(OPINION) On Migration, Will the Americas Succeed Where Europe Could Not?

While U.S. attention on immigration has been focused mostly on the large number of Central Americans arriving at the southwestern border over the past few years, the biggest migration flows in the hemisphere are actually happening farther to the south. As the arrival of thousands of Haitians in Del Rio, Texas, last month showed, the United States may well start seeing many more migrants from countries outside the Northern Triangle nations of Central America.

Over one million Haitians live in other countries in the Americas. More than 300,000 of them moved to Brazil and Chile after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, largely attracted by the prospect of jobs and legal status offered by those countries. Almostfive million Venezuelans have moved elsewhere in the Americas since 2015 as their country’s economy imploded and political conflict intensified; there are now more than 1.7 million in Colombia, a million in Peru and almost a half million in Ecuador and Chile each.

Over 500,000 Nicaraguans have settled in neighboring Costa Rica, many arriving after a round of repression that started in 2018. And Cubans have been emigrating for years, setting down roots wherever they can.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has hit South American economies particularly hard, tens of thousands of migrants who had settled are on the move again, many looking north. In the case of Haitian migrants, rising hostility to immigrants in Brazil and Chile also prompted some to strike out for the United States.

Andrew Selee, The New York Times, October 27, 2021
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