Kausha Luna's blog

First Cuban Migrants from Costa Rica Reach the U.S.

By Kausha Luna, January 16, 2016

The dozen or so Cuban migrants arrived in Laredo, Texas, Friday, part of the first group of 180 Cubans flown from Costa Rica to El Salvador and bused through Guatemala to Mexico. Read more...

First Group of Stranded U.S.-bound Cubans Reaches Mexico

By Kausha Luna, January 14, 2016

On Wednesday, the first group of 180 Cuban migrants flown out of Costa Rica reached Mexico. From there they will make their way north to the United States.

After Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica and refused passage to the islanders in November, Costa Rica set out to find an exit plan for approximately 8,000 Cubans who were on its territory. After several failed attempts, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the International Organization of Migration (IOM), agreed to fly an initial group of the Cuban migrants to El Salvador, from where they would be bused through Guatemala and to the southern border of Mexico. Read more...

First Group of U.S.-Bound Cubans Will Leave Costa Rica January 12

By Kausha Luna, January 8, 2016

On Wednesday, the Costa Rican government announced the first group of U.S.-bound Cuban migrants will be flown to El Salvador on January 12, allowing them to continue their journey north.

According to an agreement between Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the approximately 8,000 Cubans – stranded in Costa Rica after Nicaragua refused to let them pass – will be flown to El Salvador and bused through Guatemala and to Mexico. Once in Mexico, they will have to make their own way to the Rio Grande. The islanders are expected to cover the costs of the transfer. Read more...

Central American Countries Agree to Let Stranded Cubans Continue North to U.S.

By Kausha Luna, December 29, 2015

On Monday, Central American governments meeting in Guatemala reached a solution for the U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica because of Nicaragua's refusal to let them through. After several previous failed attempts, officials from Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the International Organization for Migration finally reached a consensus. The United States was not present at the meeting. Read more...

Still No Solution for U.S.-Bound Cubans in Costa Rica

By Kausha Luna, December 27, 2015

The member states of the Central American Integration System (SICA), plus Mexico and the United States, met in Mexico last week to explore possible solutions for the U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica because of Nicaragua's refusal to let them pass. The meeting failed to produce a solution but steps were taken in favor of Costa Rica's "humanitarian corridor," which would allow the Cubans to leapfrog over Nicaragua and continue northward.

At the meeting Mexico reiterated that once the Cuban migrants reach the Mexican border with Guatemala, they would be let through so they may continue their transit to the United States. Read more...

Mexico Waves U.S.-Bound Cubans Through

By Kausha Luna, December 22, 2015

Amid the Cuban migrant standoff in Costa Rica, Mexico's migration policy towards Cubans headed for the United States should be of even greater concern to the United States.

Approximately 5,000 U.S.-bound Cubans are stranded in Costa Rica, after Nicaragua closed its border to them. Ever since, Costa Rica has been hard at work trying to create a "humanitarian corridor" across Central America, which would allow Cubans to freely head north to the U.S. border (where they will receive automatic legal status under the "wet foot/dry foot" policy). Costa Rica has also suggested flying the islanders to Guatemala or Belize, from which they could enter Mexico and make their way north to the United States. Read more...

Costa Rica Suspends the Granting of Temporary Visas to Cubans

By Kausha Luna, December 21, 2015

On Friday, the Central American Integration System (SICA) met in El Salvador to again discuss the U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica by Nicaragua's refusal to let them enter. And again, no solution was reached. Read more...

Costa Rica-Cuba Meeting Yields No Solutions on Stranded Migrants

By Kausha Luna, December 21, 2015

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, agreed last week that it is urgent to find a solution to the approximately 5,000 U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica due to Nicaragua's refusal to let them pass through on their way north.

However, it appears that the meeting between the two heads of state did not produce an actual solution. Read more...

Migration One of Mexico's "Top Public Policy Priorities"

By Kausha Luna, December 16, 2015

Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, made her first visit to Washington this week in her new capacity. She spoke publicly at an event hosted by the Migration Policy Institute and the Woodrow Wilson Center, focusing on migration – an issue which she deemed as one of the "top public policy priorities" for Mexico. Read more...

Belize Turns Down Costa Rica's Request to Take Stranded Cubans

By Kausha Luna, December 9, 2015

On Tuesday, the government of Belize met to discuss the proposal presented by the government of Costa Rica for Belize to serve as a spring-board for the U.S.-bound Cuban migrants currently stranded at Costa Rica's northern border because Nicaragua will not let them cross. Belize rejected Costa Rica's proposal. Read more...

Costa Rica Moves to Plan C on Stranded Cubans

By Kausha Luna, December 4, 2015

Costa Rica has stumbled upon yet another obstacle in its quest to build a "humanitarian corridor" for the approximately 4,000 U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica by Nicaragua's refusal to let them cross into its territory. Read more...

UN Censures Guatemala's "Anti-Coyote" Law

By Kausha Luna, December 4, 2015

Last month, Guatemala approved a new law, referred to as the "anti-coyote law," which criminalizes the illicit trafficking and smuggling of migrants. This week, the UN office in Guatemala released a statement condemning the law. (See Spanish text here) Read more...

Cuban Migrants Still Blocked in Central America

By Kausha Luna, December 2, 2015

It has been two weeks since Nicaragua closed its border to U.S.-bound Cubans. That action has blocked the route many Cubans have been taking – first flying to Ecuador (which until yesterday did not require Cubans to get visas) and then going overland through Central American and Mexico and crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S., where they are automatically allowed to stay. A solution to the ''crisis" of Cuban migrants being stuck in Costa Rica, unable to proceed north through Nicaragua, is nowhere in sight. Read more...

Guatemala Congress Passes "Anti-Coyote" Law

By Kausha Luna, November 25, 2015

Guatemala's Congress unanimously approved a bill last week amending the Migration Act. The newly passed "anti-coyote" law criminalizes the illegal activities of traffickers knowns as "coyotes." Read more...

Cuba blames U.S. Immigration Policy for "Migration Crisis" in Central America

By Kausha Luna, November 19, 2015

A flood of Cuban illegal aliens are causing turmoil in Central America, causing Nicaragua to close its southern border with Costa Rica to the U.S.-bound Cubans. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs blames the "migration crisis" on United States immigration policy. Read more...

Nicaragua Closes Border to U.S.-Bound Cubans

By Kausha Luna, November 16, 2015

On Sunday, Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica, responding to a flood of Cuban illegal aliens en route to the United States.

Costa Rica granted safe-passage permits to 1,600 Cuban migrants who had crossed from Panama, so that they could proceed to Nicaragua on their way north. Central America has witnessed an explosive increase of Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States by land through Mexico, rather than heading to Florida by sea. Read more...

Mexico Considers What to Do about Central American Migration

By Kausha Luna, November 13, 2015

Scholars and government officials gathered recently at a conference in Mexico City to address Mexico’s migration policy towards Central America. (Video of the two-day event, in Spanish, is here and here.)

The overall tone of the conference was similar to what you might expect from the political and intellectual elite of the United States: "let everyone through!" Read more...

Mexico Responds to New North Carolina Immigration Law

By Kausha Luna, October 30, 2015

On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law an anti-sanctuary city bill. However, Mexico seems more concerned with the law's effect on the use of consular documents.

The "Protect North Carolina Workers Act" (HB318) prohibits the adoption of sanctuary city ordinances, requires E-Verify compliance in certain governmental contracts, and states that consular documents are not acceptable for purposes of official identification. That last issue was the focus of a press release from Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs: Read more...

Guatemala's New President and Immigration

By Kausha Luna, October 26, 2015

The people of Guatemala, tired of a corrupt political class, elected a political outsider as their new president – comedian Jimmy Morales. (The vice president was arrested for corruption in August and the president in September.) Morales has been called the "Donald Trump of Guatemala" and beat the Central American country's former first lady. Emigration to the United States was an issue in his campaign. Read more...

Mexico Reacts to U.S. Sentencing Reform Measures

By Kausha Luna, October 26, 2015

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted last week to move the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 to the floor for a vote. This, together with criminal releases announces as a result of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's 2014 amendment to the sentencing guidelines that retroactively reduced sentences for all drug trafficking crimes, has elicited a response in Mexico.

The new guidelines will would result in the release of 6,000 felons at first, with an eventual total of between 40,000 and 46,000. Many of them will be criminal aliens; my colleague Dan Cadman reports that between one-quarter and one-third are believed to be non-citizens, meaning that eventually "between 11,500 and 13,200 serious alien drug offenders will soon be out of lockdown." Read more...

Mass Layoffs in Honduras Likely to Cause Increased Emigration

By Kausha Luna, October 23, 2015

Pastoral Care of Migrants (PMH are the Spanish initials), a Catholic non-governmental organization in Honduras, anticipates a spike in emigration from that country due to widespread layoffs.

Over recent weeks Honduras has experienced mass firings in both the public and the private sectors. This process started at the end of 2014 when the Honduran government announced it would lay off 7,000 civil servants starting in 2015, with the goal of reducing the government workforce by up to 30 percent. Honduras, faced with a fiscal deficit, explained the mass layoffs were about making the country more efficient. Employees of the state-owned telephone company, Hondutel, and ENEE (the power company), as well as employees of Honduran Institute for Children and Family are on the list for the government's downsizing project. Read more...

Immigration Is Key to Mexico's interest in Canada's Election

By Kausha Luna, October 19, 2015

In 2009 Canada, under the Conservative Party, imposed a tourist visa requirement for Mexicans and thus "damaged" its relationship with Mexico. Canada's national elections today could be a turning point in that relationship. Read more...

Honduras Faces a Surge of Cubans Headed for the U.S.

By Kausha Luna, October 12, 2015

Honduran immigration offices are being inundated by an influx of illegal Cubans. Last Tuesday, alone, 360 Cubans were detained at the Honduran border with Nicaragua.

Over the past ten years more than 300,000 Cubans have gone through Honduras to the United States in a daily flow which is "likely to increase," , said Rene Gomez, a spokesman for Honduras' National Migration Institute (INM) last week. Cuban migrants, despite being initially detained, are not deported from Honduras. Instead, illegal aliens are given a 72-hour "safe-passage" permit to travel through the country. They then make their way to the border with Guatemala and continue on through Mexico to the United States. This policy is clearly not in the interest of the United States, which would be better served if Honduras deported illegal aliens, rather than waving them through. Read more...

Illegal Alien Who Went Home Demands to Be Let Back In

By Kausha Luna, October 5, 2015

On Tuesday, Rafael Gaytan is expected to turn himself in to the Border Patrol at the border between Tijuana and San Diego, in hopes of being reunited with his family in central Florida. Read more...

Honduras' Central Bank: Emigration to U.S. Is a Cause for Concern

By Kausha Luna, September 30, 2015

The United Nations' new development agenda presents migration and remittances as a contribution to development. However, the vice president of Honduras' Central Bank (BCH), Manuel Bautista, said in a recent interview that emigration and remittances are a source of concern for Honduras.

Bautista's comments need to be understood in the context of a 2007 report by the BCH on family remittances and a profile of remittance senders. The report shows emigration to the U.S. from Honduras has had a negative impact on the productivity of the work force. The data shows labor inactivity increased by 9.1 percent in 2006. The emigrant population (estimated at more than 1 million out of the country's current population of 8.6 million) is a significant portion of Honduras' labor force because almost all (92.5 percent) are between 15 and 49 years old. Furthermore, the able workers receiving remittances often stop looking for jobs and others use remittances as early retirement funds. Read more...

The Pope and U.S. Immigration Policy

By Kausha Luna, September 22, 2015

Pope Francis arrives in Washington today, and many advocates for amnesty and increased immigration are looking to him for political support.

Early this month Pope Francis spoke to audiences in the U.S. through a live video chat. Among the audience in McAllen, Texas, illegal immigrants were able to relay their grievances to the pontiff. Read more...

El Salvador's Central Bank: Emigration to U.S. Causes Brain-Drain

By Kausha Luna, September 18, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was updated on 10/23/15 to clarify the description of data contained in the BCR report on family remittances.

The United Nations' new sustainable development agenda presents migration and remittances as a contribution to development. However, El Salvador's Central Bank (BCR) says emigration to the U.S. is a cost, not a benefit, for El Salvador. Read more...

No Illegal Alien Left Behind, Part II

By Kausha Luna, September 14, 2015

The second group of Mexicans to be let back into the U.S. after having agreed to voluntary return to Mexico "under coercion" are expected to arrive on at the border on Tuesday (pending additional cases to be approved by U.S. government). Esmeralda Flores of the American Civil Liberties Union told Univison the three Mexican nationals will first hold a press conference in Tijuana tomorrow. Read more...

Immigration in Mexican President's State of the Union Address

By Kausha Luna, September 3, 2015

On Wednesday Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto delivered his third state of the union address. (Here is the Spanish transcript and the video. There doesn't appear to be an English translation available.)

Immigration and border issues were not at the forefront, as he has other headaches. But he did touch on them a number of times. Read more...

Mexican Indians Who Can't Get into U.S. Settle for Mexico City

By Kausha Luna, September 2, 2015

"Indigenous Mexicans" – Indians – are migrating to Mexico's capital due to tighter U.S. immigration controls, according to Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Secretary of Rural Development and Equity for Communities in Mexico's Federal District (like our District of Columbia). Read more...