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Quarterly Mixed Migration Update Latin America and the Caribbean, Quarter 4, 2020

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Key Updates

• In October, Colombian authorities pushed 5,000 Venezuelans back into Venezuelan territory at the Colombia-Venezuela border. The increased inflow of refugees and migrants following the reactivation of economic activities in Colombia led the Government to increase controls at the border, specifically at 17 irregular border crossings – commonly known as “trochas”.

• Across the region, criminalization of irregular border crossings and of failure to adhere to COVID-19-related travel requirements is being embraced by countries of transit and destination of mixed migration movements. As a response to the latest migrant caravans, Guatemala implemented decisions to criminalize irregular border crossings, to ensure controlled and regular entry. Mexico announced that people on the move taking part in the migrant caravan must comply with COVID-19 regulations upon entry or face arrest and prosecution.

• Hurricanes ETA and IOTA impacted over 9 million people in the region and triggered migration flows out of Honduras. 3.9 million Hondurans were affected by the hurricanes and 15,000 were left without shelter. The impact of the storms was the main driver behind the migrant caravan that departed from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on December 1st, heading towards North America.

• Migrant caravans from Central towards North America resumed in October. In the last quarter of 2020, a total of three migrant caravans departed from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with the aim of reaching the U.S., but were dissolved at the border between Honduras and Guatemala.

• The proposals for immigration reform made by the U.S. president elect during his campaign created strong expectations for change, as they would mark a stark departure from the policies enacted by the previous U.S. administration. The legacy of the outgoing government included end of year policy changes to the U.S. asylum process, making it more difficult for asylum seekers to apply for and receive protection.

• On December 4th, a boat with a seating capacity of 8 passengers carrying 41 Venezuelans bound to Trinidad and Tobago sank off the coast of Güiria, Venezuela. So far, only 33 bodies have been recovered.

• Colombia’s president announced in mid-December that irregular migrants in the country would not be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. After widespread criticism, the government explained the decision was taken to prevent more irregular border crossings.