful that in the coming weeks and months there will be meetings of governments and civil society groups that underscore the need for a fast-track process. We will gear our Task Force towards supporting those efforts while helping to build confidence and public trust.
In this time of compelling imperatives for effective governance there will be apt demonstration of the value added in working together in the public interest at the regional level. We strongly believe our Task Force can be a catalyst for an innovative and effective strategy on migration and refugees in the Americas.
The Co-chairs of the North and Central American Task Force on Migration:
- Secretary Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and Honorary Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council
- The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Chair, World Refugee & Migration Council, and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Lic. Mayu Brizuela de Avila, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador
- 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, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Cortés
- Allert Brown-Gort, Visiting Professor of International Relations, Autonomous Technological 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
- 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, University of Ottawa, and former Canadian Ambassador to the 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 University
- Beatriz Zepeda, Professor and Researcher, Centro de Estudios Internacionales, El Colegio de México and Former Director of Flacso-Guatemala