Friday, November 20, 2015

The end of the Mexican migration wave north (Nov. 20, 2015)

For the first time in 40 years, more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than arriving. More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

The data released yesterday suggests the largest immigration wave in modern American history may have already ended, reports the Wall Street Journal. About 16 million Mexicans came to the U.S. over the past four decades, nearly half of them without the proper documents. But since 2009 about one million returned to Mexico, while only 870,000 headed to the U.S., according to the report.

A majority of the returning Mexicans said they did so of their own accord. Nearly 60 percent said that family reunification is the most important reason, according to the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics. Only 14 percent said they returned because they were deported.

The report says immigration to the U.S. has slowed because of a number of factors, including slow recovery of the U.S. economy after the Great Recession and stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

But Mexican data also shows that views of life in the U.S. are changing: While nearly half of adults in Mexico believe life is better in the U.S., a growing share says it is neither better nor worse than life in Mexico, according to the report.

Among the key factors changing the equation for would-be migrants are a reduced birthrate in Mexico, improved national economic conditions and an expanded public-safety net, according to experts cited in the WSJ.

Sounds like relevant data when considering how to deal with the wave of undocumented Central American migrants that are now replacing Mexicans ...

News Briefs

  • Mexico detained 73 percent more migrants since the announcement of an operation to shore up security on its southern border, according to a new report by human rights and migrants' advocates groups, including WOLA, Fundar and the Centro de Análisis e Investigación. The study finds that the Southern Border Program has prioritized migration enforcement and has increased human rights violations against migrants, according to WOLA. And that migrants who are victims of crimes and human rights violations do not have effective access to justice. Increased migration enforcement has "worrying implications" for human rights, due to reports of migrants being injured or killed during operations, reports the Associated Press. The crackdown by authorities has forced migrants towards riskier paths across the country, leaving them more vulnerable. (See Oct. 13th's post.) Alberto Donis, who heads a shelter in the southern state of Oaxaca, noted "an increase in violence along the entire route," reports El Daily Post. "If Mexico is assuming this role as sort of the main, at this point, apprehender of Central American migrants, they need to take more responsibility in how they’re doing that," said WOLA's Maureen Meyer, one of the study’s authors. "And that means protecting those that could be eligible for refugee status in Mexico and making sure that their agents are doing it in a way is respectful of rights, instead of what you see which is widespread abuse."
  • Detentions of Syrian refugees traveling on forged Greek documents in Latin America over the past week might point to a wider trend, reports Reuters. Five Syrians detained this week in Honduras entered the region through Brazil, travelled to Argentina and then Costa Rica, aiming to enter the U.S. via Mexico. However the piece emphasizes that so far very few Syrians have joined the Central American migrants trekking north through Mexico. A family of eight this week is among the few who have sought U.S. asylum via that route this year, and only nine Syrians have been detected illegally transiting Mexico this year. Three small groups of people, from Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have reportedly tried to enter the United States through the border with Mexico this week, fanning fears that violent jihadists could make their way into the country, reports the New York Times. But authorities say there's nothing tying any of the migrants with radical groups. 
  • Frente para la Victoria -- Argentina's governing Peronist party -- has lost support even in its traditional stronghold of the Province of Buenos Aires, reports the Wall Street Journal. In October 25th's elections, the party lost the governorship of the Province, as well as many of the districts surrounding the city of Buenos Aires, containing nearly 30 percent of the country's population and a traditional bastion of Peronism. The piece makes the case that the loss could be a harbinger of victory for conservative candidate Mauricio Macri in this weekend's run-off election to determine the next president.
  • Polls were very off in October's election, making people wary of accepting predictions that have Macri winning by as much as 16 points in Sunday's run-off election, the first ever for Argentina. But the general feeling is that he will likely win. Regardless, it marks the end of the 12-year Kirchner era in Argentina. A piece in The Guardian reviews the foreign policy changes this might mean -- including taking a hard line on Venezuela, distancing the country from Cuba and softening the stance on the Falklands/Malvinas Islands. In line with Oppenheimer's piece, a realignment in the region's alliances, away from Venezuela and Ecuador and towards Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Brazilian newspapers have predicted their country could be dragged into regional disputes if Argentina proposes the ejection of Venezuela from Mercosur, reports the piece.
  • Should Macri win the elections, it could mean changes in regional politics. In the Miami Herald Andrés Oppenheimer heralds an Argentine foreign policy that takes distance from Venezuela in favor of the pro-market Pacific Alliance bloc made up of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru. And in that market shift he might find a likely partner in Brazil, hypothesizes Oppenheimer. A return to "carnal relations" with the U.S is also in the offing, Macri told him. He also plans to scrap an agreement with Iran seeking to bring suspects in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing to justice.
  • The Dominican Republic’s bureaucratic legal maze has left thousands of stateless "ghost citizens," who are unable to work regularly, enroll in high school or even see a doctor, said Amnesty International in a new report released yesterday. The report debunks official statements that no one in the Dominican Republic lacks a nationality, according to Amnesty, and explores the intricate legal labyrinth created by the authorities since the 1990s and more recently through a 2013 ruling which has arbitrarily left tens of thousands of people born to foreign parents or grandparents without a nationality. In 2012, a UN and EU survey found more than 200,000 people in the Dominican Republican had at least one foreign parent and were of Haitian descent, reports The Guardian. Children with at least one Dominican parent are entitled to citizenship, though many struggle to receive recognition.
  • A police officer in Brazil was charged with the murder of 10-year-old Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, challenging the official version of events that said the boy was killed in cross-fire when police responded in self-defense. The charges, filed by prosecutor Homero das Neves, said the police officer shot randomly without any proven aggression from drug dealers, reports the Associated Press. A New York Times video from earlier this month follows the challenges faced by his family as they seek justice for the death. This month investigators concluded the police officers involved in the killing acted in self-defense, reacting to gunfire in their direction. But this version directly contradicts accounts by witnesses, who say there was no exchange of gunfire. The case draws attention to the thousands of people killed each year by police in Brazil. (See Nov. 11th's post.)
  • Petrobras is the world's most-leveraged oil company, with $127.5 billion in debt as of Sept. 30. Loans of nearly $24 billion mature in 2016 and 2017 and investors and analysts don't know what's next repayment, restructuring or default, reports the Wall Street Journal. The strategy of taking on dollar-denominated debt has backfired due to a combination of Brazilian currency's devaluation and plunging oil prices.
  • Brazilian companies are going for cheap. But the prime buying opportunities are luring more foreign investors than local ones, who are scared off by the political turmoil worsening the country's economic slowdown, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The Brazilian mining company Sanmarco warned that two more of its dams are at risk of collapsing, reports the Wall Street Journal. Two weeks ago, a tailings dam owned by joint mining venture owned by Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA of Brazil collapsed, causing environmental catastrophe in the area, killing nine people, and wiping out entire villages with contaminated mud.
  • A Brazilian blogger who often criticised local authorities in his home state of Maranhão was shot dead last week, after having received threats. Ítalo Eduardo Diniz Barros joins a growing list of journalists murdered in Brazil in retaliation for their work this year, reports Roy Greenslade in The Guardian.
  • Former Mexican President Vicente Fox predicts that country's recent Supreme Court ruling permitting four plaintiffs to legally grow marijuana for recreational use makes the substance's legalization inevitable. In fact, he says all drugs including cocaine, heroin and crystal meth will be legal within 10 years, according to Reuters. Fox became an advocate of legalizing drugs after leaving office. Two years ago he predicted to Reuters that marijuana could be legal in Mexico by the end of current President Enrique Peña Nieto's term in office in 2018. "The other drugs will take a longer cycle, say five to 10 years," he said. (See Nov. 17th's post.)
  • A piece in The Guardian examines heat stress -- which might be causing the chronic kidney disease (CKD) that afflicts thousands of rural workers in Central America. The disease, which has no cure, is estimated to have killed 20,000 people over the past twenty years.
  • Colombia's Emberá indigenous community has long practiced female genital mutilation, but the tradition has been so shrouded in secrecy that its' been difficult to fight reports The Guardian.

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