By Zenyazen Flores
A new migration crisis is sweeping through Mexico and Central America following the end of Title 42, which restricted the right to seek asylum at the Mexican border with the United States.
The lack of financial and human security is driving out thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, who are stranded in Mexico as they yearn to cross into the US once Title 42 expires.
The mobility of people occurs when Mexico, along with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, are evaluated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in terms of fair recruitment, that is, how they guarantee migrant workers employment opportunities in transit and destination countries.
The result shows a score of recommendations to the four countries to guarantee equitable hiring, which can be found in the document “Equitable Hiring in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico: Evaluating Progress and Closing the Gaps,” presented on Monday, May 15.
One of the ILO recommendations states that governments have the primary responsibility to protect and ensure respect for human rights, including labor rights, of workers during all stages of the recruitment process, whether within national borders or across borders, which ends up becoming a shared responsibility with the destination countries.
ILO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MEXICO, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, AND HONDURAS FOR EQUITABLE RECRUITMENT
- Improve coordination and information exchange between labor, foreign affairs, migration agencies, and authorities in countries of origin.
- Capitalize on electronic registration and foreign job vacancy posting windows to report and detect bogus offers and fraudulent agencies.
- Leveraging the experience of returning migrant workers and involving them in development programs policy such as PTAT.
- Improve coordination with consular authorities and foreign ministries, and work with human rights organizations, prosecutors’ offices, and employers, among others, to ensure complaint mechanisms.
- Promote gender-equitable hiring mechanisms for women job seekers abroad.
WHAT WILL MEXICO, EL SALVADOR, AND GUATEMALA DO AS AN IMMEDIATE ACTION IN THE LABOR FIELD IN LIGHT OF THE END OF TITLE 42?
Labor policymakers in each of those countries dodged the question when Bloomberg Linea asked them about the current situation of thousands of migrants.
El Salvador’s labor minister, Oscar Rolando Castro, said about Title 42 that his country is working on the root causes of migration to North America, which is labor insertion and violence-generating street gangs, but did not comment on the specific action in the current context.
Rafael Rodriguez, Minister of Labor of Guatemala, said he could not speak about Title 42 and its implications.
Luisa Maria Alcalde, Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare of Mexico, responded with a general answer about the country’s labor policy on migration but did not offer immediate action.
The Guatemalan and El Salvadoran ministers told the head of Mexico’s Labor Secretariat that actions to address the migration phenomenon must be collective and as a region so that the most powerful economies hear Central America.
“The coordination of Mexico with Guatemala, what we do with El Salvador, Honduras, and all Central America to put joint positions and demands together to be heard by all major economies at the North American and European level,” said Rafael Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Minister Oscar Rolando Castro considered that the regional positions should be given dignity and collectively be heard by the major economies and make visible what is happening in this region of the American Continent.
MEXICO EVALUATES RATIFYING ILO CONVENTIONS RELATED TO LABOR MIGRATION
The ILO evaluated equitable hiring in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras because in these four countries, the dynamics of labor migration have increased in number and each time brings complex challenges related to security and protection of human rights.
Pedro Américo Furtado, Director of the ILO Office for Mexico and Cuba, said that in the last 15 years, the number of international migrants had grown faster in Latin America and the Caribbean than in any other part of the world, from 7 to 15 million people on the move.
With 11 million residents abroad in 2020, Mexico is the second country in the world, after India, with the largest diaspora.
By the end of 2020 – he added – Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador had close to 900,000 people who left their place of origin and 400,000 internally displaced.
The ILO executive said that as a representative of a UN agency, it is difficult for him to give an opinion on Title 42 and its implications. However, he commented that it had been known for some time that this US regulation would end, so the countries should have anticipated that end.
He said that, as part of the work with Mexico, the country is already evaluating the relevance of ratifying the conventions related to labor migration: the 97 Migrant Workers Convention and the 143 Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention.
“Being able to ratify the convention allows us to carry out a monitoring process at the international level and coordinate humanitarian action with other specialized agencies such as UNHCR or UNICEF.”
“Ratification means an international commitment,” said Pedro Américo Furtado.
For example, Convention 97 establishes the term “migrant worker,” which means any person who migrates from one country to another to take up employment that he or she will not perform on his or her account, and includes any person normally admitted as a migrant worker.
It also includes annexes that address the recruitment, placement, and working conditions of migrant workers who are not recruited under government-controlled collective migration agreements.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA: WORK PERMIT DATA WITH THE US AND CANADA
In Mexico, Canada, and the US, more and more companies and employers are turning to temporary or permanent foreign labor to meet the needs of locally unavailable labor in various sectors.
Among the orderly, regular, and temporary mobility mechanisms are the Mexico-Canada Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (PTAT) and temporary work visa programs under a unilateral approach, such as the US H-2 visas, Mexico’s Border Worker Visitor Cards (TVTF) or Canada’s temporary foreign worker and international migration programs.
The ILO document indicates that in 2021 the destination countries (US, Canada, and Mexico) granted more than 400,000 work permits through PTAT, US H-2A and H-2B visas, and Mexico’s TVTFs.
However, these regulated mobility permits fall far short of unregistered or undocumented flows, with more than 856,000 non-admissions, apprehensions, and removals of Mexican, Guatemalan, and Honduran nationals at the US Southwest border alone between January and August 2022.
With information from Bloomberg
News Mexico, English news Mexico, Internacional Labor Organization (ILO)