Sustainable Reintegration: Strategies to Support Migrants Returning to Mexico and Central America

Report
from Migration Policy Institute
Published on 16 Jan 2019 View Original

By Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta, and Randy Capps

As U.S. deportations to Mexico continue at substantial levels and the numbers returned by both the U.S. and Mexican governments to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are increasing, it has become more urgent for countries in the region to develop successful reception and reintegration programs that meet the diverse needs of returning migrants.

Between fiscal years 2012-18, the United States carried out approximately 1.8 million repatriations of Mexican migrants, and the United States and Mexico together accomplished 1.4 million returns of migrants from the three Northern Triangle countries.

Drawing on fieldwork and interviews with government officials, researchers, representatives of civil-society and international organizations, as well as returning migrants, this report highlights promising reintegration strategies and pressing challenges. Mexico and the three Northern Triangle countries exhibit different levels of capacity and degrees of implementation in their reception and reintegration programs. While most deported migrants now receive basic reception services, their access to reintegration services is somewhat more mixed. Among the challenges: Difficulty obtaining the official ID that allows returning migrants to access these services, limited awareness and geographic distribution of services, difficulty matching returning migrants’ skills with labor-market needs, and barriers to reintegration posed by social stigmatization and employment discrimination.

The report offers a range of recommendations to governments and others, including: Prepare migrants for reintegration prior to their return, even before deportation; issue primary ID documents from abroad or upon reception; and ensure reintegration services tap into returning migrants' cultural roots. Improving reception and reintegration services represents a long-term investment for both destination and origin countries, the authors conclude, holding the potential to reduce re-migration while enabling countries of origin to benefit from the skills and assets migrants have acquired abroad.